He had bowed to the Dark Lord again and had been honoured above all others. His fellow Death Eaters had looked at him with envy and resentment. He had managed to save Draco Malfoy's arse, and the brat loathed him even more for it. He had gone to Spinner's End and kicked the rat out of his sight.
Now he was finally alone with his crime.
He collapsed on his old bed. He wished he could cry, but he had gone beyond that point a long time ago. Punching the walls wouldn't be enough. Cutting his wrists or stabbing himself, putting an end to it all, that might work, but no: that would rob the meaning and the purpose of his act.
All he could do was lie there, revulsion caught in his throat, eyes wide in horror.
Suddenly, however, he felt a presence, and leapt to his feet.
Albus was standing at the foot of the bed, his twinkling smile, his body intact... even his right hand.
"Severus. We don't have much time. Soon I will lose my corporeal form. I wished to see you a last time and cheer you up."
Severus knelt at Albus's feet and held onto him until Albus lifted him by the shoulders as if Severus weighed no more than a rag doll and embraced him.
"I'm sorry I made you go through that. Today you performed the greatest act of submission imaginable. I'm very proud of you."
Severus's hands mapped Albus's body, as if to be sure he was really there. Albus pushed him gently down onto the bed, pinned him against it and captured his lips with his own.
Severus moaned in pleasure. He closed his eyes and surrendered to the skilful touch of his Master. Albus was with him now, and the pleasure of submitting to his Master intoxicated him.
Now Severus just had to save Potter before he could meet Albus again. Then he and his Master would be together forever.
Ptyx, February 2006