Severus Snape was an expert at two things. One was potions, at which he had excelled since early childhood.
The other was lying.
When he was young, he lied to survive. When he grew older, the lies were used in the service of the Dark Lord. Older still, and he found himself on the other side, lying to stop his former master.
The falsehoods rolled effortlessly from his tongue, and there were times that more people believed his lies than trusted him to tell the truth. It never bothered him, as the one person who truly mattered to him knew fact from fallacy. Dumbledore had saved his blackened soul and Severus trusted him implicitly. Even though having the old wizard see right through him bothered him, he needed that one person to believe him.
When Dumbledore asked him to return to the world of lies and deception, he offered himself willing, though not without reservation. In his younger days he had been a true and loyal Death Eater and, then, one day the blinders had fallen from his eyes and he'd seen the reality of his life. His allegiance had turned to the man who'd saved him, but there was guilt that ate at him for years. The Dark Lord had given him a home and family, and he'd betrayed them. No matter how evil they were, they were his family.
Slowly he learned to live with the guilt. It made him more cruel, more cold, but he could live with that, too. He buried it deep inside himself with everything else that was dark and rotten.
And in that dark place lived the one lie he felt no guilt for uttering. It was the one thing he knew would win him back into the Dark Lord's good graces. It was a lie that, at times, he believed to be the truth, and, thus, it came out of his mouth ringing with veracity.
"I despise Harry Potter, my Lord, and wish him dead."
Such an easy thing to say, to believe in, to convey as truth, and Severus smirked as he said it and nodded to his fellow Death Eaters whom he knew felt the same.
It was a lie...
Most of the time he believed that.
But, even if it wasn't a lie, he felt no guilt over it, for the one person Severus had never lied to was himself. He knew just how small and petty and rotten he was, no matter how much he strove for redemption and fought for the light. His hatred of Potter, whether fact or fiction would help defeat true evil.
He could live with that, too.
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