- Chapter 1 -
The world below the silver
crescent moon was still, except for the four figures sweeping across the
They moved quietly, their long,
billowing black cloaks disguising them from roving eyes as mere shadows dancing
through the night. The wind was cold as it touched their cheeks, trying to claw
its way through the scratchy black material that enveloped them from head to
foot. Each figure held a wand poised to strike at their side. They were on a
mission, one with a very clear objective. Persuade the residents living in the
house perched at the edge of the field to join them, or kill them; there was no
room for error.
The waning moon lit their path as they drew closer to their final destination;
a spacious country house perched on the edge of a large field that had been
covered with fresh snow. They couldn't Apparate, because of the strange powers
belonging to the residents inside the house. They could sense the
disturbance of energy. One of the figures shuddered involuntarily, wondering if
perhaps this was a suicide mission, if there was already an ambush waiting for
The taller one leading the pack suddenly stopped as the row of trees they'd
been walking beside ended abruptly. He turned to the other three and whispered
in a low voice, "This is it. Remember how we planned it. Nothing,
absolutely nothing can go wrong...or we're dead."
"But Lucius -" one of
the figures began, addressing the tall one. Abruptly he stopped when he
realized he'd uttered the man's real name. In a flash, Lucius was on him, one
hand gripping his robes, knuckles white, and the other brandishing the wand
mere inches from the figure's face.
"Don't be a fool, Igor," he whispered menacingly, slowly and clearly
pronouncing each syllable of the other's name. Igor's hood had dropped with
Lucius's sudden movement, and in the pale glow of the moon his eyes were wide
with terror. Igor himself was barely eighteen, and was terrified of what Lucius
might do. It was against the Death Eater's code to utter real names while on a
mission, as the Aurors were everywhere, listening to everything - those who
forgot were punished.
"Please, Radanisaar," friend
of shadows, Igor whispered, tumbling slightly over Lucius' chosen name,
"I'm sorry, it's just - are there - are there really Selenai in
The other two figures leaned forward slightly, waiting for Lucius's response.
He loosened his grip on Igor's robes, and then let them go completely.
"Yes, Domias," the watcher, he said quietly, "there are.
One for certain - the woman, I think. The man may not be, but we can't be too
sure. Selenai powers are usually associated with women, but there are
some men who possess them...and are all the more deadly for it."
There was a sharp intake of
breath from the other two, and Lucius turned to them. "What did you
expect, that our Lord was lying to us? He's entrusted us with a very important
mission because we are the best," he threw Igor a disdainful look,
"of all those who were initiated with us. This is our chance to prove
"Indeed," one of the two figures replied, stepping forward. "And
I'm honored to be serving it with you, Radanisaar." The other figure stood
silent, watching the events unfold before him, a slight scowl on his lips.
There was a desperate fire that lit Lucius's half-hidden eyes that night, and
it signaled trouble. He'd always been one to jump at the chance of pleasing the
Lord of Darkness, regardless of what happened around him. He'd always been a
stubborn boy at Hogwarts, too, driven only by a personal craving for the taste
of success. Though he talked of the past seven years as though Hogwarts had
been his, he'd never managed to catch up to Black and Potter.
A low growl erupted from his
throat at the thought of those names, but he silenced it by clamping his mouth
shut. Lucius and the others hadn't noticed, as they were too busy talking,
heads together in a circle. Indeed Black and Potter had outperformed them all,
which was probably why Lucius was so keen to join the Dark one's inner circle -
to sit amongst such high ranked men, and even then, one day, rise above all of
them. The figure didn't doubt for a second that Lucius would be able to do it;
he wouldn't be beaten this time.
"Ophyres," Lucius whispered irritably, cutting through his thoughts. Ophyres,
it was in an ancient tongue and meant, roughly, serpent holder. Why he'd
been given that name, he still didn't know. A brief image of fiery red eyes
flashed through his mind, followed by their widening and narrowing as they
examined him. "From this day forth, you shall be known amongst the
brotherhood as Ophyres, the serpent holder. Time shall tell whether you
will live up to the name...or die by it." That statement had been followed
by questioning murmurs amongst the Death Eaters and a hissing laughter that
hadn't extricated itself from his memory even a year later.
The figure moved towards them quickly, trying to shut out the sound, and
listened to the plan, willing it to push out the other protruding thoughts.
"The house is not five minutes from where we stand," Lucius
whispered. "It's two stories high, as you can see, and the living room
faces the west. That's where the Selenai will be, I'm sure." He
raised his eyebrows as if daring one of them to question him. They kept their
silence, and so he continued. "The man should be there too. I will enter
through the kitchen, and Domias," Lucius said, turning to Igor, the
shadows of his cloak not hiding his malicious grin, "will enter through
the front. Be ready to curse when they attack you."
Igor gulped visibly and gripped
his wand tighter with shaking hands. "Eridanus," the flyer,
Lucius said, addressing the other figure, "will come with me. You'll cover
me as I attack from behind." Eridanus nodded and clutched his wand
tighter. "Now the child will be in one of the upstairs rooms, out of the
way, sleeping. Don't bother with it, it's too young to have any power and it
would just waste time to let it speak. Ophyres, you will enter through the east
window on the second floor."
The man called Ophyres was just about to object when Lucius coldly interrupted,
saying, "There is tree outside the window. You'll climb that to get in. No
magic, or our cover's blown." Opyres remained silent. "Because we
don't want the child interfering, kill it. The Dark Lord's instructions were
exactly that. It shouldn't be too hard for you, should it?" Lucius's tone
A chill ran through Ophyres's
spine, but he nodded slowly. "As the Dark one wishes," he murmured.
Lucius nodded in return. "Very good. Now we must move fast. Undoubtedly
the Aurors will be notified during the assault. We've got very little time for
diplomacy. If the man must die, kill him. However…we must ask the woman to join
us…perhaps to spare the man's life." Lucius' lips tightened into a cold
smirk. "If she declines, kill him then. I'll ask her one final time after
that, and if she again refuses...I'll deal with her."
The words hung like icicles in
the night air, and reverberated through Ophyres's mind as he swiftly jogged
towards the looming house. Kill it. Kill him. I'll deal with her. It was
the casualty with which Lucius said it that made him shiver. It was true, they
had been Death Eaters for nearly a year now, but initiates weren't used for too
much during that time, except to be trained on spiders and rats. From those
trained, the Dark Lord personally selected what facets they would be useful
for. He was setting up for a war, and only the most skilled were sent out on
missions like the one he was faced with that night. Killing little children was
not something they'd been 'trained' for - but it was a child of a Selenai, and
could grow to become a fiercer being than the Dark Lord could ever hope to be -
so there was duty in it's death.
The Selenai were a group
of witches mainly, and some wizards, whose existence excited fear in anyone who
knew of them. They were energy changers, but no one knew the full extent of
their powers. No one lived long enough to find out, but stories had been told
and records, as vague as they were, had been kept, though difficult to find.
They were shrouded with darkness, and their powers could be wielded without the
use of a wand as a focus - which was required by normal witches and
wizards. They could sense changes, shifts and imbalances in energy fields
around them. If someone used a spell within a certain range of them, they'd
know exactly what. The more evil the spell, the more energy it took, and the
further away they could sense it.
Aurors tried to track them down, to get them to join the Ministry, but there
were few left, and it had become a dirty name, Selenai, so no Auror
dared outright ask someone if they were or were not of Selenai blood.
Respect for their kind lessened, just as their numbers did, as it became more
widely known that their powers were tainted - tainted by an ancient evil and
capable only of destruction. The Dark Lord was aware that the few remaining
would make powerful allies and deadly adversaries, which was why he'd sent the
group of four to that residence - either way, he'd have one less thing to worry
A biting gale whipped by Ophyres, stinging his cheeks and breaking his clouded
thoughts. He was nearly there, but he was frightened, and though he quickly
dismissed all fear, it continued to creep slowly back, accompanied by the
hissing laughter that seemed to grow louder inside him. He was off to face one,
possibly two of these creatures.
Shaking his head, Ophyres approached the dark house. The tree was there, as
Lucius had said, and looked easy enough to climb. Its thick, knotted branches
wound themselves around the eastern corner of the house, almost like a
staircase. He began at the bottom, jumping to catch hold of a broad branch, and
pulled himself up with only a little difficulty. He continued on that way, until
he was finally level with the window, panting as he clutched the branch that
would bring him right in front of it. Now, he only had to wait. Lucius's signal
would tell him exactly when to enter.
He didn't have to wait long. It
seemed that only seconds after he'd reached the top of the tree green sparks
flew from below him. There was a shattering of glass, and the sound of wood
splintering came from the front. Ophyres hesitated, but only momentarily,
before sliding the window open noiselessly and slipping into the darkened room.
He quietly crept across the wooden floor, careful not to let it creak, but as
he reached for the door he became aware of eyes on his back.
Whirling around, with his wand
in front of him, he found himself facing a small form sitting rigid in bed. It
was a girl, and she looked barely ten, but her eyes were alert and held
something that made his insides go cold with fear. The eyes of most
ten-year-olds were vacant, and hers held what could easily be mistaken for
profound understanding - but that was not the only thing that bothered him; it
was her expression. She sat rigid, but her face was calm, showing nothing at
the fact that a hooded stranger had just entered her bedroom.
A shriek was heard from downstairs, and her eyes darted to the door behind him
before returning to him once again. She pulled the blanket back quickly and
jumped up from the bed. "Don't move," Ophyres said, giving his wand a
shake. The girl was oblivious to the venom that laced his threat and began walking
towards him, her large dark eyes fixed on his. Suddenly it felt as if the wand
in his hand was made of lead, and his arm sagged with the weight, even as he
struggled to pull it up again. Taking advantage of his moment of weakness, the
girl darted around him and yanked open the door.
For a fleeting moment he just
stood there, riveted to the spot. When she left, however, sensation burst
through his arms and legs and he sped after her, cursing under his breath. She
was almost down the stairs when he realized that he still held his wand, and
quickly shouted, "Locomotor mortis, " freezing her in
mid-stride. She fell to the floor in a crumpled pile. He slowly walked down the
stairs and roughly righted her. The only things that could move were her
startlingly dark eyes, like pools of night sky, and they burned with intense
Ophyres pulled away from her
glare with an unexplainable reluctance and began dragging her towards the
hallway when another sound caused him to turn quickly. "My patience grows
thin, and these tricks are tiring," Lucius was saying as he advanced
slowly on a woman who was crouched over a man's sprawled form. Tears were
running down her cheeks as her hands fumbled around his face, resting
sporadically in different areas, but there was no question about it, the man
Finally her hands returned to her lap, and she looked up at Lucius with the
same startlingly intense eyes as the girl. "I'd die first. You tell that
to your Dark Lord," she said angrily, and then turned when she became
aware of Ophyres and the girl watching her from the entrance to the living
room. The woman's eyes filled with fresh tears when she saw her daughter, but
she closed them momentarily. Instantly the bind that had held the girl stiff
disintegrated, and she thrashed wildly, kicking and screaming.
He hadn't been aware that the bond would break, otherwise he would have held on
tighter, but the girl had already loosened herself from his grip and was
running towards the woman, her arms outstretched. "Ophyres!" Lucius
roared, his eyes still on the woman. "One small task..." he trailed
off as the woman hugged her daughter close to her, and then he smiled from
under his cloak. All anyone could see was two thin lips curving into a smirk.
"Very well," he said finally, "two birds with one stone. Avada..."
Everything was in slow motion now. The woman was pushing the daughter away from
her. Igor and the other Death Eater, Eridanus, had appeared in the other
entrance, watching anxiously before yelling something about the Ministry...and
Aurors. The sound was thick with distortion, so much that Ophyres could barely
make out a word of it. Then, for the scarcest moment he felt another presence,
filling him, radiating with a power so strong that it almost brought him to his
knees. Thoughts began to take shape inside his mind, but they were not his own.
Images flashed through his mind, so fast he thought he might be sick. Time
around him had slowed, but he himself was moving at a breakneck speed.
"Ophyres," a voice whispered. It seemed to come from four corners at
once, from in front of him and behind him, but when he whirled around, there
was nothing there. He turned again, and found his eyes locking with the
woman's...the Selenai's. She was looking at him, almost through him, her
sad and knowing eyes boring into his, but her lips didn't move when the next
sound came, "Severus." His heart beat wildly and sweat began to bead
on his forehead, but the Selenai woman continued to stare through him
calmly, unmoving. She knew his name. He felt his chest tighten, but
before he could think another thought, the voice filled his mind, and screamed
He stumbled, clutching his head, and the presence left him as quickly as it
came. The urgency of the woman's voice, however, lingered in his memory and
rang in his ears. When his awareness finally returned to his surroundings, he
expelled the breath he'd unknowingly been holding before looking up. In front
of him, Lucius was raising his wand, his mouth was moving, and a green glow
began to run up the length of the wooden shaft. In spite of himself, Severus
found that he too was moving - stumbling forward, grabbing the girl, hearing
screams and seeing nothing but green light as he continued forward, not able to
stop, and smashed through the window in front of him.
Then time sped back to normal, and he gasped as he felt the shards of glass
tearing his cloak and ripping his skin. Blood was on his hands, and his hood
had been pushed back, stray pieces of glass etching long red lines over his
face. Blood began to drip from those wounds too, and rolled its way down his
cheek, staining the pearly white snow beneath his fingers. The night was
denser, darker as it swirled around him, and the atmosphere was one of deathly
He looked over to the girl, who'd landed not a meter from him, and was startled
to find her staring at him, her breathing labored. He tried to sit up as she
moved forward, but he felt weak, drained. His head throbbed, as did his left
forearm beneath his cloak. The Death Eaters were being summoned, something was
happening. Grimacing, he struggled to his elbows, and froze when the girl
reached out and clasped his face. Her eyes never left his, but her face
remained expressionless. "Ophyres," she whispered. A hot fire seared
through her hands into his skin and spread quickly through his body,
penetrating him to the deepest bone. He tried to pull away, to rid himself of
the sensations bubbling under his skin, but she gripped him tightly - too
tightly for a ten-year-old girl - but that thought was only freed after the
His head began to swim, and his
thoughts no longer ran in connected lines. They flew in from all levels of his
conscious and unconscious, until they, too, were swallowed by the searing fire
pillaging his body. Then she let go, and the fire subsided, leaving only a dull
throb. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed. Just as he
reached out to see if she was breathing, Severus felt himself being roughly
tugged to his feet.
"Didn't you hear
Igor?" the voice cried in panicked exasperation. "They're coming. The
alarm has been raised." Severus looked at the other man and saw that he
had his face uncovered, and it was pinched tightly with fear. The man's eyes
wandered over to where the girl was lying in the snow and he looked back again,
his eyes troubled. He'd seen Severus jump in front of Lucius, but couldn't
understand why. Severus himself couldn't understand it any better, but knew
he'd have a lot to answer to once they returned to the Dark Lord.
"The girl, Severus?"
He winced when he heard his name. "Dead," he replied, and then began
to stumble away from the house, leaning only slightly on the other man, who was
"She's dead, Ludo."
The other man nodded grimly, then turned to Severus. "Do you feel well
enough to Apparate?" He squinted nervously into the blackness then back at
him, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
Severus looked at him for a moment, feeling a coldness descending upon him -
not the same cold from the night, but another that gripped him tightly. His
eyes fell on Ludo's hand, clutching his wand with white knuckles and noticed
his eyes darting from him to their surroundings as if he was trying to decide
on something. Severus started when he realized why that was. The
"brotherhood" of the Death Eaters only promised so much protection
until times like this where it was every man for himself. If a Death Eater
wasn't able to escape, his "brothers" would kill him. They said it
was so that they'd be saved from torture in Azkaban, but nearly all knew that
it was really to prevent their secrets from being released to the Ministry.
But that was not the case
tonight, as Severus felt better than well. He felt as if he had slept for two
days and had just woken, revitalized. The girl...she hadn't been just a normal
"Yes," he said softly,
watching Ludo visibly relax and loosen his grip on his wand.
Severus watched Ludo Apparate, and then pulled out his wand to do the same. He
hesitated for a minute, and instinctively reached up to touch his face. Drawing
his hand back, his eyes widened in the moonlight at what they saw. There was no
blood on his hand - in fact, there was none at all, anywhere on his body. His
hands and face had completely healed.
Wonderment caused him to pause
only slightly longer, until he heard voices and saw witches and wizards
Apparating by the house. Panicking, he quickly recited his Apparation spell,
and felt himself lurching forward and falling. The last things he remembered as
darkness washed over him were the eyes of the girl, and then everything went
black, just after a voice in his head whispered something that made his stomach
heave: the girl had been one of them, she'd been a Selenai.