It's Not Worth It

Disclaimer: Same as the last chapter.

A/N: Sorry it took so long, though this time I managed to break my habit it of spelling Dumbledore "Dumbeldore" (mutters stupid spell check). This chapter is written a bit differently then the first. I was thinking of re-naming the chapters 'Cause' and 'Effect', since this chapter is just about Snape getting back to Hogwarts and how the torture changed him.

Dumbeldore was in his office, talking with yet another pair of officials from the Ministry. What they were saying wasn't new now, they all said the same thing and had the same tone of disrespect and disdain.

"Give up this farce, old man, You-Know-Who is gone and he isn't coming back, Fudge said so. (Then why are you still afraid to say his name? Dumbledore wondered) Even though the newspaper went crazy for awhile, Fudge also told us that your just paranoid. One attack by an ex- Death Eater and your ready to decimate everything that our Minister has worked for..."

Et cetera.

Dumbledore was baffled at how stupid, how obstinate people could be. How stupid and obstinate Fudge was. However, there was a small suspicion in the back of his mind that fashioned Fudge as not stupid but diabolically clever. Using people's base emotions like greed and envy to make everything Dumbledore was doing to save them into a ploy to become more famous... He pushed these thoughts away. After all, Fudge had fought just as hard as he had during Voldemort's first reign. But the suspicion came back. It seemed as if Fudge was purposefully make his job harder. Bringing a Dementor into the same room as Crouch was only the beginning. Dumbledore's request for Aurors had been denied, his request for emissaries to the Giants had been denied until Hagrid and Madame Maxime had gone on his own request. Fudge had gone so far as to take a way the few human officials the Azkaban had and replace them with Dementors. Was it not just contrariness, but something deeper? Dumbledore's thoughts were interrupted as he heard someone scream from down the hallway:

"Snape's back! Quick, someone get Madame Pomfrey! We need help!"

Dumbledore was out of his chair in an instant, pushing roughly passed the officials (who were still talking in their condescending tones) and bolted down the stairs. The scene that greeted him was pure chaos.

Students were rushing around everywhere and it was all Professor McGonagall could do to keep some calm in the center of the maelstrom. Screams of, "It's Black! Oh my God, its Sirius Black! Run!" were everywhere as well as some people screaming Snape's name too. Dumbledore pushed his way through them and was almost sick when he caught sight of Snape.

He looked like he should be dead. His face was contorted with pain and flecks of dried blood the color of rust was mixed with fresh blood. A few of his fingernails were gone and caked blood was all that was left where they had been. Cut marks that looked fatal could be seen through the tears in his robes Dumbledore could only guess was horrors the man had gone through of the magical kind.

As Madame Pomfrey came rushing down the hall, Dumbledore quickly waved his wand and put a plastic-like blue bubble around all of them. It was sound-proof and anyone who ran into it would find himself magically transported to the other side.

Poppy looked up at him from her patient's side and said, "I need to get him the infirmary fast Albus. I don't know how he survived this long with so many wounds but he needs help," she suddenly looked over her shoulder and yelped at the sight of Sirius Black, which had sent most of the students into hysteria.

"It's a long story Poppy, but Sirius is innocent and on our side. Now we need to help Snape," Poppy nodded professionally, trusting Dumbledore and turned back to Snape as Dumbledore closed the bottom of the bubble and sent it floating into the air on its way to Pomfrey's office.

Snape began to awaken at the sound of someone (definitely female) talking in his room.

"...No Albus, the wounds aren't fatal, right now he's just resting. How he survived baffles me but I've taken care of the physical wounds as best I could. It's the mental wounds I'm worried about..."

Scars? Sounds like someone has been beaten up pretty badly.

"... He may never be the same Snape again. He might suffer trauma after this. Don't bother speaking to him, its like talking to a corpse anyway..."

A corpse? Albus? Snape? Wait a minute, he was Snape and Albus was... the Headmaster. Which meant he was back at...

He didn't even want to think the name, maybe he was dreaming, maybe he was dead or maybe Voldemort had figured out another way to make his torture unbearable.

He slowly opened his eyes and saw a black blur and a blue blur in front of him. He eased himself up while opening his eyes further until the entire scene was clear.

There before him stood Dumbledore and Madame Pomfrey. They were talking in furious whispers and lines of concern were etched deeply in both of their faces.

Slowly, deliberately, he began to ease himself out of the bed. Dumbledore eyes flicked towards him and his mouth widened into a relieved smile. "It seems you've returned from the dead, Severus," Dumbledore said warmly.

Snape looked at him bewildered for a moment before saying "What happened? Why am I here?"

Pomfrey suddenly looked worried and dragged Dumbledore off into the corner, whispering furiously to him. Snape picked up words like 'his ordeal', 'the trauma', and 'his mind protecting itself'. Pomfrey finished with Dumbledore gave him a look and a nod that clearly said she would deal with it. "Severus, a few days ago Sirius brought you to Hogwarts. You were severely injured and close to death," she stated bluntly, searching his eyes before continuing, "While spying on You-Know-Who using your raven form thanks to the Animagus potion. He caught you and held you, torturing you, for nearly a month. Do you remember?"

Snape didn't here the last sentence, it was completely irrelevant, for a sea of remembrance had come over him and threatened to drown him. He vividly relived the entire experience. The torture, the agony and the fear came back to him in one mad rush. He was drowning in them, everything began to go black. the word 'Crucio!' was ringing in his ears and....

"Severus, Severus! Snap out of it!" Dumbeldore's old yet surprisingly firm grip was on his shoulder shaking him out of the nightmare. Snape's eyes refocused and he looked up at the Headmaster. Dumbledore almost recoiled as he saw the complete absence of light mixed with stark terror in Snape's eyes. "Severus, you need to rest some more, I'll go get Poppy."

Snape suddenly sat bolt up right and grabbed Dumbledore's wrist before he could stand. "No, that won't help. The memories are back Albus, don't leave me with them," Snape gave him a pleading look.

Dumbledore was surprised that Snape frightened Snape sounded. The tone brought him back to when Snape had been one of his students, for it was almost childlike in its trust. "Alright, Severus, lets talk."

And so they did. Snape related to him everything that had happened while he was with Voldemort and many time over Dumbledore had to shake him to prevent an oncoming nightmare When Snape got to the part about Fudge, Dumbledore realized that all he had done was confirm his fears. He also realized that Snape was reaching the most traumatic part of his story, which prevented him from jumping up and running to his office.

Snape finally finished his tale and sat back, temporarily exhausted. Dumbledore decided to switch the conversation to something lighter (and hopefully something that had nothing to do with Voldemort).

"Severus, why do you dislike Harry so much?" Dumbledore asked. Snape's head shot up and a sneer began to come across his lips, but then suddenly faded. His eyes were incredulous.

"Potter? I thought you knew why I hated him."

Dumbledore noticed that reference to the past tense, "Are you saying you no longer dislike him?"

Snape shook his head, greasy hair falling across his face, "No, I just no longer care, it isn't worth it," Dumbledore almost congratulated him except for the defeated ring in his voice.

"Why did you hate him in the first place, Severus?"

Snape was silent for moment before answering, "I was jealous."

"Of James? Come now, Severus, that was so long ago..." Dumbledore said.

Snape shook his head vehemently, and asked in a surprised tone of voice, "James? It has nothing to do with James, or very little. No, the reason I hated Potter is because he did nothing."

Dumbledore looked at him inquiringly then motioned him to continue.

"Dumbledore, you should know! During the war with Voldemort so many died, good and bad. I myself was your spy towards the end and I saved at least five families from being massacred by Voldemort. Then James and Lily sacrificed themselves to save Harry and he lived. Not only did he live but he destroyed Lord Voldemort! And with that the war ended. All the work, all the suffering, all the bravery that Aurors and spies alike showed was forgotten because of a fluke! I saved many people's lives but did anyone thank me? Did anyone acknowledge me? No, they were clinking they're glasses together and whispering, "To Harry Potter, the Boy That Lived!" not, "To All the brave people who sacrificed themselves so we could live another day!". That is why Dumbledore, because all the work I did was overshadowed by a boy who didn't even know what he had done, who wouldn't even remember while so many others did," Snape fell into a brooding silence, his mind taken off the suffering he had been through the past month.

Dumbledore was speechless. He had never thought Snape capable of such depth, nor had he ever considered how Snape felt when all the fame was transferred to Harry. This was a startling look into Snape's thoughts, which were usually kept to himself. An idea occurred to him, "And what of Draco Malfoy? Will you continue to show him favoritism?" he asked.

This time Snape did sneer, "And I suppose it was Harry Potter and his friends that told you I was a biased git who hated Gryffindors and showed Slytherins favoritism? Tell me, Albus, did they give you any hint as to why? Or did they assume that the only reason was that I lead their house? I'll tell you why I do, Dumbledore, and you'll thank me."

"The reason is that the House of Slytherin is the roots of many Dark Witches, Wizards and Death Eaters. Half the kids there are related to Death Eater, Draco is Lucius son and almost certain to become one himself. So what Potter and his little friends didn't tell you was when I'm showing them 'favoritism' I'm showing them how much more our side can offer. If I were as tough on them as I was on everyone else, what do you think they're reaction would be, hmm? Dislike. So there it is Dumbledore, I favor the Slytherins because I'm showing them there's something better then becoming a Dark Wizard. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to my own room. I trust you'll give me back my job as potion's master," Snape didn't even wait to hear how Dumbledore would reacted but grabbed a black robe from the closet and threw it over his hospital one and started for the door.

"Severus!" Dumbledore's voice rang out, Snape turned abruptly and looked him full in the face. Dumbledore realized that Snape was strong enough to leave and the words died on his tongue. "What about Neville?" he asked lamely.

Snape gave him a suspicious glare, "Neville Longbottom is hopeless incompetent who can't even brew a simple boil-removing potion correctly. I'll be in my class tomorrow, Albus, whatever substitute you had may leave," with that he closed the door.

Dumbledore sat a moment longer on the now-empty hospital bed. Ringing in his ears was the neutral, dead tone of voice that Snape had talked in during the whole conversation. The tone of a man who doesn't care.

True to his words, Snape was in potions class the next day almost an hour before the class actually started. He was grading the test that the substitute (a complete idiot) had given them. He noticed that he could block everything out if he concentrated on potions. He looked up as he heard a light knocking on his door. He mutter, "Come in," and jumped out of his seat, sending his chair backwards, as he saw who it was.

"Dumbledore sent me to find you," said Sirius Black, who was pointedly make sure he didn't make eye-contact with Snape.

"Well, you've found me, now leave," Sirius looked u, this time meeting Snape's eyes. What he found there was simply... nothing. This was worst then he had expected, last time he had seen Snape fully conscious the man had almost attacked him in rage. Now he didn't look like he cared.

"Is that all the thanks I get for pulling you out from under Voldemort's nose?" Sirius almost yelled, trying to get a reaction. Snape stared at him, Sirius had saved him? Oh great, now he was in debt to another Marauder.

"That's right, Snake, I pulled you out of there, and if I hadn't you would probably be dead or worse," Sirius continued.

Snape's eyes flickered slightly, now he remembered, the great black dog padding silently towards him. Then he remembered that he no longer hated the man and the little emotion in his eyes died away. It just wasn't worth it. Why hate him? They were on the same sides and the childhood slights had died long ago, they should no longer effect the present. Even that hated nickname, Snake, no longer affected him. He righted his chair and turned back to the tests.

"I'm not done with you, Snape, the entire staff is worried. What has gotten in to you? You don't respond to anything, did Voldemort addle you wits that much?" Sirius half-ranted.

Snape finally answered, "Sirius, I don't have a grudge against you anymore. We're on the same side, we're not enemies. But if you really wanted to know why I don't care I'll tell you. Voldemort tortured me, he told me that he would put someone in my place so they would betray Dumbledore or he would wipe my mind and impose his own will. I kept on resisting, finally he told me it was over and that you were all dead. That almost broke me. So there you have it Sirius, compared to everything Voldemort did to me, it just isn't worth it to hate you. Go away," and Sirius did without a word.

Snape stared off into space, repeating the words over and over again in time with remembering everything that had happened before Sirius had saved him. No, it wasn't worth it.
A/N: That's it, I was going to put something in about Harry and Draco, but I decided it was better if I left it at this. This story was eventually supposed to tie in to The Heir of Slytherin and Gryffindor but for the moment I have left the HP fandom.

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