Prolog: Daddy's Little Wizard
The six-year-old boy flew in awkward zig-zags on his broom perhaps a meter from the ground. Occasionally he'd tilt at a hard angle either to left or right and the dark haired hook nosed man hoovering watchfully at his side would steady him.
"That's my little wizard," Tobias Snape bragged with a proud chuckle as Severus rose to shoulder height without the broom tipping at all.
"Don't go too high, Severus," Eileen called as she leaned fretfully out of the parlor's small window to watch her son's latest flying exercise. "We shouldn't even be allowing him to fly so young," she added half to herself.
"They excel if they start young," Tobias reminded her for the third or perhaps the thirtieth time. "That goes for Muggles and Wizards alike."
"But a Mum will worry," Eileen reminded right back, also for the third or thirtieth time and Tobias chuckled.
"What if he falls," Eileen worried as Severus rose to just above Tobias's head.
"He won't, and if he does I'll catch him. Strong arms don't require magic, as you know."
Eileen's lips twitched. "Don't I know it."
Tobias grinned at his wife's playful tone, and Severus peered over at his Mum. "Look how high I got, Mummy," he ordered.
"Yes, Baby, you're doing very well. Just don't go higher until you can remain entirely steady for the entire flight. Now it's time for you to come down... And don't forget to land slowly or you'll break a bone."
Tobias rolled his eyes and Severus grinned.
"Yes, Mum," he sighed, and began to descend almost as slowly as Eileen would've preferred.
The very next morning, Severus was ready to fly again, but Eileen woke with a dreadful stomach bug and she asked Tobias to go to the potions shop in Knockturn Alley for a belly tonic. He promised to be back within the hour and set off.
Severus passed the time playing with Muggle building blocks that Tobias had given him for his last birthday. The elder Snape believed magical toys were fine, but that a child also required the mental focus that nonmagical toys provided. Severus sat on the floor of the parlor, carefully building a castle, his mind on the upcoming broom ride he planned to take as soon as his father was back to watch him.
When the door finally burst open, it wasn't Tobias Snape who rushed through it, though. It was Eileen's best friend Jean, and she was screaming. Severus sat still in the middle of the floor, building blocks forgotten as his young obsidian eyes rounded in terror.
Perhaps if Jean weren't so terrified herself she would've handled the situation better. Perhaps then she wouldn't have screamed her dreadful news out in front of a six-year-old child. She was terrified, though, and as such not thinking at all.
"EILEEN! HE'S DEAD... TOBIAS IS KILLED... HE DID IT... IT WAS VOLDEMORT! HE SAID NO MUGGLE HAD THE RIGHT TO SET FOOT IN A WIZARDING SHOP AND HE JUST...JUST STRUCK HIM DOWN! GODS EILEEN HE'S DEAD!"
Severus felt his entire body running with sudden hot and cold chills as his ears rang with shock. Jean crumpled to the floor beside the open door of Eileen and Tobias's bedroom, sobbing in terror. There was no sound from the darkened room where Eileen lay in bed with a stomach bug. Not until she began to scream. Severus curled into a ball beside his half finished castle of blocks and began to sob.
"Daddy! Daddy!" Even as he sobbed the name, he knew his father was never coming home. He also knew that Voldemort had done this, and silently vowed to make him pay. Over the years, this vow as well as the need to fulfill it would only grow stronger.
Though Jean was certain that Lord Voldemort hadn't bothered to find out who Tobias Snape was, Eileen still feared for the safety of herself and her young son. As such she made one of the greatest sacrifices a mother can. She put her child first and did that which she most did not want to do. She crawled back home to her father who had disowned her for marrying a Muggle. Old man Prince made no secret of his dislike for Severus for being a half blood. More than once, he'd look down his nose at Severus and claim, "He'll be no Prince, that one."
Severus hated him at first sight. He'd never met his grandfather due to the fact he'd disowned Eileen for marrying Tobias Snape before Severus was even born. Anyone who disliked his father, wasn't ever going to be someone Severus cared to impress.
Every time old man Prince claimed that Severus would be no prince, Eileen would retaliate by proudly informing her son that he was her precious little Half Blood Prince, which made him all the more special. In spite of his grandfather's constant belittling efforts, Severus grew up with a high opinion of himself. In part because of his grandfather's near constant fighting with his mother, his opinion of others wasn't quite so high.