Disclamer: All characters belong to JKR. I am only paying homage.
AN: Many thanks to all who reviewed. After this many chapters there aren't many words left to express my thanks to Ariadne, so I shall just bow low before uber-beta.
We have eight chapters left after this. Thank you for coming along on the journey. We're rounding the bend towards home...
Remus turned to Tonks after knocking on the door for the second time. "Think they've just overslept?"
Tonks rolled her eyes. "Severus Snape - sleep? Impossible," she said with a laugh, and knocked again insistently. "Besides, I have my theory on why they haven't surfaced."
They both leaned back and took a second look at the hallway. Several portraits were strewn across the floor and others were hanging crookedly, their occupants looking irritable and sleep deprived. The picnic scene was darkened and, if one looked closely, one would see several sleeping ladies lying about, their fans still held loosely in their hands. The trail of disturbance continued the length of the hallway, ending at Severus' door.
"Tonks, really..." Remus said, suppressing a grin.
Remus raised his hand to knock again; however, before he could, the door flew open to reveal Severus dressed in what was obviously a hastily thrown on robe cinched tightly around his middle. He angrily clutched the top of the robe closed and roughly shoved his hair out of his face.
Remus couldn't help but be surprised at Severus' appearance. He had never seen him outside of a school uniform or his obnoxiously formal teaching robes. For a man who seemed like he would lose his mind at the very thought of losing one of his thousands of buttons, he was truly a shocking sight. It was obvious that Severus had just woken up, and, from the looks of him, had endured a night which required his hair to perform some sort of exercise, resulting in a newfound ability to stand up in odd directions on its own.
After an awkward silence, it was Tonks who braved speaking first.
"Good morning, Severus," she said with a slight smile. She let her eyes take in his appearance, knowing how it would unnerve him. She was rewarded for her efforts when she was met with his glare.
Squinting as if he had been asleep no more than a minute before, Severus growled, "And to what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Severus, it's almost noon. We would have called through the Floo, but it seems to not be on the network at the present moment," Remus said politely. When Severus only stared at him as if this was not a new piece of information, he continued, "We were wondering when you two might be joining the rest of the world?"
Remus gestured at the robe, and his smile widened when Severus pulled it closed even further.
"Did the storm keep you up all night?" Tonks asked innocently. "It was quite loud."
Severus' eyes widened slightly.
"There was no storm," he said slowly. With a suspicious look, he opened the door further and said, "Perhaps you'd like to join Hermione for a moment?"
"Of course," Tonks said with a sweet smile. "By the way, as per your suggestion, we've begun patrolling the castle and grounds. This part of the castle was mine last night."
With a slight tilt of her head, she thoroughly enjoyed the shocked look that passed over his face before she strolled past him into the rooms.
Severus closed the door and faced Remus. "Have something to say do you? You do seem to be enjoying yourself."
"Come now, Severus. I mean you no harm," Remus said with a laugh. He couldn't help but look at the state of Severus' hair. "We're adults now."
Giving up on his hair, Severus sneered at Remus, "I've never forgotten, Lupin. Remember this: refusing to prevent an injustice is just as destructive as acting on it yourself."
"I am well aware of that, Severus. I've freely admitted that I should have done more to stop James and Sirius. I did try though. For you... and Lily," Remus said hopefully. "Besides, you are hardly someone to preach about acting against injustice in your youth."
Severus remained silent, refusing to acknowledge the truth in Remus' words.
"It was twenty years ago, Severus. I'll bet you can't remember what you ate yesterday, yet you remember every day of school?" Remus argued after more silence had passed. He thought that Severus had certainly softened a bit, since he was still standing after making such a comment - however true it was.
Severus' eyes grew cold. "Seven years of what amounted to near torture in addition to attempted murder doesn't simply go away with time, Lupin. Ever. The reason I remember is because it seemed like an eternity."
Remus nodded slightly, and crossed the room. He gazed out the window, but could sense Severus' stare on him. After a sigh, he said in a sad tone, "We may find ourselves fighting side by side in this war, Severus. Certainly you can put old wounds aside for this?"
Severus raised an eyebrow, looking skeptical. He said clearly, "I may trust you as an ally, but not as a friend."
Remus lowered his head and traced his hand across the window sill. He opened the latch and pushed the glass to allow the cool morning air in. After some thought, he said, "Fair enough, although - the offer is there. I, myself, wouldn't mind having you as a friend."
Severus said nothing, regarding Remus with dark distrust. A scowl played about his lips that didn't quite reach his eyes. After a time, he appeared to want to say something, then thought better of it.
Remus nodded sadly and looked toward the bedroom door expectantly, wishing for Tonks to return and end this severely awkward conversation. Then he heard Severus say suddenly, "I was never forced to brew the Wolfsbane potion for you."
Remus turned and raised his brow in question.
"I suggested to Dumbledore even after -" Severus said, then paused for a moment. "- after I let slip about your issue... that I continue to brew it even before he could bring up the subject. I knew you had no means to pay any Potions master's price."
"I didn't know that, Severus," Remus said slowly, finding it difficult to disguise the astonishment in his voice. "Thank you."
"It was the right thing to do," Severus said, unable to tactfully accept anyone's thanks. "I may be slightly disagreeable-" he said, shooting Remus a look before he could find that amusing. "However, I do believe that reckless endangerment of innocent people, be they Muggle or magical, is unconscionable if easily prevented."
"Quite an elaborate way of stating that you aren't as evil as you make yourself out to be," Remus ventured with a wry smile.
Severus quirked a sarcastic grin. "There is something else you are not aware of as well. Over the years, I have been working on an enhancement to the Wolfsbane potion that could possibly prevent total transformation." At Remus' startled reaction, he quickly added, "It by no means is a cure, but it could possibly reduce the amount of time you spend looking like the Knight Bus hit you."
Remus smiled sadly. "What a poetic way to put it, Severus."
"For obvious reasons, that project has been put aside in favor of others," Severus said, returning to a serious tone. "By no means do I intend to abandon it, though. You are not the only innocent to be afflicted. Greyback has been, let's just say, busy over the years."
"Thank you, Severus. You certainly are one of the very few capable," Remus said, still surprised. He reached out his hand and waited patiently as a mix of expressions passed over Severus' face.
After a moment, Remus said, "Truce?"
Remus had begun to think that Severus would, once again, refuse to let the past lie when Severus slowly raised his hand, took Remus', and shook it, albeit briefly.
Crossing the room in an attempt to keep an awkward situation from worsening, Remus boldly took a seat without invitation and said casually, "So. Long night was it?"
"Let it go, Lupin," Severus growled, still standing by the window.
"My name is Remus, Severus."
"Fine. Let it go, Remus," Severus repeated.
Gesturing towards the bedroom door, Remus chuckled, "Do you think for an instant they're not in there talking about it?"
Severus couldn't help but appear thunderstruck by this piece of information. His eyes shot towards the bedroom door as if he were going to make some attempt to stop them from their discussion. Running a hand through his hair, he took a seat across from Remus in defeat.
Severus had taken to tracing the upholstery pattern on the arm of the chair. After a long silence in which he had moved past tracing and onto picking at the fabric, he put his head back and said with dread, "They talk about that, do they?"
"I believe so - yes. Maybe not in detail, but-," Remus said with a glance towards the door as Tonks' laughter could be heard. "You have my sympathy."
Severus muttered, "Splendid."
"Have something in there I haven't?" Remus said with a grin. He pointed to where Severus was still clutching the robe across his chest.
Severus scowled and slowly let go of the robe, allowing it to open enough to show a small portion of his chest. The stitches were torn open in places and threatened to bleed. The scar, if it ever properly healed, looked like it would be significant.
"Quite impressive," Remus said, and at Severus' sudden look of disgust, he added with a laugh, "The cut, Severus. The cut."
"Yes..." he said, remembering. "Bella's parting gift to me." Coming out of his thoughts, Severus asked, "Not to change the course of this most sentimental walk through history - but was there a purpose to this visit?"
"Yes. Moody is asking what we intend to do with Peter, well... Wormtail, and Lucius. Lucius seems to have a great talent for hurling elaborate insults, and I fear Moody may start to get creative soon."
Severus sighed. "I will deal with Lucius myself. I believe he has information on the last Horcrux. I could invade his mind; however, it may turn - violent were I to go that route. I'd rather play upon either his paranoia or his lust for power. Besides, when we have what we want from him, he may be a candidate to be a messenger of misinformation back to Voldemort. Convince him that Potter is woefully unprepared, we are not united, resources are lacking... whatever we may like."
An impressed expression spread across Remus' face. "To draw them in before they are prepared?"
Severus nodded. "Exactly."
"Why not use Wormtail for that? Certainly Lucius is far more dangerous to leave alive."
"Lucius would be far more influential with Voldemort. He has nothing to lose anymore, and everything to gain in terms of redemption. The psychology of rank amongst the followers is not difficult to understand."
Remus considered. "Makes sense. And Wormtail?" A small voice told Remus that this must be the longest conversation he had ever had with Severus without threats, rude facial expressions or references to cycles of the moon.
Severus grinned and said, "I'd like to invite him to lunch."
Hermione had just pulled on a robe when Tonks knocked lightly on the door. As Tonks entered, she noticed with a smile that all of the portraits in the room were empty, crooked or lying on the floor. There was an earthy smell to the air as if a swift storm had just moved through, and the bed looked as if a Hippogriff had galloped around in it. Hermione was pulling her hair down in an attempt to at least keep it from being airborne.
"Well? What was all of that last night?" Tonks asked casually, sitting on the edge of the bed.
Hermione sat down slowly with a shocked look. "You heard? I knew I forgot the silencing wards..."
Tonks nodded with a grin. "Sounded like a right monster of a thunderstorm."
Rubbing her neck, Hermione glanced at the ceiling briefly and said, "Yes, well, that seems to be a talent of his."
"I'll bet it is," Tonks said with a chuckle.
Hermione squeezed her eyes shut and waved her hands. "No! I meant- you're assuming that I mean-"
After observing Hermione struggle to deny what was glaringly obvious for a full minute, Tonks grinned deviously. "Well?"
"Oh, no. No way," Hermione said, shaking her head. "I don't discuss things like that. It wouldn't be fair to Severus."
"Come now, don't let that stop you," Tonks said with a wave of her hand. "They know we do."
Hermione looked surprised and leaned forward as if someone might possibly overhear. "They do not," she said in wondrous disbelief.
"Sure they do," Tonks said confidently. "Well - if you won't go into details, at least tell me it was romantic?"
Turning her rapt attention to arranging the sheets into small shapes with her fingers, Hermione muttered, "Well... yes."
"Good then," Tonks said sitting straighter and patting Hermione on the hand. With a wink, she added, "Keeps them on their toes if they think there's a review afterward from time to time. Go out there with a knowing smile, and he'll never let the standard drop."
Hermione laughed and began to get dressed.
Hermione was in the final stages of taming her hair after Tonks and Remus left when Severus clasped his hands around her. "I wish you would leave your hair. I find it desirable running wild."
She smiled, and her voice wavered when he held her tighter. "The look may work in here, but it needs to behave for the safety of others."
"Have a good conversation with Miss Tonks, did you?" he asked, lowering his head to kiss her neck. She was losing the battle, and was starting to have a difficult time figuring out where his hair ended and hers began. She turned and went to place her hand on his chest when she looked down and frowned.
Distractedly she said, "Yes, it was nice - but - the stitches."
"Yes, I've noticed," he said, touching his hand to them while staring down.
"You should see Madam Pomfrey to fix the last of them. They're almost done healing, but those were - um - lost."
Severus grinned. "I would have no indication as to the cause. Would you care to explain to her?"
Hermione laughed. "I'm going to say 'No.'"
When Severus took off the robe, Hermione caught sight of his back and gasped. "On second thought - never mind."
Severus turned and narrowed his eyes. "Why the sudden change of heart? Are you blushing?"
"No reason, in this light it looks right enough. I'll put some healing balm on it after you bathe," Hermione said quickly and shrugged.
He looked suspicious for a moment, then appeared either too tired or not interested enough to bother and left to the bath.
Hermione wasn't sure if Poppy would suspect how his back came to be in that condition, and, frankly, didn't want to find out.
"Draco! Get that cat under control!"
Draco scowled at Severus and rose from the High Table. He approached the clear area on the Great Hall floor where Kitty was happily batting a frantic Wormtail between his paws.
"Allow the others a turn," Severus said, gesturing at Mrs. Norris and Crookshanks, who were waiting patiently.
"Severus, is this necessary?" Minerva asked impatiently as she took a seat next to him. As she drew her chair up, she gestured to where the other two cats were circling. "Isn't it cruel?"
"Minerva, you are absolutely right. Where are my manners?" Severus said, feigning embarrassment. "Feel free to have a turn," he said, waving his hand towards where Wormtail was completing another screaming lap with two more cats leisurely either tripping him or sending him sliding around as if on ice.
"Severus!" she gasped, looking insulted.
"Do you prefer we just execute him? It could be arranged; he certainly deserves it ten times over," he asked diplomatically.
Minerva only sighed and tried to ignore him while she ate her lunch. After a few minutes in peace, she noticed it had quieted. Wormtail had fainted and the cats were patiently waiting for him to wake up.
"Severus, have you ever learned to dance?" Minerva asked suddenly while trying to ignore the fact that Kitty was currently pinning the tail of a newly awake Wormtail to the floor.
The answer was clear from the way Severus looked at her as if she had grown wings.
He regarded her casual attitude as she ate and paused before daring to answer, "A question like that is not asked without good reason. What are you planning?"
"Nothing much. I just thought you ought to know that an engagement dinner and dance is traditional," Minerva said, observing his reaction out of the corner of her eye.
Severus snorted. "Certainly tradition isn't appropriate in these times?"
Minerva quietly placed her fork down and turned to him. In a low, stern voice she said, "Severus, you listen to me. Hermione deserves this to be done correctly, regardless of the times we are in. They should not stand in the way of life. If you continue to come up with reasons for not living, you will die before you have the chance."
Severus only stared at her as she continued to lecture him. Clearly his question had struck a nerve.
"Certainly you can spare two hours in an evening to celebrate your coming marriage." When he opened his mouth, she stated, "There is no discussion, Severus. You once told me that you see me as a mother figure?"
Severus' mouth truly hung open in stunned silence. As Minerva clearly expected an answer, he chose to nod in an attempt to make her soften the glare she had fixed upon him.
"Then acting in that role, I am not asking, but telling you," she said, now pointing a thin finger at him. "You will attend this dinner, you will dance with that woman, and you will appear happy. Is that clear?"
When Severus stared at her incredulously, she asked sternly, "Answer me, Severus. Is that clear?"
"Yes," he said, realizing that he had actually leaned away from her as she pointed at him. There was no escaping her when she was like this.
Minerva brightened immediately and patted him on the shoulder. "Excellent. It will be tomorrow night. We will have our usual dinner, only we will dress formally. I suggest you learn to dance."
"Tomorrow? Minerva, you must know that is too soon..." he started, but then trailed off when she merely turned to look at him over her glasses. Growling slightly, he said, mostly to the table, "Fine."
Severus picked at his lunch and glanced up to see Hermione sitting at a table, chatting away, surrounded by a pack of Weasleys and Potter. Periodically, they would turn their attention to the cats, who were now lying on their sides taking turns as they shoved Wormtail from one set of paws to another. To his credit, Wormtail still attempted to escape at every opportunity, only to be dragged back into the circle of fur.
Suddenly, in the middle of their conversation, Hermione looked up and smiled at Severus in a way that made his heart stop.
"Longbottom?" Severus said without taking his eyes off of Hermione.
Severus could hear Neville dropping some sort of utensil before leaning forward at the table and responding, "Sir?"
"Join me in the Potions lab in an hour. We shall start-" he said, but was distracted at the look Hermione was giving him as those insipid friends of hers carried on around her. It was as if she were the only one sitting there at the table, in the room, the world for that matter. What is that? Something about the way she's looking at me...
Severus shook his head before completing his thought. "We shall start work on healing potions..."
Neville paled at the thought of working with Snape alone, but said clearly, "Yes, sir."
Hermione was still gazing at him, but now wore a slightly amused expression. A sly smile crept onto her face.
Severus could hear the distinctive rambling voice of Lucius, followed by Alastor Moody's raspy threatening voice. "Quit your ranting, Malfoy, or I'll string you upside down and let the Whomping Willow have at you!"
Shaking his head, Severus went to place his hand on the newly-appeared door. The sound of hooves on stone interrupted his thoughts. Severus turned to see Buckbeak wandering the end of the hallway. Just before he could become enraged that Hagrid would simply turn the beast loose in the castle, he noticed the heavy chain around its neck and Hagrid following behind. Hagrid raised a hand in greeting before Buckbeak spied something interesting and tugged him along out of sight.
Severus entered the room, throwing the door open with enough flair to almost startle Moody into hexing him - or worse. At the sight of Severus, Moody looked both relieved and angry at the same time. He lowered his wand with some reluctance.
"Moody, quite an excellent job," Severus said, admiring the elaborate prison in the Room of Requirement. There were numerous cells, closely resembling Azkaban's, lining each wall complete with a cold, damp atmosphere. There was even a low mist moving along the floor and the sound of dripping water echoing off the stone walls.
Severus commented with raised eyebrows, "Shall we invite the Dementors in? Complete the effect?"
He took a moment to notice Lucius narrow his eyes in pure hatred and blanch slightly at the same time.
Moody snorted, muttered something about spots and wizards, and left the room.
A hoarse voice echoed off the empty stone walls, "Come to kill me, Severus? Get it over with then."
"Lucius, would I kill an old friend?" Severus taunted, appearing saddened by Lucius' words.
He paced thoughtfully in front of Lucius' cell, allowing a space of time to stretch, enjoying the sound of the dripping water.
"I must admit, I admire your loyalty to the Dark Lord. In that respect you are a far better wizard than I."
Lucius stared at him in disbelief, then narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "You lie. You're nothing but a traitor."
Lucius became livid, his pale features the first to betray his anger. Even inside of a cell, Lucius' arms were bound behind him and fastened to an uncomfortable wooden chair. It gave him a thoughtful pose even as he glared defiantly up at his former ally. The wood let out a crack or groan whenever Lucius shifted.
"Severus, do not insult my intelligence. I have not survived thus far by being stupid." His hair hung in discolored strings around his face. It seemed that Moody had taken the liberty of liberating Lucius of some of his cleanliness, and perhaps tossed him down a few stairs in the process. "You have been working for the Order and destroying the Dark Lord's Horcruxes. What other explanation is there?" he sneered.
"Have you considered that I am destroying them so that the Order will be lulled into a false sense of security?" Severus proposed as he paced. "So that I may be placed in full control of this war?"
Lucius sniffed and said slowly, "I don't believe a word you say."
Severus chuckled darkly and clasped his hands behind his back. "I don't expect you to believe; however, history shows that in all aspects of war, belief does nothing to prevent victory. It will happen with or without you. Certainly, your doubting the wishes of the Dark Lord and standing in the way will help your position once we are victorious."
"You have lost your mind to think that I should believe these lies!" Lucius yelled viciously. "You are here to interrogate me, so proceed with the torture."
"Lucius, let's keep our roles in this clear. You are playing the part of the madman here. I do believe that the acoustics in here are exceptional for your mindless ravings," Severus said thoughtfully, gazing around the room. "I dare say I shall request that Moody shut the lights out when we're not in here. Give you time in the dark."
Severus watched Lucius' eyes change in that moment - shifting towards the torches, then back to Severus.
"The darkness lends itself to thought - doesn't it? There's no telling, however, the type of twisted, deranged paths the mind may wander though. In the dark there is nothing to prevent it. Is there, Lucius? You would know."
It seemed that Lucius had wisely decided to keep quiet.
Severus continued, "Do you think that after all these years I would simply throw everything I have earned away? It is simple. The Order will never allow Potter out from behind their protection without believing the Horcruxes are destroyed and the Dark Lord is mortal. It is the only way."
Lucius watched Severus pace outside of his cell. He wrenched his shoulders forward in a vain attempt to find a more comfortable position.
"Now that you are listening," Severus said thoughtfully, while observing Lucius' guarded interest, "the trusting old witch thinks me a great war strategist and has been so kind as to place me in charge of the war preparations. As we speak, they are scurrying around acting on my orders." Severus approached the cell bars and said in a low voice, "Potter is woefully unprepared, and the rest of this ragtag band have little to no dueling skills to speak of. The strategy, if you will, is a facade of power. There are no alliances, the Ministry is not involved, and there is - let's say - much infighting. I have played my part by organizing them somewhat and issuing orders for them to fulfill. Impossible feats. Busy work."
Lucius watched Severus carefully. His eyes shifted as he listened.
"The time to strike is soon. Of course, I do require the last Horcrux. The bloody werewolf and Potter have it in their mind that it is close at hand. Possibly in the castle itself. I must convince them that I will destroy it and instead protect it for the Dark Lord. Only then will it be time to draw them into battle completely unprepared."
"There is one flaw in your story, Severus," Lucius said with disgust, his eyes moving to Severus' forearm. "You've removed your Mark. There is no explanation for that."
"Come now, Lucius, do you think for an instant I would gain this much trust if I was answering the Dark Lord's call? For this to work, I had to cut off all contact. If I denied the opportunity to gain more Horcruxes through Draco and Narcissa, I would have lost my cover. Understand that the Dark Lord only requires one Horcrux."
Lucius considered, then said, with hatred clear in his voice, "And the Mudblood? Certainly you haven't developed a taste for filth?"
Severus' hand moved slightly, but he said nothing, choosing instead to walk slowly towards the bars.
"No, of course not. She is, however, quite enjoyable nevertheless," Severus said slowly, with a lustful grin. "It is the final piece of the puzzle. You see, many members of the Order are not as slow-witted as the others. Not so easily plied by stories of lost love and regret. No - the others needed more. Taking up with the Mudblood has completed my act. They all trust me now."
Severus shifted his gaze towards the door.
"Yes, even the old Auror trusts me a little, I believe. Although he would be still be skeptical even if the Dark Lord appeared, offered his apologies for being so remiss as to offend the Wizarding world, and voluntarily placed himself in a cell."
Lucius sneered, "I still don't believe this elaborate plan of yours. You aren't capable of acting like you're in love, Severus."
"No? They are planning an engagement dinner as we speak," Severus said, and was slightly distracted to see mice and rats milling about down the row of cells. He rolled his eyes, thinking of how Moody had built himself his own personal Azkaban.
"You have never struck me as a man capable of loving a woman. No one would believe such lies," Lucius said with a laugh.
Severus crossed his arms and sneered. "This is from a man who wears a bow in his hair?"
Lucius' laughter died and he glared at him, going as far as to bare his teeth slightly.
"As I said before, Lucius, it does not matter if you believe me. You have reached the end," Severus said, shaking his head sadly. "Homeless. A murderer. The Dark Lord has found failure in you far too many times for your position to be repaired without some spectacular display of loyalty, and the Order will hold you until the war is over - then kill you."
Severus trailed his hand along the bars of the cell, letting his fingers slide into the corners of each join, then to the next. "If I let you go..." Severus said and paused. He took note of how Lucius looked up at his words. "Where would you go? Back to the Dark Lord? I think not. That would be certain suicide. Unless - you possessed information crucial to his victory against Potter. There is a weakness that would be critical to the Dark Lord's success."
Lucius's expression alternated between suspicion and hope.
"I could share that information with you - old friend."
The chair creaked as Lucius tilted his head down in thought. Silence stretched out as Severus waited without a trace of expression on his face. He could have been waiting for a train at that moment - or plotting to run both sides of a war at once.
"What other option have you?" Severus said quietly. "The last Horcrux, Lucius."
Lucius regarded him with disgust. He was every bit a desperate man held barely in check from total rage. "I do not trust you, Snape."
Severus' eyes darkened. "Lucius, you must know I am not at leisure to allow you to live after what you have done. You have killed the mother of your own child. If I was to allow that travesty to go unpunished, my work here would be destroyed."
Raising his head, Lucius offered no regret.
"I cannot allow that for my own reasons as well."
Severus quirked a wry smile at Lucius' expression of hatred. Lucius was trapped, and knew it.
Severus continued, "I do not enjoy killing; however, you leave me no choice in the matter. I will get what I want - either way. I will be at the Dark Lord's side when he kills Potter, and I would prefer to have an old friend with me as well. I could simply break into your mind and retrieve the information I require - then kill you. I promise you - I will not be kind. Make no mistake, I will destroy any semblance of sanity you have left, retrieve the information required, and then discard the empty shell that will be your body in the forest for the animals to enjoy."
The chair's protest as Lucius shifted broke the silence.
Severus tilted his head as if in thought. "We all have a place deep inside where we go when experiencing excruciating pain. You have been under the Cruciatus enough to know exactly what I am referring to - yes?"
Lucius narrowed his eyes, but did not deny it.
In a deadly cold voice, Severus made a final offer, "You have a choice, Lucius. You may exchange information with me in a civilized manner, or I suggest you flee to that deep place and hope with every fiber of your being that you are unconscious by the time I get there."
Severus drew his wand, placed his hand on the cell door handle, looked Lucius in the eyes and asked, "Which would you prefer?"