Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Graveyard of Ambition
By Silver Sailor Ganymede

Upon entering such an inn, one is always inclined to turn around and flee – after all, what sane man would willingly enter a place where one's life could be taken in cold blood and no others would so much as bat an eyelid? This tavern, however, was exactly that kind of place; somewhere so full of shady characters that even the Dark Lord himself could walk among them unnoticed, and indeed had done so many times before.

The air smelled potently of a rather unpleasant mixture of damp, alcohol, dust and blood, all mingled together to create a queer but not unbearable stench. The tables were made of old wood, most half-rotten despite the ancient charms placed on them god-only-knew how long ago, as were the many wooden chairs set out around the room. The curtains on the walls had long since been eaten away by moths and the windows were caked with dirt, while spiders made their homes in any and every place they could find, perching on their webs around the room like demons waiting to strike.

This did not, however, seem to bother any there; perhaps they were insane enough to like such a place – as indeed many of them were, but in the vast majority of cases they were simply there because there was nowhere else they could go without facing persecution for heinous crimes they either did or did not commit.

One such man entered the inn on a stormy Thursday evening, his hooded, black travelling cloak hiding his features from view immediately. He did not go up the bar and order like most would have but instead headed over to a table in the far left corner of the room. The man sitting there had almost colourless features; they had once been somewhat aristocratic but by that time had been washed out and exhausted, though this effect was made rather more pronounced than it actually was by the black robes he wore. He nodded as the cloaked man sat down; it was obvious he had been expecting him to arrive.

"Severus," the pale man nodded, his gray eyes glinting like uncut diamonds in the dim candlelight. "I rather figured you'd dislike whatever I ordered, so forgive me that I didn't take the liberty of ordering you a drink."

"It's fine, Lucius; I'm not here to get utterly drunk after all; it would be a rather foolish thing to do right now, given my current situation, do you not think?" came the reply, this voice being even colder than the first, if indeed that were possible. Nevertheless, his situation could not have put him in too vast a danger, as he threw back the hood of his cloak to reveal a worn, sallow face, jet-black hair and eyes of asphodel. His features were contorted into a sneer in such a way that one would have thought his face were permanently fixed in such a way, and indeed to many it would have seemed to be.

There was silence between the two for a while, Severus' black gaze taking in his surroundings while Lucius appeared to do nothing more than sip at whatever alcoholic concoction he had ordered for himself. After a while, Severus was shaken out of his reverie when Lucius finally spoke.

"So you killed him," the blond spoke in a barely audible voice, though Severus heard every word of what he said.

"I had to," he replied, his voice tinged slightly with bitterness. "You know what happens when an unbreakable vow is broken; some bonds are not meant to be severed."

"You mean like your bond to the Dark Lord?" Lucius asked, raising an eyebrow as he was met by a poisionous look.

"I am no traitor," Severus spat back, "No matter what they would attempt to convince you was the truth."

"So you profess loyalty to the Dark Lord?"

"I would," came the reply.

Lucius laughed, "Utter bullshit," he spat, "We are Slytherins. Were we foolish enough to be completely loyal in situations where we get almost nothing… well only a Hufflepuff would be so much of a fool. Have you not noticed that none from our House refer to him as 'Master'? I suppose that must be because a true Slytherin's only master is himself. Loyal indeed."

"The House has fallen far since our time, Lucius," Severus muttered, "I remember when Slytherin was truly the home of the cunning and ambitious; now it seems that the only ambition they have is to scrounge as much as they can of the money their ancestors left them."

"And did not our fathers' say the same about us, and their's about them?" came Lucius' reply.

"But look at them," Severus sighed, his asphodel gaze landing on a group of young Death Eaters whom he knew had previously been Slytherins. "It's fools such as those that have changed our noble house into the home of the ambitious to the graveyard of ambition: now the only successful ones seems to be Ravenclaws."

"Well that is, at least in part, because we of Slytherin achieve our positions in society through dreams, and what room is their for dreaming in a world controlled by war and extreme ideals?" Lucius sighed and sipped once again at his drink.

"I can see your point, but all the same I know why they do not dream now as we did when we were young," Severus muttered.

"And why is that?"

"Because he does not accept dreams – nor indeed anything that may be free from his control," Severus replied. It was obvious to Lucius who 'he' was, so he did not remark on it further. Severus continued, "That is why they cannot dream; that and because they have no idea how to. They were raised to follow in the footsteps of men and women who had forsaken dreams of power for this servitude that they were convinced would lead to power. We forsook our dreams and thus condemned them as well: I suppose, now I think about it, that that is why Slytherin has become as it is."

"We dug our graves and now our sons must lie in them," Lucius said. The statement was chilling, but neither man showed any sign that it affected them, but of course it did. Lucius had made many mistakes, and now his son (and also Severus) had been made to pay for them.

Severus nodded, then left without another word; he had no more to discuss with his old friend; dreams were like the past, gone forever, and it did not do to dwell on either of those things. He had dug his own grave; it was simply his time to go and meet the one that would now likely deal to him a fate worse than death itself, and there was nothing he could do about it. To say there was would be to dream, and dream and reality were two very different things, something Severus Snape had found out far too late.