Title: Finding Severus
Authoress: Ladya C. Maxine
Summary: see chapter one
Warnings: see chapter one
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters. Any and all unrecognizable characters belong solely to me and are not to be touched. I am not making any money off of this and I write with the sole intention to entertain.
A/N: A few e-mails asked for the names of the Slytherin Quidditch team since it tends to get confusing. The players are: Lexington "Lex" Wheeler (captain/chaser); Thomas Koost and Monty Redtown (chasers); Sean Ubernauch and Fritz Desras (beaters); Shirley Sletschky (keeper); and, of course, Lucius Malfoy (seeker).
Wow, it's been a while. I'm focussing on my anime fics but I suddenly got the urge to update this one.
"All right then. Grip your Mandrakes--Redtown, stop jabbing it! As I was saying, grip them tightly by the roots and on my count, pull them out of the pot and put them into the bigger one and quickly cover them with dirt. We don't want them catching a cold now, do we? Redtown, this is your final warning! Put those down!"
Everyone snickered as the Slytherin boy dropped the pruning sheers he had been using to poke holes into his mandrake's leaves, much to the plump creature's irritation. Ruffling her coat, her round face red from the cold as well as frustration, Madam Sprout returned her attention to the rest of the class.
Obediently, all hands took a hold of their quivering specimen, ear-muffs in place to protect them from the shattering squeals that were soon to erupt once the plant-creatures had been tugged from their precious earth.
Severus, at the front of long table, waited as the pudgy teacher bustled around the class one last time, making sure that everyone was holding the leaves right, since they tore easily. Taking the time, he nervously looked down the line. This year Slytherin and Ravenclaw shared Herbology classes, which suited him just fine since Hufflepuffs tended to be too weak-hearted and the Gryffindors would mean being stuck in a confined space with many sharp objects and his two arch enemies, Potter and Black.
Quite a number of students had decided to continue Herbology, despite a rather traumatic year last year in which they had been put in charge of a batch rather vicious, and large, snapping plants from some tropical land. Thankfully, they were now covering the basics once more to prepare for their OWL's.
Looking back past the other Slytherins, he had no trouble finding the gold-platinum head as Lucius was the only blond in the class. Actually, he was the only full blond in the entire house. Currently, he was studying the leaves in his gloved hand with mild interest, seemingly listening to Lex who was talking about something (no doubt Quidditch) though the blond only nodded every now and then, bright eyes focused on something invisible between him and the potted weed. However, the eyes raised when he felt the stare.
Severus froze, unsure what to do. Look away? Smile? A little wave? A casual nod? Anything?
Lucius decided for him and turned away once more without a single gesture, eyes now even darker than before.
Feeling sick to his stomach, Severus sighed, looking down with a defeated expression.
"All right now. Everyone seems to have gotten the idea," Madam Sprout nodded, waddling back to the front of the class. "Grips firm and on three! One…Two…Three!"
The glass walls behind them almost shattered when forty students yanked free their mandrakes, which released a chorused ruckus of shrieks, squeals and whines, trashing about with their stumpy limbs, trying to scratch their aggressors with small claws. Two thuds revealed that a couple of students had neglected to put on their earmuffs correctly.
"Just leave them," Madam Sprout waved off when others went to help their fallen friends though she hurried over to pick up the now unconscious students' mandrakes and expertly buried them. "Now put them in their new pots. Quickly now! Make sure that they are right in the center and that no limbs are in a painful position. Redtown, give me those sheers!"
Not looking up as the short woman went over to wrestle said sheers from the tall Quidditch player's hands, Severus scooped several handful of dirt into the pot, patting it down around the creature, carefully pulling back every now and then as it nipped, or tried to anyways, at his hand. Herbology, besides Potions, was his favorite subject, but today his heart and mind wasn't really up for it.
The entire weekend, and most of this week, had been spent alone. Not that he was unused to that but…It could have been different. Instead of sitting by himself in the room all day he could have been with a certain blond who was now ignoring him. And since Lucius was ignoring him, everyone else was too. Except for Potter and Black, but that wasn't something he'd consider an honor. The only time he saw Lucius was when it came time to go to bed. That was the worst. He had tried starting a conversation with his roommate the first night after his outburst but Lucius had answered either with one or two words, or hadn't answered at all. He gave up and instead would pretend to be reading whenever the blond was in the room.
'It's my own fault. My own stupid mistake. Lucius has all rights to be angry at me. But…I don't know why I said that. Actually, I do, but I didn't mean that he was a snob or anything. We're just too…different. Even he must see that, right?'
Whatever Lucius' thoughts were on the incident, the blond was not sharing any of them with him. He would return Severus' stares with an impassive one and most of the time he'd break off the staring first. He didn't greet the pale boy when they passed each other in the hall. They no longer sat next to each other in class; Lucius now sat either alone or with the Quidditch players though sometimes one of the braver girls would saddle up next to him. Dinner time was also spent alone. No, he hadn't been booted to the end of the table by the Quidditch team; he still sat in the same place, but none of the players were speaking to him. He doubted anyone knew what had happened as he certainly hadn't told anyone and Lucius didn't seem the type to tattle, but even a blind troll would have noticed the sudden tension between them. He had heard students asking Lucius about it but the blond would merely walk off or tell them that it was nothing. Still, everyone in the school knew by now that the unlikely duo had split.
Everyone, including the pests of Gryffindor.
His wrist, which bones had to be re-grown two days ago, had been payback for…well, he couldn't keep track of what he had done to bless himself with the Marauders' wrath, but Potter and Black had cornered him in an empty class room and hadn't let him out until he had been sporting a bloody nose (again) and a badly mangled wrist. He was now also in need of some new robes and a proper satchel. Of course, the two assailants had been punished by the school, but that only gave them another reason to get back at him in the near future. It was an endless cycle.
So basically, he was right back where he started. Correction, he was even worse off. Because he had had a taste of friendship and now he sorely missed it.
Pouring the final handful of dirt in the pot just as the bell rang, Severus patted it down firmly though his eyes wandered behind dark bangs to where Lucius, having long finished replanting the mandrake, was now collecting his bag as Lex and Monty continued to discuss new strategies (one including an sudden-gravity hex on the Gryffindors beaters), but Lucius was still not an active participant, even as he followed his team mates out of the green house. This left Severus by himself as everyone else had filed out too.
"Snape, are you alright?"
He jumped, having forgotten about the teacher, who was currently replanting Monty's mandrake, which he had buried upside down, with a frown on her face.
"I'm fine," he answered, removing his gloves.
"You were awfully quiet in class today. Not that you ever disrupt the class or anything, but you didn't even raise a hand or answered a single question I asked."
"I'm a bit behind on my work."
She gave him a highly doubting look.
"In all the years I've known you I have never experienced you lagging behind. If you don't want to talk about it to me than you should at least go to Headmaster Dumbledore. The staff is very concerned for you, you know. I'm not the only one who has noticed your strange behavior."
"I won't fall behind again," he promised, slinging his temporary satchel (an old one he had managed to conjure up from home) over his shoulder.
"We are not worried about your work!" she snapped rather harshly, putting her hands on her hips. "You know what I am talking about. We don't want you to do anything to yourself like last time. There isn't anything wrong at home, is there?"
This conversation had strayed into hated territory.
"No, and I would rather we don't continue carrying on this conversation, Madam Sprout."
Sighing, she shook her head, graying ringlets bouncing around her face.
"Just talk to Dumbledore, Snape. If it hadn't been for him you wouldn't be standing here. I'm sure he can help you this time as well."
"Perhaps. Good afternoon, Madam Sprout."
"I'll see you on Thursday," she answered, watching him as he left, a worried look on her round face. 'Sweet Merlin, please don't let it be like last time…'
Just to make sure, she left a short note on the door informing the next class to wait for her and quickly made her way towards the castle.
The knock made him raise his head from where he had been pouring over his Astrology book. Frowning as he could not begin to fathom as to who it could be, he bid them enter nonetheless though he quickly scrambled to his feet when the tall form that stepped in turned out to be none other than the headmaster himself.
"Sir," he nodded respectfully, though warily.
"Good evening, Severus," Dumbledore smiled, looking around the room. "My my my, we should start having inter-house competitions for the neatest rooms! This is one is a sure winner. I only wished some of your fellow Slytherins would see the importance, and health benefits, of a room with no food remains strewn about."
Unable to not smile back at the old wizards' beam, he nodded though remained edgy. He had a strong suspicion as to why the headmaster was here, though. That was the last time he'd ever linger behind in Herbology.
"Did Madam Sprout asked you to speak to me, sir?" he asked softly.
"Why yes. And, coincidentally, I heard that you had been advised to speak to me too. However, since you weren't in the dinner hall I decided that perhaps it was best that I take the initiative and come to you."
Speaking of which, dinner couldn't be over yet; it was too early. Did that mean that the headmaster had left his meal just to search him out?
"I'm terribly sorry for keeping you away from your dinner, sir," he apologized, lowering his head. "Please don't skip your meal on my account."
"Oh tut tut," the ancient wizard waved off, taking a seat on an empty bed. "Besides, this is but one meal. If I recall correctly, I haven't seen you eat dinner for the past three days. You're not stealing food from the house elves during the night, are you?"
"No, sir!" he gasped, shaking his head frantically before calming down. "I mean, I would never do that. I suppose that…maybe I'm just coming down with something."
"You were in the infirmary a couple of days ago. Madam Pickle would have detected it." Those deep eyes peered at him from behind half-moon spectacles and the older wizard adopted a more serious expression. "Severus, is something wrong?"
Whereas he had been able to easily lie to Madam Sprout, though he disliked lying to teachers, he always found himself incapable of telling so much as a fib to the headmaster. Dumbledore had a way of making people tell the truth. Perhaps it was all a subtle spell, but Severus believed that it had more to do with the wise professor's reliable nature. Dumbledore never, ever judged others blindly.
"Is it your father?" Dumbledore continued when he didn't say anything.
Again he shook his head, eyes wide.
"I didn't think so. You haven't written to home since the start of the year, though I do encourage to at least write to your mother to let her know how you're getting along."
"Father will only read it first; he never lets her read any of her letters without his approval," he said, slumping back down on his bed. "But there's nothing going on at home that is bothering me."
"So it's this school?"
"Could it, by any chance, have something to do with Lucius Malfoy?"
The topic was bound to have come up some time or the other.
"Could it also have something to do with the fact that the both of you seem to be somewhat distant?"
Dumbledore said nothing and merely sat, hands resting comfortably on his robed lap, clear eyes focused on the boy on the opposite side of the room.
"I…said something to him last week," he began. "I really regret it now, and looking back my words were rather heartless and untrue. Lucius is very angry about it and now he doesn't even want to look at me. And I don't know what to do about it."
"Why would you want to do something about it?" was the wise question.
"Because…he's my friend. At least, he thought he was. I ruined it."
"What did you tell him?"
"He had just been chosen as the new seeker and…I thought that he'd want to spend more time with the team so I left. He asked me about it later in here and I basically said that we couldn't be friends because he was like them now."
"Like them now?" Dumbledore repeated, brow wrinkled in confusion.
Scuffing his feet on the floor, he muttered something too soft for the wizard to hear.
"Popular," he repeated louder. "I told him that he was just like them, the popular kids; that he belonged with that group."
Dumbledore sighed, pushing his glasses higher up his long nose.
"That explains it."
"I know that you would not tell another soul, but I cannot tell you about Lucius or his past. However, what I can tell you is that what you said has most likely greatly upset, not angered, him."
"Sir…I know a bit about him."
"Oh?" a bushy brow rose.
"I've heard from Ar-…a reliable source that Lucius transferred to Hogwarts because there had been a serious problem at his old school; so serious, in fact, that the Ministry of Magic had to cover it up. Is this true?"
Looking over his glasses for a moment, Dumbledore sighed.
"And who did you hear this from?" he asked.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I won't snitch."
That brought a small smile to the elder wizard's face.
"I know you won't."
They sat in silence for a while.
"I liked having him as a friend. Just having someone to talk to about the most insignificant things. I never knew how lonesome it was before meeting him. I…I do…"
"Unfortunately there is not a spell nor potion that can give you true friendship. That, my dear Severus, must come from within. You truly do regret your actions and you didn't mean to offend Lucius, I'm sure."
The door opened slightly further as Vanima's dark form slinked in, trotting with her tail held proudly high. Jumping onto the bed next to the headmaster, she rubbed her head against his arm, purring loudly. He indulged her and scratched her behind her ear. Not long after the door was pushed fully open and Lucius himself entered, leafing through a book though he stopped when he noticed the surprise guest.
"Headmaster," he nodded respectfully, not acknowledging Severus. "You were missed in the dining room for the rest of the meal."
"I was only having a healthy chat with Severus," he answered, getting to his feet. He popped his back with a grunt. "These old bones do not have a liking for those damnable stairs anymore, though. I do believe it's time to install those elevators contraptions that muggles are so fond of."
By then the two students had made eye contact. Lucius looked away again, his book held against his chest as he stared at the far wall. An uncomfortable silence settle between them all. Dumbledore looked at him and with a subtle tilt of his head he nodded towards the blond. Severus wanted to shake his head and go back to reading but the ancient wizard gave him a sterner look. With much trepidation, he cleared his throat.
The aqua-hued eyes glanced aloofly askance.
He shrunk back at the icy tone.
Dumbledore, however, smiled.
"I see you two wish to discus something so I'll be on my way now. Do not stay up too late. Pleasant dreams."
Not waiting for their farewells, he ruffled Vanima's fur, much to her displeasure, and walked out the room, closing the door behind him. Again, the stifling silence prevailed. Him sitting on his bed, uncertainly looking over to Lucius who was staring resolutely ahead once more.
"What is it that the headmaster implied you wanted to tell me?" Lucius finally said when another full minute had passed.
His confidence wavered. Lucius was truly angry with him. Or upset. Or both. Words had done the damage, yet now they didn't seem sufficient to repair it.
He was spared by a ticking sound on the window above his bed. An owl sat outside. It was a dirty ash-grey with cloudy yellow eyes. Staring at it, Severus swallowed as he recognized it at once. It belonged to his family, but only one individual used it, forbidding others to send any messages or letters without his permission and approval. The creature pecked at the glass again, now getting fed up with being kept waiting. Just like its owner…
Lucius, seeing that he was now preoccupied, merely walked over to his bed and began going through his bag, collecting his homework which he would take downstairs to make in the common room.
Getting to his knees, Severus reached up and opened the window. At once the owl flew inside, circling the entire room before perching itself on the foot post of his bed, its dangerously long talons scraping the fine wood. It squawked a deep, threatening squawk and held out a heavy leg, the note attached to it held in place by coarse rope. When he didn't remove it at once the owl shrieked again, waving its leg, the sharp beak snapping in warning. Compelled to act before the beast became too irate, he unenthusiastically removed the letter, wincing when he noticed exactly what type of letter he held in his hands. The owl, having done its task, flew past him, almost slicing him with its claws, and out the window, returning to its place of origin as it had been strictly trained to do.
Turning the letter over in his hands nervously, he didn't open it. A howler was something that was best opened when alone, though somehow the vile things always seemed to find their way into their intendeds' hands in the company of a large group, or one former friend, as was the case. He didn't want to risk leaving it unopened; the outcome would be disastrous, as he found out the first time. He had hoped to get a chance to talk to Lucius but now he wanted nothing more than the blond to leave the room so that he may deal with this letter. Lucius, however, was searching through his trunk for something, smooth brow furrowed as the item kept on eluding him.
In his hand, Severus felt the letter begin to tremble. He could practically feel the rage from its contents seeping out of it. Praying to himself, he kept watching the blond, waiting for the other to leave. Now searching his satchel once more, muttering to himself, his room mate didn't notice his staring. He winced when the edge of the envelope cut his fingers as it grew more and more aggressive. This was going to be a very unpleasant scolding. Dumbledore was right; he should have written home earlier. Now he was angry.
Finally, Lucius found his missing ink pot and stuffing it in his satchel he stood and strode out the room, clicking softly to Vanima who accordingly followed. Not a single word or look. Just walked by and closed the door shut behind him. Severus couldn't stop himself from sighing. Now to open the howler and get it over with. It took him several tries to get the seal of the envelope open as the letter was now angrily fluttering about in his hands, but the moment he succeeded it leapt up into the air, floating before him as it took on the resemblance of a sneering mouth.
"I WILL NOT TOLERATE SUCH REBELLIOUS BEHAVIOR, BOY! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO WRITE ME THE MOMENT YOU ARRIVED AND HERE A WEEK HAS GONE BY WITHOUT A SINGLE WORD! DO I HAVE TO COME TO HOGWARTS AND REMIND YOU HOW MUCH I DISLIKE SUCH ATTITUDE? ONE MORE STUNT, SEVERUS, ONE MORE SIGN OF DISOBEDIENCE AND YOU WILL BE COMING STRAIGHT HOME WHERE I WILL BEAT LOYALTY BACK IN TO YOU! DO YOU HEAR ME? IGNORE MY ORDERS AGAIN AND I WILL WHIP YOU TILL YOU'RE BLOODY AND UNABLE TO MOVE! THAT'S A PROMISE!"
He jumped when the raging letter then incinerated into ashes, fluttering harmlessly down onto his sheets. Breathing heavily, he stared at it for a moment before swatting the debris away with shaking hands, the threat still ringing in his ears. That voice…He could see his father standing there, thin lips snarling as he shouted and cursed, threatening to teach him a lesson each and every time he did something to displease him. A threat that was always carried out, either by a belt, crop or hex.
Pewter, having been awoken by the howler from where he had been asleep on a book on the bed, waddles over, tasting the remnants of burnt parchment with his tongue. It stung him and with a gagging croak he tried to wipe it off his flesh. Severus picked him up and using the sleeve of his robe to try and remove as much of the searing ash as possible, he stared at his trembling fingers.
He had assured both Madam Sprout and Professor Dumbledore that everything was alright back home. That he was only concerned about his fall out with Lucius. Now…he was scared.
His father was angry.
A/N: It was briefly mentioned in book 5 that Harry saw Snape and a woman cowering in a corner from a man in Snape's memories. It was never officially stated, but I do believe that that was a reflection of Snape's childhood and that the shouting man was indeed Snape's father. So I've decided to build on that in this fic.
Read & Review, please.