The Serpent Tongued

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If a Dragon is a serpent, then surely Severus Snape is the most Slytherin of all. To look at him, you would never think he was greedy. He was not overweight, or pampered, though his magical blood flowed with the sapphire glint of a thousand years of nobility. He never took more, but rather less, at the table. He did not steal from his fellows. But greed comes in many forms, and Severus knew the wealth in knowledge. He hoarded facts like precious jewels, polishing them with recital. Each discovery was a golden coin; each invention was a crown for his collection. In a carefully organized heap, his gems of thought glistened up as him as he gazed with hungry eyes at the riches still left to glean.

He guarded them well, a dragon protecting his cache. No man stole from him and he gave his hard-won jewels to no one. In class he sat at the back, drinking in the knowledge but sharing none in return. If this were his only sin, perhaps he could have been forgiven; but he was possessed of a fiery temper and a serpent's tongue. Without even meaning to, he sowed darkness in his wake. Dragons are not known for being good, after all, but for their fierceness, mystery, and avarice. In the end it was the mystery that afflicted him the most.

As with all Dragons, there are the knights. In shining armor they came, not for his gold or prestige; surely not for rescue, because for all his greed he was a chaste serpent. A maiden weakness possessed him not. They went simply because he was a Dragon and a weak man cannot fight his nature. Their banners flying came they, four knights, each with their symbol upon their pennant. The Rat, the Wolf, the Hart, and the Hound all came to destroy him, for his existence was their antithesis.

They called themselves justice; they called themselves good. And he was evil before he had a chance to choose to be evil. And he was punished; for his arrogance, his darkness, but most of all for his greed. Because no one should lock themselves away with their wealth unless they want to be harried to their death. But they forgot that the smallest, weakest dragon is still a dragon. He persevered. He allied with those who would accept him for what he was, never mind the price of such friends. Dragons were a realistic race, quick to recognize the joy in survival rather than the joy in life. The knights in all their splendor were laid low, through treachery of the worst kind. One wielded the knife in a Macbeth-like fashion and Severus thanked the god he no longer believed in that he would never be vulnerable to such betrayal. For Dragons were ever lonely as they were ever prideful, there are no exceptions.

The years passed like decades, much to the Dragon's despair. Slowly his gems lost their luster in his eyes. His crowns tarnished and grew dull. His coins gleam seemed dim and dead. When finally he realized his mistake, his horde was a mass of darkness. Organized, but no longer fair to look upon. He wept, great boiling tears, for the loss of himself.

In his despair, there was only one place to go.

To a great wizard he turned, broken and seeking redemption. There was no pride left in him for himself and his advantageous blood. His greed was tempered by wisdom; his knowledge curbed by discretion. He found peers and discovered trust before embarking on the greatest deception of all. And in the end, bereft of all his draconian mannerisms, he reverted to his earliest stage. Severus Snape was once more a man.