Title: Once More With Feeling.
Warnings: Torture and character death - no smut, though.
Feedback: Not required but always nice. email@example.com
Summary: Challenge no 48: for the fifth wave of Master and The
Remus and Severus are soul mates, but both of them died
before they realised it. Will they get the chance to be together in the
(Plus my own personal challenges not to mention the
'Shrieking Shack incident', Sirius Black, or to use the word
A/N: many thanks to Joules for the beta and the coding solutions, and Rakina for the HP
Disclaimer: Not mine, alas, and I'm certainly not gaining financially.
All hail their rightful owner, JKR.
Once More With Feeling
Snape prostrated himself before his
master, forehead pressed to the ancient and exquisitely expensive
carpet gracing the anonymous room in the anonymous hideaway.
"It was an accident, my Lord, I...
slipped." He surprised himself with an inane giggle but hastily choked
back the unseemly sound, wondering distantly if perhaps he wasn't quite
"An accident?" Voldemort's
hiss dropped an octave, never a good sign: Snape braced himself.
"Castlehorn kept the creature alive for days but five minutes in your -
supposedly - more capable hands and it's dead. Explain."
"I ... "
"Look at me!"
Snape dragged his gaze away from
the decorative threads of the carpet and up to meet Voldemort's red eyes.
As expected the tendrils of the Dark Lord's legilimency forced their
way into his mind, rummaging through the memories the potions master had
left lying about, a careful distraction from the closed areas. Snape's
sanity may have been in question but he still had enough presence of
mind to maintain his shields.
Voldemort had found the relevant
memories; no doubt he was drawing his own conclusions based on what Snape
allowed him to see...
"Revenge?" the Dark Lord
hissed malevolently. "You considered your petty revenge more important
than my wishes?"
Once again Snape tried to speak but
his attempt was cut short by Voldemort's not unexpected use of an
Alone now in the room Snape
gingerly, painfully rolled himself over onto his back, away from the puddles
of vomit and piss. He rested, breathing through his mouth as he willed
himself to recover. Gods above he hated the Cruciatus.
The irony of it - he mused,
distracting himself from the burning ache - was that the werewolf's death
had been an accident, of a sort. Given the state Lupin had been in,
and no hope of freeing him, a quick death would've been a kindness. No
matter his personal feelings, no matter his reputation within the
Order, he hadn't taken any pleasure in his former colleague's pain. As it
was his hand had slipped, the magically sharpened silver stiletto had
slid deeper than anticipated and the werewolf had died. It was as simple
as that. He forced himself to his feet and scowled at his filthy robes.
He would regain his normally orderly appearance then see if there was
anything to be done to redeem himself in the Dark Lord's eyes.
Life was... difficult. The werewolf
hadn't been so important that his accidental death wasn't eventually
excused but being once more in the Dark Lord's favour didn't alleviate
Snape's sense of dread. Something was definitely wrong. There were times
when an inexplicable despair gripped him so firmly he felt he was
drowning. At other times it felt as if his spirit was being pulled and
stretched until it was just the merest thread connecting him to his body.
Stress and anxiety left him short of breath and unable to sleep; the lack
of rest perpetuated the cycle. He'd played on his irritability in the
past but now he knew he was irrational and his much vaunted control was
tenuous. He was losing his mind and the harder he tried to hold on to
sanity the more slippery it became. Quicksilver thoughts skittering
away in globules as he scrabbled about trying to keep it all together.
Snape couldn't fathom how or why
but somehow it was that damn werewolf's fault. Had Lupin cursed him
before he died? Unlikely. Lupin wasn't, hadn't been, so powerful he could
perform wandless magic, even if he had been able to speak
coherently there at the end. Something else, something else...?
Snape's preoccupation fed on
itself, drawing him down in to ever decreasing circles. He was mortified to
realise he'd been muttering aloud, the evidence of his encroaching
insanity plain for all to see. The sly smirks of his 'comrades' were
infuriating and the desire to lash out, to hex them all to oblivion for no
other reason than that they lived became harder to resist. He tried to
tighten the threads of his control, fought tooth and nail to halt the
disintegration of his mind... but it was a losing battle and he was so very
tired. It was almost a relief when the Order stormed the Dark Lord's
stronghold and Potter confronted him, dispatching him not with a curse
but with Godric Gryffindor's sword, no less. Snape glanced down at the
length of shining metal protruding from his chest, then up and into the
eyes of the Boy Who Lived. He'd expected to see triumph, satisfaction at
the defeat of an enemy, not this - compassion. His lopsided smile
transmuted into a scowl and he tried to tell the Potter brat his pity was
unwanted, but the words wouldn't form and then he slid into darkness.
It was a while before he understood
what it was he was looking at. In front of him the green field flowed
in a gentle slope down to the shores of a sun-splashed lake. In the
distance there were hills, rising in peaceful green folds from the plain.
He glanced up, recognising the forms of oak leaves. He was sitting
beneath an oak tree - an old and venerable one judging by the spread of its
branches - leaning back against the trunk, his legs stretched out in
front of him. Odd...
"I suppose I should thank you for
putting me out of my misery."
Snape started; he'd thought himself
alone. He turned his head and there beside him, close but not touching,
was the werewolf. He took in the long legs, the surprisingly attractive
feet, the quiescent cock lying against a thigh.
"Lupin, why are you naked?"
His companion lifted an
"I died naked."
Snape pondered this with a frown.
Ah yes, they were dead...
"Does this mean you're destined to
wander the afterlife like that?" he sniffed. "At least the weather's
fine, I suppose."
"Severus, you made a joke." Then
still smiling he shook his head. "No, I don't have to, I was just trying
to make a point."
Snape blinked and Lupin was clad in
familiar shabby brown robes. He wondered briefly why he thought that
was a shame then forced his eyes away from his companion and back to the
nauseatingly bucolic landscape.
"Where are we?"
The werewolf shrugged his
"The Elysian Fields? The Summer
Snape's lip curled.
Lupin made a show of looking around
before his gaze came to rest squarely on the potion master's face.
"I don't see any angels." The
silence stretched between them but Lupin didn't look away. "Why did you kill
"I thought that would have been
obvious," Snape was haughty, "You were going to die anyway..."
"No. There was more to it than
that." Lupin asserted with quiet confidence. "I was looking into your eyes;
you wanted me dead." He waited for a response and chuckled when none
was forthcoming. "Interesting thing about this place, Severus, there's
plenty of time to think." He stood up, inclined his head to the bemused
man then sauntered away.
Snape scowled after him - until he
realised Lupin was no longer in sight. One moment the scruffy figure
was there ambling away down the hill; the next he'd vanished, leaving
Severus alone with his thoughts.
Wanted him dead? That was
absurd. It had been an accident.
The memories seemed distant but
Snape resolutely pulled them forwards, determined to prove to himself the
truth of the matter, and prove the werewolf wrong.
He'd known Lupin was in the hands
of the Death Eaters almost as soon as it happened. He was under no
obligation to mount a rescue and frankly, despite any lingering loyalties he
may have felt towards an ex-associate, looking to his own precarious
safety was more important.
He'd never liked the werewolf but
Snape had to admit to a certain amount of respect when, after three days
as a guest of the Dark Lord, Lupin apparently still refused to speak.
Voldemort had handed the task of breaking the captive to Severus, who'd
accepted with an appropriate show of gratitude. At heart though Snape
looked down on physical torture as crude and inefficient. So much more
could be achieved with the proper application of potions and poisons but
this was a subtlety the Dark Lord seemed unable to grasp.
He'd swept into the basement room
given over to 'interrogations' only to falter and stare, appalled, at
what was waiting for him. Thankfully his Death Eater mask hid the moment
of unforgivable weakness from his compatriot. Snape clawed back
his composure and nodded curtly to Castlehorn.
"You may leave."
The hooded man's pale eyes
glittered from behind his own mask.
"Our Lord has instructed me to
Snape's eyes narrowed in eloquent
displeasure before he snapped around, seeming to dismiss the man out of
hand. He could have done without this complication: as well as being an
odious individual Castlehorn's presence would severely limit his
options. He turned his attention to the gaunt and bloody figure dangling by
its wrists from the ceiling.
"Filthy monster," he
Snape was hooded and masked but
there was little doubt the captive recognised his voice. The werewolf
raised tired eyes and the corners of his mouth twitched. For one horrible
moment Snape thought he was going to greet him but Lupin merely dropped
his gaze again, obviously too exhausted to do much else.
Snape raked his gaze over the limp
and naked form, taking in the half-healed slashes, absently noting the
wetly grey edges that indicated use of a silver blade. They weren't
fatal wounds but they'd never heal without treatment; neither would the
suppurating sores forming around the silver needles threaded randomly
through Lupin's skin. Snape's jaw clenched: that must be excruciating.
There was a bench nearby holding an
array of wicked looking implements, many already streaked and tacky
with dried blood. He selected a silver stiletto, clean and shining, unused
as yet. A faint tingle of magic met his touch; the blade had been
charmed, but to do what? Snape gently touched the tip of the weapon to a
clear patch on Lupin's chest, nodding in satisfaction as the skin split
neatly and curled back from the point. A flaying charm, as he'd
suspected. Castlehorn was a brute but he was inventive.
Lupin shuddered violently but made
"You didn't accidentally
perform a Silencio, did you?" Snape directed the contemptuous inquiry over
"No." Castlehorn sounded
"Perhaps you're simply
incompetent." Snape muttered, just loud enough to be heard. He smiled coldly behind
his mask at Castlehorn's bitten off retort. But enough of baiting the
He pressed the stiletto into the
wound, watching with clinical fascination as muscle split and pulled
aside. It was an effective tool, certainly, sliding easily into the
victim's flesh. He had to be careful though, he'd exposed the bone of a rib
before he'd realised what had happened. Lupin had frozen in place, was
hardly breathing, his face grey and sweating.
"You know how to make the pain
stop... " Snape began but stumbled to a halt when the werewolf locked eyes
"No..." he remembered
whispering, then Lupin was gurgling and twitching as the knife slid into his
Snape blinked back to his current
reality; disturbed, though he was loathe to admit it to himself. Not
quite an accident then. He wiped his hand over his mouth and swallowed:
what he'd really like right now was a cup of tea...
He was cynically unsurprised to see
the werewolf returning carrying a tray loaded with cups and a teapot.
Was it Lupin's fate to cater to his whims for all eternity? The thought
"Have you worked it out yet,
Severus?" Lupin said conversationally as he set the tray down and picked up
"I'm not in the mood for puzzles."
The brown-haired man's smile was
"Tea?" he held out a cup of
Snape cursed his hesitation - what
was the werewolf going to do? Poison him? - and accepted the cup with a
curt twitch of his mouth.
"You're welcome." Lupin was
grinning now, obviously mocking him. He focused on his cup, deliberately
ignoring the open good-humour on the werewolf's face. Snape sniffed
appreciatively at the fragrant brew and almost forgot himself enough to sigh
happily. An Englishman's heaven had to be a perfect cup of tea.
Unfortunately he wasn't allowed to savour the drink in peace.
"Well?" Lupin demanded mildly. "Why
did you kill me? And don't give me any of that rot about a 'mercy
"I don't know." Snape ground out
from between clenched teeth.
"Yes, you do," Lupin shot back
immediately. "And it scares you to death."
The potion master's mouth worked
but he couldn't bring himself to speak.
"No?" Lupin raised an eyebrow. "Let
me help clarify." He set his cup down on the tray and turned to face
the wary man. "You realised I was Important. To you." Snape shook
his head but Lupin pressed on. "Important in such a fundamental way
that it threatened everything you believed about yourself. You've always
believed yourself to be a loner, haven't you, Severus? You'd convinced
yourself that you didn't - would never - need anyone to make you
complete, then suddenly you find that that's not so. Your illusion of splendid
isolation was shattered." he sighed then, regret evident in his eyes.
"Your reaction was instinctive - to disable, to destroy the threat."
Snape's fingers tightened around
"You always were known for your
imagination - "
"Oh stop it, stop pretending!"
Lupin snapped, to Snape's startlement. "Put that cup down!"
"Because I'm going to kiss
"You would not dare... " his
indignant denial broke off into an undignified splutter as Lupin materialised
practically in his lap. The cup was taken out of his hand and set aside
"Deny this, you miserable
If Snape had had more of a lyrical
bent he might have been persuaded to liken the bright warmth unfolding
in his chest to that of a flower blossoming through snow. As it was
he'd always scoffed at such improbable fancies but he couldn't deny that
something beyond the obvious was happening as Lupin kissed him. Though
this wasn't so much a kiss as an onslaught, Snape thought, as his mouth
opened to the werewolf's insistent tongue. He was sorely affronted at
this assault on his dignity - if he hadn't already killed Lupin he'd
be tempted to do so right now - yet not once did it occur to him to
try and fight free.
"So?" the aggravation in his lap
murmured against his lips.
"Don't be obtuse."
Snape smirked at his companion's
growl: so much for Lupin's famously mild manner. He lifted his chin, all
prepared to fling a scathing comment - then faltered. Lupin's eyes
revealed his vulnerability and a heart-catching hope, and Snape couldn't
look away. Worse than that, he feared Lupin was reading much the same in
his eyes. He held his breath; if Lupin laughed...
They stared at each other for a
timeless moment, then the werewolf's expression softened. He smoothed his
thumb over Snape's cheek, that action somehow more intimate than the
kiss. The potions master's breath hitched; he couldn't escape the
feeling they were on the edge of something profound. It was... it was
"So," Lupin smiled. "We meet at
It should have been a ridiculous
statement - they'd been acquainted for years, after all - but Snape
understood precisely what he meant. He'd finally recognised Lupin for what -
who - he was. Closer than friends, closer than family; the long-missing
other half of his soul.
A soul that was singing because
Lupin had recognised him in return.
"We do indeed," he ventured a wry
smile, "We do indeed..."
© Lutra - December 2005