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Title: Morning Prayers
Author: iulia_linnea
Characters: Severus, his parents
Rating: PG-13
Warning (highlight to view): For implied violence.
Word Count: 410
Summary: "He does not understand why she spends gentleness on brutality."
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling; various publishers, including, but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books; and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Shut up, shut up, shut up . . . .

He sits in the corner in a parody of self-comfort; for though he has wrapped his arms about himself, he hates himself for crying. In his head, he is screaming as loudly at himself as his father is at his mother.

"You'll never make a wizard out of him by polluting the brat's mind with that trash! The boy needs discipline and proper training! He doesn't need a mother who ruins him by—"

Stupid, worthless, pathetic git! Careless waste of womb matter! This is your fault, your fault!

He hears his mother try to defend her purchase of a Muggle chemistry set, her sobbing intermittently interrupted by shrieks and the sounds of wet slaps. He does not know if it is the money or the Muggle part of the gift that his father despises more; he knows only that it was a secret, a dear secret, and he has broken his word by leaving it out where his father could find it.

And I may have broken Mother.

"I'll kill you, you mudblood-loving slag!"

His arms uncurl, and he stands up on shaking legs. He has always been afraid of his father, but he loves his mother. She needs him now, and he is not a coward.

"Gods curse your womb, woman! I'll—"

Shut up, shut up, shut up!

The blood is unexpected. It pours from his father's slackened, silenced mouth and runs in rivulets up his face and over his forehead to slick his hair. He is certain that the man is dead because no one can hit a wall with that much force, land in such a twisted pile, and survive it. For a moment, he smiles.

"Se—Severus, what have you done?"

I don't know, he thinks, blinking drying eyes. "I . . . I don't know, Mother."

His father groans.

"Wi—wizard," the man spits.

"Here now," his mother says, moving to her husband's side. "Let me help you."

He watches in disgust as his mother's expression becomes transfigured from fear and shock to the semblance of love and concern, and he despairs. He does not understand why she spends gentleness on brutality; he does not understand why he craves his father's approval. He understands only that these unknowns scare him. But he is not a coward. To hide his fear, he picks up the pieces of his fractured gift and takes comfort from his most private of litanies.

Shut up, shut up, shut up.