Masquerade – A Harry Potter Fanfic

Dated October 2001 this fanfic was my first and only attempt at a fanfic. I submitted it to the Sugar Quill and there is an element of Mary Sue about it, however what stopped me continuing it was that the beta replied with “oo another Snape angst fic!” or something along those lines. Whilst this may be viewed positively, my mind focused on the word ‘another’, read it as ‘yet another’ and ignored the enthusiasm; filled with the sense that what I was doing had been done before, I abandoned it.

I think I write fairly well for a 20 year old undiagnosed dyslexic. All tipping errors are left intact for posterity:

Masquerade or Playing the Part

A/N

Disclaimer – JK Rowling bla bla

Potion Master’s Apprentice (specifically part 3 – If We Survive) by RJ Anderson – the idea that it is possible to Apparate somewhere if you have been there before, even if you don’t know geographically where that place is.

This story begins just after Snape walks out of the hospital wing in Chapter Thirty-Six “The Parting of the Ways” in GOF.

Chapter One – The Parting of the Ways

He swept along the corridors of the school, his mind spinning. He had known that the Dark Lord had come back – in fact he was surprised it had taken his supporters as long as it had done to work it out. However, he’d hoped he’d never have to do this again…

By now he was outside the school and almost past the anti-Apparition barrier. Once past the powerful ward he muttered bitterly,

Accio mask, Accio cloak.”

A smooth white mask flew into his outstretched hand, followed by a plain black cloak. He turned the mask over in his hands and stared at it for a long moment. Some part of him was afraid of what he would become when he donned the mask. Another, more frightening inner voice was rejoicing darkly at the prospect of hiding behind a mask again. Those that hid their faces had a kind of power, and power was addictive.

Snape sighed and resolutely put the mask on. He’d worn a mask of some kind for fourteen years – as subtler mask, but a mask nonetheless – protecting him from the world and presenting a different Severus Snape to everyone. A harsh, unfair and bitter Snape…

Fourteen years is a long time. In the end it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the actor from the part he plays…

Snape Apparated to the edge of a clearing in an unknown forest. When a wizard or witch joined the Dark Lord they were brought to the meeting place by another Death Eater and thereafter could Apparate to that place. However none knew geographically where the clearing was, not even which continent it was on. One had to admire the organisation – such clever secret keeping devices were a speciality of the Dark Lord.

Another safeguard the Dark Lord had was organising the Death Eaters so that each one only knew the identities of a few others. If captured a Death Eater could only give a handful of names. Of course, it was possible to recognise voices…

“Nice of you to join us”. Snape rolled his eyes imperceptibly. Did Lucius Malfoy think he was somehow unrecognisable in his mask and cloak? To be sure, the disguise hid distinguishing features, but very few Death Eaters stood relaxed and even proudly in the clearing as Malfoy did, and no one had the dangerous silken voice typical of the Malfoys.

Snape inclined his head towards Malfoy – names were forbidden at these meetings and Snape had nothing to say to him. Snape was sure Malfoy had not recognised him and he wasn’t about to reveal his identity through speaking. The majority of the Death Eaters obviously thought along the same lines, for the only sound in the clearing were the rustle of feet on grass and the sighing of the wind in the trees.

Snape turned his attention back to the rest of the gathered. It had been over a decade and most people change a lot in that time. However, Snape thought he recognised a gesture here, a posture there, of the people he’d known before.

Despite the trepidation that was gripping his insides Snape felt a bizarre sort of comfort. He knew these people, he knew this place. He’d done this before, he could do it again. This confidence in his situation alleviated some of the stress he was feeling.

As he scanned the group his eyes met those of a female Death Eater (nothing that shape could be male, even draped in an ambiguous cloak). Her icy blue eyes bored into his own, and it was evident that she had been staring at him for some time. Icy blue eyes, the palest he’d ever known, and soft auburn hair, a lock of which had escaped her hood. He smiled slightly, wryly; a woman with angelic features and a penchant for murder. The perfect Death Eater: never suspected, always acquitted.

“Listen up!” barked Wormtail, unmasked at the edge of the clearing. Snape started, and turned to ‘listen up’. He shot a furtive glance at the female Death Eater, but she no longer looked at him, focusing her icy gaze instead on the Dark Lord’s right hand man. Snape grinned at the pun, his eyes alighting on Wormtail’s gleaming silver hand.

“Many of you were here earlier when the Dark Lord arose,” Wormtail’s unsteady voice filled the clearing. “He has called upon you all now to support him in his continued crusade.” He paused and scanned the crowd. “Some are dead. Others are in Azkaban” he spat the last word. “However, there are more than enough of us left to continue our work.” Pride filled Pettigrew’s pallid and feeble features. Snape felt nauseous with concern. How many Death Eaters were at large? Hundreds had been killed or imprisoned in Azkaban – were they just a fragment of the Dark Lord’s army?

“You will work in the groups you worked in before,” continued Pettigrew. “If the other members of your group are unavailable due to death or imprisonment, arrangements will be made to assign you a new group. Otherwise, carry on…” and he finished the supercilious speech with a equally patronising shooing gesture.

The Death Eaters began to disperse with more that a few mutter comments regarding the Dark Lord’s questionable choice of head minions. Snape was about to turn to go when-

“You,” said Pettigrew, pointing at him with his human hand. “Stay.” They stood, looking at each other as the Death Eaters Disapparated among them. Once everyone had left Pettigrew walked over to Snape. He began to talk, softly.

“The Dark Lord wishes to know what your situation is.” Snape felt his heart accelerate. Pettigrew continued, “Are you still in a favourable position at Hogwarts?”

“Yes,” said Snape, and then, feeling like more was necessary, “I am still in a position to spy on that fool Dumbledore.”

Wormtail smiled and nodded briefly, obviously satisfied. Snape thanked any gods that were listening that it had been Wormtail questioning him, instead of the Dark Lord. Wormtail was easy to fool, for he was a fool. The Dark Lord was another matter.

“Excellent!” Pettigrew rubbed his hands together. “Well, get going. I’m sure you have classes to teach and such things,” he finished dismissively. Snape nodded demurely and backed away. At the edge of the clearing he Disapparated.

As he walked back to Hogwarts he mused over the events of the day. Voldemort declaring war in effect with the murder of Cedric Diggory, and the Ministry of Magic ignoring all evidence. Snape shook his head in disbelief and prayed that the Aurors were capable of forming their own conclusions and acting independently of the Ministry. He’d thought that showing Fudge the Dark Mark emblazoned on his arm would shock him into accepting the evidence, but the man’s irrational refusal was the sign of a mind missing more that a few marbles. Snape shook his head again, lost in his own thoughts…

…oblivious to the fact that he was being followed…

Chapter Two – Shadows of the Past

Soundlessly someone stepped out in front of him, their face hidden by the shadows of the trees. With instincts developed from eleven years as a Death Eater and perfected by fourteen years as a teacher Severus drew his wand before his brain has registered the newcomer. Unfortunately, she was faster.

Expelliramus,” she said quietly, and Snape’s wand flew out of his hand and into hers.

Thoughts streamed through Snape’s mind in that instant: She’s an Auror and she’s going to capture a ‘Death Eater’ – I’ll be sent to Azkaban! She’s a Death Eater, she knows I’m a spy – she’ll kill me! She’s a mind reader – she knows I’m thinking all this!

Lumos,” she muttered, lighting up the scene with ethereal wand light. Hang on, thought Snape as her calm unthreatening action brought his brainstorming screeching to a halt. He looked at her, the soft yellow light glinting off her auburn hair and reflected in her blue eyes. He recognised her.

“Take off the mask.” She continued to speak quietly. Snape had forgotten that he still had the mask on, and obediently removed it. You don’t argue with a woman with two wands.

She looked thoughtfully at him. He waited. He wasn’t out of the woods yet – even though he knew her she could still turn out to be the Death Eater out to kill him for being a spy. Suddenly she smiled an instant kilowatt grin and tossed his wand to him. He found himself smiling back – partly through relief.

“It’s good to see you again, Iris.” He was surprised to find he meant what he was saying. He knew all the terrible things that she had done – that they had done, together, and he could see in the confident way she stood and in her eyes, shining with joy and triumph, that her attitude to killing and torture had not changed one iota. If anything, she was delighted that the fourteen-year lull in atrocities had ended and she could enjoy herself again. His suspicions were confirmed by her next words.

“Voldemort’s back, Sev!” The way she said ‘Voldemort’ sent shivers down Snape’s spine – she said it with such anticipation. However, he had a charade to keep up.

“Yes,” he agreed, chuckling darkly. “Let the fun begin!” He let his eyes light up with the prospect, sure that she would pick that up. She was as icy as her eyes were – every action, every emotion calculated and designed to achieve a specific response. As a results she was attuned to other peoples nuances. Snape knew that she had emotions, but he also knew that, like himself, the face she showed the world was not her face, and the emotions she expressed were not necessarily her true feelings. With a mischievous smile she continued,

“I guess now we reminisce about the good old days, eh?”

That being the last thing he wanted to talk about, Snape cleverly diverted her.

“What happened the Micheal Chadheath? I heard nothing of his arrest or death…?”

“He’s fine, he was there tonight,” she assured him. Another lightning grin. “Our little group has survived intact!” He grinned with her, smiling at her infectious enthusiasm rather that at the fact that yet another Death Eater had escaped justice.

“So,” suddenly all business she clapped her hands together making the shadows dance with the movement of her wand. “Our next raid. I’ll plan it, you bring the drink and Micheal can bring the finger food.” Snape laughed despite himself as she continued. “I’ll contact you when I get it sorted. Until then?”

“Until then,” repeated Snape. She grinned, winked and extinguished her light. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he sensed rather than saw her slip away. He stood still for a while, his thoughts in turmoil. Seeing Iris again had thrown him. He couldn’t help liking her and enjoying her company, even though she had killed many and tortured even more. Was he so shallow and so corrupted that he no longer found the fact that she had committed atrocities disturbing? However, he felt no friendship for Micheal, the other member of their raiding group, and was disappointed that Micheal was alive and free. She was the only Death Eater he felt the need to be loyal to, to be true to, and he felt an odd sense of guilt that she believed him to be loyal to the Dark Lord.

Snape kneaded the heels of his palms into his eyes and sighed. He continued to walk back to the school. Suddenly he stopped, no longer in a thoughtful daze and attuned to his environment – he sensed a presence. Fear shot through him, followed closely by anguish and frustration – was he destined to spend the rest of his life like this? Jumping at every hint of a shadow lest it be a ‘good guy’ out for his blood or a ‘bad guy’ out for the self same blood? He sighed tired of playing. Whoever it was could do what they want – there was nothing suspicious about him walking towards the school. He strode off, resolved not to stop before he got back to his dungeon.

Sirius watched him go through doggy vision. Interesting… Snape seemed to have a close relationship with that…what was her name? Iris. She wasn’t mentioned in Dumbledore’s files. This Micheal Chadheath was mentioned – he was named as a member of Snape’s raiding party. They’d never been able to pin anything on Chadheath though without exposing Snape as the source. Chadheath had disappeared shortly after the fall of Voldemort and hadn’t been seen since. The fact that Iris wasn’t mentioned was worrying, thought Sirius. That meant Snape saw some reason to protect the woman from Dumbledore, which meant that Snape had just become a little less trustworthy in Sirius’s eyes…

Chapter Three – Questions, Answers and More Questions

Snape heard a scratching at his office door. Irritated at being disturbed he stood up from marking class work and opened the door. A black dog padded easily in. Snape shut the door, crossed his arms and waited. The fact that he knew it was Sirius did not improve his temper. The dog morphed into a human, and Sirius stood up.

“Can I have a word?” True to his promise to Dumbledore Sirius was being civil. However it was a cold, aggressive civility that was so close to hostility that it could spit on it. Snape shrugged and strode back to his seat. Sirius sighed, and resigned himself to the fact that Snape was not going to make this easy. He sat down facing Snape and leaned on the desk, fingers pressed together in front of him.

“Who’s Iris?”

Shocked by Sirius’s bluntness Snape started. He scanned Sirius’s face, looking for a clue as to what the man already knew and what he would believe. His face was unreadable, perfectly blank. Snape sighed and decided that truth was the best option.

“She’s a member of my raiding party.”

“The party which consists of Micheal Chadheath and you?”

Snape nodded. “Just the three of us,” he said quietly, answering Sirius’s next question. Sirius looked thoughtful, but Snape could sense the hostility behind it. Sure enough, Sirius asked the next question in a quiet and casually interested voice but the fury behind the words was plain.

“And when were you going to inform the rest of us of this woman’s existence?”

“That’s none of your business, Black!” snarled Snape. Sirius slammed his hands down on the desk.

“Dammit Snape! Of course it’s my business! You protecting this Death Eater,” he spat the term, “puts our people in danger!”

“I don’t report to you, and I don’t owe you any explanations.” His black eyes seething with rage, his voice cold with fury, Snape stood up. “Leave.”

Sirius stood. “Dumbledore will hear about Iris from me, and then you can report and explain to him”.

Snape sneered, “Running to Dumbledore again, Black, just like you always did.”

Sirius shook his head with vehemence and a hint of sadness. “We’re not at school any more Snape, and it’s about time you realised that this isn’t just some playground fight. This is real life, and you can’t make me feel guilty for ‘grassing to the teacher’.” Black morphed back into his familiar dog form, shot a last resigned glance at Snape, opened the door with his paw and left.

As the door closed Snape fell back into his chair panting, his mind racing. If Dumbledore found out from Sirius that he had withheld information then Dumbledore’s trust in Snape would be severely weakened. Snape couldn’t afford that. He jumped up and strode out of his office, through his dungeon classroom and made his way to Dumbledore’s office.

Sirius watched from behind some tapestries, and found it very hard to stop his tail wagging…

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