A/N: There is no excuse for my absence so I'm not gonna make one. This is the longest I've made so far (not that I can't make longer ones) and I must say that I had fun writing the last bits.

This is unbeta'd. I seem to be lacking those a lot lately. This is my second search for a beta so if anyone's interested int being my beta for all of my stories ( i don't like having different betas per story) just drop me a PM.

Disclaimer: Bugger off will you! Must I answer this again?


Chapter 12

"Tell me again why we're out here in the pitch so early on a Saturday morning." Erebus intoned grumpily, tugging at his robes to ward off the cold air. Winter was definitely fast approaching.

"Gryffindor's having their first Quidditch practice today," replied Amanda, leading them up to the highest part of the bleachers. "Flint wanted eyes to see if they're any good this year."

"Right," mumbled the pale boy half heartedly, sitting down on the bench that gave him the best view of the pitch.

"And Draco has detention with McGonagall while the others are stuck doing homework, so it's just you and me." Amanda sat down beside Erebus and carefully laid out some of the toast she'd nicked from the Slytherin table and gave them to Erebus. "Plus I think you needed the air, you've been awfully cranky lately."

Erebus huffed, taking the offered toast, but did not comment further. Five minutes later the Gryffindor Quidditch team finally emerged from the changing rooms, completely clad in Quidditch gear. This year's team was under the helm of a lanky boy he knew to be in the same year as Flint and by the look of his gear, he was also the team's Keeper. Three girls held the Chaser position while two red heads he knew to be the Weasley twins held the Beater position. He then sniggered at the sudden thought of Crabbe and Goyle going up against the twins, those two brute gorillas plus the twin's instincts would definitely be a good show to watch. Perhaps he could convince Flint into putting them in the team somewhere in the near future just for kicks.

He also noted that the latest addition to the team was an awkward looking boy of around thirteen or fourteen as Seeker. The captain, whose name he'd finally recalled to be Wood, had the team doing a couple of laps around the pitch before mounting their brooms and taking to the skies. Ten minutes into the practice Erebus gave off a soft disgruntled snort before picking up the book he'd brought along, no longer interested in watching the ongoing practice.

A few more minutes passed and a sudden jerky dive from the Gryffindor Seeker caused Amanda to shriek out in surprise and to take hold of her friend's hand who seemed to be too absorbed in his book to notice.

"Erebus," started Amanda once she'd calmed down enough to confront her friend. "Can't you just lay off the books for awhile and enjoy yourself? You've been rather recluse and cranky ever since that duel with Potter Sr. What's eating you?"

The sole heir to the Dark closed his book, making sure that his finger was between the pages to mark off where he'd stopped and stared nonchalantly at his friend. "Technically nothing is eating me and if there was something out there that wants to eat me, they'd have to get through my godfather first and then my mother would bring it back to life only to kill it again later after which my father would…"

"You know what I mean, Reby!" cried Amanda in frustration, drawing out a frown from the boy at the use of the dreaded moniker.

"Can't you for once just leave things be?" snapped Erebus though there was no real ire in his voice.

"You of all people should now by now that I can't just leave things be." she said, smiling sickly sweet at him.

"Lucky me," drawled Erebus, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Amanda socked him lightly on the arms before retreating back into her previous demeanour. "Come on Erebus, you can tell me."

"You know you need to have that gift of yours checked out." said Erebus all of a sudden, throwing her into a loop.

"Huh?" she mumbled none too eloquently, which of course did not go unnoticed by the prim, though not as much as his sleek haired cousin, rising Prince of Slytherin.

"Your gift of perception." Erebus elaborated, pointing at her head. "I know you're sensitive to magical auras, you felt mine that night in the dormitories." Amanda shivered as she remembered the state of her friend when she'd found him wallowing in himself. "You should also know that it's not only me that you should be sensing feeling down in the dumps this week."

"I've felt the others as well, so you don't have to go saying that I'm faulty." said Amanda, slightly annoyed and swatting her friend's hand away from her head. "It's just that you and Professor Quirrell seem to feel more affected by whatever it is that is causing such distress."

"So you've felt father too." Erebus said absentmindedly, more as a statement than a question, rubbing the faint jagged scar that had been concealed beneath his hair line. The scar was a remnant of the Killing Curse that Dumbledore had thrown towards him and his father that unfaithful Halloween night. According to his mother, he and his father had tried to throw off the curse but since he was only a baby, the curse was only partially thrown off, leaving him with a nothing but a scar and a profound bond with his father none of them could explain; while his father received the brunt of the dreaded curse. All throughout his childhood he could always sense where his father was, what he was feeling and in recent times, managed to share each others thoughts; though he rarely did it since he had yet to master a higher level in Legilimency that was required to access his father's thought without draining himself magically. This was why even without seeing his father during the majority of his youth that he'd always felt close with the man and that the bond only strengthened itself when they were physically close to each other.

Erebus closed his eyes and allowed his mind to wander deep into his mental shields until he found the connection that allowed him to tap into his father's subconscious. As expected his father's gentle mental caresses helped him soothe out all of his excess anxiety.

"Yeah," nodded Amanda, watching how her friend's face became more relaxed and opened his eyes once more to reveal a swirl of red mixing in with the green. "But I figured he wouldn't answer even if I dared to ask him."

The cold wind howled viciously, sending the flags of each team to wave dangerously off the turrets. "It's nearly Halloween." said Erebus after awhile, his voice barely carrying over the loud flapping of the flags and banners around the pitch.

"Halloween? Isn't that the time –" Amanda began slowly only to clap her hands over her mouth in horror as the significance of the event clicked sharply in her mind. "Oh Erebus, I'm so sorry. I'm so stupid! I should have figured it out, what kind of friend am I? I'm so sorry…"

Erebus could do nothing but stare as his friend started mumbling apologies repeatedly under her breath. It was not as if he'd never seen an emotional girl before, he'd had his fair share of comforting and reassuring a very distraught Anna, who was prone to hysteria when faced with successive failures. Oh yes, he'd definitely had experience with emotional girls; it was merely the fact that the emotional strain of going through another Halloween celebration was making him even more unsympathetic towards the feelings of others. Who was he to care about others when he himself was struggling with emotions that were not only his, but also that of his father's? But then the sensible part of him that told him that Amanda was indeed a true friend kicked in and he suddenly found himself trying to reassure his friend that he did not blame her of her ignorance.

"It's alright Mandy," he said, having taken her chilled hand in his and started rubbing it in the same way he would whenever Anna was distraught.

"No it's not!" argued the red haired Slytherin. "I should have been more considerate. I already possess this so called gift, but I still didn't figure out why everyone was feeling so agitated. What kind of friend am I?"

"A friend who is so concerned with her friends' well-being that she sometimes forgets that the simplest solution is all she needs," said Erebus, inwardly smiling softly at the distraught girl, noticing how her lips puckered in the slightest manner. It was quite endearing.

Amanda pulled her hand from Erebus' hold and crossed her arms before her chest. "But still, I should have known! I've been extremely insensitive to your feelings I'm surprised you haven't gotten tired of how I always seem to badger you with what your thoughts are. Salazar, I feel like an idiotic Gryffindor!" She then proceeded to throw her hand up in the air

"Now there's no need to insult yourself!" cried Erebus with a frown. "I didn't expect you to know the significance of the date; in fact I'd be very surprised if you did, after all it is only our family who goes through this every year. You've only been around us for a few months; I don't expect you to know every little detail about us. You have nothing to feel sorry about."

"Are you sure?" asked Amanda timidly. "I could stop from sensing your magic and all for the rest of the day if you want me to."

This time Erebus did smile gratefully at her, "That would be very much appreciated." Then all of a sudden a scaly grey head poked out from beneath his robes and started hissing in aggravation, its forked tongue flickering in the air.

'Tisssss too cold here Erebusssss. I don't like the cold. Take me back now! NOWWWWW!'

'I told you to sssstay with my ssssire but you wouldn't lissssten. It'ssss your fault you're nowww cold.' Erebus hissed in reply, confident that with the wind howling, no one would hear him.

'I sssspend all my time with your sssssire, I feeeeel like you're trying to get ridddd of meeee.'

Erebus never thought it possible for a snake to whine until that moment. He then proceeded to pull his cloak tighter around the scaly reptile just so as to keep it from trying to escape from his person and away from the cold. 'Ssssssshiva you are being overly dramatic. You arrrre my familiar, I wouldn't be able to get riddd of you even ifffff I tried.'

'Ssssso ifffff I were not you're ffffamiliar you'll get rid off meee?!' hissed Shiva indignantly.

Erebus chuckled lightly at the tone of his familiar's voice before pulling up his sleeve to allow the snake to coil itself around his arm and all the way to his shoulder. If it wasn't for the Feather Light charm that he placed on the snake whenever he would take it with him, his body would have sagged down at the dead weight of the large snake. 'You ssssilly ssssserpent! Did you ssssneak in to my ssssire'sssss liquor cabinet again?'

'I mossssst ccccertainly did not!' cried the snake, though this time Erebus did notice a distinct swaying in the snake's movement.

'Liar!' hissed Erebus, tugging at his sleeves to hide the snake from view. 'Now just ssssstay there, we're almosssst done.'

'Hissssy hisssy little sssssnakey want to sssssee little micey…' Erebus tried not to laugh out loud in public at the ludicrous antics of his familiar. He'd definitely have to tell his father to ward off all of his liquor whenever his familiar came to visit. It was hilarious to watch a drunken snake, but he didn't think he could handle all of it for a whole day, especially if he was the only who was subjected to hear it all.

When Amanda first heard Erebus speaking to his familiar, she was more or less surprised to hear the exchange of hissing between master and familiar. Not having grown up in the prejudiced society that wrapped itself around the Wizarding World, she found no marks of evil in her friend's gift. Sure it was eerie at first having to hear the sharp hissing sounds coming from both human and animal mouths, but now it was just part of their everyday life in the castle. She was certain that she would now not be able to picture Erebus without having to put in a secondary hissing sound in the background trying to make itself be known.

As she watched the exchange between Erebus and his familiar, she couldn't help but wonder what they were talking about that was causing the usually indifferent boy to shake with restrained laughter.

After some time a whistle sounded in the distance, signaling the end of the practice session.

"Bloody hell!" shouted Amanda, jumping from her seat to lean over down to the pitch. "We missed their practice, what are we going to tell Flint?!"

"Calm down, Amanda." said Erebus, who was nothing but glad to be able to get back inside the castle and warm up.

Amanda turned to face the dark haired youth in disbelief. "You didn't even bother watching!"

"Because to be perfectly honest there was nothing to watch." replied Erebus, picking up the napkin that was now completely void of toast.

"What do you mean?" asked Amanda, going back to where they were seated.

"Flint is just being a typical Slytherin – he's being paranoid. It's a very common trait amongst those in our House." explained Erebus. "He wants all his bases covered and that means sending out a bunch of first years to spy on the opposing team to see what they've got when all the while he's already got a fool proof strategy to win."

"So he's tricked us!" Amanda was quick to point out, clearly annoyed.

"In a way, but if it's House unity we're talking about, it's entirely different. But then again I agree with you, he knows perfectly that Gryffindor doesn't stand a chance against us now that the great Charlie Weasley is out of Hogwarts."

"Exactly how many Weasleys are there?" questioned Amanda with at sour look on her face.

"Too many." Erebus replied in equal distaste. He then stood up and grabbed her hand, taking her towards the edge of the bleachers and pointed out a skinny looking boy. "You see that boy over there? He's the new Seeker, roughly around thirteen years of age, give or take a few months. He's small enough to fit the position but he's clumsy in the air. The number of times his broom's veered of in the opposite direction of where he really intended to go should tell us enough that Higgs would have no problem in catching the Snitch right under the Gryffindor Seeker's nose."

"You're telling me you saw all of this in the brief moment you were watching them?" demanded Amanda in disbelief.

"Yes." replied Erebus plainly. "Plus you see over there, even the captain isn't so confident. Remember that if one player performs badly, the entire team gets dragged right behind. The only thing that may salvage the Gryffindor team is that if the Weasley twins knock all the Slytherin players out, which of course is completely impossible."

"And all that time you were sitting there reading your journal you already have all this down? I had to struggle to pick out things that were worthy enough to report back to Flint, why didn't you tell me?!" cried Amanda in annoyance, though there was a layer of awe in her voice. After all who wouldn't be impressed at someone who was able to properly observe a practice game all the while immersed in a completely different topic?

"Don't feel bad Amanda, not all of us are gifted with keen eyes and superior brain power." said Erebus rather smugly, causing the blue eyed girl to huff in irritation.

"Whatever!" she snapped, glaring at her friend. "Let's go back inside. I feel like I'm under a bloody Freezing Charm."

The walk back down from the bleachers was done in relative silence since both of them were trying their best to avoid the throng of people who had come to watch the Gryffindor practice despite the cold winds, most of which were of course Gryffindors. Some of the older years threw them dirty looks because since when were Slytherins ever invited to a Gryffindor practice? As they crossed the pitch, Erebus didn't know whether to be disappointed or be glad that Weasley and his friends were standing on the far side of the field and therefore focused on bolstering his mental shields, he would need all of his shields up if he was to get through the whole week leading to the dreaded event.

The silence and familiarity of the dungeons was a welcomed relief to the two freezing Slytherins, especially for Erebus who found close proximity to insolent chattering maddening. All morning his scar had done nothing but pulsate sharply due to the changing moods his father was feeling and the fact that they were now both in the same castle surrounded by some of the dirt society produced was not helping him to alleviate the pain. He was about to utter the password that would grant them entrance into the sanctuary that the Slytherin common room provided when a tentative hand tugged at his arm.

"I'm really sorry." Amanda said in a timid voice once he's turned around to face her.

"I know you are," said Erebus quietly, gently rubbing his aching scar. "But you couldn't have possibly known if you hadn't asked someone. It's okay."

sSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs

The week leading up to Halloween was the most difficult Erebus and his family had ever experienced. Over the years the Riddle family and its many extensions in the Dark have learnt to ignore the obscenely Muggle interpretation of an ancient festival and the events that happened ten years ago through various means, which of course mostly included Muggle baiting and Muggle torture. However since nearly all of them were stationed at Hogwarts this year, none of the traditional distractions they usually did was possible without drawing too much attention. And it was proving to be too much of a strain for those closely involved. Erebus had already downed his godfather's and the Infirmary's entire stock of headache potion two days before the actual feast and now had nothing to help him dumb his growing headache.

This year it seemed, much to their deep seethed annoyance, Dumbledore wanted to go all out to celebrate the first decade anniversary of the Dark Lord's demise, going as far as transfiguring the entire Great Hall into a graveyard, complete with fog, live bats, weeping willows and –

"Is that what I think it is?" growled Erebus as soon as he'd step foot into the magically enchanted Great Hall, looking ready to spit out nails at the Headmaster's main decoration.

"What is?" asked Draco, looking up at the sea of people, trying to find what had caught his cousin's ire. The four long House tables had all disappeared, leaving a large space in the middle, and on the sides were smaller circular tables draped in black that seated exactly six people. And to add more to the atrocities Dumbledore had created for the event, each table was adorned with a totally Muggle creation – a Jack-o-lantern!

"The lanterns are not that bad." commented Amanda, examining the Jack-o-lantern that was on the closest vacant table. "A bit too gaudy for my taste, but I guess Dumbledork wants to make the Mudbloods feel like they belong here by modifying ancient traditions to fit Muggle symbolism."

"It's a pity really, that wizards tend to accommodate Muggle traditions rather than upholding our own beliefs just so that mudbloods feel comfortable in our world." Draco added in, staring at the offending pumpkin in disgust.

"Not the lanterns!" cried Erebus, not having even seen the orange creations. No, the moment he'd entered the hall his uniquely coloured eyes immediately landed on the giant slab of stone placed right where the High Table used to be. There were only two words inscribed on the stone, but they were enough to make his blood boil.

Lord Voldemort

"Oh no, he didn't!" Blaise uttered in complete shock, just having spotted the source of Erebus' anger.

"Merlin!" Amanda's hand was over her mouth but it did not conceal her burning blue eyes.

"Have the professors seen this?" asked Draco, obviously referring to the Potions Master and the Defence Professor.

"They're seeing it now…" Erebus mumbled through the pain that had suddenly erupted in his head, prompting him to collapse on an empty chair. But as quickly as the pain had come, it vanished the moment he landed on the seat of the chair. He turned his head around to look for his father, the evident source of his acute pain, but only managed to get a glimpse of a purple turban marching swiftly away from the Great Hall.

He hadn't realized that his sudden collapse on the chair had caused his friends to come down upon him in worry and by the time he was made aware of their woes, they had acquired the attention of those close to the double doors of the Great Hall.

"I'm fine now," he said reassuringly to his friends, hoping to assuage their worries. "Did any of you see Father?"

"No." answered Draco, who was sitting on his right. "But Uncle Sev looked down right pissed at the headstone. He's on his way here now."

Erebus looked above the heads of his friends and just as Draco had said, his godfather was striding towards their direction, his cold expression masking the real displeasure that could be found in his coal-like eyes.

"Will he be okay?" asked Erebus the moment his godfather had settled himself on the chair before them.

"He's a grown man, he can deal with Dumbledore's latest attack of his defeat." replied the Dark man.

Erebus stared at his godfather before rephrasing his question. "Will the furniture survive?"

Those seated at their table snickered at the mental image of the Dark Lord attacking a colourful piece of furniture that had the misfortune of being upholstered in the exact same colour of robes the Headmaster was donning. "We may have to purchase a new couch or two," said Severus in agreement, pulling out a familiar vial from the inner pocket of his robe. "Here, depending on what happens later, your Father may not be calm enough to lock away all of his thoughts and emotions."

"What are you planning?" asked Erebus, pocketing the pain reliever, and watched his godfather's face intently.

"Nothing that you should worry about or discuss in here." said the Potions Master in a low but stern voice. "However whatever happens, whatever you may see, we want you all –" he looked directly at each of his Slytherin's eye "to stay out of the way. You are to return to the common room at once and stay there."

All four children were about to give their Knut's worth at their Head of House's order to stay away but a single death glare for the man silenced all of their protest.

"Fine." Erebus begrudgingly agreed.

"Fine, what Erebus?" asked the older Slytherin pointedly.

The young Dark Heir groaned internally at his godfather's shrewdness, the man was the bloody epitome of Slytherin cunning. However he was not placed in Slytherin just because of his natural charms. "Fine, we won't get in the way of whatever it is you and Father are planning to retrieve from the third floor." The surprised look on the professor's face was worth voicing out the assumptions they'd been able to formulate the past week and if the man's expression was to be taken into account, Erebus could say that they were right in their assumptions. He could just see the wheels turning in the man's head and quickly tried to wipe away the smirk that wanted to grace his face.

"How'd you know about the third floor?" demanded Severus in a displeased tone.

"We don't know what's in it." clarified Draco, keeping his excitement at bay. "But we surmised that since Dumbledore's all keen at keeping the students away from what was a harmless corridor a year ago according to Flint, to a now supposedly forbidden corridor, he must be keeping something dangerous or power in there, or both."

A resigned groan escaped from the Potions Master's lips as he surveyed his far too intelligent students. "Wait for me in the common room after curfew and I will tell you what is going on and perhaps then I may be able to dissuade you all from digging deeper and ultimately getting yourselves into trouble. But until then, you are to stay away, no matter what you see or hear. Understood?"

This time the four children readily agreed to the order now that they had something to look forward to later in the evening.

"Good. Now I suggest you all try to at least act indifferent, we do not want Dumbledore descending upon us wondering why four Slytherins are looking murderously at his main attraction."

"But it's awful." mumbled Erebus, glaring at said offensive piece of engraved rock.

"I know," said Severus consolingly. "But until the Dark Lord remains weakened in spectral form, the public must not be made aware of anything. Just be glad it's not a costume party." Their Head of House sneered at the thought then rose from his seat but not before making sure that his students would really follow through his orders.

The rest of the evening passed by in absolute agony, especially when the Old Fool decided, for the benefit of the mudbloods, to address the significance of the night's affair. The man droned on and on about how important it was for the school to drop all prejudice and come together to ensure that darkness would never prevail. He then went on to say that the Dark had absolutely no power over those who stood firm in their faith in the Light and that just like the Dark Lord Voldemort, as long as they remained united, the current Dark Lady would soon meet her demise. Erebus would have loved to ball up a handful of lemon drops around one of the old man's multicoloured robes and use it to give the Old Coot a sound bashing for all the derogatory words he was spitting out if it would not reveal his secrets. It had never been so far to keep up an impassive front.

Perhaps the only consolation the young Slytherin received that evening was the lack of shooting pains coming from the link he shared with his father, it seemed that the Dark Lord had the good mind to stay far away from the Great Hall until he had cooled off. And a good thing it was too that the Dark Lord was not present in the Great Hall for despite the occasional balls his mother threw for those who supported them, the Halloween Dance by Dumbledore was too morbid an affair for even them, the Dark, to fully enjoy. Yet as the evening dragged on, three fourths of the now well known Slytherin Quartet found themselves mingling with the more tolerable faction of the school while Erebus, the ever social butterfly, found refuge within the shadowy recess of the transfigured Great Hall, accessing silently all those that passed him.

However the event they were most looking out for did not occur until the Headmaster asked everyone to raise their glasses in honour of the occasion and the foreseeable end of the war. Erebus had no idea where the Old Man came up with the laughable idea of the war ending in favour of the Light but the snide remarks he was about to voice out to his Dark peers died on his lips as the doors of the Great Hall slammed open, crashing loudly on the walls, and an extremely stricken Filch came bustling in.

"T-t-t-troll in the dungeons." cried the obnoxious caretaker, stumbling upon the Headmaster's feet before collapsing stone cold on the floor.

Silence rang heavy in the large hall before the frightening fact that a troll had violated the castle wards sank in and mass pandemonium soon escalated. Students were all screaming and running towards the exit and had it not been for the shield erected by the Headmaster, the caretaker's body would have been trampled beyond recognition. The four Slytherin first years who were expecting something of this sort to happen played their part in the mass hysteria, though if one was to look closer, they would see excitement and anticipation shining brightly on their otherwise panicked expressions.

Several purple sparks erupted from the Headmaster's wand before a semblance of order took hold the students. "Prefects," he rumbled. "lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately."

The sixth and seventh year Prefects immediately gathered their charges at the Headmaster's words and had them exiting the Great Hall in an orderly manner with a few terrified murmurs interspaced every now and then. As soon as all the students had departed the Great Hall, the professors followed the lead of the Headmaster and proceeded to confront the wayward troll. However if any of them had stayed longer to ensure that all the students had indeed left for the safety of their common rooms, they would have seen four Slytherin clad students trailing suspiciously behind their group.

"Are they mad?" cried Draco softly under his breath. "Or have they forgotten that we live in the dungeons?"

"I'm sure they must have had a good reason to place a troll near our common room." supplied Amanda diplomatically.

"Name me one!" demanded the blonde, turning swiftly to face the red haired witch.

"Shush!" Blaise exclaimed, causing the remaining three to halt in their steps and stare quizzically at their friend.

"What do you hear Blaise?" asked Erebus but the brown haired wizard paid him no mind and instead verged away from the path that would take them to their common room. Erebus and the others had to jog to keep up with the bemused wizard.

"Zabini, where are you taking us?" cried an irate Draco.

"Filch did say that a troll was in the dungeons, right?" said Blaise, not bothering to turn and face his panting companions.

"Unless you know of another creature that is also called a troll and causes chaos at even the slightest of mention, then yes, the Squib cried troll for the entire hall to hear." replied Draco snidely, he hated physical exertion.

Then suddenly a loud grunt and thundering footsteps could be heard coming from the next corridor and self-preservation finally kicked into Erebus' brain and he made a grab for his friend's arm and pulled him back.

"Blaise this is not the time to go chasing after your inherent affinity towards all forms of nasty creatures." growled Erebus.

"But Reby – " Blaise tried to explain but at that precise moment the troll had turned the corner and was now facing a group (bar one) of terrified looking first years. The troll was carrying a heavy wooden club and wore a predatory expression on its face that was just far to crazed in Erebus' opinion. The giant brute then lumbered slowly towards them, making grunting noises every now and then that sent shivers down their spine. Backing cautiously away from the giant lump of bones and muscles, Erebus, Draco and Amanda all cried out when they saw that instead of retreating from the troll, Blaise was actually trying to approach it.

"Blaise Dominic Zabini get out of there!" cried Amanda, staring wildly at the advancing troll. At the sound of her shrill voice, the troll grunted even louder and started thumping its foot angrily against the stone floor, causing a few plaster and rubble to come loose from the ceilings.

"Calm down guys," said Blaise, finally turning back towards his friends. "It's just Courtney."

That single phrase caused the three terrified Slytherins to be struck dumb, each of them staring at the Italian wizard as if he'd grown an extra head.

"That thing has a name?" exclaimed Amanda in all incredulity.

"Of course," intoned Blaise, sounding a bit insulted. "She is after all mine, though technically mother found her, but she has fondness for me."

Amanda then mumbled something harshly under her breath about running as far away if a troll ever became fond of her. Once the shock of finding out that the troll indeed possessed a name and was more or less harmless if what he could discern from Blaise's face was true, Erebus walked up towards the troll and immediately saw the familiar bronze collar around its neck that indicated the troll was indeed that of the Zabinis' and after much perusal of his memory, a creature he'd known since he was a kid.

"That's Courtney?" asked Erebus, staring up at the troll. "The troll cub that Aunt Pricilla brought back from the Tuscan Mountains when we were five?"

"Hold on, that's the troll cub that thought Anna was its play doll and refused to set her down for a week?" Draco stepped beside his cousin and could barely contain his mirth and the two other boys were no better.

"You can't fake the Zabini collar and it would be suicidal for anyone other than those with Cavello blood running in their veins to even try and put a collar on a troll, and to answer your question, that is Courtney. I can't believe I didn't realize it sooner." said Blaise once he'd gotten himself under control.

The troll, or Courtney to the three male Slytherins, emitted a high pitched growl and started moving its arms wildly around, its club coming dangerously close to smashing the adjacent wall. If they didn't know any better the troll looked as if it was ready to devour them but a quick look at Blaise's mesmerized eyes told them that Courtney was no sooner going to eat them than his mother being intentionally friendly with a Muggle. It was well known within the tight folds of the Dark's Inner Circle that the Cavello Family had a much closer affinity to all sorts of creatures, able to communicate with them in an intellectual level, an ability no other Pureblood families could do and it was an inherent trait that has successfully been passed on through the generations.

"She says she's happy to see us again and is wondering why we coloured her doll's hair red." Blaise's translation of the troll's incomprehensible sent both Erebus and Draco into fits of laughter while Amanda merely stared in confusion at the sight before her.

"You don't mind if I stay right here, do you?" said Amanda weakly, sliding down the stone floor. "My brain has yet to register the fact that the three of you are actually chummy with a mountain troll."

But no sooner had the words left her mouth the sound of hurried footsteps and frantic voices were quickly making its way to where they all were, undoubtedly brought on by the ruckus Courtney was making.

"The professors are coming!" said Erebus, turning his focus to where the voices were coming. "We have to get out of here. Courtney's probably just a distraction to get whatever it is that is in the third floor and Zabini family pet or not, I don't think Severus would be pleased to find us together with her."

"You're right, let's get out of here. Great seeing you again Courtney!" The troll grunted, and this time Erebus was able to distinguish a friendly tone in its voice, as friendly as a grunt could be, while Blaise and Draco went to help gather Amanda back on her feet and the four of them made a mad dash towards the opposite direction, narrowly missing the professors who arrived at the scene just as they'd made the corner.

The four Slytherins arrived at the Slytherin Common in good time only to be met with an extremely furious Flint who then proceeded to rant on and on about how stupid they were to wander on their own when there was a troll traipsing around unchecked in the dungeons. The blunt fifth year Prefect would have reported them to Professor Snape had Erebus not subtlety reminded the boy just who exactly he was dealing with and sure enough once the Slytherin Captain realized that he stopped his lecturing and backed off at once, though he did warn them not to ran off again.

As soon as Flint went to find the Head Boy, who this year was a Slytherin, to report that everyone was now all accounted for, Erebus lead his friends towards the empty couches closet to the fireplace. Everyone knew not to occupy the couches near the fireplace as they now belonged to the unofficial leader of Slytherin and his friends and when one arrogant seventh year argued that a mere first year couldn't possibly have that much power over the entire House tried to get Erebus away from the comfortable couch all it took was one raised brow and the seventh year ran off whimpering. It was therefore safe to say that no one else had tried to "unseat" the young heir after that.

"Are you okay Amanda?" asked Erebus when after a couple of minutes the girl still seemed rather out of it.

"Just give me a few more minutes to process the things I've learnt in the last hour, okay?" said Amanda absentmindedly.

"You seem to be taking this rather well." Erebus smirked, watching the expressions play on the dazed girl's face.

"Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I'm friends with the son and godson of the Dark Lord Voldemort, personally met the Dark Lady in my Head of House's office and lived through all of said son of the Dark Lord's capricious temper tantrums." snapped Amanda wittily.

"Touché," laughed Draco.

Amanda then turned towards the offending boy and said, "So you keep a troll in your backyard."

Blaise looked sheepishly at the girl. "Technically after she got too big for the makeshift cave we built her mother had to send her off to one of the mountain ranges near our winter villas. I haven't actually seen her since I was eight and having a troll running around in one of our properties is not something I discuss over dinner much less in the Great Hall full of gossiping students.

"Is there anything else I ought to know before I become too entrenched in all of these?" asked Amanda, heaving a great sigh in the process.

"Draco likes to be called Drakie-poo at night." blurted Erebus, dashing off to hide behind a shocked fourth year when Draco tried to lunge at him. Blaise chucked at the two's childish antics and then turned to face Amanda's query, who had not even bat an eye lid when Draco jumped on Erebus. The Italian smirked inwardly, despite what the girl had said she was already deeply entrenched with them if Draco and Erebus' constant roughhousing was no longer ruffling her.

"Amanda, as much as we'd love to enlighten you on the things concerning us and your family, Hogwarts is just not the safest place to divulge any sort of information about the Dark. Because of who your parents were, you are important to the Dark and if My Lady says it's too dangerous, it would be foolish of us to try and bring more unnecessary attention towards you by telling you things that ought not to be said when the Headmaster probably has ears everywhere in the castle." said Blaise, hoping to pacify the girl's need for information.

"Yeah yeah, I get it. No heavy information until Christmas break." said Amanda petulantly.

"Hey, cheer up Mandy, Christmas break will be upon us before you know it." Blaise smiled comfortingly at the girl.

"Just answer me one question Blaise," said Amanda.

Blaise eyed the girl warily, friend or not, the girl was placed in Slytherin for a reason. "What is it?"

"Whatever it is that you don't want to tell me here at Hogwarts, do you know anything about it?"

Blaise looked relieved at the question but did not show it. "I'm sorry Mandy, but I know marginally less than Erebus and Draco. I may have grown up with the lot of Dark children but I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to actually live within the Malfoy and Riddle manors."

"How is it like growing up under the rule of the Dark Lady?" asked Amanda, suddenly curious at what the boy had revealed and what she had missed.

"Not as bad as what you think," answered Erebus who had heard the question and was now sitting across from the girl, far away from a still fuming Draco. "A Light wizard will of course never condone the methods in which we were raised and made aware of the realities in life. However despite all of that, I wouldn't have my life any other way, Light wizards are too ignorant and naïve and perceive very little things about their surroundings, I doubt how they've managed to hold on as long as they've had with the path they are leading to now."

"And if you take a look at all the Pureblood Slytherins, they've all known each other from birth. That's just how it works; it helps build solidarity within the inner ranks and ensures loyalty. First rule of Slytherin House is that no is to leave a man behind. We may be Dark but we are not stupid as to think that we can survive without the help of others, we just don't show to the public just how close-knit the House really is, after all, we do have an image to uphold." supplied Blaise. "So are you still mad at us?"

"I was never mad," said Amanda, looking resigned. "It's just that now that I know I'm a part of something, something really important, I want to be able to understand all that I've missed because of unfortunate circumstances. But every time I think I know enough, something like this springs up and it makes me feel all the more clueless to the life my parents lived."

"If it makes you feel any better, I could ask mother to send me that genealogy book I told you about in the train and you can read up on the prominent Dark and Light families while waiting for the holidays." offered Erebus, understanding exactly how his friend was feeling.

Amanda smiled a brilliant smile, making her blue eyes twinkle in the firelight. "Thanks a lot Reby!"

It took an hour for the last of the seventh years to finally head up to their dormitories for the night and another hour for the archway in the common room to open up. Erebus and Draco, who by now had forgiven the dark haired youth, were in the process of setting up their third chess game for the night when the very person they were staying up late for walked towards their vey own corner in the Slytherin common room. Blaise was the first to notice the looming professor and ceased running his hand over Velvet's dark fur. The cat had leapt into his arms midway into their waiting. "Good evening Professor."

"As it is nearly one in the morning, I doubt you could still call it good evening Mr. Zabini, but I however understood your sentiments." replied Severus, having startled Amanda awake.

"So are you going to tell us what happened, Uncle Sev?" asked Draco, looking expectantly at his professor.

"Yes," grumbled Severus, making himself comfortable next to a sleepy-eyed Amanda.

"Well out with it." prompted Erebus, garnering a Snape death glare from his godfather despite the obvious wariness on his face.

"What do you know of the Philosopher's Stone?" asked the Potions Master.

The four children all had their brows furrowed trying to recall if they had ever stumbled upon the term before during one of their readings. It was Erebus, with his fascination with magical artefacts, that recalled the term first. "It's said to be able to turn any metal into pure gold."

"A point to Slytherin," said Severus. "However that is not all that it is capable of doing, for an Elixir of Life made from the stone gives anyone that drinks it immortality."

Erebus' eyes widened at the revelation. "I'll bet you that's what's hidden in the third floor."

"Right again Erebus and your father is determined to get his hands on it one way or another."

"Will it give him his body back? Reverse the effects of the curse?" asked Erebus, his every words dripping with hope.

"Do not get your hopes up Erebus," chastised Severus lightly, well aware of the boy's hopes to have his father back and didn't want him to have them raised too high only to have them dashed. "Dumbledore has the stone well protected and openly going after it is out of the question."

"But that's why you let Courtney into the castle tonight, right? So that you can go after the stone without bringing in suspicion." deduced Draco.

"Letting the troll in has already brought in suspicion." intoned Severus. "And pray tell me how you found out about Courtney when I specifically told you to head straight for the dungeons at the first sign of danger!"

"Courtney is an oversized dog, she would never hurt us!" argued Blaise.

"Be that as it may," snapped their Head of House angrily. "But how would you explain to the staff if they found you before you could get away that you, four Slytherin first years, were able to walk by a troll without getting nothing more than an elevated heart rate without exposing to all of Blaise's affinity with dark creatures?"

At the professor's stern words, the group of first years had the decency to look ashamed and they realized just how stupid they were and how close they came to getting caught and sent to the Headmaster for questioning. The dark and quiet Slytherin common room echoed with the four's mumbled apologies.

"So were you able to get the stone?" Erebus tried to broach the subject again after he was certain that his godfather's ire had diminished.

"Unfortunately Hagrid's Cerberus stopped us before we could analyze more of the spells guarding the stone." drawled Severus, scowling at the memory of the blasted three headed dog that had come close to biting his leg off.

"There's a Cerberus in the castle?" exclaimed Blaise in surprise. "Wicked!"

"Mr. Zabini if you want the next seven years of your life here in Slytherin to be marginally comfortable, I suggest you desist any thoughts of venturing to the third floor to try and acquaint yourself with the blasted dog!" Severus warned in a voice that had sent one too many Hufflepuffs bursting into tears.

"Yes sir." nodded Blaise readily, not wanting to know just how his Head of House could make his life miserable.

"Now if you have no more questions, I suggest you all go to bed, it is way past the hour for eleven year olds such as yourselves to be up and about." ordered Severus, nudging the girl who had lost her battle to sleep halfway through the boys' interrogation.

"Is it already time for class?" mumbled a half awake Amanda, who, if awake and alert, wouldn't have buried her head deeper into her stoic professor's robes.

"No Ms. Michaels, but it is high time that you get yourself into bed." Severus responded to the girl's question, and if someone other than three before him would see him now, they would scream that someone had possessed their Potions Master for he was now gently lifting the sleeping form off the couch and slowly carried her back to her dorm. Once Severus returned to the common room, he found all three boys smirking knowingly at him.

Severus merely cocked a brow at his students and folded his arms before his chest. "Which part of get to bed did the three of you not understand?"

"But Uncle Sev, I don't think I can walk all the way back to the dorm, 'm too tired." drawled Draco, promptly collapsing on a nearby chair and raising his hands in an invitation to be carried and tucked to bed.

The older Slytherin was not amused by the Malfoy heir's antics and was quick to show it with a swift slap of the boy's outstretched hands. ".." he intoned each word with infused sharpness, all the while landing mild swats on the boys' backsides.

"Hey!" cried the boys in indignation but Severus was tired and wouldn't hear anymore of it and therefore pointed sharply towards the boys' dormitories.

The boys scuffled around their irate professor, mumbling their good nights along the way but before a certain dark haired boy could make it inside; he was called out by a weary voice.

"Yes Uncle?" said Erebus, turning around to face the man.

"Erebus, I just recalled that your father wanted me to pass on a message to you." Severus walked towards his godson, noting how the boy's face suddenly became guarded at the mention of his father.

"What is it Uncle Sev?" the boy asked smoothly.

"He told me to tell you not to go after the stone." said Severus and it was during these times that he hated the fact that it was essential to teach the boy Occlumency. Erebus' face was a mask of perfect blankness, not one emotion flittered through the mask that would tell Severus what his godson was thinking of and he would rather drink the foulest potion in existence than to try using Legilimency without the boy's permission.

"Did you hear what I just said, Erebus?" asked Severus sternly, it was important to make the boy understand the dangers surrounding the stone and it would be extremely frowned upon by his family if he tried to go after it.

"Yes Uncle Sev." the boy replied calmly, a complete opposite of the conflicting emotions he was feeling inside.

"Then do I have your word that you will not go after the stone?" demanded Severus, not pleased with the boy's lack of emotion.

"I will not go after the stone, Uncle." unless I deem it absolutely necessary was left unsaid.

Severus eyed the boy suspiciously; he knew there was more to it that the boy was not telling. There was almost always something more when it came to the Dark Heir. Erebus was all but simple.

"I am taking your word for this Erebus, do try not to disappoint us." said Severus, placing a hand on Erebus' shoulder and giving it a firm squeeze that spoke of trouble if he dared to disobey.

Erebus nodded in the affirmative, not risking using his voice lest it betrayed him of the thoughts that were running rampant in his mind. Severus gave one last parting squeeze of the shoulder before heading out of the archway, leaving Erebus to stand alone in the darkening common room. He would watch more carefully his father and godfather's attempts to get the stone and if someone would even try to hinder in his father's plans, they would have him to deal with it. Such a precious magical artefact being kept in a magical school was very suspicious to Erebus and he was sure that the Headmaster had something to do it and he would use all ounce of Slytherin cunning he possessed to figure it out.

He would not openly go after the stone but he was definitely not going to wait in the sidelines either. No, Erebus would not wait and watch in the sidelines. Never.


A/N: YOu know what to do guys. I don't know when the next chapter will come but keep your fingers cross, I've got a slew of ideas I want to write so wait for them.

'til next post

dan4eva