Snape turned from Voldemort's silent remains, his long cloak sweeping imperiously through the dust and debris. "What to do with you?" he said to the Death Eaters and D.A. members alike. He stalked back and forth in front of the immobilized witches, wizards, and house elves.

"I could kill you all now, be done with it. But I, unlike Voldemort, do not enjoy killing. I could try to persuade you to my cause. I could force you by potion or magic to do my bidding. My options are truly legion."

"You'll have to kill all the D.A. members because we will NEVER join with you!" shouted George Weasley. "Bloody right!" chimed in Fred.

"It may come to that. Well we shall see. The Weasley point of view has never carried much weight in the wizarding world," said Snape as he contemplated the two Weasley boys. "I seriously doubt many will rush to join you in death. And I am rather bargaining from a position of strength. You see, I alone have the ability to survive this night unscathed. I can kill you all. Make it appear you destroyed each other. I can then deny the murder of Albus Dumbledore with highly believable memories that the most skilled Legilimens will not be able to refute. I had begun to work toward that goal by implanting memories of committing Dumbledore's murder within Fenrir Greyback's mind. He was extremely weak, easy to convince. Unfortunately I find that he is now dead and unavailable as a scape-wolf. No matter, I could use any of the you," he said turning to the captive Death Eaters. "I could plant in any mind incontrovertible memory of being on the astronomy tower at Howarts; indisputable evidence of performing the murder. I could then weaken you so severely that the Ministry's interrogation would finish you off."

"Jus' try it! We'll hunt yeh down and kill yeh! Yeh'll never know peace!" shouted a huge blonde Death Eater struggling to free himself from the magic holding him to the wall.

"I have no fear of you, nor do have any love for you," said Snape flatly. "My experience has taught me to eliminate any feelings of connection. Those feelings can be used to hurt and manipulate. My life has been a torrent of pain. Starting with my father, extending to my school-mates and associates, and now ending with you. I can walk away from that ridicule right now. I can prepare a believable enough story to allow me back into wizard society. I may be able to massage the situation enough to gain Ministry praise and commendation. I could return as a hero! It would then be only small steps to Headmaster of Hogwarts and then Minister of Magic."

"No you say," said Snape noting the muttering and disbelieving looks from Death Eater and D.A. member alike. "Years ago, I convinced a very great wizard I had changed. I even entered into the Unbreakable Vow with that wizard to guarantee my fidelity. That wizard was Albus Dumbledore. He wanted to believe that my conversion was sincere. Honest people are always willing to accept proffered change, especially in the blackest of hearts. It makes them feel better about themselves. After all, if the vilest can change, then the noble can change small things to make them more noble."

"Dumbledore could not have been a great wizard if you violated his Unbreakable Vow and survived." scoffed another Death Eater.

"Dumbledore was a great wizard, but he considered himself great. A small flaw in his personality, but a flaw nonetheless. There is no harm in telling you how I defeated his enchantment now. You may take the knowledge to whatever awaits you after this life. The secret in defeating the Unbreakable Vow is to parse the words to which you agree. Dumbledore's greatest mistake was his injudicious wording. He made me vow to protect Harry Potter's life whenever under my direct observation or control. This I vowed. Dumbledore went on to force me to promise to confront him with capital magic before I could ever be free of the vow. In his arrogance, Dumbledore believed he would continue to be my superior in all things magic. He assumed that this clause would give him warning before I would ever consider harming Harry Potter, because I would have to try to kill Dumbledore first. How wrong he was! I think that during the last moments of his life, Dumbledore may have realized his mistake. He actually pled with me knowing that I was on the cusp of being free of that accursed vow. Killing Dumbledore freed me from many of the constraints plaguing my life. Killing all of you will eliminate any final obstacles between me and recognition for my magical prowess. No other wizard controls the magic I have at my disposal."

"I wouldn't be too sure of that," said a cold cool voice.

Harry Potter stepped out from behind the fractured stone pillar.

« Chapter 55 - Battles Royal   Chapter 57 - Spinner's End »


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