Author's notes: Any commentary I could make about the time between updates would be a waste. I offer my apology for whatever that is worth. Despite this Bi-annual update rate, Lisa725 remains kindly enough to beta another chapter. She has my thanks for that. My thought's about this chapter are going to be left in the closing remarks.
While we're in the proximity of why Omagic sucks, I need to point you to another oversight that I just this week noticed. I posted Chapter 11 without the first 730 words of the freakin' chapter! Yup, my dumbass never even sent them to Lisa725 for beta, just clipped them out when I split the chapter in two and went on my merry... Nice. Anyways, the chapter has been updated, and conveniently enough for you, the never before seen text is the very first segment of the chapter. Enjoy...I guess.
Chapter 14 – My Mind is a Dangerous Place to Wait
Got a moment? Well consider this with me. What does it mean to be immortal? Is it really such a good thing?
To live forever…
I know, at first glance it's got some serious appeal. No longer are you a slave to time, and you have a limitless wealth of that which is the most precious resource in life. Time to learn everything you desire, to experience all that existence has to offer, to bed infinite women – or men should your gender or preferences swing that way. Time for you to see all the magnificent wonders the human mind creates — and an evolving perspective to truly appreciate or abhor those creations. The capacity to continuously improve yourself and the ones you love.
The ones you love…
There's the cost. The part you're not thinking about. The part I can't see past. Live forever, and you face an endless life of loss. It's a purgatory where the ultimate realization is that every new friend you make, every woman you bed, and every relationship you experience comes with the penalty that you will watch them die. Immortality is the truth that there is no next great adventure.
You go on; everyone else gets to move on…
And what's the closest example I've got to use for a measure of the full meaning of being immortal. I'd say it has to be everyone's favorite Headmaster. And wasn't he a shining example of all of life's giddiest goodness. Because if you live long enough, if your immortal perspective has the purvey of 'been there done that', then who else can you expect to make the ever overrated determination of what's the greater good? No, immortality isn't the gift of ownership over life's greatest resource. It's an eternal existence of being Time's bitch.
To live forever…
Have you thought about it? Does it still have serious appeal? Forever alone, an unending circle of mounting regrets, an existence where each day means you're closer to experiencing that next great loss? Well fuck that. I've been alone all my life. I've got regrets enough. And I've had my fill of loss.
This ain't goodbye, but as for The-Boy-Who-Lived, well, he'll see you on the other side….
"Harry," Slytherin said softly.
"Please Sal, leave it alone," Harry responded.
There was a long pause before Slytherin replied. "I wouldn't…" He started and then stopped. "Harry, we have to investigate the remains of your parents' house. If the Horcruxes were taken then…"
Harry took off towards the house, but what he saw didn't give him much hope that if the Horcruxes were still in there he'd have any luck finding them. What was left of his parents' house was little more than a pile of smoldering rubble. The hatch to the basement had been sucked into the ground during his Thestral Apparition, so he had to fight his way down through the debris. To call what he saw at the bottom a basement would be like calling what Hagrid did during his Hogwarts lessons teaching. Both might have resembled something more familiar, but they really were just a colossal mess. Harry sighed and began the arduous task of sifting through the detritus in search of the items.
"You are a wizard, Potter," Slytherin suggested.
Harry didn't respond; he just dropped the burnt piece of house in his hand and pulled out his wand. "Accio Horcruxes." The simple spell put such a drain on his magic that he actually got lightheaded from the effort. What was worse there was no locket or grimmoire flying towards him. There wasn't even the sound of anything fighting to free itself from being trapped or pinned down.
"Fuck!" Harry snapped aloud.
"Relax. Take a moment to gather your power, and then try once more with as much strength as possible."
Harry collapsed to the floor and leaned against a pile of debris. Performing the simple magic had left him winded, and that lightheaded sensation wasn't going away.
"I don't want to do this anymore, Sal," Harry said dejectedly.
"It is better than having to come back later to resume the search."
"That's not what I meant. I don't want to fight anymore. I don't care if he wins. I don't care what happens to everyone if I lose. I don't want to do this anymore."
"I know what you meant, Harry. And I won't try to convince you otherwise."
"You won't?" Harry said, astonished.
"No. But you know that means you'll have to spend the rest of your days suffering the likes of me in your head. And I should warn you, I've always had difficulty with commitment."
Harry didn't smile even though he appreciated the founder's attempt. "At least I can know for sure you won't die."
Slytherin didn't say anything, and they sat in silence for a while before Harry spoke up again. "Do Muggles go to the same afterlife as wizards?"
Salazar didn't answer immediately. "Yes, they do."
Harry stood and waited to see if another bout of lightheadedness came. It didn't, and he again pointed his wand. "I appreciate you lying."
"I figured in this one instance it was the right thing to do," Salazar replied.
"Accio Horcruxes," Harry yelled. The locket flew straight to him, and he caught it, but the grimmoire did not follow. There was a very faint sound of something banging behind a collapsed wall of debris, but there was no way to get around it.
"Oh, come on!" Harry exclaimed. "Really?"
Harry walked up and kicked the largest chunk of wood at the bottom of the pile that he figured wouldn't break his foot. There was a small cascade of dust from the top of the mound and then a low rumble of sound. The rumble grew to a roar as the pile suddenly gave and the back end of the house above fell into the basement. Harry ran from the collapsing structure as fast as he could, dodging falling debris whilst climbing over what was already on the ground. By the time it stopped Harry was left choking on all the dust and too blinded by the same to the see the book flying through the air towards him. It hit him in the head and landed on his feet.
"At least we know that Voldemort remains unaware of his missing Horcruxes," Slytherin commented.
The trip back to Hermione was slow going. Normally, it would have only taken a second to complete. But a lack of magic and an abundance of hurt left normal a distant consideration. But then it wasn't like he was in a hurry to get back to the crazy witch to deliver the news that was going to push her full on past, "She's a bit off, that girl" and straight into, "She-Who-Shan't-Be-Sane."
Not only did he not know how he was going to tell her, but he had no clue what he was going to do with her once she knew. By his logic, Harry was the worse person to offer help. He was houseless, She was useless. And as for the effort needed to take care of her, there was nothing he wanted less.
If not for the bitter feelings of loss still so fresh, he might have been able to summon enough inner bastard to simply leave her behind. As it turned out, he was spared the hardship of having to tell Hermione at all.
Fate really is a remarkable creature. Sometimes she throws you a break. If you're Harry Potter, it's more like a brick aimed at the back of your head and traveling at high speeds. So when it felt like he'd been hit by a bit of masonry upon seeing Severus Snape sitting casually on a log in front of the campfire with Hermione, Harry wasn't left wondering who'd thrown it.
"For fuck's sake, who do I have to blow to get a time out around here?" Harry screamed.
"It is at this very moment, I am most grateful for being incorporeal…"
"What the hell am I supposed to do? I don't have it in me to face him in a fight. I can barely see straight much less duel Snape and protect Hermione."
"I promised retribution for this man's offenses. And so I shall deliver," Slytherin intoned with a cold severity.
"Realm of the imaginary, this is the real world calling. We'd like to offer you a free sample of reality check. Included in this month's edition is a feature on how the voice in my head can't affect the people outside of it."
"I once told you I believe respect and trust are earned. Trust in me when I ask you not to prevent his Legilimency attack. For my part, I promise a return worthy of your respect."
Harry landed at the outskirts of the clearing and immediately changed back to his human form. "What if he doesn't try Legilimency?"
"It's Severus Snape…"
Harry arrived at the campfire to a beaming Hermione and without even the slightest of acknowledgments from Snape. Oblivious to the threat seated next to her, the witch popped up and ran at Harry, engulfing him in a desperate hug. He struggled under the weight but managed to avoid stumbling. He could only hope Snape didn't spot the effort.
"It appears I was mistaken, Ms. Granger. Not all of your friends have been destroyed." Snape looked over the witch's back at Harry. "Well, not completely – not yet."
Harry took in the smug look on the man's face, and it filled him with unfettered rage. He imagined Apparating behind Snape and shoving his wand through the back of the bastard's head. No witty insults or threats, no posturing or sneers, just Snape dead, and Harry carrying around his dismembered head on his wand. He would play with it like a ventriloquist's dummy for Hermione. "I'm Severus Snape, the Half Brained Prick…on a stick."
Or so he imagined.
But Harry didn't have the magic in him, so instead he took an exaggerated sniff of the air. "Still smells like something's dead, Sev. We ought to see to that." And he let the goading begin.
Snape didn't reply, but stood and pulled his wand from the sleeve of his robe.
"Harry," Hermione said as she looked up casually from her hug, "is Ron really gone? He told me he would never leave, but Ron's a boy and sometimes boys say things they don't really mean." There was a look of sincere curiosity in her eyes. Then suddenly her face went pale, and a look of agony replaced her former appearance. She collapsed to the ground at Harry's feet and broke into tears. "My mom used to tell me that."
Snape stared pitilessly at the girl. "It is simply remarkable, Potter. I believe there has never been another quite so effective at ruining the lives of everyone he's ever come into contact with."
Harry's look steeled as he turned his gaze up from the girl to address Snape. "Anything you can do, I can do better."
Anger flashed across the man's face, but he hid it away just as quickly. "Let us put that to the test." The curse flew from Snape's wand without speech or pause. Harry didn't have much left in him, be it magical or physical, and the drain of the former was making the fatigue of the latter all the worse. Still, there was always the unflappable force of gravity, and he used it to his favor and avoided the spell by dropping to the ground. A second spell exploded next to his head as he rolled to the side. Instantly his face was splattered with a barrage of dirt and grass that dug into his skin and filled his eye.
Ignoring the pain, he rose and drew his sword with a single swift movement. The next spell was already on its way, and he tried blocking it with the weapon to no avail. The loss of sight in his one eye had made his aim untrue. The spell struck, launching him through the air and into the base of a tree at the edge of the clearing.
Hermione jumped up from her daze and ran in between Harry and Snape. "Stop this at once, the both of you! Hasn't there been enough dying?" She turned to the Death Eater, "Professor Snape, I'm sure whatever Harry has done he deserves his punishment, but this is taking it too far." She turned to Harry, "And must you always antagonize the professor? You know he doesn't like you, why push it further?"
Crumpled at the base of the tree and trying to fight back the black spots from growing larger before his eyes, Harry stared desperately at Hermione.
Snape caught the desperation behind Harry's glare and smiled, "You know killing her would be much more merciful than allowing this blathering bag of madness to continue on."
Realizing what Snape had said, Hermione ran to Harry and hid her head in his chest. Harry looked down at the back of the girl's head and then buried his sword in the ground so he could brace himself into a stand. A little flash of his temper was all it took for the girl to flinch away in pain from her contact with him. He shot her a cold look with his one eye capable of doing so and nodded for her to hide behind the tree that had been his inconveniently placed midflight obstruction.
"If nothing else, Hermione was always right. And bat shit crazy she may be, but it still doesn't change that quality in her."
"Please, don't tell me you actually believe her little speech will save you?"
"Her speech? No. I'm going to fucking drop you where you stand all on my own. But she's right about how much I enjoy antagonizing you."
Snape gave up any attempt to retain his composure. His face reddened, and the glare he shot at Harry left no uncertainties as to his intentions. "You will never learn the cost of your arrogance? Diggory, Black … even Dumbledore all were sacrificed to further enhance your own self-importance." Snape finished crossing the distance between him and Harry and raised his wand, "I'm sure the additional forfeiture of Ms. Granger's life will have little effect."
Harry wiped the dirt from his bloodied eye. "Well, no one has quite mastered taking a shit in peoples' karma-flakes quite like I have." He tried to stand without leaning against the tree, but the black spots in front of his eyes started to grow together again. Harry laughed and then spit a mouthful of blood and dirt at Snape's feet. "Though I'm sure when it's all over, you'll at least be in the conversation for life's greatest fuck ups along with me."
As Snape looked down. Harry pulled the locket from his back pocket and intertwined it between the fingers of his left hand. By the time Snape looked back up. Harry was holding his sword with both hands in front of him.
Snape's face hardened. and he took aim with his wand once again. But his eyes caught the glimmer from the locket in Harry's hands, and he stopped. "What is in your hand, Potter?"
Harry pulled his hand with the locket from the sword and grasped the item in his empty hand firmly. "Just a locket I keep around to help remind me why I keep fighting … got a picture of your mom inside."
Snape didn't rise to the insult. "You will tell me," he said flatly.
"Or what, you'll fucking spank me? Even if you managed to pry this from my hands, I'd never tell you what it is."
"You presume I'll actually need to remove the item from you to get this information."
A wicked grin grew over Harry's face. "What is it you think is going to happen here? I've got a sword, two wands, and a temper with frosty ramifications. You've got a big nose, greasy hair, and a well-practiced sneer. Not exactly even odds."
"Arrogant to the very end," Snape snarled, and snapped his wand towards Harry's head. "Legilimens!"
He saw it coming and had to fight his every urge to prevent the man from passing through his Occlumency shields. The curse hit like an anvil, and Harry instantly felt a tremendous pressure around his head. Black spots began to form in his vision, quickly growing together until he was blinded; he heard the thump of his heart pounding inside his head, and then suddenly every sensation of being connected to his body disappeared.
No noise. No pressure or pain. No sight. No body. Just the blackness, and the sound of a familiar voice…
"You're going to enjoy this, Potter," Slytherin said.
Legilimency is a delicate art …
The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing... It is true, however, that those who have mastered Legilimency are able, under certain conditions, to delve into the minds of their victims and to interpret their findings correctly. – Severus Snape, OOTP
Apparently Salazar Slytherin never got that memo. Then again, being the architect who unraveled the ability to wield mind magics meant he laid claim to the rights of setting such conventions rather than conforming to them.
Unfortunately for Severus Snape, he found himself in an actionable position without full knowledge of the circumstances. He knew of the Harry's temper, and with it his inability to control his emotions. He was even aware, if reluctantly so, of the boy's impressive power. But when it came to Hogwart's founders, more specifically the one responsible for the creation of cranial fortification, residing in Harry's head — well, this was a crucial bit of information that Snape was lacking.
And so with incomplete knowledge Snape cast his Legilimens curse at Harry with enough power to obliterate the boy's mind. The curse hit. Snape smirked. And then everything went black.
And stayed black…
Always a rational man, a scholar he would have told you, Snape knew he held no physical presence in this state. But even with an enhanced sense of reason, he couldn't resist grasping around for something, anything, tangible. He held no sense of body and was completely blinded in darkness. The need for an anchor in this oblivion of eternal vacancy quickly tore away rational, scholarly thoughts. Past the point of questioning if something had gone wrong, Snape struggled against his captivity. But he couldn't free himself from Harry's mind, and he couldn't force himself any farther into it.
He was trapped, lost, down the vaults without a cart, screwed, unglued, petrified, and overall a little bit more than put out by the lot of it.
Then a dull click echoed through the empty black. An instant later, a blinding beam of yellow-white light shone onto him.
For Harry this too was the first time he was able to see anything. The difference was that he was able to retain a sense of himself and his body outside of the darkness. When the spotlight suddenly cued onto Snape, it was like he was watching the scene through a pensieve, just as he had when Salazar took him through the scenes of Hogwart's history.
Slowly Harry was able to see past his vision of Snape spotlighted in his head and actually see the man standing catatonic across the clearing from him. While it took some adjustment for Harry, in the end distinguishing between the two sights was no more difficult than changing focus on something near versus far.
But in any situation a gaping, panicky, trapped in your mind, and spot lit Snape is much more entertaining to focus on than the catatonic, lifeless one standing in front of him. So Harry turned his attention inward to whatever show Salazar was preparing.
"Severus Snape, once again you come to this place uninvited. And like the many before who have suffered your wasted existence, I am forced to stomach the stench of bigotry," said a voice, which to Snape seemed to be coming from everywhere all at once, evenly and without emotion.
The man stiffened as he listened to the words. Yet he wouldn't let on how unsettling it was not being able to see the source of those words beyond the unrelenting blackness surrounding him. He tightened his posture, held his head high, and straightened his robes. And while doing so, he made sure to feel for the wand tucked away in his sleeve.
The omnipresent voice continued, "The question, Snape, is what to do."
The wizard took a deep sniff of the air and spoke, "Impressive Potter. You have learned a new trick. But will it be enough?"
"Ehem." Slytherin cleared his throat and took form. A second spotlight shown down from above onto the founder, who was nearly ten paces away and behind Snape. The Death Eater spun instantly and drew his wand. There was brief pause as recognition set onto Snape's face at who stood opposite him, and then a blue curse shot from his wand.
Slytherin gave no reaction and calmly stood in place as the spell flew his way. The curse struck but didn't dissipate upon hitting Slytherin. Instead, it morphed into a thin layer of blue magic and formed a translucent shell around the man's body. Slytherin cocked his head towards his foe, raised a single eyebrow, and then looked down at himself. With a casual gesture, Salazar wiped at the spell clinging to his robes. Like dust, the blue magic fell from him and disappeared into the blackness. Without looking up he replied, "What to do, indeed."
Snape readied his wand for another attack, but suddenly he couldn't move his arm. Slowly, a compulsion spread through his body, commanding his mind and muscles to respond to signals he hadn't issued. He stared mortified as he struggled with his suddenly alien, wand-wielding arm. He watched as his hand dropped the wand, as his fingers curled into a fist, and as his traitorous limb used that fist – his fist – to punch himself dead in the eye.
Not a man accustomed to physical violence, it took Snape some time to recover. In fact, he spent the next few moments doubled over and stumbling in and out of the circumference of the spotlight whilst holding his eye. His body, naturally, had been fully returned to obeying the commands he gave.
Finished with his mini-tantrum, Snape looked up to see Salazar Slytherin staring with a slight hint of amusement on his face. The founder winked and said, "Good times."
"Who are you?" Snape growled.
A wry smile spread across Salazar's face. "Haven't you heard? Why, I'm the original: the Defector, the Other Founding Father, the Prince of Parseltongue…" Slytherin reached into the pocket of his robes but drew his hand out with nothing in it. When Snape looked past the empty hand to Slytherin for an explanation, he saw that the once sarcastic smile had been replaced with a hard glare. "Would you like to see my Dark Lord Decoder Ring?" Slytherin finished.
Somewhere from outside of the place of this interaction the sound of Harry Potter snickering could be heard. Snape looked upwards in response to the sound, but Slytherin maintained his stern stare at the Death Eater.
"Salazar Slytherin?" Snape said, not believing the words coming out of his mouth.
"My friends call me Sal. You can call me judgment," Slytherin ordered.
Snape's face went white for a moment, but a look of resolve quickly replaced it. "How long do you think you can maintain this parlor trick, Potter," he seethed. "Eventually, I will…" His words were interrupted by his fist running into his mouth – hard.
Another bout of doubled over, face covered, stumbling ensued.
"Listen, Sev, I'm going to call you Sev," Slytherin said matter-of-factly, "we can do this one way — my way. You're welcome to continue the argument with your fist later if you want, but while we're on Salazar time you will shut up and suffer your judgment like the proper coward you are."
It's been said before: Severus Snape was always a rational man — a scholar he would have told you. He shut up.
Salazar aimed the pointer fingers on both hands at Snape, and then made two mock gunfire noises as he "shot" the man. Snape felt his clothes suddenly tear away and disappear into the blackness. He looked down at himself with trepidation but saw that his black robes had somehow been replaced by a simple brown cloth that hung over the length of his body. There was a hood attached to the cloth, and it was currently pulled overtop of his head.
Snape looked up with a mixture of surprise and anger only to see that Slytherin was standing across from him in a similar outfit.
"You must hold to this path if you wish to escape from this savage place." Slytherin intoned, his voice once again booming and seeming to come from everywhere all at once.
Without another word and not sparing a glimpse back to see that Snape followed, Slytherin walked into the darkness. With each step a new small light on the ground to each side of Slytherin began to light the path ahead of him.
Uninterested in playing Potter's game, Snape stood defiantly and watched the man walk away. That was until the spotlight shining on him suddenly went out and the lights highlighting the path between him and his departing guide began to fade. Left with the choice of being stuck alone in the dark once again or following, Snape reluctantly started after the man claiming to be Salazar Slytherin.
He caught up with Slytherin after what seemed like a much longer time than it should have taken to do so. Like a dream where his body just couldn't move fast enough to fight back, or run away, or chase after, or keep up… But Severus Snape wasn't dreaming, which made the fact he was experiencing this "moving through molasses" moment from within the confines of Potter's head all the more disturbing.
Slytherin stopped suddenly, and Snape found that they'd arrived upon a waist high door standing alone in the middle of the empty darkness. Snape was both certain that the door had definitely not been there just a moment ago and that it was by far the most ridiculous invention he'd ever come across.
Squared on each side and rounded on top, the aperture stood waist high and was seemingly unconnected to any sort of structure. It simply stood alone in the darkness. It was covered in bright red leather that was padded beneath to make the fabric bubble away from the frame beneath. A yellow handle made of shiny plastic stood in sharp contrast from the deep red surroundings. Letters of varying colors, cut from construction paper and pinned individually into the leather, fashioned a message at the top center of the door. The message read:
ABANDON EVERY HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE
"What is the meaning of all this?" Snape said, though his tone lacked the confident conviction he'd intended.
"I told you Snape – judgment," Slytherin replied and then motioned to the door.
Snape made no movement to comply, but shortly after found himself once again compelled to comply by the founder's hold over him. The first thing Snape felt as the door opened was an intense heat pushing against his face. It was the kind of heat that makes you check your eyebrows to be sure they haven't been singed away. Forehead fur confirmed, the next thing he noticed was the source of it all.
The world beyond the gate was Hell, and that was the simplest way to describe it: fire, brimstone, echoing wails of torment, sulfur-scented air, the whole nine yards. And the horrors that befell his eyes were only outdone by the infinite vastness of the realm.
Snape shuddered and couldn't prevent himself from trying to retreat back out of the door; an effort was thwarted by the solid and unmoving body of Slytherin. "I shall be your guide, Severus Snape. The time of reckoning for all that you have wrought is upon you."
Composure was only a memory of something Snape once possessed, and panic filled him as he spoke. "This is not possible. You are not real. I, I am not dead!"
"In this place, you are whatever I desire you to be. I am judgment without mercy, and you shall be subjugated to my rule." Slytherin stared with rigid posture and unforgiving eyes upon the man before him. He watched and waited for the physical response of Snape's fear to fully manifest. And only moments after it did, did he again speak, "I'm just having you on old boy!" Salazar said with a smile and a relaxed pose, but then let the smile fall completely from his face. "No. I'm simply going to show you all the different ways you might burn for your life's deeds." Cuffing the man on the shoulder hard enough that Snape heard a few pops in his neck Salazar said, "Come on then, lot's to see."
Snape had no intention of complying, but his arm suddenly and quite involuntarily reached behind him and grasped the collar of his cloth garment, jerking him into a direction following the founder. It didn't let go until Snape had caught up with his guide.
They walked for some time over cracked, blackened ground, and eventually Snape gathered the courage to take in the horrors of the world cast upon him. He looked down and noticed within the shading of the rock beneath his feet were images of faces frozen in torment. He looked up at the red-gray sky and saw balls of fire raining down onto the land in the distance. When he finally looked ahead to where they traveled, he saw that the ground was moving and realized it was a flowing river of boiling tar that awaited their arrival.
Suddenly a piercing whistle erupted at his side and shook Snape from his terrified gazing. He looked over and saw the sound was coming from Slytherin, who was blowing hard onto two fingers in his mouth. There was a sound in the distance, not quite a genuine barking sound, but more like a bad impersonation of one. Snape searched until he saw the figure behind the sound, it was hunched over and running awkwardly towards them, using its hands and feet like an animal.
The creature was upon them soon enough, and Snape couldn't prevent a gasp when he finally realized what he was seeing. Pale skin, red eyes, slits for a nose, thin sinuous lips…a dangling tongue…drool…panting! The image before him was undoubtedly that of the Dark Lord! But this creature was somehow more perverted, and that was without taking into account it was behaving like a dog.
The animal paid Snape no mind as it bounced excitedly around its master. Slytherin gestured commands at the being until it calmed and sat before him. "Good boy!" he praised. He patted the man-dog on the head and then conjured a leash and collar, which he placed around its neck. He looked over to Snape. "Sev, I'd like you to meet Lord Voldemort."
The Death Eater was completely floored. He stood mouth agape and eyes bulging, trying to figure out if he should bow, laugh, or look away in shame. He settled on a combination of the three, which resulted in an awkward set of sounds and movements that left a cramp in his neck and made his left eye twitch.
The Voldemutt looked up from its master and over at the quasi-epileptic Snape. It let loose a low growl and bared its teeth at the wizard, which froze the man in his place.
"Voldemort, no!" Slytherin commanded.
The Dark Lord on a Leash winced at the reprimand and then walked on all fours to Snape. It let off a shorter, quieter growl as it approached but then circled around the wizard and sniffed deeply at the man's haunches. Snape's instincts told him to flinch away, but reason told him that a quick movement might only serve to provoke the animal. It left his eyebrows as the only feasible outlet for releasing his anxiety, and they took this opportunity to shoot for the highest region on his forehead. With the accompanying wide eyes that result from such a reaction Snape stood – a Dark Lord's nose planted in his ass – and stared with disbelief at Slytherin.
Slytherin mocked the role of 'the embarrassed owner.' "Voldemort you get out of there," he said with little conviction. "That's just no way for a Dark Lord to greet his servant."
The Dark Lord complied and returned to his master's side. With a look back at Snape the seated Voldemort barked, "Mudblood!"
"That's right Voldemort, Sev is a mixed blood! And apparently his hypocrisy goes just as far as your own. But what have I told you about using those slurs?" Slytherin snapped the creature on the nose, and it recoiled from the blow. "My apologies," he said, looking back to Snape. "Unfortunately, there's little to be done. He came this way from the previous owner."
"What sort of abomination is this?"
"Why it's a Horcrux of course. Riddle left him here while he was being destroyed by baby Harry."
"Oh, don't tell me you've never heard of Horcuxes. They're all the rage with the Dark Lords these days. What you do is you take a little piece of your soul, rip it from your body by way of ritualistic murder, and then store it away somewhere for safekeeping," Slytherin answered.
"…such that the owner of the soul would retain an anchor to this realm should he ever die," Snape deduced.
Slytherin tapped his temple and then pointed to Snape with a nod. "This one here is one of seven. I think that goes a long way towards explaining his…behavior."
"The Dark Lord placed a portion of his soul into Potter's head?" Snape said with incredulity.
"Well not on purpose, of course. But when one finds oneself being unexpectedly expelled from the mortal plane, one finds the proper placement of one's recently removed soul fragment to not be a priority. My associate here managed to find a way all on his own into Harry's head."
Snape fell into silence as he took to considering the many implications of this new information. His silent contemplation was abruptly interrupted by his fist running into his face again.
"Don't waste time trying to figure the angles, Sev. You'll never have the opportunity to use any of it," Slytherin said as he watched the man recover from hitting himself. "Come on, there's still so much more to see."
Slytherin led the group until they reached the river of boiling tar where a boat and ferryman awaited. "This river separates those who are judged from those who…are not judged." Salazar said in an officious tone. "You are cast into this place so that you might glimpse into what awaits."
Snape's worried look returned. "What is it called?"
Salazar glanced over to Snape with an annoyed look but quickly turned his gaze back to the river. "It is called…The Brook of Boiling Blackness." He appeared pleased with himself upon formulating that name.
Snape looked onto the pallid and skeletal figure dressed in a garb of thinning, aged, black cloth that draped from his body like old rags. The ferryman held a knotted, sinewy black stick that extended several body lengths behind the boat and into the flowing tar beneath. He stared at Snape with empty black orbs, and Snape found he could not maintain his gaze back at the man. In a nervous tone he asked Slytherin, "And what is he called?"
"The guy who's driving the fucking boat," Slytherin snapped. "Now stop asking so many questions and get in."
Snape quickly complied, and soon they were being ferried across the river by their nameless, speechless, skeletal captain. Silent minutes passed during which Snape decided he'd rather suffer the uncomfortable anxiety of not knowing what was to come rather than face the risk of upsetting his guide any further.
But this eerie silence was interrupted by a slowly growing chorus of moans seemingly coming from the river beneath them. Snape shivered and quickly looked to Slytherin for an explanation, but he didn't get so much as a blink of an eye from the founder. The moans continued, growing louder, and Snape looked to the boiling tar. He watched as large bubbles slowly formed on the surface. When he examined them more closely, he realized the moans were being released as those bubbles burst.
"The cries of lost souls crossing over to the abyss," Slytherin said in explanation. "For the first circle of the hell that awaits, Severus, is reserved for Those Who Would Not Commit."
"Commit? Commit to what?"
"In every lifetime there exists opposing forces; in fact, there are usually several. But for all the opportunities to choose, there always remains those who do not. There are those who find it in their best interest to hide in the wake and wait until one side avails," Slytherin answered.
"Cowards!" the Voldecrux barked.
Slytherin pet his doglike counterpart on the head. "That's right boy. The first circle of hell, Sev, is reserved for the cowards who didn't have the testicular fortitude to pick a side."
The boat came to an abrupt stop. "First floor: perdition, eternal storms of hellfire, and endless conversations with Gilderoy Lockhart," Slytherin announced.
Snape crawled out from the craft. "Lockhart, what would he be doing here," though he noticed after asking the question that it wasn't so much a singular version, as much as there was at least one Lockhart per tortured soul in this place.
"Not my version of hell. These things come custom-fitted for the offender, played in this scenario by you. If I had to guess, Lockhart is simply the biggest douche bag of your age." Slytherin covered his mouth and nose with a single hand as he dramatically shook his head with disgust at what he saw. "And what a fine impersonation of a feminine product he is."
"Are you trying to convince me that this is the fate that awaits me at death?" Severus said with contempt.
"I am not a coward!" Snape snapped.
The canine Voldemort walked over to Snape and sniffed the front of the wizard's leg. "Coward!" he barked as an affirmation.
"I don't know, Sev. That dog's got a nose for these things, and I'm not just saying that. Seriously, look at its nose: Those slits can sniff a coward from twenty paces!"
Snape's face hardened, and rage boiled in his eyes. He opened his mouth to argue, but Slytherin cut him off.
"Alright, I won't waste my time arguing it with you," he conceded. "But this next circle, this one's got you, with a capital Y, O, U written all over it!" Salazar snapped his fingers and instantly everything went black.
Snape once again felt as if he was lost in space without a sense of direction or a sense of his own body. This lasted just long enough for the former potions master to revert back to grasping vainly into the void.
"The second circle, Severus," a whispered voice filled the abyss. "Left for those who sow deceit."
"I will not participate in this charade," Snape announced.
"You will if you wish to escape this place. Yes, salvation may only be achieved through participation."
"A likely scenario."
"Scenarios do not exist in this place, Severus. Only infinite emptiness, suffering, and death. Surely you do not want to suffer this eternally."
"Better to suffer alone than continue playing into the machinations of a long-dead Hogwarts founder conjured by the broken mind of an insane schoolboy," Snape replied.
"I have freed you from his hold so that you can free yourself. But I can only conceal you from him for so long. There is escape. I can show you the way, but it is up to you to seize this opportunity!" The tone of this whisper carried a distinctly different sound than the previous. It was somehow more familiar.
The words gave Snape pause. But he refused to allow himself to be so easily tricked. "Show yourself!" It wasn't so much the appearance of his would-be rescuer that he was concerned with as it was that seeing another presence might provide him a sense place and direction in the blackness.
Almost immediately he saw a dull grey light in the distance. It grew in size; but without perspective, Snape couldn't tell if that meant it was coming closer or simply growing larger before him. Eventually the silhouette of a figure could be seen through the light and a moment later the figure of Albus Dumbledore stood before him.
"My old friend, what cruel twist of fate has brought you to this place?" Albus asked.
Well, Snape had thought the appearance of his would-be rescuer wouldn't concern him. He realized now he was wrong. "Dumbledore…"
"It is I, Severus. But we haven't much time. This place is for the dead, and by all accords it is plain to see you have not yet come to that point in your destiny."
Snape reached out and touched the shoulder of the being across from him. His hand landed on solid mass, and he instantly felt awkward. It was a gesture that never would have occurred between the two men in life. "I'm sorry," he said as he pulled his hand away.
"There is no need. Come, I will show you the way."
Snape didn't argue and quickly fell into step with the deceased wizard. They walked in silence, and the former professor found that he couldn't stop himself steeling glances at the man next to him – the man he'd killed. "Headmast…Dumbledore, I – I wish to…apologize for my actions."
Dumbledore maintained a determined look at the path ahead of him as he continued marching forward. "I understand why you did it, Severus."
"You do?" Snape asked incredulously.
"Of course, and I do not carry grudges into the afterlife. I find no call to allow earthly transgressions to burden me into the beyond. We all must make decisions, and you made yours."
Snape simply could not find the words to respond. It didn't matter because he soon realized they were approaching a door that looked very much like the one he'd entered the outer realm of hell through. The guilt was quickly dissipated, replaced by the hope that he would finally be free of this nightmare.
Dumbledore stopped in front of the door. "This is your way out, Severus."
"You are not coming?"
"Of course not, as you are most aware, I am dead."
Snape saw the familiar twinkle in the Headmaster's eyes, but it didn't convey the calm confidence it usually did. This twinkle was more … mischievous.
"Come now, Sev, time to go," Dumbledore said as he stepped to the side of the door and positioned Snape into his place by grasping his shoulders.
"Sev…" Snape questioned as he was moved. He looked back once more to Dumbledore who nodded back at him that it was okay to go.
Bending over, he grabbed onto the handle and pushed the door open. The blast of heat that struck his face was so intense he felt his knees buckle. Desperately, he tried to push away but suddenly there was something behind him holding him in place! Looking back he expected to see Dumbledore; instead he saw an identical version of himself, cackling manically, and with the base of its foot pushing firmly against his ass!
"What! Who are you?" Snape grunted as he struggled against the twin version of himself. He managed to obtain a grasp onto the frame of the door, but instantly had his hand stomped on by yet another cackling version of himself that suddenly appeared. "Stop!" Snape pleaded. But neither version of the animatedly psychotic Snape twins paid attention.
His struggle was ultimately useless. Without proper leverage or anything to maintain hold of, he was forced face first through the doorway and into the burning pit of fire beneath him on the other side of the portal. He fell in and instantly began to flail against the agonizing flames as violently as he could. The pain was excruciating, and all his mind could contemplate was when the mercy of death would take him.
But it never came. Instead, it all disappeared, and the empty void of blackness returned once again.
"The second circle. For those to suffer betrayal eternally, left for traitors, left for you Sev," a voice whispered into the air.
Snape screamed and cowered into the empty space, trying to hide from everything all at once.
Slytherin appeared from the black and looked down at the whimpering man, "Alright, let's not be too overdramatic now."
"Please! Please stop this!" Snape stammered. "I can't take anymore of this place. Kill me, anything…anything other than this place."
"Kill you?" Salazar repeated incredulously. "You tit – don't you get it? This is what's waiting for you once you're dead."
"It's too terrible," Snape cried.
"It's sodding hell, what did you expect?"
"Then tell me what I must do to atone," Snape pleaded. "I will do anything!"
Slytherin looked at the broken man pensively for a long moment. "Nope, I don't do atonement; that's more Gryffindor's specialty. But maybe he'll be in the next head you get trapped in!"
Snape pulled his knees to his chest and stared past Slytherin as the continued fear of torment overtook him. Salazar sighed and grabbed the wizard by his collar, yanking him to his feet. He said, "Come on, Sev, chin up. You and me, together, we'll see you through this. After all, you're a Slytherin. I am Slytherin; blokes like us got to stick together in a place like this!"
Snape only offered the man a manic stare brimming with disbelief as a response. Eventually he calmed and was able to regain composure. "Why?" he asked dejectedly. "Why, if I'm not dead must I suffer this torment?"
"The second circle," Salazar said as a point of fact, "well, it's not as if it's the easiest place to describe. And I just didn't think showing you how another traitor like yourself was duped into throwing himself into an eternal pit of hell fire was going to properly convey the anguish in it all."
"Oh, come off of it, you were only engulfed in flames for a minute or so!" Slytherin watched as the look on Snape's face teetered between unfettered rage and inconsolable madness, which is a tough image for one to maintain their composure while in witness of. Biting back his laughter, Slytherin spoke in an even tone, "Tighten up your corset, Suzy, there's still one more place you need to see." At that Slytherin walked into the darkness and disappeared.
The blood exited from Snape's face about as quickly as the realm of hell flashed back into place around him. Back was the smell of sulfur, the raining balls of fire on the horizon, the tormented wails of agony, and the cracked, hardened, black ground. Snape took it all in, and with every bit of recognition he fell farther into despair. His psyche retreated into itself in an attempt to cope.
The growl of a Voldemutt disrupted his abundant morosity, "Murrrderrrerrr."
Snape looked up to see the creature baring its teeth, growling, and making an overall show of its unfavorable disposition. Not knowing what else to do the wizard backed away from the beast.
"Murrrrderrrrerrrr!" it repeated louder, drool falling from its mouth.
"What do you want from me?" Snape pleaded.
The perverted form of Voldemort extended one hand forward from the ground and pointed a finger at the Death Eater. "Yourrrr Soouuulll!"
Snape watched as Voldemort put its hand back on the ground and positioned itself so that it could pounce onto him.
A burnt shoe flew past Snape, nearly clipping his ear as it zipped by from behind his head, and struck the creature square in the face. "Git out a here ya unfortunately placed soul defect!" a voice yelled.
There was a loud whelp from the Dark Lord and then it ran away whimpering. Snape waited until he has sure Voldemort wasn't going to return before he turned to find out who had helped him.
"I'm Rick," the man said flatly and extended his hand, though he was watching Voldemort run away and not looking at Snape as he did so.
Snape didn't take the proffered appendage, and that was the best way to describe the object held before him. Hands usually come with more than one finger, sometimes even a thumb, but even more, all of the hands Snape had met throughout his life came equipped with skin.
Such was not the case with Rick. And as Snape was quickly discovering, Rick's one fingered, skinless, severely burnt and crusty blooded stump of a hand was a remarkably representative sample of the overall calamity that composed Rick. Not that the man did much to conceal his plight with the tattered khaki shorts and rag of a Hawaiian button-down, short-sleeve shirt he wore.
Rick looked over at Snape from behind black sunglasses that hung crooked on his face on account of a missing left ear, and saw that the wizard was not going to return his stump shake. The rebuke didn't seem to bother him. "Pleasure ta meet ya, Snap-o."
"It is?" Snape said, because it was the most coherent thought his brain could form.
"Well hell ya!" Rick replied. His accent was typically American, and the drawl seemed more pronounced as he spoke with greater excitement. "Shit, ta meet a feller t'aint come round to rip my face off – 'gain – nor ta boil ma skin, or pluck ma fingers…eat ma ears…rip off my bal – well, you get the point."
"I see," Snape replied. He really didn't, nor did he want to, but his brain was still not operating at a premium.
"Now don't git me wrong, Snap-a-roo. I've seen a steamin' cowpie with more appeal than a feller like you. But when belly's bumpin' back bone, a starvin man can't be picky." Rick smiled and Snape got a view of the rotting mass of flesh that was the inside of the man's mouth.
"What are you?" Snape asked.
"T'aint exactly small talk, but seeing as you're new ''round these parts, I guess that's alright. Snape, the Rickster is a man just like you."
Snape looked the man up and down. "Perhaps not – just – like me."
"Only difference is I've been cookin' in the sauce a bit longer. We're more 'like than you'd care ta admit."
"Is that so?"
"Well, I'm a guess you're no stranger to snuffing a man."
"Yup, probably women too."
"I'm certain I have no idea what you are talking about." Snape snapped.
"You know what I'm talkin' bout: givin 'em a dirtnap, the hard goodbye, the permanent pink slip…an order of the Kenny McCormick Special…Avada Cadavered if ya care for it in wizardin' terms…"
Snape offered no sign that he was following.
"Damnit, Snape, I got ta say this is disappointing as hell. And in case you haven't noticed I am a bona fide connoisseur in all the variations of disappointment hell has got ta offer, son!"
"I might offer an apology had I even the slightest clue what it is you are babbling about."
"I'm talkin' 'bout murder, sir! You are a killer. And certainly not the type who goes round helpin' move along them terminally ill or bed soilin' elderly neither. Now Snapester, I don't know you from a sack a demon balls, but one thing's fer certain, if you're here, you've taken the life of another, and not in no way that he was requestin' it."
"I am not dead," Snape barked. "Under no uncertain terms do I belong here at all!"
"Hoooee! Look who's done gone and grown a pair. You got spirit Snape. I like that! Unfortunately for you, it's just that bit o' pep 'at'll bring out the nasties 'round here." Rick leaned in towards Snape and cuffed his hand over his mouth so he was talking into the wizard's ear. "Little bastards, well, they get their jollies off by takin' the bark out'ta the dog."
Rick stopped suddenly and looked into the distance. His hand dropped and he stood straight as he pulled at the tattered and bloodstained flowery Hawaiian shirt so it sat more properly over his body. "Nope, Severoo, the minions in these parts like their cattle dead behind the eyes, but burnt, boiled, beaten, and bloody everywhere else."
In the distance Snape heard what sounded like a pack of cackling creatures, and instantly he was struck with fear. But it wasn't caused by the screeching, or the throaty gurgle behind it, nor was it the terrible clacking sound of steely claws scraping against hard, blackened ground. It was the sounds of agony screaming at him from within, filling his mind with horror he couldn't come to terms with. It was the worst sound he'd ever heard, worse than the sound of his own cries as he burned in hell fire; and it was getting louder.
Snape stared at the growing mass of movement sprinting towards him. His heart began to pound in his throat. Tears welled up in his eyes. His body grew cold, and sweat covered his palms. Slowly, the details of the individual creatures bearing down on him became visible; and their appearance was perhaps the only thing worse than their sound.
"Hot damn, boy! You look more terrified than a virgin on Prom night," Rick said with a slap of his knee.
Snape didn't look over at the man. He couldn't. The sounds filling his head and the terror it invoked inside him were too great.
"What's the matter, Sev, afraid the little demons are going to make you look like me?"
There was a different sound to the voice. The accent was gone, and the tone was clipped and harsh. Somewhere on the periphery of his senses Snape noticed this — just not enough for it to register a response from him.
The man waved his hand in front of Snape's face, but he couldn't pry his stare away from the approaching pack of demons. Finally, holding his hand in front of the wizard's face, he snapped his fingers.
Instantly the stampeding demons were gone, along the charred black ground, the raining hellfire and smell of sulfur in the air. No Hell, no Rick, everything; gone. All that was left was the infinite blackness and two spotlighted circles: one featuring a whimpering Snape and the other Salazar Slytherin.
Snape exhaled loudly as the horrors that filled his mind were suddenly gone. His senses returned, and he found that he was trembling fiercely and hyperventilating. His brain struggled with his body to regain control, and the outcome resulted in him orally projecting his previous meal down the front of his robes.
"Not that looking like me would be such a bad thing," Slytherin followed up. "In fact, I'd say the demons would be doing you a favor was that the case."
Snape didn't have to see the man to confirm it was Slytherin who stood next to him. Yet look he did, and upon seeing the harsh gaze of the Hogwart's founder who had put him through hell a fury began to build within him. The acrid smell of his own vomit and sweat fueled his madness. Logic and reason had long since been forgotten. All that was left was fury and the undeniable need to release it upon his captor. Staring back at Slytherin, Snape gnashed his teeth and then clinched his fists so tight his nails drew blood from his palms.
Slytherin didn't offer as much as a flinch at the behavior. In a calm, but cold tone he said, "But we aren't here to do you any favors. Isn't that right, Snape?"
The carelessness behind the comment was the last straw. Snape couldn't bring himself to care about consequences. They would unquestionably pale in comparison to what he had already suffered. A scream started from deep within his stomach, but by the time it escaped past his mouth he was already launching himself at the founder.
He dove straight through the image of Slytherin without feeling so much as a change in the air against his skin. His momentum sent him flying off balance, and he landed hard on the ground beyond. Blinded by rage, he jumped back onto his feet and once again charged at the man. He tried to grasp Slytherin's neck between his hands, but he felt only his own hands as they collided after passing through the man again. Snape screamed with fury, spit foaming through his still gnashed teeth. With no other options apparent, he began to swing wildly at the intangible person before him.
Salazar cocked his head to one side as he took in rabid man's useless assault. He smiled, not with amusement, but more with an expression of contempt. Slowly he raised both of his hands between him and Snape and pushed the wizard away from him. The action sent Snape hurtling through the air.
The Death Eater's momentum was stopped abruptly by the same tree that had serviced Harry in his earlier duel with the boy. By the time Snape regained his senses, the surrounding landscape had changed back to the clearing in the middle of the woods where he had waited for Harry with Hermione. A look of shock drew over his face as he scanned the landscape. It was twilight once again; he could see the green of the trees, the grass, the campfire, and the log lying next to it. Eventually he came to the point where Harry and Slytherin were standing, staring back at him.
Harry looked over to Slytherin. "You're one twisted…sick…and angry, little Hogwart's founder, sir."
Slytherin didn't look back at Harry. He kept a cold stare locked onto Snape as he replied, "You don't know the half, Harry. That was just the "show," now it's time to move on with the "tell."
"Potter!" Snape snarled. It was another target, something else to rage against for his suffering. He began to push himself up from the tree, but Slytherin extended his hand and suddenly Snape couldn't move.
"Stay," Harry said and then stared Snape down as the man struggled ineffectively against the power that held him in place. Harry turned to Slytherin, "So, still in my head then?"
"Still in your head."
"Sitting next to your body on the outside, playing the part of Ophelia."
"Fair enough," Harry said and then turned his attention back to Snape.
"Our time has come to an end here," Salazar stated. "But before you go, I'm going to tell you why you're going to wish I'd let you stay. You are a contemptible little man, Severus Snape. You've spent your entire life hiding from people; hiding your feelings, hiding your insecurities, hiding your traitorous intents … hiding your secrets. Well, from now on, you've got nothing to hide."
Harry looked between Snape and Salazar, neither of which broke their stare with each other. "So…you cured him of being an asshole?" he asked doubtfully.
Slytherin smiled, this time with amusement, and then broke his stare with his victim. Turning to Harry he said, "No. Unfortunately, there are some conditions that even I can't fix."
"What have you done to me?" Snape's barely audible voice cracked and gave as he spoke.
"Yeah, what did you do to him?" Harry's voice was clear, inquisitive, and it held a hint of excitement.
"What's the opposite of Legilimency, Harry?" Slytherin asked.
"Wrong! It's…well, I don't know what it's called exactly, but it's what our friend here has to look forward to for the rest of his life."
"I'm confused…wait, no…yes, I'm confused."
Slytherin walked over next to Snape, leaned in, and began whispering into the man's ear. With each word Snape's eyes grew wider, and then he began to tremble. When he couldn't bear it any longer, he slammed his eyes shut as hard as he could.
The founder backed away from Snape, "…for as long as you live," he said loud enough for Harry to hear.
Harry took it all in with disbelief. His eyes froze on Snape when the man opened his eyes, and he saw they were filled with tears. "What the fuck did you do to him?"
Slytherin's disposition changed as he walked back to Harry, he smiled once more and had a self-satisfied look on his face. "You know I really don't know what to call it. I'm kind of wishing I'd put more thought into that part. Snape is the first ever…Thought Billboard." He paused and thought, "…or, he's now suffering from a case of involuntary notion expulsion." Slytherin looked at Harry who offered no sign he was following, "No? "Okay, how about Snape's head is like a beach, and everyone gets to surf his brain waves?"
"Are you sure he's the only one who came out off from that imaginary field trip to hell?"
Slytherin eyed Harry with an impatient glare.
"I'm just saying, you're looking a little more frayed around the edges than usual."
"You like having The Severus stuck in your head? Is that it?"
Harry raised his hands in surrender, "Alright!" He looked over at Snape, then back to Salazar, "The opposite of Legilimency?" he asked, though it was posed as more of a statement. It clicked, and Harry's eyes nearly popped out of his head with astonishment. "Are you telling me from now on he's actually projecting his thoughts to anyone around him?"
Slytherin cocked a half-smile. "You're impressed. Admit it! Who's your favorite founder?"
"Is that even possible? I mean, I know you had him trapped in my head for what seemed like forever, but still. How?"
"I give you a three-course serving of my own secret Hell recipe. I give you the torture and utter destruction of the man soon to be formerly known as Severus Snape. And you want to know how I turned his brain inside out? I discovered mind magics, Potter. Suffice it to say there were certain findings that never made into the research notes your modern day textbooks are based on."
Harry shook his head and took a moment to blink his eyes. "It's cruel, and wrong, and so…vindictive!" Harry beamed a smile at the founder and then walked over to the man and shook his hand. "It may be the most fitting punishment ever delivered in the history of comeuppance!" Harry looked over to Snape. "Wow! You are really fucked!" Then he looked back to Salazar, still shaking his hand, "He's really fucked!"
"Fucked, a lot," Slytherin responded.
Harry released the founder's hand and turned towards Snape. "It's not like you can go back to Voldemort now, what with all the lies and secrets you're inevitably keeping from him. And you can't go to the ministry or back to Hogwarts, because they might actually do worse to you than Voldemort!"
Without looking back to Slytherin Harry said, "And you're telling me this is permanent. His thoughts are projected to anyone he comes near?"
"Yup," Slytherin answered.
"So say I was to get in a duel with him, would I know what spell he was planning to use as soon as he did?"
"And if he were to approach me, I'd know what his intentions were?"
"You got it."
"And we're talking about the Severus Snape in the real world, not just the one currently stuck here in my head? Brain re-wired. Permanently set to memory-out."
"Correct in one, sir."
"For the rest of his life?"
"Which I imagine won't last for very long."
Closing notes: I owe some credits at this point. Obviously there is a passage quoted from OOTP so…JKR citation, citation, citation… Obviously Dante get's a nod for being all Divine about his Comedy.
Farscape. One nod for Farscape, and many cool points to any individual who read this chapter and said, "That motherfucker is trying to steal some cool by making the Horocrux in Harry's head act like a blithering dog (the Voldemutt) just like Scorpious in that episode on Farscape!" Yup, you got me.
If you haven't seen Farscape you should, second best Sci-Fi show ever.
Bonus Omagic Top 5 Sci-Fi list:
4. BSG (seasons 1 and 2 only)
5. Star Trek TNG
Honorable mentions for not quite being sci-fi but if they were would otherwise be numbers 4 and 5 to Angel and Buffy
I won't say that I didn't like this chapter, I might on a bad day say I didn't like writing this chapter. Let's just say, it's my least favorite. Do with that what you will as you consider your review (and I know you're reviewing).