"You're seventeen now Severus so either get a job and finally be of use to this family or get out." Tobias Snape growled, gripping the frayed arms to his chair.
He was drunk again, Severus was used to this. If his father wasn't drunk he was most likely asleep which he much preferred. At least whilst his father slumbered he wasn't required to constantly be on guard to dodge endless jibes about his scrawny appearance or lack of work ethic.
To the contrary Severus worked very hard. He spent countless hours each day locked in his bedroom studying potions or working on a new jinx that required time and patience and endless research.
This type of work however was not the type his father Tobias considered worthy of mention. This was magical work and his father was a Muggle through and through. Ever since the day he had the discovered that like his mother Severus had been born with the gift of magic in his blood he committed most his time into pretending the boy did not exist and when required to acknowledge his son he would never dream of commending him on his excellent grades in Potions or Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons.
No, he would much rather his son be like all the other sons on Spinner's End the street on which they dwelled. The other fathers down at his local pub did not have sons who waved wands about or took to dressing in long flowing robes of black. They had sons a man like Tobias Snape could have been proud of, working in the factories that surrounded their small town or shifting tires at the local garages that littered Cokeworth.
"I can't get a job father. I've only a year at school left to go. I need to concentrate on my grades if I want to become a Professor." Severus knew his words would be falling onto deaf ears but he said them anyway, just mentioning his school of Hogwarts lit a warm fire in his heart that helped block out the cold contrast of his home life.
"Professor? No son of mine is going to be teaching other little freaks to do what you do." He crinkled his long, pointed nose, his grey moustache quivering under it.
"Look. If I get a job at Hogwarts I'll be out of your hair for good. Isn't that what you want?" Severus was starting to wish he had never decided to exit the house via their dingy old living room, he should have jumped out his bedroom window like he usually did when he wanted to avoid his father.
"And who is meant to support you for the next year?" Tobias asked, the indignation ripe in his voice.
"You are. You're my father, or have you spent so long denying my existence that you've truly forgotten this fact."
"Don't take that tone with me boy. I'll have none of your cheek." His father's words were short and sharp and still contained the ability to cut Severus' arguments short.
"Once I'm out of your hair you won't need to worry about paying my way ever again, I'll do it myself. I'll ask no more of you." This thought filled Serverus' chest with an impatient excitement. He wanted this last year to have already been over. He couldn't wait for the day to come.
"Useless boy." His father muttered, grabbing the half full bottle of brandy next to his chair and pouring himself another healthy portion into his glass.
"Runs in the family." Severus muttered, instantly wishing he'd kept his mouth shut.
Tobias balled his fists and slammed them on his chair. "Insolent! Get out you now or I'll have my belt across your hide, you see if I don't!" He shook with rage and made to get up unsteadily from the chair before deciding the walk across the living room to his son was too much effort, settling for a venomous stare instead.
Severus sensing his father's lethargy chanced another jibe. "Careful you don't spill your glass father. Wouldn't want you to add that to the long list of things I've made you pay for would I?"
"GET OUT!" Tobias grabbed his glass and clenched it so tight his knuckles turned white, then he launched it across the room, only narrowly missing Severus by inches as it smashed against the dull brown wallpaper behind him, drenching his long black hair is his father's fresh glass of brandy.
Severus didn't need to be told twice. Although the glass throwing had shook him he still glared at his father before turning round and storming out of the house, slamming the door behind him, the rusty silver knocker rattling against the wood.
"Bastard." He spat, feeling a fresh wave of fury curdle his blood.
The sky was turning an ominous shade of grey, the clouds thick and full of late summer rain. He pulled the hood of his cloak high over his head and made for the end of the street silently cursing his father as we walked.
He took a left at the end of the street onto Pickett Avenue. The large disused textile factory loomed high at the end of the road. This was the place Severus would visit time and again when he needed to be alone, needed to think.
He past by the endless rows of plain brick houses without a glance and only slowed his pace when a familiar figure came into view at the corner of Prudence Hill.
The long flowing sea of red hair was unmistakable. He quickly dashed behind Mrs Dibbet's row of Geraniums and craned his neck over to see more clearly.
Lily Evans was standing just within his view. She was dressed in regular Muggle clothes with a pair of flared blue jeans on and a light yellow top. She looked so normal Severus thought, yet even now he still felt that mysterious pull towards her he felt so often whenever he looked at Lily.
She took a seat on the curb, tucking her knees up under her chin. She cast her eyes up towards the clouds, far off in thought. He remembered meeting Lily numerous times when they were younger on this very corner. He would always arrive half an hour early, escaping out his bedroom window and running down the street with a spring in his step.
If she could see him now, loitering in his neighbour's flowerbed. He felt like a slug, slimy and repellent, so desperate to lay his eyes on her that he'd happily spend the night in the damp, grubby soil if he had to.
His self deprecating train of thought was broken when he heard a loud "crack" fill the air. He knew instantly what had happened, someone had Apparated and he didn't have to look far to find out who.
James Potter now stood only yards away from Lily, holding his hands out before him, a smug grin on his face. Severus felt a surge of old familiar anger thump in his chest. There he was, James Potter the person he hated more than anyone in the world in his neighbourhood, meeting Lily Evans and he was Apparating... without a licence!
The pompous git. Oh he'd get him for this. He'd inform the Ministry himself if he had to. He pictured the triumphant grin sliding off of James' face, leaving his glasses crooked on his nose. His little stunt landing him in big trouble. Fantastic.
James and Lily were speaking now. Lily was smiling and laughed at something James had said. Severus doubted it was very funny. Then she brushed her long red hair behind her ear and nodded. They took off up the hill, James sticking his hands in his pockets, striding casually next to her.
Severus stumbled quickly out of his hiding place, tearing the arm of his robe on a nail in the fence. His tatty shoes were caked in mud which he tried and failed to scrape off on the curb. He rushed to the corner of the street, his eyes trained on the couple as they turned into the park, passing through its large black iron gates.
That was our park. How could she take him there? Severus felt a prickle of heat round his neck. He entered the park and scanned the grounds for any sign of their whereabouts and spotted them sat by the large duck pond across the way.
Even though it was getting dark it wasn't too cold and the pair sat happily on the bench next to the water. They were close and James' shoulder lightly nudged hers as they chatted. Severus scowled. Give her some space you leech.
He made his way towards the large oak tree that they used to lay under as children and clambered up to the branch they used to sit on. He hadn't done this for years and felt a strange nostalgic feeling fill his head as he surveyed the old familiar view.
He watched them, all the while a ball of jealous anxiety growing in his chest. James was far too near to Lily he thought but why wasn't she moving away? He was willing her to turn and shove the boy off the bench.
Severus had no idea how long he had been sitting in the tree watching them but his legs had grown cold and he noted that the sun was beginning to dip below the rows of shabby houses behind the park's fence.
James finally stood up. He looked like he was saying goodbye but remained on the spot as if he was stalling for some reason. Lily remained seated, her hands either side of her gripping the bench. Severus still perched on the branch leaned forward, craning his neck to see better.
Then it happened. Without warning James leaned down towards Lily and kissed her on the lips. The pig! He was stealing a kiss, an unwanted one at that. Severus felt sick, his stomach turning over. He waited poised for Lily to attack, smack his face, punch his chest. She got to her feet and took a step towards him and... kissed him back.
Severus held his breath, his mind frozen as it whirred in his head, none responsive. What was happening? Lily hated James Potter he was certain of that... well he used to be.
The smile that ran across James' face filled Severus with a murderous intent. Maybe he could send a curse from here and get away without being seen. The opportunity passed however when after saying their goodbyes James Apparated again.
Lily sat back on the bench for a while watching the ducks bob along the water's surface before standing up and turning to leave. Serverus' mind was so occupied with ill thoughts of revenge and self pity that he didn't realise till it was too late that she was heading his way. He leapt from the branch desperately, landing awkwardly on the ground below. His knees sunk into the dirt, coating them in mud, he wiped his hand across his brow, unknowingly wiping more dirt across his face.
He made to run but froze when Lily's voice disturbed his moment of panic.
He closed his eyes in defeat and slowly turned round. He fixed her with a nonplussed look and held his hands behind his back. "Lily?" He tried to feign surprise but couldn't stop the involuntary hint of a smile trip onto his lips.
"What are you doing here?" She eyed him sceptically, noting the mud on his clothes.
"It's a public park Lily. Just taking a walk." He frowned at her, all the while James and Lily's kiss replayed in his mind.
"Severus what are you doing here?" She repeated, her tone stern.
"I just happened to be here and saw you and that idiot Potter that's all." He turned his face away from her hoping to hide his flushed cheeks.
"You were following us?" Lily asked the edge to her voice rising.
"I've better things to do with my time Lily than to be following you around Cokeworth."
"Do you always hang about in trees then?" She fixed him with an icy stare.
"I... no it's just..." he cursed his luck, she'd seen him. He desperately tried to find a decent explanation but saw no outcome.
"Why were you hanging out with Potter anyway? He's an imbecile."
It was Lily's turn to flush but she stared back at Severus defiant. "It's none of your business who I hang around with."
"It used to be." He snapped back at her.
"Was that before or after you called me a Mudblood?"
"Lily you know I didn't mean that I was just..."
"Yes you did Sev. You only have to take a look at the people you hang around with to know what you think about people like me." She retained her composure but something changed in her eyes when she said these words.
"Look. What would you have me do Lily? Remain alone for the rest of my time at school?"
"It's better than the alternative. Look at Avery, he makes my skin crawl. You do know he's the one who put Juliana Atkinson in the hospital wing last year with that vomiting jinx."
Severus shifted his eyes uncomfortably, he'd been there at the time and had done nothing to stop Avery from cursing her whilst her back was turned.
"Well she had just called him filthy pure blood scum at the time." He argued, leaving out the fact that Avery himself had sent her way a few choice derogatory names first.
"Ok Severus. Whatever you say."
"Well what about Potter and his lot then?" Severus could feel his hackles rising but did his best to keep his temper. This had been the longest conversation he had held with Lily Evans for two whole years and despite the topic he relished the chance.
"It's hardly the same." But it was Lily's turn to look awkward. "You lot have never gotten along."
"He's an arse."
"He WAS an arse. He's changed." She gave an involuntary smile.
"No he hasn't. He's just pretending when he's around you so that you'll date him."
"We're not dating." Lily replied looking flushed.
"So why are you kissing him then?"
Lily glared at Severus. "So you were spying on us."
"He hasn't changed Lily, not one bit. He is still the same arrogant, selfish, pompous little…"
"Oh just leave me alone Serverus!" She made to turn but then stopped and grabbed him by the collar, turning the side of his head to face her. "What's this?" She wiped a finger across the top of his hair line and produced it to his eyes, it was covered in blood.
He instinctively reached upwards and felt the cut. He guessed his father's thrown glass earlier hadn't been quite so off its intended target and that one of the shattered pieces had caught him. He'd been so angry he mustn't have felt it.
"It's nothing." He replied quickly, wiping what was left of the blood off with his sleeve.
"Is it him again?" She asked, a stern frown appearing on her face.
She was referring to his father. She was the only other person who shared his despise for the man. When they were younger she had heard tales of his father's firm hand on parenting and had witnessed it a few times over the years.
"It's nothing." He reiterated.
"It is not nothing Sev. He can't keep doing this." Her eyes held a fiery glimmer and a strange mix of fear and excitement swelled in Severus' chest.
"I can handle my father just fine." He wanted her concern, craved it in fact but his pride always liked to play the contrarian.
"You're not going to set your living room on fire again are you?" She asked finally breaking into a smirk.
Severus smiled in spite of himself. "You know I didn't mean to do that and I was ten at the time."
"Just don't go..."
"Why do you care Lily?" Severus snapped. As much as he enjoyed her attention for once he couldn't at present time forget the scene he'd just witnessed with her and James.
"You're right. I don't." She bit her lip and stared harshly back at him. She turned on foot and walked away down towards the park gates.
"I could report him you know... James. He shouldn't be Apparating without a license." He shouted to her weakly as a passing shot.
"Grow up Severus." She replied not turning to look at him.
She was right of course. He was acting like a child and he knew it. He cursed under his breath and kicked at the dirt beneath his feet.
He cast a withering look at the darkening sky before heading back home.
He stood on his doorstep listening to the raised voices inside. His mother had arrived home early, she ran an apothecary shop in Knockturn Alley called "Prince's Potions" a name Severus' father was not very fond of.
"I've reached the end of my tether Eileen I really have." His father was saying, he could make out the faint clink of a bottle filling a glass.
"Well how about what we discussed the other week. Severus can come work with me at the shop. Heaven knows I could use the help."
Severus turned his nose up and scowled towards the door.
"No. It's bad enough that he locks himself in his room during the holidays with that old rusty bucket of his. The foul odours that come out of that room, you have no idea. We need him to start bringing money INTO the house, not pay him to move around boxes with that wand of his."
"Well it was just an idea."
Severus pushed the door open and crept into the hallway. He slithered past the door to the living room and felt his heart sink as a voice emanated from it.
"Boy!" His father growled. "In here now."
Severus sighed and backtracked standing at the entrance to the room.
"Where have you been?" His mother asked, staring daggers at him from the writing desk she was sitting at. She was busy filling out the shop's ledger. The same thing she did every evening of every day. She looked tired, stray locks of long silvery grey hair hung across her face. Her small round silver spectacles perched on the end of her nose as she peered over them at him with her penetrating blue eyes. "I hope you haven't been following that Lily Potter around all day."
"I don't follow anyone." Severus mumbled crossing his arms.
"Good. Severus she's a lovely girl but we don't need you wasting your time running round after her instead of studying or helping out around the..."
"Mother. I said I haven't..."
"I saw her in Diagon Alley last week. She was with the most uncouth pair of hooligans you'll ever see."
"Quiet Eileen." Tobias barked, pushing himself up in his armchair. "You listen boy. I want you back in this house at 6 o'clock every day. It's time you learned some respect."
Severus could feel his collar heat up. He shifted his gaze to his mother who nodded in agreement with his father. She wouldn't dare do otherwise.
"We wouldn't want you to break another glass would we?" Severus let a grin cross his lips, he caught a glimpse of his fathers nettled brow and it grew wider. "Whatever would you drink from? The bottle I assume."
"That it!" Tobias made to get up but swayed unsteadily on his feet and slumped back into his seat.
Severus eyed him wearily. "Pathetic." He whispered to the room.
"Eileen will you please do something. Punish him. Put that magic to some good use for once."
"Tobias please." His mother requested softly. "Just let him go to his room. The more he studies the faster he can be out of this house for good." She looked at her husband then let her eyes flicker to Severus momentarily. She knew how to handle his father when he was drunk, which was most the time nowadays. Severus didn't know which he preferred, drunk and lazy or sober and abusive.
"Be quiet." He said again, his words slurred. "You." He pointed an unsteady finger at his son. "You are going to start earning your keep."
"I'm not working in mother's shop." Severus replied clenching his fists at his sides.
"Too right you're not. Stupid magic what a load of sh..."
"I'm going back to school next year wether you like it or not. So just go back to your bottle and carry on pretending I never existed." He slammed his hand onto the doorframe and walked away. He'd pushed his luck enough and ignored his father's half hearted cries of anger. He would pay for his words in the morning but right now he didn't care.
He stomped up the old wooden staircase to his bedroom, the dust lifting off the floorboards and filling his nose with the stale smell of neglect.
He slammed his door shut with a crash and kicked at the leg on his desk. He pulled out his old potions book from his robe pocket and threw it onto his bed, the unwashed, greying bedsheets unmade and untidy.
He wandered over towards the black cauldron that had been left simmering on his desk. He switched off the tiny burner underneath and gave the concoction three counter clockwise stirs. He mused over it for a while and finally decided to add an extra Tentacula leaf when he was interrupted by a knock on his window pane.
The grime on the glass prevented him from seeing who it was but guessed right when he open it to find his owl Confucius sat perched on the sill. She offered her leg which had a small letter attached to it. He never got post so took great interest as he ripped it open to read its contents.
Compartment number 7
Tell no one