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“He’s been poisoned,” Lily breathed, when Severus landed on the plateau beside her, and swung off the Griffin’s back to examine Malfoy. “Narcissa says it was Hemlock, though how she gave it to him, I have no idea. I’ve used a Bezoar. He should be alright in a few minutes.”

Snape was impressed. “You carry a Bezoar with you at all times?” he asked incredulously.

“Of course. I’m a Healer.”

Severus didn’t respond. He was tempted to remind her that she was not a Healer yet, but she had been through too much tonight to be teased, and so, much as he loved to argue with her, he restrained himself. They conjured ropes to tie Malfoy onto the Griffin’s back, and then gave the creature as sharp a nudge as they dared, and watched it wheel across the cavern to the ledge on which Narcissa stood.  

“Can we trust Narcissa to send the Griffin back?” Lily murmured.

“She wants to get it as far from her as possible,” Snape replied. “You can’t trust Narcissa, but you can always trust Narcissa to be Narcissa.”

When they were all off the island, and grouped around Malfoy’s prostrate form on the ledge, the Griffin, as though sensing that it was no longer needed, gave a parting squawk and skulked off into the tunnels again.

Malfoy stirred, and opened his dark blue eyes. “Severus,” he growled; his voice was ragged from the shouting, and his face was pale and coated in a sickly sheen of sweat. “Where’s Narcissa?”

“I’m here,” she said, unexpectedly. Snape looked up at her. Silvery threads were hanging down in front of her face, having escaped the neat little knot she always used to tie her hair back; her face was smeared with soot and dirt, yet she was looking down at Malfoy with an expression of languid concern. “I’m not hurt,” she continued. “But you will keep your hands off me, Mr Malfoy, and if I ever catch them upon me again, I will have them cut off.”  

“Severus, what is this mud blood doing with you?” he asked slowly, focussing his dim eyes on Lily.

“Saving your life, you disgusting little creep,” Lily replied coldly.

Severus caught her by the arm to restrain her, and he could tell, from the little gasp and the surreptitious smile she directed at him, that the contact had electrified her. Still, she wouldn’t show it in front of Malfoy and Narcissa.

Malfoy was getting up, steadying himself against the cavern wall. The three others withdrew from him slightly. Narcissa, with spectacular hypocrisy, hid herself behind Lily.

Lily was the first to speak. “You’re going to come with us to the Headmaster’s Office,” she said calmly, pointing her wand at him. “And you can explain to him what it is you’re doing here. We’re not interested.”

Malfoy’s eyes found Snape’s, and he stepped towards him slightly. “Severus,” he mumbled, his voice imploring.

Snape just shook his head. He had told Malfoy that he was on his own if he got caught.

Malfoy recovered, and turned disdainfully towards Lily. “Little girl,” he said, “your word against mine is worth about as much as your second-hand school robes.”

Lily smiled. “My word?” she asked innocently. “All I can accuse you of is being inside the castle, dying of Hemlock poisoning. It’s the little princess you have to worry about, Malfoy. And I bet her word is worth a lot more in your snooty little circles than mine. Isn’t her father Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot or something?” She prodded him in the chest with her wand. Malfoy winced. “Now get moving,” she said.

They moved down the stone corridor in silence, Narcissa staying close to Malfoy. She was walking behind him, watching him guardedly. He didn’t seem to be able to keep his eyes off her and, once or twice, when she slipped on the jagged rubble and bones that littered the floor of the passage, he reached out to steady her.

Lily and Severus were exchanging glances too. Severus was trying to make the most of them, because she would be gone soon, and all he’d have would be this memory.

And, while they were occupied like this, Narcissa slipped her wand into Malfoy’s hand, without speaking. A crooked smile was twisting her thin lips. There was an animation, an excitement in her face that Malfoy had never seen there before. It was very reminiscent of a look her sister had given him not so long ago.

But then he whipped round to face Lily and Severus, and slashed his wand through the air, muttering an incantation that was garbled and distorted by the echoes in the tunnel, and by Snape’s sudden shouts. Lily fell backwards, clutching her face, and hit her head against the cavern wall with a horrible crack.    

Snape recovered his wits sufficiently to cast a shield charm around them, and then dropped to his knees next to his only friend, who was staring blankly ahead of her, resting her head against the damp rock of the cavern wall.

Severus gripped her by the shoulders. “Little girl,” he said, his voice pleading. The coral-pink of the Rosura potion was gone from her cheeks now, leaving her white and staring. “What’s wrong?”

He shook her slightly, torn between tenderness and frustration. Half of him wanted to whisper, and half wanted to shout. “Lily, tell me where you’re hurt,” he said, forcing himself to sound calm. “Please.”

She just stared at him. For the second time that night, a cold shudder of realization prickled through Severus. “You have no idea who I am, do you?” he murmured.

Lily’s blank stare was his only answer.

Snape clenched his teeth and turned to Malfoy, who had lowered his wand, and was looking at Severus smugly, as though expecting congratulations.

“I’ll have to run for it, Severus,” he muttered, when no congratulations were forthcoming. “I’ll take Narcissa - I won’t hurt her, I’ll just…”

He stopped, because Snape had raised his wand. His hands were shaking.

“What are you - ?”

“Crucio,” Severus growled.

The cavern was suddenly full of screams, bouncing off the walls, making the skulls quake on their ledges. It was louder than the Griffin’s mad squawks, because Narcissa was screaming too, but what she was saying, Snape had no idea, because he was feeding off Malfoy’s anguish. It was wonderful. He was in complete control of someone. He was making someone suffer the way he had been made to suffer - and right at that moment, he had no idea who was writhing on the floor beneath his wand - all the people who had ever hurt him blurred into one another - and the screaming figure was Potter, his father, Petunia Evans, and every screeching, taunting student who’d ever laughed at him.       

But then a different voice was rending the air, a voice that found its way through the haze of anger, and prodded him deep in his writhing guts.

“Stop it!” Lily was yelling. “You’ll kill him!”

“Oh, you’re on his side now?” Snape shouted. Still, Malfoy was howling beneath his wand. “You don’t even know who he is!”

“I know he’s the one on the floor being tortured!” she snapped. “Let him go!”

Snape glanced at her, and saw the horror in her eyes. It was like a punch in the stomach. He flicked his wand, and lifted the curse off Lucius. He let Lily go to him, check his pulse, examine his pupils, and all the time, he skulked beside the rough cavern wall, brooding over the horrified look she’d given him.
A very short continuation to Rosura, because I thought the last part would be too long if this was chucked in with it!
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northangel27 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, this was terrific. I'm always so excited when we get an update. Thanks for this.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
Thank you, I'm really glad you like it! Narcissa is a curious creature, liking Malfoy all the more for being crazy!
northangel27 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think you write the darker characters almost better than you do the good ones. You must be rather deeply in touch with your own shadow side, I suppose.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
I guess so! I'm always drawn to the bad guys, but it's fun to write Lucius and Narcissa, because they have no scruples at all! With Snape, there's always a bit of a struggle, but Lucius and Narcissa can be completely devious all the time!
northangel27 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
lol. They certainly can ;-). Of course it is that inner struggle of Snape's that makes him so interesting to write, I think.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2008
Quite right, I wouldn't want him any other way! ;) I love conflicted characters! And kindness is so foreign to Snape's insticts, so far from anything he's ever encountered from the world, that, when he does manage to be good, it is all the more impressive!
northangel27 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Indeed. I think that he actually has a huge capacity to love. Considering everything he's been through in his short life, I am always impressed by how much he loves, and longs to be loved.
ls269 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2008
Yes, he is a bit like Harry in many ways (less annoying, of course!)
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