"Reasons for Everything" by Nathonea
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, my apologies to the Author. Also, my utmost apologies to Dostoevsky and all fans of his wonderful "Crime and Punishment", which I also don't own.
Severus Snape, former professor at the fallen Hogwarts, potions master, hero to the dark, self-acclaimed Half-Blooded Prince, the Dark Lord's right hand and most cherished supporter, walked slowly through the converted Azkaban, refusing to tell himself what he was doing. He knew where he was going, they held old prisoners there, and he had already visited his old co-professor twice before, but never had he felt so weak, so sick, so utterly fragmented as he did now. His hands trembled, and he felt that he could hardly see from a fever. He did acknowledge that it was out of desperation that he went to see her, though. He could safely tell himself that.
He arrived at the door to her cell, not really knowing how he had gotten there. With a flick of his wand and a muttered spell, the door unlocked, and he walked in.
Minerva McGonagall looked up at him with warily surprised eyes. Her wand had been snapped at the end of the war, and she was helpless.
They looked at each other eye to eye for a few long moments, then Severus sat down on her grimy cot, the one furnishing in her cell, and Minerva sat down next to him, but with enough distance so they didn't touch. Her years of imprisonment and forced servitude for the Dark Lord had cowed her.
She ducked her head then looked at him, and the ornery old woman Snape had known seemed to appear again as she glared at him. "What have you come for now?" She asked slowly, making Severus feel like a student again. "Murderer."
Severus flinched, and it looked like he twitched. "No reason, no reason." He muttered, looking down at his claw-like hands. "No reason."
Minerva remained quiet for a second before moving restlessly. "You killed him," she said, as she always did when he came to see her. "Why?" This was a tired question, for he had always brushed her off before.
This time, he just twitched again. "That's enough, Minerva, don't torture me!" He muttered, the bitter irony of himself coming just for that torture sticking out.
Minerva McGonagall gave him a wide-eyed stare, a bitter smile twisting her lips. "Oh, now you've suffered." She remarked ironically.
Snape twitched again, he couldn't help himself. "I've told you, I did it because of the Unbreakable Vow!" He muttered, pained. He had been telling himself that, yet he still came to see her.
Minerva watched him, her face unmoving.
Sighing in frustration, he put his hands over his face. "I had to make that vow, Minerva, I had to. Narcissa was close to the Dark Lord, she'd tell him if I refused. My…my…my position as…as a spy would've been ruined, and he'd kill me. All usefulness I could have to the side of the right would be lost!"
Again reminding him of her past occupation, McGonagall straightened. "You didn't do much good!" She admonished, her eyes flaring.
Severus shook his head. "No…no…I didn't, did I? But that's why I did it." He paused, and the older professor gazed at him balefully. He put his head back into his hands, his mind aching for a reason. "No…that's not…quite it. It was…part of it. But not it, not really." McGonagall stared at him, and he threw up his hands. "Don't torture me, Minerva!" Anguish crept into his voice. "It was…it was…it was for Draco!"
McGonagall leaned back, her eyes wide. "You killed Albus Dumbledore for a student?" She asked, almost amazed. Nothing would really amaze her now. "That's…almost noble. But you killed him."
Severus flinched at the name. "He's my godson." He said, desperately trying to make his words true. "The Dark Lord would've killed him, and he was just a boy! I…I couldn't sit back and let the little boy I helped raise get killed!" He fell silent for a moment, then whimpered. "I couldn't. I just couldn't."
McGonagall just stared at him.
Severus threw up his hands again. 'I remember when he was just born, Minerva. I would go over there, and he would play on my lap and tweak my nose. I couldn't let him be murdered for something his father did, I just couldn't!" He paused. "I had to take that vow for him, I had to. I had to kill Al…Albus. I had to."
McGonagall just stared at him sadly.
"Oh, what nonsense I've been talking, haven't I?" Snape said wistfully. "Don't you see…I'll tell you what, Minerva: if I had killed simply to protect Draco," he went on, emphasizing every word, "then I should be…happy now! I want you to understand that!"
"Oh, and what is wrong with you?" He sneered, a look of horror on his face. "Why do you care if I tell you? What pleasure could you fine in such a meaningless triumph over me?" He slumped his shoulders and sneered at himself. "Is this why I came here?"
She seemed about to say something, but she stopped.
He sighed bitterly. "Oh, I am evil. We are such different people." A deep pause ensued. "Oh, I will never forgive myself." He moaned.
McGonagall leaned back again, a look of quiet wisdom in her aged eyes. "It was right to come to me." She said, a look of wisdom on her face.
Severus looked up at her, indecision written on his face. "But what…what…what if that's not why I killed him?" He said softly, painfully. "What if that wasn't it at all?"
Another silence passed, with them just looking at each other bitterly.
"I wanted to be another Voldemort, that's why I killed him." He said quietly, as if it caused him great strain to say it. "Do you understand? Do you?"
The old professor McGonagall shook her head. "No…no."
Snape gazed around the cell. "I wanted to prove to myself that I would be willing to do something like that. If…the Lord Voldemort was in place, and all he had to do was kill that old, useless man to gain all his power, he would've done it. I…had to prove to myself, to prove that I could. I only killed a louse, Minerva, a useless, vile, pernicious louse." He sneered bitterly, aware of the lie in his words.
"You killed Albus Dumbledore!" Were her quick, hissed words.
"Of course. I know." He said wearily, rubbing his temples. "I haven't talked to people for a very long time. I has been a long time since I've known…or told the truth." He paused, his eyes burning as if from a fever. "But…but I'm still not…telling the truth." He muttered, his hands twitching again.
Minerva started. "but…but…" She said, her normally controlled voice rising in pitch. "Oh God!" She wailed. "Why? Just…say why!"
"Oh, I know it was wrong, I knew that. Just…suppose I am ambitious. Envious. Malicious. Vile. Vindictive. I could probably have found happiness teaching, it wouldn't be that hard. But no, no, I turned nasty. I lurked in the dungeons, with their low and cramped ceilings. You've been down there, you know! You know how much cramped rooms crush the mind! Yet I stayed there. I avoided all other places, all of them, out of spite! I knew it could help me, but I stayed there, intentionally. All else began to be distasteful to me. I hated all the professors. Especially Albus. Albus, with his twinkling eyes and knowing nods. And I hated him. And…and I knew, Minerva, that all power I had ever wanted, was there. For me, if I could only stoop down to take it. I had never dared to do anything before, all I needed was that courage to do so. I wanted to have that courage, so I took that vow. And I killed…I only wanted to dare, Minerva, that was the only reason! I didn't do it for anything, for anybody. I didn't do it for Draco, bah! I simply murdered; I murdered for myself and myself alone!"
A thunderous silence fell between them.
After a moment, Minerva wailed, all traces of the old professor gone. "And you murdered!"
Severus stared down at his hands, twitching, his eyes wide and pained. "And who did I kill, Minerva?" he asked in a whisper. "I didn't murder Albus, I only murdered myself."
Again, my apologies to Dostoevsky. I quoted him a lot, and I get the feeling is turning in his grave.
All reviews loved and appreciated!