The Sugar Quill
Author: Madaline Fabray  Story: Imprisoned  Chapter: Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
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Part 2

A/N – One, a BIG thank you to my beta Whimsy for working with me so diligently and patiently on these last two chapters. This chapter was especially difficult.

 

Also, a warning for strong language towards the end.

 

Part 2. Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?

 

When he regained consciousness, the first thing Remus recognized was the sound of music. Or, at least, what barely passed for music. Uncertain fingers haltingly plunked out a series of notes and chords on a badly out-of-tune piano. The choppy chords were punctuated by an occasional muttered oath when the mysterious player hit a wrong note.

 

What happened to the piano? Remus thought groggily. It had always been kept tuned. Why, Gideon was just playing at it the other day, singing his favorite tunes for the amusement of all. Grace had been laughing so hard over one song, that…

 

Grace. It suddenly came back to Remus. The tall figure. The white powder. Grace falling. His eyes flew open and he was fully alert.

 

“Grace,” Remus croaked out as he looked anxiously around his new surroundings. “Grace?” He fumbled for his wand, then remembered to his frustration that he had dropped it.

 

His captor whirled around from the piano, startled, and stared at Remus through sunken black eyes. Dead eyes, much like how Sirius Black looked whenever he recalled his stay in Azkaban. Remus shuddered with revulsion. Remus recognized the man from so many years ago, and the recollections were not fond ones. Tall and thinner than ever, Snape was almost emaciated now. His long, greasy hair hung past his shoulders in matted clumps of black and gray. His skin, always sallow, was now almost gray and was stretched tautly over his too prominent cheekbones.

 

“You’re awake,” Severus Snape muttered, his once silken voice raspy and hoarse. “I was wondering when you would awake.”

 

 

 

“Grace,” Remus repeated heatedly. “Where is she? What did you do with her?”

 

 

Snape stared at him for several seconds, his expression inscrutable. Then he gave a curt nod before turning back to the piano.

 

“She’s safe,” Snape said. “She is not here, but back at the home. There was no need to harm her.” His long, pale fingers again started plunking out tinny notes on the old piano.

 

“How do I know you are telling the truth?” Remus looked skeptically at the former Hogwarts Potion’s master. “You’ve told your share of lies in your lifetime and proven yourself capable of the worst acts.”

 

Snape did not turn from the piano. “Believe what you will. Harming her or having her here would have served no purpose. She can do nothing. She is safe. It is you I wanted.”

 

For some reason, Remus found himself believing Snape about Grace’s safety. “But why did you bring me here, then? What do you want from me?”

 

The pale fingers paused for a few seconds before resuming their attempt at playing.

 

“What do you want?” Remus repeated, his anger growing.

 

There was no reply, save the continued plunking of the piano keys. The music itself sounded vaguely like Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” Remus realized, but he couldn’t be certain, as the playing was so poor and the piano was so badly out of tune. He had remembered hearing the piece once when it was sung by the choir in The Cathedral Church of St. Mary and St. Helen. He remembered how hauntingly beautiful the song was, although he didn’t understand what it meant. But he would never forget the gorgeous music, how it had stopped him, entranced him, left him standing in the middle of the pavement listening raptly as the sun set, and shadowy twilight gathered in the church yard.

 

“Ave Verum Corpus,” Remus decided, was definitely the intent of the piano player. But where Remus’ former experience had been captivating, moving, awesome, this was almost a pathetic mockery. Mozart would be rolling in his grave if he could hear this, Remus thought sourly.

 

The piano must have been a thing of beauty long ago, but no longer. The white paint and mother-of-pearl inlay was peeling off in many areas, exposing the pale oak wood underneath, which was showing signs of rot. Snape’s large, hooked nose was only a short distance away from the keyboard as his thin, pale fingers tentatively ran over the cracked and yellowed ivories.

 

Sighing is exasperation, Remus took in his surroundings. He was in an enormous room that, in its heyday, must have been glorious to behold. Now only a ghost of its former beauty remained. He was lying on a velveteen wine-colored futon trimmed with dusty golden tassels. His arthritic hands idly stroked the velveteen cloth. More than occasionally his fingers would stroke the coarser canvas covering where the soft material had been worn away. A tattered blanket, which looked as if it had been a meal to many a moth, covered him from the waist down. The smell of mold and mildew, of disuse and age, permeated the atmosphere.

 

To Remus’ immediate right was an enormous fireplace, cold and unlit. The soot-covered marble in the center of the mantle bore the embossed image of a family crest, although Remus couldn’t tell which family. A large couch in front of the fireplace was covered by a dusty white sheet. An ebony coffee table was cracked down the middle, as if something heavy had fallen on it, or perhaps it had borne too much weight for too long. Two of the legs on the table, which resembled the heads of Chinese fireball dragons, were broken, and a third looked as if it could go at any time.

 

To the far right, a large archway marked the entrance to a corridor. The archway had once had two large wooden doors, but one had rotted away entirely and the other was badly splintered. On either side of the doorway were rusty suits of armor; one had collapsed entirely and the other looked as if one of the larger rats could have made it tumble with a well-placed kick. Large stained glass windows, such as one might see in a gothic cathedral, lined the walls of the room. But the only thing worshiped in this place, Remus thought, was the specter of glory days past. Long past. Three of the windows were broken, and their colors had faded to pale echoes of their former brilliance.

 

Dust and droppings marred the granite floors. As he looked around, he saw three large rats gnawing at the banisters of a long, winding staircase. A fourth rat was sniffing at the mounds of lumpy ivory candle wax from a wrought iron candelabrum at the start of the railing. Late afternoon sunlight filtered through two large holes in the ceiling, where rock doves flew in and out at will in a whir of noisy feathers. The mark of their presence liberally coated the rafters and eaves. Their flapping wings and soft cooing made a strange counterpoint to the discordant piano.

 

A particularly sour chord accompanied by a loud exclamation turned Remus’ back to Snape.

 

Remus was filled with loathing and contempt for the man. This creature who had kidnapped him, who had just been released from Azkaban after serving a twenty-year sentence, had committed atrocities and betrayals of the worst kind. Many, including Remus himself, thought at the time of the trial that the court had been too lenient in not sentencing Snape to the Dementor’s kiss. 

 

“Why don’t you answer me?” Remus said in annoyance and frustration. “Do you mean to kill me? Is that it?”

 

 

Snape stopped playing and stared at Remus, a flicker of puzzlement in his black eyes. “What?”

 

“Well, why else did you bring me here? It certainly wasn’t for that bloody Mozart recital on your out-of-tune piano! And if you expect me to beg, you will be disappointed. I don’t care. I only have a short while to live, anyway, between the legacy of that bloody war you helped inflame and the effects of the bloody lycanthropy your friend Greyback gave me.” Remus’ mouth thinned at these bitter thoughts, and he spread his arms wide. “So go on then! That’s what you want, isn’t it? Snuff out the last of the Order? The only one who really remembers…?”

 

“I DID NOT BRING YOU HERE TO KILL YOU!” Snape roared with a fury that made Remus gasp and jump despite himself. The former Potions master sprang from the piano bench and started to pace furiously in circles, like a ghost ship riding out a tempestuous storm.

 

 

Now it was Remus’ turn to stare in shock at Snape. “What do you mean?”

 

“I don’t want to kill you.” Snape stopped his pacing. “That was never my purpose. I can’t, not now. It would defeat my whole plan, my last chance…” He trailed off and threw his arms in the air, suddenly despondent. He looked around the room, and then stared at the couch. He walked over and caressed the dusty white sheet. “One last chance.”

 

Remus was shaken. He was relieved to hear that he would not be killed. He found he wasn’t as ready to shuffle off the mortal coil as he thought. But he also knew that he was possibly dealing with a dangerous madman.

 

“What do you mean, Snape?” Remus said. “What do you mean, one chance? What’s this got to do with me?”

 

“You are the only one,” Snape whispered, a frantic, even mad gleam in his eyes. “You are the only one who can do it.”

 

Now Remus started to laugh. “Do what? You are insane, do you know that, Snape? I’m not capable of doing much of anything anymore, in case you haven’t noticed. I’m on a medical cocktail of pills and potions just to get through the day. On a good day, I float around the residence hall and the gardens, chat with the other residents and staff, and sometimes play a game of Hearts. On a bad day, I can’t move from my bed because of the pain. And in the past year, there have been more bad days than good. Although today seems to have been exceptionally bad, no thanks to you.”

 

Snape silently stared at him with an inscrutable expression. Remus stared back, daring him to say something.

 

 

After several moments of tense silence, Snape folded his arms across his narrow chest and spoke, his voice barely above a whisper. “Who ever faces a true reckoning, Lupin? If you stood before the Wizengamot, what crimes would you be answerable to, eh? No one is innocent in this world. No one. Not one. Even if someone tried to be innocent, the court of humanity would convict them of something. Or they would be forced into some crime, however unwillingly.” He suddenly laughed, a low guttural rumble like a feral beast.

 

“I will not for a moment claim innocence,” Remus retorted, his brow furrowing in puzzlement over this change of topic. “But I absolved my conscience long ago. And nothing I ever did could compare to the magnitude of your betrayal of the Order. They should have never let you leave Azkaban. Ever. The Ministry should have let the Dementors have what little was left of your soul. If you even have one. I suppose that’s debatable.”

 

A haunted gleam came to Snape’s eyes. “Oh, that is where you are wrong. You are so wrong. I may have left Azkaban, but Azkaban will never, ever leave me.” The glint dimmed, replaced by that chilling dead look again. “No, never. Even now I feel trapped by the walls of my cell, feel the presence of the hooded fiends as though they are still here. I feel their icy breath on my skin, the death they bring with them, the death they leave behind them, the darkness, the despair.

 

 “No, I will never be free, never again.”

 

“Don’t expect pity or understanding from me,” Remus hissed. “I gave it to you once, foolishly, as it turns out, as did Dumbledore. I’m not interested in hearing a tirade of poor excuses for your actions.”

 

Snape’s face was a mask and try as he might, Remus could not read the former Potions master’s enigmatic expression.

 

“So you might as well just let me go,” Remus tried. “I have nothing to offer you and have no interest in listening to your self-serving tirades.”

 

Snape might have been a statue for all the effect Remus’ words had. Remus heard a whir of wings from above as a pigeon fluttered in to settle on the rafters. A rat skittered across the floor, reminding Remus of another traitor, now dead and unmourned.

 

 

Remus suddenly remembered what Grace had said earlier that day. “It’s the full moon tonight, Snape,” he warned. “I may not be much of a threat now, but even an old werewolf with a bum leg can be dangerous during the full moon. I can do nothing for you, and if you don’t let me return to the…”

 

But Snape started laughing. “Save your threats for the uninformed. I may have been in Azkaban for two decades, but I can still read a newspaper. You no longer have lycanthropy, because they found a cure ten years ago! I ought to know, since my notes formed the basis for the research that led to the cure! And I have no doubt that as a famous war hero, you were the first one they treated when the testing was completed!”

 

Remus silently swore as his ruse was easily blown away like fly ash. “What do you mean, your notes formed the basis for…?” he grudgingly asked.

 

Snape took four long strides to where Remus was lying and bent over, his nose inches from Remus’.

 

“MY notes!” the former Potions master snarled. “I read all about it in The Daily Prophet!  They were my ideas, MINE! My combination of potions ingredients! That quack Rittman stole those notes from my lab, and claimed my work as his own! I was robbed!”

 

“What?!” Remus was outraged. “How can you say that? Dr. Rittman is an honorable wizard! I know him and his family, have for years. He would not do such a thing, nor would he ever look to you for inspiration. He’s got more sense than that. Besides, there is no way he could have stolen those notes from your lab, even if he wanted to!”

 

“I know what I wrote! I know what I left behind in my lab at Hogwarts! I had to leave in a hurry, because things did not work out the way I had planned. I had intended to stay at Hogwarts, but because Draco failed, I was forced to flee instead. I had to leave some of my most prized research behind. I had intended to return to my work one day, but now that so much time has passed, and the thieves have taken their share…there is nothing left! Nothing of mine that has not been stolen!”

 

 “You’re mad! He’s never even been anywhere near Hogwarts! His family came from the States after he was asked to head the Dumbledore Residence Home eight years ago. And if any of your notes have survived the last twenty years, then they are probably still moldering in an old file cabinet somewhere in the basement of the Ministry criminal archives.”

 

“He stole my notes!” Snape repeated petulantly. “He got the credit I deserved!”

 

Remus rolled his eyes. “You are deluding yourself, Snape. But then, you always have believed yourself better than you really are.” He slumped back against the futon, fatigued. Snape was beyond reasoning, and probably always had been, he decided. There was nothing to be gained by rehashing old resentments.

 

“You realize that people will come looking for me, and I will be found, sooner or later,” he stated, making another plea for freedom. “And I doubt that you will escape the dementors this time. So why did you do this? You have no friends anymore, Snape. The ones you haven’t betrayed or personally killed have long since died. Why?”

 

“Because I have nothing to lose.,” Snape again looked hunted, even desperate. “I am, as you have observed, a dead man. If I let you go, I am dead. If I get what I want, I am still dead. I might as well wait. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem. Exaudi orationem meam; ad te omnis caro veniet.” Snape rhythmically, began to walk away, and he marched slowly around the couch.

 

Remus could only stare in disbelief as Snape continued the Latin chant, his raspy voice a monotone. His strides kept a tempo to his words.

 

“Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine; In memoria æterna erit iustus ab auditione mala non timebit.”

 

“Snape? What are you doing?”

 

“Absolve Domine animas omnium fidelium defunctorum ab omno vinculo delictorum et gratia tua illis succurente mereantur evadere iudicium ultionis, et lucis æterne beatitudine perfrui.”

 

“Snape?”

 

“Absolve Domine animas omnium fidelium defunctorum ab omno vinculo delictorum et gratia tua illis succurente mereantur evadere iudicium ultionis, et lucis æterne beatitudine perfrui.” This was said in a much louder, harsher tone. His strides lengthened.

 

“What the bloody hell are you doing?”

 

“Absolve Domine animas omnium fidelium defunctorum ab omno vinculo delictorum et gratia tua illis succurente mereantur evadere iudicium ultionis, et lucis æterne beatitudine perfrui.” This was almost shouted.

 

“Snape, will you cut it out?!”

 

“Don’t you UNDERSTAND?” Snape again whirled on Remus, who involuntarily flinched.

 

“No, I’m afraid not,” Remus spat back. “I don’t know Latin, or at least not much beyond what was required for spells and potions!”

 

Snape gave a hiss in fury and spun away. “You need to understand! It is important that you understand!”

 

Remus put his hand up to his forehead. “Listen, I’m getting tired, and I’m not in the mood for your riddles or for humoring you.”

 

But Snape had gone back to chanting. “Dies iræ! dies illa. Solvet sæclum in favilla. Teste David cum Sibylla! Quantus tremor est futurus, quando judex est venturus, cuncta stricte discussurus .”

 

“Oh, shut up!” Remus shouted. “Just tell me what you want, and let me go!”

 

Snape merely laughed, an insane, maniacal sound. “Liber scriptus proferetur, in quo totum continetur, unde mundus judicetur. Judex ergo cum sedebit, quidquid latet apparebit: nil inultum remanebit. Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus, cum vix justus sit securus?”

 

“WHAT DO YOU WANT?” Remus almost screamed. He closed his eyes as a wave of dizziness overcame him.

 

Snape continued to mutter. “Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus, cum vix justus sit securus?”

 

“I think I need some new medications,” Remus muttered as Snape continued to chant, “because I’m having some very strange nightmares lately. This just has to be a nightmare. Dear Merlin, please tell me this is a nightmare, that this really isn’t happening…”

 

“Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus, cum vix justus sit securus?” Snape stopped and once again stared at Remus, who slowly opened his eyes as the dizzy spell passed and glared at his captor. “A lovely Mass, is it not? ‘Can even you, who claim to be just, who claim to be on the side of ‘good,’ can you be so confident in the final judgement?

 

Remus sighed in exasperation. “A trial. Is that what this is about? Are you going to judge and sentence me, then? Call out all my shortcomings? Fine, then. You go right ahead! Play archbishop or Chief Mugwump, or Thoth, or whatever you like if it makes you happy!”

 

Snape laughed mirthlessly. “If you only knew. A court! Judge, jury, and condemned, yes! All here and present!” He flung his scarecrow arms wide, as if gesturing to some unseen courtroom.

 

Remus ground his teeth in annoyance. “I cannot say I lived a faultless life, but one thing I can say with a clear  consience is that I was never a traitor. You, on the other hand…”

 

“DON’T CALL ME A TRAITOR!” Snape screamed. The momentary insane laughter was gone. “You don’t know my side of the story! You don’t know anything except what you’ve been told! You don’t know anything at all!”

 

“Oh, I know more than enough,” Remus shot back. “I was there the night you killed Dumbledore. Official Order business, as you well know. We were sent to protect Hogwarts from a possible Death Eater invasion. Little did we ever suspect that the invasion had already arrived the day Dumbledore hired you!”

 

“I had my own business for the Order! Business you were not told about! I had to kill Dumbledore to save your precious Potter!” Snape snarled. He ran a hand through his matted hair and began to pace back and forth. “The Death Eaters were idiots, but they were not blind. They would have noticed eventually, as I did right away. I knew that Dumbledore had not travelled alone.”

 

“Yes, yes, the two brooms,” Remus snapped. “That much was covered at the trial. And rehashed to death in the papers. Harry would have been discovered if you had not encouraged the Death Eaters to flee. That still doesn’t excuse…” and here he stopped, shaking with anger and weariness, unable to go on.

 

“Ah yes, the plunge into darkness,” Snape said in a strange monotone. “My finest hour, in the Dark Lord’s eyes. I barely remember it.”

 

“Barely remember…!” Remus spluttered angrily. “Some of our best Order members died that day,” he snarled. “Hestia Jones. Kingsley Shaklebolt. Half of the Weasley family. All gone, all because of your treachery.”

 

“Ah, that,” Snape said dismissively, waving a hand impatiently. “Yes, that was a crushing blow for the Order as I recall, though I had very little to do with it. But I was referring to Dumbledore’s demise.”

 

“What do you mean, ‘very little to do with it’? You engineered the destruction of Grimmauld Place. I know it was you who planted that bomb!”

 

 

Snape’s already thin mouth nearly disappeared. “It wasn’t a bomb. It was an accident. At least try to think, you dunderhead, unlike the brainless jury who convicted me. There was no way I could have planted your so-called bomb.”

 

Remus frowned skeptically. Snape sighed in exasperation and started to pace again.

 

“The Fidelius Charm would have prevented my entry at that point,” Snape said impatiently. “I was long considered persona non grata at the Order headquarters. Even if I could have bypassed the wards, there was no way I could have escaped detection from its membership or that blasted painting.”

 

“All I know is that you started screaming about Mundungus Fletcher at the trial. Surely you are not going to tell me he did it? He may have been a thief, but he wasn’t a murderer.”

 

Snape started pacing again. “If it makes your conscience rest easier, he did not do it willingly or knowingly.” He shuddered before continuing. “But yes, it was him. I bumped into Dung on the east side, and he saw me and shouted for me to wait. We were both on the run, then. He said he wanted to talk, wanted to find out what had happened that night at Hogwarts. I didn’t sense a trap, and he was never good enough at Occlumency to lie to me, so I waited. He said that he had just finished his own sentence in Azkaban, but he was wanted again because he never could let an opportunity for theft and swindling pass him by. You might be interested to know, however, that he was the only one of you who ever asked for my side of the story, until my trial. But by then, it was too late. The public had already made up their minds, and so had you.”

 

“You’re saying that you had nothing to do with the bomb at Grimmauld Place?” Remus continued to glare skeptically at Snape as the former Potions master continued.

 

“I already told you it wasn’t a bomb, and it wasn’t my fault. It was his horrible timing.” He stopped pacing and stared at the piano. “You were at the trial, Remus, don’t you remember?”

 

“I remember you screaming that it wasn’t your fault. I remember they had to sedate you.”

 

“They never gave me a chance to explain!”

 

“Can you blame them for not listening to your hysterical protests about Headquarters? Especially when Mundungus was not alive to back your story? What was there to explain? You killed Dumbledore in cold blood. The evidence on that was irrefutable. Even if you supposedly did it to save Harry, you couldn’t have cast that curse unless you really meant it. Your history as much as anything spoke volumes and condemned you. Your crazed ranting about Mundungus sounded more like the gasps of a desperate man frantic to save his skin.”

 

“What happened to Mundungus was his own doing. I had no choice once the other Death Eaters had approached and recognized him through his disguise. I had to help capture him and bring him before the Dark Lord. I would have been signing my death warrant had I not.”

 

“So you are a coward as well as a traitor. That doesn’t surprise me.”

 

Snape whirled on Remus. “Even if I had tried to help him escape, we would only have been killed, both of us! There were seven of them, including Bellatrix Lestrange. We were outnumbered and unable to Apparate.”

 

Remus’ glare didn’t waver. Snape gave a sigh of frustration.

 

“It was the Dark Lord who put the Imperius Curse on Dung. He also implanted a little suggestion. About gunpowder and fireworks.”

 

“What?” Remus was stunned.

 

Snape nodded. “The Dark Lord picked the perfect weapon, although I don’t think even he realized how perfect. Dung must have amassed an impressive arsenal in a short time, or had already started one himself. For less than 24 hours later, Grimmauld Place was destroyed.”

 

“The only reason why I survived,” Remus whispered, “was because a half hour before the explosion, I was helping to relocate a family to another home after they had been targeted by Voldemort.”

 

“Don’t say his name!” Snape said angrily.

 

“Oh, give it a rest!” Remus shook his head in disgust. “He’s dead, and good riddance. A pity you couldn’t have met his fate!”

 

“Grimmauld Place was not my doing!”

 

“You had a hand in it! Fourteen of the Order died that day, not to mention more than a dozen Muggles, those who lived next door and those who had the unfortunate ill luck to be nearby!”

 

“There was nothing I could have done!”

 

“And do you say the same about the destruction of Diagon Alley? Snape, it’s not just one thing –your fingerprints were all over that – and more. Pity the courts could never muster the evidence to prove it. But I know you were involved. Are you going to claim those were ‘accidents?’”

 

Snape folded his arms across his chest and lowered his head. “I was under orders to carry out those attacks. They were regrettable, but no one who had ever crossed the Dark Lord lived to tell about it.”

 

“That is not true,” was Remus’ brusque response. “Many of us defied Voldemort, otherwise we would not have won. I also don’t believe you are sorry it happened. You gained too much for yourself. I heard you were promised Scrimgeour’s job after his death. Nothing was ever proven, but that assassination job had to be you. You were, after all, Voldemort’s Potions….”

 

“Never say his name!” Snape hissed. “Ever!”

 

“Voldemort is dead!” Remus said. “And he is not coming back, not this time! Voldemort was a liar, a fraud. Yes, Voldemort. Voldemort! Voldemort is dead! Voldemort is gone, get used to it! Voldemort, Voldemort, Volde…”

 

“Stop it!” An enraged Snape grabbed Remus by the shoulders and started shaking him violently. Remus gasped in pain as his head struck the wooden rim of the futon. At Remus’ exclamation, Snape let go and fearfully retreated several steps. He looked warily at his captive, who was gasping from the blow.

 

Remus waited for the stars to disappear from his vision and for his head to clear before repeating his question. “Why? Why did you do it, Snape? Did you completely lose your concept of right and wrong? Why did you follow him?”

 

“Why not?” Snape replied between clenched teeth. “It is true, I realized the Dark Lord was only gracious and rewarding when it suited his purpose. If one of his own was to lose their usefulness or become a liability, he would have disposed of them as if they had no more worth than the weakest of Muggles. I always took steps to make certain that would never happen to me. I always mananged to remain invaluable in his eyes.”

 

“You gave him names, Snape. After Grimmauld Place was destroyed, you gave him the names of the remaining members of the Order. Wasn’t Grimmauld Place, Diagon Alley and The Burrow enough to sate him? Wasn’t the assassination of the Minister enough to earn you praise?”

 

Snape turned away. “Actually, he was angry with me after the assassination. It had not gone as smoothly as planned. Four of the six I had brought with me perished, and we were nearly apprehended. It was only the guard’s incompetence and poor aim that saved me. So, he asked me for the names of the Order members, since their headquarters was gone.”

 

“You mean to tell me that you betrayed us to save your own hide?”

 

“No,” Snape said softly, and his eyes glittered angrily. “That was not the only reason.”

 

“Then why?” Remus spat out. “You murderous bastard, why?”

 

Snape returned Remus’ look of hatred. “The Dark Lord was no friend of mine, but he at least gave me what I most craved. Power. Position. Esteem. What had anyone in your pathetic Order given me, aside from grief and unrewarding tasks, such as working with that Potter brat – forgive me, the sainted hero of our age? Bah!” Snape’s mouth twisted into a scowl. He glanced away from Remus for a brief second before leveling another cold glare at him. “And what of you and your friends? What had you ever done for me? Nothing! Worse than nothing!”

 

“You mean all of this is over some childhood woe?” Remus whispered. “Some schoolboy wrongs?”

 

“I think they were more than your usual ‘schoolboy wrongs,’” Snape snarled. “As you should know, since you were there for most of them, and even participated a few times. One time, in particular, nearly cost me my life!”

 

“I had no idea Sirius had led you to the Shrieking Shack!” Remus protested hotly. “And when I found out, it very bloody nearly broke our friendship!”

 

“But did you ever apologize to me?”

 

Remus’ pale cheeks went scarlet. “I couldn’t get near you for weeks! You wouldn’t allow anyone to approach you, for whatever reason! Is that what you want? An apology? Well, here you go: I am sorry you were….”

 

“No!” Snape shouted. “Don’t you see? No one ever tried to approach me, to work with me! And it’s too late now!”

 

“That is not true. Or have you forgotten Dumbledore? And McGonagall? And Slughorn?”

 

“Slughorn, I admired,” Snape said, his lip turning up into a sneer. “He was talented and he knew how to use people to his advantage. Pity he had such a soft spot for mudbloods like Evans. McGonagall never did anything save praise you and your band of friends and give me detention. And Dumbledore…” the sneer disappeared, replaced by a look  of bitter contempt. “Dumbledore was too trusting. He trusted you and your friends, and was blind to what you were capable of.”

 

“He trusted you,” Remus reminded him. “Unfortunately, his trust was grossly misplaced where you were concerned. He could be blind. For the first time, we agree on something. A miracle, surely.”

 

“His trust was misplaced where everyone was concerned.” Snape folded his arms across his chest and scowled. “Especially with you and that band of misfits. That made him weak, vulnerable. You can’t trust anyone.”

 

“Perhaps it was that attitude that kept people from working with you,” Remus pointed out coldly. “And that ‘band of misfits’ eventually grew up. You never did. You were stuck in the mire of your childhood grievances, growing more bitter and poisonous with each year that passed.”

 

“What about Pettigrew?” Snape smiled in triumph at Remus’ hostile expression. “I am certain that you would agree that he, too, never grew out of his ‘mire of childhood grievances,’ as you put it?”

 

“Pettigrew turned against those who considered him their friend,” Remus said. “I guess in that respect, that makes him even worse than you. At least there was no friendship between us.”

 

“Funny,” Snape purred. “Pettigrew never felt like he had too many friends, either. He would often complain to me about how his so-called friends had treated him as a worthless nobody. A laughing stock! With friends like that, who needs enemies, eh, Lupin?”

 

Remus looked away, suddenly ashamed. What Snape said was true. “He never said anything. He just laughed along with the rest of us over his mishaps…” his voice trailed off. The excuse was lame, and he knew it.

 

“He was desperate for attention,” Snape said mockingly. “That is why he joined the Death Eaters. Unfortunately, he didn’t do very well. He wasn’t very clever and often brought the wrath of the Dark Lord down on his head for his clumsiness. If it weren’t for me, he would have been killed long ago.”

 

“Oh yes, some role model you turned out to be!”

 

“And you were any better?”

 

“We never betrayed our friends!”

 

“No?” Snape’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “You abandon them when they aren’t of any use and use them for your own amusement! He wanted so much to please someone, he practically leapt at the chance to serve the Dark Lord in the best way he could, by getting rid of the Potters. He called it my finest idea.”

 

An unearthly silence filled the ancient room.

 

“What?” Remus managed to croak out.

 

“Oh come on, Lupin,” Snape said impatiently. “Certainly you don’t think he did all of that by himself? He had fallen out of favor for failing to abduct that dimwitted Trelawney and was desperate to save his hide. I proposed eliminating the Dark Lord’s greatest threat. Oh, I outlined it all, how to worm his way into their confidence, how to create suspicion about a spy in the ranks, how to become the Potter’s Secret Keeper, everything. He did far better than I would have thought him capable of, particularly with stirring dissention in the ranks. I tip my hat to the late rat for managing to divide the almighty Marauders!”

 

Remus started shaking with ill-suppressed rage as Snape continued rambling.

 

“But he grew overconfident in his successes. It was Pettigrew’s idea to confront Sirius Black and pin him for the murders. I thought it foolish, for Pettigrew was no match for Black. So I followed him, hiding in the crowds. And, at the right moment, I cast the spell that provided his cover for escape.”

 

“And killed all those innocent bystanders. And framed Sirius.” Remus was seeing red at this point. His heart was racing.

 

“It was better than I could have imagined,” Snape said coldly. “Sirius was imprisoned, you were outcast, the Potters were dead, save the brat, and I was free of the Dark Lord, at least for a while. And Pettigrew went underground, too terrified to reveal himself.”

 

“You knew,” Remus said hoarsely. “Then you knew Sirius was innocent, that Peter was alive! You knew all that time! You knew when I was teaching there, in the Shrieking Shack! And you…you helped betray the Potters!”

 

“Yes, I knew Pettigrew was alive, and him coming to the school was most inconvenient for me. He could have let far too much slip under Veritaserum, for he could not resist it, weak fool that he was. I knew he was there, in the Shrieking Shack….”

 

“You nearly let an innocent man…you knowingly….”

 

“Sirius Black was a liability to me,” Snape hissed. “And so were you! It was a relief, a RELIEF, when Bellatrix had disposed…”

 

Snape got no further when an enraged Lupin, with a strength that surprised him, sprang from the futon, clawing at his captor’s throat and eyes. Snape stumbled back into the coffee table and fell. The coffee table shattered under them as Remus tried to strike at Snape’s face.

 

“Bastard!” Remus screamed. “You son of a bitch! You murdering…!”

 

The world began to swim as Remus’ heart beat doubletime, then started to falter. A bolt of red-hot pain raced through his twisted leg and lower back. His throat and lungs felt as though they were on fire.

 

“Murderous bastard!” Remus managed to say before he blacked out.

 

End of Part II

//
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