Everything had changed.
Everything was exactly the same.
"Look who it is."
"What you reading, Creepy?"
"My, my name isn't Creepy."
He knew a day like this would come. He didn't think it would come this soon. September hadn't even changed to October. The new head of Slytherin House had expected the pranks that always went on between his house and Gryffindor House, but when one of his was singled out for special humiliation, it rankled. Snape thought that the Weasley boy might be different.
"Come on Bill," an older Gryffindor egged on. "Grab it."
The red headed boy tried to snatch a book out of the hands of another first year, a Slytherin who had been corralled by Gryffindors. The boy pulled the book close to his chest so the other one couldn't get it.
"Why you hiding your book, Creepy?" It was the older boy who taunted. "Don't just stand there Weasley, get it. Use the spell we showed you."
Bill didn't look like his heart was in it, but he also looked like he didn't want to go against his peers. He raised his wand calling out with a less than sure voice, "Expelliarmus." It sounded more like a question than a curse, but it worked. The book Creopan clutched flew into the air. Before any of the Gryffindors could catch it, a larger adult sized hand pulled it out of its flight.
"What do you think you are doing, Weasley?" The deep voice sent shivers down the Gryffindor boy's spines. They had not known the man for long, but the new potions master was quite an imposing figure.
Bill looked regretful, but Snape wasn't sure if it was because he felt bad for Creopan, or that a teacher had caught him. "Sir, I, I . . ."
"Don't know how to say no to your fellow Gryffindors?"
There was no answer from the petrified boy.
"Detention Weasley," Snape added. The professor looked around the group of boys. "And you Provo." He pointed to the third year boy who had been ordering Bill about. "The rest of you consider yourself lucky, and hope I don't catch you at it again. Get to your classes." The Gryffindors fled like water off a roof. The Slytherin boy wanted to run too, but Professor Snape had something of his.
"Sir," the boy spoke up. "My book."
Snape looked at the book expecting to see some volume dedicated to the dark arts. Instead, he read out what the title really was, "The Empire Strikes Back. Mr. Creopan, An adaptation of a Muggle movie?"
"I'm . . ." The boy looked as if he wanted to shrink into his robes. He gulped before explaining, "I'm half blood Sir. I live in Lancashire."
The older wizard's stomach lurched. This was sounding all too familiar.
The boy's answer made Snape relax a moment; No chance of running into the boy on holidays.
"Actually Sir, I only spend half the year there." For some reason, the boy felt safe opening up to the young teacher. "In the summer, I stay with my Mum in Salford."
That was too close to home. "Salford, Creopan?"
"You know where that is, Sir?"
"I've heard of it," the teacher evaded. Snape was not about to tell the boy he played on the other side of the river a decade earlier.
The boy kept talking as if he wanted to get something off of his chest. "My Mum and Dad have been divorced for three years. I have to live with the Muggles in the summer." An odd look crossed the boy's face. He was not sure of something. "But now that I'm here at Hogwarts, I can't imagine Dad would want me there the whole summer. My step-mum wouldn't mind." After this, the boy clammed up again.
"Listen Craig, it is Craig right?"
"Right." The boy nodded. He was sure he was about to get a lecture on bringing Muggle things to Hogwarts.
"If you think it would be bad for the Gryffindors to see what you were reading," Severus advised. "It will be nothing to what your fellow Slytherin would think."
"I'll get rid of it."
"Get rid of it? You misunderstand Mr. Creopan." Professor Snape took out his wand and transfigured the cover of the book so it read, The Dark Arts, a beginner's guide. Craig smiled when he saw what Snape had done. "Don't tell anyone." The boy nodded before the teacher added, "I believe we are now both late for first year double potions." Snape walked towards the potions dungeon with his little friend falling in behind, Craig's little legs working double time to keep up.
"Sir," Craig began talking again. "It's better once you've grown up right?"
Severus stopped in his tracks. What could he tell the kid? He wasn't sure if it was better once you'd grown up. It wasn't better for him. Not that being a kid had been all that great for him either. He ignored the boy and walked on. Creopan didn't seem to get the hint. He kept asking questions all the way down to potions. They were just outside the door to the classroom when he asked. "Professor? Professor Snape, what was your childhood like?"
His hand on the door, the twenty-one year old turned back to answer in his deep voice, dripping with sarcasm that the eleven year old didn't catch, "Wonderful."
Lyrics: Wonderful by ever clear
Hope my Mom and Dad will figure out why they get so mad
Hear them scream, I hear them fight say bad words that make me want to cry
I close my eyes when I go to bed and dream of angels who make me smile
I feel better when I hear them say everything will be wonderful someday
"What do you mean it's gone?" Eileen asked, still not believing what her husband had just told her.
"It's gone!" Tobias retorted; loudly. "What part of gone didn't you understand? Gone, as in lost."
"I understand the word gone," Eileen screeched. "What I want to know is where, and how?"
Toby Snape smiled in the sneering manner that would be one of the few traits his son would inherit from him. "I don't rightly remember it all." He looked intensely at his wife of seven years. "But I sure had fun. You remember what fun is, don't ya Ele?"
A whip of a wand sent a lamp flying towards Tobias' head. His reflexes were quick enough to catch it. "I'd be careful what you break around here. We might need to sell it."
This time Eileen physically made her way across the room to try to slap her husband. Her wrist was caught, and she was flung back. In the next room, the kitchen, sitting where he had been told to stay, Eileen and Tobias' son Severus could hear the thud when his mother tripped to the floor. He could also hear his father's cold laugh. "Serves you right . . . WITCH." His last word was meant as a swear. "I'm going to bed." Halfway up the stairs he turned back to remind, "Don't try any of that magic crap while I'm sleeping. Remember what I've got."
There was tap of his hand to a leather strap around his neck. That strap held two small stones shaped like long blunted triangles. To the wise, they might appear to be figures of people. Toby shook them in front of himself then stowed them back under his shirt. "Next to my heart."
At that point Eileen wanted nothing more than to send the creep hurling down the stairs. His threat stopped her. Eileen Prince Snape sat there on the floor of her family's home, a small brick cottage that had seen better days. It had been a small trifle in her father's holdings, now it was all she had left, that and her son. She heard a stir from the kitchen. Looking up she saw the boy clinging to the door jam. He looked as if he wanted to go out to her, but did not want to disobey being told to stay in the kitchen.
"Sev . . ." Eileen didn't even know what to say. What came forth was, "Everything is all right."
The boy could no longer obey. Next thing she knew her son was next to her. A hug and a head placed against hers gave some measure of comfort. It would have been more if the boy didn't have that ridiculous Snape nose in the middle of his face.
"It's not all right," Sev whispered. "Something's wrong with Dad. Why is he being so mean?"
Ele did not answer. She stood and ordered, "Up to bed with you, it's late."
"But Mum . . ." Sev was going to say that they hadn't had supper yet. He had a feeling this was going to be one of those days that had been occurring more frequently, one where there would be no supper. "Okay." The boy disappeared up the stairs.
"Ele Prince," Eileen said to herself. "What did you get yourself into?" She could only think what an idiot she had been. Her family was right. "No they're wrong. They have to be wrong." She moved over to a sofa. Her argument with herself lasted until sleep took her. In the morning Ele awoke to Toby trying to snuggle up to her. When she realized this, she shot up strait as a smoke stack and spat out, "What do you think you're doing?"
"I'm trying to make up," Toby said in all earnestness. "I was messed up last night." He reached for her again.
She was having none of it. "Get off!"
Toby took a deep breath. "Could you at least get your husband some breakfast?" The look in Ele's black colored eyes was pure loathing. It was her shouting that woke Severus up.
"I WOULD IF MY HUSBAND HAD BRAUGHT SOME FOOD HOME WITH HIM!" There was the slamming of doors. The boy could not hear what his father said, but he could hear his mother cackle, "Fine go. Go hang out with your low life friends another day!"
Ele was sitting on the sofa again, head in her hands, trying to figure out what to do. She was too proud to ask her family for more help; Not that they would give it. They were still furious that she had married a Muggle. She didn't dare go to any of her friends in the wizarding world; they mustn't know how low she'd sunk. No, she'd have to look for Muggle work. Her new problem was what to do with . . . "Sev?" Ele was aware that her son was standing in front of her. She looked up.
The boy looked hopeful as he asked, "Are we going to do any magic lessons today?"
"You promised." Sev pouted.
"I can't. I have to . . ." Ele considered her son. He was resourceful even at this tender age. She couldn't bring herself to say she was going to work like a Muggle. Do things that in her father's house only a house elf would do. "Do you think you could keep yourself out of mischief for a day?" She felt lower than low thinking he could. How could he be left alone? Not even one of those before mentioned house elf to keep him safe.
"I could but . . ." At that moment Severus' stomach growled, making his point. Ele went into the kitchen, but it was not food she came back with. In her hand was a vile, filled with a substance. "Drink this." Sev obeyed implicitly. The small amount of liquid tasted nasty, but he no longer felt the pangs of hunger.
"A few more days, and we won't even have this," Ele explained. "I've no more supplies to brew more." The boy understood what his mother was telling him. "That's why I've got to go out today.
Sev nodded silently.
"Please, don't let any Muggle see you do magic."
The boy nodded again.
"I'll show you a new spell when I get back."
She was still intending to leave the boy alone in the house while she went to look for a Muggle job. How she yearned for a house elf. Deep down Severus didn't believe she would leave until she was at the door. "You're really going to leave?"
Ele was going to tell him it was only for a few hours. Looking down at her son's expectant eyes made her come to an ounce of sense. "I guess you could come with me, but you must behave."
The boy nodded once more. This time he had a huge smile on his face.