Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from the Harry Potter series, nor is the tale of Beauty and the Beast mine. This story is AU as of HBP, especially considering Snape's loyalties, job, heritage, and living arrangements.

It was a bitterly cold night when a hag appeared at the door of Snape Manor.

Frost delicately clung to each window, humbling the bright stained glass in its icy wake. Emotions, however, seemed to be even colder inside. It was said that Mr. and Mrs. Snape had died young, as they had preferred, and left a considerable fortune to their only son, Severus Snape. He was a follower of the Darkness, many would say. He even had the Mark. He was dauntingly handsome, with large blue eyes, a straight, dignified nose, and a generous mouth that preferred the shape of a sneer. The ladies of the village were enamored with him, but each girl that entered his garden was sent home with a new view of Severus Snape; and one that no longer seemed so handsome.

It is not known whether the hag happened upon his Manor by chance, or whether it attracted her by some odd calling. But either way, on the eve of young Snape's twenty-fifth birthday, she searched for shelter but was not so fortunate to find it under his roof.

Yelling through the swirls of snow, he told the old woman to go away from his home and to not bother him again. But he did not expect her to pull out a wand when he refused her for a second time. Before he could reach for his own, the hag placed a curse on him and wandered away through the snow, disappearing into the white and gray afternoon.

"I curse you, Severus Snape," she had said, her voice as wispy as the dying dusk. "I curse you and your home. May your face reflect your heart." She had bent over and spat at his feet. "And if you cannot find requited love by your fortieth birthday, you will remain in the darkness forever."

Nonplussed by the curse, Severus returned into the recesses of his home, planning to never open the door to a stranger again. But over the next three days the Manor fell into shadow. Though the skies became blue once more, and the sun made a much-wanted appearance, a darkness hovered over the Snape home as ominous as a coming storm. The plants in the gardens withered and died, and the house elves could do nothing to revive them.

Then Snape found that his own appearance had changed. Worry lines began to form between his eyebrows and his eyes had darkened from an icy blue to a bottomless black. His once straight nose became kinked as if it had been broken many times and never repaired, and his once shiny, vibrant hair became lank and greasy: nothing he did would change its appearance.

He stopped in his entryway and stared into the mirror, leaning against the wall and gazing into his own eyes. As a new professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he knew he should be intimidating. But his new appearance, he was afraid, might invoke a feeling in his students that he wasn't so used to conjuring: one of pity.

His looks humbled him and he began to allow the light of the other side shine into his life. But that lifted none of his burden. His colleagues, people that he could almost consider friends, regarded him not in loathing but in sympathy, as he had feared. He hated it, and he wanted to look like his former self again.

Now, as his fortieth birthday quickly approached, thoughts from the years echoed in his mind and haunted his dreams. The mirrors were cruel and the students were even crueler. He was not going to spend his adult years as the object of mercy, the form in which he had spent his childhood.

But how, he wondered, could anyone come to love a beast?

A/N: Quick note to my fans. If you would like to vote for any of my fiction, you can do it at (search for Wonk. Also a great place to find tons of HG/SS fics), and at (under the same screen name. Usually, my fiction is up at LnLS before ).

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