I'm so sorry about the lengthy absence. Exams, end of school, moving, beginning of a very hectic summer and horrible internet access has prevented me from updating. But here is the next chapter :D. I thank all my wonderful reviewers and I have replied to them via an external page (the link, 'Homepage' in my profile goes to the page)

We are not born hating—we learn to hate…

Chapter 8: The Root of Hatred

"I'm alright, mum," assured Bill, trying to brush Molly's hand away from his bleeding forehead. "It's just a little cut."

"Was anyone hurt?" inquired Molly.

The four teenagers crowded around the bottom of the stairs, anxiously. "What's going on?" demanded Harry.

"We lost five people," answered Kingsley, clearly frustrated. "A few other civilians and Mundungus are being treated for curses at St. Mungo's."

"And we were unable to prevent the breakout," growled Moody.

Sera looked at her feet, guiltily.

"It could have been worse. If we hadn't have known ahead of time, the death toll would have been unimaginable," said Remus, returning from the successfully silenced Mrs. Black portrait.

"What the hell happened?" repeated Harry, angrily.

"Harry!" whispered Hermione.

"I refuse to be left in the dark any longer. If my fate is so tied with Voldemort, I have the right to know."

This must be the ever-famous Harry Potter, thought Sera, unable to miss his uncanny resemblance to James Potter. She glanced at everyone else in the room. All the adults had uneasy expressions playing across their faces.

"Harry, this really isn't the time," said Molly, softly.

No one had noticed Sera yet and Sera had a feeling that Molly, understandably, was trying to prevent Harry from saying too much in front of her.

"Just tell me what happened. What attack? What breakout?"

"Voldemort organized diversion attacks in order to execute a breakout of Azkaban prisone—." Remus abruptly cut off his explanation as his eyes caught sight of Sera. "Who are you?"

"Uh…," started Sera, uncomfortably.

"Merlin, I didn't even notice her there," exclaimed Tonks.

"Damnation!" roared Moody, pulling out his wand and pointing it at Sera.

"Alastor, put that away," ordered Molly. "This is Seralina…"

"Richardson," whispered Sera, inwardly cursing herself for her timidness in face of the unwanted attention.

"She's the one who informed Dumbledore of the attacks," finished Molly.

"How did she know about them," said Tonks.

"Sera?" said Molly, inviting her to explain.

"I—."

"You're Severus's little sister, aren't you?" cut in Remus, suddenly recognizing the name. "You were a first year when we were in our last year."

Sera nodded, looking oddly at the man, trying to place him. "One of Potter's friend," she finally said, bitterly. "Lupin."

"Remus Lupin," he replied, flinching at her tone of voice.

"I didn't even know Snape had a sister," exclaimed Tonks, peering at Sera, curiously.

"Don't tell me you're an allegedly reformed Death Eater, too," barked Moody, eyeing her suspiciously.

Sera gritted her teeth. She recognized the man—Alastor Moody, the legendary Auror.

"That's enough, Alastor," came a commanding voice from behind the crowd. Dumbledore stepped out of the fireplace, brushing the soot off his deep purple robes. "Severus was able to give Sera the warning before his injuries overcame him."

Harry watched Sera with contempt. "So Malfoy and the others escaped Azkaban?"

Dumbledore nodded.

Hermione placed a comforting hand on Harry's shoulder, trying to ease his anger. He roughly dislodged himself from her grip. "This is pathetic. Can't you people do anything right!"

"Harry!" chided Molly.

"Sirius died because of what happened and now it was all for nothing! They just go free!"

Sera was rather startled by the outburst. "Black?" she asked, jerkily. What did that mass murderer have to do with anything?

"Harry, this really isn't the place or time for such a discussion," said Remus, cautiously.

Sera appealed to Dumbledore, desperate to leave the tense room and relieve them of her unwanted presence. "I'll be with Severus," informed Sera, leaving the room.

xxxx

Snape stirred within the blankets. He groaned as his hand landed on his wounded chest. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes, only to be assaulted by a bright light.

He grabbed his wand, which was resting on a side table and extinguished the light. The room remained dimly illuminated by the sunrays of the rising sun shining through the window.

Allowing time to adjust to the light, Snape's eyes roamed the room. He tried to sit up but found that he couldn't. Suddenly, a fit of coughs overcame him and he collapsed back into the bed exhausted. He was shivering uncontrollably yet felt so hot. What was wrong with him? Where was he?

The last thing he could remember was…was his mother's dead body, surrounded by her own blood. No, that was an old memory haunting his dreams. He tried to bury it.

He didn't want to think about her. Sometimes he hated her, hated her for leaving him; sometimes he yearned for her warm arms, like phantom warmth, mocking him. He concentrated on the hate—it was less painful…

---1965---

The little boy stood near the casket as it was lowered into the ground. His face was expressionless; though no one was aware of this as his hair protectively covered his face. It was a rather pathetic affair. There was no grand stone to mark the grave, nor were there a crowd of people gathered in respect.

Beside the boy stood his father and on the other side of the casket stood a teary-eyed woman, who showed nothing but contempt towards the boy's father.

The man knelt down beside the casket, staring at it mournfully. The boy pursed his lips and turned away from the scene, disgusted. He kicked a stone violently, followed it and kicked it again.

"Severus."

Severus jerked around at the voice. The woman who was standing by the casket was now by his side.

"What do you want," he said coldly. The woman looked at him sadly for she had never heard such iciness from a five-year-old child before.

She sighed. "Sweetheart, I know I have been very meager part of your young life but you must know that I care for you…if it wasn't for that good for nothing father of yours…" She shook her head. "That's beside the point."

Severus curled his fist. Of course she didn't care, nobody cared. His own mother hadn't cared. After he had gotten over the initial shock of his mother's death and fully understood her actions, an all-consuming anger overcame him, overriding his grief—or maybe protecting him from his grief.

He had never felt so much anger before, not even towards his father. His mother had lied to him and betrayed him and he could expect no less from her sister.

Severus and his aunt stood silently beside each other as another man neared the casket. He had a large bouquet of flowers his hand and tears in his eyes. Severus wondered who this man could be.

"GET OUT!" bellowed his father.

"Let us have some respect for her and mourn her peacefully," the man replied calmly but with a hint of hatred.

"This is all your fault," shot his father, pulling out his wand and pointing it at the man.

"My fault! My fault! You bastard! You think I don't know what you did to her? I don't understand why she wouldn't leave you. In the end this was the only way she saw out."

"Funny, you calling me a bastard. Do you know she was with child? And it sure as hell wasn't mine. Must be that filthy muggle upbringing…for all the magic in the world you still went and got her pregnant."

The man stumbled back, shocked. Severus's aunt gasped.

"At least the child is dead with her…one less half-blood to taint our world," continued Severus's father.

Severus's aunt muffled a sob. She grabbed Severus's hand and ushered him away from the scene.

"Who is that man?"

"Of no importance to us, dear," she replied, her voice trembling.

He pulled his hand away from her and glanced back. Sparks were flying between the two men. His aunt moved to stand in his vision.

"He's the mudblood, isn't he?"

Her eyes widened. "Where did you learn such profanity?"

"Father said mummy was spending time with some mudblood and that's why they were fighting."

"You must never use that word, Severus. It isn't right."

"Why? Father uses it."

"And do you look to him to see from right and wrong?"

Severus was silent. He knew his father was not a very good person…he hurt his mother.

His aunt knelt down to him and pulled out a small piece of parchment. She slipped it into his inner robe pocket.

"Don't tell your father. If you ever need help, you'll know where to find me. I don't know what you are thinking right now…I know you must be angry but remember, I loved my sister and I love you. I will always be there for you."

Severus didn't know what to say. He didn't believe her. He had believed that his mother loved him and she hadn't. Why should he believe her? Yet, somewhere deep inside him, he wanted to believe her. He wanted to believe in love…as every child does.

She hugged him and though he did not hug back, he did not push her away. He welcomed the warmth, if only temporarily. It was a needed change to the anger and hate he carried with him ever since his mother's death.

He could feel the negative feelings resurfacing and he pushed her away. She released him and stood up. His father was coming towards them.

He grabbed Severus by the wrist. His father looked at Severus's aunt. "You stay away from my son," yelled his father as he dragged him away. They passed the man that his father called mudblood, crying at his knees, looking down at the dirt covering his mother's body. He looked up at them as they passed him. He looked into Severus's eyes with a mournful expression.

Severus scowled. He hated that man—hated him for causing his father's rage. He hated his father for hurting his mother. He hated his mother for choosing to leave him. And he hated himself for not being able to stop it, for not being a good enough son, one worthy of his mother's presence.

---Present---

"Severus?"

Snape closed his eyes and shook his head. He could feel the hate of the five-year-old boy surging through him. More often than not, hate was the strongest emotion in his life, be it hatred towards others or hatred towards himself. He knew that it wasn't natural.

Someone touched him on the shoulder lightly. "Severus?"

He wrenched his shoulder away instantly and hissed in pain as he jerked his wounded chest in the process.

He opened his eyes and saw his sister sitting by his bed.

"It's just me," she said, apologetically.

"Where am I?" he asked in a painfully hoarse voice. This was definitely not his flat or Sera's place and it couldn't be the headquarters—he hoped it wasn't the headquarters. Sera couldn't be there anyway, he thought, reassuring himself.

"Not delirious, then," muttered Sera, quietly. "I'm not sure. This is where the house elf brought you."

Snape shut his eyes and shook his head. It was all coming back now—arriving with the house elf, passing out in front of Moody. How humiliating.

"You cannot be here."

"Dumbledore brought me."

The attacks, had she told him? "Is the Headmaster aware of the attacks?"

"Yes."

Snape relaxed ever so slightly. He wondered if the Order had successfully prevented the attacks and breakout. "What's wrong with me?"

"You have pneumonia. Not the common type—bed rest is the only cure."

He cursed under his breath. He wondered how could he remove himself from the godforsaken place. "Who else is here?"

"Ah, Severus, you're awake," came a new, all too familiar voice.

"Headmaster."

"How are you feeling?"

"Fantastic." What a daft question, he thought. He could barely get out of bed. "And what of my warning?"

"We were unable to prevent the breakout but we did avoid a major death toll in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade."

"Major death toll?"

"Five people were killed."

Snape looked away.

"It would have been much worse without your warning. However, Sera, you should not have tried to blackmail me. What if I could not bring you here?"

Snape knew that tone of voice all too well. Dumbledore was planning to give his sister a long-winded lecture.

"What exactly did Sera do?"

"Severus," whispered Sera. "I had too."

"She refused to convey your message unless I brought her here."

"Well, Headmaster, you are in no position to lecture her. She is not in yours or the Order's service."

"Severus," started Dumbledore.

"If anything, it's a certain ex-auror that should be chided. If he had not decided to seize the opportunity to discover any disloyalties, he may have had time to hear my warnings. After all, he is in your service."

"What are you talking about, Severus?"

"Not that I care for his actions," he continued, ignoring the question. "But I will not have you lecture my sister."

Dumbledore narrowed his eyes. "I'll be back," he said, before leaving.

Snape groaned. He couldn't understand where that came from. He rarely talked back to Dumbledore but lately, that's all he seemed to be doing in his presence. He shook his head. All those unwanted memories within the last couple of days seemed to have unnerved him.

"Sera, you shouldn't have pulled such a trick."

"Oh, so this is how it is. Save me from the wrath of the Headmaster only to get the same from you."

"He has no right to lecture you. I do."

"Look, I can't say I'm proud of what I did but I was worried about you."

"And what about the people who lost their lives today?"

Sera lowered her eyes, ashamed. "I told him soon after we arrived here. There was only a few minutes delay. I don't think it would have made much of a difference."

"That's not the point, Sera. It's the principle of the matter."

Sera let out a bitter laugh. "That's rich, coming from you, oh mighty Slytherin."

"I wouldn't have expected the same from you."

"Well, you will be surprised to know that having a Slytherin in the family rubs off on the rest."

Snape smiled every so slightly and decided to drop the issue.

Sera knew the gesture well and took that opportunity to change the topic. "Take Liana. I wouldn't be surprised if she's sorted into Slytherin. The way she outwits Mia is startling."

Snape nodded and prevented a smile from taking over. Even with the horrendousness of his current situation he couldn't help but gladly agree with Sera. Mia was a sweet girl but it always amused him to see her younger sister get the better of her. And Slytherin needed all the people it could have that wouldn't be swayed to the Dark Arts and he would be damned if his niece was one of those who are as easily swayed as he once was.

xxxxxxxx

Well, that concludes another chapter. I know the timeline is moving slowly. I shall try to pick that up. And now with things in life sort of settled, I hope to update sooner and catch up on my reading and reviewing.

Tell me what you think of this chapter. I love feedback…who doesn't:D

Review Replies: It has come to my attention that review replies are no longer allowed at the end of chapters. So I have posted my replies to the latest reviews through an external page, which you can read by clicking on my name (to get to my profile) and then by clicking on 'homepage'. Until next time, Weasleygirl-ca.