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What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.' Do you agree or disagree? Why? [TM Challenge]

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.' Do you agree or disagree? Why?

It's a fascinating and appealing notion. The thought that keeps us sane and up when life and circumstances overwhelm us with situation or events that might come so close to killing us - physically or mentally - it's almost a wonder we manage to escape.

Or survive.

But deep down, do we truly become stronger from things that go against us? Do our mental defences get undermined by yet another blow, so we are left even more vulnerable than before? Do we pretend to become stronger, just so the world will be fooled and not dare go against us again?

Do we slowly become paranoid in deep fear of a repeat?

Do we gradually close out the world, to prevent that repeat?

Do we wear iron masks and put up thick granite walls, to keep the lingering shivering remnants of our true being hidden from view?

Is that strength?

As usual, a simple question will always spawn more, as we look beyond the shining surface.

Wordcount: 165
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If... (TM challenge)

If only you...

Severus really hated if's when they entered his mind. The multitude of roads chosen in his past that could've been different, was staggering and impossible to break down into clearly discernable fragments.

If he removed one single thing, one single event or choice in his life, the consequences could be astronomical. Step on a butterfly and everything (or nothing) could change... for him.

And yet, how many times hadn't the tempting thoughts of using a Timeturner crept into his mind? Go back in time and ...

And what if he did? Would it be worth it? Would it even have had a true impact on the world, or would it simply have changed him?

Would it even have mattered, or would Fate have found another way to push him and the world onto the road it had laid out?

He would never know, and as he looked at his life now, with all its dangers, problems ... and possibilities, he knew he wouldn't want anything changed. What, and who he had now was too valuable to lose.

Wordcount: 175
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Loyalty [TM Challenge]

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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Chance Encounter [TM Challenge]

Severus didn't believe in chance. Not anymore. Everything had a purpose and a reason. Not that he believed in Fate either. But the future held things that were inevitably, impossible to avoid. Even if you knew they were there.

But there was that single time, where he had overheard Trelawney as she delivered the prophecy...

Nothing had suggested to him, a possibility like that would present itself. Nothing had indicated he would hear something that would not only change his own life, but that of so many others it made no sense to mention names anymore.

But using that knowledge, sharing it, had nothing to do with chance. It had been a decision. A youthfully stupid, ignorant and hateful decision, with no true comprehension of the consequences. Those had become only too clear with the Dark Lord's interpretation of the veiled words, and his following actions.

It had cost dearly and it wasn't over yet.

Wordcount: 155
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Perceptions [TM Challenge]

Perception: Generally speaking, how do you think others perceive you?

Angry, sallow, scowling, cruel, vindictive, petty, greasy, sneering, gaunt, loathing, ugly, cold, intelligent, sneaky, slippery, dark, insane, selfish, callous, intolerant, unhappy, evil, spiteful...

Death Eater ... cold blooded murdered and traitor.


Oh, Severus knew all the words attached to his person. Only too well, in fact. Most had been said directly to his face, many had been evident in the eyes of people, when they looked at him, and some he had gleaned from their minds. They were right, for the most part. He was the majority of those things.

He just didn't care anymore.

Because he knew a few people who perceived him differently. Who bothered to look past the facade and dared to challenge him to be a different man. A man who actually was able to smile, to love, to care... and those people were the only ones that mattered.

True, he had killed one of them. In cold blood even, at least in the exact moment the curse had left his wand. But even in killing Albus, where he'd confirmed - once more - all those negative traits people believed him made up of, he had acted out of loyalty and love. And he would do it again.

So yes, peoples' perceptions about him were mostly correct, but they had in no way the full picture. And they never would have.

Wordcount: 225
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Fortune [TM challenge]

Fortune...

What a wonderful thing to have, fortune, and what a dreadful thing to miss. Severus thought he had been fortunate, in spite of the many events, the many decisions - some good, others stupendously bad - in his life.

He was alive. That wasn't quite a stroke of luck, but Mother Fortuna had most likely pulled a few strings in his favour a couple of times. At least to make up for the times he had spat in the face of Destiny.

He was loved, without a shadow of a doubt. Perhaps only by one single person in the world, but that love was more than enough to last him a lifetime and beyond. He was fortunate to have found and faced that love and even more fortunate to be able to return it, as freely and unconditionally as was possible for him.

He still had all his intelligence, his knowledge and even his secrets.

Yes, he was fortunate.

Wordcount: 160
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The home of my dreams? [TM Challenge]

Severus didn't dream much anymore. Or his mind simply chose to discard whatever lingering remnants of those dreams there were, before he woke. The last sounded most plausible, as he knew he would go mad very quickly, if there were no dreams at all.

Well, more mad than he already was, of course. That degree of madness was surely a matter of discussion for several people who knew him, including himself.

So he had no home of his dreams. He had a home. He even had two, when you looked at physical property. But a true home? He wondered if he'd ever had one.

And also, if he would ever truly feel at home anywhere.

Spinner's End hadn't been a home, in spite of the familiar and safe feel it had held for so many years.

Hogwarts hadn't been home either, but more a labyrinth of frustrations with nowhere to go other than into his dungeons, behind locked heavy oak doors, where even Dumbledore had hesitated to disturb him.

His childhood home? That thought almost made him laugh.

Florence or Brooklyn? Houses of convenience. One for safety, the other for ... sanity. For the chance to see Remus, when he could. A high risk, but also a necessity. But neither were the home of his dreams. And the more he pondered this, the more he doubted that home would ever exist, for him.

So he simply stopped, turning back to reality and the row of vials in front of him. Poisons of the strongest potency. Deadly in doses so small it was impossible to measure out enough the exact amount for just one person.

Was death the home of his dreams?

Don't be ridiculous, Severus.

Death was the easy solution, and certainly not what he dreamt of.

Home could be Remus.

That was another thought, he couldn't allow himself to linger on for too long.

Dreams were selfish after all.

Wordcount: 322
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What are they really thinking? [TM challenge]

At times, lots of people never tell us what they are really thinking. Who is the one person that you would really like to know what they are thinking (as far as how they feel about you), and why?

Finally Severus had known exactly what thoughts had driven the old wizard for so many years, decades even. In that horrible moment, he had not been able to truly comprehend all, the rush of information, the mental whirlwind of images and memories barrelling into and through his mind. Unstoppable, even if he had wanted to stop it.

For so many years, he'd wondered what went on behind those twinkling ice-blue eyes, every time they had rested upon him. What had gone on inside Dumbledore's head, when he'd accepted Severus as repentant Death Eater ... as spy ... as teacher ... as protector and finally as executioner? It had been vexing, infuriating even, that 'knowing' look, when he himself knew nothing.

Now he knew.

And he wasn't sure anymore if ignorance hadn't been better after all.

The truth wasn't always what you truly wanted to hear.

Not for the first time, and surely not for the last, Severus wished the old man had never allowed himself to be killed, and left him with the legacy of 'knowing'.

WC: 175
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My Father [TM Challenge]

My father was a Muggle. He hated my mother, hated the pride he beat out of her and the weakness that replaced it, hated the magic he couldn't take away, hated the child she bore him.

He was a proud man, Tobias Snape, even in his most drunken moments. A tough and temperamental merchant, dealing with both the Muggle world and the Wizarding world, his marriage had opened up to him. Oh, he loved the money, even as he spit after the wizards and witches who bought his goods, cursed their names and their unnatural ways. But Galleons, sickles and knuts were just as good as pounds and pennies, I suppose. The Galleons even better, since they were of the beloved gold.

I feared him and his brutal strength. I learned to avoid him, ignoring the calls and even the pained cries from my mother. I learned to know when he was in one of his moods from a look, a word... a gesture even. I learned to defy him with silence, even as the pain took my breath away. I learned to hate him ... No, he taught me to hate. Taught me how good it felt to truly despise somebody and wish nothing other than their death.

Lessons I gather were valuable, in all their horrible nature. I would probably not have been the man I am today, had Tobias Snape been the kind man, my mother foolishly thought she had married.

She was the last Prince to be foolish. I learned my lesson well.

Wordcount: 257
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One of those days... [TM Challenge]

Severus knew he should go home.

In this unstable mindset, he was a danger to himself and the success of his mission. But he had no reason to go home, and every reason to stay in the presence of his Lord. At least in the eyes of those who noticed such things. Eyes he more often than not couldn't see, but only feel.

Cut for length )

Wordcount: 419
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New years reflections [TM Challenge] (in the Brooklyn house)

Severus has not had much time to think since the new year started. Or even since before Christmas. More memories have joined the few extremely personal ones in the pensieve, while he has been in the presence of his one remaining master. Memories he should consider... events that have changed things, turned so much upside down.

Now, as he sits down with a soft sigh, finally home again - if it can be called home in any way - he knows he will have to put those memories back. The stone basin, standing so innocently on a shelf, a silvery cloth covering the top half of it, beckons him.

Severus rises from the chair and walks over to the pensieve. The cloth is smooth and heavy, sliding off the basin with a small rustle. For a moment he merely looks at the liquid swirling lazily around, the silver of memories glowing subtly.

A small practised wave of his wand is enough, the long string easy to extract ... and re-implant, in his mind. In a flash, the memory plays before his inner eye, disturbing, upsetting, alluring, arousing... Remus and Kirill. Severus blinks out of it and replaces the cloth over the basin.

Sitting back down in his chair, it surprises him how utterly clear that memory is, defying the normal haze usually attached to drunken recollections.

Were you truly drunk, or were you decieving yourself?

It also startles him, how much it emphasises much of what has changed in his life this past year. How much he's thought he's remained the same, all the while changing far more than he can comprehend.

And it's all centered around Remus.

Albus too, to a certain degree, forcing Severus into the role as the hunted, the traitor, the murderer... A situation that in turn has forced him out of the small comfortable box that had been his life. Had torn that small box to pieces, and left him floundering with only two fixed points in his life.

Remus and the mission.

And while time passes without change to the mission, without development... everything concerning Remus has shifted. Grown intenser and deeper, a love he no longer tries to question, a passion he needs, a man he no longer can be without.

A possessive jealousy, that is still strong but has somehow morphed into something he can't understand, no matter how deep inside himself he looks.

He needs to speak with Remus about this. And Kirill... Needs to understand what has happened.

Wordcount: 403
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A moving act of kindness [TM challenge]

Severus had never deluded himself into thinking that Dumbledore taking him in, forgiving him, allowing him to join in the fight against the mad wizard he so strongly had believed in for too long, was an unconditional and selfless act of kindness.

It had felt as such though, when those blue eyes had gazed upon him with a friendly glow in them, the smile warm, the words welcoming.

But there had also been steel in those eyes, very clear to Severus. Calculating steel that foresaw a future where Severus' services would be needed, and demanded. A demand Severus would then have no choice but to answer to, when the time came.

In spite of all this, the deep knowledge that one day a price would have to be paid, it had moved Severus beyond his own boundaries. Had moved him to show gratitude where he normally would've scoffed and turned his back. Had moved him to find love in his heart for this old coot of a wizard, no matter how annoying he could be, and how much he persisted in knowing what was best for Severus.

Moved him to believe that biology had nothing to do with fatherly love.

He knew Albus had taken advantages where he could, of affections, of love, of loyalties... but he had done what was needed. Not because he could or wanted to, but because he had no other choice.

Just as he had had no other choice than sacrificing himself when the time came, for a hopefully greater good.

Again, it had not been a selfless act. But in its essence, it was an act of kindness. The ultimate way of proving his love for a world that needed to be woken up, needed to act before it was too late. Severus hoped Albus' act would have the desired effect and move the Wizarding World to realise that it was now or never.

WC: 320
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Photo challenge [TM challenge] (also open to Remus Lupin)

Venice...

Severus should have left by now, having completed his task. But he couldn't stop looking into the fog rolling in through the canals from the bay, swallowing up the small boats, the houses and the low bridges, already now swirling around his ankles. It moved fast, unstoppable and chilling, not only in its physical temperature, but also in the eerie muffled silence it created around him, and the lack of clear vision.

Wishful thinking. )

Muse: Severus Snape
Fandom: Harry Potter
Wordcount: 357
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What's your favorite way to relax? [TM challenge]

I brew potions.

The simple task of cutting, crushing, grounding, pulverising different ingredients and then adding them together in their correct amounts, at the correct times and in a correct order, relaxes me.

The soft bubbling of cauldrons; The different scents wafting past my nose, indicating the different stages in the potions' preparation and completion; The colours swirling and changing, showing me whether it is a success or a failure...

To others, it might seem a chore to brew potions, but even the simplest of concoctions have attractions or fascinating intricacies of their own.

The way Skele-gro, just before it is finished, changes from deep maroon to crystal clear in a matter of seconds, in those short fragile moments spreading a scent of vanilla in the room...

How Pepper-up makes the laboratory smell like an Indian bazaar, full of spices...

The fact, that if you stir Calming Draught counter-clock wise within the first 3 minutes and 33 seconds of its brewing, the draught will solidify into a black block of useless scoria, while it stays a smooth, pale green and thin liquid when stirred clock-wise.

All small insignificant things that tend to get lost in the wider perspective of brewing, but something you notice when you focus, enjoy ... relax.

Wordcount: 210
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One single fact... [TM challenge]

Severus had never doubted his legilimency skills and their usefulness. If he wanted to, he could know all he wanted to know, about other people. Muggles would be without resistance and even strong wizards or witches would have to be prepared and ready, to repell him.

Not that he actively used this skill very often. Occlumency was his true strength, used, refined and polished over many years. His 'facts', his memories had always been well protected, even in the face of the two strongest wizards of his time.

Of course, memories were always in the eyes of the beholder. What one person saw in a situation, was rarely the same as another would see. It was all a matter of interpretation. And yet, there would always be a grain of truth even in the most warped of memories. To find that grain... that fact, and recognise the truth in it, that was the true challenge of Legilimency.

But he had never felt a need for knowing that single fact about everybody. He had enough in keeping his own facts where they belonged; In his head, where nobody would ever find them.

Wordcount: 191
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Betrayal [TM Challenge]

Betrayal.

He knew that word only too well. Knew what consequences it had imparted on his life. Knew the choices he had made, to reach that point.

Knew the price.

He had paid that price, finally. Given his life, as his betrayal had cost lives... Given his peace of mind, as his betrayal had destroyed that peace in many others ... Given all, as his betrayal had taken all from some...

But would that be enough?

Could he ever repay the damage done by an ambitious and zealous young mind, delivering information he should never have gained in the first place? That he had not known the true implications of? It was ironic in a way, that the price had taken a form that would pose as ultimate betrayal of the only person, who had trusted him enough to forgive that first betrayal.

Guilt was a fruitless emotion and he had long moved past it, not allowing it to settle inside him. What was done, was done. There was no undoing, no spell that could take back the effects. So, this offered no redemption from guilt, for Severus. It only offered a purpose, a way to serve as means to an end, an end that might come sooner than expected.

Or never.

He could only wait.

WC: 216
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Dragon Blue [TM Challenge]

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.

Warning for torture and death )
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Most lonely moment [TM challenge]

The pain in his arm wouldn't ease off. He knew it would soon since the meeting was over, but the knowledge didn't make it any easier. It never did.

This is nothing compared to Remus' pain. He reminded himself, finally knowing that pain after observing it and ... almost feeling it, watching Remus writhe and scream with it that night and the morning after.

But this was his pain, and pain was a subjective matter. In this case even more so, as it symbolised more than a simple physical discomfort. And this was not something he could share with anybody else. It was not a visible transformation or disfiguration that would lend understanding to others, a way for others to visualise what it might be like.

This was just black lines on pale skin, almost seeming innocuous to those who didn't know the deeper implications of the symbol or the magic bound within it. The life bound within it. And death...

With a soft disgusted snort he rose from his chair and moved into the lab. Working would take his mind off the deep feeling of loneliness that suddenly befell him. That always came to him when the mark burned and cut into him, pointing out just how alone he was, standing in the middle between two fronts.

Remus would understand. But Remus didn't need to see him in this state. Nobody did.

"Pity is for the weak, Severus. You are not weak." he berated himself as he looked at the list of potions Madam Pomfrey needed. He had no time for such foolishness. The pain would fade

WC: 268
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Hearts desire [TM Challenge]

Heart's Desire: Think about something you once wanted so badly but never acquired. Write about how you think your life would've been different if you had received what your heart desired.

The hearts desire of Professor Severus Snape. )

Muse: Severus Snape
Fandom: Harry Potter
Wordcount: 394
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One single memory into the Afterlife [TM challenge]

If you could only carry one memory with you into the afterlife, which would you choose?

You cannot distinguish clearly between memories.... they are all tightly connected into one long continous string, from the day we're born till the day we die. Yes, of course you can take out a piece of those memories, a fragment, but it would always be incomplete, without context. )

Muse: Severus Snape
Fandom: Harry Potter
Wordcount: 165