WARNING: This is a slash story, which means it contains male/male erotic content involving consenting adults. If you're not of legal age or are offended by such material, please go find something else to read.

TITLE: Hell is Murky
AUTHOR: Darkrose
EMAIL: darkrose@pardalis.org
PAIRING: Severus Snape/Walden Macnair, some Severus Snape/Lucius Malfoy
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of them, and I frankly wish psycho!Lucius and Macnair hadn't taken up residence in my head.
SUMMARY: Lucius finally pushes his lover too far, setting in motion the chain of events leading to Snape's defection to the Light.
WARNINGS: Rape, torture, graphic violence. I do mean it!
NOTES: Part of the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest&emdash;Easy Pairing Snape/Macnair

"Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two: why, then, 'tis time to do 't. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?"

&emdash;Macbeth, Act V, Scene I

"I expect you'll be wanting to call the Aurors to cart me off to Azkaban now." Severus set his teacup in the saucer and placed it back on Dumbledore's desk. His black eyes met the blue ones, their usual twinkle displaced by an expression of boundless compassion. Snape was unmoved.

"Actually, my dear boy, I was wondering why."

"Why what? Why I came here tonight? I thought I made that clear, that I've had enough&emdash;"

"No, Severus." Dumbledore's voice was quiet and steady. "I was wondering why one of the most brilliant young men I have seen pass through these doors could have been taken in by Voldemort's lies and false promises."

Snape's eyebrows rose. "I'd have thought it would be obvious to you, of all people."

Albus gave a tiny smile. "Contrary to popular belief, Severus, I do not actually know about everything that happens at Hogwarts&emdash;just most things."

"Ah, but you were there for this one." Snape leaned forward. "You see, you were the one who made it so clear to me that I was worthless, compared to your precious Gryffindors. Black and Lupin tried to murder me, and I was the one who was treated like the criminal&emdash;like I was more of a monster than&emdash;" He sat back abruptly and looked down at his hands. "No. I'm just as much of a monster as Lupin&emdash;more, actually, since he at least can admit to what he is....but it seemed obvious that you couldn't protect me, so I had to find someone who could."


"No!" Severus was surprised. "No...not him. It was...someone else." Lucius, beautiful, elegant, charming, completely confident in his place as the Malfoy heir and the unofficial leader of Slytherin House&emdash;everything I wasn't. Lucius, who held me that night when I came back still shaking, who kissed me when I woke up with nightmares, who told me that there was a way to keep anyone from ever hurting me like that again....

There was a long silence. When Severus finally broke it, his voice was flat and emotionless, as if relating something that had happened to someone else. "I chose him, you see, and as it turned out, I chose more poorly than I could have imagined."

It wasn't until Walden offered him one of his victim's eyes that Severus had to run and be loudly, violently sick. As he was rinsing his mouth out with water from the bathroom tap, he could hear the others laughing, and he spared a moment to wish he was somewhere, anywhere else. Not that he had any choice: Voldemort himself had ordered Snape to join the others in this raid. His high, cold voice dripped poison when he suggested that perhaps Lucius had erred in bringing Snape to him, since he seemed to lack true commitment to the cause.

Straightening his robes, he went back into the living room. Macnair was frowning down at the man staked to the hardwood floor, absently twirling a thin-bladed knife in one hand. Lucius lounged on the sofa next to Matthew Lestrange, who was stroking his wife's leg and smiling slightly. Terence Nott watched from an armchair where he sipped at a glass of wine nearly the same color as the blood that pooled around Macnair and his victim. Walden looked up at Snape, thin lips curved into a malicious grin. "Don't have the stomach for the real work, Snape? I'm surprised&emdash;I wouldn't have thought you were that soft. You're spoiling him, Lucius."

Lucius' gray eyes narrowed, and his smile was more a baring of teeth than anything more comradely. "Not all of us are as gifted in these arts as you are, Walden," he drawled. "Sev's talents lie...elsewhere, as I'm sure you know."

Nott choked on his wine, and Rowan Lestrange chuckled appreciatively at the barb. Severus was the youngest to claim the title of Potions Master in six decades, which was ostensibly why the Dark Lord had wanted him in the ranks of his followers. Beyond that, it was common knowledge among the Inner Circle that Macnair had been aching to get his hands on Snape ever since their sixth year at Hogwarts, when Lucius had publicly claimed Severus with a full hundred lashes from a signal whip. Lucius was not inclined to share his toys, however, so Walden had to be content to practice his skills with other, more fragile targets.

Severus ground his teeth, but said nothing. He hated it when Lucius was like this, because it shattered his carefully maintained illusion that he had finally found a place where he would have the respect he deserved for his intelligence and expertise. The truth was that despite all he had done to aid Voldemort in his quest for immortality, even the Dark Lord considered him as little more than Lucius Malfoy's fucktoy.

Macnair returned his attention to his work. Severus watched in horrified fascination as what was left of the junior Auror opened his mouth and made a rattling noise that was as close as he could still come to a scream. Walden was focusing on his face now, carving arcane patterns in the pale skin and occasionally touching his wand to them, making the marks glow with a poisonous green fire that made his victim writhe. Snape heard a gagging sound behind him; it seemed that he was not the only one who found the display revolting. Once again, he squashed the traitorous thought that this was unnecessary. If the object is to make them fear us, surely there are more efficient ways to do that. How long have we been here while Walden gets his kicks? And that's all it is&emdash;this poor bastard's hardly important enough to have been able to tell us anything, even when he could still talk.

Walden sat back on his heels. He pressed two fingers to the side of the man's neck, then looked up at Severus. "He's fading, Snape. Give him some more of that draught, would you?"

Snape crouched down beside the Auror. The traces of the damage Macnair had done earlier were gone, the shattered bones repaired and the knife slashes healed. The only evidence left of the torture were the bloody pits where brown eyes had once been, and the marks that Walden had touched with his wand, searing them into the man's skin. Severus swallowed hard, trying to keep his stomach from rebelling again as he opened his case and removed the phial of the powerful healing potion. He gripped the man's lower jaw in his fingers and opened his mouth, not bothering to be gentle since any touch would be agony at this point. He poured a small amount into the Auror's mouth, stroking his throat to force him to swallow, then after a moment's hesitation, gave him more. This has gone on long enough.

Severus straightened up and replaced the empty phial in his potions case. He took his time so that his expression of shock was fully in place when he heard the violent retching behind him. He whirled around to see Walden jump back from his victim's convulsing body, blood pouring in copious amounts from ears, nose, and mouth. With a final choked gurgle, the Auror thrashed and was still.

Macnair turned on Snape, his thin face a mask of fury. "You incompetent idiot!" he snarled. "You were supposed to keep him alive, not kill him!" He raised his wand to curse Snape, then lowered it and glared at Malfoy. "Dammit, Lucius, can't you control your bitch?"

Lucius rose, and strolled over to the other two Death Eaters, staring down at the corpse before turning steely eyes on Snape. "I'm sure Sev has a very good explanation, don't you, love?" On his lips, the word was an obscenity. Snape met his gaze, his face giving nothing away.

"Vivaserum is tricky stuff&emdash;when there is this much damage, it can be difficult to determine the precise dose that is required. In this case, with repeated trauma, plus the ongoing effects of the pain spells, his system simply couldn't keep up, and it overloaded."

"An accident, then." Malfoy's voice was quiet. Severus folded his arms over his chest to hide his shiver.

"So much for the great Potions prodigy," sneered Macnair. He would have continued, but Lucius raised a slender white hand to cut him off.

"Enough. We can debate this further when we're back at the Manor. We've spent enough time here. Gather up your things, everyone, and let's be off."

The other Death Eaters donned their hooded cloaks and silver masks, and gathered in a semicircle around Lucius. When they were all in place, Malfoy raised his wand and cried out, "Morsmordre!" The Dark Mark glittered green in the sky above the house as they Disapparated.

"Now, then." They were in one of the sitting rooms at Malfoy Manor. The Lestranges were snuggled together on the antique loveseat; Nott was continuing his drinking with some of Lucius' father's best brandy; Lucius was lounging in a chair in front of the fireplace, Severus at his feet. Macnair sat across from them, his eyes fixed on Snape. "Sev here made a mistake. Unusual, but it happens." Lucius stroked Snape's lank black hair and smiled down at him. "Still, it was rather careless of you, Sevvie, and you left poor Walden...unsatisfied. You should have warned him of the risks, at least, so he could have paced himself."

Snape stared down at the dark green carpet. He had realized at the time that his impulsive act of mercy would have a price, and he had no intention of humbling himself further by begging Lucius' pardon&emdash;especially not with the others watching avidly.

"In that case, I think the appropriate thing to do would be for Sev to attend to Walden for a bit." Lucius raised a hand as Macnair leapt to his feet. "Wait a moment. You know how I feel about loaning out my toys; I'm willing to make an exception in this case, but there will be some conditions."

"Oh, really?"

"You shouldn't find them too onerous. No permanent marks, please, and do be careful of his hands&emdash;we don't want those damaged. And you'll have to take him here and now."

Rowan Lestrange leaned forward, her eyes glittering. "So we'll get to watch?"

"If you like," replied Lucius, shrugging. "Walden? Are my terms acceptable?"

"I suppose," said Macnair, "Though I've so wanted to make him bleed...but I'll manage somehow."

"Good." Lucius nudged Severus with his foot. "Get up, Sev. It's getting late."

I don't have to do this, Snape thought. I could tell him&emdash;tell them all&emdash;to go fuck themselves, and walk out...and where, exactly would I go when Voldemort decided that I'd betrayed him? They'll only find me again, and I wouldn't even have Lucius' dubious protection. Slowly he got to his feet and began to unfasten his robes. He didn't look at the others, not even Macnair; all his attention was focused on his cool, pale lover. I will remember this, Lucius.

When he had undressed completely, folding his clothes neatly and setting them in a pile at Lucius' feet, he turned around to face Macnair. The other Death Eater had Transfigured an end table into a waist-high padded bench, which he waved Snape towards. "Face down. I don't suppose you have any implements I could borrow, Lucius? A cane, perhaps?" Severus stretched out on the bench as directed while Lucius summoned the requested toy to his hand and presented it to Walden. Snape gripped the legs of the bench and heard Macnair chuckle. "Yes...I could tie you down, but this will be much more entertaining. Don't move."

Snape recognized the cane as soon as it fell across the back of his thighs. It was one of Lucius' favorites&emdash;a half-inch around, maple with an ivory handle, and it hurt like hell. He clenched his teeth against the scream that threatened to break free; he had no intention of giving any of them that satisfaction. He was vaguely aware that Walden was even more accurate than Lucius was, repeatedly striking him in the same place until Snape felt as though he was being torn open, and that Walden's knives would have been preferable to this. He tasted blood in his mouth where he had bitten deep into his lower lip, the smaller pain balancing the greater and making it easier to bear. Lucius' voice sounded as though it were coming from far away when he heard him say, "Enough, Walden. Finish him."

There was a soft thud as the cane hit the floor. A hand gripped his hair and pulled his head up; he saw Macnair smirking before the other man released him. A different pain, then, as a callused hand wrapped around his erection and yanked hard. "You can't fool me, Snape," Macnair hissed in his ear. "I know you like getting hurt. Your body can't lie, and you'd hardly put up with that mincing fop if he wasn't giving you exactly what you want." He felt the blunt head of the other man's cock against his entrance, then searing agony as Macnair thrust into him brutally. He sank his teeth into his own arm, trying in vain to muffle his choked cries.

It was over mercifully soon. Macnair, already aroused from beating Snape and from the earlier torture, spent himself quickly, stood, and dressed. Rowan was straddling her husband, eyes closed and head thrown back in her pleasure. Terence had passed out and was snoring, the brandy snifter still in his hand. The Malfoy heir had one leg draped over the arm of his chair, robes open as he languidly stroked himself to completion while Snape watched. When he had finished, he held out a hand, and Severus crawled over to lick it clean, taking refuge in the familiar act of submission to the man who owned him. He felt a twinge of sadness, knowing that this would be the last time. I would have done anything for you, Lucius, come crawling back one more time, had you kept this between us.

Lucius cleared his throat, and the others took the hint and Apparated home. Macnair was the last to leave, returning the cane to Lucius with a slight bow. "Thank you," he told the blond. "That was quite pleasant. If he starts getting out of line in the future, do think of me, won't you?"

Silver eyes narrowed briefly, and in a flat, uninflected tone of voice, he said, "Oh, I will." Walden's trademarked smirk seemed to hang in the air for several seconds after he had Apparated away.

Severus sat still, then finally raised his head and looked into his lover's cool, perfect face. "Why?" Lucius smiled faintly and stroked his cheek.

"Walden is the one who mentioned to our Lord that you had never accompanied us on any of the raids&emdash;that you stayed down in your dungeons, brewing potions for Him. He hinted that perhaps you had conflicting loyalties that might be dangerous&emdash;especially given your fondness for a certain brown-haired Gryffindor when we were in school." Malfoy's eyes had gone cold and hard, twin chips of stone. "Our Master wondered why I had not told him of this. He was...displeased with me. The last thing I needed tonight was for Walden to go back and tell him that you felt sorry for that mudblood piece of shit and killed him out of mercy." He smiled, a scimitar-thin curve of his lips, when Severus started. "I'm not stupid, Sev. I know what you did. So does Walden, but he's not likely to talk now, not if he thinks there's a chance I'll let him have you again."

Lucius rose, shoving his plaything aside. "Stop deluding yourself, Sev. You're no better than the rest of us, just because you don't have to actually see the faces of the people you kill, and because you prefer to experience pain from the other side. Believe me, those lovely hands of yours are just as dirty." He went to the door, and paused. "Go clean yourself up and come to bed. You smell like Macnair." Lucius went up to his rooms. Severus remained curled up on the sitting room floor. He smiled to himself; it was an unpleasant expression. While Walden had been working him over, he had realized that there was one person who just might be powerful enough to protect him, one person who might be willing to forgive him and grant absolution for all the deaths at his hands. After all, he is the one who drove me straight into Lucius' arms, when he let Black and Lupin off with a slap on the wrist for trying to kill me....

Two nights later, Severus Snape returned to Hogwarts.