Characters: Severus Snape, original characters
Warning (highlight to view): For elements of abuse, death, and horror, mostly implied.
Word Count: 1800
Summary: Monsters come in all shapes and sizes—so do heroes.
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: Written for the 2020 run of snapecase. Thank you, Shog, for beta'ing.
Severus stood over the body and sheathed his wand, dispassionate in the face of the rictus of pain pulling across the corpse's features. He'd come to this dark place to do something even darker, but Edgar Givens had already been shuffled none too gently off the mortal coil.
"You deserved worse," Severus muttered, spitting. "You deserved pain."
"Oh, aye, he did that, an' more."
Severus didn't start. He'd known he wasn't alone. "Young," he said, his wand hand steadying over the appropriate pocket, "still peddling filth to children?"
Young coughed and stepped into what dim light there was, revealing a man much older than Severus remembered.
"You look like shite," they spoke, together.
And then Young continued, "You just going to leave yer rubbish lying about the place?"
Severus barked out a laugh, pointedly not looking too closely at the ground. Darke Alley was a killing ground, and no one who died there was ever buried.
"Oh, that's right, boy. You didn't do it, not you. So what business is the late Mr Givens of yours?"
"His daughter is one of my Firsties, Ermont," said Severus, twitching his fingers.
A crumpled ball of parchment rose from Severus' coat and smoothed itself in the air as it floated towards Young, who snatched it. Severus watched him read it, remembering each horrible word as he did so.
- He doesn't always shout before he strikes, so I have to keep my ears open.
- My friends don't come over to play any longer. I miss them.
- Professor Snape's letter about my "clumsiness" over the hols enraged him, but at least it was only a Howler I got for it.
- Mummy never would have allowed it, not ever. I wish she'd never left. Am I bad? Is that why?
- Tissy cries and cries and cries. I hate him for making her cry!
- Nothing I try seems to work, and I've studied ever so hard this term. Why can't he be proud of me, at least, a little?
- I don't like it when he watches me get ready for bed. I know how to brush my own teeth!
- Our neighbours think that I'm bad and go to a special school because I won't mind him. They look at me funny when I'm at home. They think he misses me when I'm gone.
- Even when he's not home, I sleep in the attics. The old dolls watch over me.
- I heard that writing things down would help, but so far, I feel the same—except when I don't feel anything at all.
- I miss Theodore. He was a good bear.
- It's not the shouting that's frightening, nor the hitting. It's when he stares at me and says nothing, when he says, "You look too much like her, but not enough for all that." I don't understand. I don't understand what he means by that.
- If I died, perhaps then he'd miss me.
- I suppose eleven is too old for a stuffed bear, but he was mine and my only friend.
- Sometimes, I think about killing him.
- It's so hard to talk to anyone. I never know what to say. I'm dull, thick, no wonder he hates me!
- He used to buy me pretty things, sweet things, nice things after he hurt me. Now he only just shouts. But I know it's not my fault.
- Sometimes, I think about killing myself.
- I hit him back once. I shouldn't have done it.
- It isn't polite to say, but sometimes the old dolls in the attics frighten me, as well.
"Merlin's dangling fuckle nuts!" hissed Young, setting the parchment alight with a finger. "He did deserve pain."
Severus nodded, asking, "Do you know who killed him?"
"Was it you?"
"I see. Well, to answer your question, it's not my filth. I say let the rats have him."
"Bad plan, seein' as how his little girl will be needin' proof o' death."
"And how were you planning to arrange that?"
"Snape, I told you, it wasn't me as did the deed. Not me."
"You're a bad liar."
Young grinned a largely toothless grin and spat again. "Not lyin', just not fillin' you in. Would ye like me to see to it that yon piece o' shite is found in a more convenient location?"
"Just leave me the hand. You've learnt enough restraint by now, I trust?"
"Ye 'trust', do ye? What, ye been taking lessons in posh cunt?"
"Oh, aye, sure ye did—fer that fancy job o' yours?" Young said, turning towards Givens' corpse in a crouching posture.
Severus' stomach flipped. He would not vomit. He'd seen it before, what was to come. And I will not vomit!
Young's mouth opened, stretched, distended into a grossly misshapen pouch from which jutted out sharp and ragged fangs—and Severus proved himself a liar.
Sicking up, he couldn't quite clearly hear the sounds of newly dead flesh being devoured, and that was a help. Of course, when Young finished his business with Givens and turned to clean up the mess Severus had made, it only caused Hogwarts' most recent Potions master heave up more of his guts.
Fucking heeg, thought Severus, of the male hag rightening himself nearby. Shite! Severus flung himself to his feet, wand in hand, and staggered backwards into a wall. "Don't touch me!"
"Why would I, boy? It's not as if you didn't make me feel so welcome when yer Dark Lord summoned me brothers and me to council."
"I had nothing to do with—"
"No, ye didn't," Young interrupted, "and ye were almost decent. Saving, o' course, the other 'company' ye kept."
Severus hated thinking about the Dark Lord. He could still feel the last few warm emanations from Lily's body. His shame was profound. His grief, often drowned. But tonight, tonight he'd come to this place certain that he could kill at least one abusive fuck—and to find that someone, some thing, from his not-so-distant past had got there first was frightening and galling at once.
"Why did you kill him?" shouted Severus. "You push magiceuticals and hedge potions on silly students with more Galleons than sense! You're . . . you're—"
"I was a friend, you might say, of the girl's mother."
"What? Euphemia Givens is alive?"
Young wiped his mouth and belched, which made Severus wish that the wall holding him upright would swallow him whole.
"I asked you a question, Young!"
"That one's hardly a witch any longer, though she was, until quite recently, enough o' one to do this." He pointed to the congealing, fetid area in which lately the late Givens had lain.
In the body's place was now only a . . . fluid-covered hand.
"Oh, put away yer wand. I mean ye no harm."
"Where is Mrs Givens?" Severus asked, hating his voice for its hoarseness.
"She turnt her wand on herself . . . after. And I took her to my womenfolk so as to provide the wee, wasted mite with a burial, all proper like. I'm not an animal."
Severus swallowed, hard, and sheathed his wand.
Picking his teeth, Young explained, "Euphy sold herself out o' that house with the understanding that her husband wouldn't harm their daughter the way he'd harmed her—with magic and potions so foul as ye cannot begin to imagine 'em."
"I can imag—"
"Don't try, boy. Not profitable, such a train o' thought. In any case, I wasn't going to waste flesh, no matter whose. That's my story. That's why I was 'ere."
"I wanted to kill him."
Young's lips twisted, ever so slightly, into a smirk. "Yer not the killin' kind, boy."
"You don't know that!"
"I saw yer face at them councils. I do know it. Now sod off home," ordered Young, though a belch. "There's a good prof."
Severus was vomiting again before he could think of anything to say, and when he'd finished, Young had gone.
"But . . . but he . . . left it."
"It's a bad business," Professor McGonagall said, smoothing out her copy of the Prophet.
The sound of the crisp paper wrinkling smooth was too much for Severus, who abruptly rose to leave the staff room as McGonagall continued.
"They say the only thing left of the poor girl's father was a ha—"
A hand, thought Severus, who had just sat down to drink a heavily fortified cup of tea.
The Dark Lord usually did have his heegs leave bits, nether or otherwise, to send to the families of his victims. It had proved a sound recruiting technique.
Terror often was.
Sometimes, without the aid of a potion, Severus didn't sleep for days together for remembering what the Dark Lord had done. Of course, his pain was of longer duration; he'd not yet been able to forget his own father's treatment of his mother.
"I should have killed him!" shouted Severus.
He did not know if he meant his father, the Dark Lord, or Givens, but it didn't matter. He hadn't managed to kill any of them.
"Weak," he spat. "Why must I be so wea—"
Tap, tap, tap!
"Come!" he shouted harshly, before he could remember to modulate his tone.
"Is, is this a bad time, sir?"
"No, Miss Givens, it isn't. Come in."
"Thank you, Professor Snape. I brought paperwork that I don't understand."
Severus took the packet that Givens held out to him. "Surely there's your guardian to help you?"
"Headmaster Dumbledore says that you're my guardian whilst I'm a student. Mother and Fa—ather arranged it that way, it seems."
He wasn't certain how he knew it, but Severus was certain that Dumbledore had had a heavy hand in that arrangement. And yet, all the while, he did nothing to help her, she or her mother, I expect. Bastard.
"Will you help me, sir?"
Severus took in a hasty breath and let it out slowly. "Certainly, Edwina. Certainly, I'll help you."
When she smiled, Severus was struck by how nice her teeth were. "You've a house elf that cares for you? At home, I mean?"
"Oh, yes!" Edwina exclaimed, suddenly shot through with an animating warmth. Her name is Tissy, and . . . ."
Severus spent the entire Saturday listening to Edwina talk about her life at home with Tissy, not finding it at all odd that she never spoke of her parents. The girl's mother had abandoned her to a monstrous father, and now that he was dead, he didn't bear mentioning.
He understood Edwina more than he would admit to her on that score, more than he would admit even to himself.
With that vague idea haunting his mind, Severus resolved that the next time he took tea, it would be with lemon alone.
"I'm a teacher now. My Slytherins need me."
And the monsters, he thought, are gone now, no matter what Dumbledore believes.