Forlorn Hope

The Promise of Power

38 : The Promise of Power…

"That's strange…"

"What is?"

"You, you're smiling!" Lea explained, "You never smile."

"I smile plenty."

"You smirk." She countered bluntly, "That doesn't count."

"Oh?"

"See, you're smirking already!" Lea noted, shaking her head. "You have such a nice smile Horris, I wish you'd wear it more often…"

"Guess I just hadn't had much to smile about."

"None of us had, have we?"

"No, no we haven't."

"So… what's the occasion?"

"Dad said we can stay at the manor for spring break…"

"Oh… have you seen it yet?"

"Briefly." Horris nodded, "It's really something though."

"I bet…" she answered, suddenly distant.

"You ought see it sometime…"

"No."

"Why not?"

"You know what I am Horris, I'd only put you and your father in danger. It's nice and all here, but we can't really play ignorant kids out there, can we?"

"The manor is safer than Gringotts Lea, no one would find out. If Potter stayed there none would be the wiser."

"I wish it was as simple as that…"

"The Gryffindors causing you problems Lea? You seem…"

She put on a plastic smile, "No worse than usual. Many are still appalled by how fast everyone stopped looking for Ron… Ginny's sure he's the victim and few oppose her. You haven't-"

"Last I saw him was Christmas Lea." Horris answered, not meeting her eye. "Most likely he's six feet under and I can't honestly say I give a damn. I told Dumbledore as much after he called me in, father not exactly able to tell him any details… probably why the searches were called off so soon."

"Ginny still won't believe me."

"Good."

"Horris?" She questioned uncertainly, the boy still not meeting her eyes.

"Let her think he was captured… she doesn't need any of this Lea, she's been through enough already."

"What am I supposed to say about you then?"

"We're a different breed Lea, she's not like us and deep down you know it. You, me, Draco, Potter… we were forced to shed our innocence long ago, long before we ought have. We can't get it back no matter how we try; don't rip hers away as well."

"You haven't heard about the chamber then?"

"I've heard." Horris said, his voice hard.

"Doesn't that count?"

"No." He answered flatly, "It doesn't."

"Why?" she challenged, aghast ridden.

"She was being controlled, she doesn't even truly remember it from what I gather, it isn't real to her… not really. She thinks it is, certainly, but only because she never went through what we have, she doesn't know what real is. If she had been taken by Weasley instead of you, she wouldn't be able to handle it."

"Oh, and I did…" Lea said sarcastically, "I thought I was gonna go insane!"

"But you didn't. She would have."

Lea stared at him for what felt like an eternity, the impact of the simple statement striking her full force.

"I'm sorry." She tried to apologize, Horris still not meeting her eye," I shouldn't have brought it up."

"We live with our demons Lea, that's what sets us apart. It's what allows us to survive all this shit and keep it all in perspective."

"Still-"

"Could you even survive without them Lea?" Horris questioned, cutting her off, "Could you honestly go back to a normal life and forever just forget all that you've been through? Could you throw all your spell books into that fire? Could you snap your wand and not look back?"

She didn't respond, she just stared at him.

"I've tried… Like when I came here, I thought it would be perfect, a new start with not one person knowing who I was or what I was capable of; a totally clean slate. And when the hat said Slytherin and all those kids cheered, I thought I finally found somewhere where I'd belong… I thought that was where I was meant to go years ago… you know what? I couldn't do it. I couldn't let my past go no matter how hard I tried. You know… you know what I've found?"

"What Horris?"

"Lies." He finally looked her right in her eyes, "all lies… the only way to escape this world is to be lied to and ignorant or to force yourself to believe your own lies." He paused, sighing, "That only works for kids though… kids and those who refuse to grow up."

"But-"

"We had to grow up way too soon Lea," He cut her off again, "Don't make Ginny do so too."

"Wheresss Potter?"

"I don't know!' He practically screamed, shaking as Voldemort's beady eyes bore down at him.

"Crucio."

The pain-filled seconds stretched as his screams filled the air, each seemingly hours in length and stubbornly refusing to end. He couldn't help but scream , as fruitless as he knew it was. There were no people for miles, save Death Eaters, and the camp had anti detection spells (amongst others) around it anyway. The mark on his arm would damn him if he had run for help anyway, just like Snape had bluntly told him. Still, he refused to regret his decision. Soon… soon his master would realize he spoke the truth. Then, then he would be honored as his most loyal servant.

By the time he finally realized the pain-causing curse had stopped, Voldemort was nowhere in sight.

"Get up. One of the other Death Eaters ordered, disgust in his voice as he tossed him a half-filled cantina. The boy caught it, knowing better than to smile or thank them. Death Eaters never said thank you, never apologized and never asked.

"Back below with you." Another stated calmly, jerking him by the arm. The boy only nodded, allowing himself to be locked in again… it would be fruitless to resist. Perhaps, if he behaved, his master would realize the sincerity of his loyalty.

The door echoed as it shut, the musky smell of dungeons slightly reminding him of Hogwarts. The stench of these was far stronger, the moss and mold allowed to grow rampant in the cracks, away from light or heat. Still, as he sat there, alone, memories of days long gone assaulted him; memories of Hogwarts, family, friends.

"Idiots, the lot of them." He said in solemn recognition, throwing a pebble at the bars, creating quite a clatter. None would bother checking… no matter. An escape would be impossible, even if he had wanted to run.

" 'Oh there?" A voice called out, "Nam yeeselv!"

He stayed silent.

"Yee a pris'ner"

He tried to force himself to ignore the voice.

"I am… can yee tok?" the voice paused, "Allo?"

"What do you want?" He finally gave in, seeing that the prisoner obviously was not about to just let him be…

"Ay, ye jus an kid!"

"I'm not a kid!" He called back, earning a snort from the rambling idiot.

"Wha are yee, eigten? Eigten's still a chile boy, mark me, still a chile. Yee on o'em Aror tranies? Y'all thank yee all so inbincible… met me tell yee somthin- yee ain't."

"I'm no Auror old man," He spat back in reply, sitting on the hay that lined the floor and leaning back against the warmest wall, "I'm a Death Eater."

"Dat so?" The old man asked, seemingly amused, "Day treet yee right like family, juz look ad de roo they give ya, Buckem palaze! Right so…"

"Shut up old man."

"Don like wat me sain? Thing ol' me stubid do yee? By all menz den… inlites mez why yee join em'."

"Why should I?"

"Why shudn't yee? Noth else to do…" The voice replied, an amused tone to the voice. "Who me gonna tell ay? It sumtin to do a least…don yee tink?"

"My reasons aren't a bedtime story!"

"Goo… cuz me ain't looking fo one."

"I was fed up with fighting for the light, never being appreciated… I figured this would be better. That's all there's to it."

"Juz like dat? Yee juz say to yerselv 'I don like bean goo no mo' an turn dak?"

"I had my reasons."

"Dat so? Lemme hea tham ten…"

"Why?"

"I wanna no what wood turn a goo boy like yee were dak." The voice stopped for a moment, "Yee got famly don yee?"

"Too much of one."

"They al lite I tak it?"

"They're blood traitors, the lot of them."

"Yee wer in Slytrin?" The voice asked, "Dat ther's they words day is."

"Gryffindor."

"Raelly now? Yee bean tokin wid Pete, han't yee?"

"Who?"

"Worntale."

"Wormtail?"

"Ya he…"

"No, I haven't."

"Why yee turn dak den?"

"To get away from them."

"Hoo?"

"All of them; Dumbledore, Potter,"

" 'Arry Pottr?"

"Yeah."

"Yee now 'im?"

"He's a cowered, a fame-soaked cowered."

"I don bleve yee, 'Arry wooldn' run away."

"He did… haven't you heard? He ran away with his tail between his legs… 'training' they call it… bet we never see him again."

"I vet wee do."

"Don't hold your breath old man…"

"So dat it?"

"What?"

"Yee 'fraid… Arry left an yee scard Volmord win."

"No."

"sown like't."

"Listen old man, and listen good… I'm only going to tell you this once. I left because of how they treated me, all of them. To my family I was just another kid, Merlin knows we have too many. To my so-called friends, I was never smart or brave enough…comic relief, that's what they used me for. The old coot Dumbledore treated me no better, of what importance were my problems compared to the great Harry Potter?"

"So Vodmord worie bout yer problemz? He preciate yee? Don seem like't…"

"He will."

"Dubt dat… he preciate nobdy."

"He appreciates his Asps…"

"Hoo?"

"Death Eater kids, bred to serve him, he infused them with some powers or something. Don't you know anything, old man?"

"O… wondr haw long he be preciat'n dem fo…"

"Forever."

"Notin lasd foeve kid… yee betr lern dat."

"Don't lecture me old man." He warned, "This mark, this mark signals the end of my meaningless existence as the pathetic doo-gooder. This mark is my key to greatness, to becoming someone all will know, all will fear."

"I've thought about what you asked me Draco…"

"And?"

"I've figured it out… my alliances lie with my father."

"What about the leadership, are you ready to take that back Horris… officially that is?"

He looked away from the blonde, unsure.

"You think it's safe Draco?"

"You're a born leader Horris, not me. They listen to me, sure, but not like they listen to you."

"When Voldemort finds out-" Horris suppressed a shudder,

"We don't have to announce it Horris," Draco calmed, understanding the stakes quite well. "We Asps are smart enough to pretend I'm still in charge… you taking back leadership will really boost our morale though."

"Our morale?"

"I shall personally feel a lot better knowing you'll officially hold the reigns again."

"Leadership turning out to be a bitter cup of tea?" Horris teased, smiling good-naturedly.

"It is when it's not your cup you're drinking from…" The blonde countered, "Not that you'd know."

"At times Draco, I truly wish I had no cup."

"As long as you're prepared to drink from it when the time comes…"

"You're right Draco, the time has come." Horris nodded sadly, " I only hope you shall be ready when the Asps call on your leadership once more."

Draco shook his head,

"I've never led them Horris, you know that better than anyone. I played a role, a figurehead to fool Voldemort and a messenger to your Asps… no less, no more."

Horris lost his thoughtful smile,

"You'd best learn to be a leader friend, I fear next time you will be denied the benefit of my aid and council."

"Horris?"

"Something's brewing Draco, when the time comes remember two things; You are Beta and that I am, and always will be, loyal to my father… If anything should happen to me-"

"Don't even talk like that!"

"If something does," Horris repeated stubbornly, raising his voice over Draco's, "he and Lea are to be protected at all costs… that is a direct and perpetual order- understood?"

"Yes sir."

"Assemble that Asps then, I'll relieve you of your duty…"

Draco nodded, a smile on his face as he left Horris' room. The smile, though honest in its purpose, did not touch the blonde's eyes. What Horris had said truly troubled him, parts of it anyways. Perhaps he was simply covering his bases, after all… his position certainly called for it, but Draco couldn't help but feel as if Horris was doing this for a far more palpable reason; as if he needed to put all his affairs in order…

"Blaise, Pansy, Zack!" He called out, now in the common room, "Alert the other houses; Asp meet today under the Quidditch stands at dusk."

That was their usual meeting place, somewhere none could find them (if wards were put up), spacious enough for a proper meeting to be held and neutral enough so that their presence there, if found, would not automatically alert onlookers of foul play.

The three nodded, starting to leave, the other Slytherin Asps noting his announcement as well.

Soon he thought gladly, soon I can go back to just being Beta again. The thought added a smirk to his face, Oh the irony… the thing father would kill for I cannot wait to be rid of…

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