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Chapter 10 : Where Boys Fear To Tread
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Severus looked up from his thick potions manual and smiled.
“That is good news, Haiden. I’m proud of you. Now ready yourself for today, we’ll be leaving for the Malfoy’s mansion shortly.”
“Oh this is a great day! All my friends will be there, and I’m going to Hogwarts!” Haiden jumped around.
“Calm down and get ready.” Haiden nodded to his father and then ran off to take a shower.
Pursing his lips and entwining his long pale fingers, Severus sighed deeply and rose from his seat.
He had a speech all planned out, one he’d practiced before going to bed the previous evening. It was simple and direct, but it was one of the hardest things Severus had ever had to do in his life.
He thought of the repercussions of such an action, what this could possibly mean for the rest of his life. Haiden could choose never to speak to him again, he would most likely demand for his looks to be reverted to their original form.
And then, he’d start asking the questions. Severus felt familiar anger boil inside of him. He’d been trained these past eleven years to feel something for another human being, and if he were deprived of it, surely he would revert back to his old, surly self. His mouth was dry and his pulse was racing merely at the thought of the speech he would give his son.
As if all the drama weren’t enough, if Draco Malfoy and his father were to find out Haiden’s true identity, there would be hell to pay.
Still, it had to be done, regardless of what Severus truly wanted.
Attempting to shake off the thoughts of the impending revelation, Severus moved to his quarters to ready himself for the big day.
“Draco!” Haiden yelled, running up to his friend. The two were having a joint birthday party, seeing that Draco’s birthday was in the beginning of June and Haiden’s fabricated birthday was at the end of May. “Who’s here?”
“Well, Crabbe and Goyle are here, and so is Pansy Parkinson. I didn’t invite her though, she just showed up. There’s more coming, too, I just don’t know who and when!”
“Yes! I’m so excited!” Haiden exclaimed, running with Draco to the expansive present table.
“Severus! I’m so glad you’ve come!” Narcissa stated, greeting the tall man warmly.
“Narcissa, thank you for hosting the party, Haiden has been carrying on about it for weeks. I’m rather tired of hearing about it, so I am pleased it is today.” Narcissa laughed politely and showed him to the sun porch where Lucius was seated in a comfortable looking wooden rocking chair, nursing a firewhiskey cocktail.
“Severus, do come in. There’s business to discuss,” Lucius greeted, gesturing to a wicker chair beside him.
“Of course, Lucius. I am pleased that you’ve allowed this gathering for our sons’ birthdays.”
“Yes, of course. They are off to Hogwarts this year, though it feels as though they were only just born. But no matter, I’ve more important things to attend to. Most recently, I’ve received word from the underground brethren that a new force has emerged from Eastern Europe. Little is known about it, and whatever it is, it has killed everything that dares cross its path. There are also accounts of this peculiar force acquiring hosts and using them until the host’s energy is depleted. You know what this means, Severus. There can only be one spirit that is so fervent to regain power.”
“Really?” Severus asked, the temperature on the sun porch suddenly rising to an uncomfortable level. “Is it possible…?”
“It could very well be. You know as well as I do that the odds of that stupid child killing the Dark Lord is slim. So many people are ignorant to the environment in which they live, foolishly clinging to an elusive false hope rather than consulting the facts staring them in the face,” Lucius snarled, slamming his fist down into the soft mesh arm rest of his chair.
“Astute observation,” Severus commented sarcastically , maintaining his façade at the mention of Haiden and his predicament.
“Wherever that miserable child is, if what the inside brethren speaks is the truth, than he will face certain death.”
“But the prophecy ─”
“The prophecy will finally be fulfilled. When you brought word of this prophecy to us, the Dark Lord knew immediately that he could overtake a defenseless infant.. And now, with his return imminent, we will succeed,” Lucius said with a quiet conviction.
Severus moved his fingers aimlessly, trying desperately to hide his apprehensive desire to end the intrusive conversation.
“But we have no idea where Potter is,” Severus said, a genuine snarl plastered across his face at the mention of Haiden’s true surname.
“True, but I am convinced that the boy is close. I am nearly certain that his disappearance can be attributed to Dumbledore. He’s most likely hidden somewhere where the old man can keep a watchful eye. Plus, he’s due to start Hogwarts this year. And you know Dumbledore would rather sacrifice himself than deprive an young child an education, dirty blood or not,” Lucius sneered, his pureblood idealism bleeding into the conversation.
“Yes, well, I’ve kept my eye out all these years, and so far I haven’t seen a trace of the child,” Severus lied convincingly.
“Honestly, Severus, why would he share the most secret hiding place in wizarding Britain with you, a death eater? You must snoop for clues. It’s imperative to the investigation that we learn of his where-abouts.”
The two men fell silent, save for the seven shots of firewhiskey shared between them. Feeling the warmth creep from his core out to his fingers and toes, Severus felt a brashness flood over him as he stared at the hardened lines of his old friend’s face.
“So you’re excited for it then? The return of the Dark Lord?” Severus asked, reviving the conversation.
“How dare you question my fierce loyalty!” Lucius snarled. The firewhiskey that he’d been working on had finally taken a toll on his body, slurring his speech.
Severus was not yet drunk, but still he pressed on as though all inhibitions had flown carelessly to the wayside.
“I am questioning your loyalty! You never went after him, not like Bella or Crouch or any of the others wasting away in Azkaban. You paid your way out. Don’t you think the Dark Lord will reward those who sacrificed and punished those who jerked around paying for lavish vacations and selling priceless dark objects?”
Rising suddenly, Lucius lunged for Severus, drawing his wand but missing him and falling off to the right, knocking some china off the table. Severus watched it smash into thousands of pieces as Lucius fought to straighten himself again.
“The Dark Lord knows how loyal I am. Just because I’m not rotting in Azkaban like my dense sister-in-law doesn’t mean I’m not loyal. And what about your nice little setup with Dumbledore all these years? That just makes you a regular saint, doesn’t it?”
Severus rose from his chair and stumbled as he backed away slowly.
“We both have glaring flaws in our allegiance, but honestly, at the time, we really did think he was gone. And now…with this new force or whatever it is you called it, this could be very bad for the both of us. The Dark Lord could see fit to punish us. But what does it matter? If he is still alive somehow, he’s miles from here,” Severus reasoned.
Lucius laughed slowly as he regained his composure.
“How stupid and naïve you’ve become about our master, Severus. Do you really feel that miles of Earth will keep him from what he desires? He’s the Dark Lord, for God’s sake! And if he does come back, we need to be ready. If he comes back, this comfortable, cozy life we’ve lead this past eleven years will come back to haunt us. Be ready, Severus.”
Nodding to signal the end of the hostile conversation, Severus took his leave and returned to the party with a bad taste in his dry mouth and a pensive, sullen countenance.
“I’m bored,” Draco said, watching his friends play with the brand new golden snitch Haiden had received for his birthday. “Let’s go off into the forest.”
“Why?” Haiden asked laughing, jumping to catch the snitch. “We’re having fun, aren’t we guys?”
“Yeah, I’m having fun,” Vincent Crabbe repeated mindlessly.
“Yeah, me too. Fun,” Gregory Goyle chimed in.
“Whatever, you guys are losers,” Draco said, stalking over to a table set up next to the pond in the backyard of Malfoy Manor. The sky was bright on the warm June afternoon, and Draco was tired of playing the same stupid games they did every day. What he wanted to do was go off into the forest and see if they could find a stray garden gnome or something incredibly stupid to pick on. He certainly didn’t want to sit and stare at a dumb snitch all day. And what’s worse- all of the party guests were fixated on Haiden and his gift.
It was Draco’s party too! It seemed as though no one would mind if Draco disappeared. Since when did Haiden become so great?
“Hey, Hey Blaise! Wanna go into the forest with me?” Draco yelled from the table, hoping to get an accomplice to his blatant malice.
“No, man, I’m gonna stick here with Snape, maybe play a few rounds of quidditch.”
“Whatever. Stay, I don’t care,” he sulked, rising from the table and traipsing off, away from the party.
After five minutes, all of the children were aching for a turn with the snitch, and Haiden took the opportunity to slip away and find his best friend.
“Draco!” he called, following the steps of his friend into the dark thicket of trees that gave the Malfoys protection around their expansive manor. “Draco! Where are you? Come back!”
But there was no sign of the young blonde as he made his way through the brush.
“Draco! Where are you, loser? Come back to the party, seriously. Crabbe is so stupid he’s going to─”
“I don’t care, alright! Just leave me alone!” Draco yelled from the distance.
“What? Where are you?” Haiden called. Suddenly, Draco jumped down from the large tree in front of Haiden.
“I’m here, and I’m so tired of everything being about you! Haiden this and Haiden that. What about me?”
“What the hell are you talking about? So I got a cool present. Half the presents aren’t even opened yet! You’ll probably get awesome ones too. What’s your issue? Stop being such a baby and come on!”
“No, you stop being such a baby!” Draco shot back, surprising Haiden with a heavy fist into his left cheek.
“Draco! What is your problem?”
“You’re my problem, Snape!”
“Oh what? Poor little Draco isn’t the center of attention at his own party, so he has to run to the forest and pout?”
Haiden’s answer was another fist, this crashing right onto his nose. As blood began to pour out, he narrowed his eyes and began to fight back. The two boys began a full out duel then, punching and blocking, kicking and screaming until a sound behind them made them stop.
Bloodied and dirty on the ground, they heard a soft noise that made their hearts pound even more fiercely.
“Draco…what was that?”
“It was a snake, you idiot. My father had some put in the forest to prevent unwanted visitors. However, no matter how dense you are, this is actually bad. That particular one is poisonous. Very poisonous. That’s why I’m not allowed in the forest.”
“Draco! Agh, I cannot believe this! Well come on, we better run!”
Sensing danger, the yellow spotted snake slithered more closely to the duo.
“What do we do? This is bad…” Draco said, trailing off. “Haiden, I’m serious. If it strikes, we’re dead. We’ll never make it back to the house in time.”
The snake was merely a meter away when Haiden tried very lamely to shoo it away.
“Go away! Go on, leave us alone!” He shouted at the snake. Surprisingly, it obeyed, turning its body and slithering away.
“That’s right! You go on!” Haiden yelled again, smugly turning to Draco. Most unexpected, however, was Draco’s expression.
“Haiden…how did you do that?” Draco asked slowly.
The smile faded from Haiden’s face very quickly.
“Do…what? Shoo the snake away? I guess I just scared it.”
“No, Haiden, you talked to the snake. I mean, you talked to it. It understood you.”
“That’s nonsense,” Haiden laughed, “It didn’t literally understand me.”
“You’re so dense sometimes. Listen to me, you were talking snake to the…snake!”
“Oh really? Did it sound anything like Go away, go on leave us alone?” Haiden asked, jest sparkling in his eyes.
“No, Haiden. It sounded like this ─ hiss hiss hiss hiss hiss,” Draco imitated poorly.
“Well that’s not what it sounded like to me.” Haiden raised an eyebrow at Draco. “I think maybe we should get you back to the party.”
The two discussed what happened with the snake all the way back to party ─ that is until Narcissa and Severus got a look at the two boys.
“What happened!” She exclaimed, rushing to Draco.
“Oh, er, well, I went off into the forest, and Haiden came after me, and we got in a fight, and then there was this snake, and Haiden talked to the snake and it went away!”
Narcissa stared at her son, hardly believing the tale he’d divulged.
“What do you mean, talked to the snake?” Severus asked, his pulse quickening.
“I didn’t talk to the snake, dad─”
“No he did! He hissed at the snake and it went away! Not just a hissing noise, but it was like he was speaking a snake language!”
“Parseltongue,” Severus whispered, staring at his son in disbelief.
“Pars-what?” Haiden asked.
“Uhm…why don’t you all go and open the rest of your gifts?” Narcissa suggested, catching the look of utter bewilderment in Severus’s eyes.
Sitting down slowly Severus put his head in his hands. Well, this changed everything. Haiden was a parseltongue? How was this possible? Lily and James surely did not possess such a power, it was considered a very dark gift.
Shaking his head, he forced himself to smile to get his son through the rest of the party, because that evening would be difficult for both father and son.
Sipping some hot tea, Severus listened to the water run in the shower. Haiden was in there now, after receiving entirely too many things for his eleventh birthday. He was washing the blood off from his fight, and he was still under the impression that his name was Haiden Snape rather than Harry Potter.
Severus stared down into his tea mug, feeling the weight of the truth bear uncomfortably down on his shoulder.
Silently he rose from his chair when the water stopped running and prepared himself.
It would be the last few moments he would ever have with his son when Haiden truly was the son of Severus Snape
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