Disclaimer: Hogwarts etc belongs to JKR. The lyrics in the sub-headings are from The Cure's 'Love Song'.


iii) You make me feel like I am young again.

Young and foolish and back on his knees, hiding his hopes and fears and dreams. Hiding his identity, hiding his motives. The Dark Lord was back. The War was back. Azkaban was open and the Death Eaters were back. They fought for what they'd always fought for. The Dark Lord hadn't changed, Bellatrix hadn't changed, Malfoy and Avery and Nott, none of them had changed, but Severus? He felt like a shell, the same shell he'd been before, once brimming with bitterness and confusion and that teenage need to prove himself, now filled with a lifetime of regret and resentment.

They all hated Pettigrew. They hated the favour he'd gained in cowardice, they hated the gifts he was given, the praise he was showered with. They hated him for the rat he was, for the way he simpered, the way he mirrored their own grovelling in the most grotesque of ways, but most of all they hated him for starting again what they'd all dreamed to be over, for bringing back the Dark Lord, for re-establishing their slavery, for digging up the War they'd spent over a decade trying to recover from. But Severus felt perhaps a little more strongly than the others.

He felt twelve years old when the Dark Lord sent the rat to him, back in his old house at Spinner's End, barely five minutes walk from where she spent her childhood. The betrayer. And for what? What had he turned against her for?

They were damned men, the pair of them. Damned by the foolish choices of their youth. Damned by greed and bitterness and pride and all those stupid things they joined him for. They'd both turned their backs on her, between them they'd bought about her death. His finest soldiers.

It made him sick.

Pettigrew wore it like a gaudy jewel, the crowning achievement of his life. The destruction of something beautiful, the betrayal of his friends. But deep down Severus knew, he was no different to him. Beneath his foolish pride, Peter Pettigrew suffered as much as Severus Snape. He too was haunted by his past. On sleepless nights he'd here the rat scream apologies to long dead friends, but he felt no sympathy; he had known what he was doing.

He goes over it again and again and again. Countless times running over exactly what he'd thought and felt and done all those years ago. The smug satisfaction upon hearing that the Longbottom child was the one the Dark Lord needed. The shock, the fear, the utter confusion when his Lord jumped to a different, more terrifying conclusion. The horror at what he'd done, the fear, the desperation as he tried to fix it. The agony, the heartbreak as he failed.

Every moment from that day to this he had worked to claw himself back from that. He had saved the life of his greatest enemy's double again and again in the hopes of making it up to her (to make it up to himself). He'd sacrificed pride and conscience to go back into the ring, to take up the mark once more and fight for something he abhorred in the hopes that this time he'd hear a fateful secret and give it to the right side.

And when Pettigrew came to his house and dared to act like they were comrades… He was twelve years old again, only with the power and licence to do exactly what he'd wished so long ago. He could not harm the Dark Lord's favourite, he could not give away his motives for wishing to do so, but he could at least treat the pathetic man like the vermin he was.

Old rivalries, Bellatrix would assume. But no; it went far deeper than that.


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