Chapter One: The Burning
A month after Snape left Hogwarts, Professor Balin invited him to his
plush manor house in Dorset to meet his 'old friend'. By this time, Snape
knew the identity of this mysterious friend: Lord Voldemort, the most
powerful Dark wizard the world had ever known. Or so he had heard. Snape
knew enough about the history of the Dark Arts to know Voldemort wasn't
the first wizard to make that claim, just the latest. Certainly, the deaths
caused by him and his Death Eaters had the wizarding world in an uproar,
but Voldemort would have to be much more than a murderer to gain his allegiance.
Snape was met at the door by a house-elf wearing a strip of cloth around
its middle. The creature was trembling and looked like it was on the verge
of a nervous breakdown. The house-elf led him through the hall and into
the library. Along the way, the thick smell of incense mixed with sickening
sweet perfume assailed his nostrils. He could have sworn he heard the
chattering of at least a dozen people. Snape was more than a little annoyed.
Balin didn't tell me this would be some sort of Death Eater mixer.
If he did decide to join Voldemort's movement he didn't want an audience.
"I-I t-tell M-master you is w-w-waiting." The house-elf pointed to the
divan shakily and disappeared.
He didn't sit, but preferred to look around while he waited. The shelves
were filled with magical texts of all kinds, but there were more volumes
devoted to the Dark Arts than he had ever seen before. By far the most
arresting object in the room was an old Muggle painting. He could tell
it was a Muggle creation because the picture didn't move. Two men in robes
were standing over a woman who was strapped to an iron chair covered with
spikes. She was screaming. The fact that the picture didn't move made
her agony all the more disconcerting.
"Like it? A friend had it sent over from Italy. Thought I'd get a kick
out of it."
Snape jumped when he heard Balin's voice in his ear. How could I have
let him sneak up on me like that?
His former professor chuckled. "I didn't frighten you, did I?"
"Not at all." Snape quickly regained his composure. "The painting-- it's
very... interesting." He preferred a nice, clean curse to the dirty, hands-on
approach of medieval Muggles. "But it seems like it would be awfully messy."
"The Inquisition's methods were crude, to be sure," Balin gazed at the
picture appreciatively, "but one can't help but admire their ingenuity."
He spread his arms wide. "So, what do you think of my humble home?"
"It's very nice." Too nice. "How can you possibly--?"
"Afford all this on a teacher's salary? Just a few wise investments added
to the fact that I bought the house for practically nothing when the previous
owners," he paused and grinned wickedly, "died unexpectedly."
Snape started to ask if this was one of the fringe benefits of serving
Lord Voldemort when the pair was joined by a woman-- a flawless, brown-skinned
beauty with long, dark hair and large black eyes. She was exquisite. He
never knew women like this existed. She embraced Balin and kissed him
playfully on the mouth. She was smiling, but that warmth did not carry
to her eyes.
She regarded Snape with a bored expression. As she scrutinized him more
carefully there was a barely disguised look of revulsion on her face.
Balin whispered something in her ear and suddenly she was smiling again.
"Severus, this is Isela," Balin said, "she'll entertain you while I see
to other matters."
Isela took him by the arm and gazed at him seductively. Snape felt a
wave of terror wash over him. "What about Lord Voldemort?"
"The Dark Lord is occupied at the moment. Isela will bring you to him
when it's time." Balin patted him on the shoulder. "Enjoy yourself, Severus."
"Do not worry, Rupert," she said, "he will." She led him through the
grand house, casually chatting about the latest news in the Prophet:
the Muggle killings by the Death Eaters. She spoke with a charming, cultured
Spanish accent. Her black silk robes were sitting well off her shoulders,
exposing the curve of her ample bosom. They finally settled in a decadently
furnished room where a few other couples were lounging and talking intimately.
He recognized some of the faces as former Slytherin classmates. So,
I'm not the only one Balin recruited.
He just sat there, looking about nervously, not having the slightest
clue what to do with this beautiful woman sitting next to him.
"You are very shy," Isela said finally. She had one arm draped around
his shoulders. She was running her other hand over his leg. "Or maybe
you do not like girls. Perhaps you would prefer a beautiful boy? We have
several that are most accommodating."
"No!" he said quickly, "I-I like girls. It's just that I never..."
"I find that difficult to believe," Isela said in a tone of voice that
made it clear it wasn't difficult to believe at all. "You need to relax."
She handed him a drink offered by the jittery house-elf he had met earlier.
He sniffed it suspiciously. "What is it?"
"You are the Potions expert-- or so Rupert says-- you tell me."
He took a sip. "Mandrake and Pulmeria." One a calmative and the other
an aphrodisiac. "It's in a sweet alcohol base I don't recognize."
"The Muggles call it champagne."
Snape regarded her with surprise. He thought Voldemort's movement was
She shrugged. "Even they occasionally stumble across something
useful." She pulled his hair back from his ear as he drained the glass
and placed a soft kiss on his neck. Then she ran her tongue along his
jaw line, sending waves of pleasure through him. She kissed him on the
mouth, at first gently then more deeply. He wrapped his arms around her
and pulled her closer.
After many minutes had passed, Isela withdrew slightly. "That is much
better," she purred. She rose and took him by the hand, bringing him to
"Is it time to see Lord Voldemort?"
She glared at him, clearly insulted. "Soon. I have not finished with
His head buzzing from the drugged champagne, he followed her upstairs
to a sumptuous bedroom.
Isela was certainly the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and she
definitely knew what to do with her voluptuous body, but there was something
in her caresses that seemed wanting. What do I know? Maybe this is
what it's supposed to be like. Severus found his thoughts drifting
to another girl. She wasn't as physically attractive as Isela, but she
had a quality this woman lacked.
He felt his body tense and relax. Then he felt a sharp, stinging pain
on his cheek. Isela had scratched him so hard she drew blood.
"How dare you call out another woman's name! You are very lucky Balin
wants you in one piece. I have killed men for less than that." She scrambled
out of bed and threw on her robe. "Get up. It's time to see the Dark Lord."
He started to explain that he hadn't meant to say Lily's name out loud,
but thought better of it. Utterly humiliated, he rose and dressed in silence.
Isela led him downstairs into a basement room that had been converted
into a dungeon, undoubtedly at great expense. Torches in silver sconces
hung from the stone walls and hundreds of candles in silver holders further
lit the room. The floor was a mosaic tile pattern of a skull with a snake
coming out of its mouth. Snape had heard about Voldemort's infamous symbol,
but he had never actually seen it.
Balin was there. So were two masked wizards guarding a terrified, young
Muggle woman dressed all in white with a crisp, white cap on her head.
As overwhelming as all this was, it was nothing compared to the creature
sitting regally in a bejeweled chair in the middle of the room. When Snape
laid eyes on Lord Voldemort for the first time, his breath caught in his
throat. Voldemort had two arms, two legs and a head, but beyond that it
was hard to believe he was human. His skin was pale and scaly, glistening
like a snake's. His eyes were red with mere slits for pupils.
Balin approached the pair and immediately noticed the nasty scratch on
Snape's face. "I thought I told you to play nice," he hissed at Isela.
Isela regarded Severus with pure loathing then glowered at Balin. "He
is alive is he not? I only hope he proves to be of more use to our Lord
than he was to me."
Snape was grateful that his former professor didn't seem interested in
hearing the details. Balin took him by the arm and presented him to Voldemort.
"My Lord, this is Severus Snape, the Potions expert I told you about."
Then Balin whispered in Snape's ear, "bow!"
Snape did so, awkwardly.
"He seems rather young," Voldemort said.
"But very talented, my Lord," Balin replied.
Isela slinked towards Voldemort, cat-like. "My Lord, I have spent the
last hour with this boy singing your praises and telling him of the joys
of my service to you." She seductively ran her hand across his chest and
"Enough, whore!" Voldemort grabbed her hand and removed it from his person.
"I can smell what you've been doing for the last hour and it had nothing
to do with singing my praises."
A visibly frustrated Isela huffed and skulked away to the other side
of the room.
Snape couldn't help snickering. He was beginning to like Voldemort already.
The Dark Lord sighed in regal annoyance. "Rupert, you are one of my most
Balin bowed his head. "Thank you, my Lord."
"You have brought me more new followers than any other, but you and your
little pet," he regarded Isela with contempt, "would do well to pay less
attention to pleasures of the flesh. It demeans our true purpose."
"And what is your true purpose?" Snape asked.
Voldemort smiled, obviously pleased with the question. "Purity and power."
He picked up an ancient book sitting on a stone altar next to him. Snape
recognized it as the Infusco Diabolus.
"I see you're familiar with this most sacred volume." Voldemort beckoned
Snape nodded. "The Infusco Diabolus is the oldest Dark Arts text
in existence." A copy sat in the restricted section of Hogwarts' library.
It was protected by a password he was never able to discover. Curiosity
piqued, he took a few steps toward the Dark Lord.
"No one knows who actually wrote it, but it has been attributed to the
great Dark wizard, Salazar Slytherin, himself." Voldemort held the book
in one hand and touched it with his wand. "Relinquo Espero!"
The book opened to a page covered with ancient writing in an obscure
language Snape didn't understand, but what was unmistakable was a stylized,
medieval version of Voldemort's Dark Mark.
"As you can see, I respect our traditions. I have taken as my symbol
the oldest and most powerful of all Dark magical symbols. Forgotten by
fearful wizards, our honored traditions have been pushed aside and relegated
to the shadows. And where has this gotten us? The Ministry of Magic cooperates
with Muggle governments. Once respected schools of magic regularly admit
Mudbloods into their ranks. Wizards and witches couple with Muggles, producing
half-breeds." His grotesque face contorted with rage. "Such actions defile
us all. They make us weak. Don't you agree, Severus?"
"Yes, my Lord, completely." The infiltration of Muggle-born witches and
wizards was making them weak. Lily was Muggle-born. And what did his infatuation
with that Mudblood witch get him? He touched the scratch on his face.
Nothing but pain and degradation. "I wish to join you, my Lord," Snape
blurted out suddenly.
Voldemort smiled and rose from his chair. "Excellent. There's just one
little thing you must do for me first." He turned to the two masked wizards
and waved his hand. Each wizard grabbed hold of one of the Muggle woman's
arms. They dragged her to the center of the room and threw her down to
her knees roughly, causing her to cry out.
"This Muggle's job is to nurse weak Muggle's back to health. She helps
deliver their babies and comforts their dying. Her compassion towards
her kind is an abomination." Voldemort locked his snake-like eyes with
Snape's. "Kill her and prove yourself worthy of my Mark."
Severus drew his wand, but hesitated. He was as spiteful and vindictive
as the next Dark wizard, but in the past he'd cursed people who had irritated
him or wronged him in some way. This woman was a Muggle-- that should
have been enough to make him hate her, but for some reason he was having
trouble mustering up the emotion necessary to do the deed. Distracting
him further was the Muggle woman's constant murmuring. It almost sounded
like a spell of some kind. Whatever it was, she kept repeating it over
and over again. He could only just make out the words:
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee..."
"My Lord," Balin said nervously, "the boy is inexperienced in these matters.
He's been locked away in Hogwarts under that fool Dumbledore's nose."
In the seven years Snape had known him, this was the first show of anxiety
he had ever seen in his former professor.
"...Holy Mary, Mother of God..."
"Well, then, Rupert," Voldemort replied with an evil, snaky grin, "you
must show him how it's done."
Balin, obviously pleased to be of service, drew his wand and pointed
it at the woman.
"...pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. A--"
The woman was dragged to her feet as if she were a puppet controlled
by invisible strings. Her right arm and then her left were pulled behind
her back until her arms popped out of their sockets with a sickening sound.
But that was nothing in comparison with the sound of her screams. Balin,
on the other hand, was laughing with delight.
Isela, now standing on the other side of Snape, drew her wand as well.
The woman was now being pulled in two different directions. Snape wondered
with morbid curiosity if they were trying to rip her in half. Suddenly,
the woman in white caught Snape's eyes for a split second. The message
she was trying to convey was undeniably clear: Kill me!
Before he was even aware of what he was doing, Severus pointed his wand
at the woman and boomed, "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
The woman dropped, dead, in a twisted heap onto the stone floor.
Balin turned on him angrily. "I wasn't finished with her yet!"
"That is the second time tonight you have finished before others have
had their turn," Isela said petulantly.
Snape felt his cheeks burn. He was really beginning to hate this woman.
"I'm sorry, I got carried away."
"Think nothing of it, boy," Balin said in a fatherly way, "with more
practice you'll learn how to prolong the act-- of torturing and killing,
"It was much quicker than I had hope it would be, but it will do for
now." Voldemort glanced at the two masked wizards. On cue, they dragged
the woman's dead body away. He turned back to Snape. "On your knees."
Severus did as Voldemort ordered. Isela roughly pushed up the left sleeve
of his robe then moved away from him.
Lord Voldemort stood over Snape and drew his wand with a dramatic flourish.
Then he pointed it at his exposed forearm. "EXURO MORSMORDRE!"
Blinding green and red light shot from Voldemort's wand and burned into
Snape's flesh. At first, he just felt as if his arm were on fire, then
the explosive heat spread to his entire body. Suddenly, every part of
him was violated by the darkest evil imaginable. No part of him was spared.
The evil enveloped his very soul.
It took every ounce of will he had not to faint. When he managed to focus
his eyes again, he looked down at his arm. The Dark Mark, ugly and red,
was there where it would be for all time. It still burned. The pain was
excruciating. With Balin's help, he managed to rise to his feet.
"Welcome, Severus," Voldemort said, a satisfied smile on his face, "you
belong to me now."