Good bye, Fair Thee Well, Toodle-oo

by Bernice

So I have the song "Brazil" on repeat, and it made me think of this tiny vignette.

The Dementor's Kiss is the worst way to kill that anyone in the Wizarding world could conceive. A lot of thought went into finding the worst, most terrifying way to kill possible. Snape watches the condemned man dragged to the chair and believes that Avada Kadavra has been banned simply because it's too merciful. Where's the satisfaction in killing someone cleanly, compassionately? But a man who's been given the Kiss? There's the unknowing, the fear, the uncertainty of what has happened to a victim's soul, and the constant reminder left behind. The drooling empty living corpse, a reminder to everyone who may step out of line, a warning to all of those who would defy the status quo, who would destabilise a government that relies on terror, oppression, suppression, control, and the destruction of all possible competition, magical or otherwise.

Stand up to us and this could be you!

Lucius now, marched to his fate. The punishment meted out by the 'fair and unbiased' judge. Never mind that the judge in this case had a family line that had been in debt to the Malfoy's since the fifteenth century, and a son who'd died in recent battle, a battle where the Malfoy's had misjudged power and chosen the losing side. Never mind that Lucius was guilty as hell. History is written by the winners. Heroes are only those who win - bravery doesn't count if you lose, valour doesn't count if you die on the wrong side of a battle.

Snape had seen the writing on the wall. When he realised that Lord Voldemort's promises of freedom for all the magical people, rights for werewolves, rights for giants, rights for house elves, protection for all witches and wizards, had faded into insanity, immortality, destruction, then Snape had realised it was time to change sides. Then Snape had chosen the 'right' side, the 'light' side. It didn't matter which side called itself the right side. He'd chosen the winning side. Lucius hadn't. Lucius stayed loyal to his Master, to the cause of magical people, magical creatures, and now he faced the consequences of his choices.

Now he faced the living death. Now he faced the Kiss. Now he faced Snape from his chair, his already pale face white with terror, his skin clammy and sweating, his lip trembling ever so slightly. But he didn't beg, he didn't scream, he didn't call for his mother, he didn't cry like some of those gone before him. He maintained his pride, showed his pedigree, did his bloodlines and ancestry proud. Now he looked up and met only Snape's eyes, he held his head high and royal, his chin jutted forward, so much better than those that would destroy him, so much finer than the common people who would destroy him.

Snape, Order of Merlin First Class, Snape the hero, Snape the Spy, Snape the Brave, Snape the darling of the Prophet and the Ministry, Snape on the side of the Light, the Right, the Winners, given leave to be here, when no one else from Malfoy's group would even acknowledge their old friend. Lucius had begged his presence. His last wish, his last desire, granted when it seemed harmless, granted when it amused his killers to give him something useless, something that would make them seem merciful in this unutterably unmerciful destruction of a human soul.

A last wish Snape had no hesitation to grant. If his presence would give his old friend comfort at the end, he had no reason to withhold himself. If he could do this one last thing for the only one who saw more than an ugly, greasy, stationless child, if he could help the only one he had ever truly trusted, ever truly loved, he would do so with head held high, with his pride and bitterness wrapped as firmly around himself as a winter cloak.

Lucius's eyes held his, ignoring all else in the room, ignoring all those who would have him beg, all those who wanted stories to tell, stories to write, gossip to tell their friends of how this man, of how this monster cried, whimpered, pissed himself, screamed as his soul was torn away. All those went away disappointed as he did nothing more than allow himself to be strapped in, tied down, made vulnerable, made helpless, made ready for living death.

Snape whispered quietly, words of comfort, words of strength, words that bespoke of promises made a lifetime ago, promises made in childhood. Promises that had been made to him by the beautiful older boy he'd admired so. I will always be there, I will always protect you, just trust in me and I will help you, just do what I say, just give in to me, just give yourself to me, and I will love you, just be mine and I will keep you safe. I will take away your pain, I will take away your fear, make you my own, and no one will harm you, no one else will hurt you.

He remembers what had been said to him when he'd been hurt, tied down, made vulnerable, made helpless, and how Lucius's words had lifted him up, lifted him out, made him safe, made him happy, and as the Dementer comes close, he knows Lucius remembers, too.

"Legilimens," he doesn't even have to say it out loud, he can just move his lips and Lucius's, so practised with the invasion, so used to the mind touching his, so easily merges with Snape's.

Snape knows he shouldn't. He knows that a mind touched during death can take other minds with it. He knows they may become one, may be blended for all time, but all time is only a few seconds now. He knows that his mind may go too, may go into the Dementor along with his friend, but he can't leave Lucius alone with this. He can't let Lucius go on without him. He won't let Lucius go on alone. They'd promised, as children, promised to look out for each other. Snape had betrayed that trust, spying, lying, stealing, whispering, reporting, but Snape can't turn his back on the promises he made to the silver-haired boy he'd loved, and the boy in Snape had meant every promise he'd made and stands by them now.

He reaches out, touching Lucius's memory and takes this present from him. He takes away the fear, takes away this room, takes away the eyes, takes away the gloating vultures, takes away the Dementor, takes away Reeta Skeeter, takes away the Minister, takes away Potter, Granger, Weasley, takes away death, fear, Kiss. Takes them into the past.

He remembers. He remembers dancing. He remembers young, perfectly poised Lucius teaching his geeky younger self to dance. Remembers Lucius saying he can learn to walk with style and grace and sweeping strides, leave behind his elbows and knees, leave behind spider walk - target of ridicule, leave behind his graceless awkward self if he learns to dance. Lucius sweeping him up, both of them laughing as Snape has no idea, as feet are trampled, stumbled, tripping on carpet edges, tripping the light fantastic, tripping into each other's arms, flushed, smiling, learning to dance, learning each other, learning secrets.

Lucius swinging him around the room, teaching him where to put his too big feet, swinging him in his arms, assured, confident, cultured, everything Snape is not, everything Snape wants to be, everything Snape wants to become, everything Snape will kill to become, everything Snape wants.

Snape remembers the song, an old muggle song, old even for wizards who are so far behind muggle culture. Lucius who never truly hated muggles for all his big talk. A smuggled in gramophone, playing Brazil, playing swing, playing smooth, easy to dance to music, swinging in each other's arms, totally safe in their common room, surrounded by other Slytherins who understood. Who understood rejection, understood torment, needed to stand by each other, needed each other, needed to be here, needed to teach and learn from each other as no one else would teach them, needed each other for survival.

He can feel again the beat of the music, the warmth of Lucius's body against his own, the swing of Lucius's perfect hair as it brushes his face and they dance. They dance and laugh with boyish embarrassment and joy, singing off key, 'we kiss and cling together then, tomorrow was another day, the morning found me miles away, with still a million things to say...' Snape can't really remember the words, but it doesn't matter, Lucius does, he remembers twenty years ago, brings it back, and in their minds the memory is strong. 'Brazil, now when twilight dims the sky above, recalling thrills of our love, there's one thing I'm certain of... return, I will, to old, Brazil...'

He can feel the pull and pulls back. He feels the Dementor tug and tugs back. He feels the fading soul, feels the pale silver struggle, feels the fear seep in and grabs hold of the memory and he won't stop dancing. They dance around the common room, their pace easy, he won't allow terror to ruin this, he won't let the fear ruin it, he won't let the jeering be heard. When Potter had jeered him as a youth Lucius had blocked that out, singing badly, and now Snape sings, in his mind only, but as fiercely and as loudly as he can remember, blocking jeering of another Potter, blocking the noises and cat-calls from the gallery. He wraps his arms around his dance partner, and clings with the desperation of a lost and lonely child. He whispers quietly, remember the words, Lucius? I don't remember the words. Stay here and remind me, sing them to me?

Snape turns and leaves the room, arms wrapped around himself. He doesn't want to see the body being dragged away. He doesn't need to see it to know that Lucius isn't there anymore. He doesn't need to see it to know that the body is empty, a husk, that Lucius is gone from the flesh. But in his mind, Snape will never be alone. Never be alone again. Always be dancing, always be in the arms of his first love, his only love, his doomed love, his love with him always. He hums quietly under his breath. 'Welcome me with your kisses now... where the Amazon flows, we're exchanging hellos, and just fancy meeting you here...'

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