Rating: R for disturbing subject matter
Summary: Honour, and sacrifice, and love…
And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.
(Tennyson, 'Lancelot and Elaine', 871-2)
Severus didn't even bother to deny the ridiculous accusations the others made concerning himself and the man in chains. He kept his eyes steadfast on Voldemort and a sneer ready on his lip.
"Did I not kill Dumbledore when Malfoy failed you, my Lord? Did I not even then attempt to bring the whelp to you, knowing that despite your displeasure you still had a fondness for its father? Did I not risk everything?"
"Did you not gain everything, Snape? Did I not grant you leniency time and again?" The sibilant whisper was mocking; arachnoid fingers rustled in the dusty folds of his robes. "It would amuse me to watch you kill him by degrees. No one's been able to make him scream yet. But I know of your pride in your art."
"Yes, my Lord," Severus said, because this was what he was, when all was said and done. "I will need to fetch my… tools." He bowed out of the room; the last thing he saw were Remus' eyes, bright and fearless on him.
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;
(Tennyson, 'In Memorium')
Severus was quite fond of his instruments. Each was crafted for a specific purpose; they gleamed with well-honed malevolence in their black leather case. The efforts of amateur torturers–those who had laid their hands on Remus, for example–made him turn up his nose in disgust. Properly done, torture was an art. Anything else was merely crude sadism.
Severus cast a knowledgeable eye over Remus. The man was obviously burning with fever and malnourished; the pattern of bruises and the dark blood that had dried around his mouth suggested internal injuries. Horribly, he smiled faintly up at Severus, as if they shared a good joke. As if he knew whose hands his life rested in, and accepted with unclouded trust. Severus selected one of his most prized possessions, taking the small velvet bag out from under a delicate bonesaw.
He grabbed Remus' arm and yanked up, noting how Remus' teeth snapped as broken bones grated. He splayed the hand open in his own, and tipped the object out.
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
(Tennyson, 'Break, Break, Break')
"You idiot," Remus said faintly; he had been so still that Severus had nearly thought–had earnestly hoped–that the rough pull of the Portkey had killed him. "There's no going back now."
"Good," Severus said. He looked out over the cliff–Dover, he thought, trust Dumbledore to have his joke from beyond the grave–to the ocean and the lowering sun beyond.
"He'll follow you here," Remus said, as he shifted on the ground. He coughed; despite his weakness and pain, it took ages for the spasms to stop and for him to draw a shaking breath.
"It'll be all right," Severus said, and was alarmed again when Remus wheezed. But when he looked he saw laughter in his eyes.
"You should have let me die," Remus said, still half-smiling. "Saved yourself."
"I did." Severus walked over to the edge, looked down, walked back. "Harry–is he…?"
"He found it. The last one. He'll face a mortal enemy, tomorrow." Remus sighed. "I find I don't mind so much, missing it all."
"We've not much time," Severus said, and pulled Remus to his feet.
"No," Remus agreed, arm around Severus' waist and head heavy on his shoulder. "I still love you, you know."
"You deserved better," Severus said. "But I'm glad."
Darkness was rising all around them; the day naught but a haze on the horizon. Already the first few stars glittered, impossibly far away. The flash of green was momentarily the brightest light to be seen; in its wake, night came, and with it wild winds over the barren cliff tops.