Chapter 5 : Five
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James hadn’t said a word since he, Sirius, Remus, and Peter had had been led away from Lily’s body. He spent the entirety of the service hunched over, muscles taut, fingers threaded through his hair and glasses slipping down the end of his nose. Sirius and Remus flanked him, but they might as well have been statues, for all the good they were able to do. No one could do anything, and that was the truth. There wasn’t a person alive who could help him get over a person dead.
“It wasn’t your fault, James,” Remus said to him in a low voice, just as the school was making to leave the Hall and return to their common rooms for the night. Curious first-years were still standing on their toes, craning to get a glimpse of the two coffins arranged side-by-side on the dais. “You know that, don’t you?”
James looked at him levelly. For a minute, it looked as though he was finally going to say something, and Sirius watched him intently, waiting. But he only shook his head and pushed away from them, the crowd splitting for him, the boy who had loved the dead girl so publicly and fiercely.
Severus Snape stared blankly at the wall opposite him, not seeing anything, though there wasn’t anything to see anyway. He knew he was in the bowels of the Ministry of Magic, in a holding cell that was little more than a concrete box, until they told him it was time for his trial. That could be weeks from now. He didn’t care. It was quiet in here, peaceful. For the first time in his life, Severus was completely, totally alone, and he wondered why it had taken so long for him to do it in the first place.
George Asher had been little more than a scare tactic; he wasn’t sorry that an innocent boy had to lose his life in the process, but he did pity him a little. It wasn’t his fault he’d been born to Muggles, that his blood was tainted and impure. Still, facts were facts, and now one less man was around to play at being magical while the rest of the wizarding world knew he was lowly. That was the Dark Lord’s purpose, wasn’t it? How proud he must be, if news of Severus had reached him; he would be so proud, knowing his cause was being enacted by such loyal followers.
Severus shifted, wrapping his arms around his knees. He would feel bad about it, he imagined, if he had a conscience. But wasn’t it a wonderfully free thing, now that it was gone? He could have done anything. Anything! Working for the right cause of blood purity was a noble thing, really, to someone without a conscience. He should be lauded for it.
It had always been Lily, always. Even before he’d planned Asher’s death – more coincidence than precognition, truly – he had known Lily would die. All it had taken was intimidation and bribery to get the letter into her common room at the hands of a naïve first year, a decision of the proper spell to do it, and patience. Three steps! How delicious, how exquisite a revenge – she had humiliated him, caused him suffering, and she was a Mudblood (how wonderful, how freeing to be able to say that word again, after her anger and selfishness had ripped it from his tongue) besides! It was such good fortune. Severus couldn’t have planned it better if he tried. He thought for sure she would recognize the handwriting on the letter to her, but of course she hadn’t. How much attention had she ever paid him?
It had been stupidly easy, too, in the end. Severus had worried that when it came down to it, he wouldn’t be able to do it, but Sectumsempra had risen to his lips easily enough. He felt nothing when he did it. She meant nothing to him anymore. And she had found him, there in the entrance hall, blabbering about Potter and Black and the dungeons.
He hummed to himself. Yes, it had all gone splendidly. He had done a good thing for his cause. The Dark Lord was sure to make a martyr of him, sing his praises to the men gathered about him. Two Mudbloods in as many days! What luck!
Why had he said those words to Lupin, though? Had he mirrored the letter on purpose, wanting to be found out? Did he think the pair of them, Lupin and Pettigrew, would be too stupid to figure it out?
He might never know.
Footsteps stopped outside the door to Severus’s cell, and the locks ground together, sliding back with a screech. The door swung inward, passing close enough to him that the filthy, torn hem of his robes moved in the draft. A Ministry official stood on the other side, flanked by others, all wands drawn and pointed at him.
“Severus Snape?” the leader of them said authoritatively. Snape moved to stand to his feet, and the three of them stepped back in one movement. The youngest of them – could he even be more than eighteen himself? – was shaking. Severus grinned.
The leader tried to make himself look tall, though Severus had several inches over him. “You’ll come with us,” he said, keeping his wand trained over his prisoner. That was foolish – what was he supposed to do? Where was he supposed to go that was such a threat to these men? He didn’t care what happened next. He’d done everything he’d set out to accomplish.
He went without arguing, without saying another word, but he couldn’t keep the self-satisfied smirk from his face. How wonderful, how truly wonderful, to be a man without conscience. Hardly a man at all.
A/N: SO. It was Snape! How many of you guessed it? There was one bit in chapter three that many of you missed, and that led Remus to figure out the answer: In their conversation with Snape, he called Lily a "worthless witch," echoing what he'd already written in the letter to her. Remus remembered the letter's contents and ran to tell James, but James was more concerned about finding Lily, and didn't listen to his friend in time.
Snape's definitely got more than a touch of mental illness here, by the way, which is a common theme in many of my stories. In the first chapter, he works precisely and delicately to write a letter he thinks Lily won't figure out is from him, but nearly blows his cover to dash off her name as an afterthought. His obsession over Lily and desire for revenge against what he feels is wrongful treatment of him directed him to a "if you can't be mine, you can't be anybody's" mentality. More than that, he desires power, and killing Muggle-borns in an attempt to attract attention from Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters would have seemed a good idea to someone who maybe wasn't all there mentally. I love Snape as a character very much, but it stands to argue that he really isn't a very nice person, and he was the murderer from day one.
A few disclaimers: The title of the story, and much of its inspiration, comes from the song "Bad Blood" by the band Bastille (who you should really check out, if you have the time!). Further inspiration was drawn from the songs "Laura Palmer," "Things We Lost In The Fire," "Pompeii," and "Haunt," all also by Bastille; the ITV drama Broadchurch; the song "So Close" by Ólafur Arnalds; and the songs "Lily's Theme" and "Statues" from the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows soundtrack, composed by Alexandre Desplat.
Anyway! If you've got any more questions, definitely be sure to ask them, because I'd love to help you understand better if things are still a little foggy. I hope this mystery ended satisfactorily for most of you! A lot of you had really awesome theories, and I was quite jealous of the creativity of a few of them.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing and favoriting, all of those of you who did any of those things, and I hope you've enjoyed Bad Blood! It was immensely fun to write, and I'd like to do another mystery sometime. But I wouldn't even still be here without people supporting my stories, so another great whopping thanks goes out to HPFF at large! Cheers, and I'll see you around!