In a plan to avoid the downstairs rooms, Severus hauled his case straight up the narrow crooked stairs to the windowless landing, the bare floorboards creaking and complaining as he went. As he passed the first bedroom he paused to gaze in for a moment. It was a cramped office stuffed full of his father's junk and his mother's Potions books, and there were bed sheets and pillows strewn over the floor. Father had obviously been sleeping in here again.

He clicked the door open and peered cautiously into his tiny little room, it was musty from unuse, the bed was unmade.

Nice to feel welcomed.

With a grim expression he put down the case, flung the window open, whipped the curtains shut and threw himself on the bed. The breeze billowed the curtain out slightly, letting in the stuffy evening air.

As his eyes grew accustomed to the gloom he half focused on a spider clinging to the wall above his wardrobe. He could still hear them rowing immediately below him. Wherever he went in the house he would hear them; the walls were thin, and so were the doors. It was like a trap. Trapped all summer long in his parents' cramped house, stuck in the middle of Muggle hell with nothing to listen to but Muggle traffic and the Muggle neighbour's television blaring through the wall.

And the arguments, of course. The arguments of a stale marriage. Once the love had died, and that never took long where his family was concerned. Severus swore to himself from an early age that if he was cursed to repeat it he would never marry.

The stink of the canal in the Summer heat was bringing the flies in again. A shadow of a sneer crossed his face; of all the things he hated about this place he hated the flies most. There were two circling erratically in the centre of the room at that moment, but as soon as he killed them he knew they would quickly be replaced by two more. They crawled over the window-panes, landing on the walls, the ceiling and the furniture, leaving their filthy dots of excrement everywhere.

A door slammed downstairs.


Severus swore under his breath, narrowing his eyes. His father knew he was home, so he must have got mother to set detection charms upstairs. Curse the damned place.

"Yes," he replied sourly.

"Yes father!" came the deadly tone from the bottom of the stair. "Thought it best to sneak upstairs and avoid me, did you boy?"

"No father, I was just unpacking before I came down," he replied as coolly as he could.

"'re not avoiding telling me about how school went this year, then?"

Severus swallowed. "No actually. As I just said, I was going to tell you all about it, after I unpacked father."

A snort of derision carried up the stairs. "The devil you were!"

"I bloody well was!" he jeered back.

There was no reply. The door slammed again, louder this time.

"And fucking nice to see you too, father," the teenager hissed bitterly through clenched teeth.

Not caring how much noise he made now, Snape tipped his case directly out onto the floor, and threw most of his robes into the bottom of the cupboard. Shoving his books and cauldron under his bed he threw himself atop it again to glare angrily up at the ceiling.

His father's laugh carried up to him through the floorboards. Severus' insides turned hatefully at the sound of it. Drunken idiot. And as for his mother, well, she was far more concerned about how much her son's getting picked on by a gang of Gryffindors and laughed at by the whole school would affect the family reputation.

He sneered. What reputation? His own father, a working class Muggle, slaving away all hours of the day in manual labour, and drinking all evening. And then his mother, a pureblood choosing to stay with the drunken violent fool because she "loved him?" Crying, whining, sulking, promising she will leave him, yet doing nothing?

She was depressed, everyone in the street could see it. But no one cared. Nobody could give a damn.

Snape's mouth began to twist with some sort of emotion, but he forced it back into a sneer.

If only they knew his real secrets. The furtive whisperings he heard back in the Slytherin common room. The encrypted notes sent back from older students of the promise made by a terrible wonderful man with gleaming red eyes…

A real promise. A promise that it didn't have to be like this.

The reality growing one step nearer with the promise of a mark being burnt into the skin. The mark of the skull.

His mark.

Smiling horribly to himself, Snape flicked his wand up to the ceiling and muttered a few dark words. One of the crippled flies fell onto the desk, buzzing, he watched as it span around uselessly on its back like a whirligig.

Snape reached forward, his eyes glittering with an odd triumph as he crushed noise to silence with the blunt end of his wand.

A/N: I hope you liked. :o) Thislittle ficis likely to stay a one-shot I'm afraid - just a little vignette showinga sinistersnapshot of the young Snape. (Notice I am writing a lot of young Snape at the moment - this is because I am reading all the theories and trying to get my head around what happened in HBP as much as Ipossibly canbefore I attempt to write anything post book 6. It's not going to be easy, but I want to get him as 'realistic' as possible! ;o) )