The Origins of the Potions Master
When he was six, he hid in a corner and sobbed as his father struck his mother's face so hard that the bones in it broke with a loud crunching sound. His mother couldn't speak for days.
When he was seven, he stepped in front of one of his father's blows; it broke his arm. His mother healed him with a potion, and then admonished him for his stupidity.
When he was eight, he had to hide his head under his pillows at night because of his mother's screaming. The screams began as moans, but always ended up sounding strangled and desperate.
When he was nine, he discovered the locked books in the library, an old cauldron in the basement, and his mother's herb garden. His mother watched him teaching himself, but said nothing.
When he was ten, he invented his first potion. His mother secretly bought him second-hand dragon-hide gloves, and told him to be careful as he refined it.
When he was eleven, he doctored the stew. He was relieved when the medi-wizard couldn't find any trace of his work in his father's body, and happier than he'd ever been when his mother praised him for his cleverness.
Meeting in masks and hooded robes was not exciting skullduggery, but the drudgery served a purpose. One had to plan, after all.
Terrorizing Mudbloods in masks and hooded robes didn't seem to further their goals, but the others always enjoyed the torture. "One needs to go along with the less-than-savory aspects of one's work in order to progress," he told himself.
Watching the sky for the sign to don his mask and hooded robes became second nature, but he grew nervous. He doubted his master's servants and his purpose.
Rushing to Godric's hollow in a mask and hooded robes was difficult; he couldn't see nor run very well. But he had to try.
The broken mask and bloodied hooded robes meant nothing to him, after, and he held them in one balled fist as he knelt before Dumbledore and begged for release from his life.
"You keep those," the wizard said, nodding at his mask and hooded robes. "You'll wear them if you wish to atone."
Severus hid his mask and hooded robes in a trunk at the back of his laboratory when he didn't need them. But his face always felt hooded and his purpose masked as he worked.
It was understood that professors would not dally with their students at Hogwarts, though no rule against the practice existed.
Severus respected rules, and knew how to be discreet.
The Seventh Year boys were not that much younger than he when he arrived at the school to teach. Many of them were very . . . bright.
Severus thought it was only right to nurture natural talent, particularly in his own House.
Sometimes, it was necessary to give detentions to certain pupils when they failed to extend themselves beyond their basic capabilities.
Severus preferred his Slytherin wizards not to rest on their laurels.
Potter's mouth was full and pouting, his legs were long and lithe, and his eyes were bright and indiscreet.
I could have you without even a word, Snape thought, purposefully brushing his fingers over the boy's as he took the homework scroll.
Potter's inarticulate sighs were edifying as the boy writhed beneath his body, and Snape taught the brat something of control while he fought to master his own breathing.
I could make you love me, the Potions master thought, wondering why he wished to try.
Potter's anger made the boy struggle; he fought each command, but always returned for the next one.
I could have you betray your friends, Snape thought, knowing that he would never ask it of his lover.
Potter's defiance was refreshing after months of pretty submission, and Snape felt the boy deserved to play at dominance.
I could drown in you, Snape thought, fearing, at last, for his own heart.
Potter tasted of power on his tongue, as he knelt before him and worshiped his prick.
I could love you, Snape thought, as the boy threw himself out of the bed and dressed hurriedly, asking carelessly, "Same time next week, Professor?" without looking at him.
As the wizards' battle ended, Hogwarts shone with the defiant protection of its house elves. But the Boy Who Yet Lived did not see the emanation; horrors fogged his vision–remnants of Lord Voldemort's mind struggling to re-coalesce into malignant coherency.
"Let him go, Harry. Forget what he wanted you to remember."
"I . . . I don't know how," he whispered, so tightly clutching his wand in an effort to obey the headmaster that it snapped.
Orange and Green sparks burst from the halves before disintegrating, and Harry would have fallen to the magic-deadened grass had Severus Snape not caught his body.
The once longed-for awards rested on a dusty shelf in his laboratory, next to a simmering cauldron in which steeped a potion ruined by the saline content of his tears.
He did not care; he had time enough to re-brew the draught.
An old, unlocked book lay open and neglected on his work table; its words no longer provided any comfort.
He was clever enough to have survived.
The Seventh Year boys graduated in an endless cycle, but Severus failed to notice anything beyond their penmanship; he had them leave their essay scrolls in a basket on his desk.
He never touched anyone, not anymore.
There would never be anyone with eyes as green or less-shuttered than his lover's, and he grieved the absence of light in the faces of his students.
He had learned to love too late.
Dumbledore bade him destroy his old uniform, but he refused; its malignant presence in the trunk at the back of his laboratory was a reminder.
He had atoned for the wrong reason.
Years passed in which his memories faded, and this plagued him.
He was dead and waiting to be buried–he had been too late to save Harry.