Okay, confession time, I was absolutely cackling while I
wrote the Snape section. :) Hopefully you'll all be as
confused as I intend. Heh.

Note, the lyric was deliberately misquoted to form the title,
which should be revealing and symbolic if I'm doing this right. :)

A Perfect Circle
Chapter 5: Down Among a Million Sane

threw you the obvious and you flew with it on your back
a name in your recollection down among a million same
difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed and passed over
when i've looked right through to see you naked and oblivious
and you don't see me
but i threw you the obvious
just to see if there's more behind the eyes of a fallen angel
eyes of a tragedy
here i am expecting just a little bit too much from the wounded
but i see through it all and see you
so i threw you the obvious
to see what occurs behind the eyes of a fallen angel
eyes of a tragedy
oh well apparently nothing
you don't see me you don't see me at all

-a perfect circle
-3 libras

He didn't know where to go.

There wasn't anywhere he *could* go to escape this.

The first bloody rays of dawn were creeping sticky-fingered through
the tower windows, bathing his bruised face in crimson stripes. He
was huddling against a wall, nearer the heavens this night, his body
a single blazing point of agony.

This hiding in towers bit was becoming habitual.

He folded his arms into the borrowed robes, wrapping himself
more tightly in the scratchy wool. He could hear everything in his
head, every *screek* of wood and slap of flesh on flesh. Every
scream. Played back like the soundtrack to some Muggle movie
on endless repeat. He was sobbing quietly, as quietly as years
of abuse and neglect can teach one to cry, feeling the panic rise
in him again with the crescendo of internal agony.

You liked it, a voice whispered. Husky. Dark. Familiar.

He made me, I didn't want to, he answered.

You wanted it, you enjoyed it.

I didn't, I *swear*, I didn't . . .

You wanted him.

"Stop," he muttered, but the accusations didn't rest, and he could
still hear Snape's silky insinuations. Even with his eyes open, he
could see only the Potions Master, could only remember the things
that the man had-- "Stop!" But Snape was still there, and Harry,
frantic to banish the images behind his eyes, dashed his skull
against the tower wall.

Bright points of light flared beneath his squeezed-shut lids. The
room reeled. He'd felt this before.

But the memories were gone; he could sense them, just below the
surface, but for now he could see the tower before him, bathed in
early light.

None of it was true, what Snape had said. Harry understood this

What he felt was another matter.

You think you're brave. You spend your entire life thinking that you
are somehow braver than everyone else, or at least braver than
most. Maybe you've just never been tried. Maybe you just always

It's really fucking painful to have all of that ripped away from you.
The comforting self-delusions. To find that you're actually terrified
of your own shadow. Of everything, really.

You used to be fearless. You used to face the night with welcoming
arms, counting yourself among Her shadowed ranks. The demons
of Her dark held no terror for you. But . . . They see you now. They
know you. They want your pain, and they wear his face.

He hugged his knees, his shivers quieting to nothing. He couldn't
close his eyes, not deliberately, but he allowed them to slide
together until he saw only a thin rim of dawnlight through his close
lashes. It hurt, and he almost didn't care if the shadow-demons
came for him, almost welcomed their approach behind his
drooping lids. Let them come.

There is a kind of bravery in desperation, he supposed.

It was breakfast time before he stirred; the sun was high, and bathed
him in radiant light as he fled to the deeper castle shadows. He no
longer deserved the light.

He needed a shower. He needed to change. He needed a visit to
Madam Pomfrey, but he was none too likely to receive any of these
things. He went straight to the Great Hall. Wearing Snape's too-
large robes, still naked beneath them and covered in his own blood
and the other man's sweat and semen. He no doubt smelt horrible.

He didn't have the strength to enter the double doors.

He could hear the other students at breakfast, chattering and laughing
and clinking cutlery against crockery, and the chewing chewing chewing
like busy little moths. He was gnawing one of his knuckles. The blood
ran a scarlet ribbon down his forearm; the taste of copper brought him
to himself, and he stopped, wrapping the abused finger in a comforting

He wanted to die.

The thought startled him; his head came up like a deer scenting the
hunter, and he bolted from the carved doors. Snape's robes flared
and flapped behind him like wings, the awkward leathery wings of
a dragon. They'd be graceful if he ever managed to take off.

Classes. Classes. Classes . . . Nothing but Charms today, and DADA,
and isn't Professor Seehan a bloody moron, and don't you dare think
about anything else. Need books, and a change, and pens and ink
wells and paper, scrolls and scrolls of it.

He was sobbing.

He caught his shoulder on a corner of the armor on the second floor
east hallway; it spun him around and to the floor, and he sprawled
there, crying and panting for breath. You don't have to see him today,
you don't have to see him today, you don't have to see him today . . .

The chant wasn't helping.

He wanted to be a real witch, he thought, running again through the
shadow-slanted halls. The bell would toll soon. He wanted to mix
the fouler portions of the earth in a great skillet or a cauldron, and
see the deaths of his enemies there. He wanted to make an effigy
of stone or wax or serpent's tongue and see it burn as his enemies
would burn. He wanted--

Didn't matter.

He staggered through the portrait hole, ignoring the Pink Lady's
protests and wondering again why they couldn't have made the
door rectangular, like every other door in the world. He ached. He
shouldn't even be aware of the parts that were hurting, he thought.
None of this was right.

Vlad the Impaler did things like this. Voldemort did things like this.

Not Potions Masters.

He ran with the stagger-gait of a gut wound, up the curling stairs to
collapse in the nest of his bed. He was shivering, his skin clammy
and startled. He stared up at the ceiling of his canopy and thought
desperate thoughts.

And how desperate do you have to be?

His wand was a hard shape beneath his pillow; he drew it out right
away and clutched it like the stuffed toys he'd never had. There
wasn't much to wonder, aside from a general 'why'.

Snape was six foot one. Not much to think on, but the difference in
their heights amazed him. Like a wolfhound trying to mate with a
Cocker Spaniel. He bit back a laugh.

Laughter was inappropriate. He knew that. He wasn't stupid, or insane.

It was all just terribly funny. In a horrible sort of way.

He needed to get to breakfast. Snape told him to go to breakfast.
He didn't think he could, but even as he was talking himself into
staying curled up in bed he was climbing painfully to his feet.

How was he supposed to play Quidditch like this?

The irrelevance of the thought tore through him. He hated himself. The
revulsion was like ice cream, and he scraped it thick and cold from his
dead skin. How could he still be alive? How could he deserve to still
be alive? Blood ran ribbons down his arms, shredded by ragged boy's
nails. He wanted to die. He wanted to die. He wanted to die.

He took a shower.

It was remarkable, how one could go through the usual morning rituals
without aid of a mirror; he never looked, not once, and it was like a
small triumph in a sea of losses. He couldn't bear to look himself in the
eye, anyway. There was no washing this clean. There was no purifying
this soul.

He was sore. The hot water stung, and he felt an ache deep, deep inside,
below his liver somewhere and Snape said not to heal anything and it
was *inside* of him, the pain was so deep he couldn't feel it, so deep he
could only feel it down his legs and up his spine, so deep there weren't
nerve endings for it.

Water pattered gently on his scarred flesh. He gagged, on his knees
staring at the drain, but nothing came up. There was nothing *to* come
up. There would be no coming up. He couldn't breathe. His hair hurt,
from where Snape had gripped it, from the cut in his scalp and the
bruise where he'd been slammed into a wall, into a table, into the floor.
Vernon never hit this hard. He could almost wish to be back in Little
Whinging. Far better to be hated and *ignored* than . . .

Would Dumbledore know? Dumbledore used to know everything, but
he'd been getting slower, after Cedric . . . But he didn't think about


He wouldn't think about this, either. Shove it down, shove it down, just
let him do whatever he wants and get through this. For Dumbledore,
for . . . He had to . . .

The towel scraped his skin, worse than Snape's old robes and he
patted gingerly at his wounds. No healing, but surely cleaning them
was okay? Unless Voldemort's plan was to have him die of an
infection, and how silly was the entire idea anyway? This obviously
wasn't working, he wasn't broken, he would get through this and
someday he'd fucking kill the lot of them--

A door opened.

Voices on the stairs, laughing and happy, and he leapt into his clothes
so quickly that a flash of hot pain caught his breath, and he felt blood
trickle from --


Not thinking about it.

When Ron came in his breathing was under control, his books were
on his bed, and he was dressed for class. Aside from the bruises
on his face, he looked perfectly normal.

"Merlin's blood, Harry, what happened to you?" Ron shouted, running
forward to place a concerned hand on his friend's shoulder. Harry
braced himself, knew it was coming, expected and welcomed the
contact, and--

Flinched back.

"Harry?" Ron asked, taking a step back, his voice sounding lost.

He couldn't do this.

"I never got breakfast," he forced out. His voice sounded like he'd
been screaming all night long. Oh, wait, he *had* been screaming
all night long. He felt the tears begin, and ran, ignoring the pain as he
jounced down the stairs and through the Common Room, making for
the portrait.

"Harry," Ron called from the top of the stairs. "You already missed
breakfast, mate, we haveta get to class!"

Harry ignored his friend. He couldn't . . .

The portrait closed behind him, muffling anything further Ron might
have said, and he fell back to lean against it, legs shaking.

This was impossible. This was going to be utterly impossible.

He awoke slowly. One eye fluttered open, then the other, only to
slide almost immediately shut. He was aware of a most complete,
pervasive sense of satisfaction, of fulfillment, as well as a matching
fatigue. In that first brief glimpse his room had still been filled with
the thin grey of pre-dawn, so he wasn't terribly concerned about the

He was lying on his back, elbows at his sides, one hand resting on
his flat belly and the other on his hip, so that the little finger was just
barely brushing his quiescent cock. He shivered luxuriously, and his
hips rolled languidly, almost of their own accord. He was sore, a
tingling, satiated sort of sore that spoke of a good fuck. And the
location of the soreness told him that he'd been doing the fucking.

A smile curled his lips. He stretched contentedly, toes curling, back
arching, head canting gently to the side. His chin came to rest against
the blankets, which covered him to the neck in a cocoon of warmth. It
had been a long time since . . .

Since what?

One brow knotted; then both drew together, deepening the wrinkle
above his aristocratic nose.

Something was wrong.

He'd gone to bed very late, extremely late -- or extremely early,
depending upon one's point of view. He distinctly recalled hearing
the four o'clock bells. He distinctly recalled rolling naked into bed,
completely exhausted, as he hadn't been in years. He distinctly
recalled feeling much the same sense of almost painful completion
when he drifted into sleep.

Except . . .

Except he couldn't quite recall *why* . . .

The blankets had worked their way down one shoulder; the damp
autumn air crept into his flesh, sending a chill working through his
body. He worked one hand up to nudge the blankets into place,
letting the other settled more firmly on his cock, which was beginning
a weak stir. He ran one finger up the sensitive flesh, along the vein
beneath, rolling his hips, still thinking fiercely.

The early morning sloth was ruined; he moved restlessly, shifting a
knee, rearranging his arms, resettling his spine, but his peace
refused to return. Nervous energy thrummed through him, propelling
him up and out of bed. The blankets were scattered across the
flagstones by his restless feet, like sprawled choir boys. He paced
his apartments, still naked, scowling blackly at the uninformative

His rooms were clean; spotless, in fact. There was no sign he'd
even had a casual visitor, much less a lover. Even his desk was
cleared, which in itself was not entirely odd, but he felt the edge
of remembering a sheaf of freshly graded papers there, on the

A large paperweight he couldn't quite remember buying had
cracked, and he irritably muttered a cleaning spell at the spilled
black fluid, and a hastily-cast Reparo to seal the fracture. The
remaining skim of black liquid roiled prettily.

More importantly, his quill holder was missing a quill, again not
too alarming except he'd really liked that quill. It was a hawk's
feather. You don't find those very often. Usually it's all phoenix-
replica and peacock and ostrich. But a hawk feather held a
much sharper, broader edge, and shed fewer strands of down . . .

Oh Merlin.

Years of teaching had finally taken their toll.

He'd begun obsessing over school supplies.

He shook off the idle thought, and the tiny smirk it had aroused,
and staggered into the bathroom on pleasure-weakened legs. He'd
definitely been up to *something* last night. Maybe a particularly
vivid dream . . .

The faucets screaked in his ancient tub, but the water gushed forth
hot and pure; he filled the tub nearly to the brim, and eased himself
into the scalding water with a series of tiny hisses and moans. The
heat stung several scratches down his back and sides that he hadn't
even noticed before climbing into the tub, and his cock especially
cringed from the heat. Heartlessly he ignored his body's whinging,
and settled in for a good soak.

The stinging eased as the heat sterilized the miniscule wounds, and
he relaxed completely, resting the back of his skull against the cool
porcelain rim, trailing one arm over the side just to prevent heat
prostration. He had nearly given himself a heat stroke before.
Dumbledore had threatened to put a heat-regulator on his order
with the house elves, forbidding them to allow him anything above
twenty degrees centigrade, but his calm logic had prevailed, and
he'd maintained the right to boil himself daily.

He was admittedly running on something like three hours of sleep,
if he remembered correctly, but he remained confident that the source
of his body's minor complaints would be quickly sussed out. Simple
process of elimination should do, he considered as he poured bath
oil into the roiling tub. Ah, juniper. It's not like he'd had a steady lover
since his Death Eater days.

The life of a spy is rather lonelier than is portrayed in Muggle film.

And he hadn't invited a casual fuck back to his rooms since . . . ever.
He lathered up one long arm to the shoulder, then the other. And even
if there were a reasonable explanation for his disarray, it shouldn't
have impacted his mental state. Unless . . .

He'd been raped.

He sat frozen in the steaming water. Lather dripped from his pale
flesh, and he splashed it away irritably, uncaring of the heat.

There were potions that could do it, render one's victim complicit
and conveniently forgetful. But who . . .? Who would bother, he
growled angrily. No one had propositioned him in eight years, and
he certainly hadn't turned anyone down in that time. Lucius? But no,
the elder Malfoy had moved on to younger flesh years ago. He
scowled, wringing the tired washrag like a neck. Disturbingly young.
He'd have to do something about that, someday. Once his damn
cover was already useless, he could . . .

But *why*? There had to be a logical explanation, and there just
wasn't. No one wanted him like that. Paranoia is only justified if
they *want* you, if they care enough to bother. And no one did.

He stood abruptly, cutting his musings short with the sheeting of
water down his pale, scarred frame. He wrung the water from his
hair, attacking it with a towel until no longer dripped, before he
stepped out of the gently steaming water. The cold hit him like a
shock, and he swayed slightly. Had he eaten . . .?

Staggering the few steps to the sink, he gulped cold water until
the nausea and lightheadedness faded, and then collapsed onto
the side of the tub, where the corner neared the wall; he stayed
there for a few long minutes, legs splayed out helplessly before
him, eyes squeezed shut, running rivulets of water down the
polished flagstones, until his breathing steadied, and he felt able
to stand without keeling over.

And if he went through this ritual every morning, it was hardly any
of Albus' business.

Eventually he crept back to the sink, to lean on his hands over
the marble basin; he wiped away steam in one broad streak, so
that he could meet his eyes in the mirror. It was enchanted, but
had learned long ago to keep its thoughts silent.

He knew the truth of this. His eyes were black coals, his hair was
wild and still damp in spite of all his efforts, his nose was too large
and too sharp, his cheekbones too high; he smiled bitterly at his
reflection, revealing teeth yellowed by age and a life-long caffeine
addiction. His earlier contentment vanished in the swell of self-hatred.

This, too, was familiar. Routine.

He turned from the mirror tiredly, not giving himself a parting
glance goodbye. He draggled into his bedroom, throwing the
towel carelessly to the bed and wandering slowly to his wardrobe.
On with ebon-buttoned shirt, on with robes, on with buckled
wizarding shoes, and there was nothing more to keep him here.

But he didn't leave.

He sat slowly on the edge of his bed, amid a nest of tousled sheet,
and let his head fall into his hands; his palms ground into his closed
eyes until stars burst behind the lids. He drew a shuddering breath,
and smiled. The pain was temporary. It was all temporary, everything
experienced in this bag of meat and bone.

Mask resettled, heart carved into stone, he swept to his feet with
the energy of a man twenty years his junior. No one wanted him. So
what? He wanted no one. This mystery could just remain unsolved,
he thought as he billowed through his front office. What cared he for
phantoms pains and lost time?

. . . ?

He stopped suddenly in his quest to find the graded papers. Lost time?

He had indeed forgotten last night, and . . . couldn't really remember
the day before that, or the day before that, though he knew that time
had passed. He'd been aware of time passing.

This wasn't just a one time thing, then. This was no date rape potion,
this was no drunken debauchery, this was no Death Eater orgy, this
was . . .

He hadn't felt this since . . .


Voldemort's to blame.

He *had* to see Albus.

The Potions Master stalked from his rooms as though pursued,
slamming the portrait shut behind him. Murmured curses echoed
down the corridor for several moments after his departure.

The Orb writhed, and roiled, and the sealing charm wore slowly away.

Snape's chambers filled with a slow, subtle *drip*, *drip*, *drip*.
A/N Well, I know this was long in coming(sorry, pun unintentional), and
a long wait espescially for no sex. However, I have to worry about my plot
first, your need for smut second. Besides, there will be much sex next
time. ;)