Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

By Silver Sailor Ganymede

Never before had Severus Snape felt so utterly disgusted with himself. Even after spending a good three hours in the shower, not even realising as the water went from scolding hot to freezing cold, he felt as though he would never be clean again. His soul never would be clean again, he knew that much at least. He was broken, he was tainted, he was worthless. He was a murderer…

"You've spent more than enough time wallowing in self-pity. I suggest you stop before you drown yourself, although at least I know you're not going to do that in a literal sense any more." The cold, curt voice of Lucius Malfoy was probably the last thing Severus wanted to hear at that moment, but alas fate wouldn't even allow him time alone to be with his own thoughts.

"Self-pity?" Severus found himself laughing. "I'm a murderer, Lucius. I killed them all… I should just…"

"You followed your orders just like you should have," the seventh year replied, looking at the younger, terrified boy in front of him. "The Dark Lord is pleased, you realise that don't you? He knew you could do it; that's why he made you one of us at just fifteen. It's a great honour you know."

Severus didn't particularly feel like any sort of honour had been bestowed upon him, especially nothing like what Lucius was trying to make out. He felt sick to his stomach, like he was going to pass out. He couldn't get those thoughts out of his mind, images of the man choking on his own blood, the woman writhing and contorting in pain, the little girl ripped limb from limb by the savagery of the dark curses he had used.

"They were mudbloods, Snape," Lucius snapped, reading the gaunt expression in Severus' eyes and interpreting from them his thoughts. "They deserved to die."

"If they deserved death, what about me?" Severus whispered. "I'm just as impure as they were… just as filthy… just as useless…"

"Evidently not," Lucius replied. "The Dark Lord obviously saw immense promise in you, mudblood though you may be, and talent such as that should not go to waste in the hands of Dumbledore and his army of misguided fools."

Severus nodded glumly. Lucius was right, he knew he was, but all the same he just could not rid himself of the ever present truth. He was even more impure than he had been before, and there was nothing that could be done about it.

"I can't do this." Severus didn't even think about what he was saying, just tried to close his eyes against the blurring world and stop the bile that was rising in his throat. "I honestly don't think I can do this again…"

"It gets easier each time." Lucius said it so casually that he may as well have been speaking about a simple curse had had just learnt, not about the taking of life in the most heinous of ways. "Besides it was your own choice to join the Dark Lord. Your intentions to kill and to dominate have always been there, you just need to give in to them a bit more."

"I never intended specifically to join the Dark Lord," Severus replied. "It just happened… I believed his ideals were right…"

He cast his obsidian gaze over the mark that had been branded onto his arm, a mark of his slavery and the fact that he had sold his soul to the darkest of demons.

"Believed?" Lucius raised a colourless eyebrow, his moon-like orbs glinting with sadistic mirth. "You still believe, Severus. One mission can't change that. The world has less mudbloods in it now, thanks to you, and we're all better off for it. It was murder, yes, but not a crime. They deserved it, they're fit for nothing better."

"But I never intended to become a murderer. I joined the Dark Lord for power, not to kill." Severus' voice was almost inaudible now.

"You're not a criminal, you're a hero," Lucius replied. "You're the youngest ever to be admitted into our ranks, and your actions tonight just proved that the Dark Lord was right once again. You may not have intended to become a Death Eater, but believe me it suits you
well. I can almost forget your blood is tainted if you carry on like this… almost."

With that Lucius left the room and Severus collapsed onto his bed. He knew that sleep would not come to him that night; he just could
not rid his mind of those gruesome images of a horrendous crime he had committed.

Whatever his original intentions may have been, Severus had learnt one very important thing: it was impossible to sell your soul to the devil and expect to get away with your hands still lily-white. His hands were stained with blood, and he was more filthy than those had had been ordered to kill, all for the sake of a false purity.