Here is the last chapter that I have finished and ready to post. I am hoping to get this one finished over the next week or so to ensure that I have something else crossed off my nice long ‘to do’ list.
Morosely staring at the food on the plate in front of him, Marcus was unable to distract himself from his earlier conversation with his father. He knew that Jasper Flint was not a man that took no kindly, ever, unless he was the person saying it.
Marcus was running out of excuses, and no doubt Snape would be finding it just as difficult to find ways of keeping him out of Voldemort’s clutches. The extra year at school had been just one more way of keeping Marcus away from the Dark Lord, but the excuses were quickly losing their power.
“You going to eat that?” Marcus looked up and grimaced when he noticed one of Malfoy’s little followers – Crabbe…or Goyle, he could never tell the difference – staring at the food on his plate.
Pushing the food away, half-smiling, Marcus stood up from the table and walked up to the dais to speak with his head of house. He didn’t know how much Snape would be able to do to help him without exposing himself to suspicion, but it was worth a try to ensure his own freedom.
“Professor Snape,” his head lowered, speaking quietly so as not to be overheard.
“Yes, Flint.” Snape continued to push the quickly cooling glutinous porridge around in his bowl. “Make whatever it is quick.” He pushed away from the table, stood up and swept out of the hall, his heavy robe flaring dramatically behind him.
Taking care that no one was following him, Marcus slipped into Snape’s private rooms through one of the many secret entrances that only few were aware about. Snape was already leaning back in a black leather recliner, his legs crossed at the ankle on the matching footrest.
Marcus suppressed a grin when he remembered the first time he had seen his revered professor this relaxed, more like a slumbering lion than the slimy, sneaky snake most people believed him to be.
Spotting Marcus entering his rooms, Snape leaned forward a little and steepled his fingers together. Taking a deep breath he opened his mouth and asked, “What can I do for you, Mr Flint?”
Shifting awkwardly from one foot to the other and back again, Marcus twisted his hands in front of him. “My father has contacted me again, Sir. He wants me to return home for the Mark at the weekend.” Looking at the floor, he waited for the questions he was sure would soon come.
“When did you last hear from your father?” With a subtle flick of his wrist a chair slide out from underneath his desk and Snape inclined his head towards it. “Take a seat, Marcus.”
Marcus slumped down on the chair and, mimicking Snape’s own posture, moved down further in the seat and crossed his legs at the ankle. “He sent a letter a few weeks ago, I told him that we had an important match and I would be unable to make it.”
“And I take it that the excuse fell on deaf ears?” Snape remembered Jasper Flint from the Revels. He was a big man with a very small heart and even less concern for anything but the image that he conveyed to people. He had only met Jasper’s wife and their daughter once, but he recalled them both as being slight and very nervous around people. He felt very sorry for Jacinta and Eleanor, and could see much of himself in Marcus.
“Jasper is determined that I follow in his footsteps. He’s threatened to hurt Eleanor if I don’t do what he says, but I don’t want to take the Mark. I just want to play Quidditch.”
Nodding his head in understanding, Snape crooked one of his fingers at his bookcase, summoning a rather heavy tome towards him. Flicking efficiently through the delicate pages, he bit back a triumphant shout when he found the chapter he was looking for. Tapping the page, the grin on his face growing wider, Snape turned the book around and levitated it over until it was beside Marcus’ chair.
Reading through the paragraphs that Snape had found, Marcus allowed himself to feel a little bit of hope, “Do you think that it might work?” He picked up his wand and used a transcribing spell to copy down the major parts of the potion and corresponding charm.
“Mr Flint, I am never doubtful of my plans, merely of the people that try and carry them out.” With another efficient flick of his wrist he removed the book from Marcus’ lap and returned it to its rightful place on the bookshelf, between Incredible Potions and how not to use Them and The Dark Arts: A new Perspective.
“Thank you, Professor.” Marcus could see that Snape considered the meeting between them finished, and he made his way out of the dark, atmospheric office as quickly as he had made his way in, through another of the secret entrances that littered the rooms. When he turned around, he found that this one just happened to take him to the passageway leading into the Great Hall.
That night, after all the younger students were in bed, Marcus dragged himself out of his room and sneaked down the hall to the laboratory that all seventh year potions students had access to. He knew that Terence would already be in there, working on some kind of new Contraceptive potion that left no trace in the system (perfect for all those girls who didn’t want their parents to know they had been with a boy). He sometimes wondered whether Higgs wasn’t working with those two strange Weasley boys, just to bulk up his already ridiculous inheritance.
“What are you doing in here, Flint?” Terence couldn’t help looking surprised at Marcus’ presence in the labs, he was. He knew that Marcus wasn’t as stupid as everyone assumed him to be, but that didn’t mean that he actually went out of his way to do more work than was necessary.
“I didn’t realise that this room was for your exclusive use, Terence.” Raising an eyebrow at his friend wryly, Marcus went to the store cupboard and started to pull the various ingredients from it that he would need for the potion part of the charm.
Sighing dramatically, Terence turned his attention back to the potion he was working on, and managed to ignore Marcus’ frustrated grunts and slamming of tools for the rest of the evening.
It was gone 2am when Marcus finally produced the effect that he wanted. The potion had turned a thick glimmering silver, the smoke emanating from it a dark green. He pulled a delicate heart dangling on a fine silver chain from the inside pocket of his robes and dipped it quickly in the potion. He grinned with satisfaction when he noticed that the heart was momentarily surrounded with an eerie green glimmer before it returned to the new silver it had previously been. “It worked,” he fought back the desire he had to punch a fist triumphantly in the air and simply packed away the potions ingredients before pouring the remaining potion into the specially designed waste disposal that Snape had provided in all the labs.
By the time he was able to return to his rooms, the whole school was in darkness. He sneaked through the corridors, determined that he wasn’t going to get caught by anyone out after curfew; that was the last thing he needed right now. He pushed open the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room and ran through the room, unaware that someone was sitting in the chair by the fireplace, taking part in a quiet conversation. He had no idea that he had been seen, or that his suspicious antics were about to be reported to the one person who didn’t need to know.
Marcus woke up slowly, his head pounding, feeling as though he had been tortured within an inch of his life. When he opened his eyes he realised it was possible this wasn’t far from the truth. He was dangling by the aching wrists from the wall of a dungeon. He tugged at the chains, but found that they were far too strong for him to break without magic, and as he slept naked he knew that his wand was not likely to be anywhere near him. “So you’re finally awake, boy!”
Marcus jerked in shock at the familiar harsh voice of his father, he narrowed his eyes and glared down at the man standing in front of him. “What am I doing here?” his voice was rusty, his throat dry.
“I would have thought much was obvious, even for an idiot like you, Marcus. You’re here because you have so far failed to do your duty, I aim to make sure you don’t try and run!” Sure he had already won, and not averse to revealing his plans now that Marcus was secured where no one would find him, Jasper Flint rolled up his left sleeve and revealed the glowing green and black dark mark on his arm. “This is your family duty. You have been making excuses for long enough.” He stroked his fingers almost lovingly over the mark that marred his tanned skin, and then looked up his son, eyes filled with anger. “The ceremony will take place at midnight, there are guards at the door and they have orders to kill Eleanor if you so much as look as though you are going to fight.”
Tense, his hands curled into fists, Marcus gritted his teeth and took a deep breath, determined that his father wasn’t going to see how much his threats had affected him. “They’ll come looking for me!” the words were muttered between lips that were far too dry.
“Like they actually care about you!” Jasper laughed. As he turned to leave he turned to his son to deliver his parting remark, “it’s been a week, Marcus. Why would they come looking for someone who left so willingly?”
Feeling sick, wondering if they really hadn’t bothered to look for him, Marcus closed his eyes and concentrated hard on his own rescue. Surely someone would come looking for him; surely someone cared?
His rescue, when it came, was quick and brutal! One moment he was suspended from the wall, chains secured around his wrists and ankles, the next he had been cut down, his legs buckling beneath him as someone checked him over quickly and threw a blanket over him, “Don’t want to frighten the ladies, Flint!” If he’d had the energy he would have laughed, but as it was his throat was dry and he had barely enough energy to walk to the hole in the wall where a barred window had once been.
He walked out into the sunlight, a hand shielding his eyes from the bright light, and right into the path of an Impedimentia curse. Fury spurred him on and he fought the curse for only a few moments before someone reversed the effects. Left and right people were covering the ground. Out of the corner of his eye he could see his father, an arm around Eleanor’s throat as he staggered across the battlefield. “If you come any closer,” he yelled, panic apparent in his voice, “she dies. I’ll do it, just ask her mother!”
Marcus felt anger course through him at the fear on his sister’s face, and he didn’t hesitate. Already stalking furiously in his father’s direction, Marcus barely stopped to snatch up a wand from one of the fallen Death Eaters – Vincent Crabbe Snr he noticed absently – before he dropped the blanket covering his modesty and stood in front of his father. “Let her go,” he growled aggressively, at the same time trying to convey to his sister that he had come to save her. “You’ve already lost this battle.”
Shaking his head, a maniacal gleam in his eyes, Jasper tightened his hold on Eleanor’s throat. “All the time I’m still alive the battle isn’t won. Do you really have it in you, son? To kill your own father?” He wasted no time, seeing Marcus hesitate – even though it was only for a second – he released his hold on Eleanor and pushed her towards her brother and, with a crack, vanished.
Fear swelling in his stomach, Marcus picked his sister up and cradled her against him, murmuring words of reassurance into her hair. Eleanor returned his embrace, her arms tightening around his shoulders as he stood up, “You should put some clothes on, Marcus!” she berated him even as she sought comfort in the safety of her older brother’s arms. “I don’t think that anyone is meant to see this much of you before you get married.”
Chuckling, relieved that they had survived this battle intact, Marcus picked up the blanket that was coiled at his feet and, after wrapping it around them both, apparated to the gates of Hogwarts.