After the incident at the end of the fifth year, Severus Snape became a loner. Yes, he still maintained 'friendship' with other Slytherins, but otherwise kept to himself. He buried himself in the studies of dark books he obtained through Slytherin system of favours.

But he was slowly losing interest. Interest in anything at all. He no longer possesed the drive he had before his friendship with Lily ended. He had a thirst to prove himself to her, to impress her. But now . . . he had seen her talking to Potter. Talking. Not arguing, talking. And he realized just how strongly he felt for her. It was encruciating. He didn't realize before. Of course, he was just a teenager who felt very little love in his life, so when it came, he didn't even realize. But now he did.

"Damn it to hell." He swore quietly, sitting in the darkest corner of Slytherin's common room.

"Hey Snape!" Someone shouted.

"What?!" He growled.

It was Avery, looking put away by his reaction.

"I apologize." Snape said quickly. "What is the matter?"

Avery passed him a letter. Now when Snape looked at him closely, he could see Avery was looking very, very excited.

"Thanks."

To Severus Tobias Snape,

This letter is charmed so only you can read it.

You have been deemed worthy of joining our noble cause.

Visit the annual party at the Malfoy Manor at 7th July.

Lucius Abraxas Malfoy.

Severus closed his eyes. This wasn't the first letter he received from Lucius Malfoy. It was said that Lucius was one of the inner circle members, thus corresponding with him earned Severus much respect among Slytherins. This was it. Either join, or fight against. But what was there to fight for? For Lily? She was already smitten with Potter, he could see it. Maybe she didn't know it yet, but Severus saw it. It was so unfair.

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July, 7th

Malfoy Manor

Severus arrived few minutes before the official start of the party was. He was wearing his best clothes and tried to keep his excitement and fear off his face. He was quickly becoming very good at occlumency, so he managed to look respectable and not just some eager teenager.

After an hour or so, Lucius finally approached him. He looked over his clothes and nodded. "He is awaiting you in the study."

Severus slowly knocked on the door of Malfoy's study. He hoped his knees wouldn't give out. He certainly didn't expect to meet the Dark Lord in person today.

"Come in."

He entered and froze in fear. Lord Voldemort stood right behind the door. He felt as if the man in front of him could read his mind like an open book, despite his occlumency shields firmly in place. Voldemort did not look anything like the creature Severus saw in the Daily Prophet. He was tall, strong and handsome man. Severus could feel the power surrounding him and he would swear it felt like electricity.

"Do sit down, dear Severus." Voldemort said quietly.

Voldemort remained standing.

"I have seen many young men with the same look in their eyes." Voldemort started. He was still talking quietly and Severus found himself strangely entranced by his voice. It had slight hissing quality at the end of words, barely audible. Severus briefly wondered what look Lord Voldemort meant, but he quickly concentrated on his another words.

"You have been wounded." Voldemort stated. "Not physically, of course, but . . . there is the feeling of great injustice in your eyes. I can see it. I can feel it."

Severus started to shiver. How could he possibly know about . . .?

"But I do know, my dear Severus." Voldemort continued in the same voice, although there was the slightest hint of amusement. "Your occlumency shields are admirable for your age. However, I do not need to use legilimency to understand people." And Snape believed him.

"There is only power and those too weak to seek it." Voldemort stated and Severus could feel the passion behind these words. "Sometimes it may seem like it is not the power you seek, but of course - THAT. IS. JUST. AN ILLUSION."

Voldemort paused and slowly walked around the mahagony table, until he was facing Severus directly.

"Everyone has his reasons for joining my cause, Severus. Some seek money, some seek status, fame . . . some are just angry . . . some seek revenge." Voldemort paused for o moment. "What do you seek, Severus?"

Severus briefly contemplated lying, but decided against it. "I want . . ." He murmured something barely audible.

"What was it?" Voldemort asked. Severus repeated it.

Voldemort looked thoughtful. "I see. Lucius mentioned this . . ." He stated and Severus froze in fear. Voldemort noticed and lifted his hand in a calming gesture. "Do not fear, young man. I am only interested in power. If someone prove themselves worthy, I do not care about their origins."

Voldemort seemed to rose even taller and his eyes flashed crimson. He was looking like some ancient god, standing in the fading light of sunset, shining through large window. "Let me explain something to you. Something that will change your life . . . You see, this whole world, no matter how advanced it is, is still ruled by the basic principles of the nature." The passion again. Severus listened closely to every single word.

"Where people see injustice, fate, gods, sadness, luck, misfortune, or love . . . I see weakness. People struggle against it, they fight, they deny it, but it is the truth. There is only power. Power is the constant. Do you want money? Fame? Status? Revenge on abusive father?" Severus winced.

"Become powerful and you will have it all. Become powerful and you will DESERVE it. You want . . . your woman? Become powerful."

Voldemort chuckled. "I can feel your doubts, young Severus, but natural laws cannot be broken. They cannot be bent, you cannot get around them. Nature compels every female to seek the BEST. POSSIBLE. MATE. Someone, who will bring her fortune. Someone, who can make sure her children will be strong. Someone, who can protect her from every danger. Become more powerful, and her feelings will change."

Flash of understanding apperated on Severus' face.

"Love is an illusion." Continued Voldemort. "No female will choose weaker male over stronger one. The nature itself prevents it. Become stronger than your opponent and her feelings will change. She may not understand why, but it doesn't matter. Suddenly, everything about your opponent starts to feel wrong for her. Incompatible. Who would want to stay with someone you could crush by snapping your fingers? How could she trust him with her children? Nature does not care for weak. It cares for powerful."

"One old fool would say that it's our choices that shows what we truly are, far more than our abillities." Snape knew he was talking about Dumbledore. He himself heard it from the old Headmaster.

"But I disagree. What choice does James Potter have, if he is dead?" Voldemort whispered menacingly, and Severus saw the monster everyone but Dumbledore feared.

"Become powerful and you will crush him. Join me and you will have your female."

And Severus did.