...And since I am an awful, awful procrastinator, I immediately celebrated by writing fic for something completely different.
TITLE: Memory Yields
RATING: PG-13 for implications
PAIRING: Snape, Bellatrix, Neville
SUMMARY: A memorable evening that Snape would just as soon forget goes some way towards explaining his hatred of Neville.
DISCLAIMER: These are in no way, shape, form, or spell, my characters. Used totally without permission.
WARNINGS: Implied torture (per canon).
NOTES: For snape_rarepairs's August challenges: Snape/Neville and memory. I took both of those challenges, put them in my brain and shook, and this is what came out. — 650 words.
It should have been raining, Snape thought, or at the very least a dismal, cloudy sort of night. Instead, the late fall evening was clear and much too mild. He should have been trudging through the muddy streets of Hogsmeade, not stepping easily down a dry path. But the, the weather never did cooperate with him.
He stepped into the Hog's Head and pulled back the hood of his cloak. It still felt strange, even after several months, to allow himself to be seen, to be identified in this place. Then again, if the new Potions master at Hogwarts couldn't come down for an innocent drink once in a while, then who could?
A movement from one of the shadowed tables caught his eye—a flash of slim, pale hands. Snape moved toward the table and sat down across from a hooded figure. He couldn't be sure which of them it was, but there was no doubt that this was his contact.
"Severus," a voice whispered from the depths of the hood. A woman—Bellatrix, then. The rain outside should have intensified into a deluge by now.
He sighed, signaled the bar for his usual. "What do you want?"
Bellatrix leaned forward, her hands coming across the table to clutch at his. "Rodolphus has located a pair of Aurors. We're going to… question them, find out what has happened to the Dark Lord."
Snape considered, not for the first time, telling Bellatrix and all the others that the Dark Lord was vanquished, that they could all give up and go home now. And he came to the same conclusions as before: Bella would never believe it, and it might mean some uncomfortable explanations would be required on his part. Better to play along. Severus Snape was not a man who needlessly burned bridges.
"And?" He plucked his drink out of the air and took a swallow. "What does this have to do with me?"
"You're going to lead them to us. Take advantage of their trust."
Snape imagined he could see a faint sparkle in Bellatrix's eyes, floating in the blackness under the heavy drape of her hood. "And what makes you think they will trust me?"
"Because," Bellatrix said, "you've just been revealed to be a spy working for Albus Dumbledore."
He was too well practiced to let his astonishment show. How had he missed the news of that? He bought time with another sip from his glass.
"On his orders," he reminded Bellatrix sharply. She should have known better. He leaned back in his chair and considered.
Apparently, this scheme was more than an excuse to torture, more than an attempt to find the whereabouts of the Dark Lord. It was also a test for one Severus Snape. All he had to do was turn over two nameless, faceless Aurors, and his loyalty would be assured. And Albus did want him to remain on good terms with the organization Voldemort was leaving behind. The Order did not truly believe he was gone for good.
"All right," he said, as if he had ever really been given the choice.
It wasn't until later that the two victims became more than nameless Aurors. It wasn't until they were already committed to St. Mungo's that Snape discovered the existence of a child. He put the memory away, along with all the other things he had never imagined himself doing, and went on with his life.
It wasn't until a potion, ruined by porcupine quills on the boy's first day of school, that Snape matched the name of this bumbling first-year to two of the brightest and most capable Aurors ever to walk in the halls of the Ministry. He told himself he only imagined the accusations behind the boy's soft eyes. No one knew, no one could know, and Severus Snape was not a man who could afford the luxury of guilt.
It should have been raining.
'I have done that,' says my memory. 'I cannot have done that' —says my pride, and remains adamant. At last—memory yields.