icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
[personal profile] icarus
Yep. The story that wouldn't die. Now I have to decide if I force it to dabble along in real time or allow the time-jumps it wants to do.

The Albatross is here.
Part 1.
Part 2.






Percy wafted the smoke away from his face, with an involuntary cough. Snape had already stepped into the thick of it, swearing as a jet of green dust poured from his wand. So the best Percy could do was prop open the door. A cold breeze cut through the dark potions' shop, rippling the remaining cauldron fires.

"What is the matter with you?" Snape finally asked. He conjured a chisel and started chipping away at a layer of charred wood on the countertops. A rare customer paused outside their door, peering around curiously at the smoke. He looked at Percy, eyebrows raised at Snape's display temper, then edged away, his shoulders hunched in embarrassment.

"A first year knows to use a brass kettle to steep Mugwort and I don't dare even set you to cleaning the storeroom now for fear of what you might stack with what." Snape barely paused for breath as blackened chips flew, spattering his robes. "You're supposed to be an assistant. That means a help. An aid. Not more work on my part." Snape stopped hammering at the counter. "You would be most assuredly fired if this were your first week."

Percy shrank away and wondered if being fired might not be a good thing. At least matters would be settled. "I am very sorry. I'm doing my best under the circumstances."

"Circumstances?" Snape's sharp chin turned in his direction. He released the chisel and hammer. "What circumstances?"

Percy fell silent. He should be happy, but all he could think about was the weather, the autumn leaves piling up outdoors. He'd grown entirely too used to Snape's warm quarters.

Snape seemed to read his mind. "You currently have a roof over your head." He gave the chisel another whack. "—food. And I know for a fact, firsthand, that you've slept."

Percy flinched at the uncouth reminder of their sleeping arrangements, and glanced around, hoping their customer was long gone. A shop open to the public was not the place to discuss such matters.

Snape apparently caught the gesture, and his eyes rolled skyward, shoulders slumping as he leaned against the counter in open surprise. "Oh sweet bloody Merlin… you can't think that I plan to…."

"You're not… ah… interested in men?" A small shadow of hope hit Percy, reminding him that the majority of the world wasn't, for all that one might get that impression in prison.

Snape drew a sharp breath. "Whatever you might… whatever atrocities this world believes of me, I merely – I simply… there isn't a great deal of room. Those books in my library are rare and valuable. I'm not leaving that sort of temptation about for someone in your situation."

Against his better judgment, Percy was insulted. "Pardon? You think I'd steal your books?"

"The thought might cross your mind." Snape's tone was guarded.

"I'd die first!"

"Given the nature of the hex across that bedroom door, death would be preferable."

"You hexed the door?"

Snape rolled his eyes with a sigh of disgust. "Welcome to the Wizarding World, Percy. Yes. Of course I hexed the door!"

Percy's mouth was open in shock.

"I'm a light sleeper," Snape added, sounding defensive. "I would have had a counter-curse ready in time."

"You don't trust me," Percy said in a blank tone, aghast. It was a shock, though he told himself he ought to be used to it by now.

Snape gave him a disdainful tilt of his head and folded his arms. A fresh breeze shuddered through the door and pale trickles of orange light wriggled like little worms on the blackened counter behind Snape.

"I was not in Azkeban –" Percy quickly lowered his voice, just in case, and continued with asperity. "I was not in there for theft. I was there for supporting the wrong persons."

"Oh. You were a political prisoner then?" Snape said, lip curling in a smirk.

Percy took a breath. "It was a regular trial but it had nothing to do with anything criminal." He tried to say it patiently but he was so very tired of being distrusted, of the assumptions people made. They didn't understand: these things were complicated.

"So your imprisonment was a miscarriage of justice? How… unique." Snape examined his nails, looking bored, which only made Percy angrier.

"I was loyal to my employer and I did my job—" he said emphatically.

"Three Death Eaters went free because of your actions, Mr. Weasley! They have injured Aurors and killed since, or haven't you kept up with your handiwork?" Snape looked up, eyes blazing. "You don't seriously think I hired you out of ignorance. That the seal of Azkeban was of any surprise to me?"

Percy bit his lip. "I was never a Death Eater." He leveled the accusation, knowing instantly this was foolish.

"I killed fourteen persons, tortured three Muggles, poisoned various others with unknown results, supplied the Dark Lord and my cohorts with a large variety of deadly and experimental potions. Then I killed six Death Eaters and assisted the Ministry to do the same." Snape drew closer. "Don't you dare enumerate my failings. I know exactly what I've done."

"The latter don't count. That was for the right side," Percy said, startled to find himself reassuring Snape.

Snape's eyes narrowed at him as he pulled away. "You are strikingly amoral."

"I'm not a murderer. I could never—" Percy jerked his face away to look outside instead. He said softly, "I couldn't ever do the things you've done. Nor would I steal."

There was a long silence as Snape regarded him. It was almost refreshing, if painful, to hear what he really believed. Better to know, Percy tried to tell himself, than the whispers behind his back. Except that it really wasn't better. It just wasn't any worse.

"The sleeping arrangements stand," Snape said in a low, calm voice. "It's not because I don't trust you, Weasley. It's that you don't deserve to be trusted."

Percy stared outside, trying to recover, his face flushed and blood singing in his ears. He was grateful to see that the wooden stairs below were empty of customers. He asked under his breath, "And you do?"

If Snape heard over the steady grind of the chisel, he didn't answer.

~*~*~

That evening the silence hung even heavier than normal as they climbed the stair to Snape's room. Snape waited till Percy was inside, then out loud, placed the hex on the door in full view. Which was odd. Percy's brows drew together. It was either an insult or a strange form of honesty, but he wasn't sure which. But this more than anything else made him feel like a prisoner. As Snape shut the bathroom door and the shower started, the walls seemed to close in around Percy. He lay on top of the covers and stared and mentally traced the cracks in the ceiling.

As Snape climbed into bed, Percy obliged by sliding under the covers. Then in the dark he continued to stare at the ceiling, visualizing what he could no longer see. It was strange to be in bed with another person. The bed shifted uncomfortably next to Percy and blankets tugged to the left. Snape also stared at the ceiling, his head pillowed on folded arms, elbow nearly touching Percy's arm.

Percy sighed and admitted to the darkness, "I thought what I was doing was right."

"So did I," came the low answer.


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icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
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