Title: Servant of Two Masters
Characters: Dumbledore, Severus, Voldemort
Warnings: some mentions of torture
Summary: This is the story of an ordinary day in the life of an extraordinary man.
Servant of Two Masters
"It's an unbreakable vow! How do you expect me to go against that? I couldn't very well refuse her. If I'd done that, I would have doomed myself! All of the work I would have been doing to gain his trust so that you could know what was going on inside his inner circle would be wasted!"
"I'm well aware of that, my boy," Albus Dumbledore replied softly. "Our earlier agreement, however, still supersedes this recent oath. I don't like to brag, but I'm realistic enough to know that I'm far more powerful than Bellatrix Lestrange, and can enforce my hold over you much more than she could ever hope to. You're more willing to aid me for one thing, and she doesn't have nearly as much magical strength as I possess."
Severus Snape had no answer to that, so he said nothing. He didn't believe in wasting words. Instead, he merely nodded, inclined his head in farewell, and then left Albus's office to return to his quarters for some much needed rest before tonight's feast.
“My faithful, our greatest enemy has gathered the Wizarding World's future generation of witches and wizards under his inept wings for another year. They are once more under his poisonous influence. He now has the power to corrupt and weaken the strength of your children's convictions! Look to it, my friends. Be very careful. Make sure your children stay strong in their belief. See to it that they remember who they are. Remind them in letters, as well as in visits to the school itself, that you are still watching over them, and that their places in high society will be assured if they continue to be steadfast in their duty to you, and to our cause. Tell them to maintain the traditions into which they were born and raised. Do not let them forget the sacred truth that binds us all. We are magical beings! We are pure of blood! We are blessed with the power and the might, now we must find the will to use them! We must possess the strength and knowledge to wield our power with wisdom and grace! We must maintain a nobility of spirit, even as we remember that we are above the common concerns of other ordinary men!"
The speech went on and on, but Severus barely heard any more of it. It was the same old rubbish; he'd heard it all before. The variation changed a little, but the theme stayed the same. Idly, he wondered if The Dark Lord wrote his own speeches. If so, the man must be really bored, he thought suddenly. This night's speech was better than most, but some of them--the one he gave on the night after his return, for instance--were horrible.
Once the meeting had broken up, Severus's mind shifted into overdrive. He was more alert now than ever, because he was alone with the Dark Lord. He'd been commanded to stay behind, and so, ignoring the envious glares of the others, he had obeyed. The man wouldn't be distracted by the thoughts and feelings of others, and would thus be able to read his mind with greater ease.
"Well now, my stubborn boy, come join me," the Dark Lord commanded.
Severus silently crossed the room and knelt at his feet, lowering his eyes and waiting in an attitude of complete submission for whatever would happen next.
"You seem conflicted, my stubborn hawk," murmured the voice directly above him. The very intimacy of the tone sent shivers of anticipatory dread down Severus's spine. He didn't even bother to hide them. His master would see them, and would probably be pleased that he'd frightened his servant into silent obedience. Before he could think of anything else, his chin was forcefully grabbed and tilted up until he was looking straight into the Dark Lord's eyes.
"Interdictus Malidictus," he murmured softly. "Now, tell me what Dumbledore wanted you to hide from me, dear Severus. What secret was so important that he felt it necessary to place you under an illegal mind binding spell? Why would he risk discovery of such a thing?"
Severus let his head droop. Now, only the Dark Lord's hand held it up. If he let go, his head would drop to his chest, but he didn't much care. He closed his eyes, and started to talk. At first, his words were barely more than a whisper, but as he continued to speak of the torture, the renewal of the curse Dumbledore had placed on him to make sure Severus would continue to hate Harry Potter, and his discovery of the draft of bitterness, which had been based partly on the Draft of Peace potion, and the unbreakable vow and Dumbledore's responding counter oath, violent shudders wracked his body. He knew that the residual magic from Dumbledore's spells was struggling to keep him from talking, but he fought against it.
"Keep talking, my stubborn boy," Voldemort urged softly. "Tell me why he put the Interdiction on you. What was the secret he wished to keep from me?"
Severus opened his mouth, but the words wouldn't come. He tried again, but still, nothing happened. He took a breath, closed his eyes, and put up all his Occlumency shields in an attempt to block out all the pain and fear. Then, he tried again. Still, nothing came out of his mouth except for a soft, pitiful whimpering sound that caused him to flush with embarrassment.
"Try again," The Dark Lord commanded softly. The intensity in his voice scared Severus. There was nothing of mercy in that voice. The implacability implicit in his words did not allow him any wiggle room. There was no way he could have refused to obey that command.
As he opened his mouth, pain, incredible pain hit him. He'd heard the Dark Lord's cry of "Crucio!", but he hadn't understood it on a conscious level. Now, he did. Yet, even as he screamed in pain, even as his nerves alternately burned with fire and froze with ice, the spell which had kept him from speaking shattered into thousands of pieces, leaving him feeling oddly empty. Suddenly, the pain stopped. He gasped for air, and was grateful when he found that he could still breathe without it hurting too much. Some time later, or perhaps it was mere moments after he'd awakened, he felt himself floating. He fought to reorient himself to his surroundings.
He opened his eyes and realized that the Dark Lord was levitating him to a nearby couch. He laid him gently on it and stared down at him without any expression whatsoever.
"I got it," he said quietly. "Thank you, Severus. You have earned your place. Well done, my good and faithful servant. Sleep now. Tomorrow you're going to have to return to him."
The last thing Severus saw just before his eyes closed and consciousness left him, was the ironic twist of the Dark Lord's lips as they quirked upwards in a caricature of a smile.