The Definition of Evil
A young man stood in front of the Dark Lord Voldemort, head bowed low out of respect, dressed in the darkest of black robes and a cloak that concealed his identity from his fellow Death Eaters. The Dark Lord spoke to him, and his high-pitched, almost serpentine voice, traveled far so that even the furthest away Death Eaters could hear his sermon.
"We welcome here tonight a new addition to our ranks, a young man who has seen the light at long last," said the Dark Lord, all the while his gaze never straying from the man in front of him, who was in reality little more than a boy at age eighteen. "He shall receive the Dark Mark, therefore forever binding him to me.
"Are you ready, my boy? Are you prepared to forsake all alliances to that bumbling old fool, Dumbledore, and his Muggle-loving friends? Are you prepared to join the winning side and the ranks of my most loyal servants, the Death Eaters?" Voldemort prodded.
"I am, Master," the young man said firmly, his own deep voice reverberating throughout the room.
"Then, so it shall be," replied the Dark Lord, as he took out his wand, grabbed the young man's left arm, and drew up his sleeve to reveal a pale, skinny forearm.
"Morsmordre!" hissed the Dark Lord.
The young man winced from the burning pain in his arm, and watched as the tell-tale personal brand of Lord Voldemort burned itself into his forearm. The pain was great, but he showed no sign that it affected him. He had felt worse, much worse, in the past.
Finally, a skull with a serpent emerging from its mouth could clearly be seen on the boy's arm. The burning feeling had lessened, but had not gone away totally. He looked up at his Master, sealing his mind with the Occlumency he had learned in secret while still at school. He didn't want his Master to know of what he was thinking about at that very moment...
The young man supposed that he was brave, even though he had never really felt particularly courageous. In fact, he had grown up constantly being called a coward by his schoolmates. If only they could see me now... he thought to himself venomously. Then they'd see who I really am and what I'm capable of...
For a few moments, Severus Snape, who had just been branded a Death Eater by Lord Voldemort himself, allowed himself to ponder why and how he had come to the decision to join the Dark Side.
Severus had always been intrigued by the Dark Arts, ever since he could remember. He used to constantly wish he could perform the Cruciatus Curse on his abusive father, even before most young witches and wizards knew what the curse was.
Severus had learned to read and write from his mother at the age of three. By the tender age of five, Severus had read and re-read all of his father's numerous books on the Dark Arts, much to his father's displeasure and annoyance. Severus was often beaten by his father, for this and for many more reasons, some deserved and some not.
By the time Severus set off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at age 11, he knew more magic than most third years. He had been sorted into Slytherin House by the Sorting Hat, which had said, "You, my boy, are one of the brightest I've seen in a long while, but I sense that your future will be Dark, very Dark indeed... I'm tempted to say Ravenclaw, but there is only one place for you, young man, and that's SLYTHERIN!"
During his first few years at school, Severus proved to be the top of his class in most subjects, but he made very few friends. It seemed that no one, not even his fellow Slytherins, wanted to befriend a small boy with greasy hair and a pointed face... especially when that said boy had an obsession with powerful dark magic and spent most of his time in the Potions labs, brewing advanced potions just for fun. There was also the fact that Severus was extremely shy and pushed anyone who tried to help or befriend him away.
And of course, it didn't help that Severus soon became shunned by almost all of his year shortly after his first year had began.
An eleven year old Severus Snape was walking the halls of Hogwarts on the way to his next lesson, Charms. He held a book in front of his nose, and his eyes scanned the pages frantically, as if trying to soak up the information contained in the book like a sponge. Therefore, he hardly noticed, or cared, when he heard a group of four boys turn the corner, chatting animatedly.
"Ah, c'mon, James," said one of them pleadingly, as Severus stopped outside the door to his Charms classroom, which wasn't yet opened. The four boys halted as well across the hall from Severus; they apparently hadn't noticed him yet.
"No way, Sirius... Did you see the look on McGonagall's face when we tried to transfigure our Filibuster's Fireworks instead of those matchboxes she gave us? I don't know, mate, but she doesn't seem like one to cross, if you know what I mean," said a boy with messy black hair and sparkling hazel eyes.
The boy called Sirius, who was tall and had black hair as well, except his was well-groomed and straight, visibly deflated. Another boy, who was pale- skinned and had sandy light brown hair that was in great need of a trim, laughed quietly. "For once, I've got to agree with James, Sirius. He actually makes sense. We definitely don't want to pull one over on McGonagall..." The sandy-haired boy cringed at the very thought.
The fourth and final boy, who was short and chubby, with blond hair in a bowl-cut, just stood there, not participating in the conversation, but watching the other three in wonder.
"But Remus..." Sirius whined even more sulkily than before, "I thought you were on my side! You always are..."
The blond-haired boy laughed as if this was the funniest thing in the world, but Remus just rolled his eyes and said, "Shut up, Peter... You've got the strangest sense of humor; that wasn't supposed to be funny." Remus then turned to his friend Sirius, and stated, "And I'm not on 'your' side, Sirius; I'm on my side. And my side doesn't want itself beaten to a pulp if and when McGonagall finds out we've pranked her."
"And so," James finished with a tone of finality, "We're not even going to try."
Sirius frowned, but eventually gave in. His roaming grey eyes finally caught Severus, who was still reading his book like his life depended on it, and was trying his best to ignore the other four boys. "Hiya," Sirius said cheerfully, as he crossed the hallway to greet Severus.
Severus, who was annoyed that someone had interrupted his reading, looked up from his book with a poisonous look on his face. "Hello..." he answered as he looked over Sirius, James, Remus, and Peter. He noted instantly the four friends' robes, which carried the Gryffindor House crest.
"The name's Sirius Black! Who're you? I don't reckon we've met before..." Sirius said, the perfect example of friendliness.
Severus sighed, and looked bitterly at the boy in front of him, wishing with all his heart that Sirius would just leave him the hell alone. "I'm Severus Snape. Now please leave me be..."
Taking the hint, Sirius shrugged and returned across the hall to his three friends. "The embodiment of happiness and cheer, that one is..." he said, loudly enough for Severus to hear him from a few feet away. Severus narrowed his eyes, but did nothing more.
He heard Peter laugh, along with James, but the boy named Remus shot an almost pitying look Severus's way.
James stopped for a moment, and looked over at Severus once again, taking note of the book he was reading so diligently. He moved a bit down the hallway, trying to read the title of the book. "The Darks Arts: An Intermediate's Guide to the Magic They Won't Teach You at School..."
James raised his eyebrows at Sirius, Remus, and Peter, who had stopped laughing at James's words. Severus closed his book angrily and went to place it back in his schoolbag, but James immediately seized it, and as his eyes flickered over the pages, a look of deep disgust came across his face.
"Chapter 23: Potions to Maim, Cause Pain, Torture, and Kill?" James spat, his eyes narrowed at Severus, who was fidgeting uncomfortably a few feet away. A few more students had arrived outside the Charms classroom; a couple of Gryffindor girls, including a very pretty redhead, and the four Slytherin boys Severus shared a dormitory with.
"What the...?" Remus sputtered, his eyes blank and staring at Severus, who'd frozen on the spot.
"No wonder he's so unfriendly, the slimy git," Sirius spoke up, disgusted that someone would chose to read about how to create Dark Potions. "He probably traded a much-needed bar of soap for that book!"
A few students laughed, but most of them, including the Gryffindor girls and a few of the Slytherin boys, looked absolutely appalled. Severus finally found his voice.
"It's not illegal to read about the Dark Arts, Black," he growled. "It's not like I'm about to go brew a Killing Concoction and slip it into your pumpkin juice... however much I wish I could."
Severus realized too late that he had said the wrong thing. He had meant for his comment to be humorous, but it made James and Sirius draw their wands in warning.
"You could try," James said dangerously, "but then they'd send you to Azkaban, wouldn't they? Tell me, is everything in that book of yours illegal?"
"Or here's a better question: is anything in there, anything at all, actually legal?" Sirius added, as he grabbed the book from James's hands, and paged through it absent-mindedly.
Severus didn't trust himself to speak. After all, hadn't talking to these morons only made things worse for him in the first place? He sighed, and looked over at Remus and Peter, who were still standing across the hall—Remus with his mouth wide open, and Peter looking as if he wanted and expected a fight to break out soon.
Just then, the door to the Charms classroom opened, and tiny Professor Flitwick ushered in his first year students. Sirius followed James into the room and shoved Severus's book back at him.
"By the way, Snape," he muttered at him as he walked by, "this book here says An Intermediate's Guide... That must mean you're already well- versed in this rubbish, am I right?"
Severus didn't have the chance to respond, because as Sirius had passed him, he had punched him hard in the stomach.
From that point on, Severus Snape was well-known throughout the school as one of the darkest of Dark Wizards, and the four Gryffindors who had discovered his secret obsession tried their bloody best to make his life a living hell.