How Long Must This Go On?

By BlackBird5

Song Fic: How Long Must This Go On is From Beauty and the Beast Broadway

Rated: PG

Warning: Slash status still undetermined

Disclaimer: I own neither song nor characters

Author's Note: One word in the song is changed for artistic reasons

Dumbledore opened the door slowly and turned on one of the weaker yellow lights that wouldn't hurt the dark eyes of the young wizard who occupied the small cell. Severus was sitting the far corner of his cell with his back to the Headmaster. "They tell me you haven't been eating," Dumbledore started.

Without turning around, Severus shrugged. "If they won't just kill me and get it over with, I might as well work on it myself," came the cold, careless reply.

Dumbledore shook his head and approached the bars. He was very worried about Severus. In all the years that he had known the other wizard, he had never known Severus Snape to be indifferent about his own life. Severus was a survivor; he wasn't the kind to waste away because he felt he deserved it.

"You don't really mean that, Severus," Dumbledore said gently, hoping that he was speaking the truth, even if Severus didn't fully realize it.

But all he received was a harsh, humorless laugh from the young man. "Oh but I do. Tell me," Severus turned so that he could see the Headmaster.

At the sight of his face, Dumbledore nearly gasped aloud in surprise. All across Severus's face were dark bruises, obviously not self inflicted, and his dark, pretty eyes were now devoid of any bright spark of life. He had seen livelier eyes on corpses. Severus had not stopped eating, Dumbledore realized in horror; his jailers had stopped feeding him.

"Did you figure out who I was on your own," Severus continued with an edge of venom in his voice that made Dumbledore want to weep, "Or did they have to tell you?"

Dumbledore winced at Severus's choice of words. He had indeed had to ask. When told that the forlorn, unhappy young man that had turned himself in as a Death Eater was one Severus Eugene Snape, Dumbledore had refused to believe it.

It couldn't be the Severus he knew. His Severus was too smart to get messed up in such dark activities. He had tried to believe that the boy in the cell had used a false name. But the eyes. Those heartbreaking, heartbroken eyes. He had seen them before. Just once.

The night Severus was almost killed by Remus Lupin's werewolf form and Dumbledore had forbidden the young Slytherin to tell anyone, and when the child had come to the conclusion that his life meant nothing to the Headmaster…yes, he had seen those eyes that night.

How long must this go on?
This cruel trick of fate
I simply made one careless, wrong decision

"Severus, I'm so sorry," Dumbledore whispered. Merlin, why had he waited so long to come back? Because he didn't want to believe this? Because he was ashamed of loosing yet another? Didn't this young life mean more than personal pride?

That reply, though not directly answering his question, appeared to be enough and Severus's chest rose and fell sharply as he struggled with some unknown emotion. "So," he managed to get out, "You did forget me."

Dumbledore shook his head fanatically. "No, I did not recognize you. It is quite different."

Severus declined to reply, and Dumbledore took it was a good sign. "I could never forget you," he rushed on, "Not you, Severus. Severus, who tried on more than one occasion to stare down the entire school, and nearly succeeded twice. Severus, who is allergic to strawberries. Severus, with the beautiful eyes."

Severus turned away sharply and abruptly and Dumbledore thought for a moment that he had angered the young wizard. Then he saw the thin shoulders of the poor prisoner begin to jerk with the sobs he tried to keep silent.

Dumbledore took the key he had been given, unlocked the door, and then let himself into the small cell. Being careful so not to startle the young wizard, Dumbledore knelt down beside him and very gently pulled the unresisting man into his arms.

All the fear, despair, and loneliness that Severus had been holding back burst through damaged defenses and he clung to Dumbledore in desperate hopelessness.

Dumbledore held Severus while he cried, speaking in low, soothing tones and stroking his matted hair. He stayed there with his former student until all the tears Severus had to cry were gone and he rested, very weary, against him.

Dumbledore gently pushed a few long stands of dark, dirty hair out of Severus's face. His poor, poor, little Slytherin. This was all his fault. "I want to help you, Severus," Dumbledore whispered.

Severus looked up slowly, his dark eyes red from crying. "There is nothing you can do," he answered with a tone of resignation that frightened the Headmaster, "I am beyond help."

Dumbledore hugged Severus to his chest as if the young man were a small, precious child. "I don't believe that," he assured him with unflagging certainty.

Severus stared at him for a second, unblinking, as if trying to read his thoughts. Then he pushed the Headmaster away, trying to get some space. "Let go," he said, becoming agitated, "Just leave me alone."

Dumbledore released Severus rather than fight him and risk further harm to the young body. Severus moved away and closed his eyes in a visible attempt to block out everything.

Dumbledore stood slowly, caught between the instinct to stay and soothe the hurting, and Severus's obvious desire to be alone.

Severus's head snapped up suddenly and his black eyes were dark in anger and pain. "I said go!" he screamed.

And then that child was gone
And left me in this state
An object of revulsion and derision

Dumbledore sighed and left the cell, closing and locking it behind him only out of reflex and then looked back at the unlovely figure that had curled up against the wall, once again eerily silent. "I'll tell the House Elves to send in some food," Dumbledore said quietly.

Severus didn't look at him but nodded his consent with a barely perceivable motion of his head.

Dumbledore turned off the lights, returning the room to the dark that Severus seemed to prefer, and closed the door behind him.

Two Aurors were waiting outside for him. "Well?" one demanded.

Dumbledore ignored him and turned to the other, hoping he would not ask questions, "Prepare him to leave," he turned back to look at the angry Auror straight in the eye, daring him to object. "I'm taking him with me."

"The information," the Auror hissed as his subordinate hurried off to find Severus's release papers, "Will he bring us the information we need?"

Dumbledore glared at him. "I don't know. He would barely talk to me. He doesn't trust me. And I have done nothing to earn that trust. I need time, Alastor."

Moody folded his arms across his chest. "You have two months, Albus. Two months and if he tries to run or continues to refuse to aid us, he will be shipped out to Azkaban, I promise you that."

Is there no one?
Who can show me
How to win the world's forgiveness?


Author's Note: I have not yet received any flames (To 'a', no worries, I didn't take your review as a flame) let's try and keep it that way.

Question: Should I keep putting the songs in the story? Or are they annoying?