Why Snape never eats here

Chapter 1: Snape

This can be read as a stand-alone fic, but if you read the sequels "Malice in his Voice", "Threesome at Spinner's End", "Dumbledore was pretty firm with him", "I taught him! I thought I knew him!", "Well done, Draco, well done" and "Power the Dark Lord knows not" you will get a better feel for the particular version of the Potterverse in which this story is set.

He stands alone, facing the busy room, his back to the fire, an empty whisky glass in his hand. Sirius Black is an utter bastard but by Merlin his whisky is good stuff, but better not have another one, one is enough when you are amongst people who aren't exactly friends. And if he has another whisky, he'll only want a cigarette, filthy Muggle habit, he's been trying to give them up for years.

He feels comfortable enough in the basement kitchen, though, with its rough stone walls it's practically a home away from home for a dungeon-dwelling Slytherin, and dinner has gone better than he expected, Black was right up the other end of the table – next to Dumbledore of course, sucking up to the Headmaster as per usual – and the attractive young Metamorphmagus had been seated between him and the werewolf, so he'd hardly had to say a word to Lupin.

Had Tonks been flirting with him, with Severus Snape? Hard to believe, she was an Auror so surely Moody would have been in her ear about him, "I don't trust Snape, how do we know he's really on our side?", the usual stuff, why wasn't Dumbledore's word good enough for them?

She's chatting with Lupin now – no doubt he's playing the poor little misunderstood werewolf card – but she looks up and their eyes lock for a moment and he catches the thought "He'd be quite nice looking if he washed his hair". He smirks, perhaps he will have another whisky … and to think he'd been dreading this evening, Dumbledore had insisted that he stay and eat with the rest of the Order after the meeting, special occasion dinner to celebrate the establishment of Headquarters. The food had been good, Molly Weasley was a great cook, she and Arthur were decent enough to him, they never stared at his left arm like some of the others, and if Ginny was anything to go by, Molly must have been stunning when she was young, before seven kids ruined her figure, Arthur was a lucky man alright. The Weasley brats arrive tomorrow, and that insufferable know-it-all Granger, but thankfully they aren't here tonight to turn the evening into another god-awful Potions lesson.

He catches Tonks' eye again, well, she isn't a kid anymore, she left Hogwarts years ago, he can allow himself to have the kinds of thoughts about her that he never, ever permits himself to have about the girls at school, especially Ginny Weasley, what a honey she is, and quite devious enough to be in his House instead of the House of Wankers, when will that cretin Potter realise that she's in love with him?

Just like his bloody father, Potter is going to get the girl, the gorgeous talented redhead … not that he'd ever been in love with Lily, not really, OK he'd had a massive crush on her, like most of the boys in her year and some of the girls, too, but there was no way she'd ever have looked at him, not after he'd called her a "filthy Mudblood" during the OWLs, those words had been a barrier between them until it was too late, by the time he'd really got to know her in old Slughorn's special advanced tutorials for "my two most brilliant NEWT students" she was already going out with Potter and completely besotted with the arrogant prick, but they'd become friends, he'd have died if anyone found out she called him "Sev", and some of the happiest moments of his life had been those long hours after midnight, babysitting one of Slug's more temperamental elixirs, sharing a plate of sandwiches brought down to the dungeons by a house elf, and just talking, often about Muggle stuff, he'd trusted her enough to tell her he was a half-blood, and it was a huge relief to be with someone he didn't have to pretend with, didn't have to pretend he didn't know what a god-damn toaster was, and sometimes she'd fall asleep with her head on his shoulder, and he'd Summon a cushion and a blanket for her, and listen to her snoring, she snored so delicately, it was like listening to a cat sneezing.

Not that he wasn't aware of how beautiful she was, he still wanted her as much as a hormone-raddled teenager could want the most beautiful girl in the school, plenty of times he'd imagined it was her when he was with other girls, and there had been other girls, he'd grown up a lot in that last year at Hogwarts and been noticed by quite a few Slytherin girls, even some Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, he hadn't been desperate and dateless, not like Lupin. Merlin's beard, why was he still thinking about her, Harry-bloody-Potter's mother, a girl he'd gone to school with? … But sometimes it felt like he'd never left school, and in a way he hadn't, and everyone was so sorry for Black, the damned mutt, unjustly locked up for years, the Prisoner of Azkaban, but what about him, he'd nowhere to go after the fall of the Dark Lord, the only admitted Death Eater not in custody, and plenty of vengeful relatives who didn't buy the story of his repentance had been eager to take it out on his hide, he wouldn't forget that week he'd spent in St Mungo's in a hurry, so he'd stayed under Dumbledore's protection, the Prisoner of Hogwarts.

Tonk's hair is slowly turning from bubblegum pink to green to orange and back to pink as she laughs with Lupin and Black …. cute, very cute … she's smiling at him again and he can't resist smiling back, not that anything is going to happen, he can just hear Black threatening him, "If you so much as look at my pretty little cousin, Snivellus, I'll take you apart", it'd be different if it was Lupin, Black would be OK about his little cousin getting tangled up with his best friend, never mind the bastard turns into a bloody contagious slavering monster every full moon.

When he gets home he'll have a warm bath and a harmless little fantasy about Nymphadora Tonks … but it won't be a harmless little fantasy will it? The Dark Lord likes to reward as well as to punish, and if the Dark Lord knows he likes Tonks, wants Tonks, she might be a target, and it is not an option to refuse one of the Dark Lord's little gifts.

Dumbledore is always banging on about how the Dark Lord doesn't understand love, well he doesn't understand sex either, the Dark Lord can't see the difference between being with someone who, well, maybe she doesn't love you but she wants you, wants the pleasure you can give, and it's easy for him, a skilled Legilimens, to give pleasure – and being with an empty shell. The Dark Lord actually thought he was being generous, giving him a reward for bringing him the god-damn prophecy, when he'd said, "I can see you're … attracted … to the Mudblood witch. You can have her when I've killed Potter and the boy."

The others had sniggered – they'd known what this meant – a Memory Charm strong enough to obliterate Lily's memories of James and the baby, leaving her an empty shell, it would be worse than killing her, nearly as bad as a Dementor's Kiss, she'd be just a body to use. He couldn't let that happen, and he couldn't let the brat die, not when he'd bumped into her by carefully orchestrated chance in the Leaky Cauldron, and seen the tiny, mewling lump in her arms and realised how much she loved it, she'd do anything to protect her little Potter-clone, even die, not that precious Harry Potter seemed to understand or appreciate his mother's sacrifice, the reckless fool, as arrogant as his father, of course that was partly Dumbledore's fault, allowing the boy to be raised by Muggles, ignorant of magic, when he should have been prepared from his birth by hard training to fulfill the prophecy.

Dumbledore! The only wizard feared by the Dark Lord! So he'd gone to Dumbledore and blurted it all out, and somehow it had come to this, and now he's, as Muggles would say, a dead man walking. Moody babbles about constant vigilance, but what in hell would Moody know about what it takes to guard your mind from the Dark Lord and not let him know you're guarding it, to look into those snake eyes and let him in, let him but not show him everything … and if the Dark Lord doesn't get him, the Aurors will.

Oh shit! Dumbledore and the others have gone, the Weasleys have left the kitchen to see them out, now he's alone with Black, Moody, Lupin and Tonks, how could he have let that happen, that kind of carelessness could get him killed. Now Black will start into him, Moody will back Black up and Lupin, the weak bastard, will stay well out of it, just like he did when he was a prefect. Right enough, Black has his wand out on the table in front of him, the hateful bastard is grinning at Tonks, what kind of Snape-baiting will it be this time?

"Show Tonks the Dark Mark, Snape, go on, show her your little tattoo."

He looks around at Moody and Lupin, no support there, what is Moody saying, "She's an Auror, she ought to know what the Dark Mark looks like, in case she runs into one of your Death Eater mates," making it sound like there's a reason, and Lupin is looking away, won't look him in the eye.

He forces himself to reply casually, calmly. "There's nothing to see, Black. It isn't visible unless the Dark Lord uses it to summon a … Death Eater."

Black is sneering. "Or you need to show it off to establish your credentials as a Dark wizard." It isn't a question, it's an accusation. "Stop pissing around, Snape, let's see it."

It's not a bloody party trick, Black, it hurts to summon the Dark Mark, a little reminder from the Dark Lord of who is master, but he can't say that, only silently think it. He remembers when he showed it to Dumbledore for the first time, when Dumbledore said, "Show me the Mark of the master you have sworn to leave for ever." It had known he'd turned traitor and it had hurt, so badly he'd screamed and cried and vomited and probably worse than that, he couldn't be sure, Dumbledore had cleaned up the mess before he'd regained consciousness.

But the Mark doesn't hurt much now, not now that he knows what pain really is, and he doesn't want to take Black on over this, it isn't worth fighting over. It's a lose, lose situation, either Black will hex him, or, more likely, he'll hex Black and if he hexes Black, Black can make him, Snape, look like the sociopath. For the sake of the Order, for the sake of Dumbledore, for his own sake, he mustn't fight Black. Not tonight, not in Black's own house.

The bloody girl is staring at him, why not let her see it, Black's little cousin, how stupid had he been to think for a minute that she could be attracted to him? Little Miss Goody-Goody Auror, she'd never used the Killing Curse, didn't know it was a buzz, better than sex, better than "recreational" potions. And it was in his Ministry file, she'd sneak a peek at it sooner or later, in the confession that Dumbledore had insisted on, the list of names of people he'd killed, wizards anyway, he couldn't be expected to know the names of the Muggles, and those damning words "I enjoy killing." People only paid attention to that sentence, they never turned the page to read the next two: "I don't do it any more. I know it is wrong."

He shrugs, rolls up his sleeve, touches his forearm, and watches the Dark Mark blooming like a bruise, feels the blessed pain washing up his arm and for once he lets it fill his head and drive away his thoughts ….

But Black is taunting again, "Just the thing to impress the girls, heh, Snivellus?"

He glances up and sees Tonks looking at him with pity, just like Lily on that bloody awful day by the Lake and he can't stop it, he can't stop himself from saying and doing the things that will turn pity to disgust.

He smirks. "Oh yes, it certainly did. Big time." And walks out.

Behind him, he can hear Lupin finally buying into it, rebuking Black, just in time to impress Tonks, what a fair, decent bloke, he's really kind and sweet, even if he is a werewolf, and Black retorting, "Who cares about his feelings, the greasy git. He's only on our side because he's more afraid of Dumbledore than Voldemort."

AFRAID of Voldemort? His father's Muggle cursewords rise unbidden to his lips. Padfoot, you fucking idiot, you have no idea about the Dark Lord, you have no fucking idea, I'm not afraid of the Dark Lord, I'm fucking terrified of him. And if you are ever dragged before the Dark Lord, you'll find out why and you're gonna wet yourself. The Dark Lord breaks everyone sooner or later, he was just playing with Potter in that graveyard, he could have used the Cruciatus Curse to hurt Potter so much the convulsions would've broken bones, ruptured internal organs, and made blood pour out of every orifice, and I mean every orifice. Are you getting the picture yet, Padfoot? And if that's what he does to people he's just normally pissed with, what's he going to do to a traitor, to someone who's made a fool of him? What will the Dark Lord do to the traitor Snape?

He is shaking with shame and pain and fear and rage as he flexes his fingers around the handle of his wand. The Dark Lord isn't going to get Black, he is, if the son-of-a-bitch ever crosses him again, if Black so much as raises his voice to him, he'll kill him, bugger the consequences, bugger the Order, and bugger Dumbledore. Why didn't he kill the bastard in the Shrieking Shack, he had the chance, he didn't need Black to give him a reason, the whole of the wizarding world would have been glad to hear Black was dead. But he did need Black to give him a reason, he had to wait for Black to step out of line, killing people is wrong, Dumbledore wouldn't have liked it if he'd just killed Black out of hand.

He catches up with Dumbledore just as the Headmaster is about to step into the street, nods briefly to him, carefully avoiding eye contact. Just keep out of my head, Dumbledore, tonight just keep out of my head, tonight I even hate you.