Working under Albus Dumbledore has taken its toll on Severus Snape and that would be an understatement in many ways. By the time 1994 rolls around, his life no longer feels like his own. Leaving Voldemort was meant to save Lily and get his life back and instead Lily is dead and he remains a puppet on a new set of strings. When word reaches him of a group of Death Eaters plotting trouble at the upcoming Quidditch world cup he knows he should go to Albus but something holds him back. Severus has always hated that game. It is pointless, and it gives its players enough status to do whatever they want to whomever they want without the same consequences as others. Painful memories send him to a bottle of firewhiskey and by the time he stumbles to his bed his fury towards James Potter has been rekindled and all plans of going to Albus are out the window.
By the time he has calmed down and thought things through it is too late to pull out, but he still doesn’t go to Albus to warn him. It feels invigorating to make a choice of his own for once, and none of the group would risk actually killing someone. Besides, the world sees everything through rose tinted glasses these days and they could use a healthy dose of reality. There are always dangers that people should be prepared for, and someone is always out there waiting to hurt and humiliate you. Severus knows that better than most, and the more he thinks about it the less harmful it seems. No one has to know and if there ever is a need to return to the Dark Lord’s side as Albus suspects, this can only stand in his favour with the other Death Eaters against whatever stories they think they have to tell their Lord. He knows that the boy is out there among the tents, sleeping peacefully while surrounded by Weasleys no doubt and Severus is convinced that he can only benefit from the evening. The boy needs a healthy dose of realism more than most, a reminder that he is not invincible and that any competent wizard would be able to outduel and subdue him.
Lucius is the one to set things up of course, careful to make sure that no one gets caught, and Severus feels a strange sense of fondness for the mask he places over his face and the group of men that he finds himself surrounded by. These men respected him, feared him, and had treated him as more of an equal than the Order or the light ever did. They still do. He still feels a dull sense of belonging when he is with them, even if he knows that everything they stand for is wrong, dangerous and cruel. Severus may have changed in many ways but there is no doubt that he is still a very cruel man.
He takes satisfaction from the screams, because in his mind people should fear him. He is no longer the boy that was bullied mercilessly at Hogwarts and made a mockery of for other people’s entertainment. Being hung upside down had been humiliating and created the bitter young man he became, and is the reason he remains bitter underneath to this day and cruel more often than not. He doesn’t stop the cycle, he continues it, and he makes sure that he hurts and humiliates his victim far more than he was ever hurt or humiliated himself. It doesn’t take away the memories but it gives him a sick sense of satisfaction all the same. He doesn’t think about the spell he uses, only notices the woman is upside down showing her underwear like he was so many years ago when she starts to shriek and make attempts to cover herself. It seems appropriate, the perfect way to deliver the message even. Things always come back to haunt you in the end and every action has a consequence. People are so stupid in the way they go about their business and don’t think about the harm they are causing.
The woman screams more, cries, as Death Eaters laugh below her. Others peer out of their tents curiously with most running and others not bothering but instead feeling safe, even coming out into the group for a closer look. None dare to be seen laughing in case the Ministry appears but it makes Severus scowl behind his mask. Fools. Albus thinks that the world has moved forward but people are still as twisted and cruel as they have ever been. Children are still bullied in the halls of his school and as much as he wants to hope people just don’t change that much. Severus Snape will always be a cruel man that takes satisfaction from the suffering of others because it means it isn’t he who is being humiliated and James Potter will always be a cruel bully that got what was coming to him.