Author's Note: This story was started prior to the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I edited the first chapter to include HBP characters and went on from there. Much later in my writing, JK released the Black family tree. Because I had much of the story plotted out by that point, I have not edited my story to include their canon ages.

Another Plane of Existence
June, 2005
Disclaimer: All of the characters belong to JK Rowling

Chapter One: Ravages of Spirit

Severus stalked back to the castle clenching his jaw tightly. The bitter taste of soap still lingered in his mouth as a sour reminder of the past hour's events. Never in his life had he felt so humiliated. If he ever got his hands around Potter's neck, or better yet, Black's neck, he was certain that it would be the last thing they'd ever remember.

He held his wand out in front of him threateningly as he crossed the grounds, and an unlucky little Ravenclaw boy in his path yelped and quickly jumped out of the way. Severus barely acknowledged him, solely focused on returning to the Slytherin Common Room. As he went, he racked his brain for a suitable hex that he could use for vengeance. No, he decided, twisting his mouth into a dire glower, he didn't know anything that would be cruel enough. Extensive research was needed before he sought revenge. They would have to pay; they needed to pay.

The more he mulled over everything the angrier he became; he could feel a red flush creeping up from the collar of his robes.

Merely the fact that he exists, indeed.

He stopped abruptly at the doors to the Entrance Hall and spat out the last bit of soapy froth onto the stones. He hadn't even taunted the dolts this time, though their attack wasn't exactly surprising. He loathed the fact that they had done it on the grounds in front of everyone. Not only that, but he'd been pitied by a Mudblood, which was as demeaning as having his underpants on display, if not worse. Evans and the sickly Gryffindor prefect, Lupin, finally intervened once Evan Rosier showed up and threatened to pound Black into oblivion. Severus was sure he'd hear about that later, too. Rosier would, no doubt, expect something in return, and Severus hoped it would be no more than extra Potions tutoring.

Laying his hand upon the door, he pushed it open with a loud creak, quickly slipping in and making his way toward the dungeons. How many people had seen him, he wondered. No, he wouldn't allow himself to think about that. Instead, he would plot painful and certain deaths for the four boys whose goal was to make his life miserable. As if it wasn't miserable enough already.

He descended the small stairway to the dark corridors of the dungeons, trying to steady his breath. He inhaled deeply through his nose, distracting himself with the familiar smells of the dungeons; the wafting scents of mould, wet stone, and torch fuel enveloped him, but the familiarity of the scents was hardly pacifying. He stepped quietly, keeping near to the walls and in the shadows so that he could remain unnoticed. Readjusting the bag on his shoulder, he turned the corner and ran into something, only it wasn't something; it was somebody.

"Oh!" a girl's voice gasped in surprise.

"Watch it," he said shortly. His eyes flickered to the figure in front of him and his muscles tensed. It was Evans. She brushed a lock of her dark red hair away from her face and frowned.

"Not the epitome of politeness, are you Snape?" she asked, rubbing her shoulder.

He stared at her for a moment, unsure of what to say. Still vexed at the events that took place in the last half hour or so, the seething anger he felt was not about to deescalate, especially considering it was Evans that he had run into. He gave her a cold, hard look. "It took you this long to realize that?" he finally replied. "I thought you were supposed to be intelligent, Evans."

Her green eyes narrowed and the corners of her mouth pulled taut. She placed her hands on her hips and lifted an eyebrow at him. "Piss off, Snape."

His brows quirked a fraction of an inch in surprise and he glared back at her. "And you're criticizing me about being rude?" He thought about how she had bore witness to the unveiling of his undergarments, and another swell of anger washed over him. "Perhaps you'd like to bring up the state of the finer garments in my wardrobe again to top it all off." His fingers tightened around his wand and he nodded down at it. "Or perhaps you fancy being dangled from the air yourself."

Her anger quickly melted away into shock. "What? No, of course not!" Two pink spots appeared on the apples of her cheeks.

Severus studied her carefully, waiting for her to make a move. She eyed his wand for a moment, then moved her gaze back up to his face and fixed him with a scrutinizing look. Feeling extremely weary, he raised his wand up a little higher. He was taking a risk threatening a prefect, but at this point, he really didn't care.

"Are we done, then?" he asked.

"Yes," she replied quickly. "I mean, no." Lily took a deep breath, and with what seemed like forced resignation, continued to speak. "I can't always control my temper, especially when someone is calling me awful names."

"Nothing like Snivellus, surely?" What on earth was she getting at, he wondered. He sincerely hoped that she wasn't expecting him to apologize, and nearly laughed at the thought.

"You know that what you called me wasn't any better."

Good God, she was expecting an apology, he realized, staring at her as though she were insane. This would have to be remedied immediately.

"As if you'd be singing praises had you been in my situation." He lifted his chin and scowled down at her, eyes glittering angrily over the pronounced bridge of his nose. "Now if you'll excuse me," he added steadily, and quickly side-stepped around her, continuing to walk down the length of corridor.

"I'm sorry," she called out from behind him. He could just picture her standing there, foolishly waiting for his acceptance and a return apology. Gryffindors, he thought scathingly.

Slinking back into the shadows, he didn't bother to acknowledge her at all.

Dinner in the Great Hall went as he suspected it would. He had briefly considered skipping the meal with the other Hogwarts' students, but decided that he would never give Potter and Black the satisfaction. Severus was not unfamiliar with gossip--it spread around the school faster than devil's snare—but he hoped that he was not popular enough to be truly affected by what everyone would have to say, anyhow.

He flopped unceremoniously onto the bench next to Regulus Black and Evan Rosier. Across the table from him, Rabastan Lestrange lifted a dark eyebrow. "We heard you were put in a spot this morning, Snape." His brown eyes sparkled mischievously. "Perhaps you should spend less money on books and more money on your wardrobe."

Evan, who had just popped a spoonful of potatoes into his mouth, snorted loudly. "Nah," he said thickly, flecks of potato flying out of his mouth, "what you need to do is not wear any pants at all. That'd give them a shock." All of the boys around him erupted into hardy laughter.

Snape sighed and placed his elbow on the table, resting his pointed chin in the palm of his hand. He wasn't in the mood to be the object of his housemates' taunts.

"Maybe all of the girls would have rescued you sooner," Evan continued, dipping his spoon into the heaping pile of mashed potatoes on his plate.

"Or ran away screaming, more likely," Rabastan replied.

Snape gritted his teeth tightly. "I wasn't rescued by any girls."

Rabastan grinned. "Is that right?" He turned in his seat and glanced over his shoulder at the Gryffindor table. "And here I always assumed that Evans was a girl."

"What are you getting at?" Severus asked icily.

"Rosier told us that she ran to your rescue," Rabastan replied. "Never in my life would I have guessed a girl as pretty as Evans would have come to your rescue." He stared over his shoulder again, watching Lily talk animatedly with a group of her friends. "Then again, she's a Mudblood, so it's not that impressive."

Severus looked over Rabastan's shoulder to where Lily was seated. She was laughing about something with her friends, and her cheeks dimpled on either side of her mouth. She seemed to be fully recovered from the earlier events, he noted, watching her. He frowned, wondering what it would be like to be able to forget such events so easily, and realized, suddenly, that she was no longer looking at her friends, but at him. Immediately dropping his gaze, he cursed himself for staring at her long enough that she'd noticed. He hoped that she wouldn't make the assumption that he might possibly want to apologize.

Luckily for him, Rabastan was turned back around and paying no attention to Snape or Lily. He was too busy wolfing down a piece of mincemeat pie. No one noticed anything.

Evan nudged Severus hard in the ribs. "If you do have a go with her," he said, "share her with a mate, would you? I could teach her a few things." He smirked and brushed away his thick brown hair from his face. "You owe me, you know."

"I owe you," Severus repeated stiffly. "Right." He had known Rosier would expect something in return.

Evan shrugged. "Suit yourself. Next time Black and Potter decide to flip you over so that everyone sees your mangy pants, I'll laugh and point with the rest of them." He was quiet for a moment, and a small smirk settled itself on his lips. "I'll even help them out."

"If your aim is still as it was the last time I saw you duelling, Rosier, then I worry for everyone else," Severus spat. Evan flushed angrily, but the rest of the group chuckled in amusement. He hadn't actually meant to be entertaining, though he supposed the truth behind what he'd said was amusing enough, unlike Evan's remark. Severus glared down at his plate angrily. "Besides, there will never be a next time."

Regulus turned and regarded Severus silently for a moment, very much resembling his brother, despite the sharper features and narrower frame. "Are you going to get them back?" he asked. He cocked a brow, watching Snape with a curious expression on his face.

"Of course he is," Rabastan said, eyeing Snape shrewdly. "You are, aren't you?"

Severus nodded almost imperceptibly. "Perhaps long and painful deaths by poison."

The shadow of a figure standing behind Severus fell across the table. "That sounds like fun," a voice said silkily, "but Unforgivables take less preparation and are equally satisfying."

"Bellatrix," he murmured, swivelling around to meet her clear blue eyes. Her robes were a bit undone, and she was showing more cleavage than the average, respectable Hogwarts witch would. Of course, Bellatrix prided herself in being anything but average.

"'Lo, Bella," Regulus chimed in. The boys looked at her respectfully. She was a seventh year, Head Girl, and worshipped by the boys in Slytherin House. Most of the Slytherin girls envied her, though they would hardly admit it. Bellatrix had long, shiny black hair and heavily lidded blue eyes, which were now glittering malevolently.

"They'll have their time, Severus," she continued. "Be patient. I understand that Dumbledore's going to have a talk with them, though I'm certain he'll only give them a slap on the wrist, the old fool." She bent down in between Evan and Snape and her long hair fell over Severus's shoulder. He was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of rich spices like coriander and cloves. It was nearly intoxicating. "You'll think of something," she whispered, her breath tickling his ear. He broke out in gooseflesh and grunted softly.

Bellatrix straightened back up--Evan looked quite disappointed by this--and ran a hand down the front of her robes, lingering momentarily over her chest. Unlike Evan, Severus did his best not to stare. "Rabastan, where is your brother?" she asked quickly. "I want a word with him."

"Off posting a letter, I think," Rabastan replied. "He'll be around shortly. He wouldn't miss dinner."

Bellatrix nodded curtly and turned to take her seat at the end of the table with the older Slytherins. Everyone around her seemed to sit up a little straighter once she had taken her seat.

"Your brother is the luckiest bloke in the world," Evan murmured quietly, hazel eyes still fixated on Bellatrix. She sat at their table as though she were seated on a throne. She certainly looked and acted the part of a queen, but Severus had little doubts that she would send one to the gauntlet with a blink of an eye.

"He seems to think so," Rabastan admitted, shrugging. "He's dead set on asking her to marry him once they're through with school. He seems to think it's his own idea, but I'm sure she planted it into his mind somehow. She's like that."

Severus silently agreed with Rabastan. Bellatrix was manipulative and cunning, and to top it all off, extremely intelligent. When Bellatrix was around, everything in the vicinity slowly became unhinged. She was admirable, certainly, but her power made Severus weary.

"She's always been that way," Regulus spoke up again, setting down his fork. "A right wicked streak. She used to get us in trouble all the time." He blinked twice, and then shut up abruptly. Severus assumed that when he said 'us' he meant he and his brother, Sirius. Again, Severus's gaze flickered over to the Gryffindor table, where Black and Potter were sitting next to each other. Sirius leaned over and whispered something conspiratorial to Potter, who laughed so loudly his glasses slid down the bridge of his nose.

Severus curled his lip in disgust and looked away. He picked up his fork and blinked idly at the roast beef that was growing cold on his plate. He never had a close friend in all his schooling thus far, although in Slytherin house, no friends were ever that close. They'd sell each other out to save their own skin, which happened more often than not. Still, he was glad when Rosier, Lestrange, and the other boys included him in their gang. They had been amazed at his skill with dark magic, and Bellatrix always insisted that he had potential.

Hanging around the group of Slytherins was sometimes amusing, but it was also mentally exhausting. Severus always had to be in top form; he never wanted to miss anything that a fellow housemate said or did, because it could have dire consequences later. It was because of this that he still enjoyed his time alone in the library, or helping Professor Slughorn organize the hundreds of ingredients in the potions classroom. It was mindless work that kept him busy while allowing him time to relax.

"Er," Regulus said quietly, "Snape?"

"What?" He drew his eyes away from the hunk of meat on his plate.

"There are some Hufflepuffs pointing at you over there." Regulus tilted his head toward the Hufflepuff table, where a blond headed boy with a scar running down the length of his face was indeed pointing at Severus. Rabastan spun around in his seat, and Evan also stopped mid-bite to stare at the Hufflepuff table.

Severus lifted an eyebrow and frowned. The boy, who must have realized that the entire group of fifth year Slytherins was now staring in his direction, paled slightly and turned back around in his seat. The girl he had been chatting with also seemed nervous.

"Aren't you going to go over there and say something?" Evan asked curiously.

"Not now," Severus replied. He had no desire of making more of a spectacle than was already there.

"But you are going to say something?" Rabastan asked, still eyeing the boy dangerously.

Severus poked at his food with the end of his fork. "I'm not going to say anything." He had the Arithmancy OWL with the boy, whose name was Davy Gudgeon, tomorrow. He was fairly certain that he could manage to make the numbers on Davy's parchment roll jumble without the naïve boy even noticing. It would teach him to be such a dunderhead.

"Not say anything, eh?" Rabastan repeated, getting Severus's subtle hint. A small smirk spread across his face as he turned back around. "Now see, boys? This is precisely why we hang around Snape." He winked at Snape from across the table. "Pity I don't take Arithmancy. I'd rather like to see you in action."

Severus grunted quietly, finally taking a bite of his meal, which was now cold. He didn't really care, and chewed it dully.

Evan, who had finished shovelling a strawberry tart into his mouth, swiped his napkin across his handsome face carefully. "So," he said, changing the subject, "how long do you boys reckon' it will take to convince Florence Jenkins to go with me to Hogsmeade?"

Severus sat on his bed in the fifth year male dormitory with the bed curtains drawn around him. He was reading through an old, tattered book with the words "Olde Curses for the Skylled Wizard" across the binding. With a quick flick of his wand, the page turned.

The rest of dinner had been rather uneventful, though Severus now had a small list of about a dozen students who would be perplexed to find their notes and test parchments missing, blank, or inexplicably ridiculous in their contents later. He was rather looking forward to crossing each and every name off of the list. If anyone re-offended, the consequences would be much more severe, not to mention painful.

"Psst!" A voice hissed from beyond his curtains. "Snape!"

Severus paused in his reading, shutting his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. It was no use in pretending that he wasn't in bed. Lestrange had seen him get in an hour before. He opened his eyes and glared at the crack in his curtains.

"What is it?"

"Open up the curtains."

Irritably, Severus stretched his arm forward and yanked the green velvet bed curtains to the side. Rabastan was standing there in his striped pyjamas, looking smug.

"Well," said Severus, "what is it?"

"You'll never guess who we overheard sticking up for you in the Front Hall," Rabastan replied. He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet triumphantly.

Severus gave an uninterested half-shrug and glanced back at his book longingly. He didn't need anyone to stick up for him, nor did he want anyone sticking up for him. "One of the Hufflepuffs that I tutor in Potions?" he guessed lazily. They were rather loyal, but then, that was their nature.

Rabastan shook his head. "Nope. Try again."

Severus wasn't in the mood for one of Rabastan's games. In the past, they were known to go on for days on end, and Rabastan's smug behaviour only worsened. Severus decided it was best to put a stop to something before it even began. "And what if I don't want to try again?" he asked.

Rabastan narrowed his eyes and frowned. "Fine," he snapped, "if you don't want to know, than I'm not going to bother telling you." His fists clenched at his sides. "You're such a wanker?"

"I'm a wanker?" Severus countered softly. "I'm sorry I can't appease you," he added coolly. "I don't fancy playing childish guessing games." He absently thumbed his wand, his mind running through curses in case Rabastan decided to try anything.

"Oh, so you think I'm childish?" Rabastan asked, brows rising in a dangerous challenge. He stepped forward, and gave Snape a threatening look. "Now see here—"

"SNAPE!" Evan Rosier burst through the doorway, grinning from ear to ear. "I've been looking for you all over. Evans was sticking up for you! Rabastan and I overheard her in the front hall; it was bloody hilarious!" He skidded to a stop when he noticed both boys' faces. "Say, what's going on?"

The tension that had built up between Severus and Rabastan cracked at Evan's entrance. Rabastan spun around and looked at Evan angrily. "Rosier! You weren't supposed to say anything!"

"I wasn't?" Evan looked surprised. "Why on earth not?"

"Because Rabastan here was having a fine time taunting me," Severus replied. "I'm sorry that I have to disappoint you both, but I have no interest in what Evans thinks of me."

"Even when I tell you that she said you were brilliant at Potions?" Evan asked with a wry grin.

Rabastan huffed angrily, obviously still cross over his fun being spoiled. "Leave it to a Mudblood to find the illusion of something good in Snape."

Severus could have hexed Rabastan on the spot. He would have revelled in giving the ignorant dolt bleeding blisters on his feet, or an itchy rash that would break out in even worse areas of his body. Instead, he decided to let Lestrange be. The day's events had really taken a toll on him. "I've never tried to be good," he said shortly. It was true. He never had.

Rosier nodded. "Who would? It's too much work." He paused thoughtfully. "Unless you're trying to score a girl, of course."

"Shut up, you idiot," snapped Rabastan.

"What?" Rosier protested.

"Are girls all you think about?"

Rosier fluttered his eyelashes and took a step towards Rabastan, who made a face. "Only when I'm not dreaming about you, Lestrange," he teased.

Rabastan pushed up the sleeves of his pyjama top. "You'll be having nightmares in a moment," he warned, advancing forward.

"As much as I'd like to see you two lovebirds make up," Severus interrupted, watching them argue with a preoccupied look on his face, "I'm going to bed. Good night." With that, he shut the curtains around him and sat back on his pillows, leaving Rabastan and Evan to grumble incoherently amongst each other.

He picked up his book where he left off and began to read again, but found that he couldn't get much farther than the first few paragraphs. Why was Evans sticking up for him all of the sudden? Not only that, but why did she feel the need to share information about him with fellow Hogwarts students, especially with people like Lestrange and Rosier hanging about? She was really the most irritating Muggle-born he had ever met. Why couldn't she just mind her own business, he wondered. If Bellatrix got word of it, Snape would surely be in for an earful.

An unfamiliar feeling settled in the pit of his stomach, and he set his book aside, slipping underneath his sheets. When exactly did Evans notice that he was brilliant at Potions, anyway? It was not a big secret, admittedly, but the Gryffindors rarely acknowledged his skill as a matter of principle. In fact, he was rarely acknowledged by anyone other than Professor Slughorn and the few students who asked for his tutoring.

Frankly, he was the one who usually took note of skill in the Potions room. There were a fair few who were all right in Potions, both Slytherins and Gryffindors. Lestrange, Black, Potter, and Pettigrew weren't terrible; although Lupin was hopeless, and Rosier was usually too busy making eyes at the girls in the class to bother getting the ingredients correct. Evans, however, showed a certain flair for potion making, which she attributed to her love for cooking when asked about it by their Professor.

He had snorted at the time. Brewing draughts and potions was nothing like cooking. Leave it to a Muggle-born to make such a simple-minded comparison.

He closed his eyes, pondering her statement. Severus didn't like competition, but he did appreciate the fact that she considered him brilliant. Certainly he was better than her, and she realized it. This was good, because if she thought him brilliant, she wouldn't attempt to outdo him in class. He yawned and turned over onto his side.

As if she could, anyhow. No one would overcome Severus Snape without a difficult struggle. He wouldn't allow it.