Hold Onto That Thought
Legilimency is not
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. 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
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
“What have you done to my
“I want my son to be
“My mother deserves a
normal grandson, not some freak!”
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
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
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.