Severus stared. Something was seriously wrong with Lucius Malfoy.
The elder Malfoy's flesh was stretched and shiny with bloat, and his icy blue eyes protruded slightly from their sockets, the pupils fixed and dilated. His breathing was labored with a guttural rasp, and the skin around his mouth was cyanotic. A black tongue darted out to moisten his blue lips.
"Hello, Severus," the blond monstrosity wheezed, crackling with magic despite his physical decay. "I have missed you, boy."
Ice-cold dread sliced down Severus's spine. Only one person had ever called him "boy," and it wasn't Albus Dumbledore. Dearest Merlin, not again…
"Voldemort," Severus spat between clenched teeth, moving slowly to put more of himself between Hermione and the Dark Lord. "What fresh hell is this?"
Voldemort cocked Lucius's head to the side and smiled, the bones in his borrowed neck creaking. "What, no falling to your knees, Severus? No supplicating my mercy?" He sneered stiffly, obviously discomfited by having a nose once more. "Where is my half-blood Snivellus, imploring me to save his mudblood whore?"
The grotesque wizard took a step toward Severus and then froze; his face contorted in rage as he unsuccessfully tried to move his other foot. "You blistering traitor, you vacuous bat!" Voldemort spat, his blue irises turning violet from the red light inside his eyes. "Severus, release me, you mewling shit!"
Hermione's voice rang out clear and true. "I will not."
Severus glanced behind him and then did so again. Hermione had one hand on her stomach and the other stretched out towards the swollen monstrosity. Her face had gone white, and her brown eyes were flecked with metallic green. "You will not harm her husband."
"Poppy, get her the fuck out of here!" Severus ordered, the business end of his wand never wavering from its impotently raging target.
The Matron touched Hermione's arm gently but drew back with a gasp, her hand red from the painful shock. Hermione slowly turned her head. "Do not touch me."
Hermione's other hand moved from her stomach and came to rest on Severus's shoulder. "Do not attempt to remove me, tortured hero. I shall return your beloved wife to you unharmed momentarily." She turned her green-flecked eyes to Voldemort. "I must deal with the worst my House has ever spawned."
"Your House? But Riddle was a…" Severus snapped his mouth shut and stared at his wife. "Will she remember any of this?"
Hermione shrugged. "It matters not. What does matter, Headmaster, is that you stay out of the way."
Bare feet made no sound as they carried Hermione to stand before Voldemort. She stared a moment before touching his forehead. "Feel," she intoned, rubbing a small circle on the taut skin.
Lucius's body began to tremble. The skin gave way on his arms, finally stretched to its limit. Voldemort grinned in triumph. "I feel nothing, you mudblood cunt."
Hermione cocked her head and smiled. "Who was the best at the Cruciatus curse, Riddle? Who threw it like no other? Who in history had such talent for it that it created a crook in his wand?"
The rictus smile again. "It was the greatest Slytherin who ever lived."
"And you presume to be my worthy heir?" she whispered, her lips brushing softly against his distorted ears.
"You are not Salazar Slytherin. Salazar Slytherin would never speak through mudblood filth—"
His words were cut off by a vicious backhand. Lucius's body flew backward as half of his perfect teeth clattered out on the flagstone. Voldemort recovered quickly and stood.
"You understand nothing, you fool," she snarled. "I care not with whoever witches or wizards Slytherins choose to rut, but I will not have shaman energy tainting the pure magic of my House."
Voldemort laughed. "Shamans are a myth, girl."
Hermione's curls began to stir, and a hot breeze smelling of sulfur and hot rock wafted through the room. "Your ignorance has sullied my house for the last time." Hermione's face crumbled into a grimace of hatred. She raised her arms, and a silent concussion wave, like thunder without sound, burst through the room.
The green flecks in Hermione's eyes flew out and embedded themselves in the small patch of flesh on Lucius's forehead. "Ignis Crucio Aeternum!" the young woman shouted, her voice deadly and terrible.
The room shook, and the stones on the floor cracked. The window shattered, flinging menacing shards of brightly-hued death towards the center of the room, but no one could hear the destruction of the colored glass for Voldemort's unending screams.
Robes billowing, Severus swore, summoned an unconscious Filius to him, and jumped for Poppy , wrapping them all in his voluminous black cloak. The Matron struggled against him, beating his chest and arms. "Unhand me, Severus Snape, this very instant!"
He pulled back and bent down just enough to hiss into her ear. "Unless you wish to spend the rest of your minutes screaming and pissing yourself in unending fiery torment, Poppy, I strongly suggest you stop and let me save you." The Matron wrapped her arms around his waist as Severus began to chant.
Lucius's body writhed on the floor, his bloated and ruined hands grabbing at his head. Voldemort was immune to the Cruciatus curse, but this was something more. His very magic burned, lit by the fires of Hell itself. His eyes seared and popped from his skull, and black, sticky, death energy leaked from the sockets. His body seized, giving one last gurgling scream, and Lucius Malfoy's liquefied brain leaked out his ears. His bodily organs burst, and the blasted remnants of his lungs bubbled out his mouth and nose.
The heat increased, and Voldemort twisted and jerked as his host's body was burned away, leaving only an oozing mass of thick black liquid. A roar of rage and pain tore through the room as the black liquid boiled away leaving only a burnt mark upon the flagstone.
Sensing that the immediate danger was over, Severus released Poppy to tend to Filius. He turned toward his wife in time to see her kneel down and placed her right hand on the mark.
"You will not stain my castle." Her fingers dug into the floor as if it were made of clay and pulled up what looked to be a black shard of volcanic glass. "The last shred of your soul will be put to good use." She released the shard, and it hung suspended in midair. She made an intricate motion with her hands. "Cum Anima Vestra ad Damnum Reparandum."
A howl rent through the air before the glass shard shattered with a gentle tinkling sound. Tiny pieces flew into each crack in the floor, and more tiny pieces flew into the windows, taking other shards with them to repair the intricately colored glass. The last of Voldemort's energy returned the room to its previous state.
When everything was put back to rights and quiet once again descended upon the room, Severus stepped forward. "Hermione…"
His wife whirled to face him. "I am not your wife, as should be obvious. Godric's cubs could never be capable of such ruthless cruelty." Hermione clasped her hands behind her back. "Now, Headmaster, we will have a quiz over these events."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Indeed?"
"Tell me, Headmaster. Why were Muggleborns never allowed in Slytherin?"
Severus's lip curled in disgust. "The shaman lie was a convenient ruse to oust Muggles, Salazar. Racism is not a new phenomenon. "
Hermione leaned in, an unfamiliar sneer marring her features. "Then explain to me exactly how it is that your pretty wife is channeling me."