Beta read by: PrincessPotter and Jessi_Rose
Chapter Graphic: Infairi
Title: The Man With Two Faces
Rating/Warnings: 12+ (none)
For the Staff: To put it lightly, I admire each and every one of the staff members in different ways. You all show profound dedication to HPFF, and I wish there was some way to express my gratitude and appreciation. I hope our secretive project can somehow portray that feeling, and let you know just how much we love you.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”
Psalms 23:4 KJV
A lone figure stood in the shadows, staring intently out the window. Wonderment engulfed him as he watched a boy, no older than himself limp across the courtyard. The young man was accompanied by an older woman. It appeared to be the school nurse, Madame Pomfrey.
The figure in the window tried to follow their progress, but one second the boy was there, the next he was gone. It wasn’t the first time this had happened. Where he went so often was a complete mystery to the boy at the window. A mystery he had been unable to solve, much to his intense displeasure.
Students of all sorts walked past the window without a second glance. Not one of them noticed the figure in the shadows. He turned from the window as he heard the voices of two familiar boys coming down the corridor.
“Did you see? She looked at me!” a boy with messy black hair and glasses said to his friend.
“Yes, I saw. Face it mate, she can't resist the charm of Saint Potter,” the tall dark haired boy replied dryly.
The figure drew further into the shadows hoping these students would pass by like all the rest.
His hopes were quickly dashed as the boys froze mid-step, looking in his direction as they noticed his movement.
“Well look who it is, Prongs,” the second boy said, breaking into a devious smirk. He didn’t get a response though, because Prongs' attention has been drawn from the window to a red haired girl as she passed them. “Oh, just go after her,” the friend said, rolling his eyes. Prongs smiled a quick thanks and hurried off to harass the Evans girl.
The boy in the shadows breathed a silent sigh of relief, but it was too soon.
“Well, well, well,” the remaining boy said mischievously, his eyes glittering.
The boy in the shadows gritted his teeth as the gap between them shrunk in a matter of seconds.
“Interested in Remus again, are we?” the boy asked, peering out the window to see what had captured his victim's attention. “You want to see where he goes?” he inquired, delighted that he had the upper hand. “All you need to do is prod the knot with a stick, the knot just at the base of the Whomping Willow.”
“What if I don't want to?” the boy said bitterly, a distinct sharpness to his tone.
“Then, I'd say that you're a coward.”
He doesn't know the meaning of the word coward,
Severus Snape thought icily as he pulled himself out of the memory. If he did, he‘d know that I‘m certainly not one.
His glittery black eyes stared menacingly into the murky depths of the Pensieve as the memory continued to swirl inside. That scene had replayed in his mind countless times over the years…since its result. The sequence of events from that encounter had started this all.
The most infuriating part of their outlandish treachery was that they didn't know. They had no comprehension whatsoever of the insufferable pain caused by a certain black mark etched into Severus' left arm.
The Dark Mark had an insatiable thirst. It uttered never ceasing hisses, sweet seductions to its bearer. Severus had been a bearer of that mark longer than most knew.
That's how Death Eaters were bound to Him
. The mark rendered them incapable of rejecting the urges it invoked; incapable of refusing to carry out His deadly commands.
Severus Snape could no longer be a coward, lurking in the shadows. He was about to do the unthinkable. He was about to refuse.
In stealth he moved over the grounds. Enveloped in silence, even the quiet crackling of the crisp fallen leaves under his feet echoed loudly in his head. Within the darkened confines of the Forbidden Forest, more than just sound and light were blocked from the outside world. It also masked a certain level of thought and reasoning.
“Aaah, Severus,” a man greeted him in a raspy yet even voice. “Thank you very much for responding to the message I sent, and especially on such short notice…”
Severus nodded, but did not return the feigned pleasantries. Instead he kept his eyes fixated on the ground.
“In these dark times, you're probably the only person I can trust, besides Voldemort himself! We three are the most knowledgeable Legilimens of the age, so it certainly is an advantage to have you on our side. It is also the very reason Voldemort is pleased to have you on his side…”
“This is about Draco, isn't it,” Severus interrupted, but it was not really a question. He looked down at the ground as he walked, their words lapsing into silence.
“Severus,” Dumbledore said after several long moments. He paused again before continuing. “I believe there's a reason for everything. But people have the everyday choices that lie before them. Those choices can change the course of the future, whether or not there's a force beyond all magic that has the future predetermined. We must let fate descend . . . There is something I must ask of you . . .”
The memories swirled like a slow moving fog in the bowl below him. Seeing one’s past displayed in such a manner was difficult to withstand. It was almost like seeing a play of your life, except you got to walk around the stage, unnoticed by the actors in the scene. It was unexplainable really, the feeling of reliving a moment this way.
The light from the Pensieve glittered in the darkened office. There was no other light except the glittering of two black eyes, if they could even be considered light. Severus looked up, away from his past. He felt a bit sick as he replayed the moments that led him here. The Mark was telling him something. It triggered thoughts, emotions – it allowed Severus think for himself, but told him what to think about. It wanted him to do Draco's bidding. It didn’t realize that Draco’s bidding was what Dumbledore wanted him to do as well.
Severus twirled a quill between his fingers in an almost surreal state of tranquility, his eyes staring at a point on the floor but not seeing it. Anyone looking down at the scene would probably think there was nothing wrong. They would be mistaken. Severus was battling with himself. He was trying to distract himself from reality, trying to avoid the truth. He knew he couldn’t stop what was coming. The past had been written, yet the future holds a magic beyond explanation - fate. It was as Dumbledore said, “We must let fate descend…”
There was an unmistakable noise on the other side of the office door. A fervent knock, an agitated squeal. Severus shot up in an instant from his thought-induced reverie in an instant and opened the door. Upon first glance there was no one, but Severus looked down as Professor Flitwick pushed him aside in his panic.
“Oh Severus, it has happened!” Filius squealed. “Death Eaters have found their way through our doors and have already ransacked the Entrance Hall! Where is Dumble…”
His sentence was left to the wind as he fell to the floor with a dull thud.
“Sorry I had to do that,” Severus said blandly as he looked down at the limp little body. He brushed past the body on the floor and swung the door open again. Without bothering to look back he rushed away from the scene and down the dark corridor.
Two orbs were shining in front of him, slightly below his eye level. There were small noises coming from the darkness as well, and Severus suddenly realized the lights were eyes.
“Hello, Professor,” said Luna Lovegood in a trance-like state. Hermione Granger was standing next to her, her eyes locked on Severus. His eyes narrowed instinctively as he regarded her but she just looked steadily back at him. She looked like she wanted to accuse him of something but wasn’t sure what.
“Professor Flitwick has fainted in my office. Attend to him,” he ordered briskly.
Hermione gave him a querying look, hesitating for a second before she did as she was told.
Severus left them, continuing on down the corridor and before swiftly turning the corner. The corridor just beyond was almost pitch-black but Severus made his way easily. His eyes were accustomed to the darkness. He floated along, his robes billowing like that of a ghost, the hems drifting away into air. His mind was wandering again, this time his thoughts were induced by the darkness. Fate was a lingering subject.
Was everything driven by the cruelty of fate? When you begin upon the pathway to darkness, but then turn back toward the light, is that fate…or simply the voice of reason? Do we choose our futures or are we merely following the trail to an inevitable end?
Severus moved resolutely through the castle corridors, plagued by those very questions. Years ago, he’d taken his life in his hands when he denounced Voldemort and chose to do what was right; chose to wear his mask and play both sides.
From that day to this, so much had been sacrificed along the way: love, pleasures of the flesh, and his own peace of mind.
Now, was it all going to be for naught? Did it even matter anymore? Regardless of the road he chose to follow, by some cruel twist of fate, Severus found that it had ironically led him to the same destination.
Severus heard the battlement noises as he approached the Entrance Hall. He knew what choice lay before him, but did not yet know the right path to choose. If he chose to follow through with the orders, whose orders would he be following? Good? Evil? Another matter of the ever deceitful fate . . .
Severus recognized the growls and howls of Fenrir Greyback as he passed. Now there was a wicked man, wicked being a term not to be thrown around lightly.
He let his eyes flick over the scene in an attempt to quickly determine which direction fate would let him wander. He noticed a large amount of his kin at the opposite end of the Entrance Hall. They all seemed to either be warding off their nearly defenseless foes or swarming up the spiraling staircase leading to the Astronomy Tower. A sudden impulse told he needed to get to the top of that tower immediately.
One of the Weasleys, Severus didn’t waste the time trying to figure out which one, tried to intercept him just as he made it to the threshold of the staircase but got blasted aside by purple twittering sparks.
Severus leapt through the icy magic barrier that was holding back everyone who didn't bear the Mark on their arm. He turned his head, letting his line of vision fall back on the scene below. The icy force he had passed through was now fire, fire that was blocking his way back down. Fate had decided this, he supposed. His choice was now burning. The situation was no longer in his hands. There was no going back.
“Where's he going?” one of the tall Weasleys hollered in confusion. “The fight's down here!”
No. There was absolutely no going back. It wasn't even an option at this point. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t, as the way was blocked. Severus could hear the laughing and jeering of his fellow Death Eaters as the battle raged below and it was somehow rather disheartening. He felt like a coward just listening to it because he wasn‘t down there helping. Or maybe the fact that it made his resolve weaken was the cowardly act.
Slowly, he reached down and slid back the sleeve of his robes. There, burned into his flesh, was the Dark Mark. It was Voldemort’s eternal brand, a permanent reminder of the naïve choices of youth.
They say that with age comes wisdom, but none of that mattered now. It all came down to a single decision, one that he feared he’d spend the rest of his life regretting.
If he followed the Dark Lord’s orders then surely he was a coward for not resisting. If he didn’t follow through with Dumbledore’s request, he was in the same predicament.
He was a man with two faces.
It didn’t really matter which one he chose to wear now, because both faces led him to the same place.