A Snape-centric one-shot. I wrote it a while ago, as a present for jenni.|
Pairing: None, really. A bit of implied stuff.
Warnings: Implied slash; Character Death.
As I don't write all that much, I would love your feedback. Constructive Criticism welcome.
Dedicated to Jenni, who more than deserves it
Severus Snape’s soul was dark with sin. He knew that he was far beyond redemption, had probably been beyond redemption since his fifteenth birthday. He had long ago accepted that after his death, he would displace Cassius in Lucifer’s third mouth.* As in life, so in death.
Then again, perhaps he would become a demon. Or, perhaps if he were so unlucky he would be cast upward into heaven. He had served both light and dark, only to discover that each brought him equal physical pain, but it was light that had brought the exquisite agony of nobility and honor. Either way, he was well accustomed to carrying out orders that seldom brought him personal benefit beyond the extension of his life. Yet that was enough. The former potions master had been many things, but never suicidal.
Now Snape’s work had reached its climax. His two masters were face to face, and this time only one would walk away.
The Dark Lord had surpassed his previous glory by surpassing his previous atrocities. The creature born Tom Riddle was now the most powerful dark being since Lucifer himself, at the expense of pure soul. He had found a way to enslave other lives to the purpose of prolonging his own. Once the souls had been enslaved, the bodies had died, but their power supported the Dark Lord for a year afterwards. When splitting his own soul had failed to protect him from death, the Dark Lord simply stole others.
He looked different now. He had sacrificed his vanity to the altar of immortality. Death has a way of deciding priorities. His exterior now reflected the fearsome and fractured creature hitherto concealed within. He (it?) was still vaguely humanoid in shape, but stretched and twisted far out of proportion. The actual distance from head to heel must have been 10 feet, but his form swerved and twisted so that his eyes rose only about 6 feet above the ground. It hurt Snape’s eyes to look too closely, but the Dark Lord seemed to have at least 6 appendages, all of which were too long and had too many joints, giving the over-all impression of a deadly insect, or possibly an arachnid. Most of the Dark Lord reflected his title; he was a cloudy black so intense that it did not show a reflection, as if it simply sucked in the light. The intense dark was fractured by thin fissures of blood red and sickly green, like some obscene and violent parody of a Christmas tree. The bright red and green glows contrasted the black shell with such extremity that the effect was blinding. As Snape looked, his eyes strained and he felt like he had just eaten ice cream too quickly.
Searching relief, Snape turned his eyes onto his second master. Potter was an impressive sight himself. By the time Potter had replaced Dumbledore as the head of the war, his hatred for Snape had not diminished, but his stupidity had. The boy-who-lived had quickly realized that Severus Snape could suffer far more as servant than as enemy. Potter had reveled in exploiting Snape’s double agent status—watching his former teacher jeopardizing his life and enduring pain so that he could offer up scraps of information at Potter’s feet, like a well trained dog. Snape clearly remembered the cold pleasure in Potter’s eyes when Snape had sat, shaking and barely coherent, and delivered up news that would further Potter’s cause. It had been a horrible experience for Snape, but not as bad as it could have been; as it had been, sometimes.
Snape had found Potter, or Potter had found him, three years after Dumbledore’s death. By that time, Potter had found four of the horcruxes, but still had not discovered how to destroy them. In that time, Snape had become almost feral from living on the side of dark. He had been nearly wild from the combination of Lucius, released by the key of political influence from prison, and the Dark Lord, both of whom Snape was living with, or rather, under. After Dumbledore’s death he had been praised and rewarded, but without his position inside Hogwarts, and without the freedom to go in public for fear of Azkaban, Snape soon became of little political or military use to his master. The Dark Lord had found other ways Snape could amuse him. They had not amused Snape.
It would have been easier on him if he could truly have devoted himself to the Dark Lord. He had tried. However, after knowing Dumbledore’s kindness and light, Snape simply could not live in the cold hatred of a purely evil soul. Seeing no solution, Snape had resigned himself to madness.
Then, Potter had stormed Malfoy Manor, along with his army of light wizards. Lucius and the Dark Lord had escaped, but had not bothered to rescue the ex-potions master. They had tired of him, and decided to leave Snape to the tender mercies of his enemies. It was two days before Potter found him. The other light wizards had gone off to other missions, and Potter had been searching for Lucius’s infamous library of darkest arts, but found Snape instead.
Snape’s room was one of many, as Lucius sometimes had entertained many guests, but Snape’s was the only one occupied when Potter found the subterranean passage. The hallway looked like the rest of the manor. The rooms did not. They were small, and bare. They were, however, powerfully spelled. The room was sound-proof, light-proof, magic proof, and proof against destruction, both to the room and its occupants. The extreme suppressive magic had worn on Snape’s nerves until he felt about to crack, like a prisoner who was never allowed to sleep. He had treasured it, though. It may have been a small, cold box, but it was his small, cold box. Lucius and the Dark Lord had not deigned to spend time in this hallway, as they preferred the luxuries of other chambers.
Snape was thin when Potter found him, but he always had been. His more alarming anatomy changes were hidden by a robe which he had been left. Snape didn’t see Potter’s reaction to his presence as he was unconscious, but the shift in magic had awoken him. He had desperately tried to roll over onto his knees, but hadn’t been able to manage it. He had, however seen the green eyes and black hair peering down on him with God-like judgment. At that site, Snape had simply relaxed and waited to die. He waited in vain.
“Well, professor, I admit that I wasn’t expecting you.” Potter’s voice had crystallized over the years, like coal under pressure, until it was as hard and sharp as a diamond. “I would leave you to your solitude, but I believe you can help me.”
Snape had tried to wrap his mind around the fact that he was not going to die, couldn’t, and passed out. When he had awoken, he found himself back at Hogwarts, in his old chambers, with Potter watching him.
Potter knew that Snape had the knowledge and experience to help destroy the horcruxes. Potter also knew that Snape would come into the service of light, no matter the price. Potter’s childhood experiences had taught him much about how to manipulate the weak. Manipulate he had.
He had nursed Snape back to health, but the former teacher had had to earn every ounce of strength and measure of dexterity. Potter was no longer a confused boy, but a scarred man, who needed release. Snape was it. Being a death eater left him no stranger to the warped and twisted. He understood the need to lash out, or to give in. The need to experience what one could not afford in real life. In fact, Snape had been able to teach Potter a few things. Potter had particularly enjoyed his introduction to breath-play. And with every night of dignity lost, Snape gained a day of recovery.
Eventually, Snape was well again, and Potter had sent him back into the Dark Lord’s arms. The double life had come back to him as if it had never left. It was easier now that he was no longer teaching, but harder with his increased age.
Unsurprisingly, Granger had been the one to figure it all out. She had eventually studied even the dark arts, and found the answers. Soon, all the horcruxes had been found and destroyed, and when Potter was 21, it was time to take on the Dark Lord for the last time.
In some ancient Dark text, Granger had found the solution. It was simple, but difficult. She had explained at an Order meeting what the spell would involve. Because Potter and the Dark Lord were linked, it could be done. Potter would have to engage the Dark Lord in battle, no large task. After that, he would need to use strong will-magic in order to push into the Dark Lord’s being. Using an ancient and temperamental spell, he would have to push out the evil in the Dark Lord, who would then no longer have anything to sustain him.
Granger had taken a deep breath and gone on. The problem was that the evil could not be released into the world. Evil that strong would destroy all of Europe. There had to be a conduit. Something that was both dark and light, so that it could accept the evil, but not absorb it. The conduit would absorb the evil, and then most likely die, taking the evil with it. However, there was a catch. The conduit had to have a human soul. Granger had not once looked at Snape during this speech, but Potter had.
So now Snape stood and watched his two masters face off, and prepared to die. As the first curses were thrown and rebuffed, Snape made his way carefully behind the Dark Lord, and into Potter’s line of vision. All around him dark and light wizards faced off against each other, but Snape was drawn only to one battle. As Potter rolled to dodge a hex, his eyes landed on Snape. Those eyes went bright and hard, and Snape knew this was it.
The spell was cast, and after a few moments of struggle for metaphorical footing, Potter came out ahead, and a black beam pulsed into Snape.
It was pain.
Pain beyond all thought, or reason, or imagining.
Pain reaching far beyond the pain of any Crucio ever cast.
It was physical, and mental, and emotional, and psychic, and subliminal.
It was unbearable.
It got worse.
Snape screamed and screamed and screamed, but he could not hear. Nor could he see, for he was surrounded with darkness so thick it choked him.
Snape felt himself crack. Where pressure had crystallized Potter, it was breaking him. Just a sliver at first, and then the fracture spread, until he was thousand tiny pieces, and each one was in pure, undiluted agony.
And then he was beyond it.
For a second, Snape could see everything. He could see the whole battlefield, and he could see each hair on Potter’s arm. He could see it all, all at once. What he saw was his forgiveness. He knew that this final act had balanced it. With this pain, he had earned his soul.
Snape sighed, and for the first time ever, knew peace.