Bane of My Existence
by Dream Howler

Author Notes: I am very sorry that it has been so long since I have posted. I started college in Feb 2015, and I have been so busy between school and work. I also had a couple of hard drive problems awhile back that made me lose 95% of what I had written. When I started trying to re-create it, the words were just not coming to me. When I started to lose another hard drive, a friend of mine helped me recover it, and the previous hard drive as well. I was so ecstatic, you wouldn't believe. LOL! I really hope that this chapter was worth the wait!

Author Thanks: Thanks to Yvette for helping me, beta read this chapter. Yvette picked right up where she left off like we hadn't gone years without speaking. I can't thank her enough for agreeing to continue to beta read for me. Also, thanks to the Grammarly Software. Sometimes it is a little too helpful, but it has definitely helped me improve as a writer.

Copyright Notice: This plot/story is ©2004 - 2016 by Dream Howler. This story is the sole property of its author, and may not be copied, in whole or in part, or posted on any other website without the written permission of the author. As for the characters and anything you recognize from the books that are in this story, they are the property of J.K. Rowling. I am not receiving money for writing this story, and have no money for any lawyers to take should they decide to sue me.

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Chapter 12: Horcruxes, Nagini, Voldemort's Plans, and surprising shocks.

It wasn't a surprise to Harry to learn that he had a Horcrux embedded into his scar. In fact, it made sense. Harry had always felt oddly around evil, and sometimes his scar bled when he was exposed to too much evil at one time. This also explained why he could speak Parseltongue because he was almost sure that the ability wasn't in his family tree. However, he was curious if he could find out for sure.

When Harry walked into his Saturday class with Severus, he was burning with curiosity. He asked Severus if he had ever heard his mother or father use the language, Severus tilted his head sideways and looked perplexed. "No, not that I was ever around to hear. I can, however, help with that particular matter. I have meant to discuss it with you. I disagree with the Headmaster when he says that "love," is the weapon that will kill the Dark Lord." Severus said with a sneer before he spoke again. "There is a potion that has some rather rare ingredients that will do a family tree that will list any particular talents that you and each family member had. It's hardly used anymore due to the precise nature of the ingredients."

"Are they rare ingredients?" Harry asked. "It's not as if I don't have money. If they can be bought, I am sure I can pay for it."

"Most of the ingredients are normal; however, the rarest ingredient is what makes the potion restricted. I would need to collect some of your blood."

Harry looked at Severus with a mixture of surprise and curiosity. "So they banned the potion due to it using blood? Is all blood magic banned?"

Severus cleared his throat and shrugged. "Most yes, the only legal blood magic that is currently performed in the Wizarding World at this time are for adoptions. That ritual is heavily guarded by the Ministry and you are required to allow them to do it. The people that used the ritual are spelled into secrecy on how it was also performed. However, there are those among the Purebloods that know the secret from before the ministry had it concealed."

"Wow, that's weird. I wonder why they are so adamant about keeping it a secret."

"Well, blood is a very powerful ingredient, Harry. If used improperly or for evil purposes, it can make someone very ill, kill, or depending on the ritual, very powerful. I have always suspected that the Dark Lord used such rituals to steal more power before his earlier demise."

Harry nodded, looking worried. "Do you think he has used any of those rituals since he has returned?"

"I think at this point; he is probably lucky that he is standing. With every Horcrux that we have destroyed, he has looked weaker and weaker. That is most likely the reason he was having me feed Nagini. I think having parts of his soul destroyed has done more damage than we first anticipated. Though, he doesn't have a problem killing anyone, however."

Harry smiled slightly. "Well, that's good to hear that he appears to be weakened. Do you think he suspects they are being destroyed? The only problem now is how to get the one out of me to kill him for good."

Severus nodded. "As for if he suspects, no, I do not think so. He hasn't left the hideout for some time due to his increasing weakness, though only I seem to be able to tell that he is in a weakened state. The rest will work itself out if you went through with the potion. Hopefully, you may find out what talents you may be able to call on to do so. We would, of course, have to keep the potion a secret, even from the Headmaster, and especially your friends."

Harry nodded; he was filled with a little excitement, curiosity, and a mixture of fear and anxiety. "I don't think I could tell anyone about the potion anyway, someone could use it against me right?"

"Yes, if they turned you into the Ministry, they would take me in as well, and we would probably both spend time in Azkaban if we are lucky. Regardless of the consequences, I am positive that you will need this information. Let's get started. You don't have any classes today, and it's hours before curfew. The faster we get the potion done and apply it to parchment, the quicker we will achieve results."

Harry nodded and followed Severus into his secret potions lab from his quarters. Perhaps, Harry would find some ability that would be useful. "Severus? Would it list my skills as well as my ancestors?"

"Of course, it starts with you at the bottom and works its way through your parents and backward on both sides. It will also tell you if your ancestors were Pureblood, Half-Blood, Muggle-Born, Squib, Muggle, full or part Creature."

"Creature? You mean if the person was not entirely human?"

"Yes, in other words, Werewolf, Veela, Vampires, Giants, etc."

"Wow, I never thought to consider I may have non-human ancestors."

"Well, you already know I have a touch of Siren in my ancestry. Though how that is possible is beyond me. I can only assume that she used a human wizard to get pregnant, and then gave the child to the wizard to raise when it turned out to be a boy. Sirens are only female so a male child would be no use to her. Though, male children do sometimes get some Siren traits." Severus said.

"Yeah, we can only assume how that happened, we will never know."


Voldemort had no idea what was wrong with his beloved snake Nagini. Some of her activities were normal; however, sometimes it was almost as if the snake was on autopilot. He had done several diagnostic spells on her and even had an animal healer come to look at her. The healer told him that the snake was in good health, regardless of the insistence by Voldemort that she was acting oddly. The animal healer had mentioned that perhaps their bond was weakened enough to make the snake seem to be acting strangely.

When Voldemort summoned his magic to see if the bond was broken or weakened, he noticed no bond to his beloved familiar. How had he not felt the bond break? When he tried to re-establish the relationship, the snake curled up on itself and died. He was understandably distraught, especially since his familiar was dead, a part of his soul was now gone. In a fit of rage, he begin to throw around curses randomly, not caring who he killed. Sadly, for the animal healer, one hit him, killing him instantly. However, for once, the death didn't make him feel any better.

He stood and retreated to his room after telling his Death Eaters to dispose of the bodies of the ones who he had hit with a curse. He walked toward his bookshelf and pulled out the copy of the book where he learned how to make Horcruxes. It was one of very few in existence; he had made sure of that. The only copies he didn't have were heavily warded in several personal libraries. He flipped through the well-worn pages, skimming the pages until he got to the appropriate passage:

If you use a living host for a piece of your soul, the soul piece dies when the host dies. This is why it is recommended that any to cast this spell use inanimate objects due to the likelihood that they will not be destroyed and are easily hidden.

Voldemort cursed to himself and thought back to the day he had made Nagini a Horcrux. It was an accident though it was a way to tie the powerful magical snake to him. He had hoped after the fact that since the snake was young, strong, and healthy that he would not have to worry about the soul piece being destroyed before he could move it to another being or object. Now, it was too late. He had no idea how the soul bond had been broken between him and his familiar. Perhaps since he was too weak to feed her himself that she had broken the bond. Perhaps Severus would know what happened to his familiar. He would contact him on his minion's school break, it would be easier for him to get away without Dumbledore suspecting.

The special concert for Professor Dumbledore was supposed to be right after Yule break. This would give everyone a chance to get back to school before the concert, and give the children time to spend with their families. However, as the week of the show began, Professor Dumbledore was suddenly in the hospital wing. He had opted not to go to St. Mungo's though Madam Pomfrey had practically begged him to go. He had summoned his personal healer to the school, but there wasn't much he could do. Healer Laurent said that he would contact an expert in curses for him. However, since the private purpose of the concert was to give Professor Dumbledore some enjoyment since he was dying, the show was pushed forward a couple of weeks.

When the day finally arrived, Severus took the stage a little apprehensively since the song he was about to sing was specifically aimed at Dumbledore to begin with. Severus had thought he would have the Ex-Headmaster cured by now, so he had saw no sense in not practicing the song. However, perhaps it was time to let Dumbledore know how he felt. He began to sing a song he titled: Numb.

I'm tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)

I've become so numb, I can't feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
I'm becoming this, all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

Can't you see that you're smothering me,
Holding too tightly, afraid to lose control?
'Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you.
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you.
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)
And every second I waste is more than I can take.

I've become so numb, I can't feel you there,
Become so tired, so much more aware
I'm becoming this, all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you.

And I know
I may end up failing too.
But I know
You were just like me with someone disappointed in you.

I've become so numb, I can't feel you there,
Become so tired, so much more aware.
I'm becoming this, all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you.

I've become so numb, I can't feel you there.
(I'm tired of being what you want me to be)
I've become so numb, I can't feel you there.
(I'm tired of being what you want me to be)

As Severus finished the song that he had debated on singing at the concert, he sighed. The crowd loved the song, but he still felt a little guilty. Dumbledore was dying, after all, perhaps he should have either warned him of what he was doing before he sang the song, or asked the band not to sing the song, but it was too late now.

He glanced out over the crowd, and even though the lights were shining in his eyes, he saw Dumbledore sitting on the front row, his eyes sparkling with unshed tears. As he caught Severus looking at him, Dumbledore nodded, and for once, Severus actually realized that Dumbledore understood. That was all that Severus had ever wanted to see from his Mentor.

He wasn't about to give up on Dumbledore's recovery plan, but he knew now that Albus regretted all the things he had asked Severus to do over the years to earn his freedom. That was the one thing that would stick to Severus the rest of his days.

The rest of the concert flew by, and Severus was even kind enough to stick around for a little bit and sign autographs, which he hadn't done the previous show. Severus even chuckled when Albus came over with a Wizarding photograph that he was pretty sure Colin Creevy had taken and asked him to make it out to his friend Albus.

The situation with the war had gotten worse, with the unsuitability of Grimmauld Place, the Headmaster had told Severus and Minerva of an ancient war room that Harry had discovered within Hogwarts. The day of the called meeting, the three youngest of the summoned group hurried in, out of breath. It seemed that they had run all the way to the meeting. Severus hoped that the three hadn't been followed.

Severus called the meeting to order, much to the disgust of some of the members of the Order. Some of them had never trusted Severus due to his role as a spy. After he had spoken, Dumbledore rose from his chair, nodding to Severus to raise the War Wards, looking so old and frail, that the rest of the order quickly quietened down and looked at him.

"My friends, I am sorry to say, that I must turn the daily running of the Order over to Severus and Minerva. My condition has robbed me of my vigour, and needless to say, I am spending more time in bed in the hospital wing than I would like. As most of you know, Severus is no longer at the Dark Lord's side. This means that we have lost intelligence of the enemies of the Light. However, considering the last bit of intelligence, he came home with, the hour of Voldemort's defeat is coming soon."

Dumbledore cleared his throat and sat down. "As some of you know, Voldemort was using a very dark ritual to keep himself alive. I can't tell you all the details, except for this. The means of his destruction is almost at hand. I urge each of you to stay vigilant. The rest of this meeting will be conducted by Severus and Minerva. I ask that you respect my wishes in this matter. Severus has done everything that could be done for me, so do not blame him for my continued illness. This is a venomous and malicious curse, made by Voldemort himself. I must get back to bed. Poppy will already be upset that I have left the bed for any length of time. The both of them have my fullest confidence and trust. I expect you to honour that." Dumbledore stood and again nodded to Severus to lower and raise the War Wards in the room, slowly made his way out of the room. It was then that Minerva that suddenly rushed toward him and helped him toward the hospital wing, leaving Severus in charge of the meeting.

"Members of the Order, I know that some of you do not want to listen to what I have to say. I understand that, as I have been living a double life for most of my life at the request of Dumbledore. However, I have never wavered in the desire to see the Dark Lord's downfall. I am sure none of you know what it's like to have someone root around your head for deception. I am sure that most of you have never felt the Cruciatus curse on you. It is not pleasant to have it used on you every time you say something that the Dark Lord doesn't like. I have been cursed over and over again, all for the Light to have the intelligence to defeat him. I have done more for the Light than you will ever know. I am not saying this to make you pity me. I am telling you this for you to know, that I want that thing stopped more than any of you could ever know. I want to have a life again, and the only way that I will ever have a life is if the Dark Lord is dead."

There were several mutterings in the crowd at the end of that sentence, but none was in outright anger at the words. Alastor Moody looked toward Severus and nodded his head once; it was a sign of respect that Severus had never thought he would receive. Severus nodded back, showing the old Auror that he understood what was happening.

"I have urged Albus to select someone else besides myself for this role. However, as someone who knows the dark forces as well as I do, he thought that I would know more about their tactics than others. I never wanted this role; however, I will take it on and do it to the best of my ability. Now, on to Order business, before you in the folders are a list of every Death Eater that I know of. These folders include anything that I have ever observed them doing, including spells, special weapons, talents, etc. I have made a stack for each person in the room for each of you to study. I sadly, don't know everyone in the dark order, as I wasn't there for most of the revels the Dark Lord had. However, the major players in the war before us are here."

Alastor looked at Severus with a hard glare. "Why have you never given us this information before now? We could have used it."

"I have only recently been able to finish and categorize each member that I have associated with. I had to go over every single encounter with each of the people in the folders to get the details in a Pensive. I am sorry to say it has taken a long time to complete. At least, we have them now, before the final battle."

Alastor grumbled a bit to himself but nodded once again, which caused Severus to continue.

"Some folders will have a note attached. There are those in the Dark Order that does not want to fight in the final battle. They will probably not show up at all, or they will pretend that they are fighting. I have noted each of those. This is so that you can watch out for them."

"Why would we need to watch out for them?" asked Tonks, who had just arrived only moments before.

"These are people that we can perhaps persuade to help us with Intel and other things. I have used Legilimency on them and made sure that their intentions were pure. They really want out of the Dark Lord's service, but the Dark Lord doesn't let you leave, he kills you. Some have families to protect, others just don't believe in his ideals anymore. Regardless of their reason, which is noted in each case, they can be our secret allies. Since I am no longer able to get intel personally, it falls to these few to give us what we need. Are there any questions?"

Not hearing anything, Severus nodded. "Okay, next meeting time will be noted on the coins that Ms Granger has so kindly provided us. It's more secure than a Patronus. She will give one to each of you, make sure that you keep it on you at all times. They are charmed to return to their owner if lost or are away from you for a length of time. This meeting is adjourned." Severus lowered the War Wards and allowed the others to mingle while Hermione walked around, giving out the coins she had created for the DA years before. After she had explained how the coins worked, the members of the Order started to file out of the room. Severus at the last moment called Harry back into the room. "Mr Potter, might I have a word with you before you go?"

Harry nodded and told his friends to go on without him. After they were alone, Severus enacted the War Wards for the room, making the room yet again safe from prying ears. "Harry, I have finished the potion that we talked about. I figured that it was safer to do this in here instead of a classroom or my chambers."

Harry nodded and sat down. "I agree. I mean, I have no idea what kind of power I have that Voldemort knows not. I am not sure that Professor Dumbledore realizes that I find it laughable to say it's love, because until I came to Hogwarts, I never knew what love was."

Severus nodded. "I understand that feeling. It was a disservice to you to be raised in that home. You should have gone to a Wizarding family, even if it had been in another country. There are many things I wish I could change about your past, but that is the one I regret most. I failed your mother in that regard, however, by the time I got out of Azkaban, I couldn't find you." Severus sighed and shook himself visibly.

Harry grinned, his smile nervous. "It's okay, Professor. You couldn't have known where I was. Who would have thought Dumbledore would have put me with magic hating my aunt and uncle? Anyway, let's get this over with."

Severus nodded, pulling out the vial and his wand. He held out his hand for Harry's and said a spell to create a small cut on his hand. After that, he gathered the needed blood for the potion and the blood flowed inside. After several moments, the vial flashed red, then green. Afterward, Severus nodded and pulled out a large stack of paper and laid it on the table.

"The piles of paper are charmed to expand and grow to complete the family tree. If it needs more paper, it will create that many. I placed enough drops that the list should go back, at least, ten generations. The pages will contain you, any titles you may inherit, parents, relatives, powers, titles, and statuses."

Harry nodded, remembering the previous conversation. As Severus moved the vial and poured it over the stack, the papers started filling with words, filling upwards with Harry's name on the bottom. However, much to the dismay of the both of them, Harry's name didn't list anything. It was a complete blur under his name where his powers and status should be.

Harry, looking a bit nervous about the recent development asked. "Professor, what does that mean?"

"In theory, I have two thoughts on the subject. You are under a powerful spell that prevents the potion from working, or it could mean, that the soul fragment in your forehead is preventing this very ancient magic to determining what and who you are. Which means it really needs to be removed as soon as possible. You may need one of the powers for the final battle. I will floo call the Goblin Healer I know in the morning and ask that she look at your scar."

Harry nodded as he continued reading the tree. However, he suddenly got a big shock. "Severus, this section of paper says that Lily Evans was an only child, and lists some interesting facts about her parentage. Aunt Petunia isn't on here."

Severus, who knew of the Petunia that Harry spoke of, quickly examined where Harry pointed on the parchment before him. "Oh, Merlin, this isn't good. That means that the wards on your home never worked at all. I always found it suspicious that Petunia never looked anything like her sister."

"Well, I could have told you that. They certainly never stopped me from being starved, beaten, or attacked by Aunt Marge and her dog."

Severus did a double take at that statement and paused several moments before answering. "We must tell Albus. Not about this potion of course, but he must know. Though, how to tell him without him knowing…"

"Perhaps we can say that we did a Muggle DNA test and it didn't match?"

"How would we explain why we did it? No, I think we will have to do a basic heritage potion in class. It uses your hair instead of blood, and only shows your relatives going back to your great-grandparents, so it's not as detailed."

"Sounds good to me."

Luckily for Harry, when Severus floo-called to the bank the next morning as the doors first opened, they were easily able to make an appointment with the Goblin Healer that very morning. Luckily, it was a Saturday, so they didn't have to worry about Harry missing school. Harry was quite relieved to find out that they had to deal with soul fragments on a semi-regular basis. Apparently, when someone made a portrait, they were asked to put an echo of their soul in the painting. This caused the picture to recall everything that had ever happened to the owner and everything that happened until the person's death.

Harry hoped that he would be able to have the soul fragment removed, but he wasn't sure if he should. He still had dreams sometimes that told him of Voldemort's plans. They needed the intel since Severus was no longer able to spy on him. However, with the way things were going at the moment, if he came time to destroy Voldemort and the fragment wasn't removed, Voldemort wouldn't die.

After being escorted through the bank, the Goblin escort, whose name was, IronKnife asked Professor Snape to sit down in the waiting room since this was a private consultation. He could have insisted on being inside with Harry, but by the look on Harry's face, there may be things he didn't want the older man to know.

The Goblin Healer was named Hilaire, who was the first female Goblin that Harry had seen at Gringotts. The bank was managed by male Goblins, which made sense because they were quite vicious when provoked. Hilaire looked quite old, but he wasn't sure if she was or not. She was of average Goblin height and had black hair with little wisps of white braided with feathers and beads. She rather looked like one of those Native American healers that he had seen in a book once at the library only Goblin shaped and not human.

After being told to lie down on the examination table, Harry laid down, trying his best not to move. Hilaire placed many runes and precious stones along his body, which Harry found interesting. Madam Pomfrey didn't use any of these methods at the school. Perhaps each race had their own methods of healing. He was sure Hermione would know what was going on, and suddenly wished he had brought her with him so he could ask.

Hilaire moved around him, taking readings with what looked like a large diamond staff. She would hum to herself, and move on to another body part. Finally, after what seemed to be eons, she finally spoke.

"Well, Mr Potter, it appears that you have a number of problems with your body, not just the soul fragment in your scar."

Harry looked at her with a confused expression on his face. "What exactly do you mean? I am not dying or anything am I?"

Hilaire shook her head. "No, young man, you are not dying. You just have some problems due to the fragment and your treatment as a child. Your core is wrapped in a sort of web of black that has seeped out from your scar. It basically means that the soul fragment has wrapped itself around your core to sustain itself. It will take some carefully prepared rituals to not only remove the web, but repair your core, and make you whole again."

Harry shuddered when she mentioned a web of black stuff around his core. He had always had a feeling that something was preventing him from using all of his magic. Now he knew why.

Harry ignored the part about his childhood and asked. "Will the ritual hurt? I always thought something was wrong with me, but I had no idea that it was something like this."

"No, Mr Potter, you will be asleep for most of the procedures. We will have to have you semi-conscious for the web removal, but we will have already dosed you with pain potions."

"Why do I need to be awake for the web removal?"

"We need to make sure that nothing happens to your core, and your core is most active when you are awake. It will help us figure out if we have to do another ritual or if you require additional potions. I would usually say that it may be best to try to heal your body first. However, the fragment may not allow it. I will have to do a few tests to determine the best course of action."

Harry nodded. "Professor Snape has been giving me a potion regimen to heal some of my damaged organs for several months now, did it help any? If it hasn't, then you don't really have to run your tests, it will be rather obvious."

Hilaire looked perplexed. "Several months you say?"

Harry nodded. "I guess that it didn't help then?"

Hilaire shrugged. "I can only imagine that it has helped. The damage I noticed did appear to have some new healing done, but it didn't look significant to completely reverse the damage. The only two theories is that the damage originally was very extensive, or perhaps the fragment has been using the potion to keep itself alive."

Harry looked down at the floor, "The damage was extensive, and I saw the scan. I… can I trust you with a secret Healer Hilaire? One that I don't want anyone to know?"

Hilaire looked offended for a moment before she truly noticed the typical signs of a child that had been abused. "Young man, I have always kept the confidences of my patients. I don't usually see many humans at all. I have been trained to do so, but I usually only take on a few human patients a year. Your secrets are safe with me, though if you wish, I will adopt a more Wizarding oath for your peace of mind."

Harry nodded, "I would appreciate it, and I am sorry to even ask, but with being who I am, many people try to exploit information about me."

Hilaire shook her head in disgust. "I am sorry that you have had those experiences child. No child should have so much of their life out in the open. However, no one said that humans were as smart as Goblins."

Harry looked up at her startled by her toothy grin and let out a little laugh. "Thanks for that. So many people don't understand that the thing they celebrate me for is the night I lost everything. I will tell you about it if you like, after the oath. Which, again, I apologize for asking for."

Hilaire shrugged, "I believe I have an idea of why you want the oath child, do not worry, and I am not offended. I, Hilaire of the Clan Heartdweller, do solemnly swear that I will keep the confidences of one Harry James Potter, and will not discuss anything related to him with anyone other than those he gives me leave to discuss it with, so mote it be." After she had finished her oath, the healer was surrounded by a pure white light, which blinded Harry for a few moments. Once the glow went away, Harry began speaking about his horrible childhood and the reasons for the potion regimen to begin with.

Once Harry had talked himself hoarse, he stopped talking. He had never told anyone the whole complete story, and by the shocked gasps, wails, and cries of outrage that came from the Goblin Healer, Harry didn't know what else he could say. The healer almost looked like she was about to cry, and Harry had only a little experience with crying females to draw a reference from.

Hilaire turned around and discretely wiped a few tears from her eyes before turning back toward her patient. She didn't know what to say, but she was grateful that the Professor had found out about the damage and tried his best to heal it without causing the child further embarrassment. "I am glad that your Professor helped you begin the process of healing. It will come in handy. If you don't mind, I would like to talk to him about this regimen that he used."

Harry nodded, "That's fine. I have no problem having him in here or you discussing my care with him."

Turning, she walked toward the door and motioned for the Professor to enter the room. After he was in the room, the Goblin addressed Severus. "I thank you for all that you have done to help Mr Potter. I only wish you had thought to include me in his care before now."

Severus nodded, "We had hoped that my regimen would have worked well enough to correct the damage. It helped cure all my ailments and that of several other choice subjects. However, it didn't seem to work the same way with Harry. We theorized that the soul fragment has been feeding off the potion and only allowing just enough to absorb so its host would survive."

"That is my theory as well. How damaged was Mr Potter's organs when the regimen started?"

"If what I saw stayed uncorrected, Mr Potter would not have lived to see his twentieth year. He was severely malnourished, his organs were damaged or dying, and it is my opinion that if he had not been a wizard, he would have died before he even got to Hogwarts."

Harry gasped softly when he heard this. Severus had not told him his estimated death was so soon, and he suddenly felt very grateful that Severus had finally put away his petty grievances to help him. Severus looked over at him with a measure of sadness.

"I should have told you, Harry. However, I didn't want you to think of a particular end date. I knew the potions would help, I am only sorry that they didn't help enough."

"Actually, Mr Snape, your potions did indeed help him. I think they will help even more once we get the soul fragment web from young Potter's core. It has sadly wrapped its darkness tight around him. Have you noticed any difficulty in casting certain spells, Mr Potter?"

"Not especially, though I do sometimes have a problem casting light spells around those that my magic determines as dark. It was one of the reasons I needed to get rid of the fragment before the final battle."

"You can determine if someone's magic is dark or light?" the Healer said in an astonished voice.

"Sometimes, I think it helps that I have a fragment of him in my forehead. I will probably lose the ability when it is removed."

"Perhaps, or perhaps not. It may be a natural ability. Some species have that ability naturally. Have you been able to determine your gifts yet, Mr Potter?"

Harry shook his head. "No, my abilities are clouded, we suppose due to the fragment. The odd thing wasn't just my fuzzy skills and status. It was the information about my mother that had both of us stumped. Professor Snape has known my mum most of her life. He was very shocked to notice that she was listed as a Half-Blood instead of a Muggle-Born. It also said that she was an only child, her parents' names are obscured. The only information we could see about her other than her genetic status was that she was listed as an Animagus, which not one of my father's friends has mentioned. I was raised by a woman that I was told was my aunt, and according to the test, she wasn't even related to me distantly."

"Ahhh, I think that is something I can help you with. When I was asked to help you, I checked for all the information that we have concerning you. I found the Heir box that was entrusted to us before your parent's death. Perhaps it can shed some light on the subject."

Harry looked enraged for several moments before calming down. "Let me guess, the box had a time limit on it, and no one thought to tell me about it?"

"You should have received it on your 16th birthday, which is usually when the Heir ring is presented to an heir. I can only assume that since your legal guardian was killed by that time that you were never given the box. I do apologize for that. I will have to get my husband to find out why your account manager didn't let you know about the box."

"Account manager? I don't have an account manager that I know of."

"Of course, you do. Everyone that has an account at the bank is given an account manager. Your manager would be the same one that your father inherited on his birth from his parents. All family members usually use the same account manager, though sometimes it is otherwise. I will have this matter investigated, you should have been contacted by your account manager as soon as you first stepped foot into the Wizarding world for the first time."

Before Harry could say anything, Hilaire waved away his response. "I promise that I will have the matter looked into, in the meantime, we must get on with the soul removal. While I gather the needed healers for the ritual, I need you to go over to the curtained off area in the corner, use the blue and green bottles to scrub your entire body, head included, and put on the white robe on the hook behind the divider, and the provided modesty cloth."

Harry nodded and looked at Professor Snape before he followed the healer's instructions. After he had moved beyond the curtain, Severus looked at the healer and whispered. "What aren't you saying?"

Hilaire put up a silencing ward, and said, "If we don't get that soul fragment out of him tonight, he may not live to see tomorrow."

Severus gasped and did his best imitation of a fish out of water. "What? I thought you said my potions were helping?"

"They are, it's probably what has kept him alive this long. The fragment has been trying to take over his core. How he has lasted this long without it happening is a blessing from the Gods. However, it is very close to breaking into the boy's core, and I fear that if we don't do this now, he won't be the boy you know much longer."

"What do you think will happen?" Severus asked, dreading the answer.

"I can only speculate, but since it is the soul of a dark wizard, I would assume that if it took over the boy's core, it would either kill him or turn him into a dark wizard as well. Another possibility, well, I am sure I don't have to say that."

Severus shuddered. "We can't allow that to happen. Is there anything else I can do to help?"

"Yes. I know you straddle the world of light and dark too well. I need you to do something against your nature. Choose the light entirely, and use that light to help fuel the ritual. Focus only your light magic, your love for the boy's mother, and the caring you have come to feel for the boy into the circle."

Severus stumbled against the altar that was in the middle of the room. "You want me to what? How do you know any of that? I have never told you any of that."

"I know many things, Severus Tobias Snape. I have been blessed with the ability to heal, but I also am a minor Seer. Most of the time, the ability is latent, however, after you called upon me this morning, I had several visions on how this ritual would occur. The only chance of success is for you to feed your light magic into the circle. If you do not, Harry will die when the piece of soul is removed."

While both Harry and Severus were being cleansed for the ritual, the Goblins activated the runes to cleanse the ritual space of any contaminates and remains of previous rituals. Harry had never seen a ritual before and absorbed what he could while he was waiting. When the time came, Harry was laying on the altar, and Severus was placed on a stool covered in runes, near Harry's head. Harry had been told only the barest of information in regards to Severus being in the ritual circle, but he was glad for the presence of his Professor during the portion of the ritual where he would be awake.

Hilaire returned to the ritual circle in a beautiful arraignment of leather, beads, feathers, and covered in runes from head to toe and even on her clothing. The Goblins around her were more sedately attired, but each had runes covering the surface of their clothing. Harry was already given a paralyzing potion, and pain potions, which would keep him still during the removal of the fragment. He was so scared, but he tried his best to keep a positive outlook.

The ritual was in the Goblin language, so Harry really didn't understand what was said. He didn't think anything was happening at first, but after several minutes, he felt a soothing energy coming from his head. Harry knew that Professor Snape must have a job to do in the ritual, and he assumed this was it. He felt comforted and if he could have shivered, he would have been in awe of the light magic that was flowing throughout the circle from his Professor. Harry had no idea that Severus was capable of such pure light magic.

After a while, Harry felt a tug inside his chest. If he hadn't been so doped up on pain potions, he would have screamed out in pain. It was then he felt the soothing magic of his Professor again, and it calmed his racing heart. In what seemed like hours later, a very exhausted looking Hilaire called to Severus. "Severus, I know you are tired, but he needs just a bit more magic from you. Say the words Severus, you have them within you."

"Lady Magic, hear my cry, give me the strength to choose the right side. Let my magic be cleansed of all the dark magic in my soul, so that I may be able to help this boy, who you have tasked with an important mission. So I Ask, So Mote It Be!"

Severus let out a cry, as the healing energies in the circle converged on the older man, and cleansed him of all the dark magic that was staining his soul. When it was done, Severus gasped. He felt so alive! He had never felt this well even when he was a child. With his new found energies, he pushed all the magic he could into the young boy, giving everything he could. He knew he would soon pass out from exhaustion soon, but he didn't care. While Severus wasn't looking, a scream erupted in the air, and a stream of black leaked down the arm of the man, and was absorbed into the rune set at his feet.

After several moments, Harrys' mouth opened in a silent scream, and a slimy, oily black substance came pouring out of Harry's scar. The smoke hovered over the boy, an angry face arising from the cloud, looking out of the smoke. While the smoke was distracted, Hilaire and the other Goblins chanted in earnest, and she held up a globe, using the magic of the circle to trap the smoke inside it. Severus sagged against the altar, and while he was catching his breath, Hilaire was pouring a potion down Harry's throat. Once Harry could move again, the both of them were levitated down the hallway and into a guest suite. Where both of them passed out cold.

Twelve hours later, Severus awoke with a start. He looked around the room and noticed Hilaire was checking on Harry. The boy had already gained some colour, and seemed to be resting peacefully. He stood on shaky legs and walked toward the other bed and sat on the edge.

"How is he?"

"He is doing much better, thanks to you, Severus."

Severus shook his head. "I wouldn't have been able to help without you. I didn't even think that I was even really helping." Severus at that moment looked up and noticed a mirror in the room. Severus looked stunned. His appearance that he used for singing in Harry and Draco's band was completely visible. He made a move to put the guise back on, but Hilaire shook her head.

"I don't think it's possible for the image to work now though you may try if you so wish. Also, I suggest you check your arm, Severus."

"What do you mean? I have used it for a number of years, why would it suddenly stop working?" Severus didn't understand the previous comment and continued on the vein of the other part of the conversation.

"You are a different person now, Severus. The darkness is completely gone, all of it, and it was the darkness that allowed you to lock that guise to your core."

"I didn't create it with dark magic, it was just to let me walk around without being a disruption."

"And you no longer need that."

"I can't teach like this! The students won't pay attention to me looking like this, they are distracted enough when I sing, I don't need them blowing up cauldrons too."

Hilaire laughed, showing off her many razor sharp teeth. "Do not worry, I will give you an object that you can wear with the proper runes to let you assume your old guise. However, if you gradually let your new light show, and prove to them that you still will accept no funny business in your class, I think that you will not need it long. Just don't tell them where you got it from."

Severus stuttered for a moment and then nodded his head. "Thank you. I would very much appreciate that."

"Now, check your left arm Severus, then we will talk about Harry."

Severus looked down at his arm, where the ugly mark had been for so much of his life, it was faded, and no longer caused him pain. It had been painful for a number of years now. He didn't remember a time when it didn't hurt.

"It's mostly gone…"

"Yes, all the magic he was stealing from you is gone now. The next time he tries to summon you, check your arm, it should be gone completely, and it will guide you to his defeat."

Severus nodded, his face a mixture of elation, slightly of hope, and much relief. "Thank you, Hilaire. I don't know how to repay you."

"It's just a nice side effect of the ritual, Severus. Now, let's talk about the young boy now, your potions should work to fix the rest of the damage. If it doesn't, please bring him to me immediately. I would prefer to check him out again before this battle you spoke of. I will give you an emergency portkey to bring you directly to my ritual space lobby. Be sure to use it before the battle if you can. He will need all the help he can get."

Severus nodded, watching her walk out of the room. As soon as Harry was awake, he took him back to Hogwarts, where several anxious people were waiting at the front doors. "He is fine, he just needs his rest. I will take him to my guest room where I can watch him overnight. No arguments."

Minerva, Hermione, Ron, Draco, and Poppy looked like they wanted to argue, and he wasn't about to have a room full of Gryfindors in his chambers, so he finally compromised and told them that Draco could come with him. After speaking, Severus quickly lifted Harry and took him to his private rooms and laid Harry on the bed. "I will leave you to help get him comfortable, Draco. I need just as much rest as he does at this point."

Draco nodded and began to pull Harry's socks and shoes off and summoned Harry's pyjamas and replaced them with his clothes with a flick of his wand and settled down next to Harry to sleep.

It had been several weeks since Severus had last dosed Nagini when got a reaction from the Dark Mark. He could tell it was different from the last time he was summoned. It was weaker and it barely bothered him at all. In times past, a summons from the Dark Lord came with excruciating pain just to remind him that he was the Dark Lord's minion and subject to his will. Now it barely tickled. Severus looked across the table toward the Headmistress and gave her the signal for a meeting with the Order. It was time it seemed to end this horrible nightmare once and for all.

Standing, he quickly sauntered down the aisle toward what was now being called the War Room. Once there, he tapped the large round table with his wand and sent out a signal to all the members of the Order, and the youngster that had the task of defeating Voldemort. Incidentally, he summoned Granger and Weasley as well. There was no doubt in his mind that the both of them would try to follow Harry if he went off to fight without them. He almost summoned Draco, but considering the boy was his godson, he didn't know if he would want him in the fight. If he followed Potter later, well, that was not his decision.

While waiting, Severus checked his arm for the mark, and as Hilaire had predicted, it was gone completely. It was time, the Dark Lord would soon be gone from this world, never to return this time.

After a good hour, all of the requested members had arrived. Some looked harried and sleepy; others looked like they had just gotten off work. The three students looked like they had run all the way to the room. Severus would have to talk to them about using more discretion later.

Severus cleared his throat and looked around the gathered group. "I was summoned tonight."

Severus had waited a moment before he continued since several people started talking at once. Again, he cleared his throat and quieted down the group. "I didn't call you here for insignificant reasons. If you will please stop interrupting, I will inform you of why I called this meeting."

Chagrined they quietened and looked attentively at Severus. After waiting for any more interruptions, Severus began to explain. "I know that none of you understand this since you haven't experienced it yourself. However, usually, when the Dark Mark summons the Dark Lord's followers, it is a sharp, intense pain that sometimes hurts for days afterward. When I was called this evening, it was a mere tickle and had no compulsion behind it to journey to his side. In other words, the Dark Lord is beyond weak, and it is time we put final plans into motion."

"How do we really know he is weak enough to attack?" said Alastor Moody.

Severus rolled up his sleeve and presented his unblemished arm. "In a ritual last month, the power behind the Dark Mark was removed from my core as a side effect of a cleansing ritual for Mr Potter. It was faded, and the leaching effect on my magic disappeared. I was told by the healer that when he tried to use it to call me, it would disappear completely if he was weak enough to defeat. She is a minor Seerer, and she has rightly predicted the conditions of the Dark Lord's downfall."

Severus looked over toward the ex-Headmaster and noticed that he looked even older than he had last seen him several weeks before at the concert. He then looked over at Harry, who had a look of determination, and slight embarrassment on his face, though he looked perplexed about something. He caught Harry's gaze and lightly skimmed the boy's surface thoughts after Harry nodded. We need to call Ms Hilaire.

Severus nodded his head, and sent a thought of after the meeting tonight toward the boy and addressed the crowd. "We shall meet back here tomorrow night with everyone that can. We need to make formulate plans on where the battle will take place, and other things. We want as little casualties on our side as we can." Severus looked toward Albus, giving him the floor to talk before the murmurs got out of hand.

Albus nodded and addressed the group. "My friends, I am not able to do any fighting due to the curse that is upon me. Severus and several others have been working diligently on a cure, but so far, the curse seems resistant to every form of potion, charm, curse breaking, or natural magic. Since I cannot lead, and there is no stronger strategists among us, it falls upon me to leave Severus and Minerva in charge of the final battle. As much as it pains me, my magic is more focused on keeping me alive, which doesn't help in casting spells for the fight. I will, of course, be doing all I can from the sidelines to help the cause. I would not abandon you if it were not dire."

Severus sent a sad look toward Dumbledore, feeling like he has failed his Mentor in several ways by not being able to find a cure, even Hilaire said that the curse was too well rooted to be of any help. He turned again and addressed the group. "I know that you are not used to following my orders. However, I am in co-charge of this endeavour. I hope that you will listen to me and make an effort to follow my rules so that we all come out of this battle alive. Try to arrive at the same time as today. If you can't make it, please send Minerva or myself a note so we know not to expect you. Mr Potter, please stay, I would like a word with you."

Author Notes: There are only a few more chapters left to this story. I have finally seen the ending! I will be sorry to see this story go, but I hope you have enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Numb is by Linkin Park.

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