Severus could hear the sound of her shoes echoing down the cobblestone street. When she was angry she tended to stomp down hard on her heels. Eileen Prince Snape was furious.
She walked briskly with his hand in hers. She was hustling the five year old rather roughly, causing Severus to catch himself from tripping. His mother did not seem to notice his distress and continued her march.
When they came to the small house at the end of the street, Severus shuddered. His grandfather's home was always a dreaded place to visit. His grandfather always seemed so upset with him and Severus was never sure what he had done to incur this emotion. He tried to avoid his Grandfather Prince at every chance. Today his mother was not going to allow that.
His mother balled her fist and began to pound on the door. For such a slight woman with tiny, slender hands, the power within her actions made one think she was a giantess. She continued to rap on the door. Severus could hear muffled sounds on the other side of the door and knew that Grandfather had gotten up from his nap.
The door creaked open and his Grandfather scowled at them. "Eileen, what are you doing here?"
His mother said nothing and brushed past his Grandfather with Severus in tow. Severus looked about the room which was lined with thousands of books. A fire was burning in the hearth and candles lit the room, disguising its seediness in a glow of warm golden light. Severus had spent many afternoons here with his grandfather listening to him tell tales of how the magical world was being polluted and destroyed by the Muggles. Severus remained quiet and stiff during these tirades, having learned that any show of impatience or boredom could get him a hard smack on the back of his head.
"A little late to be pulling the child out and about is it not, daughter?" Grandfather sneered. "A child his age should be in bed, not running about the streets."
His mother said nothing. She reached into her cloak and produced a letter which she threw on the table.
"What is the meaning of this father?" she asked in little more than an emotionless whisper.
Grandfather picked the letter up and carefully, slowly opened the envelope. He smiled without mirth. "Eileen, it looks like it is a letter from the Ministry."
Eileen slammed her fist on the table. "Why is the Ministry sending me letters regarding how I raise my son? What have you told them, father?"
"Nothing but the truth," Grandfather answered returning the letter to the table. "That a child of pure-blood ancestry and magical abilities is being raised among the Muggle rabble."
"It is no one's business but my own as to how my son is raised," Eileen shouted and she pointed a finger at him.. "You especially. You have no right to criticize me on how I am bringing up Severus."
"I was just under the impression," Grandfather said dispassionately," that perhaps you would appreciate some help, now that you have become the widow Snape. I mean, with Tobias gone and you in such a limited financial situation, I just thought.."
"You thought wrong," Eileen shouted. "We are doing fine. We don't need your help or any interference from the Ministry or any of your friends."
Grandfather sat down in a large overstuffed chair next to the fireplace. "My friends are very concerned about Severus' continuing education as a wizard. It has been pointed out to me that continuing to live with Muggles could stunt his abilities."
"Your friends?" hissed Eileen. "Like Lord Voldemort? The friend who offered to put a curse on Tobias before we got married? Your friends that, until recently, told you to be ashamed of having a grandson who was not a pure-blood? What has changed father? This has all started since Tobias..." she caught herself from saying the word. She turned and saw Severus who was cowering in the corner of the room.
"Since Tobias died," she said in a loud whisper. "It is just another way to torment me."
"Nothing of the kind my dear daughter," Grandfather said as he leaned back into his chair. "I think you just need some help in rearing the boy."
"You want to take him away from me," she spat.
Grandfather's hands gripped the arms of his chair. Severus saw his knuckles, gnarled and misshapen, turn white. He pushed himself further into the corner, expecting Grandfather's rage to explode at any time.
"Yes, Eileen," Grandfather snarled:"I want the boy to be with me. You have never shown a bit of sense your entire life. Now after the death of that, what was he, teacher of a husband you had, you continue to live among the vermin. If you want to live like that, that is fine. But young Severus deserves to know his own kind and not to be afraid of his talents. If that means taking him away from you, then so be it. I will."
"I will not let you," Eileen cried, tears beginning to stream down her face. "I won't let happen to me happen to Severus. He deserves a chance to be happy. Not like me, father. I won't let it happen. I won't allow you to take him."
Grandfather raised from his chair and walked to where Severus was trying to hide. He pushed his glasses down over his hooked nose and looked over them at Severus.. His black eyes burned into him, and a cruel smile appeared on his face.
"Now you would like to come live with Grand, wouldn't you boy? I could teach you so many things that your father couldn't. What did he teach? Chemistry. A Muggle science. Potions. Now there is a true art. We could make potions all day, my boy. And," the old man got very close to Severus' face, "I could teach you ten thousand curses, each more powerful than the last."
"Stop it, " Eileen screamed and rushed to where Severus was standing. She folded her arms around him and held him near trying to shield him from the old man. "I can teach him magic. I certainly can do it without.." She paused.
"Without what Eileen?"
"Without teaching him the Dark Arts," she whispered. "I won't have him doing that. Not like you father. Not like your friends. Not like Lord Voldemort."
Grandfather backed away from Severus and his mother. His face became a mask of hatred.
"You should respect my friends," he said in a menacing tone. "They are the way that things will be here and elsewhere. They are the future. My grandson could become part of that. No need to let his Muggle ancestry hold him back. Lord Voldemort has all ready assured me that would be no problem for such an intelligent and clever child."
"He is my son," Eileen screamed again. "He is my son and I will not let him go. I don't care who you know or who you bribe. No one, and I mean no one, will take Severus away from me."
"We will see about that, daughter," Grandfather intoned without emotion. "We will see."
Eileen glared at her father with all the hatred that she could muster. "Goodbye father, we are leaving for good."
"I will see you soon, Severus," Grandfather said in a mocking voice. "Don't pay attention to your mother."
Eileen swung her cloak and wrapped it tightly around her. She firmly took Severus by the hand and stormed out of the house, slamming the door and rattling the windows behind her. She was walking briskly back down the street, again pulling Severus along beside her.
Severus could see the tracks of tears on her face. He wanted to cry along with her. He missed his father, who was a kind and gentle man. He did not want to live with his Grandfather, whom he feared with every cell in his body. And he did not want to leave his mother, who he loved and adored.
"Are we going home mummy?" Severus finally asked getting his courage up.
"Yes," his mother answered. She never turned her head to look at him. "We will floo back to Liverpool tonight."
"Mummy, I don't want to live with Grand," Severus said in a worried state. The events of the evening had made him concerned in a manner that was older than his five years. "I want to live with you at our house."
Eileen stopped her march and gazed at her small son. She knelt down and hugged him tightly and kissed him on the cheek. She pushed a stray lock of his black hair away from his face.
"Don't you mind about any of this, Severus," she said earnestly. "You are not leaving me, not ever. And don't you fret. You are not going to live with Grandfather and you will never go back to Spinners End ever again."