Chapter 10: Hide and Seek With a Dealing Demon and Company
Voldemort hissed and glared viciously at Severus when he dared to offer his arm to his daughter. Teddy was holding him at the moment, so there wasn't much he could do in retaliation at the time. He vowed that the fool wouldn't be able to as much as crawl later when he had the chance to punish him.
"Hmm, we might as well just browse for a bit since we are already here don't you think?" Teddy looked up at his mom when she said this, smiling at the happy grin stretching her face. They had had so little to smile about for so long that it was hard to believe that they could still smile.
Rabastan coughed slightly, feeling way too dry. He grimaced, knowing that he would need to get into saltwater sometime within the next few hours. He had been putting it off and was now paying the price for his procrastination. Speaking of procrastination.
The demon was fed up with the banging on the wall separating him and Severus. Growling softly, he split his attention between Ailana guiding him along unintentionally with her arm hooked in his and his human side. "Enough!" Severus jumped at the mental shout the demon aimed at him.
"Fuck you!" The demon snorted, drawing a raised brow from Ailana. He shook his head and grinned at her.
"We both know I'm stronger than you, so watch your tone human." His voice was icy and Severus was uncomfortably reminded of their difference in strength. "I don't like you and you don't like me, but we're stuck in the same body, so suck it up princess."
Severus sputtered in rage and disbelief. Princess! Who the fuck was he calling Princess! He snarled and punched the wall, only to howl and cradle his fist as it screamed in agony. The demon was laughing at him, and it only served to piss him off even more.
"When I get out—." He began screaming at the demon only to suddenly find himself unable to speak. He raged silently as the demon began speaking.
"If, you mean if you get out. The only reason I haven't snuffed you out is for the aura you possess that masks mine human, so watch what you say very carefully." Severus paled and grit his teeth. The demon had to lying, it had to be. Said demon was lying through its teeth all right, not that he would be telling the human the truth any time soon. He would have to play this just right in order to get what he wanted. "Which is why I propose a deal."
Severus paused in his panicking, suspicion and dread clawing at him. Deals made with demons almost never turned out well for anyone but the demon. He pinched the bridge of his nose as he thought before hesitantly nodding that he was willing to listen. He never noticed that the demon returned his ability to speak.
"We merge, becoming a new person of sorts." Severus blinked and gaped nonplussed. What sort of fucking deal was that! "Or I could simply keep you locked away forever and might just snuff you out eventually if you become too bothersome." Fuck, fuck, fuck! Shitty deal aside, Severus realized that he had no idea if the demon was actually telling the truth or bluffing and lying through its teeth. This was why demon inheritances were so dangerous. The demon was more likely to take over the human's body and shove aside the mortal soul. He had only recently been dealing with the bastard, it having remained fairly silent for most of his life, not giving him the opportunity to build up resistance to it. Sure Occlumency helped, but it obviously wasn't enough
Another thought hit him then. Creature inheritances were not supposed to produce a whole new personality. They were supposed to produce strong creature instincts, although demons might very well be an exception. Yet something was whispering in his mental ear that even demons shouldn't be so…human. They should be the dark desires and thoughts, the evil hidden in one's heart, so why his different, why was was it like a whole different person?
Severus was partially right, his demon shouldn't be quite so human; it should be impressions, instincts, a little voice in his ear whispering things seductively that could make him its slave. A separate personality, one that did not act so human. Had the demon not received the impressions of memories from a different Severus Snape then it would not be so human. This was the root of the problem; one that the demon vowed never to let the human get wind of.
"I need time to think on this." The demon felt a truly evil grin stretch his face, and laughed darkly in response, startling his companions. His aura flashed strongly, shoving away the human one clinging to it briefly.
"Take all the time you need little human, after all, I have forever." How reassuring.
Ailana glanced up at Severus in worry, gnawing on her lower lip. He had been awfully quiet for a while now, which while not unusual, reeked of something more than simply being his brooding antisocial self. She jumped slightly when he began to grin manically and practically cackle. Evil seemed to ooze from his body and she gulped. The others shuffled away from them with frightened looks, not that she blamed them. Hell, she was trying to fight the urge to cringe away.
Voldemort stiffened and stared hard at Snape when he felt a wave of something roll off of him along with what sounded suspiciously like a cackle. He narrowed his crimson eyes and flicked out his tongue. Confusion filled him. Snape's scent, taste really, was different. It was chaotic, violent. Granted, most of the time it was violent, but it was as though that aspect was enhanced. The chaotic aspect was completely new; Snape was level headed and calm, not chaotic at all. So why was he so different all of a sudden? Sure he had detected hints of the chaos and a slight increase in violence, but it had just now spiked dramatically.
'What the fuck was going on?'
Sirius snarled as he dodged around another nonplussed wizard. Damn that slimy git! His thoughts mainly revolved around what he was going to do once he got his hands on the bastard. Some hidden sense of self-preservation began raising an alarm and red flags, screaming that this was a bad idea. Sirius ignored it, not once doubting his ability to take down Snape. He really should learn to listen to his instincts more often when in regards to Severus Snape.
A maniacal grin contorted his face, which would have made him look truly terrifying, but with such horrendous robes, ruined the image. It did serve to make him look like an idiot, a bat shit crazy idiot that is. He could hear James behind him, trying to catch up and avoid the hysterically laughing people in Knockturn Alley as he ran.
James was of a similar opinion, practically frothing at the mouth in his fury. He knew that Sirius had a better chance of finding Snape and the others than he did due to his animagus form being a dog.
One thing he failed to account for was the layout of Knockturn Alley. Unlike Diagon Alley and others, Knockturn twisted and turned, looped and curved all over the place with no rhyme or reason. It was a nightmare for law enforcement and a dream come true for criminals. This was the main reason Aurors rarely ventured into the labyrinth known as Knockturn Alley. Hit Wizards had a bit more luck seeing as they had less reason to worry compared to an Auror when traversing the streets of Knockturn. They were less likely to be attacked by criminals and had little hesitation to kill or use Dark magic if need be.
Like any dark place, it was confusing and disorienting, messing with the mind and the senses as light and sound were bent and transformed. Shadows could come alive and a whisper could become a monstrous roar. The magic saturating the area also had a hand to play in this. It could make the mind foggy and confused, it could increase one's fears, and it could even control some. It could make illusions to befuddle one and push unease and fear into panic. It was not a place for the faint hearted and weak minded. The deeper into Knockturn Alley, the worse it became, the more potent the Dark magic. If you were Dark or at least used Dark magic every now and then, then there was a good chance you would survive Knockturn Alley fully sane…or simply just survive. The people and creatures of Knockturn are what the true danger in such cases became.
In large groups it was safe enough usually. So long as emotions were not clouding the mind already that is. Unfortunately for James and Sirius, both were lost to their rage and didn't notice the dark magic reaching out from the stone and wood walls and Cobblestone Street. Luckily for them, Dumbledore and Moody were not too far behind and both knew perfectly well the dangers of Knockturn that so many others seemed to forget. They were also far calmer than Sirius and James and were easily able to ignore and avoid the effects of Knockturn Alley.
"Shouldn't the children stay here with their mothers?" That question brought said children and mothers up short. The Auror glanced at the entrance to Knockturn Alley nervously, eyeing it like it was a rabid beast about to pounce. Not a bad comparison actually.
"Yes." He turned to look at his friend, then at the children and the women. Said women did not look pleased by this, but understood all too well the dangers of Knockturn Alley.
"We'll just wait nearby then."
Ailana peered through the grimy window of a bookstore that she had never heard about in her original dimension. The others were looking at other stores, though they remained nearby. Teddy still had her father, who was still a very colorful snake. She supposed she should feel bad for him, but was unable to summon the sympathy. Oh well.
"It has fairly interesting books." Ailana jumped, having forgotten that Severus was standing behind her. Damn him, he had always been a sneaky bastard. She turned her head a bit to look over her shoulder at him. His dark eyes glinted almost evilly in the low light of Knockturn Alley and an almost invisible ring of red was around the pupil of each eye. She probably wouldn't have seen it if it weren't for how close she was to his face. It appeared that the demon was in control. That would explain his odd behavior.
"So…should I call you Severus or something else?" The demon stiffened, knowing that the gig was up in regards to Ailana. He grabbed her hand and tugged her gently towards the door of the bookshop.
"Severus is fine." He whispered the words into her ear, chuckling when she shivered in response.
"We're going in here for a bit." The rest of the group looked up at her as she said this and a few of them, including Fenrir and her son who hurried over to join them. The others wandered off a bit into nearby stores.
It was a good thing that they did, for not five minutes later did a group of very strange people go rushing past. Only one of them paused and turned towards the store. Remus was surprised that Sirius had run past the store when the scent trail was strongest there. He supposed it had something to do with Knockturn fucking around with him. As a werewolf, he wasn't affected as severely as a normal Light wizard or witch would be.
He cautiously entered the dark and dusty store. The quiet murmuring stopped and silence filled the air except for furious whispering and the sound of running. He sneezed and closed his eyes in dismay. Great, now the people in the store were aware that someone else had arrived, and they most likely knew exactly who he was due to Greyback's nose and wolf. 'Damn it!' He should have known better.
Ailana saw Fenrir stiffen and sniff the air a few times. When he growled, she knew something was up.
"There's another werewolf here, one that I turned." He whispered so quietly that she could barely hear him. She stared at him in confusion. This supposed to be bad news? "I believe it is Lupin." Ah, yeah that might be problematic…who was she kidding, this was going to get messy fast unless they made a break for it.
"Hide!" She whisper shouted, and dashed off, dragging her son and a possessed Severus along with her. The others were left there staring at the fleeing figures before they too began to dash away.
"Mom, what—?" Teddy looked up at his mother in confusion as she shushed him.
"In here." Like most stores in Knockturn, they were far larger on the inside than the outside and bookstores as well as stores that sold random shit were like mazes. In this case it worked to their advantage, especially when most of the group had been here before. It was no problem for Severus to navigate the confusing stacks of books and the towering bookshelves covered in dust.
Even more luckily, there were multiple escape routes in almost all of the buildings. Sure they were warded to prevent theft, but due to the nature of Knockturn and the beings it attracted, such precautions like multiple escape routes were necessary if you wanted to live.
A bookcase slid aside smoothly and dust rained down on the fleeing trio, foursome if you wanted to count a snake Animagus. The bookcase slid back in place rapidly, cutting off the only source of light. Two lit wands took care of that problem. Had Ron been confronted with the tunnel, he would have taken his chances with whatever monster he had been fleeing from rather than brave the unholy amount of spider webs.
Now, Ailana wasn't afraid of spiders or their webs, but the sheer amount of spider webs she saw before her made even her a little uneasy. Her son looked at the mess is fascinated horror while Severus didn't look at all bothered. She didn't bother to look at her father.
Mother and son, plus one Animagus all jumped when Severus began vanishing the webs. Thank Merlin he hadn't tried to burn them, that would have been a disaster. She followed his lead. It was slow going due to the amount of webs, but not as slow as it could have been.
Remus Lupin chose to follow the scent of Snape rather than Greyback for several reasons. One, he didn't want to deal with the werewolf who turned him when he was a child just yet. Two, he knew that Snape was the one everyone else was looking for. Three, there was another scent, a female's, that teased at his memory. Moony he could sense was both confused and ecstatic. He had no idea why…OK, he did have an idea, but it was an impossible one. Really, the dead stay dead, even his wolf knew that, or at least it should know.
Remus wound through the maze that posed as a store. He came to an abrupt halt when he found himself facing a dead end. Backtracking, he searched for where the trail veered off, but his nose kept leading him down the same isle that led to the dead end where the scent trail disappeared. He looked down at the floor, hoping that there might be footprints left in the dust. It was a long shot; he had no way of knowing whose footprints were winding through the dust. He followed one set, but not once did he encounter the strong scent trail he was looking for. He continued to follow two more sets of shoe prints, but ended up with the same results.
In his search he did manage to find faint traces of Snape's scent and the two others, but they were overwhelmed by others and told him that these people had only been in brief contact. Greyback appeared to have doubled back and left via the front of the store. Their scents also disappeared at dead ends and a thought suddenly hit him like a sledgehammer. Escape routes! That must be where the scent trails were leading. He ran back to the first scent trail with some difficulty that he had been following, staring intently at the innocent looking bookcase. Glaring, he growled and began poking at it with his wand.
Remus was just getting ready to blast the stupid thing when his wand touched a rune on the wood of the shelf. He jumped back with a yelp when it slid open and a dark tunnel was revealed. He shivered. He hated small-enclosed spaces. He blamed the wolf for that particular fear. He blamed it for most things that went wrong in his life. He lost his quill; it was all the wolf's fault. Broke a plate, he blamed the wolf. It was raining; obviously the wolf was the reason. Things like that. Taking a deep breath, he soldiered on, not willing to let his prey go so easily.
Sirius Black screeched to a halt, the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. He looked around, wand at the ready. The shadows seemed to be moving, stretching towards him menacingly. He gulped. Something was wrong. A small voice tugged at the back of his mind, trying to tell him something important. Something about Knockturn's magic, something…
Sirius's halfhearted thoughts trailed off and a chill crept over him. "Sirius…Play with us Sirius…There's no need to be afraid…" Two childish voices whispered menacingly. It sounded so wrong. Sirius watched, riveted in horror as two ghostly little children appeared out of the shadows. They had no eyes and their teeth were sharpened like daggers. Their mouths stretched unnaturally wide in grotesque smiles. Their blonde hair was stringy and greasy, their nails claws and fingers too long. The twin girls looked like something that Voldemort would spawn with a Dementor. He fired a spell at them, but it passed through them harmlessly.
"Why won't you play with us Sirius…Why? So. Serious…" Sirius took one look at them and their now insanely giggling, slightly flickering forms before running for his life with a scream. He had no desire to stick around and find out what they considered playing to be.
The girls gave chase, shrieking in laugher, ghostly cats that were rabid and feral looking darting out to swipe at Sirius as he ran by.
James Potter slowed when his magic began screaming dire warnings. He whirled around when he heard a woman laughing. There was nothing there but a fog that had been absent seconds ago. He watched it warily and turned back around to continue on, only to be faced with more fog, he spun and spun, beginning to panic as he searched for a way out. Breath coming in short gasps, he felt unreasonably afraid.
"James…" The woman's voice hissed across the area. He stiffened and stared intently at the fog. He could fight this, this was just Knockturn fucking with him…right? It was just Knockturn, right? He began to panic again as doubt spread through him insidiously. What if it wasn't just Knockturn, what if there really was something in the fog coming for him? A shadow shifted in the fog in his peripheral vision. He spun and shot a stunning spell at it, but there was nothing there.
"Run, run as fast as you can…" A shadowy woman with white eyes and rotting skin lunged at him, mouth filled with sharp teeth. James did the only thing he could think of at the moment, he ran screaming like a loon blindly through a sudden gap that appeared in the fog. It didn't help when little gremlin like creatures began jumping out of the fog at him, eyes mad with blood-lust and claws ready to shred him.
Albus Dumbledore and Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody glanced at each other when the sound of frantic screams reached them. It would appear that Knockturn was being particularly vindictive today. Dumbledore turned to the pale and trembling Aurors. Moody grunted in disgust at their cowardice.
"Perhaps it would be best if you returned to Diagon while Alastor and I deal with Mr. Potter and Mr. Black." He made it an order rather than a request, knowing that they would need such to abandon their search. Now they could just point at him when asked why they were no longer part of the manhunt for Severus and the Cedicits.
The Aurors hesitated, looking at each other to see who might argue and when none seemed so inclined to do so, scampered back to the safety and sanity of Diagon Alley.
"Bloody cowards the lot of them." Moody growled in anger. Dumbledore gave the rapidly retreating Aurors a look of pity.
"Ah, but not many can withstand the evil nature of Knockturn Alley my friend. Even I in my youth could barely stand to be in it and remain sane." Hagrid was lucky to be a half-giant; his creature blood protected him from the brunt of Knockturn's darkness.
As the two men ran around screaming, the denizens of Knockturn gaped at the sight of the well-known wizards running around screaming at nothing. Oh, they knew that in the minds of the two men, there was a whole lot of something rather than nothing. It was petty, but they had little other opportunities for revenge, so they sat back and watched the show. It was rather unfortunate for the two men that there were those with cameras who took full advantage of the situation. They had big plans for those photos, blackmail and perhaps the Daily Prophet being the most popular.
Beta by Eternal Blood Love.