Age-Range Category: Two
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Severus-centric (implied/alluded to Severus/Evan, Severus/Lily)
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): angst which borders a bit on dark!fic, in places takes on a stream-of-consciousness feel.
Summary: After making the deal with Dumbledore, Severus goes home in a reflective mood…
"Hide them, all of them. Keep her safe."
"And what will you give me in return, Severus?"
Evan is asleep when Severus comes home, curled up under the blanket with the window open and the curtains flapping lightly on the cool breeze. It's wet outside but more misting than raining and Severus had wanted nothing more than to get lost in that mist. He'd apparated a mile away from their flat and walked home from there, needing to breathe against the invisible, suffocating ring around his chest.
Evan's eyes are closed and he has that infuriating, angelic smile on his face that he sometimes has when he's sleeping. His hair falls freely around his face, soft, touchable curls that call to Severus in the tongue of tenderness. He can imagine Evan's dark blue eyes and their natural warmth. He wants to get into bed beside Evan and pull the boy close into him and stay there for just one more night, pretending that nothing has happened and that everything is the same.
But he can't move, can't step further than the doorframe of the bedroom, although there's no magic preventing him from doing so. His heart speeds up and he growls mentally at himself, trying to focus his willpower. In the months to come, he will not be allowed this luxury to hesitate, to wallow in self-hatred and self-pity. But now, Evan is asleep and no one else is here to see him flounder.
Deals with the devil come at a price and Severus should have already known that. He had known that and yet he had run to open another Pandora's Box, out of desperation, another deal with another devil, just to mend what the first one had caused. Once you start dealing with devils, with those controlling, self-involved, self-preserving bastards the world either adores or despises, you can never go back or break the chain. Because the only thing that can cure a deal made is one made in a similar fashion, in shadows and secret, with grief and shame as a price. It's always someone else who pays and always the deal-maker who pays double in his own soul. But no one sees that, because that is the nature of such deals.
There are no angels, only devils. Severus must have known this before but he seems to only become conscious of it now, in the dark of the bedroom, to the soft melody of flapping white curtains. There is no savior to run to when you deal and you serve. There's only this: shame and pain and fear and people strewn across the playground of the devils' war, by chance or choice on one side of the divide or the other. But all they have is each other in the end.
And if there are angels at all then they are hidden, floating in the green eyes of a girl with burning-red hair or hiding among the silky curls of a boy with welcoming lips and soothing words.
But most likely there are no angels at all. Just devils, Just games and deals and bright red blood that has seeped into every corner of life. And now, Severus is bringing that stench here, into the last haven he had thought to have. He can almost see it spreading, spilling across the carpet and staining the sheets.
There's nothing there. Of course there isn't. It's only shame and fear and grief. It's only his lucid imagination. But that doesn't make the blood any less real. Anyone who had ever been where he is now would know that it is. He can feel it, after all, deep in his core. Burning.
Hellfire when you deal with devils.
He doesn't know if he will have time for another deal. The apocalypse is coming, has been coming for years. They've been hurtling toward it since they could hold their wands right. He can smell it in the mist that seeps through the window. The night is coming, edging closer, and Severus knows he will drown in it someday, the mist will claim him and he will get lost in it the way he hadn't been able to tonight on his walk home.
There are sacrifices that need to be made. He has heard that so many times that his ears are raw from it. Here is his sacrifice. He has signed it all away, twice now. Three is a holy number, some say, and if there was a third deal, perhaps the chain would break.
But no. It never does. Devils have prices that always require the continuation of the chain. It is their life source; it's what keeps people coming. The endless wheel of manipulation and destruction. And the shame, always the shame and the fear and the grief. Severus is only trying to make as many wrongs right as he can before the world destroys itself. But for every right comes another wrong. It's devastating.
And does it even matter? Can a right be bought with a wrong? Redemption with betrayal? Can love be an end and a means, a shield and a weapon all at once? How does one chose which love is right, which love is more right?
Thunder rolls over the roofs of a sleeping, oblivious London. Severus can see the far off glare of lightning through the crack in the flapping curtains. He raises his wand to close the window but doesn't. The storm won't touch them, not now. He hasn't yet paid his price in full. So he goes to the bed and slides under the covers. Evan's warm body presses against his and Severus allows himself to breathe. Just barely, just enough to stay alive.
Sleep is both allusive and intrusive, coming and going, dancing around them, a fool singing a cloying lullaby to the cacophony of jingling bells. Severus holds on to Evan and lies still, staring at the white curtains and they balloon outward only to swoosh back in a moment, looking to escape out the window. With no luck, of course. There is no escape.
If Severus is certain of one thing and one thing only, it is that he loves.
He loves and love is a deal in itself. A deal that leads to more deals, signed with little consent and yet all the consent in the world. And love has a price, like all deals do.
It's shame and fear and grief.