Disclaimer: I do not own HP

Chapter 60

The Dark Lord Returns

When Severus first laid eyes on The Dark Lord he honestly didn't know what to think. He looked nothing like the man he had last seen over fourteen years ago. He appeared more snake then man with pale white skin, no hair, and red tinted eyes and his nose…it was nothing more then a couple of slits in his face. He was, by most standards, frightening.

"Where were you Severus?" He hissed in displeasure.

"I am sorry My Lord, it would have been quite difficult for me to leave when you called me."

"Is that so?" He asked his glowing eyes narrowed in disbelief.

"I was speaking with several tournament officials, my wife was there. If I simply left right at that moment it would have been quite suspicious. I knew you would be returning soon. The signs were all there. It was imperative I keep by position at the school as well as Dumbledore's trust, I did not wish to jeopardize it."

Voldemort nodded and replied, "Your presence at the school is of value to me now more then ever, you made the right choice, Severus."

"Thank you my Lord."

"On another note, I have heard from some of your comrades that you have stolen Lucius' wife." He said with a smirk, seemingly quite amused by the situation.

"I did not steal her, I simply gave her another option, a better one."

Voldemort sighed as he let his crossed arms fall to his sides. "I suppose in some ways that is true. Lucius has wealth, a good linage, yet he lets his privilege often cloud common sense causing him to make stupid mistakes." He paused briefly before continuing with, "Just so you know, I will be releasing my followers from their confinement soon, Lucius included. He will most likely try and kill you."

Severus scoffed, appearing to be unaffected by the threat. "Yes, he has already sent me a rather threatening letter though after spending the last two years in Azkaban I doubt he's in any condition to do much of anything, let alone try and out duel me."

Voldemort chuckled, "No I imagine he wouldn't be." He paused for a brief moment seeming to be lost in thought before continuing. "I also hear his son has been making some poor choices as of lately including befriending Potter and dating a mudblood. The latter wouldn't be due to your influence now, would it?"

Severus knew exactly why he asked him that. The Dark Lord was very aware of his feelings for Lily, despite her heritage and that she was essentially fighting against him at the time. He had begged him to spare her. He had promised he would. He lied.

"As far as I know he's dating the girl because she gives him what he wants, I doubt it will last. As for Potter it was Lucius who first suggested he befriend the boy and so he did. Trust me, I have discourage it on numerous occasions."

"Hum, very well Severus, you may go, but I will call you if I need you and I do expect you to come when I call."

"Of course, Master."

XXX

Filches body was found two days after the final task, deep in the Forbidden Forest by a group of Centaurs. His head had been shaved but other then that his body was unscathed. Barty Crouch Jr., during interrogation, admitted he had ended his life with an Avada Kadavra, then using Polyjuice potion he pretend to be Filch to access the castle and ultimately turning the Goblet of Fire into a port key, taking Harry straight to Voldemort.

No one really liked Filch all that much. He was a grumpy old codger who seemed to enjoy getting students in trouble, but that didn't mean anyone wished him dead. Madam Pince was particularly broken up about it, but that made sense as there had been rumors for years of the two of them being secretly involved. As dangerous as the tournament had been, the very last person anyone expected to be killed that year was the squib caretaker.

XXX

The last week of school seemed to drag on. Draco spend much of his time with Hermione going on long walks and simply talking. Hermione's parents wanted to take her to France to visit her grandmother shortly after she arrived home. They had hoped to see each other, even if briefly, over the holiday, though considering Mr. Grangers current dislike of his daughters romantic relationship with Draco, they highly doubted it would happen. In truth Draco was unsure of what his summer would hold. In his previous life his mother done everything she could to keep him out of the house as that was where The Dork Lord spent most of is time. This time, he wasn't sure what was going to happen. His mum hadn't been back to the manor since she had been attacked and Dobby quite literally saved her life.

He rarely saw Harry that final week, in fact, according to Hermione, the only person he really talked to since the third task was Ginny. She mentioned they would spend hours sitting on the couch in their common room quietly talking. No one really knew about what, but then it really wasn't anyone else's business. Ron had managed to wrangle a couple of games of exploding snap out of him, but other then that he was either with Ginny or up in his door room, on his bed with the curtains closed.

The end of the year feast was unlike most. It started with a kind farewell to their caretaker and finished with a warning to be cautious in these dark times. "Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy."

Such words never rang more true then for Draco as he knew exactly what lay ahead, and as brave as he wanted to be, it still frightened him. This time it wasn't just himself and his mum's life he was concerned for but Severus', Harry's and most importantly Hermione's. He loved her and he honestly didn't know what he would do if he lost her, especially at the hands of the Dark Lord.

XXX

Draco, Hermione, Harry, Ginny, Ron and even Crabb and Goyle had all found a compartment together on the ride home. Though at one point Goyle excused himself and didn't return for over an hour. When asked where he had been, he simply replied with a rather wide grin, "No where." He then settled back into his seat and pulled out a wizarding comic.

"I'm just glad there will be quidditch again next year." Ron said taking a bite from the apple he had taken from the Great Hall earlier that morning at breakfast.

"Are you going to try out?" Hermione asked as she leaned over to slip a book she had been glancing though back in her rucksack.

"Yep." He replied as pieces of apple and spit flung out of him mouth and onto his best mate and sister.

"Oh my God, Ron." Ginny huffed, brushing off a piece that had landed on her hand.

Harry took off his glasses, pulled out his wand, preformed a quick cleaning spell and put them back on. "You could have swallowed before you answered, Ron." Harry said with a laugh. "I already had my breakfast."

"Um, yea, sorry, mate." He said swallowing a final bite. "But I think I should try out for keeper, don't you?"

Draco knew Ron was a decent keeper, but he had seen better. Personally he thought he would have been more qualified as a chaser, but that was just his opinion.

The conversation stayed on Quidditch for another ten or so minuets before Goyle pulled out his exploding snap card and everyone enjoyed a few rounds of the wizarding card game. When the train finally pulled into platform 9 ¾ Draco and Hermione allowed the rest of their friends to leave the compartment and hung back for just a moment so they could give each other a proper good bye, away from their parents.

"I'm going to miss you, Dragon." Hermione sighed as she reached out pulling her boyfriend into a tight hug.

"I'll miss you too, Mione." He whispered placing a soft kiss atop her head. "It's only for a couple months." It really was a short amount time if you look at the big picture, but this summer was going to be harder to be apart from each other then usual. In part in was because they were now an official couple but it was far more then that. With the return of the Dark Lord everything has changed.

Draco knew at some point soon his loyalty will be questioned and being in Slytherin house will become very dangerous for him but no matter what happend, this time he was going to do the right thing. He was going to be brave and strong; like Severus had been, like Harry and Hermione had been. This time he will not hide like a snake in the grass. This time, with the help of his knowledge of future events, he would fight for the light and with the light and together they would work to extinguish the darkness forever.

With a final kiss good-bye the two fifteen-year-olds exited the train and began their two-month summer holiday with their families. They would write each other and even, on a few occasions were able to talk on the telephone, but they would not see each other again until the fall term started September 1st.

XXX

Draco found himself living at the castle during the summer, he supposed that wasn't all that strange considering his mum was now married to Professor Snape. His mum had picked him up from the station; took him straight to Spain where they spent a week vacationing with his grandma (who had apparently wanted to see Spain before she died) and then back to England and directly to Hogwarts. Severus had not joined them during their brief holiday in Spain, his mum had said it was because the Headmaster required his help at the moment, but he knew better. He stayed in England because the Dark Lord was in England.

He had spent a lot of his free time flying around on the quidditch pitch, or in the greenhouses with his mum, who had an affinity for plants both traditional and magical. He had gotten letters from Hermione and Harry, though he hadn't gotten any form Grabb or Goyle, which he thought strange as they normally either wrote or flooed him at least once a week.

The most recent letter he received was from Harry. It was an official invite to his birthday party, which was in fact going to be a pool party!

"I don't think it's a good idea for you to go," Narcissa told her son when he brought up the letter over dinner one evening.

"Why not?" Draco questioned his brown furrowed in annoyance.

"What if someone finds out and reports it to the Dark Lord. You know he's already questioned Severus about the rumors concerning your friendship with him. Not to mention your relationship with that Granger girl. No, it would be better if you stayed at home."

"And who is going to tell him? Not Severus, certainly not Harry!"

Narcissa sighed, gently placing her fork on her plate she closed her eyes and took in a slow deep breath. "Anyone at that party could mention it at school at some point and you never know who will over hear it. I'm sorry but it's just not safe."

While Draco understood his mothers logic that didn't mean he agreed with it. The truth was he didn't care who knew he was friend's with Harry. He wasn't going to hide his friendship with him at school so what difference would it make if he went to his bloody party!

"Mum, I'm not like Severus, I'm not a spy. I'm not going to pretend to be something I'm not. Harry Potter is my friend and Hermione Granger is my girlfriend and I'm not hiding that from anyone!"

And then in a very adolescent bout of temper, Draco jumped up from the table, stomped out of the small kitchen area and preceded to bolt out Portrait door.

"Well that was dramatic," Severus said then taking a sip of his earl gray.

"I suppose it's understandable. He hasn't been able to see any of his friends this summer, not even Crabb and Goyle. It's bound to be frustrating." Narcissa reasoned. She understood how he felt but that didn't mean she was going to change her mind about it.

With a long sigh she slowly stood from the table. "I'm tired, I'm going to go to bed."

"Already?" Severus asked, pulling out his pocket watch and glancing at the time. "It's only half past six."

"Yes, but I didn't sleep well last night and its starting to catch up to me."

"Oh, very well." Severus stood, giving his wife a quick kiss goodnight. "I'll make sure Draco comes back at a reasonable hour," He promised.

She gave her husband a weak smile followed by a soft, "thank you," before heading off to bed.

XXX

A/N: Hi all. I know the update took forever, I had a bit of writers block with this story. This update isn't super long but it fills a gap. Next up, Draco sneaks out to Harry's party and Severus is forced to confront Lucius.