Something to Celebrate
by Liz Barr
Characters: Snape, Snape/Lily
Characters: property of JK Rowling, who deserves them a lot more than I do.
Summary: Snape marks an anniversary with alcohol and angst. (Standard Lizfic, in other words.) set during The Goblet of Fire.
Notes: technically, this is subway fic, since I wrote it in 20 minutes on a train. But then I left it for almost a week while I checked canon, mentally revised and finally edited. So it shouldn't be too terrible. I hope.
A celebration. Of course. The Dark Mark had been seen at the World Cup, a known Death Eater had been allowed -- invited! -- into the country in the name of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and Voldemort's servant was still free.
And they were having a celebration.
Thirteen years ago, Lily and James Potter had been killed.
This was a tragedy.
Their son had lived.
This was a torment.
Snape drank and watched the party in silence. His taciturn nature was well known, and in any case, he was hardly popular with the Ministry. Or even his colleagues at Hogwarts, for the most part, although there were some he could sometimes consider friends.
Sometimes, but not now, because this was a party, and everyone knew he was only here because Dumbledore had requested his presence. So he drank, and glared at the dizzy Hallowe'en revelers. In a few hours, they would be drinking his Sobriety Potions and attending the Hallowe'en feast, watching while the Goblet of Fire identified the champions. And all the while, Voldemort was gaining in power.
The alcohol burnt his throat, and he could feel the Mark pulsing against his skin, in time with his heart.
There was nothing to celebrate. He watched the people around him, fellow teachers, Ministry officials, major players in the wizarding community; he watched them celebrate, and he wanted to scream, cry, curse with frustration.
He could do none of these things, so he drank and glared.
He had cried when he was eleven, homesick and scared in a Slytherin dormitory.
Slytherins didn't cry, he was told. So he stopped.
He had cried when he realised how deeply the Mark was burnt into him, when he realised that this pain, this web of hunger and revulsion, was to be his life forever. He had cried in Lily's arms, feeling the child inside her, Potter's arms on his shoulders and Dumbledore's eyes upon him.
They had accepted him, Mark, tears and all. He had hated James, whose mere existence only emphasised his own monstrosity.
But Lily, ah, he had loved Lily. Lily, the shy Muggle-born eleven-year-old on the Hogwarts Express, and the laughing, confident seventeen-year-old woman who could play logic games and challenge his normally-secure position as the top Potions student. Lily, Lily, Lily ... he'd felt the child kick, knowing that she was not the same girl he'd once loved.
He knew this, and cried all the harder.
He hadn't cried when he received news of the end, Voldemort's defeat, Lily's death. He'd sat, stunned, feeling nothing but the lingering ache of the Mark on his arm and his soul.
He'd laughed, sick and horrified, when he heard that the child was to live with his aunt and uncle. Lily's stories about her sister no longer seemed so hilarious, but the laughter had bubbled up inside him anyway, and he'd laughed until the tears finally came.
He hadn't cried since. It was better that way.
But now ... they were celebrating, but Lily was still dead, and Voldemort was still rising. He suspected it more with every throb in his arm, and, watching Karkaroff's hesitant glances towards him, he was certain.
There was nothing to celebrate, so he drank instead.
"I don't see you joining the party, Professor Snape." Snape looked for humour, but Dumbledore's eyes were serious.
"This is a waste of time, Headmaster. I'd be of more use supervising preparations for the Hallowe'en feast tonight."
"I know, Severus," said Dumbledore quietly. "But ... we must keep up appearances. Morale, and so on. It's all very important, or so the Ministry tells me."
Snape glared at Ludo Bagman, talking to Karkaroff. He didn't need to turn around to know that Alastor Moody was staring at all of them. A Death Eater reunion, how fun for Mad-eye. Karkaroff, torn between fear and arrogance, hadn't even noticed Moody's presence yet. Snape wondered if he could contrive to be present when realisation hit.
"The Ministry deals in smokescreens, Headmaster. They'll avoid reality for as long as possible."
"We'll all have to come out of hiding soon, Severus." Dumbledore watched Snape seriously.
"Whatever the price."
Dumbledore walked away. Snape drank, and watched the others celebrating their hollow victory.
This hunger, this shame, these were his life now. Dumbledore's penance couldn't save him, but he welcomed it anyway. None of it would bring Lily back, or stop Potter from being his father's son, none of it would keep Voldemort away.
Absolution would never come, but sometimes he could almost live with himself.
Numfar! Do the dance of shame!
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