I'm Sure You'll Contract My DiseaseChapter Twelve – Severity
My name implies that I am severe; that I am of a certain severing existence – my cutting premise: the lash of a tongue and a dark scowl. I don't know how many times I have felt the need to reassure myself of it; I am Severus. I am Severus. I am Severus…
I am Severus who cowers in the cold, dank dungeons of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I am Severus who glides through the halls, embracing the fear of children. I am Severus, eternally harnessed to a cold mask and a steely disguise and yet I am Severus, not nameless.
"I am not fifteen, Albus."
I most certainly am not. I am thirty-six.
The headmaster knows my name. He has used it often, usually in a tone that softens the rigid edge of the word. Severus. If my angry demeanor incites fear, then surely the statement of my name incites alarm.
…it certainly startles me.
When will you learn, you old fool? I will sever myself twice (maybe thrice) daily until I get over this mound I've met. My journey is for flat plains only and these mountains must be removed before I am too weak to climb.
"I assure you that there are a multitude of accidents that come with mincing potions ingredients, Headmaster."
He is staring at my left arm, which is cloaked in black fabric. Beneath the sleeve of my robe, is a blood-stained white bandage. Under this bandage is the Dark Mark.
"My dear boy," he clucked his tongue, his dim blue eyes staring at me sadly. "You don't possibly expect me to believe that the act of mincing ingredients resulted in two precise intersecting wounds over your mark, do you?"
"I expect you to trust me, Albus," I replied.
"You expect me to trust in your lies?"
Of course I do, Albus. If my lies were not trusted, I would be a worthless spy.
I find that my distribution of detentions is self-defeating. I dish them out and where does it get me? - In a classroom with a half-witted Gryffindor for an additional (and painful) hour. WHY? WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?
"Sir, the last ingredients of this cauldron seem to have been rotting at the bottom for months. I can't seem to get it clean…"
"Well, Mr. Creevey, I suppose you'll just have to scrub harder then…won't you?"
"Sir, I don't think you understand how completely impossible-"
"I said scrub harder, Creevey! 10 points from Gryffindor for your insolence."
Insolence is what caused Creevey to be assigned this detention…and all of the detentions he was to serve for the rest of school year. Who would of thought that this loyal Harry Potter supporter; this boisterous child with a passion for photography; this mindless GRYFFINDOR – had an evil streak? Not only did he like to take pictures, and develop them, but he also liked to RESTORE them.
I, of course, demanded nothing less than expulsion for the degradation of a respected teacher.
Minerva McGonagall told me to define 'respected'.
Colin Creevey was on disciplinary probation for the rest of the school year – detention every night, no Hogsmeade visits, no extracurricular activities. One little slip up, and the boy would be gone, Albus promised me. I wanted to tell the old fool that promises could not erase the humiliation of having an obscene adolescent picture of yourself enlarged and tacked to a wall. Promises could not erase the cheers of every non-Slytherin house. Promises could not erase the fact that this boy, the mannequin of Gryffindors everywhere, was the essence of the bane of my existence.
"Look, Sir, I'm really sorry-"
"Enough of your fabricated apologies, Creevey. I don't want to hear them. I thought I told you to SCRUB damn it."
"Professor?" Harry stuck his head in the door. I raised an eyebrow in his direction and nodded, signaling for him to continue. Seeing Creevey, Harry looked to his feet and asked, "I was wondering what I got on that last essay-"
"You can find out with the rest of the class on Wednesday, Mr. Potter," I said automatically, rising from my chair. "But if your simple mind is in need of some of the finer points of the present assignment, follow me." I rose from my chair, glared at Creevey, and told the little bugger to scrub until his fingers bled.
Harry, after being led into my office, said, "You're going insanely easy on him. Only making him scrub cauldrons-"
"Don't be ridiculous, Harry. I charmed that cauldron to stay dirty. The insipid little bastard's not going to have the strength to take a simple snapshot once I'm through with him."
Harry laughed. My mouth threatened a smile.
"But he's my biggest fan!"
"Yes, well…your biggest fan is the biggest pain in my arse."
"You know, Hermione still thinks you're the hottest piece of meat on the market."
I snorted. "Well, then, Ms. Granger will have to realize that I am not 'on the market' as you so crudely put it. And I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell me these things, as they are most jarring." Harry sat down on the edge of my desk. "For Merlin's sake, there's a chair right in front of you, you impertinent child. Why must you insist on sitting on things that are not made for sitting?"
"Desks should be chairs. Sitting is better than working," he replied matter-of-factly. I scowled so fiercely that he retreated to the chair and looked down at his lap, appropriately shamefaced.
"Now, what did you want to talk about that couldn't wait until after Creevey's detention?" I was growing impatient.
"I actually just wanted to make sure you weren't killing him," the boy shrugged. "You know, Voldemort has Death Eaters. I think I need loyal supporters, too."
I snorted yet again. "How delightfully arrogant of you."
Harry quirked a smile. "Better than being my usual self-depreciating self."
I absently rubbed my arm. The wounds were healing over and beginning to itch. "Yes, I suppose you're right."
"I thought you'd be proud."
"Pride doesn't come easily, child."
A hurt expression fleeted across his boyish face. "Neither does trust."
If I were in a more pleasant mood, I might have taken it back. I might have comforted him, told him how proud I was of him, how much I simply adored him.
"I concur," I said instead, taking a seat on top of my desk.
We stared at eachother for a long, tense moment. His green eyes were on fire, boring a searing hot flame into my retinas; his mouth was turned down in an angry frown; and his fingers were pinching something awful into his leg.
"What's wrong with you?" he asked, his knuckles turning white. He had begun to grind his teeth in self-inflicted pain.
I gracefully eased myself down and pried his hand from his thigh. "Nothing, Harry. What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing," he snapped, hastily recoiling his hand from my grasp. "I was just fine until I came here." He stared at me hard, waiting to see guilt. I didn't give. "To see you," he added.
"Maybe you shouldn't have," I said smoothly. "It seems to have upset you."
He jumped up from his chair. "You never fucking admit the truth, Professor. You talk in circles and make it believable – give and retract and nobody ever notices that you're a walking contradiction. You're a bloody lie on legs! They say I need stability and you took me in, but what ARE you? Who ARE you? Nobody even KNOWS. One minute it's this, the next it's that. Do you despise the world, Professor? Because sometimes you act like you love it. Do you love me, Professor? Because right now it seems like nothing's changed. Where do your bloody lies END?"
I smirked. "There's a thin line between the truth and fairytales, Mr. Potter, and nobody can distinguish the two but yourself."
"What's that supposed to mean?" he demanded, shaking in rage.
"It means, believe what you want to believe because the truth is asinine." I put a hand on his trembling shoulder and spoke more gently. "Do you trust me?"
"No," he said. "The truth is asinine, therefore any amount of faith I have in you is insubstantial." I attempted to touch his cheek but he swatted my hand away. "Don't fucking touch me."
I smirked. "Good job, child. You shouldn't trust me. You should have never trusted me."
He walked towards the door, but turned rather suddenly and spoke in a calmer voice, "You're lying again, Professor." He then left, slamming the door purposefully behind him.
I raised my sleeve and undressed my wound to see that the cuts had reopened.
Healing over, I huffed. Even something so irritating as an itch is a lie when it comes to Severus Snape.