phoenix ashes
the path of the serpent (chapter 8)



   by Ejab


Yesterday, Miss Enya Derwent, great-granddaughter of Dilys Derwent, officialy layed the foundation stone for the building of the new extra hospital wing at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries for the 'Spell Damage' ward. The hospital was in desperate need for extension of this specific ward and has been raising money for over two years in order to get the required 150.000 Galleons.

"The Ministry will of course keep its promise and take care of the remaining 100.000 Galleons that are needed. It is after all in all our interests that this new hospital wing will be build as soon as possible," stated a delighted Minister Fudge who instisted on pointing out that meeting the required 150.000 Galleons was largely due to a very generous donation given by Mister Lucius Malfoy, who was also present. When your reporter spoke to the well-known aristocrat, Mister Malfoy stressed the importance of

The potions master threw down the Daily Prophet and glared venomously at the picture, showing a young and laughing Enya Derwent, a pompous looking Fudge and the all too familiar smirking 'benefactor'.

The arrogant bastard! It was all about money for him, wasn't it? Money money money. The man never really had to work for anything! Everything was always already provided, or on the rare occasion it wasn't, bought for. Lucius never had worked himself in a sweat. He had never needed to. He never had to make his always so perfectly manicured hands dirty. Oh no, not him! Not the great Lucius Malfoy! The bloody bastard never truly had to work for a living of his own accord. He had his descent and his money. For everything and everybody he wanted, money was always the answer. What had that self-complacent, manipulative snake actually achieved to get all that prestige, praise and fame? Take away his name and money and he was nothing. Nothing!

While he, Severus Snape, would still have the priceless knowledge of potions. And the unlimited and highly underestimated powers that came with that. The result of countless years of total dedication, relentless study and hard, hard work. All on his own. Unlike that bloody idiot - he just intimidated people with his name, spent some money and that was it.

And that same man was considered dangerous by many. Why for god's sake? For his ruthlessness? The man had absolutely no subtlety whatsoever! With him everything was about brute force!

HE, Severus Snape, really was the man to fear! Just by using his intelligence and hands he could do anything to anyone, if and when he so pleased to do so! HE was the dangerous one! Potions could be adminstered anywhere without anyone knowing about it. He could make them odourless, colourless and tasteless if he wanted to. He could damage, hurt, kill anyone and not even be around.

Even The Dark Lord himself, who was considered to be so highly intelligent, didn't acknowledge him for what he truly was worth. It was always Lucius who got the praise and was often considered to be his right-hand man, his most powerful servant! So much for intelligence!

He, Severus, was merely considered 'handy' or 'convenient'. All the potions he had ever made for The Dark Lord only had got him mild praise, since 'he had not expected him to fail and knew Severus could do it'. Nothing like 'brillant' or 'work of a genius' - which his work had been. Some of it really was of Grandmaster standard, as Lucius had mentioned a few days ago. He had to give Lucius that - he had recognised his work for what it was worth. Not that it changed anything; he was stuck in these dark dungeons teaching the most ungrateful, unappreciative and stupid loathsome little hormonal driven brainless abcesses mankind could reproduce.

Out of pure frustration the potions master threw a rack of empty vials to the wall and screamed.

"Feeling better now?" A kind voice flooded through the room.

"Who said you could come in?" Snape twirled around and looked at a smiling Lupin. Oh Circe, didn't he suffer enough already?

"I knocked on your door for more than five minutes, Severus." Lupin kept smiling. That man definitely smiled too much.

"And what do you want?" He had felt quite a relief when Lupin had remained silent about 'the situation' and how he had helped him out, but that didn't mean he felt the urge to be kind towards the werewolf.

"Yesterday you said I had to come down here today to take my Wolfsbane Potion, remember? You said it was ready." Lupin reminded him, looking at him with somewhat feverish eyes.

"Ah, yes" The potions master calmed down considerably and looked around, searching for a mug to poor it in.

"Here, drink this immediately." After a minute or two, Snape handed him a mug with the familiar content.

"No alterations?" Lupin couldn't resist to sniff at it first and give him a suspicious look.

"No. Not yet," Snape smiled significantly.

Remus sighed. That smile gave him the creeps. It always seemed to promise him a lot of trouble in the near future which was probably all too true.

"Well?" Snape silently enjoyed the little wavering Lupin displayed. Ah yes, the power of potions indeed!

The DADA teacher shrugged and drank the content as fast as he could, trying to outsmart his taste pallet. It almost worked. He gave back the now empty mug and shivered.

"I see you still haven't managed to acquire a taste for it"

"As if I ever could," Remus shook his head and watched as Snape walked back to his desk and started to rummage somewhat absent-mindedly through an impressive stack of parchments.

"Why are you still here?" After a few minutes he seemed to remember that his visitor still had not left his quarters and looked up, looking very irritated. "Contrary to some people who have the luxury of only having to teach, I am extremely busy with discovering and developing a rather revolutionary new potion. Amongst other things."

"I know and for that I am grateful beyond words," Remus said in all earnest. "But with that enormous task and your other duty, I can't help wondering if you don't have too much to endure, Severus. I am starting to get worried about you."

"Why? As I recall, that has not bothered you before." The potions master straightened his back and defied Lupin with a piercing look. Guilt. The bloody werewolf suffered from guilt! Always such a convenient tool to use. And being the Slytherin he was, immediately thoughts of ways to use this powerful tool for his own benefit. It didn't take long for a plan to form in his head. Perfect!

"I knew we would come to that sooner or later" Remus nodded sadly and continued with utmost sincerity. "Look, I am not proud of what we did to you back then and although I didn't personally participate in those stupid pranks, I also didn't do anything to stop them. Which I could and should have done. For that I truly apologise - I was very, very wrong. Doing nothing to stop something is the same as participating in it, I see that now." The DADA teacher rubbed his eyes, now looking quite tired. "And I know you still bear me a grudge, but that does not stop me from seeing how stressed you are and worrying about that. Isn't there anything I can do to help you out?"

"You really have to be this incorrigible Gryffindor, haven't you?" Snape snorted. "And you are completely above any personal interest, of course."

"I won't deny a bit of self-interest. You brewing my new potion while stressing out is not exactly appealing, to say the least," Remus confessed with a faint smile, "but that is not the main reason, no. So, assuming that you are willing to let me help you - what can I do to bring down your stress level?"

He handed himself to him on a plate. How convenient. And how nauseating naive. They really never did teach those bloody Gryffindors about life, did they? Here Lupin offered himself willingly to be used and oh yes, he would be of such great use. For a start he would use the werewolf to get back at Lucius. That was not without any danger, especially for Lupin, but hey - sacrifices had to be made. Preferably by Gryffindors.

"For me to relief myself of stress worth mentioning, there are only two options," the potions master spoke slowly and seemingly aggravated, "and you are not by any means able to provide me with the first, and most desired, option. So that just leaves option two, I guess."

"And that is ?"