Snape/Sirius. NC-17. ~5600 words. Noncon.
At first, he thinks it’s Azkaban.

The first breath he takes reeks, something chemical, acidic, crawling up his nose and down his throat to burn his lungs. It’s thick on his tongue, clinging to the dryness of his mouth.

At first, he thinks it’s Azkaban, and squeezes his eyes shut tight. All the months of freedom — filthy, starving, glorious freedom — nothing but a dream. The Order, Harry and Remus, clearing his name, each no more than desperate hopes in a place where hope doesn’t exist.

Robes sweep the floor and he cringes, cold sweat trickling down his spine. Chains rattle over the quiet sound of a slow, even breath. There are no shackles in Azkaban, no collars or cuffs like the ones weighing heavily on his neck and wrists. The Dementors that drift through the halls, silent on waves of dread, are enough.

Sirius drags in air, chokes on the chemical stink and dissolves into a bone-wracking cough. Metal bites cruelly into his flesh. Blinking away tears, he slumps back, fights to cut his breaths short to keep from choking again. The shadows in front of him ripple, separate, and Sirius drops his head back, lets out a short bark of a laugh that rips his throat like broken glass.

“You can do nothing quietly, can you, Black,” Snape murmurs.

“‘Course it’d be you,” Sirius rasps, waving a hand idly in the air, rattling the chains just for spite. “Severus Snape shoving his big, bony beak where it’s not wanted.”

Snape’s thin lips draw back in a tight smile. “I would be grateful, if I were you.”

“Grateful,” Sirius wheezes, and swallows the lump in his throat that might have been another grating laugh. “Grateful,” he repeats, and it doesn’t hurt as much to talk this time. “Waking up bolted to a bloody wall with your ugly mug in my face? Lots to be grateful for there.”

“You’d prefer Azkaban? Perhaps death.”

“Don’t pull that shit with me.” Sirius snatches the chains curled by his knee and gives them a vicious shake. His gaze skips to the wand held negligently between Snape’s fingertips, a split-second that might betray him.

“There is precious little I wish for more than the delight of watching you suffer a Dementor’s Kiss,” Snape says, icily calm.

Sirius lets the chains drop with an annoyed grunt. He sits back against the wall, drapes his arms over his knees, and watches Snape vanish into the dark shadows. Thumping his head against the wall, Sirius closes his eyes, mutters a quiet curse.

Snape’s voice drifts back through the darkness, an amused whisper of, “For all the good it will do you,” and beneath the manacles, his skin tingles. With a muffled click, the locks gape.


The still water is lukewarm, soothing on Sirius’s cracked lips, and tastes strange like the air. Overhead, the clouds hang low over the horizon, a pall of dim, grey smoke to block out the sun. He’s been free for hours, close to half a day, and the light hasn’t changed. It hovers on the edge of twilight, as dead as everything else.

The village isn’t big, he’s explored nearly the entire thing by now, but it’s as empty and quiet as the water. Houses that might have been cosy once line the wandering dirt paths, some with their front doors wide open. Inside, it’s the same story every time: a meal left on the table, a child’s picture book left open on the floor, a tumble of clothes spilled from the closet, a perfect basket of red apples left on the kitchen counter with a crumpled towel caught on the edge of a open drawer.

He knows what’s happened here. He’s seen it before, houses abandoned, a panicked rush evident in some, things left as if the people living there had just vanished in others. A flick of the wrist, a murmured word, and a Death Eater’s work was done. Nothing left behind but a hollow shell.

Sirius scrubs his hands over his face. As long as he’s alive, he still has a chance. There’s no telling what twisted game Snape’s playing at, or whose side he’s on this week, but he’s not stupid enough to come near Sirius without his wand. It’s only a matter of taking it from him.

Dipping his hands in the water again, Sirius rakes his fingers through his hair.


Just west of the broken fountain, past a little outdoor café with overturned chairs and half-full mugs, Sirius finds the wall.

He doesn’t see it until he’s on top of it, and then the light’s shimmering right in front of his face. It solidifies into dingy stone under his hand, stretches out to the far right and curves at his left, heading back the way he came.

“You didn’t honestly think you could simply walk away, did you,” Snape says from the corner.

“Wondered when you’d show up again.”

“I thought you would appreciate the time to adjust to your new home.”

Sirius curls his hand into a fist. “Even you’re not dumb enough to think I’m just going to–”

“Where would you go?” Snape asks. Sirius doesn’t respond, and he goes on, “You’ll wait for an opportunity to steal my wand. You’ll try to Disapparate, fairly certain it won’t work, but you’ll still make the attempt. You’ll discover that no spells will work here.” He folds his hands behind his back, paces closer, light like triumph in his eyes. “Eventually, you’ll find the gate, and you may even open it.

“If you do, you’ll find things. Terrible things. Worse than mere werewolves.” Snape lifts a hand in a helpless gesture, and he’s close enough for Sirius to smell the miasma of potions that rise from his robes. “Do you really want to discover what creatures prowl outside the walls, Black?” A short pause, and Sirius knows Snape is savouring the moment, rolling it around on his tongue like candy. “So, what will you do?”

“You prick,” Sirius snarls. Frustration makes his throat tight, his words squeezed out so hard it almost hurts. Snape watches, finished but for the small tug at the corners of his lips. “Always knew you weren’t right in the head. Dumbledore should’ve thrown you out years ago –”

A sharp sting at his throat jerks Sirius attention from his tirade. Snape’s expression shifts from mild amusement to reptilian pleasure, and Sirius loses breath in a sharp, hard grunt as a line of fire slices down his neck. The slow, warm trickle of blood follows.

Snape’s wand is out of sight but the familiar crackle of magic hovers just above his skin, the wound sealing shut seconds later. The sting lingers, and blood cools quickly. Sirius draws a breath and it begins again, carving his flesh like the tip of a knife. A thick line of heat wells to the surface, soaking through his shirt, and only stops when Sirius rips at the bloodied cloth.

A small, silver snake glints above his pounding heart, embedded deep in his skin. Behind it, there’s a trail of smeared blood, still seeping from the slice as it heals. A bead of red glistens on his nipple.

Horror hits Sirius like drowning in a frozen lake. Instinctively, he grabs for it and pain lances though him, talons of it digging viciously into his gut. Sound rushes in his ears, drowns out his own strangled groan as it claws deeper. It drives him to his knees, gasping.

Snape moves to his side, tilts his head up with fingers tight and cruel as iron round his throat. Sirius tastes salt on his lips. “By all means,” Snape says, dragging blunt, ragged nails up the side of Sirius’s face. “Tear it off.”

Sirius spits a curse, hand fisted, elbow drawn back, and the thing on his chest wiggles, sending fire searing through his veins.

“I’d imagine it’s unpleasant,” Snape says. A bony hand tangles in Sirius’s hair, jerks his head back to expose his throat, forcing him to look at Snape or close his eyes. “Do you like it, Black?” The tip of a finger trails down the centre of Sirius’s chest, as revolting as the wriggling towards it. Snape’s gaze drifts down. “It’s my gift to you. My special little decoration.”

Spite makes Sirius’s answer a grin, lips pulled back to bare his teeth. The snake traces the edge of his ribs, slanting across his belly. It hurts more there, gouging deep into vulnerable flesh as if it’ll sink through skin, nest and tear him apart from the inside. Real fear is acid on his tongue.

Snape’s hand grazes his hip, the snake obediently twists to follow, and Sirius doesn’t think to stop the sharp cry echoing low in his throat. He falls away from Snape, grit scraping his arms, and claws at the waist of his pants, shoving them down to see the snake curl across his hipbone.

Pure panic moves his hand, forces him to grab at the vile thing to stop it. Invisible claws drive deep again, gut-clenching agony curved so low inside him that the world dissolves into black and white. His screams catch in his throat, not enough air left in his lungs for even that. It stops as abruptly as it started, and the minutes drag on as the hurt gradually fades.

“I suggest you not do that again,” Snape murmurs, and his voice is hushed, close to breathless. “Unless you enjoyed the experience.”

Sirius fights for the breath to fling one last vicious curse at Snape as he turns to walk away. It falls flat in the dirt, ineffective and pointless.

Sirius rolls onto his back, and closes his eyes to blot out the miserable sky.


The shattered water fountain becomes Sirius’s base. He maps the pieced-together village with that as his centre, learns the twisting paths the way he learned the trails of the Forbidden Forest. It doesn’t take long, though he walks the routes over and over again. Sometimes, he sleeps on the patch of dry grass, but the comforting blackness never seems to last for more than a few minutes at a time.

There are plenty of beds for the taking, but it doesn’t feel right to him. Inside the homes, the terror lingers, a layer of dread that clings to his skin too much like a Dementor’s touch. In there, he’s tempted to sift through belongings just to know something besides himself in this empty place. His own sick fascination with the dead’s belongings disgusts him.

He wanders down a small alley between two squat houses, swings the fence gate shut behind him because it’s the normal thing to do, and normal is comforting. For a moment, he expects the touch of wind on his face, droplets of rain, and he looks to the unmoving clouds before he realises it’s only a memory.

The garden is still beautiful in the grey light, a splash of colour fighting against the lifelessness hanging low over everything else, but just as inert. He’s been here too many times to count, maybe once a day if days existed, maybe a few times every hour if he could tell one from the next, and there are no weeds growing in the earth. No petals litter the grass, no faded blossoms, nothing changing. Just perfection, so very wrong.

It’s Lily’s garden.

He stands on the covered porch, tries not to look at the chairs with their weather-stained cushions. One spot is tinged darker, from the beer he spilled the night they brought Harry home. Sirius grits his teeth and puts a hand on the doorknob. He didn’t go in the first time, or the second, or the eighth or ninth or twentieth. The pain of it scared him. Now, he’s more afraid of this place turning him numb.

Inside, the house is empty. James’s boots aren’t in the hall, the table for their mail is gone. For a moment he’s not sure if it’s their home, and if it’d be worse to be right or wrong, but as he walks through the rooms, boots echoing hollowly on bare wood stripped of its carpeting, it’s almost too familiar not to be.

At the foot of the stairs, he stops. The walls are faded where pictures once hung, and in his mind, he sees the ghosts of what they were. His heart starts to pound, his palms begin to sweat. It happened up there, in the quiet, empty rooms. The one place he can’t go, even — especially — now.

Sirius turns on his heel to leave and a quick shock of pain sends him stumbling back, half falling against the rail. That thing is moving again, slicing torturously slow along his spine. Blood seeps through his shirt, clothing clinging to split flesh. It stops when his knees hit the first stair.

He catches his breath, hesitates too long, and it starts again, driving him up the stairs like a whipped animal. This time, it doesn’t stop until he touches the landing. Blood trickles hot under his clothes. His arms shake as he hauls himself to his feet.

“You’re fucking sick, Snape!” Sirius turns, flings his arms wide. “I know you’re there!” The walls blur as he whips around, and there’s nothing but the echo of his own voice. “Fucking sick,” he repeats, his arms falling to his sides.

“Hardly an insult from a madman,” Snape says, walking into existence through an open doorway. Snape’s done it so often now it’s only jarring when he expects it and it doesn’t happen. It isn’t Apparation, there’s no hum of magic in the air, no snap of displaced space. Snape is a snake in the grass, always there, waiting.

“I’d wondered how long it would be,” Snape continues, walking calmly by, robes swishing against the floor and Sirius’s legs, “before you couldn’t take it any longer.” He halts in front of another doorway, the one with the splintered frame and the scorch of fire. “You remember this place, don’t you.”

“I remember it all, Snape. Every last bit of it you forgot.” Fury roils in Sirius’s gut, makes his voice tight. “How long’d it take you to dream this up? Slap together a few walls, a few special effects,” Sirius snaps, gestures wildly while pacing in a tight semicircle. “Couldn’t even manage a bit of furniture! It’s not their house, Snape. It’s not their home.”

“Of course it isn’t,” Snape says. “They didn’t simply die that night, Black. They ceased to exist.” He lifts his arms, looks from the hall to the bedroom behind him, says, “This is all that’s left.”

“It’s not real!” Sirius shouts, kicks the wall hard enough to crack plaster and send dust exploding into the air. “None of it is, it’s all a lie!”

Snape says, “Then why are you so afraid to go in there?” and steps aside.

Fear snaps at Sirius’s anger, chases it into a tight black ball at the back of his throat. It’s not the room he’s afraid of, it’s the memory of hearing that they’d died, the cold pit of hate and sorrow that hit him both at once. He knows it isn’t real, the room shouldn’t mean a thing. Staring hard at Snape, he tries to shove it all aside, and storms through the door.

Like everything, the room is empty, except in his mind. The crib, the rocking chair, the rug where her body had fallen. His breathing is heavy, strained. Fingernails bite into his palm, nearly draw blood. He doesn’t realise he’s shaking, wouldn’t have thought this hell had beaten him down enough for it, until Snape moves close to whisper in his ear.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s real,” he says, and Sirius knows it isn’t an admission though he grabs onto it like the razor-edged hope it is. “Surely even you’ve realised that by now.”

Sirius whirls on Snape and finds a wand pointed like a knife to his throat, shoved hard under his chin. Snape’s eyes glitter like the shells of hard, black beetles. “This is all you have left, Black. Everything.”

A wordless shout of rage bursts from Sirius’s throat, and he lunges at Snape, ignoring the threat of the wand and the charmed snake. Pure force smashes into his chest and knocks him further into the room, back slamming against the floor. Shadows like wraiths hover over his vision as he scrambles back to his feet. When it clears, he sees Snape’s wand still unerringly pointed at his throat.

“Yes,” Snape hisses. “It would drive you mad, wouldn’t it? Grabbing desperately at what you think you deserve. ‘I did my waiting,’ isn’t that what you said, Black? ‘Years and years of it.’” His voice sinks into a harsh rasp, the hate in it grating into Sirius’s bones. “I’ve done my own waiting.”

“Really!” Sirius explodes, waving a hand in the air. “What’ve you been waiting for, Snape? For a chance to kill me?” He drops his hand, leans back on his elbows and crosses his legs at the ankle. The twisting in his gut won’t stop. The shaking won’t, either. “Get it over with,” he says and almost chokes on it, has to pause and breathe to plaster a cocky grin across his face. “Or are you a pathetic excuse for a Death Eater, too? Can’t even kill a man.”

Snape says, “You’d like that, wouldn’t you,” and another flick of his wrist lifts Sirius from the floor to hang in the air, toes inches from the bare wood. “You were always too fond of the easy way out.” Snape smiles as Sirius sucks in a sharp breath, and the snake slinks just far enough down his thigh to remind him of the torture. “There’s nothing easy for you here.”

Sirius laughs. It sounds too shrill to his ears, black humour edged with panic. “You never change, Snivellus. Still have that same ratty underwear beneath that hand-me-down robe, too?”

Hate twists Snape’s face, rips layers of humanity from him right in front of Sirius’s eyes. Sirius knows he shouldn’t be surprised, not after all of this, but he is. It’d been a game to him, or had started as one all those years ago. The look in Snape’s eyes says it never was.

“Are you so very desperate for more pain?” Snape asks. “Here, in this room, of all places?” Stained fingers clench tight around Sirius’s throat, dig in to cut his breaths short. Sirius claws at Snape’s wrist, and Snape only tightens his grip, says, “Should I strip you down and rape you, fuck you dry in the spot your precious Potters died?”

Sirius’s muscles go lax, hands slipping from Snape’s arm. For a moment, mere seconds, he dangles there, a worthless jumble of marionette limbs; then Snape shoves him face-first to the floor and all he can think is no.

Snape seizes a fistful of his hair and slams his head into the floor, two sharp cracks with more strength behind them than he’d have thought. He hears Snape’s whispered command and feels strength seep from his body. It doesn’t throw him as much as the sparks of pain showering white behind his eyes; it’s more expected, more like Snape to choose magic over physical violence. Blood, thick and warm and metallic, trickles onto Sirius’s tongue and he spits, a spray of red fanning across the greyed floorboards.

Another quiet word and something slashes through Sirius’s worn clothes, stripes his skin with stinging shallow cuts. Snape drags him up to his hands and knees by his hair, heart in his throat pounding hard and fast. He struggles to get away, fingernails clawing the floor as Snape kicks his legs apart, drops down behind him. Fingers shove rudely into the crack of his ass, spread him wide for Snape to watch as the pad of a thumb rubs his hole.

“You could try begging for mercy,” Snape says, and Sirius lets out a choked sound as one skeletal finger stabs in him to the last knuckle.

Pain ripples along his nerves, lights them on fire with the same gritty burn flaring in his ass as Snape starts to finger him dry. Tears tremble at the corners of his eyes. He grits his teeth, tries to crawl away on limbs made useless. Inside him, Snape’s finger curls into a hook, nail scraping delicate flesh, and when Snape’s hand jerks back, finger still curved, Sirius howls.

Sirius hangs his head, sucking in quick, frantic breaths. Snape’s hand drifts over his bare ass, a warm, gentle caress that makes his skin crawl. A hand fondles his sac, tugs hard on his flaccid prick. The muted rush of pleasure brings the hot sting of bile to the back of Sirius’s throat.

“Don’t,” Sirius rasps, cringing away from the disgusting touch. “You fuck, don’t you –”

“Don’t make it easier on you?” Snape asks, and Sirius can hear the sickening satisfaction in his voice. “You always were a whore for attention, Black. You might as well be a whore for this, too.”

Fingers shove inside him again, still dry, still burning, and wrench his hole wide. Something wet and warm trickles over abused muscle. Sirius is sure it must be blood — he feels torn open enough for it — and only when Snape draws back to rub it into his skin does he realise it’s spit.

It isn’t enough and it dries too quickly. The harsh friction of cruel fingers inside him is worse once it does. Words catch in Sirius’s clenched teeth, agony twisting tighter and tighter deep in his belly with each steady thrust. He can’t hold back a tortured moan as Snape tugs at his cock again, a fingertip slick with saliva running beneath the foreskin, pulling it back to slide it slowly back and forth over the head. His cock thickens, hangs heavy between his legs, not hard but enough of a betrayal to earn him a condescending pat on the thigh.

Snape murmurs to him, but Sirius’s can’t hear the words over the drumbeat of terror in his ears. His arms are too weak to hold him up any longer, his legs trembling with the effort. He starts to sink to the floor; Snape drags him back up by the fingers in his ass and the tight grip on his balls, and Sirius doesn’t try it again. It goes on and on, the vicious thrust and tug, an endless cycle of hanging on the edge of begging for one to stop just to suffer more when the other begins.

The tips of Snape’s fingers press against his prostate and drive the numbing haze from his brain. Sharp pleasure knifes through him, sparks against pain strong enough to make his dick twitch. It fades fast, and Sirius doesn’t feel as grateful for that as he thinks he should.

“You won’t get away from me like that, Black,” Snape snarls at him and pushes the cheeks of his ass apart. Sirius feels eyes on him, feels Snape’s twisted delight at watching his body fight to tighten up again. “It must be humiliating,” Snape says, “to have your ass in the air like you’re begging to be fucked, hole gaping wide and waiting for it.”

Slick heat touches him, blunt pressure at his hole, and Sirius’s response is another low, strangled groan full of denial and disbelief. Shuddering, shaking, he jerks away. Being fucked by Snape, raped and helpless to stop it is bad enough. This room, this place, makes it worse, so much worse. If Snape lets him live — forces him to live with it — it’ll blot out the treasured few memories he holds, like ink carelessly spilled on parchment, of a time that James’s and Lily’s deaths hadn’t already ruined.

Snape drags him back, grit and splinters gouging his palms. Sirius hears himself pleading with Snape to stop, to just end it here. It’s useless and he knows it; Snape’s breathing only turns harsher, thick cock only shoving harder into Sirius’s body. It tears at him, splits him in half, stuffed too full too fast with hot, brutal flesh. A scream rips free of Sirius’s throat as Snape draws back and thrusts.

Cloth brushes his skin, hands push up his spine to grasp his neck. Snape’s cock inside him is slippery with something too cool to be blood, heating swiftly from his body and spreading something like relief over tortured flesh. Sirius shakes his head again, Snape’s fingers tighten, and one hard thrust gives him a thrill of sensation he doesn’t want.

“You are a cheap whore,” Snape hisses. “Something hard up your ass and your prick’s drooling for it.”

Pleasure sparks inside Sirius, warps the ache into something tolerable, the slick friction into something close to good. Sirius loses breath in a hitched stream of anguished noise, moans and gasps strangled by the fingers round his throat. His lungs burn, tears streak through the sweat on his face. Darkness eats at his vision and he leans forward, choking himself. For one glorious, appalling moment, Sirius hopes Snape means to kill him.

Mouth to his ear, breath on his skin, Snape whispers, “Not yet.” Snape’s hands vanish, clamp tight around Sirius’s hips and breath comes rushing back, delicious and damning.

The hot spill of come follows, he can feel every revolting pulse of Snape’s cock inside him. Sirius slumps forward, cracks in the floor grating against his cheekbone, and groans miserably when Snape reaches between his legs. It doesn’t take long, nothing more than a few quick jerks. The rush and glow fade just as quickly, replaced by sick horror as Snape wipes claw-like fingers clean on his stomach.

Snape’s softened prick slips from his hole, warm come seeping after it. A finger curls into him and Sirius hasn’t the breath left to moan, not even when Snape lifts his head by the hair to smear blood and come and worse across his face. Vomit burns the back of his throat and he chokes it back to deny Snape the satisfaction.

“Worthless,” Snape says, dropping him back to the floor.

Sirius doesn’t hear the footsteps but knows Snape is gone, and he finally lets the blackness swallow him whole.


The fountain water is still lukewarm. Sirius scrubs furiously at his skin with the ruins of his shirt, can’t get the smell out of his nose. He can still feel Snape inside him, still taste the violation and degradation sour in his mouth. Nails tear flesh as he rubs harder, casts quick, darting looks about to make sure he’s alone.

Once or twice, his hand bumps the dormant snake on his thigh, but it doesn’t hurt. If he’d considered it or even noticed, he’d have known it’s because he didn’t even think about removing it now.

Sirius drops the shirt to the grass and grabs the fresh pair of slacks bundled beside it. He’d snuck into a house only long enough to rifle the drawers and steal them, darting back out into the street and to the familiar comfort of the fountain before Snape could make an appearance.

He stuffs the shirt out of sight afterwards, crammed into a crack in the fountain’s base along with his shoes and the rest of his torn clothes. There are a few other spots similar to it, enough to hide any manner of things. Though he isn’t hungry, and doesn’t remember eating, he thinks of food.

The apples in the basket are as bright as when he first saw them. The towel is in the same place, pristine white; the knife on the counter gleams. Eyes on the blade, Sirius reaches for an apple and buffs it on his slacks. Knife in hand a moment later, he tests the edge on the apple, and it sinks smoothly, soundlessly, into the fruit.

“And what are you planning to do with that?” Snape asks.

Sirius holds the knife in a deathgrip and resists the urge to whirl and run for it. The smell of come overlays the ripe sweetness of the apple, and his stomach churns.

“You can’t keep me here forever,” Sirius says, his voice rough and low. “I can’t get over the wall, can’t get past those things, but you can’t keep me here.”

Snape’s gaze flicks to the knife. “Is that your easy way out?”

“Maybe. Maybe it is,” Sirius says, his heart squeezing in his chest. “What are you going to do about it?”

“Do about it?” Snape smiles his thin smile and spreads his arms. “Nothing. If you wish to kill yourself, go ahead.” Sirius doesn’t move, just looks at the knife, and Snape laughs. “You’re not that desperate,” he says.

“How d’you know?” Sirius asks, puts the keen edge to his wrist, and licks his lips. “How d’you bloody well know?”

Snape steps closer, a hand closing over Sirius’s clenched fist. The knife nicks flesh and Sirius shies away, doesn’t look at the small beads of red rising to the surface.

“Then do it,” Snape says. “Slice open your wrists and bleed to death. I promise not to stop you.”

Sirius’s hand trembles as Snape guides the knife back to his wrist. Snape doesn’t push, doesn’t hold back; true to his word, he simply watches and waits. Sirius thinks about Snape’s hands at his throat, Snape’s hand on his prick, Snape’s cock in his ass.

“Fuck you,” Sirius tries to growl, but it comes out as a whisper. “Fuck you.”

“You love yourself too much, Black,” Snape says, and jerks the knife out of his grasp. “Fortunately, I’m not as enamoured of you as you are.”

Two quick slashes, the glint of half-light on steel, and twin lines of fire burn across Sirius’s wrists. Dark red wells up, thick and quivering before spilling down his hands. His heart beats faster, pushes blood from his veins to drip from his fingertips.

Sirius stumbles back against the counter, staring at his red-streaked hands, clutching them to his chest. It aches, throbs, blunt-edged pain radiating from his wrists. Snape lets him sink to the floor, lets the blood continue to flow, pooling at his feet. Darkness drags him down again; Snape’s given him the sweet blackness he’s craved.

This time, he fights it, and it’s too late.


Sirius wakes in the Headmaster’s office.

He grabs at his wrists and feels nothing, no pain, no blood, no scars. Dizzy relief washes over him and he lets out a shaky laugh, finally noticing the softness of the couch under him, the warmth and life of the room that he’s been missing all this time.

Snape stands by the cluttered desk, fingertips of one hand just touching the edge. A feeling of vulnerability and suspicion slams into him, and Sirius sits up slowly, glances around. It seems wrong, things out of place, missing. That chemical stench is still strong in his nose.

“Where’s Dumbledore?” Sirius snaps, one hand still clutching his wrist.

“You won’t find him here,” Snape says, and smiles thinly.

Horror comes crashing back in sickening waves as Sirius turns his arm to see the sliver snake winking at him in the firelight. The emptiness, the misery, the terror hits him all at once. He surges to his feet, grabbing the thing nearest his hand and flinging it at Snape’s head.

It falls short, shatters on the floor, but Sirius hardly notices. He snatches more things, hurls them across the room, sweeps his arms over tables and litters the hardwood with broken bottles and spilled potions and pieces of things he doesn’t recognise.

“You sick son of a bitch,” he snarls, smashing a mirror with some thick, heavy figurine. “What’s the point, Snape? What’s the fucking point!” Another crash, another tinkle of sound, shattered window falling into glittering pieces.

Glass crunches under Snape’s boots. Grabbing Sirius by the throat again, fingers fitting perfectly over mottled bruises, he says, “Because you’re already dead, Black, and no one is looking for you. Because you don’t exist.” Snape shakes him, lips peeled back in an animal snarl, and crushes his throat until Sirius stops struggling. “You’re nothing but an inconvenient memory.”

Sirius stumbles when Snape releases him, falls to one knee gasping for breath. His head pounds, thudding in time to his heartbeat. “You’re raving,” he croaks, tries to laugh and coughs instead. “You’ve gone mad.”

Snape’s face is flushed dark, his eyes shining brightly. “Proof, then,” he says, and with a rush of displaced space, Sirius finds himself kneeling in front of the village wall.

“Where have you gone, Snape?” Sirius calls, laughing, lurching to his feet. “What trick have you got up your grimy sleeve now?”

Snape’s laugh echoes in the air, loud and everywhere at once. Sirius swallows a quick breath, whirls to face the wall as it wavers. It wrinkles, soundlessly splits in front of him, a thin, dark line travelling straight up into the sky and cleaving it in half. As it widens, warm light spills in, and Sirius turns to watch as the village behind him, the naked trees and houses and the fountain, flattens to nothing more than lifeless brushstrokes on canvas.

Snape stands outside the painting, surrounded by furniture, scrolls and bottles and trinkets. In the fireplace, flames crackle quietly; above it, on the mantle, a small clock signals the hour.

“A worthless shred of a soul trapped in a masterpiece,” Snape says, a grey shroud the colour of the sky caught in his hand. “You should be grateful.”


3 Responses to “Amaranthine”

  1. Janenovem Says:

    What a perfectly hellish story. I can already feel it crawling like a snake under my skin, hard and beautiful and poisonous. It left me somewhere between admiration and revulsion – surely even Sirius deserves a better afterlife than this? …oh, but this must be Severus’ afterlife, then. It has a sick, sad logic to it that he’d spend eternity or even a piece of it tormenting a man he hated. It’s a credit to your storytelling skills that every inch of this is perfectly plausible, and their journey could end right here, in this nightmare landscape where happiness is an impossible memory and love is a bitter dream. Forgive me for waxing poetic. I think I’ll go re-read this, now.

  2. miki Says:

    is this what lies beyond the veil? i can only hope that it does not. sirius doesn’t deserve this hellishness. the inescapably factuallity of his situation. acctuall it reminds me of the movie 1401 quite a lot. and i only hope that sirus can find an escape sometime anytime soon. marvellous imagery and flawless emotional depections.

  3. miki Says:

    oops the movie 1408 isn’t it?

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