Intro: The Dark Mark burns once more, and a man's fate is sealed. What was going through Severus Snape's mind when he was preparing to return to Voldemort at the end of u Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire /u .

Disclaimer: You can tell that I'm not Rowling by my pathetically low account balance. May her legal bloodhounds chase more worthwhile prey.

A/N: Many thanks to Verity for the beta read and for timing me on ICQ.

Reverto ut Obsrurum

"You know what I must ask you to do, Severus."

At Dumbledore's words, the dark-haired man felt his heart drop into the pit of his stomach. For months his Dark Mark had twinged and burned slightly. But it was not until tonight that it had flared with the intense pain that only occurred when the Dark Lord called his followers. Now both Potter and Barty Crouch, Jr. had just confirmed the Dark Lord's return.

He had known that this day would come sooner or later. The day that he would be forced to make good on his end of the bargain. A bargain that had once saved his life, but now was more likely to end it. Severus was to return to the Dark Lord's service once again.

Severus Snape strode silently to his rooms in the dungeon. His gaze fell on a small picture of him with his mother. He stared at it, remembering the boy that he had once been: a poor, despised half-blood. He had worked so hard to change that, studying doggedly, working to perfect every spell that was taught and every potion that was to be brewed. He had even taken it upon himself to write his own spells--some of which were brutal in nature--and to develop shortcuts and improvements on all of the potions that Slughorn had them learn.

He had left school hoping to make a name for himself; a name that in time should have made him nearly as feared as the Dark Lord himself. He had been so eager to follow in his footsteps, so ready to do what ever it took to help himself rise up through the ranks of the Dark Lord's followers. In no time at all, his cunning had been noticed by his new master. Perhaps the Dark Lord had taken in the similarities between the two of them. Their humble beginnings, the thirst for knowledge, the need to prove that they were every bit as intelligent as those whose blood was pure.

He opened the wardrobe, pulling a box from the back. He tapped it with his wand, releasing the enchantments that kept it from the notice of the house-elves. He lifted out the black robe, pressing it to his nose, inhaling deeply. Severus could still smell the faint, enticing fragrance of death on it. His mind swam suddenly with memories of the numerous victims that had known suffering and slow, painful deaths at his hands. The screams of the tortured rang louder and louder, threatening to overwhelm him. Snape sank to his knees, pressing his hands to his ears, trying in vain to block out the shrieks. Nothing could silence those screams.

Innocent men, women and children, whose only crime was not being pure enough. Muggles, he had been told by his pure-blooded house mates, were barely more than animals. They had forced the magical world into hiding out of their fears. Their magical spawn were no better, and they couldn't be trusted. Only true witches and wizards deserved to live. The world should, by rights, belong to them.

Foolish ideals of an angry young man. A young man who was really not much different than the people that he had persecuted. He suddenly found himself unable to breathe under the suffocating blanket of guilt. He felt it squeezing the life out of him; a life that he had been trying to preserve for the last fifteen years. Now Dumbledore was sending him to his death.

No! He pulled himself together. One by one, he sorted through his thoughts and emotions, burying all memories that would betray him. Layer upon layer, he constructed skewed memories... memories that would please the Dark Lord and protect his life.

Severus lowered his face to his hands, sorting and sifting and changing his thoughts so that they were only slightly different from the truth in some ways. One after another, the thoughts were organized in his mind, creating a slightly older and wiser version of the young man who had knelt at the Dark Lord's feet.

A few minutes and several deep breaths later, a pale face with piercing dark eyes emerged from between oily curtains of black hair. The face was not that much different from the face he presented every day. Yet somehow there was just the slightest, most subtle shift in the man. Severus Snape, Hogwarts Potions master, had slipped away, leaving behind Severus Snape, Death Eater, loyal servant of the Dark Lord.

He drew the black robe over his head. The dark folds fell softly down over his thin frame, puddling around him as he remained kneeling on the cold stone floor of the dungeon. He could feel the seductive power of the Dark Magic flow through his veins, claiming him as its own once again. He would enjoy the privileges of being the Dark Lord's favorite servant. Once again his power would be respected.

He lifted the mask from the box. He would hide behind it, reveling in the anonymity that it afforded. Slowly, the taste of inflicted pain began to sweeten in his mouth. He would serve his one true master. He would exact revenge on the society to which he had never truly belonged.

Slowly, gracefully, Severus Snape rose to his feet. Tucking the mask up inside the long sleeve of his robe, he turned to the portrait hole that led to the outside. He was destined to be reunited with his master, to stand once again by his side. He stole silently to into the Forbidden Forest, just outside the wards, where he silently Disapparated.

He reappeared in the graveyard outside Little Hangleton. Before him stood the reborn Dark Lord. Severus lowered himself to his knees, lifting the hem of Voldemort's robe to his lips.

"Arise, Severus."

A/N: I hope you enjoy interpreting this.