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: Husks
BY: Riley
EMAIL: riley139@yahoo.com
PAIRING: Snape/Crouch Jr.
CATEGORY: Drama/Angst
SUMMARY: After Crouch receives the Dementor's Kiss, Snape reflects on their relationship, with Moody a silent witness.
DISCLAIMER: All Harry Potter related characters and concepts are copyrighted by JKR and Warner Brothers; this is for non-profit, entertainment purposes only.

"Can I see him?"

The question didn't precisely surprise Albus Dumbledore, but then, very little did. He did, however, look over the tops of his spectacles at Severus Snape, with some concern. "Severus--- you know the effects of the Dementor's Kiss---"

"I know---" his voice was hoarse. "I know there's--- nothing left."

"And you still want to?" Now Dumbledore was concerned.

He gulped and nodded. "Yes."

The Headmaster might have had reservations... but, the circumstances being what they were, he was disinclined to voice them.

Snape, being a talented spy, however, managed to read the thought. "Merlin's teeth--- do you really think I'd... do that?"

"No, no," said Dumbledore, rather too hastily. Then, more gently, "You can see him if you want, Severus."

"Th-thank you." Just the slight tremor betraying deeper emotion. He got to his feet. "May I--- go now?"

The Headmaster nodded. Snape swept out.

Seconds later, Alastor Moody stumped in, from another door. "I want to watch them."

The Headmaster's eyebrows shot up into his silver-white hair. "I hadn't thought that would be to your taste, Alastor."

The old Auror snorted. "I don't mean that. But he might say something."

All mirth disappeared from the older wizard's face. "Alastor, Snape was not involved---"

"He was involved with the Crouch boy, by his own admission." Alastor's smile was crafty. "And besides, if he's done nothing wrong, then there won't be anything for me to hear."

The Headmaster sighed. "All right, Alastor--- if it will make you feel better."

"It will," said Moody shortly, and stumped from the room.


It was a small room, barely big enough for the bed and chairs it held.

It didn't need to be bigger. The current occupant wouldn't care.

Snape swallowed hard, standing uncertainly on the threshold, staring at the husk that had once been a human. Had once been his lover. "B-barty?"

No response. The dark eyes, once so warm and vibrant and intense, were blank.

To be expected of someone whose soul was gone.

Fighting an absurd impulse to wait for his tentative knock to be answered, Snape entered the room. "Barty, it's Sev." His voice was shaky to his own ears. "I came as soon as I could---"

Old habit made him bite his tongue on the next words; he never could have told Barty he'd switched sides. The younger man would have killed him without a second thought.

But now... now at last, he could be honest. "Dumbledore had me spying on the others--- the rest of the Circle, and the Dark Lord. I've been away until a few hours ago, and most of those I spent being... debriefed." A more pleasant process than the same sort of thing in the Dark Lord's ranks, but still an ordeal.

He came in, sat in the chair beside the blank-eyed figure on the bed. "Do you know, it's almost a relief to be able to tell you that, after all these years?" The husk did not respond. "I wanted to tell you... I wanted to explain---" his voice broke. "You wouldn't have understood. Any more than..." it was a whisper. "Any more than I understood you."

He looked ruefully at the figure on the bed. "It was easier when you were dead. I could mourn you and grieve for you and seal the tomb in my heart, and know I'd never have to face you again. But this...." He shook his head.

For a moment, they sat silently together. "I joined... because of you, do you know that? Because I wanted your respect--- because, Merlin knows why, you looked up to me... and I couldn't bear to lose that."

He thought back to that time. To the beautiful young man, two years behind him in school, who had stubbornly and charmingly attached himself to an utterly unprepossessing if brilliant misanthrope and insisted blithely on the same attention in return

No one had ever looked at Severus Snape that way before As if he were beautiful, fascinating. As if they wanted him.

"Everyone else--- they knew enough to be afraid of me," he said softly, remembering. "Because I had a quick wand hand and a short fuse. You were the only one who took it that one step further--- the only one who admired me for it. The only one---" again, his voice cracked. "The only one who admired me for anything."

The husk on the bed stared sightlessly at nothing. Snape trembled.

"Was I a fool to think you loved me?" he asked softly, knowing that he'd never have an answer. "Did you care about me--- did I matter to you? Or was I merely useful--- a means to an end, valuable for my skill in the Dark Arts but not much else?

"I never asked; I didn't want to know. I didn't want to know if I'd sold my soul to a monster for--- nothing." He felt his throat close with the pain.

He clasped his hands together, leaning on the bed, bowing his head to rest against his fingers. "Did I ever have you, Barty? Did anything but your hate for your father ever matter to you?"

But he knew the answer to that. "You loved him, didn't you? Our... Master. That's what I lost you to. That's why I left, you know--- because I couldn't stand to watch what you'd become; because I couldn't stand to think of other people losing someone... the way I lost you." His voice dropped again. "Because I couldn't let myself become that."

He looked up at the still and silent figure, impassive in the face of what was essentially a soliloquy. "You loved him--- you loved a monster. And so---" he trembled. "So did I."

It was too much; he'd said more than he dared let himself think. He got to his feet, took a turn around the room.

If he'd had a magical eye, he'd have seen the figure in its Concealment Cloak (a device much superior to the standard Invisibility Cloak), hiding in the corner.

But he didn't.

"You know, Barty," he said after a moment, in a mockery of a conversational tone, 'I think the Headmaster half expects that I'll--- take advantage of your condition." He laughed miserably. "Merlin knows there's never been anyone else.

"That's... that's never been all I wanted of you, you know." He was shaking again as he moved to sit on the bed. "You--- you knew that." He put his arm hesitantly on the shoulder; a corpse but for the warmth. "You knew I--- I loved you---"

He bowed his head, overcome, leaning against the figure.

And there it was--- not what he'd always wanted, but a mockery of it: human contact and warmth and closeness.

It was all he was likely to get.

And he pressed himself close to the still figure and wrapped his arms around the husk and held on as if his life depended on it.


Alastor Moody watched the figures in silence.

And thought about husks.

There was more than one way to empty a soul.

But he couldn't bring himself to hate Snape any longer, any more than he could hate the husk on the bed.

They were, after all, nearly the same.

Except that one had something left, whispered Moody's conscience. Some chance for redemption.

And didn't Auror mean "Light-bringer"?

He shied away from that thought, and used his Concealment Cloak to slip away noiselessly.

Leaving the husks to each other.