Written for the Snape the HBP Fest,

Many thanks to Cordelia V and Florahart for betaing.


Inside My House
by Beth H
May 2006

He has played this double game for most of his adult life, but never for so long a time without respite.

It is almost beyond endurance - 'almost' being the operative word, because Severus knows he will never quit, no matter how weary he becomes, no matter how difficult he finds it to continue wearing the mask.

He will never quit because Albus Dumbledore promised him that all would be well in the end, and Severus knows that all is not well; therefore, this cannot be the end. This cannot be what Albus meant when he made that promise.

And so Severus waits for the sign he knows will come someday.

***

Severus imagines that from the outside, his life must appear quite...satisfactory.

The Dark Lord has, for a long time, been pleased with Severus, all memory of his tardiness in responding to the call of the Dark Mark after the Tri-Wizard Tournament long forgotten and replaced by evidence of Severus's now-unquestioned loyalty.

Poisons he has brewed.

Curses he has created.

Deaths he has...

The tally would require three feet of parchment, Severus thinks in those rare times he allows himself to remember his old life. Possibly four.

What the Forces of Light have never understood about Lord Voldemort is that he knows how to reward his most faithful followers. It may not appear so from the outside; rumours have always been rife that the Dark Lord rules by fear, and those rumours are not entirely false. Fear can be a powerful motivator, as Severus remembers from his days in the classroom. However, the stick alone is not sufficient: judicious use of the carrot is also required to instill true loyalty.

And there are many different...carrots.

For Bellatrix Lestrange, it is being allowed to remain by her Lord's side and nothing more.

For Lucius Malfoy, it is political power - or the illusion of political power, at any rate, for surely Lord Voldemort would never allow even the Minister for Magic to be any more than a silver-haired, silver-tongued mouthpiece.

For Severus himself, the Dark Lord has chosen quite carefully, for he knew Severus back when he was barely out of the classroom - before Severus had learned to Occlude his thoughts.

Severus hasn't forgotten being young and angry and resentful of his House-mates and the luxuries they took for granted.

At one time, he would have given anything to have what they had.

He would have given everything.

And perhaps he has, Severus thinks sometimes, as he looks out the front windows and lets his gaze fall briefly on the guards standing in the shadows of the tree-lined drive that leads to his home.

They are for 'his protection,' the Dark Lord reminds him whenever Severus complains about their presence, and this might be true. Severus, who now lives like a king (and not like a Prince), knows he has enemies: those who have gone into hiding and call him 'Traitor' in their private thoughts, and those others - far greater in number - who resent the many gifts Severus has been given and the access he has to the Dark Lord.

Severus recognizes the irony.

The gifts he's been given - from the designer robes he wears, to the satin sheets on which he sleeps at night, to the opulent manor house in which he resides, to his well-appointed laboratory, just right for dabbling in potions research - Severus wants none of them, no matter how avariciously his younger self would have grasped at such bounty.

Still less does Severus wish for the proximity he has to Lord Voldemort, but while there are few members of the Order still alive, Severus knows that some remain, and someday they will need to have a 'Man on the Inside,' as Albus used to say.

Albus always smiled at Severus when he said those words.

And so Severus wears his velvet robes and sleeps on satin sheets and spends endless hours in his laboratory - and waits for the sign he knows will come.

Someday.

***

"Doesn't he kind of give you the creeps, Auror Dawlish?" the young man asked, only barely suppressing a shiver.

"Who, Snape?" Dawlish said, glancing at the occupant of the corner cell in this most forgotten of all Ministry facilities. "Not really...not anymore. At least he's quiet, not like that lot in Azkaban."

"Yeah, but...the way he stares out at us and how he keeps stirring the water in that cup of his with his finger, over and over again, like now. What do you suppose he thinks he's doing?"

"I don't know," said Dawlish, "and I don't care."

"But...."

"Listen, McKenna...you want to waste your time wondering why this crazy bastard spends half his day smoothing down his robes, you go right ahead. Me, I'm going to read the paper and keep my head down and maybe, just maybe, keep from getting up the noses of Potter and his crowd any more than I did when Cornelius Fudge was still Minister."

The young Auror nodded, then sat down in his chair on the other side of the desk.

"Smart boy," Dawlish said, turning away from the cell. "Now...let's see what the House-elves have got for our supper."




Title and Inspiration from the song "House"
by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin

This is my house
This is where I live
That is the winter
Those are the trees
I can hear them breathe
This is my bed
This is where I sleep
That was the dark
Those are my dreams
They belong to me

This is my floor
This is where I lie
This is a square room
That was a bright light
These are not my eyes
What is my soul
Where is my tired heart
That is the question
Where is the answer
Inside my house

And I sit by the window
And I wish I was rain
I want to fall from the sky
I want to get wet all over again

'Cause this is my house
It belongs to me
Inside my head
It's all that's left
This is my house
This is my bed
This is where I sleep
That was the dark
Those are my dreams
They belong to me
This is my house


Comments, critiques, chit chat: beth-h @ mrks.org

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