The Sugar Quill
Author: Rachael DuBois (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Everybody's Fool  Chapter: Everybody's Fool
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Without the mask where will you hide

Without the mask where will you hide.

Can’t find yourself lost in your lies.

I know the truth now.

I know who you are.

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 come.

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 night.

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 to leave.

"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 seem able--"

"Severus . . ."

The voice 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.

"Avada Kedavra!"

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 Curses.

"No Unforgivable Curses from you, Potter! You haven't got the nerve or the ability--"

"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 . . .

"Stupe--"

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--"

"Impedi--"

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 wordlessly.

"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 feet.

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--!" he tried.

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 coward--"

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 again.

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.

You don’t know how you betrayed me.

And suddenly you’re everybody’s fool.

~Evanescence

 

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