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Shimmering blue, like Mother of Pearl beneath a crisp winter's blue clear sky. The colour was brilliant against the dark red velvet of the table cloth. Like a bright light in darkness. A darkness that went beyond the low light in the room, the black corners and the black robes.

A darkness that surrounded another bright light in the midst of the room, a naked shivery figure crouched low on the stonefloor, face downcast, bruises livid against the pale skin. Should the man look up, they would see the light reddening in the white of the eyes, the after effect of too many and too long Cruicios. So predictable, the methods he had seen used again and again on others.

Only this one had defied those methods, naked and vulnerable as he was, he had not spoken a word since he'd entered. Severus had enjoyed a clear view of this impressive show of defiance through his mask, standing at the side of his Lord. Or was it a foolish gesture, worthless? Wouldn't the Dark Lord eventually extract the knowledge himself when he tired of entertaining his minions?

This was just a show after all, he mused, keeping his mind still and complacent, without consciously acknowledging the deep disgust rolling in his stomach.

Not now, not here.

A mere gesture told him it was time to proceed, and Severus didn't hesitate with stepping forward. His black robes swished softly against the stones as he moved to pick up the vial and continued to the subject. This was no longer a man in Severus' eyes. It was a specimen, a test object he needed to use and evaluate in order to register the results. Only this way would he be able to do as he did now, and continue existing.

Silently he gestured to the two masked figures behind the subject, no verbal orders needed. This had been done enough times for everybody to know their roles. Strong fingers dug into the pale shoulders, pulling the subject up and back, exposing his face. As a mirror of the potion, light blue eyes glittered with hatred as they met black empty eyes, then they were obstructed from view by a hand closing over the subjects nose, another forcing the mouth open.

The ice-blue liquid slid like a snake from the vial into the mouth, into the guts and the soul, burning outwards and sending even more shivers through the subject. No longer of cold, but now of pain, of fire building in bones and muscles, devouring as a dragon's breath.

There were only screams and no words in reply to the questions. A failure, even if the potion had been a success, Severus absently noted as he stepped back, leaving behind a crumbled heap on the floor. In a few hours, when legilimency had extracted the needed knowledge, the man would be dead with or without the green light of an Avada Kedavra.

The curse would be mercy, considering how blue wisps would keep eating away at quivering insides until they were no more and all that was left were almost fragnant startling blue tendrils of smoke, dissipating quickly. An efficient potion, the Dragon Blue. A masterpiece to some, a nightmare to others.

Severus didn't dream anymore.

Wordcount: 544


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Severus from Theatrical Muse

July 2006

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