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: Weeping Willow
Author: Lynda (T'Boy)
Email: tboy_7@hotmail.com
Pairing: Snape/Voldemort, Snape/Tree (cough)
Rating: R (adult readers only)
Disclaimer: No infringement of property rights intended. No money made, written for fun.
Summary: A brief history of a damaged man. Part of the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest. Written in response to Tricky Pairing 57: Whomping Willow.
Notes: Darkfic, slash, violence, S/M and adult themes. This is a version of Snape that's a little more damaged than usual. Thanks to Bernice for beta, much appreciated.

By Lynda

At night, the vista of stars and moonlight softly bathed the landscape, transforming the magnificent daytime view into something uniquely beautiful. The Headmaster stood at the window of his private rooms and let the serenity sweep over him.

A soft wind blew through the opened casement, carrying the night scents peculiar to Hogwarts. Albus closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. He knew the smell of the place intimately; he could taste it, could feel it in his very pores. It was a part of him, and he of it, all intertwined and grown together over years of loving familiarity. He stood in silent communion with his beloved school, lost in the ritual which never grew weary for him. Willingly, joyfully, he strengthened the bonds tying him to the very heart of Hogwarts, allowing his awareness to wash over the grounds, through the castle, into every tower and keep. The students and staff slept peacefully, their dreams and stray thoughts drifting past him as he swept on, touching all in a silent and fierce guardianship.

This was his moment of private reverie, a gentle reaffirmation of his love as he meditated on life and purpose, in the still of the night. The simple exercise revitalised him, gave him new energies to carry into the new day and to face whatever it held.

He drifted, his mind wandering through halls and down stairs, past slumbering portraits and dozing suits of armour. The dungeon was... empty.

Swiftly now, Albus searched, looking for that unique signature, knowing with pity in his heart what he'd find. And yes, there it was, as he knew it would be, bruised and broken and so very, very hurt, lying alone on the grass, a small patch upon the dewed expanse.

Opening his eyes, Albus turned and put on his outer robe, grabbing a soft blanket as he headed for the door. Impatient at the speed his physical travels took, it seemed forever before he stood before the figure lying unconscious at his feet. He saw what he expected to see, and nearly wept yet again at the sight. With the utmost tenderness, he rolled the man's naked form until the blanket covered and warmed, then lifted him into his arms. Albus looked sorrowfully into the blood-streaked face of his burden, lightly kissed the forehead, and carried him carefully to deposit in Madame Pomphrey's care once more.

Everyone experienced varying degrees of gladness. Exuberantly joyous, for the most part. Volubly relieved. Spontaneous, almost desperate parties had sprung up as people battled to release the hold fear had had on them for so many years. Some wept quietly, the release from tension almost too much, others grieving over lives the violent years had taken from them. They held each other, mutual sobs and whispers helping them begin to heal at last. All struggled to find ways to express the inexpressible; Voldemort was gone, and would never return.

One person remained seemingly unaffected. Severus Snape, whom one would consider had ample reason to celebrate, had simply closed his eyes, allowing the knowledge to wash over him in silence. He'd retired to his rooms, and stayed there until classes had resumed their normal schedule at Hogwarts, returning to the Potions Laboratory as if there had been no cataclysmic upheaval in the Wizarding world. It was business as usual, and if the students had expected Snape's sneering visage to have lightened, or his remarks to have grown less barbed, they were disappointed.

Severus hung by his wrists and writhed. "Crucio." A whispered word, the breath of it caressing his skin an instant before the searing, blinding pain. He screamed, the sound ripping the air, his voice growing hoarse as the pain ebbed, so slowly.

His swaying ceased and he hung limply, head forward and hair obscuring his face. A hand reached through the curtain of black, caressed his skin, held his jaw and lifted.

Severus looked through slitted eyes, his sight mercifully blurring the creature before him. The face loomed closer, then pressed against his own. A kiss; a blasphemy of tenderness from once beautiful lips, now hideous and deformed from the evil the vessel contained. Severus leaned into it, his mouth forming a trembling pout that dragged across the scaled surface, his tongue reaching out to rasp dryly, marking a thin trail.

"My beautiful one. You suffer so, so exquisitely. I will never tire of you. You're mine, Severus. Mine forever."

A grateful sob echoed in the chamber.

Greasy git. Slytherin bastard. Ugly, hook-nosed prick. "Hey Troll Shit! Oh, sorry Snape, didn't realise it was you. Should have, though!" Vicious, awful laughter, rolling through the hallways of his Hogwarts-youth, following through his life, never ending. Even in the night's silence.

No-one liked him. No-one loved him, certainly. He was alone throughout an awkward adolescence, a gawky frame under beautiful robes, head held high, disdain dripping from his face. His heart though, ah, his heart dripped poison, the agony of solitude and rejection never abated. The poison seeped into his soul, killing him little by little, hardening him towards light and laughter, and all those groups of people in easy camaraderie, good cheer and smiles. Arms thrown across shoulders, heads thrown back as throats bared in jovial moments. He watched them all.

His talents were many. Few matched him in the classroom, and even on the playing fields he was without par. He soared through the air, broom whistling as he thwarted Chasers and deflected goals. The locker room afterwards was a study in humiliation. The rest of the team slapped each other, hugged and mugged, chased around the showers and made good natured gropes, while he stood under the stinging spray in the corner, alone, ignored, sinking within himself.

No-one touched him. There were never any playful gooses, sly brushes, thumps. He told himself he was better off. Who would want them pawing over his skin; their warm, broad hands and their freckled arms. Better off.

He grew, as all men do, and his flesh filled, his body under the robes sleek and fine, skin like silk, but no-one knew. No-one ever touched the body that ached for another's hand, that touched itself in the night, then despaired in the grey light of day. His mind hated, hated that need, that want for someone else, anyone, someone to just play their fingers across his skin, skin that would soak it up like a dry sponge.

He filled his life, and no-one guessed his thoughts. His mind, a brilliant thing, shone his gifts like beacons, the Professors drawn like lost ships, encouraging as he honed skills and gathered knowledge. He was pronounced an excellent student, and sent on his way to make something of himself in the world.

There, there amongst the circle of hooded beasts parading as humans, he found his peace. No wizard dared sneer openly at him, the one favoured by their Lord. Even a whispered jibe might arouse His displeasure, and that was best left unexplored. A regal, imposing figure, Snape swept gracefully amongst their number, his movements grown elegant through the years, his voice melodious and deep. He commanded respect, and he grew to like it. Oh yes, his mind, sharp and swift, learnt how to cut and control, and he liked it very much.

But the best, the most glorious joy that filled him now came from their Lord himself. Snape sat at his feet as others came to abase themselves on the floor before them, his Master's fingers carding through his hair while discussing tactics, planning the pain of others, the death of a few. Then afterwards, he followed his Lord into a private chamber, and bent over the wooden bench as he was taken.

Touched! At last, his soul sang with the beauty of it. Each thrust and slap, each pinch and scrape of nail was a pleasure undreamt of. The pain, the pain was nothing! The pain was just there, the lash of the crop stinging, the clenched fist splitting, but all the while touching, touching him and exalting him. It was bliss.

The plans of the Dark Lord were madness. His existence was obscene. Severus spun in a maelstrom of torment, his soul itself pleading for deliverance. His lover! His one, his only, his magnificent Master was a monster beyond imagining.

He'd taken the position at Hogwarts as Voldemort had decreed. By day he taught, his talents shining once again as he thrilled to the artistry of potions lore. The students hadn't changed, although the names were different. Still their faces mocked him, and he sneered back, delighting in the vulnerability over which he now held mastery. The staff cooled rapidly; inviting him into their intimacy, he held himself aloof and denied them. It wasn't safe to get too close, he had so many secrets. His distance was professional, and it seemed to serve.

To serve. In service to a Master whose nature made him cringe with shame and horror. Yes, Severus despised these children, these wizards in the making, but to see them torn and riven? Their lives gutted, their small bodies thrown into the pits to feed the dark creatures that dwelt there? It could not be borne!

His distress ate at him, and he failed to find an answer for himself. The school believed he sequestered himself away in the dungeons every night, eschewing the society of the upper levels. In truth, he spent many nights in the arms of his beloved, whose touch still enflamed him beyond sense. Still he revelled in that loving attention, and wept only that it stopped as day drew near. He'd return to his rooms, swallow a potion to countermand his body's nagging for surcease, and rise to sit at the Head Table with the rest.

Albus... Albus found him one Sunday morning, when he hadn't come to breakfast. The Headmaster's shrewd eyes had watched him all year, and that awesome mind had considered him from every angle. Albus had seen a youthful man grow drawn and tense, the stress of something tracing lines and shadows on a long, sullen face.

Albus had entered the dungeon rooms, searching, calling softly, almost afraid to open that last door, fearing to know what it was he'd find as he stepped inside.

Severus lay in a broken heap against the wall, his face turned to the rough stone and fingers bleeding from their fretful drag across the surface. Face screwed shut, only small shivers moved his frame and made the light take notice of the evidence of tears.

Many, many hours later, after soft and harsh words, gentle handling, bathing and healing of wounds, sleep and food, Severus sat and talked.

Was it a relief to unburden himself of the unbearable guilt he'd carried, until it broke him apart one bright Sunday morning? He thought it must be, for he stood straight and tall again, and looked Dumbledore in the eye. That he shouldered a new burden was a trade he could live with, though his duplicity shrilled through his nerves.

Albus Dumbledore was the most compassionate of men, and the most ruthless. He'd couched his offer in civilised terms, but the reality was stark in Snape's mind. For a haven in the Light, for a chance to end the nightmare that ensnared him, he must betray his lover, for as long as he possibly could. For years, if that's what it took.

The one saving grace, the balm to his stricken soul, was that he could also continue to lie in Voldemorts arms, and feel his touch.

Albus had shuddered at Snape's stuttered recitation earlier that day, unable to speak for long minutes as Severus had confessed to the ecstasy he was blessed with. A hesitant offer to speak of alternative means of gaining succour was vehemently rejected; Severus would not hear of it. A visibly saddened man had nodded and they'd moved on to other concerns.

Snape's success in his new role really should have been no surprise. His adoration of his lover was not feigned, and covered what new ambiguities might otherwise have been questioned more closely. He did not fear returning to the Dark Lord's presence; rather, he feared that he might be kept too long away. It was always a relief when the summons came, and he could race to Voldemort's side again. He kept his bargain, dutifully reporting the myriad detail of conspiracy and plotting, always looking for that element of weakness that would allow the Order to take the upper hand. With the utmost reluctance, and only after several years had passed, would he finally allow himself to speak of the underbelly of the Dark Lord himself. By dint of patience, Albus eventually gleaned a great deal of knowledge that would, eventually, sway the outcome.

A routine of sorts developed, and Snape was free to enjoy the attentions of his sadistic lover unencumbered by the restraint of previous years. His injuries from each visit were attended to by the Hogwart's nurse upon his return, Madam Pomphrey's discretion quite assured. Severus was never made privy to her private horror at the livid marks upon his body, nor her endless sorrow at the evidence of the hours of agony he'd endured. He was quite oblivious to the inappropriateness of his contentment with his times of priceless intimacy. She healed him silently and briskly, and sent him on his way to terrorise the children.

Severus lived with his two conflicted goals for many years. He wanted to be with Voldemort, to be held and touched and petted; he wanted to defeat the Side of Darkness, thwarting their plans and destroying their means of power.

The dichotomy did not break him. It simply bent his already eccentric and reserved nature and gave him a reputation for malice and spite that was not altogether undeserved. Others saw his duality, the brave spirit and the utter bastard, and failed to understand it. The Potter child never could reconcile what he thought he saw, could not make sense of the intuition that a hero lurked behind the man who seemed to live to torment him. The child grew though, and through his own experiences serving the Order by Snape's side, came to his own conclusions. Severus developed a reluctant admirer, one he rejected repeatedly, to no avail.

Voldemort died.

The silence in the dungeon chambers matched the silence of Severus' mind. He could not think on it, not yet. The shock that visited him after the event was too profound to be acknowledged.

He dreamed. His heart screamed and wailed its grief when he could least control it. In the mornings he felt he was rising from his own grave, dragging his animated corpse of a soul into the day, not understanding how he managed to do so.

The unending vista of perpetual solitude was what finally shattered him. One evening, just like another, he sat before his fire with his evening brandy, and collapsed in stricken grief. His lover had gone, and never more would he feel the touch of another on his body. Never again would he know love, express it and receive it. Deep, animalistic cries were wrenched from him; he tore his robes, his hair, he knew not what he was nor what he would become. Bereft, so alone, he did not emerge again from his rooms for several days.

Thus began the strengthening of Albus' distant vigil on his most vulnerable ward. Always aware of the tightrope of sanity Severus walked, Albus had cosseted him for many years, and had watched with trepidation for the shattering that finally came. Denied entrance, he was ready with what comfort he could give when Snape eventually emerged from his brief exile. The waves of pain that roiled off the subdued man nearly broke the older wizard's own heart, and he spent many hours in quiet conversation with him in his tower, occupying his mind and filling his hands with tea, sweets and a venerable old scotch.

A peace of sorts seemed to descend upon Severus, and he resumed his daily life, but Albus was not convinced. He waited for he knew not what, but recognised when it came.

The isolation was a torture, greater than any he'd ever endured. Severus woke in the night, night after night, sweating and sick. The absence of touch was more than he could stand.

His whole being yearned with a power that would kill him if it were not assuaged. The loss of the One that loved him never dimmed. He ached for Voldemort's touch, his body remembering their times together in unforgivable detail. Sobbing and ill, his mind sought frantically for answers that were not there.

He needed. He needed to remember, to relive, for it was all that was left to him. There were none to replace, how could there be? Who could possibly? No-one, ever.

He rose from his bed and threw a robe over himself, and left the castle. Over the grounds he stumbled, blinded by the tears that wouldn't cease their fall. Aimless, he walked, choking down the sobs and disturbing no-one.

The first slash across his face stunned him immobile, and the subsequent hits to his leg and back felled him. He lay in a stupor as the Whomping Willow writhed menacingly above him, branches hissing past with increasing speed. Another hit over his chest expelled the breath Severus had held in surprise, and he rose, placing himself once again in the path of the unfeeling menace.

He flung his head back and crowed, the tree thrashing madly and punching him down to the ground over and over. Each time he rose more eagerly, his face glowing with preternatural light as he gloried in the immense satisfaction of the assault. It was mindless, brutal pain, and it didn't end until finally he rose no more, a broken, insensate bundle of injury, blood covering him from head to toe.

That first night he was discovered by a distraught Hagrid, and carried to the infirmary for urgent attention. Albus sat with him until he awoke from the healing spells, but no amount of persuasion on Albus' part could make Severus see reason. He stubbornly refused to discuss it, declaring that he'd walked into the tree by accident whilst very tired, and that was the end of the matter.

Of course, when Albus found him a month later lying beneath the tree, with his robes folded carefully a short distance away, there was no denial possible. It didn't seem to matter though. He still refused to discuss it, and Albus took it upon himself to minister to the broken body personally on each and every subsequent occasion.

For Severus had found what he'd sought, found a way to remember and rejoice in his lover's touch, and he would not relinquish it for anyone. Ever.