Characters not mine, I just like to play.
Written for a fic-challenge in a Livejournal community called 30minutefics where a picture was our guide to inspiration. Link:
I believe the "there is a moment when you find out..." might be a quote from Borges, but I can't be more precise than that. I read a lot, I remember and I rephrase. That's life.
Welcome to the dollhouse
Sixteen-year-old Severus is the best in his year at Transfiguration. He finds the tasks simple, intriguing, challenging. He likes the concept of change, thinks it soothing. Tea kettles morphing into beautiful flowers, breaking the limits of reality at it, just as the base little bug can become a silvery ferret if aided by the correct spell.
If aided by the correct Dark Arts, he knows, one can accomplish so much more.
Sixteen-year-old Severus is at war with reality. He finds himself flat on the floor, in the mud, face locked down the toilet seats. He has learned to appear unconcerned, it makes it less painful. Not yet mastered control over himself though, he still walks like a twitchy dog expecting to be beaten by its owner, or thrown into the ice-cold Hogwarts lake as someone tells them he can't swim.
Sometimes there is a moment, an important moment. The moment in which you find out, once and for all, who you are.
That moment comes, long overdue, and Severus knows.
A human life is beyond price, someone says to him later, when he has returned to Hogwarts and spends all his time down in the dungeons, abusing sleeping draughts. Severus' own life, as he remembers it, is worth approximately thirty house-points and a week's detention.
The Potters are Hogwarts chief donators; the Blacks are infamous for their strained internal relationship that leaves their son to be pitied. The Snapes aren't famous for anything except having lost most of their money post-Grindelwald, to fines for dark arts. Accordingly James is rewarded, Sirius told to be more careful and Severus is ordered not to mouth a word of what he just witnessed if he wants to keep his place at Hogwarts.
Black sneers at him, triumphantly. "Thirty points, Snivellus. Isn't it sad?"
Sixteen-year-old Severus has a dollhouse. No, it's not an ordinary dollhouse. It's not even a house, per se.
He has a glass-box, enchanted by way of tomes he finds in the Restricted Section when everyone else is at the Quidditch games. Inside it he keeps miniature people, actually quite realistic in their appearances. He has worked hard. The miniature-James even has the ruffled hair-style. After the Shrieking Shack he decides that miniature-Remus shall be forever the werewolf, hiding in the miniature-forest. It's mostly Remus who kills the others. Sharp teeth in the necks of miniature-Sirius and James, scraps of flesh snowing over the winter landscape before real-size-Severus smashes the tiny werewolf to pulp with his fist. In other scenarios, he lets miniature-James suffer the longest, invents curses to watch him fall to his knees and scream. In any event, they all die.
Sixteen-year-old Severus knows this is the game he has to play. He must pick them off one by one.
Eighteen-year-old Severus falls to his knees and screams. There is a sign on his skin and a real-life-sized glass-box in which he traps real-life-people. Behind every shadow there is a new horror.
Thirty-nine-year old Severus thinks he has forgotten the glass-box until a little ruffle-haired brat with eyes from the past reminds him of it. Severus thinks he will kill the boy. He thinks the anger he produces will be enough for him to ignore lines and limits and beat the kid to nothingness with his fists. It astounds him that he can let Potter go.
His adult life consists of handshakes and moderation, classes to tutor and polite conversations over teacups accomplishing nothing. It consists of the scars of mistakes made and his self-respect that bled to death, blended with the knowledge that this, too, shall pass.
When he once again acknowledges his glass-box, he finds that it's Dumbledore who dies first. Slowly, but still first. Because Severus finds that forgiveness is by far the worst part for someone who can't forgive anyone for anything. Dumbledore cries as he goes. Thirty-nine-years old Severus carefully places a small dark-haired boy among the snow in his box, then watches as the werewolf, sometimes transformed into a vampire-like man with fire instead of eyes, rips everything apart, molecule by molecule. The white surface is tainted with blood.
"Professor Snape?" a voice from behind the office door calls.
Severus looks up. As the scenario played for his pleasure only fades, he realises he has been pressing his hands together. There are nail-shaped lines of blood in his palm.
"One moment," he replies, voice strained.