Recs

Fic Rec: “The Headmaster” by Kelly Chambliss (Severus, Minerva, Poppy; R)

Link: The Headmaster
Author: Kelly Chambliss
Characters: Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall, Poppy Pomfrey, (Portrait) Albus Dumbledore
Summary: Decent human beings couldn’t or wouldn’t do the things the Headmaster was required to do — ergo, he couldn’t be decent.
Prompt: “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the burden of being a man” (Samuel Johnson).
Rating: R
Word count: ~5250
Warnings: See below
Spoilers (Highlight to read): Torture (mostly offstage)

This fic, written for the 2012 Deeply Horrible fest on LiveJournal, is a painful and masterful exploration of the lengths he has to go to to survive both physically and psychologically (as long as he must). It’s the literary equivalent of one of those extreme close-ups that makes one unconsciously draw back in one’s seat in the movie theater. The reader gets to go along for the ride as Snape methodically de-humanizes himself for the sake of the Greater Good.

Excerpt:

When the Curse hit her, she sometimes cried out, but she never screamed. It was a Gryffindor thing, he supposed — something she no doubt saw as noble or courageous instead of what it was: a foolish expenditure of needed energy on an unneeded silence. For what would it have mattered if she’d shrieked her head off?

It certainly didn’t matter to him. That’s where he had put his energy — into tamping down any emotional response he might once have felt. Fate might have decreed that he had to assume the mantle of “Death Eater,” might have forced him to commit heinous acts, but he was not going to let anyone — not Dumbledore, not McGonagall, not anyone — make him bear the mental burden of it all.

Some might have defined his treatment of McGonagall as unforgivable, but he knew that the real unforgivable act was the one that Dumbledore and the Order would have done to him: asking him to do the deeds of a Death Eater while maintaining the conscience of the humane man.

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