He walked down the dirt road with purpose and dignity.

Well of course he would walk with purpose, his Lord and Master had just been killed not a day before! He shook his head; everything was going to bloody hell all around him, and he needed to keep it together. The Ministry was in a state of shock just that morning when Voldemort wasn't reported having killed or maimed something. Now as night was quickly falling, he was sure that by the end of the week Dark wizards would be getting locked away left and right. Damn it all to hell…

"How nice of you to join us… Lucius." A drawled voice spilled over his thoughts, snapping him from them as he looked up at Severus Snape. Snape for his part had merely one brow raised as he and three others stood outside the Riddle Manor.

"Severus? What the devil are you doing here? The Dark Lord did not summon you… did he?" Lucius said curtly, though he quickly glanced at the other three standing at the gates of the manor; Bellatrix and… Narcissa with their son, Draco? What on Earth was going on?

"Yes, the Dark Lord did not call for me, but I was told some rather…" Lucius locked eyes with Snape at that moment, and saw nothing but agony and pure sorrow in the man's eyes for a split second, "saddening news by Dumbledore himself just today. It would seem as if the Dark Lord killed James and… Lily Potter, but was killed in trying to kill their… child, Harry Potter." Snape finished, and Lucius raised a brow at the raw emotion hidden deep within Snape's monotone voice when he uttered Lily's name and child.

That was right before the news of the situation hit everyone that was there. Bellatrix let out an anguished cry as she dropped to her knees, and wept for her Lord.

Lucius on the other hand had his mind running full speed as it comprehended the new information. Was he and his family safe? How had his Lord been killed by a child he knew was no older than three years old? What did it all mean? What was he supposed to do? He had been entirely dependent and followed orders for the last decade of his life, both out of fear and self interest. He wanted everything to remain the same as long as possible, or at least until he secured his family's safety and a more advanced station in life. He wouldn't be able to pursue his interests any longer without the Dark Lord's protection, or at least without his perceived protection.

Narcissa seemed to be thinking along the same lines as he was, because she kept glance from one face to another. Draco was asleep in her arms, snoring lightly while his parents were having panic attacks.

Snape looked boringly at everything, but on the inside he was feeling every emotion he had hoped to never feel again since the day Lily had stopped being his friend. He felt unrivalled anguish at the news of Lily's death by Dumbledore. He felt angered that she hadn't been as protected as Dumbledore had said. That bastard said that she would be safe! That lying old coot! Snape would kill the old man and Voldemort if the first hadn't convinced him to protect Lily's son, and the second wasn't already dead by said son. Snape briefly wondered if young Harry had Lily's eyes… Then he was struck with genius.

Snape knew there was plenty of time to mourn Lily, but he knew that he had only spare years to keep young Harry safe. He knew that the boy would be going to Lily's dreadful sister Petunia. He wasn't sure if the girl had changed since they were younger, but he doubted it somewhat. No, right now he would do just what Dumbledore had manipulated him with, "Protecting the only son of the woman which he loved". He would protect the boy! Lily's boy! Lily's flesh and blood child! He really hoped the boy had her eyes… they were always so lovely to gaze into-

Now was not the time to reminisce! He could do that later in a Pensieve. He needed to attack now while people were on-guard, caught off-guard, or just plain unaware. Once things were truly revealed it would be too late.

He had trusted James Potter, even if he hated the man with almost every fiber of his being, the other fibers hating the man's friends, to protect Lily but it seems even the Star of Gryffindor couldn't do so against the Dark Lord. Now it was up to him, Severus Snape, the Half-Blood Prince to protect Lily's child!

He would do as he promised both Dumbledore and himself yesterday; protect Harry Potter with his life. But… why not take it a step further, he mused to himself with a sly ghost of a smile on his face. Why not help the boy become strong enough to defend himself? Why leave him to the supposed mercy of Petunia and her ilk? He could, if only for the love of Lily, be a mentor to the boy, praise the boy, love him, and serve him to the best of his abilities.

Wait, serve him? That was the thought the shocked him. Serve the son of Potter? Him, never! But, a small and growing voice told him that Potter only provided the seed in which Lily nurtured and grew within herself. No, this boy was more of Lily's son than he would ever see of Potter. He would have gladly been a slave to Lily if it meant being at her side for her entire life, so why not her only and precious child?

Now Severus really hoped the boy had his mother's eyes…

So his plan was basically set. He would serve the boy, guide his ways.

He also knew that he couldn't let either of his two now former Masters in on his plans. Dumbledore would keep the boy in the dark, and allow him to go into danger with the half-cocked muggle gun that was to be called "limited information". Voldemort, if not truly death since Snape highly doubted it, would hunt and kill the boy no matter what. Snape had just now sworn to serve, protect, and teach so Voldemort was out of the question indefinitely.

No, neither could know of his plans, but that didn't mean that he couldn't include a few more people in on it… like the three nearest him. He knew it would take some carefully laid words, and a few half-truths, but he knew it could work. After all, he was Severus Snape, and they weren't even at half his level of true intellect. God was he a bit arrogant, but none the less he knew it could work.

"Our Lord is dead, but what I wish to know is how a one year-old boy managed to kill him?" Snape drawled out lazily, but they knew, or at least thought, his tone was one of carefully laced sorrow and rage. After all it was Snape; the man was not known to cry like a child over the death of... anyone!

Oh, if only they had seen him at the same time yesterday…

"W-was it really a child that killed the Dark Lord, Severus?" Narcissa asked in slight nervousness, trying desperately to know that the man was dead and gone. Snape locked eyes with her and mentally smirk, she was the first to fall as he expected.

"Yes, Dumbledore assured me it was the boy. He wouldn't say how the boy had done it, so that would mean that the boy is more powerful than I had first thought." Snape mused as Lucius looked at him in surprise.

"What do you mean "more than you first thought", Severus? Just how powerful did you think the child would be?" Lucius asked warily. He and the others knew Snape. If the man thought someone was powerful, then no one short of Voldemort was strong enough to defeat him, especially since Snape only considered three people more powerful than himself, and now ones James Potter and Voldemort were dead, so that left one; Albus Dumbledore. Did Snape consider the child a powerful being on the levels of that?

"This child, Harry Potter, was able to defeat the Dark Lord with some unknown power. If he could do so at this young an age, then what will he do at the age of 11 or perhaps… 17?" Snape mused aloud as Lucius and Narcissa widened their eyes at the implications. The boy would be crushing wizards and witches as if they were flies that annoyed him. Even Bellatrix stopped crying, though she was sniffling loudly, at what Snape was suggesting.

Bellatrix got up as she wiped her nose on her sleeve. It was best grieve over her Lord later, and to listen to what Snape had to say before snapping at him. After all, she was still in utter shock and thought herself to be in no state to be making any decisions at the moment. On the other hand, Snape was always untrustworthy in her eyes. The man had murdered an Inner Circle Death Eater in cold blood once, but he also was being calm and taking charge of the situation. Maybe that was why her Lord had always favored him over her. She nodded to herself mentally, it was best if she just went with the flow until she was better able to compose herself and her grief-ridden thoughts. Snape, as always, looked as though he had a plan. He was displaying the type of ruthless cunning that had helped establish himself as the best spy in her Lord's Inner Circle, and he always had her Master's ear when it came to things. Cunning and quick-witted Snape had an eye for opportunity in even the darkest of times, and he wasn't going to see it go to waste if he had any say in the matter.

Yet and still, that was what had always bothered her about the man…

"The child killed our Lord-"

"The filthy half-blood!" Bellatrix blurted out in a low un-lady-like bellow. Snape rolled his eyes as Narcissa shifted Draco in her arms.

"Thank you, Bella, but as I was saying; this boy killed our Lord and Master. If I'm not wrong, then the boy is related to you two; Bella, Cissy." Snape said, more as thought he was still rolling things over in his mind, but grinned inward at himself for a wonderful performance he was putting on. He really should have been an actor rather than teach...

"How so, Severus?" Narcissa asked, mentally all too happy to claim the boy as family if he truly had removed that madman's figurative sword from the neck of her family. She may have followed the man, but it was out of the fear that he'd kill her love ones since Lucius and Bella had to go and get caught up with the crazed Lord.

"If I'm correct in my memory, then he is of Black blood. Potter was of Black himself since he was the later-life son of Dorea Black and Charlus Potter. So that would make Harry Potter your…?" Snape trailed off as if to figure out the connection.

"My elder blood... An uncle at the least… The boy who vanquished the Dark Lord is one line further into the Black Family than either me, Bella, or Sirius. I'm related to he who could vanquish the Dark Lord…" Narcissa said as if shocked out of her mind, all the while doing a mental happy dance that she could make such claims. The boy was powerful, one year-old and obviously going places in life just from the news they received today. It also helped ease her mind in the amused thought that her "uncle" had come and beat-up the big bad boogeyman when she needed it most.

Bellatrix for her part was silent. Snape smirked in his thoughts at the shell-shocked expression on her face as she tried to comprehend that tid-bit of info. He had wanted to start from square one with Bella by letting her know that the boy who was responsible for her Master's fall had the Black's family blood running through his veins. Snape also wanted, or more of needed, to ensure her that the boy was her family and that she could be proud that he had done such a feat.

Bella herself was caught off guard by how Snape had begun their conversation. First the boy was powerful, now that she could grudgingly respect, but now he dropped the Muggle-bomb on her that the boy was her "blood uncle". The boy had just killed her Dark Lord and Snape was here talking about his lineage! What in Merlin's name is going on? And what did he mean by bringing it up? Had Snape gone mad? She didn't understand it; Severus Snape, the Apathy of Humankind always had a plan, but here he was trailing off and rambling.

"Snape what is the meaning of all this?" Bellatrix finally snarled out in her high voice as Snape stared at her like a stupid child that had stayed after class for tutoring.

"Oh nothing, just that you should feel some sense of pride knowing that he is of your blood." Snape said, but none of them could tell if he had been sarcastic or sincere. It was always a thin line with Snape…

Bellatrix erupted as she glared venomously at Snape, her wand already pointed at his neck as Lucius put a silencing charm over Draco, "Proud! Proud? That my own blood should be responsible for the fall of my Lord? Do you know what this means, Severus? If anyone finds out that my f-family…" Bellatrix raged, but then began to mutter under her breath. She couldn't bear to see her family put to shame, or worse killed off by other Death Eaters who found out. Family was one of the few things Bellatrix cared for in her insane life. It wasn't that she cared for everyone in her family, far from it, but she held her family name in great esteem and couldn't see it ruined when the Dark Lord had loved it so.

"Yes, you insipid woman; proud. Proud that someone of your blood could wipe out the Dark Lord. Proud that it took one of your blood to do so. Proud that someday he will know of his deed and grow even stronger from it. You could help him, Bellatrix…" Snape said, moving on the woman like a slow moving viper about to strike its prey.

Snape knew that he had to get Bellatrix, since the other two were basically already in his pocket. If he could get her, then there would be no argument from the other two later. He just needed to prey on her family honor, her pride, and worst yet… her love.

Snape was already moving behind her body and her doubts as he whispered more into her ear.

"You could serve him, teach him, make him stronger than he would ever be without you guidance. You could help me… mold him into the prefect Lord and Master. He could be ten times greater than the Dark Lord ever was. He could be perfect. Then where would his thanks go, Bella? Why to those that helped him, of course. He would be thankful to them, and reward them; maybe more than the Dark Lord ever did for us." Snape whispered as he could see her shivering in thought. She would be conflicted, if at the most for a day, but she would come to a decision quickly.

Snape glanced over at Lucius and Narcissa. He knew Lucius would wait for Bellatrix to make up her mind. Lucius had probably come to a decision anyway since he always moved with Severus. Snape moved on to them as he stroked his godson Draco's hair. He already knew Narcissa, no matter what decision Lucius had come to, would side with her husband. Narcissa's eyes had sparkled with relief when he said Voldemort was dead, but they shone brightly when he said Harry was related to her and had been the one to kill the man.

Lucius for his part was still in a state of panic, but he knew that he didn't have many options. He pondered for a few seconds and then looked at Snape and noticed a glint of determination in his dark tunnel eyes. Snape wasn't panicking for some reason; he was already scheming and seemingly had everything under control. Lucius wondered if Snape truly believed everything he was telling Bellatrix. She didn't have any Master now, and would be desperately seeking that comfort and stability of one again soon. She was simply that type of person who lived to service, and serviced to live, so it suited her life's purpose twice over to serve the killer of her former Lord that just so happened to be baby blood uncle as well. Yes, he would go whichever way Snape was, because Snape had always been a person for making smart decisions unaffected by emotion or honor. If only Lucius had truly known…

"Of course Bella, you could always let Dumbledore get to the boy's trust first. He would leave the boy in the dark for most of the time, and then suddenly spring responsibility onto your poor uncle's shoulders. Once the old man gets to the boy's trust, it'll be all Light, and real bright." Snape sneered as Bella seemed to snap her head up at that. He had her...

"Never! You keep that filthy Muggle-lover away from him!" Bella snapped as she turned and glared at Snape for even suggesting such things.

But… Severus was right. The boy was obviously powerful if he killed her Master. He would need the "proper" guidance, and once he was of a conscious age, she could serve him as she did her Lord- no, that fool V-Voldemort. As much as it pained her to say it, she had to suppress her loyalty to that… fool. He had been killed by a incoherent child who possessed greater, and obviously untapped potential. This would be a fresh start for her, with a Lord and Master she could help guide, and hone. She could make him in a man, or even a boy, if Snape was telling the truth when he said "we" as in her, him, and anyone else who would help. He could be a boy that the entire Wizarding world would bow down to. She would be sure that he would have everyone kissing the hem of his robes and not just his followers. Yes, she wouldn't have her few and haunting previous failures hanging over her mind anymore. But…

"What if… V-Voldemort… is still a-alive somehow?" Bella asked with no small amount of pain at having to address her now former Master by his name. They all looked at her and her sour face as she asked that one simple question which shattered barriers and cracked minds. They knew now that she was, reluctantly, on board with Snape.

"Well… if he is, then our new Lord shall be fully prepared to finish what the Voldemort started." Snape said carefully as Bella looked away, but nodded meekly as she ran through more thoughts.

"Severus" Lucius called as Snape turned the man and his wife, "what shall we do about the boy? We don't know where he is, or anything, and should we continue as the Dark Lord had?" Lucius asked as he knew things would change with the Potter child becoming their new leader. Snape shook his head as he looked at the sleeping Draco while Narcissa shifted him to Lucius.

"No, we need to re-examine some of our thoughts, prejudice, and work. We can't allow our new Lord to be as biased as the last. That prejudice and arrogance lead to his fall. No, our new Master must be open-minded and not nearly as dark as the last. We will make him… perfect, or as close to such as we can." Snape said as he turned back to Bellatrix, who was muttering to herself about how Voldemort had failed her and not the other way around.

Lucius nodded solemnly as he held his two year-old child, "I… I understand… We must shape him to be one like no other… It's just a shame he'll have to deal with Mud-bloods and Blood-traitors alike… He'll never know what they've done to purebloods like us." Lucius said as Snape shot him a look while Lucius blinked and muttered an apology to his old friend. He always forgot Snape was a half-blood since he carried himself like a true pureblood.

"Snape" Bella snapped suddenly as she got out of thought, "some time ago you came to… V-Voldemort… with a prophecy. Remind us what it was." Bella said, not even looking at him, but rather the gates they were standing in front of.

"Ahh, yes, the prophecy about the child and the former Dark Lord. It stated that, and I quote: "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…?" Amusing, isn't it?" Snape said, though his voice held no humor to it.

"Is that all? It seems rather short, don't you believe?" Lucius asked as he had some history of dealing with prophecies. Snape nodded as Bellatrix drew closer to them to listen.

"Yes, it seems that at the time I made a foolish decision to inform Voldemort about the prophecy when in fact it was not all of it. I merely heard half of it, and went running to our now former Master." Snape said as he watched Bellatrix flinch out the corner of his eye. He supposed she'd need time to adjust to the change in her Masters before making her do anything.

"Well, do you know the full prophecy now then, Severus?" Narcissa asked as Snape nodded.

"The full of the prophecy is this: "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…" That is the full of it, and it seems to have been made true just yesterday night." Snape said in a perfect monotone as Bella whimpered. She knew V-Voldemort's fall was prophesized, but she hadn't wanted to believe it back then. Now, it was impossible not to...

"Hmm… that part, "mark him as his equal" and "power the Dark Lord knows not". They both sound very prophecy-like…" Lucius mused as he shifted Draco in his arms, "What do you all believe this power is; the one Voldemort knew not?" Lucius said and saw Bella visibly flinch at his causal use of the Dark Lord's name, though her flinch was a little less noticeable than before so progress was being made.

"The only thing I can think of is something human, and not something of the Dark Arts. Voldemort knew of many things, and certainly more than we knew of him, but he knew nothing of being human… even all those years ago." Snape said coldly as Bella glanced at him nervously while Lucius and Narcissa nodded.

"Yes, I believe your right, Severus. Humanity was a… certain aspect he was always lacking. But he lacked a lot of it, so to narrow the field would prove… difficult." Lucius suggested as Snape nodded.

"We can deal with all your double-talk later! Right now we need to do something that'll keep us out of Azkaban!" Bellatrix snapped as she glared at Snape, who merely nodded with a frown.

"I will not be going to prison, but I'm sure that Lucius and Narcissa can help you avoid Azkaban, Bella. I have Dumbledore's protection since the man believes me his spy, however you do not." Snape said in a bored drawl as Bellatrix sneered at him.

"Don't worry, Bella. You're not going anywhere if I have a say in it." Narcissa assured as she gently took hold of her sister's hand.

"Right then, we'll all meet up a year after the proverbial wall comes crashing down. My bet is that it'll be a month or two before they start their raids and the like. We'll store everything with Severus since the old coot will defend him tooth and nail." Lucius said as Snape nodded in agreement.

"I have at least five vaults in Gringotts, so I can organize all your things separate from our Dark artifacts and items. Don't worry" Snape said as he glanced at Bellatrix, "they'll all still be separate, so no need to worry over any confusion."

"Fine then, we have a bit of a plan, but what about our n-new… Lord?" Bellatrix practically spat out as she tried hard to get over her beloved Lord Voldemort. They knew she was trying, so they didn't say anything about it.

"We should wait until we know where he is. I'm sure Severus can weasel that information out of Dumbledore, or at least someone else within that Order of his. When that's done, we'll meet up again when he's at a coherent enough age to understand just what we have planned for him. I say five or six more years, correct?" Narcissa suggested as they all nodded.

"Yes, that shall be fine." Lucius said regally, "Six years from now on the boy's birthday. We'll simply claim to be relatives, in which case Cissy and Bella can prove as such." Snape and the others nodded, but then Snape's head turned toward the road that came upon Riddle Manor.

"We can refine that plan more along the three years to come, but for now we must be going. My wards have alerted me to more of our former Lord's followers… and not the ones we would want to have in company. Bella, go with Narcissa and Draco to the Malfoy Manor. Lucius and I have much work to do while we still have the element of surprise. We shall retire to the Manor once we are done." Snape said as Bellatrix gave him a sharp look before sighing. Now was not the time to argue with the overgrown bat.

"Fine, but should you do anything that involves our Master; both now and f-former, then I wish to be included." Bella said as Snape nodded. She did a double-take when she thought she had seen a smile on the man's face, but saw it was only his normal bland frown of silent anger. She must have been imagining things; Snivilus of all people smiling. It was unheard of seen time began…

"Come Cissy, we need to get my nephew Draco to bed. I think he's slept on mummy and daddy's breast long enough." Bellatrix said with a smirk as Snape sneered at her while Narcissa and Lucius looked scandalized.

"Must you have such a foul mind and mouth, Bella?" Snape asked as Bella and Narcissa turned to Apparate away.

"Yes, Snivilus dear, I think I must." Bella sneered as she linked arms with Narcissa, "Now let's go, Cissy. I don't much like our company, and I need time to think and… g-get over some things." Bellatrix said with a forlorn expression as she silently added "and people". Snape seemed to catch onto her thoughts as he said nothing before they left.

"She'll get over the Dark Lord once she starts serving the Potter boy; I mean… our new Lord and Master." Lucius said as Snape nodded.

"Quite right, now let's be gone from this place before the others arrive." Snape said as Lucius place a careful hand on his shoulder, and they vanished in a warp of space.

Mere seconds later ten people crossed the wards of Riddle Manor and were able to see the gates in which Snape and the others had been in front of. They tried to get into the manor, but were burned upon touching the gates.

"The Dark Lord is not here, but where could he be?" one of the people asked as another turned to him.

"Calm yourself, Barty. I'm sure our Master is just out hunting those Potters like he claimed." the one said as another shook their head.

"No… our Master has fallen. I didn't believe it at first when people were celebrating yesterday and today, but now that we can't get into our Master's manor, I can see that those rumors and party were for true…" Crabbe Sr. said solemnly as the others looked at him in shock.

"That what that was all about. I thought it was for the end of the month, or just some stupid mudblood celebrations. How dare they revel in the Dark Lord's demise! Those fifthly mudbloods, and blood traitors alike!" Barty yelled as a calm hand was placed onto his shoulder.

"Do not worry, they shall not be partying for long. Come… let us show them why we are called Death Eaters." Dolovoho said calmly.

"Yes, kill the mudblood and all those that stand against the Dark Lord!" one of the others yelled as encouraging words were shouted out as well.

Normally Dolovoho, Lucius, and Snape could redirect their naivety before they did something they would regret, but neither Snape nor Lucius were there to help him reign in his nine fellow Death Eaters. The others, lead by Barty and Crabbe, were already turned around or Apparating away. Dolovoho simply shook his head as he watched them go. They were off to either their deaths or their trails. He knew each and every one of them, and far more than simply them, were going to either die or be carted off to Azkaban. He knew that Bellatrix's husband was already caught just three days ago, along with her brother. He could see that before things were over he too would most likely be in jail sitting next to Barty or Bellatrix in a cell. If he could he wanted to avoid that… but the question was how.

"Malfoy! He'll help me, and knowing him he's doing everything in his power right now to get into the good graces of people more powerful than himself. He'll follow Severus, and old Sever always had a plan!" Dolovoho said aloud to himself in his lonesome in front the Riddle Manor. He apparated away, knowing that somehow Snape and Lucius would keep him from the Dementor's kiss. He'd take anything he got at the moment, so those two would be his blessing in disguise.

At least… he hoped.