|words and things (recursive) wrote in bandinnabox,|
@ 2007-08-25 20:49:00
6th fragment for Femme
Probably even more obviously not beta-ed, this one took a long time so I hope it's not too sloppy and promise to read it through tomorrow.
Part 6/7 (this one may be longer than most of the others put together)
Warnings: Spoilers for DH, angst, a Snape Femme won't like (I'm sorry!)
Pairings: perhaps some very much implied and one-sided and ambivalent Draco/Snape
Rating: R-ish for references to torture and war
#1 here, #2 here, #3 here, #4 here, #5 here
Draco was still struggling not to look, never to try and meet Snape’s eyes and especially not when there were others around, when he realised that he had missed something which should have been more important.
His father’s name in the Dark Lord’s most peremptory tone spelled nothing good at any time. “Lucius,” he was saying, “I see no reason for you to have a wand anymore.”
Draco could not have been more shocked, but amidst the general surprise it probably didn’t matter much. He watched as his father looked up, but then so did everyone. Draco was probably not even the only noticing his father’s sickly pallor turn paler still.
“My Lord?” he said, his throat still rough – a voice Draco hardly knew now.
“Your wand, Lucius. I require your wand.”
It wouldn’t do to move, Draco knew. It wouldn’t do to show any response at all. His fear would only upset Mother, which would… He felt as much as saw her touch Father’s arm. A reassurance and a warning. Perhaps already having hesitated too long – although, it was extraordinary enough that perhaps even the Dark Lord would expect hesitation – Lucius Malfoy drew out his wand.
So familiar, of course, and yet so strange. How many thousands of times had Draco seen his father draw a wand and yet to see that familiar dark shape move from his father’s hands to Dolohov’s to Yaxley’s and then to His Lordship… No one seemed to know where to look. No one seemed to know what it meant. Today Lucius, but tomorrow tormenting Lucius might finally be exhausted.
“What is it?”
“Elm, my Lord.”
“And the core?”
“Dragon – dragon heartstring.” When he was a small boy Draco had felt that something of a compliment, although his own wand had finally been hawthorn like his mother’s.
His Lordship was comparing the wands in His hand with apparent approval. But Lucius’s anticipation of receiving the other in return for his own did not go unnoticed.
“Give you my wand, Lucius? My wand?”
There was laughter, and Draco’s felt his mother shift anxiously even three chairs away as once again the mocking of all things Malfoy resumed. Were they not grateful to have their Lord in their home? Lucius assured Him that they were.
No one had ever believed it, although the lie was expected.
“Such lies Lucius…”
That was expected too, but the sybillance wound on and with a chill that was mirrored in his mother’s slight stiffening, Draco realised it was Parseltongue. It didn’t do to look for where the horrible Nagini would emerge so in desperation Draco looked at the only possible alternative to that, his father’s fear, or Snape’s watchful consideration.
Vacant hazel eyes swung slowly to meet his. Her mouth hung slightly loose, warped by the weight of being upside down. Don’t look, Draco told himself, even as he heard the heavy slither of movement beneath the table. Don’t look, the woman’s vacant eyes and slack mouth warned him – perhaps I looked. No one had ever asked her anything, at least not in Draco’s presence. She was there to suffer and there was no question of her having anything worth trading against her suffering.
And that was her silent accusation now. The Malfoys had nothing left to trade either.
Draco tried not to hear. He tried to focus on the horror of the hanging witch who was all but dead here for their amusement.
Father would say whatever could be said. If Father couldn’t help them then nothing would. But Draco couldn’t quite ignore his Mother’s anxious movement and for one moment he did look, catching his Lordship’s cold red glance.
It burrowed and slipped into his mind in an instant. Hazel slack fear, Draco thrust to the front of his mind. We have nothing left to trade but fear. And as quickly as He was there He was gone, finding what He already knew.
“My Lord,” Aunt Bellatrix ventured, before Draco could draw himself entirely away again. She was as horrified as ever by her sister’s never managing to equal her pitch of devotion. “It is an honor to have you here, in our family’s house. There can be no higher pleasure.”
It would never be enough, but as long as it went in the expected way. Was it though? Draco could feel his mother shifting, and his father… his father who had lost even his wand now and how far would son and his wife be behind in that? Even the horror of the hanging witch wasn’t quite enough and Draco dropped his eyes to the table, struggling not to make eye contact with anyone at all.
The teasing built and there was something new after all. The cousin he’d never met had married Remus Lupin, that werewolf teacher from school.
Everyone not a Black or a Malfoy was riotously amused and vastly relieved. In the midst of the general hilarity, his Aunt’s dismay and his parents struggling to make no response at all, Draco hovered on the edge of looking at Snape. It was not that Draco believed he would lift a finger to help, no matter what they were subjected to. He had long since given up thinking it was possible. But he couldn’t quite give up thinking Snape was the one place where he might see the smallest moment of sympathy.
Bellatrix insisted they had nothing to do with Mudbloods, but that was pointless. No one thought they did. Better to just…
“What say you, Draco?” His Lordship said quietly, and in the midst of the table-thumping laughter and the jeering echoes of his name Draco had no choice but to acknowledge the question and look. “Will you babysit the cubs?”
His composure tenuous at best when anything new was added to the nightmare of his life, Draco couldn’t think of a thing to say. Annoyed by the laughter and excitement, the great snake wound around His Lordship’s chair flexed and hissed, turning her cold unblinking eyes in the direction of her master’s question.
Draco cowered then. Not Nagini. He looked to his father, who was staring at his own empty wand hand in his lap, and then his mother. She managed the slightest shake of her head, and looked away.
My Lord, he went to say. Obeisance when no answer will be the right one, he thought. But no words escaped the tight circle of fear in his throat and for an instant Draco thought it would be his turn again, and perhaps this time not even his parents would intercede for him.
But his Lord had had enough of the comfortable merriment at Malfoy expense at last. With one word he silenced them all and Draco’s terror fell into its usual place once more. Listen, but do not listen. Attend, but remain far away.
But something about it wasn’t really working. Draco felt almost as if even the hanging witch was watching him, curious to see how he would fail now.
“Many of our oldest family trees…” the Dark Lord began. Draco tried to listen, tried not to miss a cue, but fear and horror wanted to drag him into a quiet corner of his own mind. Pruning the diseased vine. Cutting at the canker. Only those of true blood.
But Draco didn’t need to remind himself to attend when His Lordship raised his father’s wand. That was horribly wrong in a way that was entirely new amid so many horribly wrong things.
And then the hanging witch began to writhe once more, groaning and gasping, and that was worse too. Just let it be over, Draco thought. Just let it end soon.
“Do you recognize our guest, Severus?” His Lordship was saying.
Snape looked along with everyone else. Everyone except Draco, who was watching him. But Snape hardly needed to answer because right then she called out his name.
“Severus!” she croaked. “Help me!”
Snape looked at her evenly. “Ah, yes.”
“And you, Draco?”
Watching Snape past the shadow of her twisting in the air, Draco managed to shake his head. But he had begun to think that perhaps he did. Better not to know, some other part of his mind scolded, but it was too late then. Hogwarts. Muggle Studies.
“But you would not have taken her classes,” His Lordship said, and although Draco felt too little relief in it he was finally sure he was safe again tonight. His parents knew it too. An emptiness almost like disappointment swirled in Draco, making him a little dizzy.
Charity Burbage, the Dark Lord was saying.
Yes, Draco thought. Professor Burbage. He could see her now on the dias in the Great Hall. Hazel eyes. Laughed too much. Pansy Parkinson made fun. He shouldn’t let it come to mind, but no one was noticing Draco now. He leant back as far as he could without moving his chair and tried neither to look at her nor to look away.
It would have been enough if she hadn’t cried out again.
“Severus … please … please …” Tears in her voice and Draco couldn’t help but remember another time, another wand, and the same words but soft and pleading.
“Silence!” At the Dark Lord’s command it was so and though she struggled harder then it was silently.
In the now usual manner He outlined her crimes against the pureblood world. Draco’s world.
Not Snape’s, Draco knew by now; the gossip and scheming was always bitter. Hogwarts was Snape’s world. Professor Burbage was Snape’s world. But Snape just watched her evenly as she twisted, spinning towards him and then back towards Draco, who tilted his chair enough that Carrow’s great ugly head blocked her face from view.
And then the taunting stopped.
Draco was almost shocked by his own surprise. It was not the first time. It was not even the tenth time. But this was worse somehow because he was watching not the foolish Muggle-loving Professor Burbage and not His Lordship’s cruelty but Snape’s impassive face across the table. His total disinterest was a horrible reminder that they were all of them alone and unsupported.
With no cue whatsoever in Snape’s face, when the body fell Draco was as shocked as anyone, and when it crashed into the table with a sick uneven thud, Draco’s chair crashed to the floor as well.
The last thing Draco heard was not the laughter at his expense but the soft heavy sliding hiss of scales upon polished wood. Dinner for Nagini.