I was working on my Batman/Red Eye crossover when I found this little one-shot I wrote a couple of years ago. It's not a happy story. Warnings for implied abuse, violent imagery and self harm.


Tenion. It wasn't quite the right word for what he felt. Yet Severus could think of no more accurate description. 'Tension' would have to suffice.

There was a tension building inside of him. It had been there as long as he could remember. And every minute of every day it seemes to get worse.

It's there in the mornings, when the fire had burnt itself down to embers. He forces himself up from his chair and downs a potion to push back the worst of the tiredness. Sometimes he has breakfast - a cup of tea in the great hall. Often he does not. Either way the tension seems to build inside him as he walks to class. The children make him angry. No, they make him afraid. No, the children make him tense.

He doesn't like it when they laugh. He's had enough of people laughing at him. The children make him uncomfortable. And the Slitherines... It's his job to protect them. He wants to protect them. He wants to keep safe the ones who come to school in the autum with bruises on their skin and rage in their eyes. He wants to help the white haired little boy who brags about his family, yet flinches from his father's touch. But he can't.

Dumbeldore said no. He said Severus couldn't risk displeasing the Dark Lord. He said everyone had to make sacrifices for the greater good. Dumbeldore never did care about Slitherines. They were too sinister, too dark. Not like his stupid, naïve, trusting little Griffindors. They were bursting with light. Looking at either house hurts so much it makes Severus want to smash his brains out against the castle walls. He never wanted to be a teacher. This school held too many memories, practically none of them good. Walking past certain rooms makes his skin crawl. He can still see the twisted smile on Lucious' aristocratic face. He can still feel his hands. And the tension grows and grows, till it seems to try and claw it's way out through his stomach.

He watches the older students carefully now, vigilent against any inappropriate interest in the first and second years. He wonders sometimes if Dumbeldore knew back then what was going on. He is certainly aware of it now. But he still sends him to the meetings. Severus has to go to the meetings. The Order needs their spy. And he deserves what happens to him. He'd cause pain. So he deserves to feel pain, over and over and over again. But afterwards he can never scrub the dirt out from under his skin. But what right does he have to be clean anyway?

He is a pawn, a tool, an ugly tool to be used and discarded. And if he is a tool this tension is the rust eating away at him, weakening him untill one day he will snap. But he can't snap, not when so much depends on him. So the rust must be cut away.

He doesn't like to look in the mirror. Neither does he like to uncover his body, either in public or in private. Still, at night, he rolls up his sleeves to his elbows and stares at the exposed skin. There are scars on his arms, just like on the rest of his body. But these scars were different; they were voluntary. He creates them with a small, sharp knife. And for just a moment the tension is gone.

The fear is gone.

The mocking laughter is gone.

The groping hands are gone.

The hundred faces begging for mercy when the most he can grant is a quick death are gone.

The guilt is gone.

The stress is gone.

But it always comes back worse than before.