Title: Evanescence
Author: Amelia
E-mail: meadora@yahoo.com
Summary: Snape is surprised by a familiar face at the latest Dark
Revel. Will the consequences of a single act of mercy be greater than
he could imagine?
Rating: Oh hell, I dunno - Hmm...guess I'll make it R for disturbing
imagery and the occasional swear word. Doubt I'll get to graphic sex
in this one. Sorry, kiddies.
Category: SS/HG - if you don't like it, don't read.
Notes: This is my first HP fanfic, so go easy on me. Answer to Picture
the Story 2 challenge for the Just Another Mudblood picture on WIKTT
mailing list.
Feedback: The quick and easy way to have a shrine erected in your honor!
Anti-litigation Charm: My initials are not J.K.R., I don't have kids,
and I've never been to England. What, you want more? Fine - I am most
emphatically NOT the creator of these characters, I am writing this
without permission, and I'm not making any money WHATSOEVER from the
creation of this little fallacy. For the love of Merlin, please don't
sue me. Harry Potter & Co. property of J. K. Rowlings.

Chapter One: Just Another Mudblood, Eh Severus?

Dark eyes sourly regard the last vestiges of expensive scotch filming
the bottom of the tumbler; a bottle of Glenn Morangie's finest is
lifted, then poured. The sharp lines of the cut glass reflect the
honeyed gleam of its contents onto his fingers as he brings it to his
mouth, miniature rainbows dancing over his skin. Is this the fourth
drink he's imbibed tonight, or the seventh? He's lost count and it
scarcely matters. All that is important is that the alcohol is finding
its way out of the bottle and into him.

If a tremor disturbs his hand as he lowers the glass, there's no one
there to see.

It's quiet in the dungeons at this time of night. There were times
when he would have considered the silence restful. If he were feeling
particularly generous, he might even have been moved to call it
peaceful. Those nights were few and far between - tonight it was just
oppressive. Whimsically, he thinks that he would give almost anything
for Potter to go tramping by in his thrice-blasted cloak just to have
a reprieve from the thoughts this stillness was breeding.

He cringes when it belatedly occurs to him that SHE was almost guaranteed
to be included in any of that boy's nocturnal wanderings, and suddenly
the hush seems more bearable. Preferable, even.

His musings turn to irony - and how when you try desperately not to
think of a topic, it's the one and only issue your mind fixates on.
It's a bitter humour though, and does not even raise a ghost of a
smile, because that thought well and truly cements the suggestion of
her in his consciousness. Now any alcohol-led battle to repress those
memories has been foiled. He stands up restlessly and rubs the bridge
of his nose with a tired sigh.

The Girl tonight could have been her twin.

Lucius Malfoy's fine idea of a joke. For a brief moment when he'd
stepped across the threshold of the Malfoy family torture chambers
and saw the tangled mass of chestnut curls hanging over a body chained
to the wall, he was certain they had her; the lightning flash of emotion
that realisation prompted, when it struck, left him dizzy. Shock, first
and foremost. Horror that the supposed sanctity of Hogwarts had been
violated yet again. And then surprisingly, RAGE. Blinding, white hot
rage that of all the children he could have chosen from, not the least
of which was Harry Potter himself, Lucius would take her - the only
student he'd had in just under two decades of teaching that was worth
the effort. That Lucius Fucking Malfoy would take it upon himself to
extinguish the brightest light the wizarding world had see in a hundred
years was an idea he found insupportable.

The depth of his reaction at seeing that particular girl endangered
is the something that haunts him now in the cool hollows of his
private chambers, but at the time he was ready to kill for her.
Ready to die for her.

He didn't recall reaching for his wand, but suddenly it was in his
hand. The only thing that stopped him from making a potentially fatal
pivot towards Malfoy Sr. was the young lady herself. At the sound of
the door opening to admit yet more revellers, she had raised her head
and met his eyes searchingly. Instead of the warm chocolate he expected
his gaze found the dark green of the sea after a storm. Relief swept
over him in a wave as he realized whomever they had strung up for
tonight's entertainment was not Gryffindor's resident know-it-all.

The Girl had dropped her head again, having obviously come to the
conclusion that salvation would not come in the form of a pale man
with greasy hair. He consciously relaxed and firmly re-established
himself in the mental role of Eager-Death-Eater.

The timing of that action undoubtedly saved his life. The knot of tension
that had tightened his spine and steeled his muscles would have revealed
his revulsion at the identity of their "guest" as loudly as a scream
to the hand he found suddenly planted on his shoulder.

"Severus!" Lucius crowed as he propelled them both forward with a
little shove and steered him towards the Girl. "What do you think of
my little surprise?"

He cocked an eyebrow at his enthusiastic host before turning to study
the chained figure. The tip of his wand under her chin forced her head
to rise and with studied nonchalance he narrowed his eyes at her. Up
close her irises were cloudy jade, the pupils unfocused. "I'd say the
polyjuice potion is wearing off. The little mudblood bitch has brown
eyes."

Lucius chuckled at his profanity, "Always such an eye for fine detail,
Sev. Amazingly enough, our little friend's appearance owes nothing to
any branch of magic. At least, not to any you or I possess."

His eyebrow arched a fraction higher in an implied question and Lucius'
grin widened slightly in response.

"I was on business in Muggle London and the chit ran into me on my way
to the Notting Hill portkey, quite literally." He sighed dramatically
as he moved to trace the Girl's cheek. "Absolutely deplorable manners.
She completely destroyed the iris bulbs I'd acquired for Narcissa and
flounced off without so much as a second glance. And you know how
difficult it is to procure the Bella Nox..." Lucius mock-pouted at him.

With his ample experience in procuring obscure potion ingredients, he
remembered almost sympathising with Lucius' aggravation - due to a
complex set of mystical properties Bella Nox was the most closely
guarded strain of blossom in existence. Personally, he couldn't help
being rather disdainful of the quick-fix the flowers represented. As
a trained and licensed Potions Master he could not reconcile replacing
hard-won and repeatable results with 'fairy dust' that keyed itself
into the sprinkler's intention for a unique, and often times unreproducable,
result and still call himself an academic. The stuff was for fools who
possessed no aptitude for the fine art of potion brewing, like Lucius,
who were nonetheless dangerous fools. And with a waiting list that
could easily span decades to obtain a single bulb it was highly unlikely
the destroyed flowers had been attained through the proper legal
channels. Added to the fact that they were undeniably going to cost
the clumsy child her life, his meagre sympathy for Malfoy was short
lived.

His attention jerked back on the Girl at the sharp clank of her chains
against the dungeon wall. It was obvious that, even under the heavy
thrall of the Pax Solumnis charm Lucius favoured to keep his "toys"
docile, she was desperate to avoid his touch. A detached part of him
noted the pathetic lurch of her head to evade the icy caress of Malfoy
fingers, but the overwhelming majority of his thought was centred on
how quickly he could justify using Avada Kedavra to end her impending
misery without arising suspicion. The answer that came to him almost
immediately was 'no time soon'. As he watched his host turn his full
attention to the Girl and begin speaking to her directly - never a good
sign for the intend victim where Lucius Malfoy was involved.

"That was unforgivable breach of social etiquette, don't you think my
dear?" The Lord of the Manor's voice was deceptively light. "A sign of
truly poor breeding...To knock a man's packages to the ground and not
even offer to help collect them...Not that I would have accepted, but
it would have been polite." Lucius shook his head and inarticulately
muttered his disapproval at her.

To his audience, he added conversationally, "Draco pointed out her
startling resemblance the Granger girl once I had her...fetched."

With a sinister chuckle he tossed the snifter of brandy he'd been
nursing aside, and brought that hand up to trace her other cheek. "He
thought I'd brought him an early birthday present when he saw her all
wrapped up." Smirking, he indicated the Slytherin green gown that
draped her slender form. "Perhaps, if there's enough left of her when
we're finished I might let him experiment a bit." The Girl's eyes
where owlishly round in fright and a muscle twitched along her jaw.
Severus knew with a sickening sense of certainty that if the binding
spell allowed it, she'd have been screaming.

Without warning, Lucius snaked his fingers into her hair and slammed
the Girl's head into the uneven stones of the wall. Her mouth dropped
open in a soundless cry of agony and her eyes slammed shut. Her captor
grinned in excitement at her pain and with a flick of his wand, summoned
various torture instruments to prolong his entertainment. It took every
ounce of self-preservation and will power he possessed to keep from
reacting to the sight of Lucius Malfoy torturing the image of Hermione
Granger. Only the fact that presumably the real Miss Granger was safe
and sound in Gryffindor tower gave him strength enough to continue
the charade of clinical detachment with his actions.

Rather than concentrate on the drama enfolding before him, he bent
his mind towards coming up with a plan to ease the girl's suffering.
But try as he might, he just couldn't formulate a viable way to get her
out of this situation alive without exposing his cover. Maintaining his
position as a spy for the Order of the Phoenix had forced him to stand
idly by and allow more atrocities than he would care to remember, but
he knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he did nothing for
this particular captive. His tongue ran along the back of his teeth, a
nervous gesture he allowed himself only because it wasn't outwardly
visible, and suddenly it came to him. Not that it was much of a plan
once he had it formulated - certainly not the stuff of grand epics that
made him a knight in shining armour - but it was conceivably the best
that could be achieved given the current circumstances. He had long
ago implanted a capsule of Displaced Suffering potion under the skin
of his tongue. In the event of capture a quick bite would release the
potion, rendering him insensate to the tortures that would doubtlessly
follow and leaving him incapable of divulging the Order's secrets.
While the Girl had no damning secrets to share, the tablet would
guarantee she registered little of her final hours. And after a bout
with Malfoy's sadistic attentions it would easily be believable for
her to fade from consciousness.

As he watched Lucius come to the end of his ministrations he freed
the capsule from his tongue with a decisive nip - careful to keep
from rupturing it - and stepped forward. The pod in his mouth swam in
the blood freeing it had produced and all around him the sounds of his
fellow Death Eater's depravities with other captives rang in his ears.
It occurred to him to be grateful that Lucius wasn't inclined to share
his personal 'entertainment' with anyone more than himself and Draco
or the Girl would have had immeasurably more to endure before he was
given the opportunity to reach her.

A few quick spoken words followed by a jab of his wand and the binding
spell was gone. Giving himself an excuse to push close, he whispered
taunts in her ear before dragging his lips across her cheek and pressing
them to her own. Slanting his mouth over hers, he nudged the tablet
onto her unresponsive tongue and was gratified when the girl bit down
in mortification. He pulled back slightly and watched her eyes cloud
under his potion's influence.

Somehow his hands had found their way to her hips and the sweet curves
of her body molded to him as his weight pinned her to the dungeon wall.
The Girl's eyes had drooped more than halfway closed under the potion's
heavy sway, making her resemblance to Hogwarts Head Girl even more
pronounced. Unconsciously, he found himself bending forward to claim
her lips once more. Her mouth opened beneath his and he filled it with
his tongue, which had darted forward to taste her properly.

The realisation that the Girl's similarity to Hermione Granger had
prompted his ardor pulled him away from her abruptly. He covered the
shock he felt at his actions with a smooth laugh and another taunt, but
was careful not to touch her again. While that bastard Lucius looked on
in amusement, he gritted his teeth and tortured the Girl's body. All
the while trying to content himself in the knowledge that she wasn't
cognisant of horrors he inflicted on her. It was enough that he was,
and his forced participation would haunt his dreams with the ghost of
her taste on his lips. Finally satisfied that he had played his roll to
perfection he cast the killing curse himself, secure in the knowledge
that no-one deserved the attentions of both Malfoys in one lifetime,
let alone one evening.

That should have been the end of it. One more atrocity to add to the
list of countless others he'd committed in his lifetime. But even now,
drinking himself into a stupour in the dungeons, his reaction to the
Girl preys upon his mind. The knowledge that if it had been Hermione
no prescription of the Order would have been enough to keep from
martyring himself for her. The desire to protect her, a spark lit when
he first saw her doppelganger marked for death, beyond all rationale
burns even brighter now that the danger has passed. He shivers at the
force of this new-found conviction.

A repeated pounding at his chamber door dragged him mercifully to
awareness before his memories became truly unbearable. With a short
growl of irritation he scrubbed his hands over his face and knocked
back the rest of his scotch. He wondered briefly who would be foolish
enough to disturb him at this time of night. He trudged to the door and
yanked it open with a snarl, but the sardonic jab he was prepared to
hurl at his unwelcome intruder died on his lips.

The real Hermione Granger was at his door.

...

Author's Notes (Not that anyone ever reads these bloody things...):

1.) A huge shout out and thank you to my lovely beta Caroline, with
out whom this story would have been a gangly beastie instead of the
happy little plot bunny it's become.

2.) While the first chapter is the extent of my answer to the challenge,
the story continues...Chapter 2 should be posted next week.

3.) Okay, so I'm giving the whole Queen's English bit a try. I'm from
the States, so let me tell who how jarring I find UK spelling! Another
kudo to Miss Caroline for bullying me into proper form. Though I still
don't think realization looks right spelled with an "s"! ;-)