|skitty_kat (skitty_kat) wrote,|
@ 2009-05-04 19:41:00
|Entry tags:||fic, red serpent, remus lupin, severus snape, snupin|
Fic: Red Serpent (11/12)
Title: Red Serpent (11/12)
Warnings: death, destruction, sex, violence, torture and a gratuitous explosion or two. Yikes.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and associated characters belong to JK Rowling. James Bond was created by Ian Fleming.
Word Count: 3003 (31881 overall)
Summary: Remus Lupin is a spy, one of British Intelligence's finest, and this may be his most deadly mission yet. Armed with only his native wit and courage and assisted by the enigmatic and magnetic Severus Snape he must penetrate deep into Communist Russia to bring down the powerful Lord Voldemort.
A/n: This fic contains illustrations, set in the appropriate places within the text. Love to drachenmina for the fabulous beta.
Chapter One: M's Man - Chapter Two: A Bar With A Reputation - Chapter Three: Dinner For Two - Chapter Four: Small Spaces and Close Encounters - Chapter Five: The Howl Of The Wolf - Chapter Six: To Travel Lustfully... - Chapter Seven: Arrival At The Truth - Chapter Eight:'You Damn Traitor!' - Chapter Nine: A Cold Final Kiss - Chapter Ten: Gunpowder Against Curses
The remains of the generator were still smoking when Lupin and Snape came up the stairs. The darkness and the choking smog made it near impossible to see. Following the wall, they headed for the Great Hall where Riddle undoubtedly waited. Pettigrew too, Lupin thought with fury. His eyes were stinging, tears squeezing from the corners in defence against the prickling smoke. It rasped against the inside of his throat like a sandpaper massage. Rubble was strewn across the floor with sharp stone edges and gritty patches.
The smoke was clearing, Lupin suddenly realised. A vague glow ahead resolved itself into an open doorway. Even as his eyes adjusted to that, however, he saw a shadow loom against the light and an involuntary shudder wriggled down his spine. Snape was suddenly warm against his back, breath heating his ear.
'Greyback,' Snape whispered, 'he must have survived the explosion.'
Inexplicably, Lupin found himself reaching a hand back to touch Snape's. Snape gave a surprised twitch but responded with a reassuring squeeze to Lupin's fingers.
'He won't survive us,' Lupin said.
'He's a damn animal,' Snape warned.
'Then we'll put him down.'
The man in the doorway was waiting for them, his silhouette an obvious target. Lupin raised his wand but Greyback moved, slipping into the shadows and closing the door abruptly. Left in sudden darkness there was no way of predicting his attack. Like a wary predator stalking skittish prey, Greyback waited. Like that nervous prey, flanks quaking among the long grass of the plains, Lupin felt his heart speed up and pound within his chest. He could feel Snape's body heat beside him and felt the fight-or-flight tension in him too. Time stretched out in dark, silent seconds.
Hoarse breathing suddenly made itself heard behind Lupin's ear.
'I smell the blood of an Englishman,' rasped Greyback.
Primal horror slammed through Lupin. He only dimly heard the report as Snape shot a curse at Greyback, the flash registering in smoke-dimmed eyes before adrenaline caught up with him and he dived to the floor. His breath came in short, fast pants that rubbed his throat like sandpaper. He heard a cry from one side, accompanied by a growl that rumbled through his bones. The cry cut off abruptly. Lupin scrambled to his feet, forcing himself to be calm. This was no time to jump at shadows. It was his turn to be predator. The wolf growled in his chest, demanding blood. He crept backwards until his back touched the wall, pushing his fear aside and concentrating on his surroundings. Greyback was, by the sounds Lupin could pick up, some fifteen feet away. So was Snape, his breathing sounding stifled and choked. Lupin stepped silently along the edge of the wall, keeping Greyback's position firmly in his head. Stone slid by under his fingers.
'Englishman, Englishman,' Greyback crooned.
Lupin forced himself to keep moving despite the fear that threatened to paralyse his bones. In werewolf terms there was no way he could win this. Fenrir was the alpha wolf. Paw against paw and tooth against tooth the advantage was his. The moon, however, was not full and they were as human as each other.
'I can smell you, Englishman,' Greyback went on, 'and I can't wait to get my teeth into you.' He laughed horribly. 'More to you than this stringy little morsel.'
There was a strangled noise from Snape. Lupin kept silent, still skimming the wall with his fingertips.
'Poor little Snape. I don't think he loves you after all. He isn't rushing to defend you, you little traitor.'
More noise from Snape, followed by sounds of violence. Flesh hitting stone made Lupin wince but finally there was wood beneath his fingers. He brought up his wand and his other hand found the metal it sought.
'Greyback...' he called.
He flung open the door. Light streamed in, not bright enough to dazzle but enough to give Lupin a clear view and to surprise Greyback. The man was crouched on the floor over Snape. One curse took him down cleanly, sending him to the floor with a thump and a green flash. Lupin hurried over to check. Burns covered large amounts of Greyback's skin, mixed with shards of metal and stone. There was no pulse in the thick neck. Snape struggled to his feet, rubbing his neck with one hand.
'Is he -?'
'He's dead,' Lupin confirmed.
'Thank God,' Snape murmured in Russian.
'Come on,' Lupin said. 'We're not done yet.'
'No,' Snape agreed solemnly, 'there's still him to go.'
They walked to the double doors that led to the Great Hall, checking their wands as they went. Lupin took the door handle and, at a ready nod from Snape, shoved it open. Pettigrew was standing just a few feet away, a look of surprise on his plump face. One hand was rising slowly with his wand but Lupin sent a disarming curse before Pettigrew was anywhere near ready to try anything. The fat little man dropped to his knees in shock, round eyes staring at Lupin and the wand that was pointed directly at his face.
'What, kill you?' Lupin looked down stonily. 'Don't worry; I won't. You're going to face what you've done.'
A stunning hex sent Pettigrew falling to the floor in an unconscious heap. Lupin turned to see the bizarre tableau a little further into the hall. Snape stood with wand raised but not in use, seemingly transfixed by the sight of Riddle standing opposite him. Around Riddle's shoulders was the gently writhing length of Nagini, her eyes fixed dead on Snape's. Slowly, Riddle lifted the great snake from around his neck. She slithered in his arms as if bestowing an obscene caress, rubbing her blunt nose across his cheek and flickering her forked tongue along his lips. When Riddle's eyes moved to the men opposite him he seemed amused.
'I suppose you expect me to - what is the apt phrase? - come quietly?' he asked.
'Your Death Eaters can't help you now,' Lupin told him. 'You might as well give up before this gets messier than it needs to.'
Riddle nodded graciously. He turned his gaze to Snape, whose fingers whitened around the wand he pointed unwaveringly at his former leader. Riddle merely regarded him for a few moments before he gave a condescending sneer and turned away. His eyes had barely met Lupin's again when Riddle moved abruptly. With a heave he sent Nagini flying through the air, twisting towards her target. Snape's instinctive hex went wide and smashed a windowpane as the heavy snake knocked him to the floor. Writhing coils surrounded him and wrestled with his flailing limbs, snapping his wand like kindling.
There was suddenly a wand in Riddle's hand, its pale tip pointed firmly at Lupin.
'You have made a mess, I'll give you that,' he said calmly. 'But any mess can be cleaned up.'
'Not this one,' Lupin responded grimly. 'You've tried to murder a British citizen and blackmail the Secret Service into allowing you to stay here. Your plots have fallen through.'
'Not quite,' Riddle said, gesturing a little with his wand. 'I can - and make no mistake, I will - kill you now and continue with my plans as before. They may be a little less elegant with you hexed to oblivion and Severus's throat ripped out by Nagini but I assure you I will have my way.'
'Don't count on it,' spat Lupin. 'Stupefy!'
A stream of red light erupted from the end of his wand but Riddle was quicker than he had anticipated. The hex bounced off Riddle's shield charm and chipped a flagstone as Riddle returned fire. Lupin felt the displaced air ruffle strands of hair as it passed. He dived to one side, firing another curse as he did. Riddle reciprocated, though still neither hit the other.
'How long are we to do this for?' Riddle asked. 'Until one of us actually gets in a lucky shot? The longer you dance with me, Mr. Lupin, the less time you have to save your lover.'
Lupin very deliberately did not look over to where he knew Snape was. If he took his eyes off Riddle he would be dead. Snape would just have to deal with the snake himself. Lupin kept his gaze on Riddle, watching the man's eyes and hands for the faintest twitch. No man could make a move to kill another without a single flicker elsewhere telegraphing his intention, not even a cold reptile like Riddle. A contraction in the corner of Riddle's left eye was enough to set Lupin moving again. A green jet of light pinged off the stones where he had been.
His latest move had inadvertently placed Snape between him and Riddle. Now, without looking away from Riddle, Lupin could see Snape struggling with the giant snake. He had his good hand under her jaw, pushing the head with its deadly fangs as far away from himself as possible. The oppressive weight coiling around him, however, was threatening to overcome what strength he had left. Lupin could detect a definite tremble in Snape's arm as he fought to hold Nagini away. He couldn't help him, though; not without exposing vulnerability to Riddle. The slither of scales on stone and skin made him want to shudder but he held still. He still had a job to do.
Riddle was looking at him expectantly.
'Well, Mr. Lupin?' he asked. 'Will you choose Severus or me? Save or kill?'
Lupin walked towards where man and snake were intertwined on the floor. Snape's eyes rose to his but Lupin didn't meet them even as he bent slightly towards him. He could see Riddle readying his wand.
Time seemed to hold still for a few moments, holding its breath.
'I'll do my job,' Lupin growled.
He leapt over Snape, ducking to the side to avoid Riddle's curse and running straight on. Before Riddle could shoot off another curse Lupin was on him, violence in his fists. The wolf roared within him demanding that he hurt-smash-rip-kill but he reined it in enough to stay human. Riddle may have been a monster in his own way but Lupin was determined to prove that he wasn't. He had to kill the man. He didn't have to sink to his level. A punch knocked the wand from Riddle's hand and Lupin kicked it back towards where Snape was.
Riddle did not give up easily. Long fingers grasped at Lupin's arms and face, clawing and scraping. Lupin gritted his teeth and continued to push Riddle down. Angry scrapes appeared on the smooth scalp as it made contact with the stones. Riddle cursed Lupin in Russian, angry spittle flying from his mouth and fury in his eyes.
With a single Confringo, it was all over. Riddle's head lolled back onto the floor, resting squarely on the edges of the gaping hole in the back of it. The stones were painted lurid shades of scarlet, alternately bleached by the cloud-obscured moon and darkened by shadows. It would pass for a bullet wound at a cursory examination. M disliked his agents using Unforgivables, though he understood their necessity. Besides, Lupin couldn't help but feel that Riddle did not deserve the peaceful look of an Avada Kedavra.
He stood, turning quickly. Snape had managed to regain his feet, still wrapped in tightening coils of snake that held him tighter than any lover had. One booted foot pushed against the back of Nagini's head, keeping the dangerous fangs well out of the way. As Lupin watched Snape picked up Riddle's abandoned wand and, with a grim smile and steady hand, put down the giant snake with one silent curse. Death throes sent the long body twisting into angry spasms, dragging Snape to the floor and shaking him about like a rag doll. Lupin hurried forward to give him a hand.
'No snake is going to get the better of me,' Snape gasped as Lupin pulled the dead creature off him.
'Is that all of them now?' Lupin asked.
Snape didn't answer immediately, looking down at Riddle's corpse. The dead, white face did not look peaceful; Lupin was oddly satisfied by that.
'I think so,' Snape replied eventually, the words coming slowly. 'Except ... no, wait...'
He didn't get the chance to finish the sentence. A hex shot from across the hall and Snape collapsed to the floor, clutching at his leg. Lupin turned towards him but Snape pointed to a dark corner of the hall urgently, pain stealing his voice for the moment. Lupin, with a brief nod, obeyed. He ran towards the doorway he could just about see in the shadows. A giggle came from the figure there and he knew who was left, which one of Riddle's mad disciples still needed to be dealt with. Of them all, she was probably the craziest and he had a score to settle with her.
He followed the sound of Bellatrix's cackles up the long spiral staircase of the tower. She could not have any clear aim in mind; Riddle was dead and all his plans destroyed. She could have picked him off back in the hall but hadn't. There was no fathoming the mind of a lunatic, Lupin concluded. He took the steps two or three at a time. Eventually a door, already wide open and swinging, came into view ahead.
The top of the tower was open to the sky and it was starting to rain. Bellatrix stopped halfway across, spinning to face Lupin with a triumphant grin. A wand gleamed in her hand, spitting sparks and smoke. Lupin dived and skidded across harsh stone. He rushed at the madwoman, ducking and dodging the wild hexes. One grazed his shoulder before he slammed into her legs but the sudden flare of pain did not stop him. She hit the floor with him on top, though the grin never left her face.
He slammed her hand against the stone to get her to drop the wand. She clung onto it fiercely, trying to twist it round to curse him. It took three slams and Lupin ferociously grinding the bones at her wrist together to loosen that grip. Even then he couldn't grab the wand himself; Bellatrix had begun clawing at his face with her other hand.
'Crazy bitch!' he barked, grabbing at her hand and pinning it down.
She laughed in his face, her fetid breath making him gag, and brought her knee up into his groin. Lupin doubled over with a grunt and she shoved him off, heading for her wand. She was quick, but Lupin was just fast enough to knock the wand with his foot. It slid across increasingly wet stone and vanished over the edge of the tower.
Bellatrix howled, throwing herself on him. Her fingernails scratched across his cheek while her other hand was seemingly everywhere, tearing and grabbing. He knocked her back, using the brief respite to get at least one foot under him. A second hit from him - a proper punch this one, she was no lady after all - sent her closer to the edge of the tower.
'You're an angry man when roused,' she choked out, eyes bright over the hands she was stifling her bleeding nose with, 'I was worried that you were going to be so dull; all prim and proper and English!' She shrieked out a laugh. 'So unlike that last one. He was all fire and anger and was so much fun!'
She meant Black, Lupin realised. Poor old Sirius; so full of life and smiles and killed by this madwoman. Fury leapt within him and as he went for her again but it wasn't Black's face that dominated his thoughts. Snape, bruised and bloody and hurt after his former comrades had finished torturing him, was the only thing Lupin could think of. All he could do was take revenge, repaying in kind. A black eye was for a black eye, a broken wrist was for another, and a punch to the chest was for the burns on Snape's.
Even the beating could not stop Bellatrix's laughter, though. Lying on the stones with blood soaking into her clothing she still howled and screamed her mad entertainment. Lupin looked down at her and felt sick. He stood and walked away, squinting out at the lake through the rain. It was pouring now and he could see it drifting across the valley in great sheets. It smacked onto the parapets of the tower, hissing down the stonework in torrents. Behind him, it was landing on the stones with a sound like running footsteps.
'Remus, look out!'
Lupin instinctively dropped to one side. He ended up behind a gargoyle poised on the edge, watching as Bellatrix’s headlong rush carried her past him and off the edge of the tower, where she plummeted downwards. He waited until she hit the ground, needing to be sure she was not getting up again and only then raised his head to the other person on the tower.
Snape limped across the tower top to offer Lupin his good hand and pulled him to his feet. The rain had plastered his hair to his head in sodden strings.
'The crazy bitch dead?' he asked.
'I should think so, from this height.'
'Good.' Snape pushed wet hair away from his eyes. 'You've avenged your friend Black then.'
Lupin began to nod but stopped. 'I didn't do it for him,' he admitted. His hand came up to cup Snape's jaw, drawing the man's head closer. 'He's not the one who's here to appreciate it, for one thing.'
Snape took a slow, deliberate breath inward. 'And for another?'
Lupin smiled, leaned in closer and kissed him. The rain continued to fall in torrential sheets from black skies. Away to the east, where the great bear of Russia slumbered for the moment, the darkness was just beginning to brighten into a grey dawn.
To be continued...