* * *
He hangs before me, defiant as always, loyal to the last.
For the first time in our long, so-called friendship, I truly believe his loyalties no longer complement my own.
He knows where Potter is, of that I have no doubt. And his stubborn refusal to give me any useful information is wearing my patience thinner than cheap imported cauldrons.
We spent the earlier part of the evening in more comfortable surroundings, but he wasn’t talking. It’s been a long time since I was able to win over the likes of Severus Snape with prestige and money. These days my old friend needs more persuasion than flattery and fine dining.
So now I am attempting to torture the truth from him, yet still he keeps his silence. I should have known better than to think I could beat the truth from this man. He is, after all, the only Death Eater I have ever known to remain silent under the Dark Lord’s Cruciatus.
An obtuse notion, really, as it only made the Dark Lord more intent on breaking him.
I once held a strange kind of respect for the man. Respect which quickly evaporated as I began to uncover the true loyalties of my austere associate.
I kept my suspicions to myself for the better part of two years, through the return of our Lord and my subsequent time in Azkaban. I hoped I was wrong. I hoped he was loyal. He was, after all, the only one in our Dark Circle I had ever truly called a friend.
Aside from my own personal feelings, I failed to see what possible motivations could turn him to the other side. He was born into hatred and raised in Hell. The Dark Lord was the only master who could offer Severus the freedom to destroy others as they had destroyed him.
No, I told myself, he would never turn.
It was some time after my escape from the wizard prison that our Lord, or should I say, my Lord, spoke to me of his own uncertainties. I told my master of my own suspicions, but even then, the Dark Lord chose not to act. Severus was playing a dangerous game, whichever side he was on, crawling between his two masters like a dog to heel. The Dark Lord would not yet risk losing his eyes in the Order of the Phoenix, loyal or not.
Instead, our Lord decided to test his wayward servant.
Severus undertook everything asked of him with the malevolence of a true Death Eater. Torturing, raping, killing; he delivered the Cruciatus to one of his own students with such deadly precision the boy would never speak again.
It was almost like he was mocking us for doubting him.
And then came the piéce-de-résistance. A potion to shield the drinker from Avada Kedavra, turning the Killing Curse back upon its caster.
Our master blamed me for ever giving him reason to doubt his brilliant Potions master.
I lost more than face that night.
Preparations were made. The attack was planned. Potter would die on All Hallows Eve from the same curse which killed his parents.
The Dark Lord would honour Severus Snape beyond all others... myself included.
There was just one problem.
Our esteemed Potions master had failed to mention the side effects of his miraculous concoction. Indeed, it shielded the drinker from the Killing Curse, but it also served to increase the effects of any other spell by a thousand-fold. A simple Jelly-Legs Jinx would break the drinkers’ back. A Cruciatus would cause the drinkers’ nerve endings to explode and their blood to boil in their veins until their body self-destructed from the inside out.
Severus knew this.
Potter knew this.
And on All Hallows Eve, that was the curse he sent my master’s way.
When the Dark Lord died I was no longer able to bribe the Ministry to ensure my freedom. I, with the few remaining Death Eaters, went into hiding, swearing death to Potter and all those who aided him.
That is, if we can find him.
Six months have passed without sight or scent of anyone even rumoured to be part of the Order of the Phoenix.
So, here I stand, observing the man in front of me with a sneer not unlike the one usually gracing his features.
He is not sneering now.
Although his feet barely reach the floor, he is motionless as I approach him once again. For the Head of Slytherin, his courage is sickeningly Gryffindorish at times.
I reach up and caress the soft, silky fabric of his white linen shirt, oddly exposed in the absence of his heavy outer robes. I feel a shudder run through him at my closeness. I smile to myself.
This will be good.
“Come now, Severus,” I drawl, stepping back to lean against the cold stone wall of the small, underground room. “Do you honestly think you can gain anything from keeping this information to yourself?”
He says nothing, meeting my cool stare with the fathomless depths of his own.
I nod to a black-clad subordinate, who steps from the shadows, toying with the old Beater’s bat in his hands. As much as I despise Muggles, they have developed some interestingly painful methods of interrogation in the absence of magic. Crabbe was a rather formidable Beater for the Slytherin team, in his time, and I am pleased to see he has not lost his touch.
A deep grunt of pain is brought forth from Snape as the bat connects with his stomach.
“Really, Severus,” I say. “Are you trying to make a barbarian out of me? There are much more civilised ways of repaying a debt to an old friend.”
That elicits a response.
“I don’t owe you a damn thing!” he spits angrily.
“Oh, but you do.” I leave the coolness of the wall behind as I saunter towards him once more. He has no idea how much his subterfuge has cost me, cost my dignity.
“I believed you to be loyal to our Master,” I hiss. “He expressed concerns and I assured him you were merely playing your part for the old fool Dumbledore. And then I find you passing information to that Muggle-loving fool whilst giving our Lord nothing but pathetic excuses in return. You have turned against your own housemates, your friends, my kin! You dare make a fool out of me?”
He laughs in my face.
“Housemates? Friends? You mean those who stood by to watch my torment at school, without so much as lifting a finger against my assailants?”
He had a point. Although I would never admit it, most Slytherin’s were cowards at heart. Merlin knows how he became Head of a group exhibiting such qualities.
“And you of all people should know, Lucius,” he continues, “a Slytherin only makes friends where they will get something in return.”
“And what of me?” I ask, curiosity outweighing my anger for the time being. “What of all I did for you? All the opportunities you would never have had, but for my influence? Surely you place some value on our past.”
He stares at me coldly.
“Name me one thing you ever did for me without benefit to yourself,” he hisses.
I pretend to think the matter over, walking a slow circle around my friend turned foe. He is right, I acknowledge, but not aloud. I befriended him due to his talent for potions and lust for power. My deliverance of him to the Dark Lord was a way to raise my own standing in my Master’s eyes.
And now I was using him again. Now he no longer looks to me as a friend; a brother. I am no longer the mentor of this angry, young protégé.
He is a traitor and I am here only to avenge my Master’s death.
I can feel his dark eyes following my path, until I stop behind him and step close.
I feel him shudder again as my breath caresses his neck.
“I have let you live.”
“You have done me no favours by prolonging my life,” he sneers. “You would have been merciful to kill me rather than take me before that thing you called a master.”
I grab his chin and force him to look at me.
“I seem to recall you calling him master, too, my friend,” I hiss, my face barely inches from his own. “I seem to remember you crawling to him, killing for him, obeying his every word.”
“I knew no better,” he spat. “I was a young fool blinded by a so-called friend's incessant desire for power and glory. I learnt my lessons quickly and chose my allies well.”
“You’re nothing more than a traitor,” I yell him, all semblance of my usual coolness gone. “To both sides. You know nothing of loyalty. You would kill your brother or your best friend to prove your loyalty to the Master of the Week. If you’d had any sense of honour, you would have killed yourself.”
I release his chin and step away, fighting to push my anger back below the surface. He is as stunned by my outburst as I am, and I gather my control once more to gain the upper hand.
“Then again, my old friend,” I drawl, “you never did choose the easy way out of anything, did you?”
He shakes his head. Whether it is in agreement with my statement, or yet another refusal to tell me what I need to know, I care not.
Another nod, another swing; this time to his back.
He groans as he arches away from the pain, his weight pulling on the beam to which he is tied. It sounds a bit like the creaking branches of the Whomping Willow. I’ll warrant it hurts as much, too.
“Where is Potter?”
His black gaze, inscrutable as always, meets mine as he raises his head. He looks to Crabbe, bat at the ready, and then back at me.
Thick as he may be, Crabbe doesn’t need direction this time. Two blows in rapid succession hit Snape’s ribcage. He gasps for air as the wind is knocked from him, then coughs. Blood hits the stone floor in front of him.
“I’ll find him with or without your help. Why not save yourself the pain?”
He struggles to draw a breath before he answers.
“Go to Hell, Lucius.”
I halt Crabbe with a flick of my wand before he can render the next blow.
I step close to Severus. I can smell the blood, sweat and fear. It is arousing in the strangest sense of the word, to feel the power you have over another human being. I will never tire of that pleasure.
“You forget, my friend,” I whisper in his ear. “I have been to Hell. Your true master put me there.”
Stepping back, I nod to Crabbe once again.
A while later, his head lays forward, chest heaving with the effort of drawing each breath, made only harder by his arms stretched high above him. I reach forward and take his chin in my left hand. His eyes have been squeezed shut against the pain, but he makes the effort to open them. Dark fire burns in the blackness, drawing me into their angry depths.
I lean closer, his face barely inches from my own.
He spits on me.
So much for the poise of the pureblood wizard.
I turn away, removing a handkerchief from the depths of my robes, wiping the red-tinted spittle from my forehead.
He watches me with the smallest trace of amusement on his face.
My barely controlled anger flares again. I’ll give him amusement.
Though I prefer to leave most of my ‘dirty work’ to subservient morons, I cannot resist, once in a while, the feeling associated with inflicting pain. No spells, no hexes, no curses. Just flesh on flesh. Pure, unadulterated pain.
I believe this situation is one of said moments.
I flex my hand as I turn back to him, and slam the open palm directly up into his nose. His head snaps back as a cry of surprise escapes his lips. Blood pours freely from his nose, which I don’t doubt I’ve broken.
No matter. It was crooked anyway. I may have actually straightened it.
The blood from his nose mingles with the stream trickling from his mouth. If I’m to have the information, I’d better get it soon.
I pull my wand from my sleeve and point it directly between his eyes.
The tip touches his skin and I see him stiffen slightly, despite his effort to disguise it.
“I grow weary of this game, Severus,” I intone. “This is your last chance.”
“Where is Potter?”
There is a pause. For a fleeting moment I actually think he is considering telling me, but I make the mistake of letting the anticipation show in my eyes.
His own eyes harden as he spits in my face for the second time in as many minutes.
The rage inside me boils up uncontrollably and I have to consciously restrain my power from exploding in a burst of uncontrollable magic.
He doesn’t flinch as the wand levelled between his eyes flares dimly green as I suppress my urge to kill him on the spot. He simply holds my gaze, tired, but defiant as ever.
Has he already resigned himself to death, in order to protect Potter?
For the longest time we stare at each other down the shaft of my ebony wand, each trying to understand the motives of the other.
He undoubtedly knows mine. Proud and self-assured, I have never been one to hide my true feelings from anyone. He knows exactly why I am here. Fortune and glory.
But what of him? I thought I knew him, but I was terribly mistaken. I thought I knew the man – barely more than a boy, at the time – whom I had introduced to the Dark Lord as friend and protégé. His fear of oppression, his hatred of Gryffindors and his lust for revenge had endeared him to me from our first encounter, and his brilliance bordering on genius made him a formidable ally.
What turned him to the other side?
Someone once told me the bitterest of enemies are those who were once the closest of friends.
I no longer believe the wizarding world is large enough for the two of us to co-exist. He will die, but not before I use him as the tool to finally bring Potter to his knees.
Let him die with the knowledge of his failure. Let him die knowing all he turned to protect will perish because of him.
And then, when we have had our fun, I will kill him.
I believe I shall enjoy it.
For his part, Severus can no longer physically hold my gaze. His eyes slip shut and his head falls back to his chest. Even the wheezing gasp of his breathing is silent.
I motion to Crabbe and we leave the room, but not before I release my old friend from his bonds. He slumps to the floor like an ill-used ragdoll, not letting out so much as a whimper as he lands on his already-broken ribs.
He is out cold.
I set the wards as I close the door. When he awakens, we will try again.
* * *
Comments and criticism greatly appreciated!
A/N: The idea for this story originally came from one of the crappiest movies of all time – Decoy. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. Any movie with Robert Patrick and a character called Gunther is doomed to languish in straight-to-video hell. Don’t ask why I’ve seen it... :::mutters some pathetic excuse about The X-Files and Kevlar!Doggett:::
Ahem... anyway, the point is for all it’s crappiness, the movie does have a nice, painful hang-someone-up-and-beat-them-for-information scene which I have shamelessly butchered to serve my own peverse pleasures.