I Don't Think You're a Waste of Space

BY : Unicorn Tickles
Category: Harry Potter > General > General
Dragon prints: 3444
Disclaimer: Fictional story based on fictional characters. I own nothing of Harry Potter, and make no money.

    Severus Snape, regretfully the current headmaster of Hogwarts, took long ground eating strides through the halls of Hogwarts, though he was in no means in a hurry. It was more anger and frustration that fueled his steps - and some more emotions that he was in no mood to indulge in at the moment. He took no pleasure in what he might need to do when he reached his destination, and knew he should be in less of a hurry. Potter had loused it up again, and just when Severus had thought he couldn't be any less competent. The stupid brat had gotten himself caught. Full arrogance and rashness were sure to blame, and Snape truly didn't know what to do about it, or what he could do. He was after all, dealing with a madman. How to reason with such a thing? 
    Dumbledore had been very precise, as ever, in his instructions; it was one of the rare times the man had actually given some information. It hadn't been free, either; Severus had nearly thrown a fit just to get that meager crumb, and it had come with dire orders. Nothing had ever been free with that man. 
    Snape was supposed to wait for the mad Voldemort to guard his snake Nagini like she was in danger. And until then, Harry was to be kept alive. It was all about the snake, or something close to that. Snape didn't quite know, but he felt that perhaps Dumbledore had given him enough to keep Harry alive, even in the cheap bits that he'd fed him. The man had guarded his secrets like they were gold, and while Snape would normally respect such an obviously intelligent way to conduct oneself, it didn't help him fulfill his end of the bargain. How did one keep a child as reckless as Harry Potter alive, especially when the child himself seemed determined to bring about the very opposite?
    Trapped in Lucius Malfoy's cellar. What a bloody fool. Severus supposed he should be grateful he'd been summoned in the first place, and would have a chance to stick to Albus' wishes. It would hardly be possible, but at least he would have the chance to try. 
    He reached his office, the headmaster's, Albus Dumbledore's office, and scanned the portraits as he always did. There the man was, watching sharply.
    "No time, headmaster," he said, in too much of a hurry to even try, and if the old man seemed a little affronted, Severus had the small pleasureable thought that perhaps he should have been a little more forthcoming in his own wealth of information. What did he mean about Harry's housing a portion of Voldemort's soul? Why did he think that Voldemort would try to protect the snake? Why had he worked out the ridiculous sword switching nonsense, when Potter would have known where to find it if they'd done nothing at all? Indeed, where was the sword then? A wall in Malfoy Manor?
    He had more questions than were safe to ask, but that was normal enough for his life. He'd been a spy for sixteen years, all of them dangerous, but none so dire as recently. The sword would be shelved for a time when they could do something about it. For now, all he had to do was keep Potter alive, and look as though he wasn't. Easy enough.
    He used the floo powder kept on the mantleplace, and quickly spoke, "Malfoy manor," as he stepped through -
    - And arrived at his destination. The room was full. Not a lot of people, but the Dark Lord was there, and so the room was full. Oppressive energy came at him like he'd entered a crowd on carnival day. A murderous suspicious crowd. His occlumency shields were firmly in place, as they always were these dark days, and he drew on the calmness that those shields provided. He looked around, but the child was no where to be seen. Snape pushed away any fear lapping at the edges of his shields that the deed had been done, and came quickly to bow before his master.
    "My Lord," he spoke automatically, and kept his head down. He'd survived too long to not observe the niceties that Voldemort demanded. 
    "Severus," Voldemort said soft and high. "So glad you could come. On such short notice, too."
    "Yes, My Lord. What could be more important than a summons from you?"
    He raised his face enough to see a thin smile. "Indeed. You wouldn't want to miss this, I'm sure. Lucius has finally shown some value. That alone should be worth notice." He shot what Lucius was allowed to interpret as an apologetic nod, but no one was that stupid. It was more of a look that said "I may not kill you this evening. Perhaps tomorrow." Malfoy had never recovered from the failure at the ministry. Even this, it seemed, wasn't enough to make up for the knowledge the Dark Lord had lost there. Severus himself didn't even have that knowledge. But Potter did. 
    He wondered if the Dark Lord had tried some occlumency on Potter, but wasn't going to ask in case no one had thought of it. Dumbledore had told Severus that such an attempt would actually cause the Dark Lord pain. 
    Severus had one job here tonight - keep the boy alive. His death would have its own place and time, but Nagini was traveling the room, sniffing people freely and unguarded. Unprotected. This wasn't the time. No matter what, Dumbledore had been determined that Severus follow this. 
    Severus spared a moment to read the room; Lucius was standing by the fireplace, full height maintained for dignity's sake, but there was some nervousness around the eyes, just in the tightness, but at least he was no longer slightly hunched. He was pleased with himself, but afraid to show it. Bella sat at Voldemort's feet, as she could whenever he let her, gazing up at him, ready to do anything - stop breathing for him if he said so, anything. Nothing changed there. And Greyback the werewolf, accounting for the unpleasant odour here in Malfoy manor, of all places. Strange that he was allowed to be so close to the Dark Lord. He normally had to occupy a lower circle. Snape was left to wonder if he'd played a larger part in catching the boy; nothing else would account for his presence - unless the Dark Lord had a gruesome death planned for the boy. It wouldn't surprise Severus. It would make sense, even, if he didn't know for a fact like every death eater, that Voldemort wanted to kill Potter himself. 
    Narcissa was standing closer to a far wall with Draco. Not close to Lucius, and Snape knew her to be angry with him still. Whether it was for getting them all in the Dark Lord's bad graces, or for just getting them in the Dark Lord's graces at all, Snape had never known. She played her cards so close to the vest, that even a man as skilled in occlumency as Severus had never been able to discern after years of observation. All he had ever been sure of with her was her dedication to her son. And Draco returned that by remaining close to her, nervous as a cat in a dog room, avoiding everyone's eyes, including Severus'. Like he would ever mean the boy harm. He should know by now. But it seemed that Draco's one loyalty was to return Narcissa's. 
    He took in the others, but they would not make any moves not sanctioned by the room and the Dark Lord. They weren't thinkers. He took it all in in the second it took to casually glance around, then turned back to his master. "My Lord, may I have a word?" He had to say his piece before Voldemort made any decrees. Those were only ever painful to try and circumvent. Snape had done so, a spare amount of times, and it had hurt every time. His master could be turned from a declared course, but he would charge more than a pound of flesh for it.
    "Of course, Severus. I will always have time for you." The Dark Lord was still so pleased with Severus that he let it show. Snape had killed Dumbledore, the greatest threat, and the leader of the opposition, even though he'd ordered for Draco to do it. That had cost Severus, in private, but the price had been infinitely less that Draco's life and Severus had paid it gladly. Even now, the muscle underneath the healed scars complained, and moved tightly when he moved his shoulders or back, but it was nothing. Not when he could scan a room right then and see the blond standing with his mother ... not safely, no one was ever safe in a room with Voldemort, but he wasn't dead. 
    Voldemort looked down at the kneeling figure of Bellatrix, and said, "leave us, Bella," not unkindly, like a man would direct a faithful hound, and the pet bounded away quickly with a breathy, "Yes, My Lord." Snape avoided looking up at Narcissa; he was fairly certain he already knew her opinion of her sister choosing to be the Dark Lord's lapdog, and had no desire to be seen snooping. Voldemort took his wand - Lucius' wand - and placed a ward around them, cutting the air in two, blocking out the sound. It muffled the air strangely and Severus' voice echoed from it when he spoke.
    "My Lord, I think it perhaps unwise to kill the boy. I have recovered a memory of Dumbledore's that suggests the boy has some power we might not have known about." He made eye contact, because he knew Voldemort would require it to see the truth, or the "truth" that Severus put together in his practiced mind. 
    "What power, Severus?"
    "I honestly don't know, My Lord. He said that it might be that a piece of your soul is housed in the boy. And that you are stronger with him alive. That you are mortal if he dies."
    He could have been more creative, he knew that from experience. Voldemort didn't really think people would have the bollocks to lie to him, not to his face. Severus could have done so. But hiding the truth often lay in letting out a tiny bit of it. He knew that from dealing with two of the greatest occlumens in history. He'd hidden truths from both Voldemort and Dumbledore by giving morsels of facts swaddled in lies. He was nothing less than a master of it, now. Probably more so than either of them, truly, but Severus never allowed himself to dwell on that possibility.
    He risked another steady look upwards - not too quick or he might seem nervous - to his master's face and saw thoughtfulness there. He'd struck home.
    "A memory?"
    Severus allowed an exasperated movement. "He has some hidden about his office, I have found them almost by accident. Most of them meaningless about family and sentimental value, but this one seemed to have some worth."
    "It does. You have served well again, Severus. I must find a more substantial reward for you. That school couldn't live up to your dreams, surely."
    Serverus nodded. "It does not, My Lord." He would understand resentfulness and malcontent better than dedication. "I have long wished to be free of it, but whatever the Dark Lord wishes for me is enough. As always." He nodded the petty thoughts away. "But it seems true. He must be kept alive, then?" Severus didn't allow himself relief. Life wasn't always enough, after all. "My Lord, what will you do?"
    "I could just leave him here. Perhaps. I am planning to use the children with him to exercise my power over the school, root out the remaining rebellion," he meant Longbottom, Snape knew, "and spread around some rewards there." Snape felt like he knew what that meant.
    "My Lord, I have been in the boy's head, and the most humiliating thing for him was his life with his muggle family."
    "Indeed? Hard to believe, Severus."
    "They made him live in a cupboard." Voldemort's red eyes lit up with that. "He was little more than a live in servant with them. They think magic and wizards are unnatural. He would only ever know shame there." And he would be safer than with any Death Eater alive, even himself - perhaps especially himself - but Snape didn't allow that thought to exist here. He'd thought it an hour ago and banished it as quickly to hide it. "You could look for yourself and see that nothing would torture him more." He felt it might be about half true, and he was relying on Dumbledore's assurance that looking into Harry's mind cause Voldemort actual searing pain.
    "They were hidden away by the ministry last summer."
    "Yes, but you own the ministry, now."
    "Yes. But it's not enough, Severus. You're suggesting a retreat for him. I want more shame. More pain for him."
    Severus nodded quickly. "Yes, My Lord. There are ways around that, as I'm sure you know. I will make anything happen." He was waved off his knees to standing by his master, who then gave him instructions, and Snape tried real hard to ignore the little spikes of satisfaction over sentencing James Potter's son to such a terrible fate. How could he enjoy this? The same fate, or worse, was also being planned for other kids the same age as the boy; there was no pleasure there for him - the opposite, in fact, which he would have time to acknowledge when next he was alone, but somehow Potter seemed to deserve it. 
    Shallow, arrogant, rash, unthinking Potter seemed to deserve it. Snape almost wished he could see the boy's face when he knew himself to be knocked down a few pegs. He was a teacher for Merlin's sake. How could he be so petty when it came to one child? He begrudged a boy for being born, he knew it, and worked with it, because it was simply a part of him. His spite had after all, helped him survive more than one deadly moment of his life; it could hardly be his weakness when he'd drawn on it for strength so many times.
 



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