[identity profile] dontbegoofy.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] bait_backup
*In the past twenty-four hours Snape has gotten incredibly good at swimming. It’s a skill he never mastered when he was younger. Jaundiced limbs, much too long to be properly coordinated, had floundered pathetically in water like an overturned beetle trying to right itself. It seems strange than that it’s all he can do right now not to swim. Or rather, his vision is swimming. There doesn’t appear to be any water. There’s only a chair and the room and the bricks. He already hates the bricks; they’re everywhere, below him, above him, on every side - uncomfortably close. And yet, the room vaults and slopes up to improbable heights, meeting at no clearly set point and reaching back down behind him until everything looks rounded in a room made of nothing but sharp angles and lines.

It’s no longer clear to Snape where anything ends or divides, minutes and hours and days blending together, taking on spherical shape like the bricks, little mounds of formless and unknowable time. His body too has sunken into his chair, become inextricable from its mass, the magical chainwork pressing every limb into the wood, cutting off his circulation until his fingers are swollen and purple and tingle with the strange slumber of muscles.

It’s all exactly what he expected.

The bowels of the Ministry are unexpectedly stuffy. There’s no air, no circulation, only the lingering moist staleness warmed by his own body. It’s become that moment - that moment when the underside of a duvet grows insufferable, that moment stretched out for hours with no promise of relief, with no mattress edge to search for.

He supposes there is some water now. It stings his eyes, dots his lips and makes his hair, already greased in sweat, stick to the back of his neck like tack. He makes no note of the third man’s departure or the closing of the solid iron door, he only sucks at his lips and takes a moment, yet another moment in a series of similar moments that have marked his entire life, to really appreciate how typical this is. To bask in the implications, to let his mind wander forward and cast out his future like divinatory bones, reading only death and doom and betrayal. He’s had more than enough time to come up with a who and a why, but the only conclusion he can reach is that there’s simply too many whos and too many whys - that perhaps it’s a mystery best left to the ages - that perhaps it doesn’t even matter. He’s done too many things and looked down the closed, mysterious funnels of too many paths, and then in that metaphorical fork in the road he’d stopped to have a picnic, tossing bread down each tunnel to feed whatever was inside. He’s done everything and nothing, ambitionless success and significant failure. A mass murderer, a Death Eater, a virgin, a penniless intern. It’s perfectly fitting, perfectly meaningless, to be sitting in a chair in Level Ten, counting bricks with a glass of water emptied over his head.*

Date: 2011-09-01 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*When the door opens again, an unexpected face enters into Snape's stubbornly peripheral vision. With a large stack of sickly yellow folders following just behind him like a threatening but subservient pet, the Minister's sunken features are more exaggerated than a mind might, kindly, expect. Most people outside of the Ministry are accustomed only to seeing him on the front of a press release or staring out at them from a watchful poster, and it becomes easy to assume he cannot look quite as distinct in the flesh. It is an awkward and mockable face, but only when it's owner is far, far out of sight and earshot, a distance which he does not plan to allow Snape.

He crosses toward the ancient chair and stops in front of the puddle of spilt water very nearly touching the toe of his shoe. Snape's swollen fingers do not seem to phase him, nor does his reluctance to answer his questioners, but the mess does. A prisoner is nothing more than a living, breathing object, but his property is another story. The history of these rooms, from Crouch Sr.'s perspective, goes back only so far into the past as he does. Their true significance in the world and the government only ever came into effect when they become a tool he was allowed to use. In the days when he was nothing more than a trainee, the fact that buried beneath the Ministry lay perfectly preserved torture chambers from a more persuasive time in society, meant next to nothing to him and probably didn't accomplish much at the time anyway. Now however they are his, and they have not been put to waste, nor are they meant to be spilled upon.

With nose wrinkled, he asks his first question on the evening without bothering to look up at who he addresses, for all intents and purposes appearing to be addressing the problem of the puddle.*

Can you tell me, Mr. Snape, what this is?

Date: 2011-09-01 01:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*The insulted horror of being ignored is a force that runs in the blood of every Crouch who can still be remembered. From infancy, the offences of distraction or disinterest or stubborn rudeness had been catalogued in some hidden part of the brain, left to fester until adulthood, when Crouch Sr. decided he would make something of himself that would be impossible to ignore.

This trussed up sack of bones and stink all held together by a strong but curving backbone has, intentionally or not - and he very much suspects not, spoken a language the Minister can understand. Unfortunately for Snape, his tactic will not work this time. Ignoring the world most often forces it to give up and ignore you back, but all it does to Crouch Sr. is make his eyes rise from the puddle and pin themselves onto him for the rest of the night.*

I've been told you haven't been forthcoming with my staff. But perhaps you didn't hear me. You've had hours to speak with them, and that lucky chance will not be given again. So. Do you know what this is.

Date: 2011-09-01 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
You do.

*Crouch Sr.'s eyebrows raise briefly in combination satisfaction and distaste. When interrogated, many men and women spit swears and curses for lack of any other weapon, a few keep silent as the grave, but all of them become children. He has seen tears, threats, pleading, repeating, laughter, and plenty of this stubborn, adolescent refusal to elaborate, or to think. No matter who has been bound to this chair and what has been inflicted upon them, each of them have thrown some manner of tantrum, and though he likes the authority and he likes the confessions these walls have seen, each infantlike adult makes him less and less satisfied and less patient with humanity as a whole. Even though Snape's silence had annoyed him, the stupidity and carelessness of his answer are almost even stronger grounds to continue to punish him beyond the extent of the law.

He lifts his wand, and the hovering tower of files move between them, the true object of his inquiry. In the blink of an eye and a rustle of manila cardstock, they slide off each other into a single file formation. Only marked by case number, they look lined up like flat soldiers on a table of thin air and magic.*

I'm afraid I don't see how that's possible. You see, these files are no one's but my own, and they would certainly not have been made accessible to someone with your ambitions.

This, Mr. Snape, is every case I've failed to solve.

Date: 2011-09-01 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*The mask of Crouch Sr.'s face remains stiff and unreadable, fixed down upon Snape and not even granting him a blink of the eye in response.

The files separating them are not simply ongoing cases on the Ministry's radar, though there are plenty of unsolved crimes to go around these days. But where those are watched and strained over interdepartmentally on a day to day basis, these are what most would consider dead files, spanning all the way back to his first years at the Ministry when he was just another trainee working endless hours to prove himself. Inexperience not being something Crouch Sr. is willing to use as an excuse for a job left undone, some folders are faded over time, but each has been kept in pristine condition apart from the soft edges where Crouch Sr. has thumbed through them until he's memorised every word of each. No matter where his career has taken him, no matter what priority other issues have held at any given moment, these are the reminders of his faults, the remains of his youthful ambitions, the broken rungs on his ladder through the ranks of the Auror squad that had taken over his mind and life since he had graduated Hogwarts. Where he has plenty of ghosts that could haunt him, it is the memory of these incomplete cases that he sees when grim dreams come to call, and his own failure to solve them.

It takes too long for him to blink, and when he does it looks almost mechanical in it's control, like something not quite human attempting to blend in.*

So it is. Perhaps, however, you might find them more interesting, since the rest of the evening has proved so boring to you.

Date: 2011-09-01 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*He plucks one of the thickest files out of the array then, talking over Snape's feeble attempt at verbal bullying. The thick black case number 10229-s disappears into Crouch Sr.'s palm as he lifts the cover with smooth mechanical motions more calculated than a watchmakers or a musicians. He opens the file, and begins to recite facts and figures from the top summary report without taking his eyes off Snape.*

-Two hundred and sixteen bodies found dead on scene. No visible signs of trauma. Autopsy tests reveal no indication of internal damage, and no trace of Dark magic found. Cause of death - inconclusive... Effects of the body linked to poison. Source of contamination linked to the hospital's supply of medications, further testing shows contaminant only present in supplies stoppered by cork. Full recall of all hospital supplies issued to ascertain prevalence of tampering...

Are you familiar with this story, or should I continue.

Date: 2011-09-01 01:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
I thought so.

*He snaps the file closed and lets all the papers inside fall neatly aligned into the fold before placing it back in line with the others. Surprisingly, and with unaffected ease, he reaches for something new, something labelled 91274-b. This mystery addition would be too far away for most men to grasp without an awkward sidestep or bow, but Crouch Sr.'s limb unfolds from his body toward it with the ominous lanky detachment of a spider.*

Perhaps these files seem trivial, but there is a benefit, I assure you. Sometimes a new case seems very familiar, almost as though I've already read it somewhere before... I trust you'll remember this next one, too.

Body found in seated position, no signs of struggle or intruders. All known security measures intact, perimeter spells show no signs of tampering. No known evidence of Dark magic. No visible illnesses or wounds. Further tests show no damage to internal organs. No evidence to support death by natural causes. Cause of death - inconclusive. Interviews conducted, investigation closed.

Date: 2011-09-01 01:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*The files begin to shuffle slowly toward the centre of the room, reordering themselves in near silent wariness as Crouch Sr. gazes out over top of them. He is controlling their movements, but they look for all the world like creeping subservient lifeforms trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Their weaponry has been used, and they are no longer needed to destroy Snape.*

You thought if no trace was left behind no one would see what you had done, but I've known who you are for quite a while, Mr. Snape. You see, you have remained at large for one simple reason, and it is not the one you are thinking of.

These Aurors are told to look for signatures, markings, things left behind. They don't see how very obvious you are, because they don't see what isn't there, just as you no doubt counted on with your little poison stunts. Normally, I don't accept failure. But there is a time and a place for punishment, and now is a very suitable time.

I believe the passing of my new legislation is the perfect moment to bring in the wizard responsible for the murder of Albus Dumbledore.

Date: 2011-09-01 01:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
On the contrary, everything I need to prosecute you is already available to me. There are only so many potion brewers employed at St. Mungo's with reputations like yours, and fewer still who would be oafish enough to repeat their crime. It isn't difficult to uncover your associates, or to search your home for evidence. From what I understand, there should be more than enough waste to test for ingredient residue left behind.

Tonight is largely for prosperity. You are a loose end, Mr. Snape. One I will not tolerate.

Date: 2011-09-01 01:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
Now, your method is clear and the motive behind your violence is of no concern to me. I know a bad generation of stock when I see one, and yours has proved to be a significant disappointment. New recruits to the Ministry don't understand hard work, your scurrying little friends think they are going unnoticed and unchecked. I've concluded that regardless of training or instruction there is just no hope of rehabilitation with people like you, I see culling the herd as a commitment of mine, much like solving each of these cases.

What I will hear from you is why would Voldemort be senseless enough to send an easy mark like you to handle a threat?

Date: 2011-09-01 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*The lack of any pitiable attempt to deny guilt on Snape's part is refreshing, but his prisoner's honesty is not anything unexpected, either. Still, real answers are something Crouch Sr. thinks of as his prerogative to receive, and his chin drops in brooding dissatisfaction.*

...I don't advise you to continue telling me the very obvious. Dumbledore's reputation is known to every child who can afford a Chocolate Frog card but students made appointments with him just as easily as members of the Wizengamot. I do not need to be told that he was an easy man to find.

The fact is, his murder was a result of careful planning, and there are several hours before the time of death where it seems no one saw him. If the mess you made of the St. Mungo's massacre is anything to go on, I would never have suspected you to be capable of anything near such a feat as Dumbledore's death. Since you are only necessary any more for as long as your confession continues to interest me, I suggest you begin to find something better to say.

How did someone with your laughable skill set manage to have such good luck the first time around? Was it you who was with Dumbledore for those missing hours?

Date: 2011-09-01 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*Crouch Sr. lays a hand on the top of the files, silently siphoning information from them and seeming more like a psychic than someone blessed with an eidetic memory.*

So there were others with you. The last person who reported seeing or hearing from Dumbledore did so in the afternoon, just after 4:30 to be precise. Who were they, Mr. Snape? What distracted his attention?

Date: 2011-09-01 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
And here I was just beginning to think that Voldemort was intelligent enough to send in more than one child to do the job.

If this woman wasn't an associate of yours and really was seeking Dumbledore's employment, no record of her statement has ever been filed. Just what did the Headmaster of Hogwarts and a fortune teller have to discuss that was worth listening to? Was this an intelligence mission or an assassination?

Date: 2011-09-01 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
I wasn't aware dead men held that kind of power over their murderers. If you had information to give, gathered from someone who was enough of a threat to be taken out, what stopped you? You don't strike me as the guilt-ridden type.

Date: 2011-09-01 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
An Unbreakable vow?

*Crouch Sr. neither needs nor deserves any more upperhand than he has already created for himself, but something lights in his eyes at this revelation. It takes too much to impress him, that isn't it. But, like when reading a novel, he finds a degree of unemotional happiness when life takes a turn he hadn't already anticipated five chapters ago, just as long as it doesn't spoil the rest of the story.*

Very interesting. You may make our time together worthwhile yet, Mr. Snape.

If Professor Dumbledore didn't appreciate you overhearing what this fortune teller had to tell him and swore you to secrecy for the price of your life, how were you able to carry out the rest of your mission unnoticed?

Date: 2011-09-01 01:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
It seems Dumbledore wasn't as canny as some believed. Of course, he wouldn't have noticed. Nessus's Bane is tasteless, as I remember, and slow-acting. You do admit to using the same poison on Dumbledore as you did on all those people in the hospital, correct? I hardly think denial of any crimes would be possible for you at this point.

Date: 2011-09-01 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*He would never submit to admitting it, but it had only after Snape's shoddy work at St. Mungo's that Crouch Sr. had even begun to realise that the man responsible for the medical contamination and the one who had stumped him with the Headmaster's death were one in the same. At first after the fallout, the obvious responsible party had been held responsible in the court of Crouch Sr.'s mind, and his son's involvement will never be forgotten or forgiven. But it was Snape who was the only employee with access to the bottling supplies, a speciality in brewing antidotes which even the dimmest Auror involved in the investigation knew required an intimate knowledge of the poisons one needs to cure, failed to supply an adequate alibi to the authorities when hospital staff were interviewed, and who was known to be seen in the company of some unsavoury people whose names have been on a list in the Ministry's top drawer for quite some time. Crouch Sr. is getting a perfect confession, but his tone descends into deliberate displeasure as though Snape had dared to talk back.*

I don't need your answer. All the evidence leads back to you, and you alone. No other bodies have been found in the past seven years so perfectly unharmed with such innocuous traces in their system as Dumbledore's and the victims at St. Mungo's. To be perfectly frank, repeating the same exact potion in yet another highly publicised case is one of the most extreme display of negligence I have seen, even among the most idiotic of criminals.

You caused all those deaths, Mr. Snape, and none of them appear to phase you. But I don't think you realise what you've done here. Only one of your murders really matters.

Date: 2011-09-01 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
I don't care about some dead hippie!

*The twang of strained reason and control is audible as Crouch Sr. barks so scornfully, accompanied by such a frightful twist of expression that it far surpasses his usual impatience. Like a nightmarish vision out of the corner of the eye, it's over before it fully registers, and he continues on as though nothing had happened, every bit as composed and level as he had been before.*

The crime against the Headmaster was only completed thanks to your own dumb luck. Mistakes have turned out well for you - being sent on another man's orders and returning with a dead man's final secret in your pocket as reward. It is my belief - and I am never mistaken - that it was your own idiotic self interest then, too, that lead to the contamination of half a year's supply of vital medicinal potions and infusions. Mixtures that kept innocent people alive, and one in particular.

That wasn't your master's work, was it. It was you, Snape, who murdered my wife.

You have known it all along, you knew it when you committed the act. Bernadette trusted the public against all reason and it is people, you, who took her. But now that I have found you here, I don't think I will be informing anyone else of your little triumph. None of them, in fact, even your solitary success with Dumbledore. I won't be seen as outwitted by you.

Date: 2011-09-01 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
Ah yes, my son. Twelve O.W.L.s and still the boy never has been smart enough to know he can't keep secrets from me. Rest assured, Mr. Snape. He is next.

But you destroyed any hope for my wife - and, allowed yourself to be taken in by your own tricks. I would be far more worried about myself right now, if I had made your mistakes. There's a lot you understand, isn't there. But at least you're... honest.

Date: 2011-09-01 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*A sleek watch, perhaps even muggle craftsmanship by the look of it, appears from beneath Crouch Sr.'s sleeve. It's a commonplace movement, with no excessive brandishing or emphasis, but the insult rings in the air.

When he looks back up his face begins to change again. This time Snape is not met with rage, but with a smile, and not a normal one at that, one that has only lately found it's way into Crouch Sr.'s expressive repertoire and has never been photographed by the press. Something is familiar in it's breadth and half savage glee. It is a smile most often found on particularly infamous six year olds, and not on grown men in business suits.*

Disappointing. I thought the effects of Veritaserum would be obvious to a Potioneer much sooner than that, particularly one as dishonest yourself. But no matter, it certainly succeeded in getting you to open up, and I only needed a short chat to put my mind at ease.

Date: 2011-09-01 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
Now, Mr. Snape, I'm quite certain you'll satisfy one last curiosity of mine. As it was important enough to swear by your life, you no doubt remember even now what Dumbledore's little secret was.

What did you vow never to repeat? I'd be interested in seeing the results.

Date: 2011-09-01 02:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notquitefacist.livejournal.com
*The result, it turns out, is immediate, brief, and unsatisfying; words Crouch Sr. would not hesitate to assign to describe Snape's life, too, as well as his death. It's silent, apart from just a few last, snuffling breaths sucked in desperately through his nose, which protrudes out from behind his hair like the beak of a crow. His jaw snaps closed on his parroted final words, and in one jerking motion his half-grown body stiffens and strains upward against it's chains. Crouch Sr. has seen better performances, and where that wide, carved smile had once taken up a large portion of his face there is nothing but a thin line now that everything is over. His interest is lost after the first convulsion, but he forces himself to stay until the muscles release and the body goes limp inside it's restraints. The patch of dark cloth between Snape's legs widens further, and Crouch Sr. turns away. His files follow him out the door.

He has accomplished everything he wanted tonight. He has planned the perfect death sentence, finally begun to avenge Bernadette after too long of waiting for results on his son, and secured a piece of societies trash to serve a purpose. After a single interrogation, he can call the new trace effective, regardless of the technicalities, and two unsolved cases are already being emptied from his mind before he makes it out to the main hallway, a slight relief from all the information he must go over at least once every night before sleep. The moment of victory, however, has passed, and Crouch Sr. emerges from the government-standard torture chamber just as important, put together and pitiless as he had been going in.

There has never been a moment during Snape's final night, that Crouch Sr. had cared what had been Dumbledore's secret. It had made for the perfect final card to play, but had been nothing more than a slow and painful check mate, and that is no different now that he has heard it. Prophecies, despite their potential uses as stepping stones toward legitimate progress, are largely hokum, and he considers this mystery woman's to be just as legitimate as his horoscope. He knows one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord exists, and Crouch Sr. celebrates his birthday in January, not July.

Outside, in the torch-lit hallway, several officers straighten up, wands drawn to begin administering further enticement or move the prisoner for the night. Crouch Sr. looks sternly around at each of their faces, and cautions them before making his way back upstairs and home.*

Whoever administered the serum? Should know I did not give my authorization for spilling. The floor will need to be wiped.

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