May 162007

Title:Masquerade, Part III
Characters: Severus Snape, Rodolphus Lestrange, Augustus Rookwood
Rating:Β E
Warnings: EXTREME VIOLENCE. Graphic descriptions of torture and murder. Some questionable-con yaoi later.
Notes: This has been festering in the back of my head since October of last year. Thanks to Cat Black for insisting that I get it out of my system — insisting in that green and spendable fashion.

Voldemort looked significantly unimpressed. "Are you telling me, Severus, that my Ministry team has been abusing others of my staff for better than twenty years? And you expect me to believe that no deaths have resulted? I find this difficult to believe."

Snape stood very still, hands clasped behind his back as he stared through the mask at the ground before the Dark Lord's feet. "My Lord, the deaths are occurring now. It's not Rodolphus. Roddy doesn't know what's happened. Someone else has taken it into their hands to revenge either him, or someone else — possibly themselves. Memory is a strange thing, My Lord. It is possible that the bonds have weakened after all this time."

"Then tell me again why it isn't Rodolphus?" The Dark Lord sounded dangerously calm and rational.

"My Lord, I can account for both Lucius and Rodolphus during the times of both killings. We were very drunk in Lucius's parlour for the first event, and during the second, we were with you, My Lord. However, I cannot account for Bellatrix during either, although she claims to have been out of the country during the first." There was a weighted pause. "I do not suspect her, My Lord. She is too unsubtle."

"Come here, Severus. Tell me what you know." Voldemort cricked his finger, and Snape moved unavoidably forward. The Dark Lord tossed his poisoner's mask aside, and Snape shuddered as his mind was invaded and ensured that it only brought up the horrors that Voldemort demanded.

"Augustus, you are lying to me. If you were going to do something like that, you should have ensured that he was dead." Voldemort looked slightly bored as he interrogated his last living Ministry agent before the complete group of his followers. Rookwood would have an example made of him.

"My Lord! What are you saying? I am completely loyal to you. Why would I do anything of the sort?" Rookwood would have looked pale, but the mask was in the way.

"You are just like your father, Augustus. He objected to my willingness to draw from the Irish contingent. Said they were dirty — 'filthy Irish beasts', he used to say. Do you remember, Severus?" The nostalgic and playful tone was unsettling from the mouth of the Dark Lord.

"Yes, My Lord. Died unexpectedly of some heart troubles, didn't he?" Snape had poisoned the elder Rookwood, on orders. Aconite in his wine made for some very swift and unexpected heart troubles, indeed.

"Heart troubles. Yes…" Secretive amusement crept across the Dark Lord's face. "You're very much like your father. You always objected to my Irishmen, but never to my face. Thought it sick and sad that Rabastan was my right hand, when you wanted to be. You and your thick, red, English blood. Haven't you learned, Augustus? It's not about nationality, it's about Wizardry."

Rookwood stood perfectly still and said nothing, looking like a frightened black rabbit in a foolish white mask.

"You've been very loyal to your blood, Augustus. Unfortunately, you picked the wrong stock." Voldemort smiled, this time a chilling parody of a father about to invite his children to the carnival. "This evening, I will treat you all to a glorious show! You won't be able to watch it, I'm afraid, but I'm certain you'll be able to hear it easily. Severus, Take Rodolphus to the back room and release his seals."

"My Lord, that is inadvisable, at best." Snape held his hands up, placatingly.

"I didn't ask you, Severus, I ordered you. Do you need a reason?" The Dark Lord was in a dangerously playful mood.

"No, My Lord. It will be as you say." Snape walked over to where Rodolphus LeStrange waited. "I'm sorry, Roddy," he whispered.

Lucius Malfoy stepped forward, nearly sputtering with rage. "My Lord, I am inclined to agree with Severus's assessment of the situation. Please, think on this before you do it!"

"Lucius, I didn't ask for your opinion at all. I don't recall you having even been part of this conversation." Voldemort flicked his wand toward the elder Malfoy. "Crucio."

Snape and the younger LeStrange brother flinched synchronously as Malfoy hit the floor writhing and screaming. "Just walk, Roddy. Don't look back. Don't run. You've been doing this for years." Snape spoke quietly, but the words had the desired effect. Soon he and Roddy stood in a polished concrete room, artfully furnished in medieval torture equipment, some of it the genuine article, preserved for centuries as a reminder of what true Wizards would never forgive.

"Sit down, Roddy." Snape gestured vainly around the room, seeking the least offensive place for his friend to sit, but Rodolphus simply hopped up on a press, barely missing the enormous metal plate that hung a few feet above the table.

"Don't worry about it, Sev. So Avery did some shitty things to my head. How bad can it have been? You'll fix it, I'll kill that sleazy git, Rookwood, and we'll take our cheers and go home. I've been wanting to get a scalpel in that bastard for years, I have." Roddy shrugged and swung his feet.

"Avery didn't do it. I did it." Snape studied the grain of the table intently. "I had to protect you from them and from yourself. I couldn't let them get away with what they did, but I also couldn't let you die. Either way they would have won."

"You're telling me I didn't just have a shit hangover that morning, aren't you." Roddy looked upset. "Just take it off me. It's been twenty years, and I spent fifteen of them in Azkaban. I'm sure Dementors are worse than a botched killing."

Snape shook his head, mournfully. "Alright. Look at me." He tapped his fingers just below his eyes.

The screams cut through the Dark Lord's patiently amused lecture on what one doesn't do to one's compatriots, whether one likes them or not. Roddy had gotten his memories back, and the entire room looked back in uncomfortable stunned surprise. Snape slipped out of the room and pulled the door shut behind him, checking to ensure that the mask still hid the wide-eyed terror that stained his face.

"My Lord, I have done as you asked." His voice was carefully unemotional.

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