Title: Strawberry Toffees
Author: Juxian Tang
Warning: rape, death
Summary: It was snowing when we buried the traitor.
"You didn't save him. But I want to meet you tomorrow night."
It was snowing when we buried the traitor. The spells didn't keep him upright any more, so he slumped on the ground, a dark pathetic figure on the white snow - a puppet, nearly broken but still jerking when strings were yanked. He breathed sharply and loudly, with a horrible wheezing sound, and his ribs moved with such effort that it seemed it would be easier for him not to breathe at all.
I remembered his ribs giving in under my blows, so vulnerable, bones turning out so brittle, so simple to break. It was easy to hurt him. And I wanted to hurt him. It was what he deserved.
We stood in silence, in a half-circle around him, our robes black and our masks white, and the pit in front of him was a dark slash in the snow-covered ground. He didn't look at his grave. He didn't look at us either. Through his tangled hair sticky with blood, his eyes looked into the distance, in such a remote, *contemplative* way - as if blood was not squelching in his lungs with every inhalation.
It made me irate, made me want to hurt him even more. How dared he look as if he could see something none of us could? As if there was something more important than facing his destiny; than facing us.
He was our teacher. And he'd betrayed us.
I saw him blink; eyelashes painted with blood falling and rising again slowly, tiredly. A broken hand, fingers twisted under strange angles, dipped in snow, clasped it awkwardly and brought to the bleeding mouth. He moved so dazedly I was not sure he even knew what he was doing - was just thirsty, probably.
"Filthy traitor." I knew the voice; masks covered faces and distorted voices but it was deceptive anonymity. After a while you got to recognize them. A short stout figure stepped forward, a boot slamming into his hand, kicking it away, bloodied snow scattering, red mixing with white. The boot pressed down on his fingers, the sound of crushing bones making me clench my teeth.
Involuntary reaction. I didn't feel sorry for him - even as his breath turned into a wet gasp. He deserved it. My pose was as composed, as straight as ever, head raised high - the bearing my father had drilled into me since childhood.
"Cry now. Snivellus."
He smiled at that - actually smiled, a grimace curving split lips, as if he'd heard something so hilarious the humor of it reached him even through pain. An in-joke between him and Pettigrew.
Another thing I didn't know or understand about him.
It should've been me - me crushing his fingers, proving my loyalty to the Dark Lord by showing his enemy particular hatred. Getting additional points in front of our master, as my father might say. My father... in prison because of *his* betrayal.
But I didn't move. Just watched him cradle his hand against his chest in a half-conscious gesture.
"Mr. Malfoy, what shall happen if you add grinded sandwort now? Fifteen points to Slytherin. See, Mr. Potter, it is not so difficult... but far beyond your abilities, no doubt."
Insulting Gryffindors... and working for them all the way. I didn't know him at all, did I?
I still could hear his voice, the little hoarse gasps he made under Crucio, trying not to scream but screaming in the end all the same. And now his voice was gone. Just his lips moved as he sat there, lopsidedly, blood spreading on the snow under him.
Traitor. What had he done?
When everything had been revealed, he had looked at the Dark Lord, and something almost like joy was in his eyes, a cold, slightly insane glitter of triumph. I could barely believed it, he should've been terrified. Even I could not look at our Lord's face without fear. Perhaps he was glad everything was over finally and he didn't need to pretend any more.
Or maybe he was simply mad.
Or something else, which I didn't know about. And this joy had been wiped off when the Dark Lord raised his wand and threw the first curse.
But there was no fear in him till the end.
And he never talked to us.
I remembered all the offensive filth - blood and mixed semen and the raw wound of his anus that I slammed in - but none of us was too clean not to participate in it. And he shivered and his bound hands jerked as if he wanted to get free, to stop it, only it was too late for that.
Damn him for getting me into it, for making me do it, for all the dirt he involved me into.
I had never wanted it. It all was his fault.
"Mr. Malfoy, bad choices, even when they seemed the only possible ones at the moment, tend to come back to you sooner or later."
What empty lies. Did he try to talk me out of my way like that? As if in a few years Harry-damned-Potter might defeat the Dark Lord. As if it was even possible. It was him who'd made bad choices. We were on the winning side.
A fool, a traitor, a fool... He made me sick.
Last night I had found a picture among my father's things - an old, likely forgotten one. Three of them. My father with his hair combed away from his forehead, leaning against a door-post, and with a shiny new cane that he seemed unable to stop twiddling in his hands.
Regulus Black, a skinny, girlish boy, with his hair in a ponytail and in expensive rimless glasses. A fool and a loser who'd got himself killed, my mother's relative we rarely mentioned. Only once I had heard her telling her friend that he'd died a bad death, long and painful.
And a thin sullen young man with limp rumpled hair and in a robe looking like he'd slept in it, glaring at the camera, arms crossed on his chest.
Three of them. My father in Azkaban. Regulus Black dead. And he... he would be dead soon as well.
And I would destroy the picture when coming home tonight. It would be unsafe to keep something reminding of possible friendship with the traitor.
"So, Severus." Now everything was going to end; I had nearly missed it - the Dark Lord stepping forward - and Pettigrew scampering back hurriedly, leaving them alone, in front of the pit in the ground. "Do you still believe your Dumbledore will save you?"
I would always remember the flash of exultation in his eyes as he shook his head, tossing his hair away from his face, his bloodied lips moving at last.
"Yes," he said. "He will save me."
And for a moment I believed that. I believed that the skies would break apart and someone would be coming down for him, taking him away - and none of us would be able to stop it. And frankly, I would have done nothing to stop it.
I almost wanted it to happen.
I smiled under my white mask as he lay in his grave, his blood-painted eyelashes not blinking any more and his chest moving oddly. And my lips felt numb with this smile. Snow fell on his lowered eyelids, thawing - until wet earth started pouring on his blank face.
I would remember that too. And "Morsmordre" cast by our Lord, a green enormous skull and a snake blossoming in the sky over the plain where we'd buried him - the only sign marking his grave.
I would remember kissing our Lord's cold hand after that, vowing fidelity to him once more. But I thought about *him* then - still breathing under the wet earth, as long as his broken ribs would let him - for two, three hours, maybe more.
He deserved it. He was a fool and a traitor and he'd chosen a wrong master to serve.
But maybe there were no good choices at all. Just choices that make it not so unbearable to live.
I would keep repeating it, even when Apparating in the Forbidden Forest, a small bit of parchment crumpled in the pocket of my robe.
"Please come whenever it is convenient for you, dear boy. The password is "strawberry toffees".