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Title: When Guidance Misses Its Mark
Author: iulia_linnea
Characters: Severus, his parents, Albus Dumbledore, others
Rating: PG-13
Warning (highlight to view): For some violence.
Word Count: 1177
Summary: Severus obeys his father as best he can.
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.
Author's Note: Originally posted under the sub-pseudonym of oolsock.

Severus was stunned. He'd known that his grandfather didn't approve of his mother's having married his father, but he hadn't realized how much Victor Prince disapproved of him until they had walked into the lounge of the wizard's home.

"Now that we're not standing on the step, would you kindly explain why you brought it into my home?"

"My son isn't an it!" Eileen barked back.

Victor raised an arm as if he would strike Eileen and yelled, "He's a damned half-blood, you silly bitch, a half-blood. He has no business here!"

"Leave, leave Mum alone!" Severus yelled, moving to stand in front her.

He suddenly found himself thrown across the room into a corner. Dimly, he could hear his mother pleading with him to "stay out of it." Confused and badly frightened, Severus gathered his knees to his chest and rocked himself, keeping his eyes squeezed shut, trying not to hear the horrible things Victor was saying and wishing that he weren't so small, so powerless, so wandless.

And then a masculine voice, twisted by fury until he could barely recognize it, burst into his hearing.

"TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF MY WIFE!"

Severus opened his eyes in time to see the blinding yellow flash.

A lady he'd never seen before was standing over his grandfather; she had a wand and was shaking.

"Tobias, that was foolish. Victor could have very well killed you!"

"Thank you then, Marjorie, for not letting him."

"Mum," Eileen said, staring at Victor's unconscious form. "Mum, he'll . . . . You'll have to come away with us."

"Don't be daft. There's Obliviation and your leaving. Don't come back again. He doesn't want you here."

"But, but you said—"

"Eileen," Tobias ordered, "get Severus. We're going. This was a mistake."

Severus was so grateful to feel his mother's arms around him that he didn't begrudge her calling him "baby."

~*~

They didn't speak in the car on the way home, not until his mother began repeating softly, "I thought she'd want to see him. I thought . . . ."

Severus didn't understand. Why isn't she angry with Grandfather? Why—

"Son?" Tobias asked.

"Yes, Father?"

"You, you have to know, inside, that you're good. It doesn't matter what he thinks of you. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of you. Understand?"

"Y—es," Severus replied, wiping his nose on a sleeve. "Yes, sir."

"You defended your mum. I'm proud of you."

"Thank you, sir."

"Right," Tobias replied, gruffly. "Right."

~*~

"Your mum says that magic can't be taken away from you, but I'm not so sure. You take this," Tobias said, handing Severus a small blade. "It's sharp. It might serve you cutting up those potion ingredients of yours, or in another way. Keep it close."

"Yes, sir."

Tobias coughed, an ugly, wracking sound that tore through his weakened frame.

"Are you—"

Tobias stopped his son's speaking with a wave of his hand. "I tell your mum I'm fine. I'm not going to lie to you. Soon, soon you'll be the man of this house, such as it is. You take care of my Eileen, you hear?"

His eyes burning, Severus nodded. "Does Mum know, sir? That you're dying?"

"That's my boy," Tobias replied. "Proud of you, proud of you for not hiding from what's there. Go on, now. Your mum's waiting to take you to the train."

As Severus stepped over the threshold of the room, he wasn't certain, but he thought he might have heard Tobias whisper, "Love you."

~*~

"Professor McGonagall," Headmaster Dumbledore said, interrupting the witch's class, "I'd like a word with Mister Snape."

"Of course, Headmaster."

Severus followed the uncharacteristically grave-looking wizard out of the room, feeling cold. Mum. Something's happened to Mum.

As if Dumbledore could read his thoughts, he said, "Your mother is well, but there's been an incident."

They did not speak further until Dumbledore had led Severus into his office.

"Mum!" Severus exclaimed.

"I didn't mean to do it," she told him, her eyes full of unshed tears, as she reached out her hand.

Severus took it, wishing for a hug and telling himself not to act like a baby. Not in front of the Headmaster!

Death Eaters. His grandparents. They had come, he was told, for his mother. For a moment, Severus' rage at this discovery made it impossible to follow what the adults were saying.

". . . and I think it best," Dumbledore concluded, "that you remain here, Mrs. Snape."

"I've never accepted charity in my life."

"I'm not offering any. I'm in need of a librarian."

"But they'll find her!"

"Severus," Eileen admonished.

"But, but they will," he persisted.

"No, they won't, for I've taken the liberty of sending word to the Board of Governors that Irma Pince has accepted the position."

"You want Mum to change her name?"

Dumbledore nodded. "To assume an identity, yes."

"That's not particularly clever, is it?" Eileen snapped.

Severus cringed. He liked Headmaster Dumbledore and wished his mum wouldn't be rude to him.

"No one will connect your disappearance with the appearance of new staff, Madam Pince," Dumbledore replied, pointedly, "because our new librarian's application was approved weeks ago, shortly after I learned about the impending attack upon you."

"You," Eileen said. "You're the one who sent warning to me."

"I am, indeed. Forgive me for not sending any other assistance. To have done so would have—"

"Yes, I understand. I accept. And, and thank you."

"It's Severus whom you should thank. He told me about the argument you had with your parents at your husband's funeral. That's why I knew to investigate their activities, and how I discovered their intentions toward you."

"You weren't supposed to—"

"I'm sorry, Mum," Severus interrupted. But Father told me to protect you.

~*~

When Severus turned sixteen, his mother gave him back his father's knife.

"You knew, but I wouldn't listen."

"Ma'am?"

"You knew that my father interfered with my wand at your fa—at the funeral."

"Grandfather, he wasn't expecting the knife, was he?"

"No."

"How did . . . ."

Severus stopped speaking. He wasn't entirely certain that he wanted to know how his mum had killed his grandmother.

"I used Father's wand."

"Oh," Severus said.

He couldn't think of anything else to say. He had never found it easy to talk to his mother.

"You're a good boy. Now go owl your friends."

Severus didn't bother to explain to his mum that he didn't actually have any friends, not really. Eileen rarely left the library; she never saw how alone Severus was outside of it.

It isn't her fault that she doesn't know, and not telling her is the only way I can protect her. For now. Father would understand that, I think. I hope.

Severus wished he could have talked to his father about what he was planning, but not for long. He knew was clever. He knew he'd be all right.

Magic is the way to strength, to power, to safety. If I can use them, learn from him, then no one will be able to hurt me or Mum ever again.

And that, Severus was certain, would make him worthy of his father's pride.