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Faces Not Masks

Faces Not Masks

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sherlock.  not good?

But Severus has more than two faces.

The one you see is reserved, turned inward, defensively blank. It is not submissive, it is enduring, patient, numb. Severus is not here when he shows this face, he is nowhere, curled inside, protecting himself. This is the face he wears at home, in the corridors at school. It does not reveal or register pain, surprise or pleasure. His muscles are relaxed, not slack for his eyes take everything in, his mouth neither frowns nor smiles but remains closed, neutral. This was the phenomenon he first seized on to teach him occlumency. He simply went away, unfeeling. These eyes look through you, dead. They can seem accusatory, but this is projection.

When he is alone he is distilled, concentrating. He is quiet, diligent, does not like to be interrupted. He can retreat from attack to snatch moments of learning, studying, figuring, working. These moments are precious to him. They are what he truly considers himself to be, his best. If he is left for a time, uninterrupted, he may even hum while he works, tap a finger, perhaps smile. Unguarded. He loses track of time like this. All the world is irrelevant, vanishing in the face of creation, inscription, experimentation, development. This is the face that looks outward to the tree above him, to the horizon, to contemplation. He is not unfeeling, but he is self-possessed.

Akin to this is a face apparent when he is moved, inspired. When he teaches truly, presents the dreams and ideas, engages in collaboration, serious discussion of equals. It is not joy, though he may smile with satisfaction. This is not his best, but the best he consciously presents.

There is another faced, filled with hate, impatience, pain - vengeance. This one is forced a little, summoned easily to wash through him like a flood. Sometimes, with stupidity he encounters that is not an active threat, he can barely restrain it. His Death-eater comrades have seen this face, destroying muggles, subjects, opponents. And they are quiet, seeing terror lash from his stiffness. It is for this that he goes to the punk gigs out by the docks - not to lose, but to loose himself. It is appropriate there, accompanied by a roar, a scream of frustration burning with injustice and no other outlet.

There is an intimate face he sometimes relaxes into. Quiet talk, a drink, nervous fingers. Severus is very good at listening, attentiveness. He can make you believe he loves you, can make you believe you are the most important one in the world. And it is true. He conjures from something he senses, maybe from a spark of recognition or understanding. He conjures full-blown mutual feeling. And this is his skill as a spy - greasy hair, sullen eyes, his wrapping of withdrawn darkness, swept aside to reveal his serious brilliance, offered to you, accepting yours and recognising it in turn, drawing it from you valued, revealed, understood. And he learns.

Rarely, there is another face that looks into that of another naked, almost startled by hope and hunger for company and salvation. Few have seen this. Rabastan, Abraxas, perhaps Lucius. Dumbledore. The Dark Lord believes he has. Lily saw it, but she did not recognise it.

These are not masks. They are true.

552 words
  • janus

    i liked your musings about snape and the idea that he is so complex or the way you describe him.
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