Rating: PG for implied violence. Younger readers may want to discuss what Snape reveals with a trusted adult, especially if they identify with it.

"Just Like Mummy" by H.L.B.

Severus Snape watched with a closed face as the students filed out of his dungeon classroom. The Students chatted excitedly, no doubt looking forward to the coming weekend. Severus couldn't help glancing toward Harry Potter and his friends. Their heads were close together as they left; breaking apart only for a moment as they laughed at something Ron Weasley had said.

As the sounds of students echoed away in the corridor, he surveyed his empty classroom and, without knowing it, sighed. He leaned back in his chair and listened to the silence letting it settle peacefully around him. Unbidden, the image of Potter and his friends returned to his mind and he realized he was clenching his teeth again. The sore molars ground tightly against one another as they often had in his dreams.

He knew Harry Potter and his friends believed he hated them. Truth be told what he felt toward them was very close to hate... but it was not. It was resentment, a resentment that rose from the deepest most bitter place in his heart. They, of course, could never understand this... he didn't imagine many people could. They couldn't know how the all-too-familiar sight of Harry and his close, supportive, fun-loving, loyal friends tortured him with memories of things he had never had - could never have had.

If he were honest with himself he would admit that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were only convenient targets, just as Harry's father and his friends had been all those years ago. But he couldn't help it. The pain that caused the bitterness and resentment had been woven into his very self years before he had even met Harry's father and his cronies - and it would still be there long after Harry Potter was gone.

Even now when he struggled with the legacy left to him by the misfortune of his birth, even now, a part of him wanted to cry "Mummy, it hurts!" But he knew there was no point in that now; just as there had been no point in it then. Mummy could not - would not- protect him then - or now. He was on his own just as he had always been.

Now that he was an adult, he supposed himself to be older, wiser, stronger. It seemed to him that he ought to be able to use his strength to reach out... to reach out to people who are caring who have expressed a desire to support him. He longed to say to someone, Dumbledore, McGonagall, someone, "It hurts" but he could not. He could not because he had spent too much time learning how not to feel his feelings. He knew the pain, he felt it's heavy weight... yet still he could only allow himself to feel it in tiny bits... bits too small to lift the crushing weight of it from his heart... too small to give his spirit room to breathe.

Dumbledore was the father he wished he had, but even when Dumbledore offered him compassion, strength, or support, he could not accept it. Why? Why could he not take the very thing for which he most longed when it was offered him?

Fear. Yes, that was it. A fear that gripped him in a way even the fear inspired by Voldemort never could. He, Severus Snape, former Death Eater, Hogwarts Professor and Head of House was still as scared as a child. He was scared that if he made himself vulnerable by asking for or accepting even friendship from Dumbledore, he would somehow betray him as his father had or fail him as had his mother. Not even the most disciplined, rational part of his mind could hold sway against the fear.

Besides, what could anyone, even Dumbledore, do now but shift uncomfortably, look at him with pity, and feel inadequate because they don't know how to fix a horror that had left an indelible mark on his soul just as surely as Voldemort had left one on his arm? No one can fix it. You don't fix this, you learn to live with it as best you can... even if it does still hurt.

So there it was. He was trapped as neatly as a fly in a spider web. His father was dead and yet he still inflicted his cruelty on his son by keeping him from having even the most basic things most persons take for granted. The fear, the resentment, the bitterness would poison him as long as he lived.

His students would always look upon him as a monster... and for this, too, he felt resentment. He didn't resent them for thinking ill of him, he resented them for living lives so free to trauma and strife that they would actually think he qualified as a monster. He was harsh, very harsh, even unfair he knew but he was no monster. He had met true monsters in his day - one had raised him, the other been his "mentor". Even at his worst Severus could never have hoped to approach the undiluted evil in both men's souls.

He knew the way Neville Longbottom looked at him. The first time he saw it he knew that look to be very like the one he must have worn when looking at his father - and that was not something of which he cared to be reminded. It was also a look he did not deserve. He hated being the object of such a look as the one he gave his own father. Perversely, he found himself being harsh, even cruel, to Longbottom. The child still in him felt that as long as he was getting that look he might give Longbottom some reason to give it. It was all too easy. The dark part of his soul worked very well, after all. It had been trained to do so nearly from birth.

That, he supposed was all any of them would ever see in him. They would never understand him or know why... the reasons were too ugly, complicated, repressed. The mother who had chosen to not protect him had sent him into the world every day insisting he not betray and pain, hurt, or desperation to "outsiders". By now that habit was so well ingrained that all anyone could see was the hardened parts of himself it was safe to show the world.

And the rest? He couldn't afford to let it out even if he knew how to do so. All he could do was to hush that crying child that still lived in him as ruthlessly as his father had quieted the crying child he once was. I cannot afford such self indulgence as this! What Severus Snape had felt, did feel was of little consequence to anyone save himself, he reminded himself as he rose from his desk. As he had so often, Severus closed the door to his emotions, to the "needs" he considered weak and petty. He turned his back on himself and walked away.

Just like Mummy.