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In his life, Severus' loyalties had shifted so many times, he almost seemed fickle to himself. He chastised himself for that thought, not for the first time.

He made no excuses, since none would truly excuse anything. And to be honest, he didn't want to apologise for where his loyalties had been, and why they had shifted. All the choices and changes were made at different stages of his life, of his development as a person. A human being with knowledge, ignorance, cleverness, stupidity, confidence and deeply rooted insecurities.

First his mother, who had betrayed herself and by doing that, betrayed him. He still loved her though, the few scant memories worth cherishing.

Then Lucius Malfoy. A foolish but oh so very understandable choice. So beautifully alluring and convincing, so smooth and intelligent and tempting, it was a wonder he even managed to break free of that enchantment and the power it had held over him.

Did you ever truly break free?

Riddle, or Lord Voldemort as he had chosen to call himself. Charisma and the right words, chillingly skilled in seeing his deepest desires and hatreds. Even more skilled in using them, together with Severus' rapidly growing skills in potion making and the Dark Arts. And his eager lust for revenge, to get back at those who had made his school time almost as unbearable as his time at home.

Dumbledore and through him, the Order... When the dark mark had burned so deeply into his soul, it had started hollowing it out. A frightening emptiness Severus had felt so acutely, he had finally wondered if he'd made the right choices. Wondered if ambition, hatred and revenge was enough to follow a man, who wanted nothing other than ultimate power over them all.

Which he did have over us, still has...

It hadn't been enough.

Loyalty craved more, so much more. Like love, which brought him to Remus.

Wordcount: 320

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Severus from Theatrical Muse

July 2006

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