A/N: SERIOUS GORE. I Say Again: SERIOUS GORE. Obviously, also VERY DARK. References to CP, mainly character developement. More CP soon, I promise! Also, please be patient when it comes to Snape's invention-- I intend to explain in story later on.
"What does deserve have to do with it?" Is a two fold reference. It's a line from a Clint Eastwood movie, but my Professor also describes it as a good example of the classical Hellenstic viewpoint. For example, this attitude helps gove context to plays like "Oedipus Rex". It's in that sense I use it here.
Thanks to all readers.
Snape stalked the halls of Malfoy manor like the ghost of vengeance past. He hadn't been to Hogwarts for days. He had had minimal sleep, little food, no time to shower or shave. He was close to collapse. And then Potter and his little band of fools showed up.
It was a miracle that the Dark Lord hadn't killed Potter almost on sight. A miracle he hadn't given Granger to Greyback and his men. A greater miracle that they still lived, though Snape was fearful for Granger's mental state, especially with Bellatrix and Rudolphus minding her . Those who didn't know the Lestranges often assumed that Bellatrix was the monster and Rudolphus the saner, kinder one. Snape, who know them both well, thought simply that Bella was the more open of the two, and less dangerous by half than her husband.
He pushed it from his mind. Knocking Potter's door, he opened it to find the boy lying on his stomach on the bed, attired in a white night shirt like Snape's grandfather had been wont to wear. Snape had to swallow a snort at the randomness of it, the strangeness. A house elf stood a few feet away, looking uneasy.
"Get dressed, Potter. Robes. There's to be a special demonstration."
"What kind of demonstration?"
"The kind you have to wear clothes for, now stop asking me stupid questions and get a move on, you impudent little bone head."
Harry fixed him with a dignified look. "All right, then. Since you don't know…"
"Of course I know. I simply have no intention of telling you about it."
Harry gave a small sniff to illustrate he didn't believe Snape knew at all. Snape restrained an urge to give the boy a good cuff on the head and contented himself looking menacing as possible as the boy moved to the wardrobe and took out a pair of charcoal robes, clearly Draco's, which had been spelled to fit Harry's shorter, skinnier frame. He dug in the drawers to find slacks and a shirt, then gestured for Snape to turn his back.
Snape smirked malevolently. "Oh no, Potter. Suppose you should hurt yourself again?"
Harry huffed. " Of course I won't." He ducked behind the open door of the wardrobe and stripped the night shirt off. Snape laughed quietly and Harry felt his guard go up. Snape never laughed because he was, you know, happy. He laughed because he had found a new way to hurt people.
"Lucky for you, Potter, this demonstration is of a special sort."
"What sort, though? You didn't want to tell me a moment ago."
"I still have no intention of it. But you should thank your lucky stars all the same."
Snape sounded like a character in a muggle film Harry had seen years before, with a little green alien that talked with the same annoying opacity. It wasn't much of a stretch to imagine Malfoy manor a swamp, either. He wished he had a space ship like the hero of that story; he and Hermione would fly away and find Ron and then get back on track, leaving the insanity that went on within the walls.
"Why should I do that, professor?"
Snape let the laugh seep into his voice. "It's standing room only."
Harry shoved the door he was standing behind and faced his former teacher head on.
" I don't see the first funny thing in any of this. And if you weren't such a mean spirited git, neither would you."
Snope sobered. " I'd be nice, Potter. The Dark Lord would be most displeased to hear you took an attitude with me."
This seemed more or less true, and Harry shut up before he got himself in even more trouble. He quickly dressed and, at Snape's insistence, combed his hair. Still without shoes, he followed Snape down the maze of corridors.
"Sir? How's Hermione? Have you seen her?"
Snape stopped. "Yes, I've seen Granger."
"Is she better?"
Snape turned and ushered Harry quickly into an open door frame. He dropped his head and lowered his voice, speaking quickly.
"No, Potter, she isn't. She may never get better. If she is to get better, then she must be encouraged to release her feelings and move on."
"Her Dad never killed her Mum, did he?"
Snape looked around and said a little louder "Don't be stupid, Potter, of course he did. I saw the bodies myself." His eyes said the exact opposite and Harry nodded to show he understood.
"What can I do?"
Snape paused. "Maybe nothing. Maybe much. Simply be her friend as much as you can, Potter."
They continued to the drawing room amid a crowd of Death Eaters, elites who were robed but unmasked. The doors swung open to accommodate them, and the crowd parted like a limb cut in two and they passed in.
Voldemort sat at the head of the table, in the carved wooden chair that served him as a throne. Lucius Malfoy sat at his left, Wormtail behind him like a servant. He gestured for them to take chairs near Lucius, which they did, Harry with some trepidation.
He restrained himself from jumping up again. It hurt! The chairs were unpadded, and his backside howled protests as having to bear weight, let alone while sitting on chairs made of some kind of iron cum wood.
"Something wrong, Harry?" The Dark Lord smiled as benignly as possible from the head of the table. The others sat quietly, watching like hawks. He had two choices; lie and stay sitting down ( and get punished for lying? He wondered nervously) or announce the problem and maybe get to stand up. Maybe not—Voldemort's mercy was never a guarantee.
"No sir, not at all." Harry sat up straighter and made himself stop squirming. The pain changed from a sharp agony to a slithering itchy burning that was as bad or worse..
"If you change your mind…"
The men rose as a small contingent of women rustled in, among them Bellatrix, Narcissa and Hermione. Hermione was wearing a plain black robe, hair pulled into a braid, the only color a touch of rouge. Her face was deadly pale and she wavered as she walked.
Various men stepped forth and took the arms of their escorts. Snape took Hermione and Harry noticed she seemed to be leaning on him. He caught her eyes and noticed how distant she looked, how disconnected. She looked—drugged.
"Since the ladies have arrived, shall we head to the surprise Lucius had arranged for us?"
A general hum of agreement sounded and the company walked past the rose garden and into the open space behind the manor, the beginning of the Malfoy family park. It was ordinarily an open and lovely place, wreathed in trees and soft blowing grasses. The edges of the nearest part were defined by a few large poles; a home made Quidditch pitch.
Tonight was different. The goals had been pressed into service as torch holders, a rough ring made near a dais on which sat a chair like the one Voldemort used in the house.
Harry was unsurprised when they moved towards it and mounted the stairs. The Dark Lord pressed his Mark, and at once the air was filled with sounds of masked Death Eaters Apperating to the gathering point. Within fifteen minutes the field that stood before the ring was, if not full, then quite crowded.
Voldemort rose. "Welcome, all of you. Tonight we have a special treat, courtesy of Lucius Malfoy and his son, whose Quidditch pitch we stand on now. Our own Severus Snape has invented a new potion, the effects of which ought to prove quite—entertaining.
"Of course, the real news is our guests.' He took Harry by the arm and guided him to stand before them. 'Their heads' though Harry, rather dazed 'are below my feet."
'I expect you all to treat them with the courtesy you would reserve for any guest of mine. To celebrate their arrival and tenure with us, I have arranged a fete worthy, I dare say, of Lucullus. Or, at least, a feast of that magnitude."
"On with the show. Severus, we await your lead."
Harry noticed with faint surprise that Snape's hands were shaking. He pulled a phial of liquid from his robes and walked through the crowd to the edge of the ring.. Greyback was out of disgrace, it would seem, and he had brought friends. They stood in the center of the ring, eight or nine, dirty and blood stained, grinning.
Snape passed the phial to them and immediately stepped well back. He raised his wand and pointed it at Greyback. Harry could see the moisture on his brow and lip as he waited. The moment hung suspended forever and didn't last nearly long enough.
The twilight was thick, the moon not yet visible. The cloud cover was dense and inky, as though rain wished to fall and feared the Dark Lord too much to dare. Greyback drank a sip and passed it to Splitnail. Within a moment, they were all dosed.
The tension was palatable. Splitnail started first. His shoulders began to heave, his face contorted. His hands and feet melted to paws and he dropped to all fours, howling, head towards the sky. No moon floated above.
The others were dropping to all fours, convulsing, changing. Hair sprouted, fangs and nails grew, limbs warped. Lucius raised his wand and fired a spell. Movement from the back of the ring. Scrabbling, screaming. Almost at the same instant Snape flicked his wrist. A quivering dome encased the make shift arena a second and then faded, clear and strong.
The change was nearly complete. The werewolves made slavering noises of pain and anticipation. The sounds from the back grew even louder. They spun as a pack and ran.
The helpless humans inside didn't last long. It was a massacre. Some were minor Death Eaters who had failed in some way; some muggles who had been at the wrong place at the wrong time; some wizards who knew too much. They died, their shrieks not quite covered by the howls the werewolves made as they took their meals, or the horrible ripping sound of the feeding.
Some, braver or luckier or more desperate than the rest made it to the goal posts. A few even climbed partway up. Greyback, now a snarling grey wolf of some seven feet or more, Splitnail and a few others gathered around, capering, playing. One threw a head at the unlucky few that clung like ants to the illusionary safety of the goal post, knocking one down and dragging him off to feed.
Harry didn't want to watch. He tried to turn his eyes away but felt the clamp of a cold hand on his shoulder. "If you don't watch, I'll send Draco for Miss Lovegood. Perhaps you'd like to see what they'd do before they granted her the mercy of death?"
He shook his head. "No what, Harry?"
"No, my lord. Please spare Luna."
The Dark Lord leaned his head down. " What will you give me if I do?"
"If I spare Lovegood, whom shall I have killed instead?"
Harry pushed down the rage that threatened to snap his spine. "No one."
"Were you talking to me?"
Voldemort smiled. "The people want a show, Harry. The first law of ruling is to give people what they want. Bread and circuses, in other words. If not Lovegood, than who? Shall I throw them Ollivander?"
"No." Harry didn't choose, wouldn't choose. He'd die before he—
"If you like. Lucius, go and get the Lovegood girl, she's scene two."
"No! Please, don't hurt--"
"Then who? Hermione? Draco? Snape?"
Harry shook his head, too overwhelmed with horror to respond. Voldemort looked over his head and said called for Lucius. "The wand maker, then. He's of no more use to us."
Harry didn't protest. Snape intercepted Lucius and walked the captive to his end, made it as merciful as he could to the poor man by rendering him unconscious with a swift blow to the head. His death was brief; the werewolves had fed well and were getting bored playing with their food. Voldemort held the nape of Harry's neck with his hand, forcing him to watch. The Death Eaters laughed and heckled, clearly enjoying the old man's miserable death. Harry could stand no more; he leaned over and tried to get sick.
Couldn't. The cramping pain in his stomach refused to be shifted. The voice again in his ear: "No Harry, not here. They mustn't see you weak. You may throw up all you like in private." The hand squeezed, tightly but not chokingly, and then stayed there. Harry was almost glad; it gave him something to concentrate on.
"Look Hermione, that one's fighting! Oh, oh, see, the werewolf pushed him down. He's still fighting! Idiot, why won't you just die?" Bellatrixw as in here element. She had a firm grip on Hermione's arm, intent on distracting her from her grief by amusing her with the spectacle below.
The girl swayed where she stood. Her mind was mixing the images of what she was seeing with those of the gruesome death which had befallen her Mum and Dad. It seemed to her like a movie, very far below. Later she would recall it like snap shots, frozen images that mercifully refused to resolve themselves into a coherent whole. A severed arm, a screaming face, a blood smeared muzzle.
A sudden thump distracted the people on the dais, though the crowd never wavered a second; Hermione had fainted dead away.
Snape was summoned at once and the girl carried into the house to be cared for. "I am sorry, Severus, that you are to be robbed of your triumph for this…remarkable achievement. The girl is not well; I was too soft hearted to deny her a treat. Poor thing-put her to bed and keep her there."
Bellatrix followed behind, irritated at missing the rest of the night's fun but unwilling to shirk the important duty the Dark Lord had given her. Only she was to be trusted with the captive; only she could reshape the girl's filthy blood and disgusting habits into something pure and worthy. A few shocked onlookers caught the unlikeliest of sights; Bellatrix Lestrange, gently catching the girl's limp hand in hers.
In short order, Snape and Bella had her tucked in and dosed with a large calming draught. Her eyelids fluttered and she tried to speak but Snape, employing his 'teacher voice' told her sternly she was to go to sleep and didn't dare get up without asking he or Bellatrix first. Was that understood? It was. She rolled over and let the soothing darkness claim her.
The others stood on the dais. The Dark Lord murmured something to Wormtail and the nubby little man vanished, only to return with a masked Death Eater that was, in fact, Rudolphus Lestrange. The man swept away the mask and bowed low.
" A good night's work, Rudolphus. Perhaps we can move into the climax now?"
"Yes, my lord. We have him in the barn."
Rudolphus gestured to a group of younger Death Eaters and left for some minutes. When he returned, the group led a smaller figure by the neck like a cow. He was struggling and screaming, horrible shrill cries. Harry shivered and felt that hand on his neck again. Squeeze. "If you can't enjoy it, Harry, then make your face blank."
The werewolves had been relaxing, grooming one another and dozing in the warded circle. They perked up at once when they heard the screams. The Dark Lord stood and amplified his voice.
" Friends, Rudolphus Lestrange has provided us with yet more amusements this night. He's caught a spy, a traitor lurking about attempting to profit from both sides of the war. He tried to use his blood status to manipulate us, use his pure blood to ingratiate himself after debasing himself with the blood traitor Weasley and the renegade werewolf Lupin. Shall we take this opportunity to show the enemy how we deal with spies in our midst?"
"YES!" The crowd, appetites insatiate, smelled fresh blood. The bayed like hounds on the hunt. Harry felt the small hairs on the back of his neck go up. These people, powerful and well bred and intelligent, had become a mob at the very first chance.
"Shall we send a message to blood traitors everywhere?"
"What should I do with him?"
"GIVE HIM TO GREYBACK!"
"And his head?"
"SEND IT TO THEM!"
Their howls were huge, orgasmic, elemental. They were in love with violence, too comfortable with death. They sea of churning faces made Harry shrink back, try to get away. Squeeze. "They can't hurt you up here, Harry. They wouldn't, because I've put you under my protection."
He turned to the cowering figure. "Mundungus Fletcher, you have convicted by a jury of your peers as a blood traitor and a spy. What do you have to say?"
Mundungus screeched. "Please, please, I did what you asked me to. Don't let the werewolf have me! Please!"
The Dark Lord nodded and the men began to drag Fletcher toward the ring. He shrieked again and again. " I gave you the Granger girl's--" Someone silenced him. Someone tall. Rudolphus?
Snape snapped his wrist and the bubble shimmered into nothing. The werewolves surged forward as one. The crowd shrank back, ladies crying out in alarm as much pretended as actually felt. As soon as the Death Eaters got close enough, a paw darted forward and grabbed Mundingus by the face. Blood flew and he gave another horrible yell, seeing his death.
The Death Eaters cheered. Thanks to Snape's potion, the werewolves retained enough human thought ( just barely) to do what the Dark Lord asked, to save the head and especially the face. They tore the rest apart, alive and screaming. They toyed with him. Harry had never felt so sick in his life. He wanted desperately to get sick but couldn't.
At last it was done. The crowd dispersed quickly. Most went home; some stayed at the manor. Harry felt numb, leaden. Dead. Like Olivander, like Mundungus, like Hermione's parents. He wavered as he walked, wanting to sleep forever and forget this awful night.
Voldemort insisted on escorting him personally. "Well, Harry, what did you think of your first revel?"
Harry was still shaking a little, faintly green.
"I hated it. They didn't deserve that."
The Dark Lord smiled. "What does deserve have to do with it?"
Harry shook his head. "It isn't right. No one deserves--"
Voldemort put up a hand. "Ah ah, there's that word again. No one, or very few, deserve the cards they're dealt, Harry. We simply play the hand we have as best we can. Did you deserve the way those muggles treated you?"
"You know about that?"
" I know many things. Answer the question, Harry: Did you deserve that? For that matter, did you deserve to have to choose who among your friends lived and died?"
"No! I didn't want to--"
"You know what it is to be a killer now, Harry. How does blood feel on your hands?"
Harry didn't flinch from the awful truth of it.
"Of course you didn't. Then again, neither did they."
Voldemort shook his head as though to clear it and gestured to the desk. "I expect you to spend tonight working on that homework. If I come up and find you've done nothing I shall be very upset. And the books had better stay earth bound this time!" This last was with a small, teasing smile.
Harry pushed down his rage, reminded of last's night…incident. He made himself think of the present; he wouldn't get sucked into another fight he couldn't win. " I'm not sure I can, umm… I mean.., it really hurts."
"s You don't think you can st comfortably enough to concentrate?" The Dark Lord was not only a talented legilimens; he had also been young once.
Voldemort crossed the small space between them and took Harry's chin in his hand. Harry tried to pull away and could not; the Dark Lord had a hand like iron ( in many senses…).
"I understand it hurts right now, Harry, but you simply must understand that actions have consequences, many of them long ranging. Perhaps sitting on a sore back side for a few days will help you remember that." He let the boy's chin go and gave him a look to reinforce that this was not negotiable.
"Tibby or Lemmy will bring you some supper later, and I want in bed by midnight. I will come back and check." He turned to go and then spun back around at the last moment. " Oh, and Harry?"
Harry was preparing to lower himself gingerly into the chair, wondering if it would be defiant of him to get a pillow to sit on. He hoped not; he couldn't bear that dreadful itchy sting for the several hours his work would take.
" Mundungus made some remarks before he—met his rightful end, shall we say. People in these situations will often say any desperate lie to try to off the inevitable. So I see no reason to mention this to Miss Granger, do you?"
Harry shook his head. "Pardon?"
"No, my lord."
Voldemort smiled. "That's a good boy. After all, there are more blood traitors in the world than Fletcher, aren't there?"
Still smiling, he made his exit, as quiet as smoke.