* * *
The inside of his eyelids was quite red, and the light he was seeing through them was quite bright.
Severus Snape lay still on the ground and did not open his eyes. Something felt very wrong.
He ached, in the fundamental way that spoke of every muscle and nerve being pushed well beyond its limit. Sharp needle-pains skittered along his ribs, constricting and piercing his lungs so that he thought he should drown in blood. His throat remained mercifully empty, however. A memory stirred in his mind, the glint of magelight on Voldemort's teeth as the dark lord smiled a smile that wasn't a smile-
Black's voice, his utterly impossible voice, froze the memory. "You," he said without opening his eyes. "Are dead."
The rustle of robes alerted him as Black sat down next to him. It flashed through him that he couldn't hear anything else, not breath nor heartbeat from either of them. That seemed to be the cue his treacherous mind was waiting for, as memory-time began to flow again.
On the inside of his eyelids, he watched the play of light over Voldemort's pale fingers as the dark lord tapped his wand against his thigh. 'You have been a skilled spy for me, Severus.'
"This is a delusion brought about by Voldemort," Snape gritted out. He fumbled for his wand, needing it to focus a Patronus around. The cloth of his robes tangled around his hands, and he writhed at the feel of captivity.
'However, now I have another use for you.' Slitted eyes resembling a pair of carbuncles poured the full weight of Voldemort's will into him, and he could not move nor even turn his head from what was to come.
Hands gripped his shoulders, Black's hands, and he giddily wondered if his skin would char black under the hatred that bound the two of them. He raised his hands to claw at Black's wrists, to demand that he be let go-
'You will be a martyr for the cause, and so draw out all the little traitors Dumbledore has gifted me with.' Each word struck him, pumping terror-poison into his blood so that he had to fight or flee or he would go mad... And still those eyes held him!
"It's not real!" He practically screamed as he mauled Black's wrists, fingers punching through skin in his frenzy. A liquid too cool and too watery to be blood flowed down from thumb to wrists and spattered on his chest.
"This time it is."
The dark lord sinuously lifted his hand, and the magelight vanished from the wand. Now the room was gullet-dark, and Snape could hear the pounding of his blood. His eyes adjusted, though, and gradually he began to see again. Then he realized what was casting the light-
"Look, Snape, I know you don't want to hear this-"
Green sparks dripped from Voldemort's wand as his lipless mouth curved into that smile that wasn't a smile. Then he spoke those oh-so familiar words-
"And God knows I don't want to be talking to you-"
Green fire flared along the wand, consuming the sparks and devouring every hope that Snape had. 'Avedra-'
"Of all people. But you need to hear this. Snape-"