phoenix ashes
the path of the serpent (chapter 5)



         by Ejab

The potions master took on his new challenge in the same way as he handled anything - with fierce determination and dedication. Or to put it in slightly more disturbing terms; it soon completely absorbed and obsessed him. He came to the Great Hall for his meals, taught his classes and then locked himself up in the dungeons or the library until it closed and Madam Pince threw him out. Well, at least she tried to. After two weeks she had no other alternative than to give him the keys to the library since their daily evening rows and screams became quite an attraction for which the students happily began to gather in the halls, so they 'just happened' to witness her failing attempts to remove the potions master from her domain.

It didn't stop there. Snape was already notorious for his tempers but in the course of his investigations he became such a tyrant that Madam Pomfrey began her days at the Infirmary with setting out calming drafts for the terrorised and shocked students she knew would soon be appearing.

Albus Dumbledore waved away the protests the other teachers made about the potions master now definitely becoming a serious threat to the well-being of their students. He understood as no other how focussed and obsessed Severus became when faced with a real challenge concerning his skills. When Snape started to skip evening meals and didn't show up at all during the weekends however, he decided to step in. So on a chilly Sunday morning, three weeks after making his request, he walked down to the dungeons and knocked on the thick wooden door. It took some time but finally he heard the desired 'Enter'.

"Severus, my boy, good morning!" the Headmaster chirped cheerfully. "How are you today?"

"Busy," Snape growled. Circe, when would that man stop calling him 'boy'? He hated that!

"And how are you getting on with your project?" Dumbledore looked at the table full with freshly sliced herbs and the smouldering cauldron next to them. It contained a distatefully slimy grey substance with tiny yellow flakes floating on top.

"That's the current problem - curdling." The potions master saw the thoughtful look at the simmering cauldron. "Another worthless batch. Evanesco." He walked back to his desk and scribbled something on a parchment, before remembering his visitor again.

"I'm sorry, Headmaster. Can I offer you some tea?"

"Yes, Severus, that would be nice." It was clearly not the answer that was hoped for but the tea was ordered nevertheless. Snape escorted Dumbledore to the chairs by the fireplace.

"Is there any progress, Severus?"

"Hardly, so far," the potions master had to admit. "But I am waiting for several ingredients I had to order at the Apothecary, which I am beginning to think are crucial for the procedure."

"I will see to it that you get some extra funds." Dumbledore assured him. "In the meantime, could you do me another favour?"

"Another one?" Severus stared with disbelief at the Headmaster, suddenly looking extremely exhausted. "Headmaster, I already waste my time and life teaching at your request, I have suffered through extra hours, of my private time, in the company of that Potter-boy at your request, I do other things for you that better stay unsaid" he automatically rubbed over the Dark Mark on his arm, "and I am in the process of making a new potion at your request. You already practically owe me. What else could you possibly want from me? My life?"

"My dear boy" Shocked by the desperation and the hint of bitterness his potions master now radiated, Dumbledore could not restrain himself and leaned forward to cup the tired man's face with both hands for a moment. He felt truly overwhelmed by the sheer overload of guilt that rushed through him, but quickly pushed that aside. No time for that now. They could not afford such feelings.

"My request is simply that you take better care of yourself, Severus. Eat! Sleep! I have the sneaking suspicion you are not doing any of these lately! So, as from tomorrow, I want to see you attend all meals again. Is that understood?"

"That covers the eating part. And how will you check my sleeping pattern?" the potions master grumbled, hiding his uneasiness about this expression of concern.

"I can send Remus to tuck you in at night," Dumbledore suggested in all his innocence.

"Out! I have work to do!" As always, Snape took the bait. He jumped up to his feet and walked to the cauldron, ignoring the Headmaster as obviously as he could.

Dumbledore chuckled and took his time to walk to the door, desperately trying not to laugh out loud. "Or I could stop calling you 'boy'?"

"You - out! Just - out!" Not able to control himself any longer, Severus picked up an empty vial and threw it in the direction of the door. The Headmaster ducked the glass and left, the sound of his laughter slowly fading away as the distance grew.

Oh, that old meddlesome, insufferable man! He was sono, calm yourself down, Severus. Calm yourself down. The potions master took a deep breath and shook his head, staring down at his latest notes without really seeign them.

A knock on the door again. Now what?

"I usually don't miss twice, but if you are willing to take the chance, then, by all means, please enter," Snape snapped, convinced it was the Headmaster again. It wasn't. Not even close.

"Lucius! I take it that you have recovered from our last encounter then?" Severus flared.

Carefully avoiding the glass splinters Malfoy silently entered the room, put his cane against the

desk and curiously started to read some of the notes that were lying there. He frowned.

"What exactly are you brewing, Severus?" he asked, without looking up from the pieces of parchment. His tone sounded rather suspicious.

"A potion to stop werewolves from metamorphosing - a request from the Headmaster." Snape knew Lucius had enough knowledge and intelligence to recognise the descriptions of the Wolfsbane Potion himself and put two and two together. During a split second he wondered if him being here was really so coincidental.

"I see" Lucius drawled, still reading. "I think we can consider this to be of Grandmaster standard, can't we?" He finally looked up, pride showing in his eyes. "But then, you already proved yourself to be a Grandmaster" Smirking, he grabbed the hairs of the back of his lover's head and pulled them backwards roughly, exposing all that delicate white flesh of his neck.

Severus sighed contentedly when Lucius' mouth softly started to feast on the spot where the shoulder merges into the neck. "Such a shame that we can not" little nip, " reveal your other epoch-making concoction" a soft bite, "you so deserve the credit for it," Lucius murmured, licking his way up to his lover's mouth and suddenly plundering it, revealing a ravenous appetite.

Severus grabbed him and started to grind his hips to his lovers' , relishing in the delicious friction. He was growing hard rapidly and revelled in the feeling of one of Lucius' hands grasping and kneading his balls through the fabric of his trousers. He tried to return the favour but couldn't - every time one of his hands even got near their groins, Lucius parted. Slightly, but enough to oppose him.

"Lucius" Frustration bubbled to the surface and Severus groaned annoyed.

"Tsk tskpatience, my dark angel," came the sensual voice chuckling from next to his ear as his lover started to nibble on his earlobe.

And then a tongue dived into his ear. One of his very sensitive spots. Severus panted, shivered and moaned loudly, now desperately trying to get their hips together again. He was so hard now!

"If you insist Crucio!"

Before being able to understand what had just hit him, Severus found himself lying on the floor, his body overcome with excruciating pain. All his nerves seemed to get ripped apart and set on fire, muscles being cru - it stopped. It stopped as unexpectedly as it had begun. While tears of pain rolled down his cheecks, he slowly opened his eyes. Lucius had squatted down next to him and stared at him, eyes filled with lust.

"Two can play at that game, my love, " Lucius whispered, smiling as if nothing had happened. "Don't tell me you thought I wasn't aware of what you were doing that Friday evening - that would disappoint me so much" He bent forward and licked the last tears of his lover's face, while Severus tried to get control back over his shaking muscles. "I really appreciated it, though." Lucius got back up on his feet again, straightened his clothes and took out his wand again. Severus felt fear creeping up inside. There was no telling what Lucius would do!

"And to show you just how much I appreciated your effort, I'll leave you with a small memento on my behalf." With those ominous words, Lucius pointed his wand at the potions master who was still gasping for breath, and pronounced an apropiate hex.

"No!" Severus' eyes widened with disbelief and horror. "No! You can't do this to me! NO!"

"Yes, I can and I just did." Lucius clearly was very pleased with himself and chuckled maliciously. "Enjoy, my dark angel!" He picked up his cane, went for the door and opened it.

"No! Lucius! You CAN NOT leave me like THIS! Come back, you bastard! COME BACK!" it resounded through the deserted halls of the dungeons while Lucius Malfoy walked away and out of the castle. With an attitude.