Gift For: Drusillas_rain Title: Across the River Lethe Author: Pairing(s): Snape/Lupin/Lily Summary: They call to him in familiar voices, though their faces are forgotten. They call to him, with love and longing. If he could only remember… Rating: PG13 Warnings: darkish themes (death, Hell, unhappy afterlife). Somewhat abstract and lyrical. Author notes: Prompt #3. Post-DH - SS/RL/LP end up in the afterlife together - RL/LP have to save SS from hell/Hades. (bonus if afterworld is same as Greek mythology). Two rivers are indirectly mentioned, the Lethe (forgetfulness) and the Phlegethon (fire). This decided to be more lyrical and abstract… I hope you like it!
Darkness envelops him, as solid and tangible as a blanket swathed around his entire body. It lays heavy against his skin, the heat its constant companion. This is not the barren, acrid heat of the desert, nor the wet, sticky heat of the tropics. This heat is a living thing, with pulse and breath. It coils around him, devouring his flesh and organs until he boils with it. It burns in his bones and smoulders in his brain, robbing him of any thought or sense but the heat and the dark.
There is nothing but him and the heat and the darkness.
He can remember nothing before the heat and the darkness, and he is certain that nothing will follow them. There is no end or beginning. They have consumed his senses, until there is nothing left but the shrivelled husks of his eyes, the barren caverns of his ears, and the ash-clogged openings of his nose and mouth. He can barely remember what it’s like to feel anything beyond the burning fires. He can’t remember anything but the darkness.
Here in the depths of Tartarus, there are no dreams. They evaporate like mists beneath a noon sun. There is nothing beyond him and the heat and the darkness.
In his darkness and seclusion, he is trapped. He suffers alone, with no hope of rest. He cannot move, chained in place, and his body screams, muscles and bones stretched tight against a surface both sharp and rough. But the greater agony is the unending sense of being alone. There is no one to reach out to for comfort, no one to break up the hours and hours of darkness. His is utterly, undeniably alone, and his mind fights against the oncoming madness this breeds in him.
And then, like a shock of cold water, there is a sense of Someone beyond the dark. At first, he is suspicious. Who but another tormentor would come through the river of fire and darkness to see him? Though he could not remember, he knows he is no one of importance, and no one truly cared enough to brave Tartarus and bring him comfort. But as They draw closer, he feels the faintest stirring of… some foreign emotion in his breast. He clamps down upon it, trying to smother it. It will do him no good here
He hears it then. A faint, muffled sound. Are they trying to speak to him? Are they trying to reach through the barrier his deadened senses have become? He cannot make sense of the sounds, and he cannot answer them. His throat is too dry to even croak.
And then one of Them touches him, and his world is broken and remade in the space of a breath.
It is the lightest touch on his shoulder, but it is cool, soothing the chapped skin. The absence of pain is the greatest pleasure, and he gasps at it. He hears them talking, and the hand withdraws. He groans at the loss, his body trying to lean forward to recapture it, pulling against the bonds that hold him. The touch returns, this time on his cheek. He moans and presses his face into the hand caressing him.
A second hand joins it, mapping the contours of his face and running through the dried and brittle strands of his hair. A second pair of hands runs over the taunt skin of his shoulders and arms, causing them to quiver and tremble. His entire being becomes focused on the gentle, soothing caresses tracing the planes of his body.
Slowly, the muddled sounds become clearer. He can recognize the husky tenor and the soft, sweet alto. They are familiar, and yet he cannot place them. Their vowels and sibilants arranging into a word that is likewise familiar and yet unrecognisable. Severus. Severus.
His body becomes glutted on the touches, and the absence of pain frees his mind enough to realize his other senses are beginning to awaken. He smells, faintly, vanilla and sandalwood. And then chocolate and a dark forest glade. The two groups of scents are unique, and they again pull at him with their familiarity. His mouth is cleared, and he realizes that two pairs of lips are kissing him, one plump and velvety soft, the other warm and firm. Though the mouths wander his neck and shoulders, when they linger on his mouth he can taste them. Tart and smooth. Sweet and rich.
And slowly, slowly, the scales fall from his eyes. At first, all he can do is blink the world in a dried out blur. Slowly, focus comes. Her face is sweet and warm, red hair floating around it like the fronds of an anemone, green eyes looking into his own. His face is lined, both with care and joy. Hair silver flecked and eyes like honey. They stare at him, touch him, kiss him. Call that word.
His name. He remembers, in a rush from floodgates thrown open. He remembers her face, the sound of her voice, and the touch of her hand. He remembers the soft husk of his voice, the warm strength of his hands. All the joys and grief and longing wells up in him, and can only find release in two names.
And suddenly, he is in their arms, freed. His back is pressed to Remus’ chest, his arms encircling Lily as he is enfolded between the both of them. It is a jumble of limbs and mouths and hearts, and he slowly realizes they are floating away. Away from the fire and the darkness and the loneliness. Away from pain and despair.