Author's Notes: Final chapter! Hopefully you won't be too too disappointed. And sorry for taking so long- I got caught up in school. Thank you all for your wonderful reviews, and especially thanks to duj for all your wonderful criticisms.
As I reread this chapter in editing, I realized that Luna kinda sounds like a dumb blonde at parts, which is not what I intended. I just see her as trapped inside her own head so much that she's a bit slow on the uptake.
It was some minutes or hours later, and Luna's hand had again been bound to the chair. Snape's chair had been returned to its place near the table, though Snape himself was standing, watching Luna with his arms folded.
"Can you do something for me, Miss Lovegood?" he asked, his voice cutting through the silence that had filled in the room for quite some time.
"What's that, Professor?"
His tone had a biting edge to it as it almost always did, yet it was nevertheless civil as he said, "If by some strange turn of events you actually do recall something of use, I want you to deliver a message to the Order for me."
"But I thought you were going to erase my memory."
"Yes, but if I return you myself, this can be avoided," he told her in a slightly lower tone.
"Oh," she said, only mild intrigue evident in the word.
He began to rub the bridge of his nose with his middle finger, his eyes closed in concentration. "I don't even know why I'm telling you to do this," he said half to himself. "I sincerely doubt that they will believe anything I have to say..."
"What am I supposed to tell them?"
He folded his arms in thought for a moment before replying, "Tell them..." He sighed in either frustration or exhaustion. "Tell them they still have an insider among the Death Eaters."
"Me, you twit!" he almost yelled, nearly lunging forward in fury.
Luna did not react to his anger, but simply replied brightly, "Oh. Well, that's good." Then she paused as a look of skepticism crossed her face. "But that can't be true. You killed Professor Dumbledore."
He turned away and said in a quiet, bitter voice, "Well, things aren't always as they appear."
"What do you mean?"
He turned back and said in full voice, "I mean-" he broke off, looking at the floor. In a lower tone that almost sounded cold he said, "I mean he ordered me to do it."
"You mean Professor Dumbledore?" she asked in amazement. "Why would he do something like that?"
"Because..." Then he looked her in the face, speaking louder and more irritably, "I made the Unbreakable Vow to kill him. I couldn't escape it." His eyes lowered now, but his posture remained the same as he said solemnly, "I had the full intention of breaking the Vow, but, if I had, the Malfoys would have died along with me, so Dumbledore convinced me that it would be better if he were to..." He sort of half collapsed in his chair, his right hand gripping the wooden arm as he sat, and he covered his face with his hands. "He was lying there...begging me... I didn't think I could do it. Then I just...did." His hands dropped to his lap and he gazed up at the ceiling- through it. "How could I!" he cried in angst. "I loved the man..." He leaned forward and stared at his hands. "I'm still not completely convinced that Dumbledore made the correct choice. He was worth a hundred of us." Then he gave a small, bitter laugh, clinching his hands into fists. "And then Potter has the audacity to call me a coward. ...Coward." He looked up at Luna, who was now staring at him with eyes even wider than normal, and said in a tired voice, "But, as I said, it's all worthless. They won't believe this story anyway."
Then Luna said in a small, earnest whisper, "I believe you, Professor."
The two stared at one another for a moment, then Snape once again focused his attention to his hands, which were now open and relaxed. A long while passed during which neither spoke, Luna watching Snape avidly. Suddenly, there was the sound of the heavy door at the top of the stairs unlocking and opening as sunlight poured down the steps and into the dungeon. Two men and a woman, all dressed in black cloaks like Snape's, stormed down.
"Severus, you've been down here for ages," came the booming voice of the big, burly middle-aged man just as he passed through the threshold. "What's the holdup?"
"Yes, Severus," agreed a tall, elegantly thin woman with cropped auburn hair, "this girl can't be too difficult to crack. What is she? Sixteen?"
"Fifteen," Luna corrected her pleasantly. "We've been talking."
The woman gave her a wry smile. "Have you now?"
"I apologize for the delay," Snape said composedly, interrupting further conversation, "but Miss Lovegood here doesn't seem to know much at all."
The second man (boy, actually. He looked to be in his early twenties and was very slight with narrow eyes and a slouching posture) pointed his wand at Luna and asked, "Shall I take care of her, then?"
"No, no," Snape replied dismissively. "I've...I've been able to get one or two things out of her. It's best that I return her right away."
"You return her?" said the older man, his eyebrow cocked. "Oh, no, you need to tell Oggy what you've learned right away. The Dark Lord is getting impatient."
"Yeah, and it better be good, too," said the boy, almost hungrily, giving Snape a twisted smile. "He nearly killed Terkins last week for giving bad information, remember?"
"Oh dear," came Luna's small voice.
"Don't be stupid, Maxim," the woman told the boy and cast her wand over Luna to unbind her from the chair. "Severus knows what he's doing. I'd wager he's the best Legilimens in the world next to the Dark Lord." She then magically bound Luna's hands and feet together and levitated her in the air. She turned to Snape and said, "I'll take care of this one, alright? You go talk to Oggy."
Then the three climbed the stairs, the boy rather sulkily, Luna floating in front.
"Professor?" she called out quietly just as the door closed.
Snape just stood there for a moment, face frozen in an unreadable expression, his hands on his waist. He then strode toward his chair and in a single motion flipped it violently across the room. "Damnit!" he swore furiously through clinched teeth. He struck the table with the heel of his hand in frustration, then leaned against it, his body sagging slightly, his shoulders slumped. Without turning, he took out his wand, waved is across the chandelier, and the lights went out.