The Sugar Quill
Author: netrat  Story: Hold Onto That Thought  Chapter: Default
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Hold Onto That Thought

Hold Onto That Thought
by netrat


Legilimency is not mind-reading.

Snape has never had trouble understanding the concept, which is probably why he wasn’t Sorted into Gryffindor. Red and gold, black and white, Potter and company appear to live in the simplified world of a child’s colouring-in book. Subtlety and grey shades are the strengths of Slytherin house, and the Dark Arts, despite their name, rely on grey shades and Slytherin-ness. Snape would wager anything that there is not a single Gryffindor to be found among his companions tonight.

Most of them he could name even despite their hoods and masks. He himself has made no effort, apart from that required one, to make himself unrecognisable, knowing that anyone who knows him would be more than surprised not to find him here. Maybe that was the others’ reasoning too, although in the cases of the two large bulks of Crabbe and Goyle right next to him, Snape figures that they were just too stupid to give it consideration. An engraved family crest and even the family motto are clearly visible on the clasp of Goyle’s cloak. Snape wonders what the Dark Lord could want with such moronic followers.

It is easy to make out Bellatrix Black, the tall haughty girl reduced to a demure little first-year in front of the Dark Lord who is watching her intently. Snape wonders what he sees in her that others can’t. It is plain that he shows more interest in her than in any of the other candidates, but the girl is really just a Black: cunning enough, but much too haughty and self-absorbed, too sure of her own pure-blooded wonderfulness to notice her all-too-obvious failings. Eagerly she now presents her mind to the Dark Lord, as if expecting an ‘O’ grade and a gold star for her efforts at Being A Good Little Death Eater.

Death Eater. Snape likes the phrase, although he isn’t sure that he likes the meaning of it, coupled with the meaning of ‘Voldemort’. Are Death Eaters the ones who eat the death that’s meant for their Dark Lord, so he can escape? But such thoughts are silly. They are all going to triumph, and no one is going to die, no one that doesn’t deserve it.

Then the Dark Lord turns away, a satisfied smile on his lips. Bellatrix raises her head. The Dark Lord looks around the small circle and then his eyes focus on Snape. Snape braces himself, and at the same time feels treacherous for doing so. Surely there is nothing in his mind that the Dark Lord would not want to see?

Hold onto that thought, the Slytherin in him suggests. He’ll like it.

Father is shouting at Mum again. He is tearing chunks of pages from what is now Snape’s Herbology book, and jeering: “What’s that, eh? Man-dra-go-ra – looks like a baby that’s been stuck head-down into a flowerpot. Is that what they teach you at that school? No wonder you don’t know parsley from thyme, woman!”

“Shut up, you ugly old Grindylow!” shouts Mum, which makes him even angrier. He hates being called names he doesn’t understand.

Yes. You hate your father. Your Muggle father. Hold on to that thought. You hate Muggles, you know that wizards are superior, and you are ready to be a Death Eater.

“What have you done to my son, woman?”

“I want my son to be normal!”

“My mother deserves a normal grandson, not some freak!”

“A Prince, eh? Looks more like a pauper to me!”

Father is shouting again. The Dark Lord is smiling. Because Legilimency is not mind-reading, thinking aloud, “See how I hate Muggles and want to be a pure-blood” probably would not be of any use, but Snape feels that he is doing well. There is nothing in his mind that the Dark Lord may not see. There is nothing that connects him with the lesser part of his parentage.

“Your mother need not know.”

Father is smiling somewhere behind the thick hedges of his beard, lost in memory as he gazes down at his own calloused hands, then surprises Snape by putting one of them on the boy’s skinny knee. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell her what your Headmistress said. I won’t even tell her how proud I am of my son the troublemaker.”

“You’re proud of me?”

“Sure. Mind you, it wasn’t a fair fight from what I heard, but – well, I’ve seen these boys. Big, nasty brutes, and you a skinny little shrimp, but what you have is a damn good mind. Have your mother to thank for that, I guess. So if your fine mind can come up with a way to make these bullies really hurt, and none’ll be the wiser, well, yes, I’m proud.” This is a long speech coming from Father, especially since it doesn’t involve any shouting. Snape smiles.

Snape’s mind is flailing wildly like a drowning person. He can feel the Dark Lord probing and stabbing and sniffing at the memories, stripping away the mask and cloak, stripping away the Half-Blood Prince, leaving only Severus Tobias Snape quite naked and shivering. For seven years he has carefully kept his secrets, has been as much of a Slytherin as Salazar himself could have hoped for, but now the Dark Lord knows the worst Snape’s mind has to offer: that he does not hate his Muggle father enough to be worthy of the Dark Lord’s favour. Snape would not be surprised if the Dark Lord killed him right here and then out of disappointment.

The Dark Lord smiles and gives a tiny nod. Dazed, Snape realizes that somehow, for some reason, he has been found worthy. Is the Dark Lord’s command of Legilimency faltering? No. With a flash of insight, Snape suddenly knows the reason. The Dark Lord needs to be sure of his followers. He needs to know everything – what they fear, what they hate, how to reward and how to punish them.

He knows Severus now.

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