mask where will you hide.
yourself lost in your lies.
I know the
I know who
And I don’t
love you anymore.
My chambers were dark that evening, I remember. I had finished grading papers,
and the ink was drying on my desk. A few low candles were arranged so that odd
shadows flickered around the room. I was alone, and I much preferred it that
way, especially of late. The time was drawing nearer, I was sure. The Mark on
my arm was ever present, always reminding me of my failure, sealing my doom to
I absently rubbed it, long used to the faint burn it produced – had been
producing for the past two years. Dumbledore had once told me it should no
longer be a sign of my failure, but of redemption. I was now loath to believe
him. Not after what I had done. Not after what I was going to do.
The Dark Lord has a way of peering into your soul that at once burns you and
turns your core to ice. I alone could withstand it, had withstood it countless
times until I thought I would wither away, leaving nothing but the lies. When
Dumbledore looks into your eyes, his gaze burns deeper, melting away defenses
until your soul is bared. I could stand up to the most feared wizard ever
known, but under the headmaster's gaze I could never lie.
How could I do this thing I had promised to do? That I was bound to do? I had
played it out in my mind countless times. I had planned for every possibility –
every expression, every word that might be said. I had to steel myself against
every occurrence that might deter me from the task. And I hated myself for it.
I was making myself into what I pretended to be.
What would become of me? When it was over, where would I go? There would be no
safe place for me, no more peace ever. I would be hunted, protected only by my
enemies. They would celebrate over my destroyed soul.
The antidote to a blended poison is more than simply the combination of the
antidotes to each individual poison.
It is a simple truth, one that any student should know. I was tired, stretched
thin against all the roles I was playing. The burden of failure weighed heavily
against me, and I felt as though going forward into the future was a hopeless
task. He required too much of me, thought I was capable of more than what I
was. What ingredient was I missing?
The term was drawing to an end, and I knew the boy would have to act soon. The
Dark Lord's patience was waning. I was no closer to knowing when or how he
planned to try it than I was when I began. For all I knew, it could be that
My door was thrown open and I was torn from my reverie when Filius stumbled
into the room. His face was very pale and he seemed on the verge of toppling
over as he gasped, "Severus, there are . . . there are Death Eaters . . .
in the castle . . . at the Astronomy Tower . . . you must come . . . Minerva
wants . . . "
I never heard what Minerva wanted, for the excitement overcame him and the
small man crumpled to the floor. I flinched when his head hit the corner of my
desk. But the time for hesitation was over. My wand out, I moved quickly.
In the hall, I did not show surprise to find Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood,
watching with wide eyes. "Professor Flitwick collapsed in my office,"
I told them curtly. "Attend to him and I will attend to the rest."
"But Professor, shouldn't we--" Miss Granger protested when I turned
"Now," I hissed quietly. "Do not play games tonight."
Miss Granger's face was pale when she nodded, and she dragged the dreamy-eyed
Miss Lovegood into my office. I locked the door behind them. They would be
safer if no one could get to them easily.
The dungeons had never seemed so far from the tower before. Around me were the
signs of battle. The castle was falling apart, it seemed. I wondered that I did
not see throngs of students wandering the corridors to find out what had
happened. Closer to the tower, I could hear shouts and see hexes in the air.
Most of my compatriots are untalented. They have the anger and the
self-righteousness to do damage, but they do not know how to control it, to
hone it, to make it a lethal weapon instead of simply a destructive one.
I was surprised by my own thoughts as I passed the rubble. Was I prepared to
become a lethal weapon? I needed to be. The thought was repulsive.
At the foot of the tower, the battle was raging full out. I recognized fellow
Death Eaters, fellow Order members, throwing hexes and curses and anti-curses.
I did not feel any fear here. I was in no danger. Everyone here thought I was
on their side. I was the one who had no idea where my loyalties lay.
Longbottom flung himself against the stairs, only to rebound against a barrier.
Of course he would make it this easy.
I didn't slow as I approached the staircase. Minerva must have seen me. "They've
blocked the stairs--Reducto!" She fought off an attacker. "REDUCTO!"
I did not look back to see if she had managed it. The Mark on my arm burned
fiercely, and the barrier parted enough for me to pass through it.
I thought it would take longer to get to the top than it did. The door was
closed, and for the first time I hesitated. For a horrible moment, I found
myself hoping that it was already over. That someone else, that even the boy,
had done it for me. But I knew the boy, and I knew the man he was trying to
kill, and I knew that it would be left to me at the end.
I flung the door open, my wand drawn. Four of them were there, even the
werewolf with blood dripping from his lips, and the boy, his face bloodless and
his wand hand shaking. Dumbledore was only off the ground by propping himself
against the wall. He looked weak, fragile. I could feel the anger now welling
up in me, and I let it grow. I would need it.
"We've got a problem, Snape," said the small man, Amycus. His eyes
never left Dumbledore – he was stupid, but not a fool. "The boy doesn't
"Severus . . ."
jerked my attention to the man who had spoken it. Dumbledore seemed barely able
to hold on any longer. He was pleading now. I was repulsed. To end like this
after everything, to be come so pathetic . . . I pushed Malfoy out of the way.
For a brief moment, I hated him more than I had hated anything in my life. I
held onto that.
For the last time I looked into Dumbledore's eyes. He was not telling me
anything anymore through them. Our time of communication was ended. His trust
in me hinged on my ability to do this one last thing. I knew the people in the
room could feel my hate, and they were cowed by it. Except this man.
Who wanted me to use it.
"Severus . . . please . . . "
I raised my wand. Steadily, I pointed it and focused my anger. The curse would
work now, better than it had ever worked for me before.
The green light grabbed and lifted him with such force that he flew over the
battlements. I knew he had died before his body found the ground. It was over,
but there was no relief. His orders did not end with his death. He wanted the
boy saved . . .
"Out of here, quickly." I grabbed the stupid boy, frozen as he was in
horror at what I had done. I pushed him down the stairs. "If you want to
live," I hissed to him, "you will not leave my side. Run, as fast as
you can and don't stop. We will Apparate when we leave the grounds."
For once, he seemed in no condition to contradict me. He ran.
At the bottom of the stairs, fighting broke out, but I knew now that I could
stop the fighting. "It's over, time to go!" They listened to
me, they thought I had done a great deed. I did not stop running.
No one attacked me. The Order did not seem to understand what had happened.
I was out of breath when I reached the grounds. Beyond Hagrid's hut, I could
see the end of the Apparition barrier. When I reached it, I would be gone from
here for good.
A red light missed my head by a meter. Potter was behind us, and gaining. "Run,
Draco!" I commanded him. He kept running. I did not have time to see
if he made it, but I would keep him from being stopped.
Potter arrived, angry, dirty and bloody. "Cruc--" he tried,
and it was a feeble attempt again. This boy would never be capable of the
"No Unforgivable Curses from you, Potter! You haven't got the nerve or the
"Incarc--" But the attempt was laughable.
"Fight back!" he screamed, his face contorted with rage. I did not
feel his rage. Later, I would recognize how justified it was, and I would hate
myself, but then I could not feel it. "Fight back, you cowardly--"
What did he know of cowardice? "Coward, did you call me, Potter? Your
father would never attack me unless it was four on one, what would you call
him, I wonder?" Remind him of where his anger should be placed . . .
He would never learn. "Blocked again and again and again until you learn
to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!" The large blonde
one I did not know was approaching from behind. "Now come! It is
time to be gone, before the Ministry turns up--"
But Potter was hit before he could finish the curse. The boy fell to the
ground, his body writhing in pain, his eyes wide but unseeing as he screamed
"No!" After everything, it was not going to end this way. The Death
Eater withdrew his wand suddenly, his hand burned to the bone. "Have you
forgotten our orders? Potter belongs to the Dark Lord--we are to leave him! Go!
Go!" Amycus, Alecto, and the large one ran past me. Potter stumbled to his
I had never seen the boy--was he a man by then?--so angry. He was past caring.
Let him hold onto that anger, and use it well, I thought at the time. "Sectum--!"
I dispelled it and faced him. This would be my life now. I had destroyed
everything that was good, and all that was left was the hatred, the anger, the
rage. I could focus. The boy could not.
He tried again, for once using only his mind. But it was MY spell, and I would
never be caught unawares by that one again. "No, Potter!" I screamed
at him. Reflexively in anger, I hit him back, and he flew away from me, his
wand soaring free.
"You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented
them--" Let him know the truth, let him know where all his little
tricks and cheats had come from, let him know who was the powerful one here . .
. "I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you'd turn my inventions on me, like
your filthy father, would you? I don't think so . . ." – he tried to reach
his wand - "no!" My hex tossed it into the darkness.
"Kill me then," he panted. He had no fear, I realized, and his face
was black with rage and contempt. "Kill me like you killed him, you
From this point, some of my memories are blurred. I know looking back on it that
he could never have understood what had happened in the tower. He would never
understand why I had done it. He could have had no idea of the torture it had
been to climb those steps, or of the agony of the past year when I had known it
was coming and could do nothing to stop it. He had no idea what I had done to
prepare, or how much strength it had taken to throw open the tower door. The
only man who had ever trusted me, the man who had given me the only second
chance I ever had in life, was murdered by my hand. I would never be whole
This little brat, who had made my life miserable simply by existing, could not
presume to mock me for the most excruciating act of my life.
Never . . . NEVER had I felt such anger. I felt as though I was on fire, with
flames leaping, devouring, tearing me apart.
"DON'T CALL ME COWARD!"
And yet, I was a coward. I should have faced death, embraced it and damn the
consequences. Better to die than to betray. I should have fought the temptation
to yield. But the truth was that I was afraid.
I had only enough restraint to not seriously hurt the boy. I had sacrificed too
much to mess up at the last moment. He was slammed to the ground.
And then the hippogriff came, and I fled. I could never come back here. Too
much of me had died, and I ran away like the coward that I was.
I reached the end of the grounds, and before the Potter boy had gathered his
bearings, I was gone.
It never was
and never will be.
know how you betrayed me.
you’re everybody’s fool.