Title: Well Disguised Secrets
Characters/Pairings: Severus and the Dark Lord
Prompt: Invasion of the mind
Rating: G
Word Count: 466
Warnings: None

"My Lord…"

Severus's voice broke the intense silence that hung over the graveyard. The other Death Eaters had been sent on their way, and the air was still, not so much as a whisper of wind. Only the Dark Lord himself remained to mar the sanctity of the night.

He was standing beside a stone statue of an angel, his spidery, pale fingers absently tracing the stonework, and he did not react to Severus's arrival.

"My Lord?"

He, the Dark Lord, raised one hand for silence. There were several long, tense moments in which Severus did not dare to speak again, but kept his eyes trained upon his Master's silhouette in the dark.

"You have returned, Severus," breathed the Dark Lord at last, turning to face Severus, his voice a silky hiss so cold that it sent shivers through the air. "I must say that you have surprised me. I expected you to desert the cause…"

Severus kept his face as impassive as he could manage, letting himself betray not the faintest hint of emotion when he met the Dark Lord's eyes.

"I would never, my Lord," he said.

"It is difficult to believe that…" The Dark Lord's lip curled into the very slightest of sneers, "when you going to such lengths to employ Occlumency against me. You have something to hide, Severus…"

Severus's heart pulsed in just a moment of sheer panic, but he shook his head slowly.

"No, my Lord. Nothing."

"Then…?"

Severus breathed deeply, inclined his head in the tiniest of bows, and lowered his defences, allowing the Dark Lord access to some of his thoughts – potions classes, Karkaroff's disloyalty, hatred for the Potter boy… though he kept certain memories – Dumbledore's orders, Lily's eyes – hidden away from his Master's invasion.

He was sure that he could sense his thoughts being pulled from his mind and examined, then the Dark Lord nodded slowly, and Severus dared to meet his eyes again. He bit down upon the corner of his tongue to distract himself, to keep his expression still and his eyes clear of guilt, and waited for the Dark Lord's verdict.

Every second lasted a painful eternity, and in spite of himself, Severus felt a tiny bubble of panic rising within him. Could it be that the Dark Lord had seen past the barriers, past what Severus had wanted him to see, into the recesses of his mind that housed thoughts of Lily Evans? Worse, thoughts of his allegiance to Albus Dumbledore? Would years upon years of lies and deception be wasted because of a moment of weakness that night?

"Welcome back, Severus, welcome back," the Dark Lord breathed, and Severus's relief at his lies passing by the Dark Lord's inspection once again was beyond any relief that he had felt in the past.