Disclaimer: All characters and references to Harry Potter belong to J.K. Rowling who created the magical and wonderful world we fanfic writers all love to play in.Author: Raven
Author's Note: Please note that this is my first HP fanfic, but not my first fanfic. I've been writing and posting on this wonderful website for years but have only recently been bitten by my lovely HP muse. Before I start this long meander of a story, let me take a minute to thank the wonderful people who wrote the Harry Potter Lexicon website. Without it, this story couldn't have been possible.
Story Rating: R (violence, non-graphic rape, torture, drug use, swearing, no kiddie stuff)
Summary: Severus Snape's long journey from an abusive and horrific childhood to Hogwarts,Voldemort and finally, the Order. In other words, one persons long stumble through the darkness towards the light we all crave.
Author's Note: I think I have to confess now that I'm (gasp) not a HP fanatic, but really, a closet Trekkie, but I have tried my upmost best to be accurate and true to the HP world Rowling has created. As a Trekkie, I also apologize for bursting into the HP scene here and as a newbie, I ask that you please give the story a chance and don't flame me too badly.
'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.'
- Martin Luther King
Severus shoved a strand of his shoulder length hair behind his ear and fidgeted around on the stool he was standing on. He was bored.
Father had called him down to the cellar two hours ago for him to help with some potion experiments. Severus had excitedly stumbled down the iron stairs and down the dark hallway towards his Father's workshop. Potion experiments were always exciting. Severus loved watching his Father mixing various liquids around cauldrons, their beautiful colors shimmering beneath the damp darkness which cloaked the small room. But today was different. As soon as Severus had pushed open the heavy door to the workshop—after letting the shrieking Banshee which guarded the door smell his hand and let him pass—he had known something would be different.
The first thing he noticed was that the fires weren't burning beneath the cauldrons. The next thing he noticed was three stunned Muggles lying strapped to the tables where his father usually cut up rat tails and nettles.The last thing he noticed was that his Father's eyes were glowing that emerald green color.
Severus knew what that meant. It meant Father had taken some of that green powder he kept in small vials all around the house and had crushed it in his hands until green flames erupted from his palms. Then he'd swallow the flames and his eyes would glow like this. Severus didn't know the name of the green fire, nor did he understand why his Father used it so often. All his four year old mind knew was that he didn't like the effect the green fire had on his Father. Father was always angrier and had much less patience than when he hadn't swallowed the green flames.
His Father had barely glanced at him when he entered, but had only muttered that Severus should pull over a stool and watch him prepare 'the subjects'.
After two hours of watching his Father mixing various potions together and feeding them to the stunned, motionless Muggles, Severus was really getting bored. He thought it would be exciting. He had never before been allowed to watch his Father testing 'the subjects'. Whenever the Thestrals which ran around the courtyard of their manor would bring back Muggles from the nearby towns, his Father would get very excited and would disappear into the cellar for days, only emerging for meals and to get more of that emerald green powder Severus despised.
But now that he had spent two hours of watching the Muggles twitch slightly and their eyes flutter from time to time, he decided he really didn't understand why Father always got so excited when the Thestrals brought him Muggles. It certainly didn't seem so exciting.
Severus glanced at his Father, whose glowing green eyes were staring in concentration at the drops of a blue liquid he was dropping into one of the Muggles mouth. His Father wasn't paying a bit of attention to him so Severus felt quite safe in glancing around himself for something more entertaining to see.
He caught a small movement out of the corner of his eye and glanced into the darkened corner. He frowned and squinted until he could make out a small, hunched figure crouching in the darkness and shifting around from time to time. Severus didn't even need to see the elf's dirty pillowcase wrapped around him or his missing ear or the scar across one of his cheeks to recognize his favourite house-elf, Gorgon. The other house-elves called him Gorgy and the old elf called himself Gorgy, but Severus always thought the name was undignified, so he always called the elf Gorgon.
Severus shot him a tiny grin and was glad to see Gorgon grinning back at him. Because of the long scar cutting across one of his cheeks, the elf's smile always looked hideous and lopsided, especially considering the rotting or missing teeth filling his mouth, but Severus was too used to it to care.
How Gorgon had managed to sneak into the workshop was beyond him. He knew that elves had some powerful magic which wizards didn't have, but he still couldn't understand how the old elf had crept past the banshee outside the door without her screaming the house down.
He was just about to wave a tiny finger at Gorgon, when suddenly, a harsh, cold voice interupted his thoughts.
Severus jerked his head back around and grabbed the edge of the table to prevent himself from falling off his stool. He stared up at the angry, narrowed, glowing eyes of his Father, who was still holding a vial of clear blue fluid in his hands.
"Yes, sir?" he whispered, never managing to keep the fear out of his voice. He hated it when Father was angry. The end results were always painful and not fun at all.
"You weren't paying attention." The smooth, icy voice cut through the silence of the twitching Muggles on the table.
Severus gripped the edge of the table even harder. "Yes, I was, sir."
His Father glared at him. "In that case, what is the name of this blue liquid I have in my hands?"
Severus quickly glanced at the potion, desperately trying to remember its name. His Father had made him read a book about basic potions just a week ago and had tirelessly quizzed Severus on all of the potions names, characteristics and ingredients. He tried to remember which one was blue, but he couldn't think of a single one. He was about to point out that his Father had never taught him that one, but he knew this answer would only make his Father angrier.
Trembling slightly, he swallowed hard. "I don't know, sir."
His Father's eyes narrowed until Severus could barely see the green glow in them.
"How do you expect to learn anything if you don't pay attention to the simplest matters?"
Father's voice was silky and smooth now. Severus shuddered. He knew Father always got quieter when he got angrier.
"I-I don't quite know, sir." Severus whispered.
His Father slammed the vial onto the table so hard that the glass shattered and blue liquid splattered onto the table, the still twitching, stunned Muggles and Severus's black robe.
"And why are you whispering? How many times do I have to tell you I don't tolerate whispering? Whispering is a sign of weakness. Do we accept weakness in this house?"
Severus quickly shook his head. He knew the answer to that question. "No, sir." He made sure his voice was louder than before, even if it shook a little.
His Father was still glaring, his hands shaking as he absentmindly clenched broken shards of glass into his fist.
"And how many times do I have to tell you to pay attention? Otherwise, you'll remain the worthless, stupid little shit you are. Do we accept worthless, stupid shits in this house? Huh? Do we?"
Severus quickly shook his head again as his eyes widened and he took a step back. His back foot slipped off the stool and he stumbled but quickly stood back up. He had learned very quickly to always keep his chin up and look his Father directly into the eyes.
"No, sir, we don't."
His Father slammed the shards onto the table. "Of course we don't! We never have and never will. And to ensure that, what happens if someone is stupid or weak?"
A cold shudder ran down Severus's back. He knew the answer to this one too. His eyes widened and he could feel his lip trembling, but he bit down on it.
"They need to be punished and learn their lesson." He said, forcing his tiny voice above a whisper.
"That's right." His Father hissed at him before stepping around the table towards Severus. "I think a few hours in the dungeon will help you learn when to be stupid and weak and when not to be."
Severus took a step back from his father, hands trembling. Not the dungeon. Not again. He hated the dungeon. It was cold, dark and slimy. It terrified him.
His Father was walking towards him, hands shaking and a cold sneer on his face. Severus bit his lip as hard as he could to keep from crying. He could feel the tears in the corners of his eyes, but he knew that there was almost nothing Father despised more than crying.
His Father pulled his wand out of his robe and muttered something. Ropes sprang from the ends of the black wand and wound tightly around Severus's wrists. As they tightened, his Father jerked on his wand. As the tight rope cut into his tender wrists, Severus uttered small cry and fell to his knees.
His Father spun around and was about to start dragging him to the dungeon, when suddenly, something came running out of the darkness and threw itself at his Father's feet.
Severus quickly blinked his tears back and bit his shaking lip as he glanced around his Father's feet to see who was brave enough to stand in the way of Seranius Snape dealing out proper punishment.
He immediately recognized the filthy yellow pillow case and the missing ear. It was Gorgon.
"Get the hell out of my way, you filthy swine." His Father hissed down at the elf.
Gorgon glanced up. "Please, master, please no punish young master again. Not young masters fault that he no pay attention. Was all Gorgy's fault, master. All Gorgy's fault. Gorgy being bad elf and distracting young master from important work—"
"Shut your filthy mouth elf! When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it!"
Gorgon glanced at the still shaking four year old cowering behind the tall figure of his master and tried one more time. He reached over and grabbed a handful of his master's robes.
"Please, master! No punish young master! Punish Gorgy. All Gorgy's fault sir."
Severus glanced up at his Father, but could see from the set of his jaw and the narrowed slits of his glowing eyes that he wasn't changing his mind. Father rarely changed his mind. But Severus was always amazed at Gorgon's willingness to throw himself into the line of fire for his young master.
Without a word, his Father lifted one of his feet and kicked the old elf so hard that Severus heard two of his ribs crack. Gorgon flew across the room and collided with a rack of empty vials, flew over a cauldron and finally hit the wall where Father kept the pinned up heads of his most successful 'subjects' after they had died.
A small cry escaped Severus's lips when he saw Gorgon's still form lying in a crumbled heap. His Father spun around and glared down at him, and Severus quickly bit his lip.
His Father glanced at the elf one last time. "Unless you piece of filth can learn when to keep your mouth shut and when not to, it won't be your ear I'll rip off next time, elf, I promise you that." He snarled, before spinning around and jerking on his wind.
Severus was jerked forward and skid along the floor, the hard stone tiles digging through his thin robe. He tried to stand up, but his Father's long strides made it impossible. He was dragged through the workshop's door and down the dimly lit, cold hallway towards the metal door at the end. Digging through his robe's pockets, his Father pulled out a small, silver key and unlocked the door. Throwing it open with a creaky whine, he jerked his wand and Severus flew into the tiny, dark room, landing against the far wall with a painful thud. His Father muttered something else and the ropes untied from his hands and flew back into the wand they had come from. Without another word, his Father waved his wand and the door flew shut, leaving Severus alone in the darkness.
He heard the door being locked and then the swift steps of his Father going back into his workshop and slamming the heavy door behind him.
Severus couldn't see a thing in the darkness. He slowly edged along the wall until he sat in the corner furthest from the door. He knew the room well enough to know that there wasn't anything in it. He had sat in here for enough hours in his short life to have explored it in exhausting detail. He knew there were exactly 25 tiles on the floor, five rows of five. He also knew that the third tile in the second row could be lifted off the floor and that underneath it, Gorgon had dug a small hole and hidden a small bowl, in case Severus had to go to the bathroom while he was locked in.
He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, shivering in the damp coldness of the dungeon. The tiles felt like ice and bit into his skin through his thin robe.
Leaning his head against the wall, he tried to think of something to do. Sometimes he'd only be locked in for a few hours, but sometimes, when Father had had too much of the green fire, Father would forget about him for a few days. Then Severus would quickly get bored.
He'd run over potion ingredients he knew, what potions they could be used for and what possible effects the potions could have. Then he recited lists of basic charms and curses he had read about in the books his Father kept in the library. As a last resort, he'd recite the 27 generations of pure blood wizards and witches who made up the extensive Snape family tree. He'd done this so many times, he could even match every persons name with their portrait hanging in the main hallway.
He sat quietly, not moving and not speaking, letting his mind take him far away from the damp darkness of the dungeon and the fear which still clutched him.
He was just in the process of chewing his lip and frowning in frustration as he tried to remember whether Scarab beetles had to be boiled before being crushed or used raw, when a flash of light lit up the darkness.
Severus jerked his hand up to his eyes and turned away, the bright light stinging his eyes. Fading as soon as it had come, the light disappeared. Severus blinked a few times, trying to let his eyes adjust back to the darkness they had become accustomed to. It was then that he noticed the small, hunched figure crouching next to him.
"Gorgy very sorry, young master. Tried to come earlier, but had to fix ribs first. Were broken." Gorgon threw his hands up and shrugged as if he couldn't understand how that could have possibly happened.
Severus chuckled and relaxed a bit. He wasn't alone anymore.
"I was beginning to think I would have to sit here and recite potion ingredients and charms all by myself."
Gorgon shook his head so vigorously that his wrinkled ear flapped around his head.
"Of course not, young master. Gorgy always here for young master. Just sometimes, takes a little while to apparate. Hard to do with broken ribs."
As he talked, the elf reached behind him and pulled over a small bundle he had apparated with him. Opening it, he pulled out a sandwich and handed it to Severus. Then he shot Severus that mischievous, lop sided grin and waggled his eyebrows.
Severus frowned at him as he unwrapped the sandwich. "What? What are you so excited about?"
The elf waggled his eyebrows again before reaching back into the bundle and pulling out a large, leather bound book. "Brought young master a present to read. Gorgy thought might be more interesting than reciting long list of masters and mistresses."
Severus's eyes lit up and he grabbed the book from Gorgon's grasp. He smoothed a hand over the soft leather cover, his eyes shining with excitement.
"Mischievous Curses and Pranks."
Gorgon nodded, equally excited. "That one was book young master and Gorgy not read yet, so Gorgy thought now would be good time."
Severus had already opened the book and was leafing through it, having forgotten about the sandwich. His eyes were still shining.
"Oh, Gorgon, I wish I had a wand already! I can't wait to try all these things." He sighed.
Gorgon nodded patiently. "Gorgy knows, young master. But young master must be patient. Master said young master would get wand when five years old. Not too much time to wait still. Young master must wait little bit longer."
Severus scowled. "Waiting is boring and tedious."
Gorgon chuckled. "Waiting is art young master not learned yet."
Severus stuck his tongue out at the old elf, before turning his attention back to the book. He turned another page over and eagerly skimmed the page. As he was about to turn another page over, the paper scrapped the sensitive, bleeding skin of his wrists. Severus let out an involuntary hiss.
Gorgon dropped the blanket he was unfolding from the bundle and quickly scurried to Severus's side.
"Where does it hurt, young master?"
Severus waved him off. "It's nothing. It doesn't matter."
"Matters if it hurts. Young master show Gorgy where it hurt. Gorgy will fix."
Scowling, Severus held up his wrists. The old elf reached into his pillow case dress and pulled out a thin, crooked wand. He shook it a few times.
"Lumos." He whispered at it. The wand shuddered weakly and let out a tiny flicker of light before dying. Gorgon scowled and vigorously rubbed the tip of the wand between his fingers.
"Lumos." He tried again. The end of the wand lit up in a bright flare. Severus blinked from the brightness before hunching over and joining the elf in staring at his cut wrists. They looked a lot worse than they felt. The skin was purple and swollen and the thin, crimson cuts across them were trickling of blood.
Gorgon shook his head and tutted to himself before extinguishing his wand and muttering a healing spell. Severus felt a small warmth prickling his skin. He knew that that wasn't what it was supposed to feel like.
Gorgon scowled at his wand and shook it a few times before rubbing the tip again and trying again.This time, Severus felt a sudden, warm glow spreading over his wrists and absorb into his sore, cut skin. When Gorgon muttered "Lumos" one more time, Severus could see the spell working. The cuts were closing, the swelling was vanishing and the purple color of his skin returned to normal.
Severus smiled gratefully at the elf, who was turning his wrists around, checking to make sure it had worked efficiently.
"Thank you, Gorgon."
Gorgon waved the gratitude away. "Young master not need to thank Gorgy."
Severus smiled and thought about how lucky he was to have such a good friend. A friend who could apparate into the darkest, coldest places with food and books and who could fix your hurts with just a small, muttered spell.
He frowned, suddenly having thought of something. "Gorgon?"
The elf looked up from where he was unfolding the blanket for Severus to sit on. "Yes, young master?"
Severus shuffled over and sat onto the warm blanket, feeling the warmth seep through his robe. He glanced at the elf, who was busy unwrapping Severus's sandwich and placing it beside him and folding the empty blanket he had brought everything in.
"First of all, come here and sit on the blanket. Your feet will get cold. Second of all, why do you have a wand? None of the other house-elves have one. I thought elves didn't need wands. You have your own magic."
Gorgon shuffled over and sat down beside his young charge. "Very true, young master. Elves have own magic, very powerful magic. Can apparate where we want, can levitate objects, can do lots of things, but elves not able to do healing spells. So one day, Gorgy goes to mistress when she summons Gorgy and she gives Gorgy wand and says she found it and Gorgy should use to it and learn healing spells to help young master, so that's what Gorgy did."
Severus nodded. That would make sense. His mother never spoke much to anyone. She always looked dazed and confused and very sleepy, but in the few moments that she seemed a bit more alive, she always called Gorgon to her and gave him strange instructions. She had been the one to tell him to apparate into the dungeon when Severus got locked in and bring him food. The books and the bowl beneath the tile had been Gorgon's own ideas. It made sense that she would be the one to give the old elf a barely functioning wand and tell him to learn healing spells.
Satisfied with that answer, Severus took the sandwich from Gorgon and split it in half, handing half of it to Gorgon. As they both sat there, munching on it, Severus pulled the book onto his lap and slid it over so the elf beside him could see the drawings too.
Clearing his throat and wiping crumbs off the fragile old paper, Severus slowly started sounding out the words and reading. Soon, the four year old boy failed to be sitting in a cold dungeon on a blanket beside an aging, disfigured elf, but he was lost in a wonderful world of magic, spells and power.
Gorgon smiled when he saw the far away look in his young master's eyes as he carefully read through another page.