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Title: The Serpent Bearer
Author: [info]iulia_linnea
Characters: Severus Snape, implied Original Male Character
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2000
Summary: Severus discharges his parental duty.
Disclaimer: This work of fan fiction is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made from (and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by) the posting of this fan work.
Author's Note: This epistolary "fic" was inspired by a non-fandom friend's musing about what manner of father (book) canon!Severus might have made. Thank you, [info]arynwy, for beta'ing.



1 July 1991

Ophiuchus,

In the box that accompanies this letter are treats; give them to the owl who delivered it and then send the bird on its way. If you attempt to restrain the owl, it will attack you as it has been trained to attack anyone who attempts to restrain it.

This letter carries two spells: the first one makes it unreadable by anyone other than yourself; the second one will cause you to be unable to speak of its contents until the moment of my death. I have cast these spells for your protection, and I am writing to you now because it is important to your continued safety that I make you aware of your true parentage, which is, as I have intimated, magical: yes, magic is real, Ophiuchus, and you are a wizard. If you don't believe me, and I am sure that you will not, attempt to speak of the contents of this letter; when you find it impossible to do so, you will know that I relate the truth.

The parents you know and, I trust, love, are not your birth parents. They are good people and Squibs. Squibs are people born to magical families who do not possess magic of their own. If your parents haven't ever told you this, it is most likely because, in the magical world, Squibs are considered by some to be lesser beings, as are people who are born to Muggles. Muggles have no magical heritage, and yet, sometimes they produce magical children. No one knows why. That said, many witches and wizards pride themselves in the "purity" of their familial lines and are prejudiced against those whose lines are not so pure as they define purity.

This is an important thing for you to know because there is a powerful wizard working in the world who seeks to dominate magical life, to "purify" it for all magic kind. Though many fools have allowed themselves to believe that he is dead, I know that he is not. He is called Lord Voldemort, or the Dark Lord, and he is the most dangerous Dark (evil) wizard to have been born in several generations. He is a murderer and a madman, and his followers are called the Death Eaters, for the Dark Lord promises his followers that they might learn to conquer death as they will the magical world by following him. This, I believe now, is a lie, but I did not always believe it to be one. Fool that I am, I, too, am a Death Eater, and because I bear the Dark Lord's Mark still, and because I have been witness to a prophecy concerning him, I cannot believe in his death.

How I came to serve the Dark Lord is thus: I once loved and lost a Muggle-born witch through my own stupidity, yet I was unable to surrender my hope of again having her one day should I become powerful enough to take her. Thinking only of my need for power, I submitted myself in service to the Dark Lord, who eventually learnt why I had done so and sought to test my loyalty to him. He found my love of someone "unworthy" distasteful, and he has always required that his servants love him best. To test me, he ordered me to "bed a proper witch of pure blood" and allowed me the "choice" of her; I chose a witch called Bellatrix Lestrange because of her beauty, because she'd long scorned me, and because it was she who told the Dark Lord of my lost love. Bellatrix, too, professed to love another, but not so well as she loved the Dark Lord, and she obeyed his wish that she lie with me to please him and torture me. You were the result of our liaison.

Having been permitted to use a potion to stoke my lust, I took the precaution of brewing into it a poison that would destroy Bellatrix should she seek to end any pregnancy resulting from our union. I knew that she would not make use of a contraception charm or potion because it would have pleased her to have murdered any child of mine, and indeed, until she learnt of what I had done to her, that was her plan upon falling pregnant. The Dark Lord praised me for my foresight and commanded her not to harm you, and so it was that upon your birth, with the help of one of Bellatrix's sisters, I was able to send you away to be raised in secret and safety. To this day, Bellatrix believes you to be dead. Some months after your birth, the Dark Lord permitted Bellatrix to marry her intended and murdered the woman I loved, and I tried to forget about your existence. I must remember it now because upon your eleventh birthday later this month, you will receive your invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

You must not accept this invitation because it would mean your doom. There are those at Hogwarts who would recognise you as my and Bellatrix's son; our features are distinctive, and you carry them in your countenance. More than that, the Dark Lord will rise again, sooner rather than later, and I would not see you caught up in his rise and the subsequent conflict surrounding it. Circumstances force me to play both sides of this conflict, and either would seek to use you as a pawn. I dare tell you nothing further of this conflict lest you seek, as I sought, to pick a side in it. Neither side is righteous, Ophiuchus, as in war, no side ever is. In any case, though it is true that I have never had any desire to know you and do not wish to know you now, it is also true that I have no wish to deny you your magical heritage should you wish to claim it.

With that in mind, I have arranged that you be invited to study at the Durmstrang Institute, a foreign magical school. The master of that school, Igor Karkaroff, has no love for the Dark Lord and owes me a debt; he will keep you safe because of that debt and his own fears. If you elect to attend Durmstrang, make the most of your education and steer clear of the Dark Lord's followers. Do not tell anyone of your true parentage. In fact, if you can find it within yourself to reject your magical heritage altogether and live as a Muggle, it would be for the best; your mother would kill you if she knew you still live, and it is not possible for me to ever claim you. Indeed, were you to seek me out, I would be forced to reject you utterly.

I trust, having read this letter, that you will never wish to claim me, and that is how it should be; I have failed you in every respect save one: I saw to it that you were allowed to live. Repay my efforts by living well and honouring the parents you know. They love you as I cannot.

Severus Snape

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
lunafish
Jul. 24th, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
I don't know why, but those last two paragraphs made me tear up a bit. I guess it just strikes me as so awful that Snape would have to be this heartless to his own son. :(

On the other hand, several parts made me smile as well, especially the first paragraph. :) I also like the fact that Snape pulled one over on Bellatrix; what outrage she must have felt carrying Snape's child to term, lol! Anyway, for both their sakes, the child's and the father's, I hope canon!Snape didn't have children. (We'll leave that to fanon!Snape. :)
iulia_linnea
Jul. 24th, 2011 09:43 am (UTC)
I've got Ophiuchus on the brain, which is why I wrote this letter, and I keep wondering why Severus didn't just brew an abortifacient as he very easily could have. Was it to torture Bella in his turn, or did he really give a damn about any child of his? It's interesting to think about that now, after canon's close, because it makes me remember how I felt when I wasn't certain of Snape's character.

To echo one of arynwy's comments during beta, I think he's done the kid a favor, even though I can't imagine Ophiuchus will think so at ten.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. :D
eoforyth
Jul. 24th, 2011 10:07 am (UTC)
Oh, I do like the idea of this boy and his conception, and despite his denial, Snape still feels enough responsibility to try and protect the boy having been instrumental in his being brought into the world.

one of Bellatrix's sisters As Andromeda would already have married Tonks and given birth to Nymphadora, would Bellatrix have allowed her to be present when she gave birth, especially if she planned infanticide? Was it Narcissa that saved the child? It would give another aspect to how swiftly Snape accepted the Unbreakable vow in front of Bellatrix, wouldn't it?

Hmm, does that make Ophiuchus too young to have accompanied the Durmstrang contingent during the Triwizard competition, or would a tall but younger boy have gone unnoticed in the shadow of the champion? Apart from the Dark Lord, what else had Snape and Karkaroff hissing angrily at each other?

I like the ideas this generates :)
iulia_linnea
Jul. 24th, 2011 10:16 am (UTC)
I'm still thinking about why Severus would have allowed his son to be born; I'm fairly certain that he doesn't know, himself, and that the answer is complicated.

arynwy and I were talking about this, and in my mind, I think it's Andy; there are several ways by which she would have been known to him, and I don't see a young Narcissa, whose husband is in charity with the Dark Lord, helping Severus as much as I do an Andromeda who knows what it is to have a child hunted, as her daughter (and she and Ted) must have been—but part of me can wrap my head around Narcissa helping to shield her nephew, as well.

I don't know that anything could have compelled Igor to bring young Ophiuchus to Hogwarts during the tournament; Severus persuaded him to take Ophiuchus in and keep him safe upon pain of something, after all, and Igor has never struck me as being particularly brave.

Writing this was supposed to have helped me narrow all the ideas related to my Ophiuchus bunny, but it's just opened up entire new avenues of thought!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. :D
eoforyth
Jul. 24th, 2011 10:38 am (UTC)
I now read that it was one of Bella's sisters that helped him, but not that she was present at the birth. So another (not so fanatical) relative or someone that grew up with the sisters acting as midwife and agreeing to 'remove' the child, but instead passing it to a fondly-remembered Andy perhaps? Timing-wise, wouldn't Narcissa be pregnant or a new mother herself? Her mothering instinct seems to far outweigh her fear of the Dark Lord later in life.

I was thinking more that Igor could have brought Ophiuchus as a bit of pressure to make Snape protect him (Igor) to ensure the boy was safe. A distant, unknown child is less leverage than one you have met.

Whatever, I hope you haven't entirely worn out the Ophiuchus bunny, I'd be interested in knowing a bit more about him (or his effect on other characters)
iulia_linnea
Jul. 24th, 2011 10:47 am (UTC)
Timing-wise, wouldn't Narcissa be pregnant or a new mother herself? Her mothering instinct seems to far outweigh her fear of the Dark Lord later in life.

Excellent points. I'll think on them. It's possible that the Black sisters worked together (even married, I doubt that one ever ceases to be a Black).

I like your idea about Igor; I was thinking something like it, myself, in terms of the idea that neither Severus nor Igor would do anything without getting something in return. Canonically, neither one of them is selfless.

The bunny is hopping healthily along. I just wish it weren't such a big bunny, you know?
margi_lynn
Jul. 29th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
Oh did this fic ever hit me right in the solar plexus.

Thank you for sharing.
iulia_linnea
Jul. 30th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
You're welcome; thank you for sharing your response to it. :)
soberloki
Jul. 31st, 2011 09:08 am (UTC)
Severus is so brutal and brilliant. I love him so much for this, and hate him a bit too.
iulia_linnea
Aug. 21st, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
Me, too. *hugs*
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )