Severus stood in front of the mirror, fingering his mask. Idly, he adjusted his long black cloak so that it fell properly over his shoulders, the silver snake clasp’s emerald eyes gazing back at him. Malfoy’s borrowed mask was gold and silver; ostentatious to say the least. It really was not Severus’s style. He resolved to make one of his own as soon as possible. Pressing the mask to his face, the world narrowed into two slits as if he were staring out through snake eyes. Severus secured his hood and looked at himself one more time.
He looked menacing, powerful. He looked in control, intimidating. In short, Severus was what he had always dreamed of being. He was all of the things that he had admired in Malfoy and Nott. Or at least, he looked the part. Stepping back, Severus felt the burn on his arm and apparated away, to his master’s side.
A small circle formed around the Dark Lord in the parlor of a dark and decrepit house. He looked out at all of them with a sort of vicious pride and excitement.
“The Order of the Phoenix,” he said with a sneer, “grows bolder. I say it is time to put them back in their place.” With a wicked grin, the Dark Lord surveyed his followers.
A few of the hooded figures laughed in excitement. Severus stood stonily still, watching.
“They are having a meeting tonight, at the house of Kingsley Shacklebolt. We will strike them hard, when they are least prepared for it. We will make sure that they know what they are up against and that nothing they do to prepare can save them from utter destruction,” the Dark Lord said dramatically.
Eager whispers spread around the circle, calling out names that they claimed for themselves. “Can we kill them?” a husky voice asked.
Voldemort smiled slowly. “Only if you make it hurt.”
Laughter coursed around like a pulse. Severus could hear his heart beat in his ears. “My Lord, surely it would not be better to wait until they have dissipated to attack? Attacking where they are all together gathered would give them just as much of an advantage of numbers as we.”
The Dark Lord considered him. “Surely you do not expect me to listen to your advice on your very first mission?” he asked with a sneer.
Severus looked down obligatorily. “No, master.”
More laughter followed.
The Dark Lord addressed Severus again. “Perhaps one day, when I know I can trust you, I might listen,” he said before snapping, “Now go! We attack on my command.”
As ordered, Severus apparated to the Shacklebolt house, trying to hide his embarrassment. He hadn’t been thinking, making a suggestion to Voldemort like that. He was lucky he did not get physically punished. He would have deserved it.
Small pops sounded as the others arrived, stationing themselves around the house in a circle. A light was on in the downstairs window and Severus could see the shadow of someone pacing along the wall. That room would be their target. Severus knew this plan was foolish, flawed, reckless, but there was nothing to do about it. After all, Shacklebolt was an auror, he was bound to have protective spells or an alarm at the very least. They might have the advantage of surprise for the first few minutes, but before long, the Order could orient themselves and become a formidable fighting unit. But one cannot reason with the Dark Lord.
“Gunn is mine,” a gruff voice next to him muttered. “Don’t touch him.”
“I will not,” Severus replied earnestly, not feeling the need to ask who or why. To be honest, he wasn’t sure who he would go for. It would have to impulse, he supposed.
Severus’s Dark Mark burned for a second and he figured that was the signal. Silently, stealthily, all of the Death Eaters made their way across the lawn, closing in on the brightly lit room. It was good that it was night, for their black outfits lent the perfect disguise, naturally.
Someone on the other side of Severus fired the first shot. Their spell shattered the picture window, slamming into the back of the man pacing. He crumpled. In a split second, the Order was up, moving with wands raised. More spells were fired, exchanged through the wide opening in the side of the house. The man who had claimed Gunn appeared to have found him and they engaged in a vicious duel. Someone jumped out and sprinted at the first Death Eater he saw, which happened to be Severus.
“Sectumsempra!” Severus called after waving a block at whatever spell the man had shot at him.
He fell, blood soaking the grass. Severus ran in closer to the house, into the fray. As he passed the fallen stranger, he could not resist glancing to see who it was. When Severus realized that it was not, in fact, a man but a woman with tied back hair slicked with blood, he couldn’t stop his heart from picking up. It couldn’t be Lily, she wasn’t in the Order. As far as he knew.
With a moan, the woman turned her head and Severus saw that her hair was brown. One glimpse at her face and his heart eased. It was not Lily. And therefore she did not matter, Severus thought as he hurried on, shooting spell after spell at the unmasked Order.
Disgusted with his previous self, Snape wandered over to the woman lying bleeding on the ground. He recognized her now as Emmeline Vance, a witch three years older than him at Hogwarts. She was bright, talented and popular. And now slowly losing her life force. Snape knew that she survived; he had encountered her multiple times since then. And still the callousness with which he had turned away years ago stunned him. Snape could not believe that he had ever been that person. So many times had he told himself and others that he was just going along with the Death Eaters, he was never really like them. Never cold, never cruel. And here, Snape realized that was untrue. He had been like them. He had done horrible things, like he had hurt Vance, with no remorse. And Snape thought of himself, now and then, with nothing but contempt and disgust.