The Whisper

He's not sure when it began. The whisper is a slithery thing, snaking around and around his mind, tempting him with power, something he's never had the luxury of having. If he thinks about it, the desire seems to stem from a slap, from a few wallops from a father who he has never loved, never will love. Or, perhaps, it came from a mother who completely ignored him, from a mother who learned to keep everything out and stare into space, leaving him to fend off the beast.

At night, he dreams of fields of purple amaranth, of holding Lily's hand and leaving everything behind. It would be a foolish, foolish thing to do. But he would have control over his life, power over his life. But the whisper, that slithery thing that lures him to old books about things that should never be learned, should never be touched upon. But he reads, he learns, he embraces the Dark Arts with a fascination that shouldn't be in a child.

They watch him, those snakes in his House, they watch him carefully, treading around him and using him for their own gain. She warned him, Lily oh, how she had warned him… but she wouldn't have understood the whisper, the beckoning of the power which surrounded the Dark. He drew himself around it, like a moth to a flame. It was power, he needed. Power to show prats like Potter and Black, power to show the whole world, the boy they had tormented.

Severus Snape, needed that power. Craved it. Power was something he had never had as a little child, and he… he desired it. Avarice, Mammon, Greed… call it whatever you will but he desired with greedy fingers, something to assert himself. To show that he was not some weak-willed little fool incapable of fighting for himself.

Lily was a single light, in the darkness. She disagreed with his assertion, told him that having 'friends' -whatever you would call Mulciber and Avery, the bloody idiots and cowards - like those… He told her that he was not caving in to the whisper, the beckoning of the Dark Arts, and assured her that he was, for sure, good.

He should have known. Good things never last, never last for long, or ever in his case.

A boy who had never been favored by anybody, relative or Professor, Headmaster or acquaintances, he had been so jealous of people who got away with everything. Potter and Black, they were people who did not deserve to be in Hogwarts, people who didn't deserve to learn spells or have happy families. They were spoiled brats, brats who got sweets every morning, got new robes and new clothes and nice haircuts. They knew nothing of a slap, of bruises and uncaring mothers.

It was his own envy that had gotten the best of him. His own jealousy and frustration and hatred, absolute resentment that had sent his life forever spiraling downward. The power of the Dark Arts still curled around him, still whispered dirty little things into the lobes of his ears, and with a single spell, leaving him wandless and powerless he was thrust into the air and humiliated.

Life isn't fair. He learned that, a long time ago.

And for someone, who had spent so much time exercising control, he blurted out the one word, that singular, dirty, racial slur and the light for his darkness was immediately snuffed.

He lost the one friend, the one girl he actually loved, and the whisper… the whisper of power that curled around him tightly, coiling… he caved in to it.

There was no more light. Maybe, he thought, maybe if I were just a little stronger, a little more cunning, a little more dashing… maybe then Lily would be impressed.

How very wrong he was.

The taking of the Dark Mark was a vivid thing. So vivid, so unrealistic, so painful. Skulls and snakes are blemishes upon his forearm, and yet he smiles, he smiles a true, deep smile because for once, for once Severus Snape has control.

What he had failed to realize, was that the little dark-haired boy in his memories, the one with wide onyx eyes and violet bruises, who cowered in gloomy corners and shot down flies with his wand, had been swallowed by the Dark Arts, along with everything good that had been attached to his name.

As a Death Eater, he had killed many, often without remorse. The first task, the one that had assured him into the Dark Lord's ranks, had been the murder of his filthy Muggle father. This, he supposed, was what the Blacks would have called a 'trimming of the family tree'.

Tobias Snape had begged for mercy, had curled stubby, fat fingers around Severus' feet. The Death Eater had sneered. How often had he implored mercy at the hands of his father, and when had Tobias ever given him mercy. The Killing Curse tastes terrible on his tongue, carrying with it a sort of vomit taste. Severus knows this is wrong, knows it's wrong as he stares into the blank steel-blue eyes of his father. Eileen has been long dead, a victim of suicide, and what would she have said if she could see her son now?

What would Lily have said?

Severus wrenches dead fingers from his cloak, stares upon the dead body with an equally dead face. He feels no regret for the death of his father; Tobias couldn't nor shouldn't have even been called a father. He was nothing of the sort. Not to Severus, not to Eileen, perhaps not even to himself.

He'd gone drunk with power, believed himself to be stronger than those blasted Marauders. And this… this had been what he wanted, hadn't it? Power?

But everything cracks.

That is how the Light gets in.

Lily's face haunts his every dream, his every nightmare. He sees her still, standing there, that little smile on her face, and he watches it twist and contort into something darker, something so unlike Lily. And he wakes up to the harsh slap of reality, twisted in thin, ragged sheets. The Dark Mark is still tattooed on his arm. He is still alive. He is still a coward.

No, he attempts to convince himself, he is no coward. That term belongs to bullies and Golden Boys like James Potter, to spoiled brats like Sirius Black.

Lily is dead, he tells himself, and it's his fault, it's always been his fault. The whisper ceases its beckoning call, ceases its hold over him. He has no power. He was not able to turn back the clock and make the right decisions, was not able to serve himself and only himself. Indeed, there is no power in being a pawn.

He sips Firewhiskey and he does so, knowing that it is wrong to indulge in addictions, wrong to indulge in the thing that had such control over Tobias Snape. And yet, for the moment, he does not care. It's the middle of summer, warmth and heat cling to dirty, shabby windows. He's reminded of the summer he and Lily met, reminded of words spoken softly in their 'Secret Spot', of Petunia and her horse face.

What little is left of the Firewhiskey burns a path down his throat when he swallows.

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