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sherlock.  not good?
"Respect your elders, boy." It had been accompanied by the usual familiar open-handed smack to his head, just above his left ear. "It's not enough just to mind me, you have to want to mind me. I'm your father. Respect isn't doing what I say, it's knowing I am right. None of those affected sighs from you, boy."

Severus tried to arrange his face into an expression showing respect, feeling nothing of the sort - just self-preservation, despising his father, despising himself. "Yes, sir."

The smack was harder this time. "And wipe that expression off your face. You just make me want to hit you, asking for it, making me out to be the bad guy here. Just the way you look at me shows you don't respect me, you pathetic little puppy, looking like you're so hard done by. I put food on your table, don't I? You make me so angry..." And then it was a real fist.

Severus' face went blank, hidden, nothing showing, neutral, every muscle relaxed, waiting for whatever was to come, taking pain, taking rage, taking the flow of recriminations until he was allowed to go nurse himself. His feeling went with his expression. I'm not here... You can do what you like to me, because I am not here. And it worked.

He was aware, and though his father - or his mother - was moved to hurt his body, they couldn't touch his mind, except for giving him the talent - the habit - of being able to disappear, to wrap himself inside himself, his core and heart protected by their absence. But sometimes the habit stuck and he couldn't have replied if he had wanted to, couldn't have felt if they had tried to kill him and one another in mutual murder/suicide. He heard his mother shifting her weight, the floorboard creaking in the next room.

Severus kneels before his Lord, waiting for praise or condemnation. Respect is service now. His masters are his father, his mother. The Deatheaters, the Order are his brothers, his sisters. Now he knows the nature of respect - giving himself, giving his attention, his will, his loyalty, every aspect of his work, his life to them. It is not a question of ideas, of vision. It is just to have a place, to be allowed to be. Once he had thought to become, now existence is enough.

Service. Love beyond doubt. Not unquestioning, for his mind is still alive, asking, learning, functioning for them. And they want his true thoughts. He gives them, helps his masters. He is clever, he is skilled, he is true to them. They listen, weigh his words. It is not that they agree, that he makes decisions, take his desires into account. It is more that he leaves his thoughts with them to do as they please - an offering, accepted, used. He is useful.

Blood crusts his robe - someone else's blood. He notices its stiffness, the hard edge against his chest, scratching him as he curls his body, bends his head. He feels nothing, his heart and core wrapped so tightly within him that he believes they will never be unwound.

Then comes the hand on his bowed head, palm cupping the crown, fingers at the nape of his neck. A blessing. "Stand, son. It was done well."

He obeys, and then he feels. Gratitude washing through him from the touch, reaching even his black eyes. "Yes, my Lord." Is this all he ever wanted? He receives a smile, amused but approving.

The Dark Lord moves on to Mulciber, kneeling beside him. "Crucio!" The amused voice becomes violent.

Severus Snape
Harry Potter
614 words

with thanks to electric_girl for kindly guiding me through my writer's block
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