The Razor's Edge
By Lady Dien
Summary: Severus Snape writes in his journal after being asked by Dumbledore to return to Voldemort (at the end of GoF). A little angsty. Inspired by: Nyarth's Memoirs of a Slytherin, definitely! *bows in homage* R & R, people! (And if you liked it go read Nyarth's stuff.)
This is ridiculously melodramatic. You've been warned.
Disclaimer: Let us all bow in homage blah blah blah to JKR. All hail. And there's some words from a song in here... somewhere... scratches her head and goes off to look at her CDs...

*~~~>/\ Welcome to the dark side. Welcome to the dark belly of the world.

There's no such wines as these to be found under the sun, but taste these heady vintages carefully. Each cup holds poison.

Walk paths that no one else can follow, but place each foot carefully. For this walk takes place on the edge.

And it's such a long way down.

An endless fall, if I should slip from this razor's edge. I'm inches from the side and I'm slipping. I'm falling from my hidden haven high above the abyss.

I'm halfway between Hell and the Dementor's Kiss.

I walk this corridor of mirrors I've so cunningly laid down for myself, walk the traps and lies I planted with such skill and pride, never dreaming I'd ensnare myself, never dreaming I'd forget the answer to the riddle, the escape from this my cunning labyrinth. I walk this corridor of mirrors and I am careful not to look at my reflection.

Welcome to the dark side of the world.

I'm walking a wire that has cut better men than I into ribbons. I'm balancing. For how long?

For the life of me, I cannot remember what made me think I would live forever. Was it only that I was young? And proud, too, I suppose. Hah.

James and the others, they thought they'd live forever, didn't they. They were young, and proud, and golden godlings... now look at them. James is dead. Sirius... hunted for a crime he didn't commit, though he deserves the hunting still. Peter revealed to be traitor after all--blood breeds true in vermin as well, I see-- and Remus... dear, dear Remus... finally fled before the beast within.

I warned him.

But oh how bitter the knowledge, that I guilty of the same folly as them. I thought my cunning would protect me. I walked two paths, and, pleased with my cleverness, found even other paths to take, until the paths looped within themselves, turned back, until nobody knew the truth of me, until no one could have reached through the layers of mirrors and found my true reflection. Not Voldemort. Not Dumbledore. Not anyone.

Least of all myself.

The mirrors reflect only reflections. I laid string, to lead me out of the maze, but I tied knots in it to confuse the enemy--which enemy? all of them-- and I cannot get the knots undone...

And then I took a wrong turn in the maze, and now I stand on this razor's edge. I cannot go back, as I always thought I'd be able to. I cannot stand still because underneath my feet the blade dissolves, eaten away by the void. I must advance. Must advance, in balance between death and Death, between what Voldemort will do if/when he finds me out to be a traitor and what will happen when/if I am no longer traitor, when I once more sell my soul to him... I must advance and cling to what little sanity remains at this thin space of breathing room atop the blade, atop the edge.

If I look down, I see the void. Either side that I fall from will cast me into it, and oh, dear god, it's such a long way down.

Welcome to the dark side of the world, they said to me. Laughing. It was a joke to all of us.

I want to go up to his office and scream. Rant and rave and pull my hair and scream until my lungs are raw and my throat bleeds and the damn old man will just sit there, calm, wait for me to finish, stare at me with those eyes.... And then I'll plead. I'll ask, I'll beg, not to be sent to do it, to spare me, that this is too much, haven't I served faithfully and well, isn't it enough, send someone else Headmaster, send someone else, please please please Albus, send someone else. And the damn old serpent (he's at least half Slytherin, he must be, look how he manipulates us so easily, so well, making us happy to be manipulated and sent to our deaths) will look at me, calm, wait for me to finish, and... will he say anything? He might not. Might just give me the knowledge of my guilt with his eyes, make me ashamed, until I plead and weep more, asking only for the chance to be of service this one last time, though it lead to my death...

Oh, Voldemort. Dark Master mine. You should take lessons in command and power from Albus Dumbledore. We serve you, my Dark Lord, we serve you and tremble and die if you command it... I serve you... yet only Albus Dumbledore could make me beg for the chance to do so.

But if he does say something, it will only be... "Severus, I need you to do this." And that will be it. And I will do it. I will advance.

Oh, wily old chess master. Clever old fox. Will you never let me rest? My debt to you, old man, my debt to you is the razor wire that cuts its way ever deeper into my flesh, farther than I could ever do even in those infamous little cutting sessions of mine, when I try to gouge that bloody Mark out of my flesh and end up passing out, waking to blood in the bathtub and tremors in my limbs.

I advance. I am inches from the edge and this time I cannot keep it up, I know it, and I will slip... Headmaster, will you save me from the fall, as you did when I was twelve? When you spoke softly and gently to that unloved Slytherin, and kept him from jumping from that tower top?

That was when you won me, you know. You could ask me to slit my own throat, Albus, and such is the loyalty I bear you that I would.

Of course, I'd swear and rant and rave first, as I'm doing now. Because you have asked me to slit my own throat. Or rather, asked me to go let Voldemort do it.

And I obey. I advance, the razor's edge so dangerous beneath my feet, the way of mirrors so treacherous, my own face forgotten in the masks I wear... Death Eater. Hogwart's teacher. Double triple quadruple agent. Azkaban convict, handed over to the tender mercies of Albus Dumbledore... who hands me over on a platter to HIM.

Welcome to the dark side of the world, Severus. Watch the first step-- it's a long ways down.

I'm inches from the edge and I'm falling...

Ah, Headmaster, I must apologize. You know I am writing this, I'm sure, as nothing goes on in the school you do not know of. So I must tender one last apology before I go, on this errand you have sent me.

I was never the golden godling. I was never your hero, that you could arm as all wise mentors do and send out to fight the darksome foe. No, I'm too much the darksome foe. And your golden children are dead or fled or tarnished now, Albus. You have only me left.

No, that's not true. There's Potter's son, isn't there? Young Harry. Your ridiculous silly Boy-Who-Lived. Oh, Albus, for the love of the gods, leave the child alone... Or that is what I'd say if I thought it would do any good. But you already own him too, don't you, old devil? As you did me. You bought his soul in some different coin, I imagine, something purer than what you purchased my loyalty in, and you probably won't ever have to stop him from suicide.

One thing then I ask of you. Swear you will never send him to his death as you send me now... or if you must, see that he does not know what he goes to. Shield him from that. Let him believe in his own immortality, let him bear that stupid Gryffindor courage into battle, and think you have sent him only to battle and not to the grave or madness. Let him think he will win, and survive, and come home the conquering hero.

Do that, old chess master, and we will be even, perhaps.

So. I have stalled long enough, in this last mad scribbling of my mind onto paper. The chances, speaking mathematically, are fairly good that I shall never write in this my journal again. You'll find it, if not now then later, and read with your usual calm inscrutability. Put it away--perhaps the Restricted Section of the library. And little brat students will ask, what is this?

And they'll say, the journal of Severus Snape, a spy for the Dark Lord, dead now these many years.

How did he die?

He fell... He fell a long long way, and he never hit bottom...