Pairings: Severus Snape/Regulus Black, Severus Snape/Narcissa Black, Severus Snape/Lily Evans (unrequited), Severus Snape/Others (implied)
Warnings: Character deaths. Mentions of Non-Con, Incest, and torture. HBP spoilers.
Inspiration: JKR claims that someone has loved him. Love doesn’t necessarily help.
Notes: This is primarily a character study, which includes some of a young Severus Snape’s life.
She sings to him in the cradle. Her husband, grounded as he is so thoroughly in what he calls the ‘real,’ calls them nonsense songs because they are about the non-tangible things only she is heir to. Her voice is rich, like rose honey and cream whipped into a generous froth, and her audience listens with the wondering concentration only an infant can show for a mother’s song. She sings to him the way she sings to her garden and to her potions: she sings of herbs, of plants, and of living creatures. She sings of magic and of will; things tangible and things unseen.
In return, his first word is not mum, nor is it dad. It is not spoon, nor ball, nor sky.
With perfect enunciation and pointing a slender finger, Severus Snape speaks for the first time.
His first word is “Asphodel.”
~*~She sings to the plants in her garden, ditties about their uses and abuses in potions and magic. Severus sings along with her, his high piping voice sweet and true, distracting from his appearance, which truly only a mother could love, given that nose and baby scowl of concentration. Still, mother and son enjoy this time together, basking in the sunlight and the green growing things.
She is singing when the first, sharp pop!s echo in their tiny, green space, and they are surrounded by people who look strangely familiar to Severus. Maybe it is the scowls, or perhaps the signature noses, but he does not like these sour-faced men who kick him aside to approach his mother. She does not look up, finishing the verse-end before wiping her hands on the towel at her waist, her face settling into lines of pained dissatisfaction. Severus has never seen this expression before on his mother’s face, one of terrified anger, but it is one he knows instinctively he will see again.
He is very young; too young, really, to understand all of the words thrown about that day. It is the first time he has heard the phrase “blood traitor,” or heard himself called a “mudblood.”
It is certainly the first time he has heard the name “Prince.”
It is the first time he witnesses a beating and, assuredly, it is the first time he sees a woman raped.
Unfortunately, it is not the last.
~*~She sings as she stands over her cauldron, scowling slightly in concentration. Her voice resonates with all the words she will not speak, although the recitation of ingredients and their properties screams of venom and fury. Severus stands on a crate to make him tall enough to help prepare the things she needs and feels impotent rage building in his soul. His mother is heavy with child, the fourth (or is it fifth?) since the first time the men appeared in the garden.
Constant pregnancy has taken a toll on his mother’s health and her marriage. His father is a Muggle, not powerful enough to stop his Prince grandfather from exacting a toll for his mother’s impetuous marriage. Severus hates him, hates them both, because every day his mother grows weaker and his father’s anger has begun to move from verbal bloodletting to physical violence. The man does not beat his mother — no, he is canny enough to know that harming her or forcing her to miscarry the child would result in his own painful death — but Severus is a fair target because his Prince relatives could care less if Severus lives or dies.
Severus sings with his mother, letting his voice carry his resentment and his fear. His small hands are steady with the knife as he chops up slugs and shrivelfigs and other, less savory things. He does not speak of his fear that his mother will die with this confinement and that without her to make potions he and his father will starve. He knows that his Prince grandfather had cursed his father to a life of uselessness and drudgery, ensuring that the man his daughter married would be unable to get any job that does not involve scrubbing and mucking and debasing himself, despite the fact Severus’ father is well educated and erudite.
Severus knows that his father beats him for that as well.
His mother’s voice falters for a moment as she sets her ladle aside, but Severus sings into the silence, knowing that she loves to listen to him sing.
~*~The wind sings to him, a dirge only played by wounded zephyrs upon the bare and barren branches that surround a pauper’s tomb. His father has long since left, his eyes bruised with weeping, and Severus sneers despite his own tears. His father is weak, for all the strength he puts behind his belt, and the welts that never quite heal on Severus’ back. Severus had to be the one to hide his mother’s wand when his grandfather came in, who hid the most precious of her ingredients and spell components, who protected their day-to-day livelihood. He had watched, dispassionate, as his father writhed beneath his grandfather’s wand – Crucio – he had said, a word to remember, one with a hard flick and a twist of the wrist. There were other words, words he had heard muttered and shouted at his mother while she writhed, screaming beneath the men her father brought. Curses she deserved for her willfulness.
He can hear the old man now, his disjointed gait distinct, but Severus does not turn, only fingers the wand he has hidden up his sleeve.
“Well, it is the gutter-born abomination himself, come to defile my daughter’s grave.”
Severus still doesn’t turn, merely waits, letting the man’s bile wash over him in a bitter wave. The words spill in an endlessly discordant sea, pooling around him in an ocean of vitriol he cannot escape.
“Have you nothing to say to me, boy?”
He raises eyes black with rage, with helplessness, with despair, and feels his lips twist in something that in no way resembles a smile. There are only two words he cares to impart to his grandfather, words punctuated with a slash of a wand and a slight flick of the elbow and wrist. He is rising eight years old with pureblooded half-siblings whose brows he kissed when they exited screaming from his mother’s womb. He is ancient in his abhorrence of his life and what this man has made of it.
The old man sneers at him, and Severus draws his mother’s wand, polished brightly for this occasion.
Then, with perfect enunciation and precise elegance Severus Snape casts his very first spell.
It is not Wingardium Leviosa. Neither is it Expecto Patronum, nor Locomotor Mortis, nor Petrificus Totalis.
Severus Snape’s first spell is Avada Kedavra.
He succeeds in doing rather more than giving his grandfather a nosebleed.
The funeral of Tiberius Prince is not one that he’s invited to, not that he would have deigned to attend.
~*~He sings to himself as he sits on the train to Hogwarts. In his hands is a well-worn book on Potions, and in his pack there is an eclectic selection of books pilfered from the Prince family library. Tiberius Snape might have been successful in leaving all of his money and other property away from his daughter’s loathsome offspring, but the library is entailed only to legitimate heirs of the Prince family, a state that none of his siblings can claim.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Half-Blood Princeling,” a voice drawls from the doorway. Severus looks up, scowling at the reminder of his family. In the doorway is a good-looking boy, perhaps his age, with messy hair and belligerent eyes. “Too good to share with the rest of us firsties? Seems a little snobby for the son of a muggle-loving whore.”
Severus’ scowl deepens and he draws his wand. “What did you say?”
“Oh, sensitive are we?” This from another first year, one that looks like the first man in the garden, the one that kicked him and called him a mudblood when his grandfather first came to the garden behind their small house at Spinner’s End… the one who slapped him for daring to touch the child that resulted from his mother’s pain and curses and tears. “Everyone knows what you are, Snape, and what your mother was.”
Rage fills his eyes with fire and water rises within them to quench it. He holds it to his chest as it blossoms, filling him with warmth and steadying hands that began to shake.
Laughter rings forth from the second boy. “Look at him snivel, the little whoreson.”
“Snivel, snivel, Snivellus!” says the first, and Severus ignores the tears leaking down his cheeks and hexes both boys lips shut. It takes the seventh year prefects and the Head Girl and Boy the rest of the trip to reverse the spell and he smiles beatifically at them as they exit the train red-faced and humiliated.
It takes him years to overcome the reaction of crying when angry or frustrated.
He never does conquer the nickname given to him by James Potter that day.
~*~She sings to herself as she works on potions, her words almost inaudible over the nearly silent hiss of water only barely at a boil. Her voice is light and airy; it shines like a soap bubble floating iridescently toward the sky.
He loves her voice and the precision of her small, graceful hands. She always seems to know which herbs and ingredients are the best, a little something she shares with the mother he loves but cannot always remember well. It is an instinct he envies, but is not jealous of, because his skill, unique amongst his peers, is in innovation. He does not need texts to explain interactions to him, not when his mother’s voice sings to him in memory. Infinite practice has lent him grace of movement with his knife and cauldron, not to mention for such necessities as tuition and what school clothes he can afford once he has bought his books.
Still, he envies it as she picks through the ingredients for the day, and closes his eyes briefly to enjoy the near-inaudible sound of her voice before getting on with his work.
“You stay away from her,” a voice hisses from behind him. Severus says nothing, merely opens his eyes and sets to working on his potion. Professor Slughorn forbids the use of shielding spells, so Severus plays close attention to the contents of his cauldron. Potter has been bellicose just recently, ever since Evans deigned to agree to be his girlfriend.
It is something that Severus cannot quite comprehend. It angers him that she would waste herself on one such as Potter. A powerful young man, and one from a wealthy family, but he is in no way her intellectual equal. Severus thinks that she would make a fine partner, but also knows that she is out of his league, something that Slughorn, whom he actively hates, has made clear to him.
“Your talent,” Slughorn had said, “is far to mixed with Darkness for a beautiful girl like Lily. She’ll go quite far, if she’s not dragged down by… attachments.”
Severus had understood, much as he had understood when he was not selected for Slughorn’s little court, that supposedly egalitarian aristocracy of talent. He has neither family nor looks, and he wasn’t obsequious enough for his sheer skill and facility to gain him entrée to the circle of favored students. Slughorn didn’t want him interfering with what he saw as Lily’s future, no matter that it would make Snape happy.
He bruises a handful of dent-de-lion stems and drops them into his cauldron one at a time, then adds the fluff, drifting the seeds in precise intervals. Beside him, Lily’s voice rises sweetly as she adds a scattering of crushed willow bark and for a shining moment, pretends that they are married, working together to cure something amazing, like Lycanthropy.
Then the dung bomb hits the surface of his potion, causing an explosion that covers him in foul-smelling brown slime that proves almost impossible to remove.
James Potter and Sirius Black, on the other hand, spend the next two months pissing dilute hydrochloric acid every third time they visit the loo.
~*~Madam Pomphrey sings to him as he shakes in a bed. He does not cry, there is no use in it. He will not, he thinks, search for a cure for Lycanthropy, not until he’s done something about the madness he saw in Lupin’s eyes as the beast transformed. There was no way that one could safely test treatments if the wolf really was guaranteed to rip one apart upon the rise of the full moon.
“You do realize why we can do nothing, do you not, Severus?”
He barely hears the Headmaster, staring out the window at the full-bellied moon. He knows that Sirius Black will not be expelled, not Dumbledore’s Golden Boy, the one who has rejected Dark Magic and his Dark Family. It doesn’t matter that Sirius is no different in temperament than the rest of them. Sirius Black is just as murderous as the rest of the families he encounters in Slytherin. There is no use in explaining that it wasn’t a prank. It isn’t about Remus Lupin’s secret. Sirius wants Snape to “leave his brother alone.”
Black thinks that Severus is corrupting the boy, turning him Dark. He does not know that it is Regulus that found him, that realized that he was one of Snape’s half-brothers. He does not know that Regulus enjoys the depravity of it when places his lips behind Severus’ ear, or licks his way down Snape’s chest. Severus knows that Regulus has bragged to his brother of fucking Severus… of sucking him. Severus knows he’s only the tool with which Regulus torments Black and their father. Still, he says nothing to his lover about it, just as Regulus says nothing when Narcissa, their sister, comes to him in her quiet glory, spreading her thighs to take him sweetly where Regulus chooses not to go.
They are purebloods. He is a half-blood tool for their pleasure. Sometimes he sees torment in their eyes as they bring him to their beds, showing him, as others in Slytherin House do, his place in their society… a tool, variously skilled. He defers to them, as he must but clings to his identity, to the fierce pride his mother had in him. They call him the Half-Blood Prince and sneer at him behind their hands. He calls himself the Half-Blood Prince and takes their cocks and clits with shuttered eyes and thinly veiled disdain. He listens to their careless talk and finds their weaknesses, exploiting them for his own benefit and survival. He despises them all, even Narcissa, who loves him against logic and blood and bone.
He stares at the Headmaster, sneering. “Of course, Headmaster. It is too much to think that my puny life is worth anything against that of your favorites.”
“Severus, Remus is guilty of nothing –”
“Except being a werewolf.”
“He would be put down…”
“At this moment, Headmaster, I cannot say I am against that particular outcome.”
“Severus, had you not gone out of bounds…” the Headmaster chides.
“You were a fool to think that no one would try and find out, or would not realize that Remus Lupin is always sick at the full moon. But as you will no doubt expel me if I do not agree –”
The Headmaster says nothing, but the truth of that is clear in his eyes.
“—then I obviously have no choice.”
“Surely you can understand…”
“With all due respect, Headmaster, you don’t care if I do,” Severus says, the words rubbing like sandpaper. “At least respect me enough to admit it.”
“I want you to agree that this is the right thing to do.”
“Then you’re going to be waiting a long time.” Severus stares at the old man, despising the pained determination in those blue, blue eyes. “Sirius Black tried to kill me and Remus Lupin tonight, but that doesn’t weigh with you at all, does it? He’ll be allowed to finish his schooling and continue his life as though nothing happened, whereas I sit here threatened with expulsion if I tell. This is neither fair nor right, and I’m not going to salve your conscience by saying it is.”
Severus stands, batting the Nurse’s hands away and dons his cloak. “You will regret this, Headmaster. Sirius Black has no compunctions about murder.”
With that he sweeps out of the Infirmary.
~*~She sings wordlessly as the leather cracks along Peter Pettigrew’s back. Bellatrix is at her most remarkable when inflicting pain and bathed in blood. Behind her, her husband eases himself in the cooling body of a young muggle girl, a practice that Snape finds abhorrent although the Dark Lord apparently obtains some amusement from the rape of Muggle corpses.
Severus cuts the bonds holding the little rat up, forcing himself to laugh as the bloody mass falls in a heap writhing flesh. “Hello, Peter.”
He keeps his voice low and soothing as he applies a caustic antiseptic to what appears to be raw and mangled meat.
Peter screams, and he finds the sound sweet in comparison to his memory of chuffing and malicious laughter.
“Tsk, tsk. Gryffindors are supposed to bravely face pain, aren’t they?”
Peter whimpers, and that is nectar and ambrosia, flowing brightly through him..
“Oh, dear. Tell me, Peter, who is sniveling now?” Severus smiles. He can see Bella holding a knife, Rudolphus orgasming into a dead and empty vessel, and himself whispering acid into that weak, weak mind. He leans over, licking blood from Pettigrew’s temple and savors the copper tang and the salt of Gryffindor tears. “Poor Peter, abandoned by his friends. Lost and alone, without anyone to depend on.”
He twists Peters face toward him, wrenching the weak neck and smiling as he meets terrified eyes. “Not to worry, Peter. When I’m through, you’ll have a large family ready to welcome you.”
“Sni—Sna—Snape.” Peter takes a shallow breath and then screams as Bella begins drawing little pictograms into his flesh with her knife. “W-what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to break you, Peter.” Severus licks his lips as Bella paints pictures across her flesh with fresh blood. “And I assure you, I’ll enjoy every minute of it.”
Bella begins singing again. Rudolphus laughs.
“Oh, I will indeed, Peter.” Severus smiles slowly, softly, with a wicked sharp edge. “Legilimens.”
~*~He can hear singing coming from the house at Godric’s Hollow. Lily’s voice rises sweetly with the more musically-challenged baritone of James Potter. Somewhere, deep inside, he winces, but there was little enough that he can do.
“My lord, surely it is not necessary to eliminate the Potters? It is only the boy who is a danger to you.”
The Dark Lord smiles at him, chilling him sweetly with his amusement. “Severus, I do believe your debt to Mr. Potter makes you more cautious than need be. Both have been thorns in my side for far too long.”
“It just seems a shame to destroy what could be such excellent resources.”
“Lily Potter is an extraordinarily powerful witch, my Lord. Her skills in Charms and Potions, if nurtured would soon be rivaled only by those such as you.”
“Or yourself, I suppose.” The Dark Lord stares at him and Severus allows him to rifle through his soul. “You want her for yourself.”
“I have ever admired her mind, my Lord, for all that she is a Mudblood.”
“A strong word, for one such as yourself.”
“I despise that my mother got me with Muggle seed, my Lord, and have ever deferred to my pureblooded siblings.”
“And used them for your own profit and amusement while doing so,” the Dark Lord notes. “Which is why I value you so, Severus. My son in spirit, if not in the flesh.”
Severus firmly controls his surprise. “My Lord?”
“Oh, we will discuss it soon,” says the Dark Lord. “If the girl pleases you, then you shall have her, provided she does not resist.”
“Thank you, my Lord, but there is no need –”
“If she was an adequate vessel for Potter, she is doubly so for you. Stay here, my boy. This is a task I shall quite enjoy taking care of myself.”
The Dark Mark rises over the house, appearing at the very will of its maker. The moments stretch, and stretch and stretch, echoing centuries filled with screaming and pleas. He can hear Lily’s voice, like music, crying out then silenced by the acid green of Voldemort’s casting.
Not Harry, not Harry, not Harry…
There is a sound-not-sound and light as the house implodes and Severus stares dumbfounded at the remains as a baby wails in the rubble.
Where is the Dark Lord?
He apparates away, thinking feverishly. What to do?
With the Dark Lord gone, he is in danger. He must survive, must remain free until his Lord returns.
Severus does not doubt that the Dark Lord will come back, must come back. He is the Dark Lord, he cannot be defeated by something so paltry as a prediction from Trelawney and James Potter’s infant son.
The Dark Lord will return.
He must remain free.
Severus stares at his bookcase, at the small display case that held the few magical items he’d inherited from his grandfather.
A time turner glitters back at him, filled with possibility.
There is only one man capable of defending him… and only one way to do it.
Severus smiles, despite the situation.
A few twists of the wheel and he might warn Dumbledore, he could show remorse and repentance. Dumbledore would believe him, would give him a second chance. Dumbledore is a fool who believes in redemption. No doubt he will offer Snape a place of saftey, of ‘recovery.’ Hogwarts will no doubt be a good place to sow the seeds in anticipation of the Dark Lord’s resurrection.
But first… first he has a rat to visit.
And another downfall to plan.
~*~The boy sings to himself as he works, a low tuneless thing that barely registers above the faint hiss of water barely coming to a boil.
Snape hates him. From the lightning-bolt scar to James’ hair, from Lily’s green eyes to the tips of his Gryffindor feet, Severus hates Harry Potter. How dare he be so utterly unlike his mother and so very like his father? How dare he survive when Lily could have given him up to be Snape’s wife, safe from the Dark Lord and able to extend her abilities to the fullest?
The God-be-Damned Boy-Who-Lived.
Albus is forever nattering on about how he has to let go of his hatred of James Potter. Fuck James Potter and Sirius Black. Snape could give a damn about them and their bullying and bullshit. He hates Harry for being Harry.
He hates Harry for being the reason Lily was dead.
He hates Harry for not being his own son.
He hates Harry for being an intrusive, lying, disrespectful little fuck who deliberately looked into his memories. It wasn’t that he hadn’t known the little bastard would do it. He’d placed the worst memories he had of the boy’s father in it, just to teach Dumbledore’s Golden Prick that the man he idolized was not everything the coddled little shit was told.
Oh, yes, he hates Harry for being Harry.
He longs to just poison the little bastard and have done, but no, neither Albus nor the Dark Lord would stand for that.
~*~Albus sings to him, absurd Muggle children’s songs echoing up the legilimantic link. They were songs of innocence, of Light, of a hope so bright it burned his soul.
You must do what’s best, my boy. The old man whispers before returning to his songs. What’s best, Severus.
He had come to Hogwarts to use Albus Dumbledore as a shield, but had come to love the old man in his own, dark way.
Sing a song of sixpence –
The old man is a trusting fool, to hire a Death Eater as a spy the same night as the Dark Lord’s disappearance…
A pocket full of rye—
He is already dying. Snape could see the magic wrought in him by the potions he’d ingested, see the hope and fear in Potter’s eyes. He can feel the compulsion of his various Oaths pressing on him…
Four and twenty blackbirds—
An image drifts upwards from the depths of his mind, along with the certain knowledge that Albus has known, known, always known what happened in that cemetery, by his mother’s grave. He feels the strangest lightness, a weakening of will – like imperio –
Baked in a pie…
And at his feet kneels his grandfather, hale and sneering. He is dropped into an ocean of vitriol, a sea of hatred he cannot escape. His face twists in utter loathing, in hatred so profound it does not have a name.
~*~The Dark Lord sings his praises when he returns with Draco. It is too late to spare the boy the fate that such a failure brings. Narcissa weeps silently, fleeing into his arms as the boy’s pale body hits the floor. Bellatrix laughs, her thin hands caressing her swollen belly, heavy with a child that might be her husband’s, but might be the Dark Lord’s. No one is telling.
Lucius is in Azkaban and Draco is dead for their respective failures. He has not.
Severus revels in the recognition, returning Bella’s dark looks with sardonic smiles. He cradles Narcissa in his arms, kissing her first with comfort and then with passion, her small mouth sweet, sweet, sweet, like cream whipped with rose honey.
Narcissa takes him to her bed, her pale glory surrounding him with shadowed light. He knows that she is his sister; that he kissed her pale brow when she came squalling from his mother’s womb. It means nothing to him as he drives deep into her wet heat and feels her fingers scratch down his back. She orgasms around him and he spills his seed within a womb made barren by his own potions. Narcissa is his sister, whose maidenhead he breached in the fullness of autumn long ago. Regulus had watched, laughing, before joined their corrupt revelry, violating every trace of innocence before restoring her ‘virginity’ for Lucius to break in a travesty of ceremony. The memory of it is sharp as she kisses her way down his chest and takes him into her mouth, nursing his cock as she once did his mother’s breast. She is his sister, he thinks, hands tangling in the long, pale glory of her hair. She is his sister and he has never cared.
In the morning, the Dark Lord laughs and officially recognizes Narcissa as his. Bellatrix seethes, but it matters not. He is at the right hand of his Lord and while he loved Albus like a grandfather, the Dark Lord loves him as a son. Narcissa places her small hand in his and for the first time he feels at peace with what he is. He knows that it will not last. Lily’s son knows enough and hates enough, now, to complete the task before him, but for now he has Voldemort, and Narcissa’s pale glory, and he will enjoy it until the end comes.
~*~The music sings through him, as he lies bleeding out from a curse so Light it burns the Darkness rooted with ancient, twisting knots within him. Narcissa has gone before him, her body gleaming like alabaster in the moonlight. She is beautiful, even now, with her blood spilt like rubies across her neck. He moans in pain, in loss and strangely finds himself humming along with the discordant disharmony that battles above him in shades of red and green syncopation. Lighter chords rise; a triumphal chorus frees itself from the cacophony and obliterates the dissonant strains he knows come from the Dark Lord. For the first time in forever Severus can wrap himself in the sweeping glory of the bright harmony that surrounds him.
He can hear Lily’s voice, light and airy, weaving itself through the bristling energy that rushes across the field. He can feel her fingers brush his brow in undeserved absolution. Narcissa is there, her voice like church bells, calling him home, her small hands tugging his. Severus raises his voice with that sweeping finale, singing, singing, singing and is enfolded once again in a warm embrace scented of mint and aconite, his mother’s arm’s tight around him. Her dark voice flows over him, sweet and rich like cream whipped with rose honey, and he falls asleep, safe once again, with her singing.