Title: The Prince and the Pauper

Author: Unspoken Tragedy

Rating: PG

Spoilers: All six books probably. HBP spoilers if you squint.

Disclaimer: If I owned the characters, they would have murdered me and made their escape by now.

Summery: "I've hurt everyone who has ever trusted me, thrown away all hope of a pleasant future, and what do I have to show for it? A job I hate, a lie I've entangled myself in, and a dream that has forsaken me."

Series: None

A/N: There have not been enough Percy-Severus stories out there. Which is really a shame, since the two interact well together. Slash? No.

The Prince and the Pauper

He stood before Percy like a king. Beautiful (though normally would not be considered such) and terrible, like a great stone monument to the gods.

He was a perfect contradiction. Killer and savior. A loyal traitor. A poisonous healer. He was all black and white- like the chessboards Ron had always been so fond of.

He looked so different than the picture Percy had always held of him in his mind, the snarling sarcastic shell of a man that had stalked the Hogwarts hallways. He looked... purer, not so much the criminal as he had once been the very illustration of. His hair flowed around his pale face like a waterfall of molten ebony. His robes were far finer than those he'd worn as a teacher.

He was a prince, cold and cruel and so terribly sorrowful. At the right hand of the most powerful wizard still living, favored above all others in that wizard's service, yet not pleased enough with what he had.

"I see your search is over."

Percy stared. "I had not been aware of the fact I was looking for something."

"Oh? Perhaps not, Mr. Weasley." The other was watching Percy, just as much as Percy was watching him.

"I had not expected anyone to be here," he tried to explain, though the Dark wizard had not asked. And even if he had... This Weasley was no longer his student.

"Nor had I." These halls were so familiar to both, yet likely to be the last place any would look for either. Most preferred to avoid this place altogether.

"It had once been so majestic... A marvelous dream." If he'd considered it, the redheaded man would wonder why he felt the need to speak to this man at all, but he was tired of considering everything so much. It hadn't gotten him anywhere in the end anyways.

"Yet all dreams are meant to end. One must awake sometime."

Percy let out a bitter laugh. "And on the other side of sleep's veil lies consciousness."

"Is it really so bad?" Those dark eyes that had once frightened him so remained trained on him, as if taking some sort of measurement of his worth.


A ghost of a smile drifted across the Potions Master's face. "Yes."

"I've betrayed my family, my friends- all for a foolish dream." He felt tears threaten to spill.

"They will forgive you..."

Percy grabbed the other man by his arms, pulling him slightly closer as if to emphasize his words. "I've hurt everyone who has ever trusted me, thrown away all hope of a pleasant future, and what do I have to show for it? A job I hate, a lie I've entangled myself in, and a dream that has forsaken me."

"The world is resting at your fingertips. Can't you feel it?"

"I don't want it," he hissed in reply.

"Then do not take it."

"Has it ever been so easy, Professor?" His grip tightened, maybe even painfully so, but the wizard in his clutches didn't complain.

"No. But maybe it doesn't have to be. You can still perform the play if you remember it's just an act."

"And if no one else does?"

"Then you remember for them. It isn't always so enjoyable to play the villain, but someone has to do it. For without one there can be no hero."

"Is that what this is all about, Severus?" The wizard in question blinked at the familiar term, but did not correct him.

Snape sighed. "It shouldn't be. But they need their villains, just as much as they need their heroes. They need someone to pin it on...

"Or else they might find that it is they who are to blame."

"It's not fair." It was more of a statement than a complaint. Percy knew better than to expect it to ever be such. Funny how less of a Gryffindor he was were it counted. "How did I mess this all up so badly?"

"One step at a time."

"No talk about how it's never too late to turn back?"

The Slytherin raised a black eyebrow. "You can't return through a door that has been locked behind you. Your family and friends will not forget your crimes. You cannot reclaim the years you've lost. And your betrayal cannot be reversed."

It was Percy's turn to sigh. He glanced at the enclosure around them. "It was such a lovely dream."

"It always is." It was comforting to know that in the end he wasn't so completely alone, that at least someone understood him. Even if he were supposed to be the enemy.

Yes, Percy, before you is a murderer. And an old teacher, one who'd taught him more than any of the others. One who's lessons didn't always pertain to his subject and sometimes were so voiceless and subtle that they couldn't be understood at all.

But Percy thought he understood now.

Under every pauper waits a prince. Behind every villain stands a hero. In every killer lies a healer. And even Brutus had loved Caesar at some point.

"The prodigal prince returns home?" he questioned softly, ironically. This was Voldemort's Prince, his right-hand man. Percy should not be conversing with this man.

"I do not rightly think that this abode could be considered a home anymore." He was right of course.

The halls were covered with a thick layer of dust. The walls around them stood empty and barren, any vestiges of their before splendor having already been removed. The pleasant noise was replaced by an eerie silence. The place, once crackling with magic, was desolate, even it's founders' magic failing without the presence of life.

"Hogwarts. Even she has fallen." His hands slipped off the older man's arms and fell to his sides.

It had been several years since any had inhabited this castle. Several years in which a war was fought, people killed, heroes made and worlds thrown apart. In the end, nothing had been changed, no real progress made.

Snape's smile was heartbreaking. "Perhaps she was always just a dream."

The End (Maybe...)

A/N: I've always imagined that Percy admired Severus in his schooling days. Here he's still a bit in awe of him. The two are so alike, really.

This may or may not become a part of a longer story. It could make for interesting plotlines. If the bunnies hit me (they can be so abusive sometimes :sigh:)... But I really should be working on my other stories, so making this into something more is not a top priority.