This is a fanfiction based in the world of Harry Potter, created by JK Rowling. All her characters, obviously, are hers. All original characters are mine. No Pecuniary Rewards. NO Spoilers to Half Blood Prince, as this story and the story which immediately follows were written (and just barely completed) before that book was released. There are spoilers for all other JKR books.

Alternate Universe to Half-Blood Prince.

I must credit Annii Frazier with first introducing me to the intricacies of Snape's character, as she portrayed him on the first online roleplaying game I joined. Many years and many other 'Snapes' and fansite lurkings later, I have a much broader view of his character than I would have gleaned on my own. My Severus Snape, in this story, is my own interpretation, but is highly coloured by the information I have gathered over the years from many sources.

Many, many people have assisted me along the way with this story, and I would like to take a moment to thank them. First, my first-ever Beta, Elaine, who has now beta'd every chapter, numerous times. Padfoot the Marauder also assisted for many chapters in the middle of the story. Kirasha, aka JL, who stepped in to help beta the end chapters when I was trying to hurry and finish the story before the release of HBP. More recently, Vaughn and JackieJLH who have helped me place the finishing polish on the story and my own mechanics, in preparation for submission to Sycophant Hex. Thanks also to Vaughn and WitchEcho for Brit-Picking for me. Lastly, thank you to my reviewers at FFN and AFF who kindly pointed out errors and roughness when this was my first-ever, unbeta'd attempt at public writing. That was, indeed, very scary. I'm glad to say that I have improved tremendously since then, though there is always room for more.

This particular bit is the Prologue to the main story, Lost Souls Found. Both stories stand well enough on their own, but richness is gained by reading this first.

Summary: MWPP era. Lupin and Snape in their early childhood and later school years, as seen through the eyes of a Ravenclaw student (OFC) as she develops a fascination for our favorite Slytherin. Rated PG for some oblique reference to war and Death Eater violence.


LOST SOULS


Chapter 1: Innocence of Children
Most stories start at the beginning. We will get there eventually. But first, gentle reader, I must start Before, so you may understand how two such unlikely people came to be who they are. Only then can you understand what you will watch them become.

The Lupins were a fine, respectable wizarding family. They were both wizards, though Mrs Lupin was Muggleborn. Mr and Mrs Lupin did not care about the significance of such things; however, the society in which they lived did. Their children were considered "half-blood" because of Mrs Lupin's heritage.

Jonathan Lupin was one of the Chief Healers at St. Mungo's. His wife, Rebecca Lupin, had been a Primary School teacher at a private wizarding school, but she had resigned for the present to raise their family.

Their first child was their pride and joy. Remus John Lupin was a fine, strong boy, with honey-brown hair, chocolate brown eyes, and a warm, friendly smile. He was gregarious and outgoing, constantly getting into everything, and brilliant. Of course, this was the biased opinion of proud and doting parents.

It was several years before they were blessed with a second child. Remus was four-and-a-half years old and could not wait to be a big brother to the new baby to come.

Remus had found a nest of wild baby Kneazles that he had been watching, feeding the mother and trying to make friends. He hoped to catch one of the kits as a present for the new baby. The nest was hidden within the small wooded green, which stood behind their housing estate and was a popular play area for the local children.

One fateful evening, Rebecca was feeling particularly exhausted by her very advanced pregnancy, and John was working late. She'd been reading a story to Remus and had just fallen asleep, mid-sentence. Remus grabbed a nearby quilt and placed it tenderly over his mother, patting her large tummy with affection.

"I'm going to go catch your Kneazle now, little baby," he whispered to her round abdomen. "Your big brother will have a present for you when you get here."

It was a fine mid-July evening, warm and bright from the fullness of the moon in the perfectly clear star-speckled sky. Remus knew exactly where he was going, and also knew that the mother Kneazle hunted at night. The kits were old enough to survive without her. The new baby was due to be born any day. Tonight was the perfect opportunity to try and catch a kit to bring home.

With the fearless curiosity of many four year-old children, he dawdled, skipped, and played along as he went. At last he reached the nest of kits, but it was a horrible sight. Something—what could do such a thing? Something had killed all of them! The entire nest full, the mother too, had been torn to bits. Not eaten, not in defense, but just ripped to pieces for the apparent delight in killing.

Remus screamed in shock and horror and fell to his knees, crying bitterly.

He did not hear the stealthy approach of the creature behind him until it was much, much too late. A huge beast pounced upon him and bit heavily into his chest. The crushing pain and weight of the creature wiped Remus from consciousness immediately.


John Lupin arrived home to see his wife sleeping peacefully on the couch, a storybook in her lap, and a blanket clumsily drawn up over her. He smiled tenderly.

Remus.

He was so kind and responsible, looking out for others, even at his young age. Quietly, he looked around the house, not wanting to wake Rebecca. His peaceful contentment gradually morphed into fear when he realized Remus was nowhere to be found. This heightened further when he spotted the back door standing wide open. He quickly woke Rebecca as gently as he could.

"Becky, wake up. You must wake up," he said in soft tones, not wanting to startle her. "Remus seems to have gone outside. I need to go look for him. Call the neighbours, will you, and see if he's there?"

She woke at once, fear gripping her heart, ashamed of falling asleep. "John! Oh Merlin, John, I fell asleep! How could I not watch my own child?" Her voice was nearly hysterical, and he was forced to speak more firmly.

"Becky, stop. He's done this before, we both know that. You were exhausted, love. I'm sure he's fine. I just need to find him. Don't leave the house in case he returns. I'll be back soon."

John then left and headed for the woods. Having played there himself as a boy, he knew full well the lure it had for curious children. He was not terribly worried, only a bit annoyed. The boy shouldn't have frightened his mother like this. He shouldn't be outside alone after dark. Though, truly, the light of the moon was quite bright, and visibility was fine and clear.

He broke into a run and pulled out his wand when he heard an anguished scream, followed by bitter crying. Remus! He ran towards the sound, arriving just in time to see the huge, hairy shape lunge at his son. Without thinking he leveled his wand, gasped, "Avada Kedavra," and killed the creature. The force of the curse threw the thing off of Remus. John fell to his knees at his son's side to assess the extent of his wounds.

If Jonathan Lupin had not been an excellent Healer, Remus would have died on the spot. As it was, it took long minutes of strong, intensive healing magic to repair the damage. Crushed ribs. Lacerated liver. Bilateral lung punctures. Massive bruising to the heart. Clinically, John catalogued the injuries and treated them, one by one, starting with the most life-threatening. He couldn't let himself think or feel as a parent. He had to heal the wounds before he could think of this small, injured body as his son.

What on earth was that thing? What was it doing in these woods? This was barely a ten-acre patch of not even particularly dense trees and bushes! Perhaps it was a stray dog gone feral or even rabid. These thoughts flitted through the back of his mind even as he focused on the life-or-death task at hand.

Nearly half an hour had passed while John worked on his boy. The wounds seemed to heal with great difficulty, as though somehow resistant to the healing magic. At last he was certain he would live. He would be fine. John was not able to mend the skin completely—Remus would have an impressive scar to brag about to his friends as he grew up, but he would live. John's fear was lifting, leaving him trembling from the adrenaline, close to tears of stress and relief.

"Merlin's Beard!"

A harsh curse sounded just behind him. Tony Schmidt, a wizard neighbor and good friend, had found them.

"It's okay, Tony. I found him in time. He's going to be fine." Jonathan's voice was weak with relief.

Tony's voice, though, was thick, choked and unnatural as he said, "John… it might have been better if you had let him go…"

John rounded on his friend, enraged. What on earth would make him say such a thing? His normally mild and friendly countenance was contorted in an ugly sneer… but the harsh words and angry tirade died on his lips.

There, on the floor of the woods, where a short while ago had lain the body of the feral dog John had killed, now lay the naked body of a man…a werewolf had attacked his son. A werewolf had bitten Remus… Remus was now a werewolf himself. John's mind struggled to grasp the whirlwind of clinical knowledge, legal ramifications and the sheer horror of the situation.

Werewolves were caught and killed immediately by the Ministry of Magic whenever they were discovered. It was one of the sad shames of the wizarding world. There was no cure, and the Ministry could not risk the entire populace becoming infected. Many fine and upstanding citizens had been executed once they were found to be infected.

Tony knelt down next to John Lupin, his face full of concern.

"John, listen. I won't tell anyone. You're a Healer—you know what will happen from here. You're a good friend, and he's a great boy. You go move to the countryside somewhere, and no one will ever have to know. I'll wait until you're back home with the boy and I'll contact the Ministry about this one. I'll say I saw it when I was walking the dog. No one needs to know."

John gripped his friend's hand in grateful relief. He was devastated over his son's cursed fate, but at least he would have a chance at life. Picking up his son, he managed a hoarse, "Thank you, Tony," to his friend before rushing home.

The surprises of the evening weren't over, however. After tucking Remus into bed and fearfully telling Rebecca what had happened, they sat quietly for a while staring into the empty fireplace, each lost in their own thoughts. The stress, however, induced labor in Rebecca Lupin. In short order, in the relative peace of her own home and tended by her husband, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Rowena Danae Lupin drew her first breath on the same day her brother was infected by lycanthropy.


Far away, in a much colder, harsher part of the country, amidst mountainous hills and valleys, stood a huge old house, nearly big enough to be considered a mansion. It was obvious that it had once been very stately, though it now bore obvious signs of serious decay and neglect. In this house lived another four-and-a-half-year-old boy. Well, if not lived, at least existed.

The light of the full moon revealed this boy, thin for his age and very, very pale, sneaking out of the house and running into a small barn behind it. He was cradling his right arm and making the horrible snuffling noises of a child desperately trying not to cry. His hair was as black as the dark night around him, but thin and fine so it hung in lank strands to his shoulders.

He found a corner of the barn piled with soft hay and curled there in a ball, clutching his grossly deformed arm. At last the tears would not be held off any longer, and he sobbed bitterly in fear and pain. Shouts and screams could be heard coming from the house for a long while, even from this distance. Eventually, all was silent.

Footsteps outside alerted the boy to the presence of another and he shrank back into the shadows. Trying to be small and hidden, he sucked in the sounds of pain his body longed to voice over the horribly broken arm.

When the door opened, the figure that stepped inside was not tall and broad but thin and slight. She limped painfully, but carried no light. In the darkness, he heard her voice.

"Severus? Severus, it's okay. He's sleeping. Come here, son, and let me help you—are you hurt?"

His mother's soft voice comforted him and he approached her where she stood in the patch of moonlight from the window. Horrified, he stared at her. Her pretty face was swollen and bruised almost beyond recognition. Her auburn hair was matted with blood and there were marks at her throat as though someone had tried to strangle her. Her clear, hazel eyes were almost completely obscured by the purplish swelling of her eyelids. However, she paid no attention to her own injuries, kneeling down and hugging her son to her breast.

"Your father had a bad day, love. He doesn't mean to be cruel. We must try to do our best to avoid him tomorrow, okay? Now, let me see your arm."

With tender and practiced care, she pulled out her wand and gently healed the break. As she did so, she taught him the words and the motions to the spell. Her heart told her he would have need of these things long before he should be old enough to understand them.

She was the wife of a cruel and sadistic man by arranged marriage. The Snape family was well known for its purity of bloodlines and it's familiarity with Dark Magic. Wizards from these sorts of powerful, Dark Magic-wielding, "old blood" families preferred to avoid the disgrace of divorce. If there was conflict, the common method of dealing with the problem was to kill the unsatisfactory spouse—as well as any unsatisfactory offspring—and begin again. She would endure what she must to protect her son for as long as she could.

Still, sometimes she saw his father's temper and disgust at her weakness staring accusingly at her from behind his young eyes. Severus was the image of his father physically. She hoped to raise him to have the human compassion and goodness his father lacked.

She knew Severus thought she was weak, that she should stand up to his father, that somehow she could stop the beatings and their pain. He was too young to understand how truly powerless she was.

When the boy's wounds were healed, she directed the wand to her own, again teaching him, showing him spells that would heal internal injuries as well as external ones. Then she took him to the gardener's shed against the rear of the house and showed him a secret place she had built into the workbench there. Inside was a concealed wand—a spare she had managed to buy and hide from her husband.

Master Devin Snape was often gone on business. They seldom had to endure his company, his rages and his beatings. Sometimes months would pass without seeing him. Alyssa spent this precious freedom teaching her son everything she knew. Healing potions, healing spells. She secreted away what money and valuables she could in the hiding place which concealed the wand, along with papers detailing an account in Severus' name at Gringotts. Always preparing him for a time when she would not be there.

But for now, she was there. It was a fine July evening, though the breeze was cool and brisk. Their own small corner of hell made them oblivious to the world beyond it. It mattered not to them that far away, one Lupin had become a werewolf on the same day that another Lupin was born.