Harry Potter Crossover Naruto
Sequel to A Mile in his Shoes: Uchiha Sasuke
A Mile in His Shoes: Severus Snape
Chapter 1: The Truth
Severus Snape waited until all the other students had left the Hogwart's Express before he made his way off. The station was nearly empty and he was glad. Less people meant less trouble.
He stood at the gateway that would take him into the muggle section of King's Cross Station and slipped off his school robe as soon as he was sure there was no one around. After taking a moment to tuck his robe into his book bag Severus straighten out his shirt and vest and tried for a moment to get the wrinkles out of his trousers. When he was certain his clothes looked decent, Severus stepped through the gateway.
The trains hissed and steam filled the air. Porters pushed trolleys packed with luggage and the deafening noise of people rushing here and there made Severus cringe. He hitched his book bag up on his shoulder and tugged at the sleeve of his shirt.
Severus looked up and down the station with a frown. When he saw more and more people come and go, but not the person he was looking for, Severus left the station and stood a moment on the sidewalk. Yellow taxis sat parked in front of the station and cars and trucks drove by on the street. Behind him, Severus could hear the racket of the trains. Still, there was no sign of his pop.
For almost four hours, Severus waited. He sat on a green painted bench for a while, then wandered up and down the sidewalk. A man in a conductor's uniform took a moment to ask if Severus were lost, but moved on when Severus assured him that his pop would be by shortly.
Eventually, his stomach complained in hunger and Severus gave up waiting. He decided that he would walk and meet his pop on the way. After all, it wouldn't be unusual for his pop to have gotten stopped by a neighbor for one reason or another. Perhaps he'd had to work though he'd asked for the day off. Or, Severus thought, perhaps his ma had taken a turn for the worst.
At that thought, Severus brushed a lock his hair away from his eyes, tucked it behind an ear, and stood. Considering that he'd be walking for several miles, Severus was more glad than ever for the book bag, a precious gift from his ma. it had been spelled to be able to hold anything and everything Severus might need yet weight nothing more than the fabric it was made of. If he'd had to carry a trunk laden down with books and clothes and whatnot, Severus didn't think he'd be able to make it home.
Dusk had fallen by the time Severus reached the factory town he'd lived in his whole life. The tall buildings, like modern castles, towered over the small houses of the neighborhood. Not far away, Severus knew, was the coal mine where his pop worked. His granddad had worked in the same mine and so had his great-granddad.
"Not my son," Tobias Snape had said when he'd seen Severus off at King's Cross Station. He'd beamed down at Severus with his chest proudly puffed out. "You'll be a scientist or maybe a doctor instead of wasting that mind of yours stuck in some dark hole in the ground."
At an iron bridge, rusty from age and neglect, Severus paused to look down at the water. It wasn't blue or even green. The water was a golden brown, just as Severus always remembered it to be. Pollution, Severus' ma had told him, from the factories. He'd never seen a single fish in that river. Severus crossed his arms and leaned on the railing of the bridge. It was only happenstance that he looked at the left bank.
In the mud and sad-looking weeds that struggled to live, he saw a dull brown lump of something. Severus debated with himself a moment whether his curiosity outweighed his aching feet before he started down the steep hill leading down to the riverbank. He slid part of the way down the hill with his heels dug into the earth to slow his descent. Once at the bottom, Severus found that the lump was a man's long coat with brass buttons and a heavy pocket. Severus reached into the heavy pocket and pulled out a familiar gold pocket watch.
"Yours, someday," Severus' pop had promised when Severus had been very young. He put the gold watch in Severus' hand and showed him how to open the lid to show the watch's white face and the little black numbers. "My pop gave it to me and his pop to him. This little beauty has been in our family a good long time."
Severus stared at the watch, then at the dirty coat. After a moment, he put the watch back in the coat pocket and put the coat on over his own clothes. It was far too big and dragged on the ground. He rolled the sleeves up a good many inches before he started climbing back up the hill and headed for home.
By the time he finally reached home, night had set in. Light from the windows brightened the house enough for Severus to see the familiar details he would remember for the rest of his life.
Spinner's End was a neat, tidy house with a fragrant herb garden planted under the front windows and a white painted fence surrounding the property. Smoke billowed from the brick chimney as it did from all the chimneys on all the other houses on the street. Like the pocket watch, the little house had been in the Snape family for years upon years and someday, Severus knew, he would inherit the house.
From the open kitchen window, Severus could smell food cooking and hear a faint voice singing. Even as he straightened his clothes to make himself look presentable after his long hike, Severus frowned at the singing.
She should be resting.
He looked up at the dark sky and inhaled. Along with the smell of his ma's cooking, he could almost swear that he smelled a coming storm.
The front door opened into a single room that served as a living room, dining room, and a kitchen all together. There were no carpets in the house, only a throw rug in front of the radio in the living room. The living room was just a sofa and two chairs facing a radio. The dining room was little more than a square table with three chairs between the living room and the kitchen. To the right, where the open windows were, a warm kitchen was alive with rich smells and a tall, narrow woman stood at the stove, slowly stirring something in a cast-iron pot.
She stopped singing and turned her head just enough for Severus to see her profile. He'd inherited most of his looks from her, from his dark hair and eyes to his hawk-like nose. "Welcome home, Severus." Her normally fair skin was pallid and she had dark circles under her eyes. "And what's that sour look for?"
"You said in your letter that you were sick. You should be sleeping."
Severus' ma raised an eyebrow at him. "Well, thank you for the advice, doctor Snape. May I have a hug now that you've given your prescription?"
Severus ran to her and hugged her tightly. All the pain and stress of his first year at Hogwarts faded to nothing in her arms. If his pop had been there, it would have been a perfect moment.
Eileen Snape pulled away from her son and smiled so sweetly that she looked young, again. She patted Severus' shoulder and ran a hand down the lapel of the coat he wore. "Where's your pop?"
Severus frowned. "Don't know. I thought something had come up and he couldn't come to the station so I walked."
"You walked alone from London?" She looked as if she might cuff him, but turned her face to the ceiling for a moment. "Your pop left hours ago. Even if he something came up, he'd have found a way to let me know." SHe walked to Severus and looked critically at the too big coat he wore. "Where did you get his coat? It's filthy."
"I found it by the river, near Hans Bridge. Down by the water. Did he say he was stopping to fish?"
Her lips tightened. "By the river? No other sign of him?"
"If he wanted to fish, he knows better places. He's got more sense than to waste time in that muck. He wouldn't have gone today, anyway. Not when he had to pick you up. He knew I couldn't do it. I don't feel well enough to fly a broomstick let alone anything more complicated. Odd… "
"More than odd, ma. His watch was in the pocket." Severus pulled it out to show her then slipped it back into his pocket. "He wouldn't have left it."
"No," she agreed. "He wouldn't have. Did you see anything else that caught your attention?"
"No. Sorry, ma. I'll go back and look."
"Not in the dark, you won't. You eat your dinner." She set a bowl of stew on the table and handed him a spoon. "I'll look."
"Magic? Shouldn't you be resting?" Severus sat and ate while he watched his ma.
She returned to her pot. "If I slept every time I took a bad turn, I'd spend half my life in bed. Nothing was ever gained without hard work. You just remember that! And I certainly am well enough to look for… " She grimaced and put a hand to her breast.
She coughed so hard that her face turned red and she was left bent over and gasping for air. Severus patted her back and held her arm. "That's enough," Severus' mother said, waving him away. "Stop fussing. You're worse than an old woman. Sit."
Severus took a moment before he obeyed and sat at the dining table. He watched her closely in case of another coughing fit.
Severus' ma took the pot off the heat and began to rummage through the cupboard. "You're not talking about your year as much as I thought you might. You've made friends, haven't you?"
What are you slinking about for? No one wants you here.
"About as many as I've ever had." That wasn't a lie.
Eileen nodded. "And your professors? How are they treating you?"
Mister Snape, what do you think you're doing? Stop trying to blame your absurd behavior on others! Honestly… Slytherins!
Severus forced a smile. "I'm getting top marks. I'm the best."
"Good. Then you can help me find your pop. Get me the thyme." Once he brought her the herb from the garden, she tore it into tiny pieces and put it in a clay bowl. Into the bowl went a few tablespoons of milk and one of her treasured basilisk scales. Severus heard the bubbling of his ma's potion and watched her while she leaned over and stared into the bowl.
"Do you see him?"
"Hush," Severus' ma didn't look up from the bowl. She scowled darkly, her brow furrowing deeply. "He isn't anywhere. I can't see him anywhere."
A knock at the door drew her attention from the bowl. She went to the window and peered out, but quickly drew back. Her pale face turned white as milk. "Severus, go to your room."
"Go now. Take your bag." She grabbed his shoulder and nearly pushed him to his bedroom door. "Do not come out, Severus. Do you understand me? Do not come out no matter what happens!"
"Yes, ma." Severus stood in his small room and watched his ma when she turned to look at the front door, again. "Who is it, ma? Who's at the door?"
She gave him a hard look. "My brother. Keep away from him, Severus. He's dangerous. Don't you ever trust him. Here." She pulled her wand from her sleeve and drew a circle in the air. The circle glowed with a pale light and within the circle an image of the Snape's front room appeared. "You watch and listen, my Severus."
The knocking at the door grew more insistent, making Severus' ma look over her shoulder at the door. "Information is power. Get what power you can to keep yourself safe." She kissed his forehead and left the room, closing the door behind her. Severus pressed his ear against the door and heard her whisper a locking spell.
Severus stared at the closed door with his mouth slack. He'd been locked in. He didn't bother trying the door. When he'd been very small, his ma had used that particular spell often enough that Severus knew he had no chance of undoing it. Instead, he went to the still glowing circle she'd drawn in the air and watched the scene play out on the other side of his door.
Severus' ma took time to pat her hair into place and straighten her apron. Then, even as the knocking went on and on, she took a few more minutes to stare at the door. She stood in front of it long enough that Severus had begun to doubt she would answer it at all.
When she finally did answer the door, Severus' ma opened it quickly and stepped back at once. He could see the end of her wand held in her left hand while most of it was concealed up her sleeve. When she spoke, her voice was colder than Severus had ever heard it. "Marcus."
The visitor ducked to get through the doorway. His walking stick tapped on the floor with every step until he was only a few feet from Severus' ma. Fine clothes and the bearing of a man with an over-inflated sense of self-worth made him seem almost regal. The man looked down his nose at Severus' ma, then around the house. He sniffed and drew his shoulders together as if just being in the house offended him. "I see the years have been unkind to you, Eileen."
"I didn't invite you in."
"That's no way to talk to family."
Severus' ma snorted and crossed her arms over her chest. "Don't get me started. Say what you came for then leave."
"Your manners certainly haven't improved over the years." The stranger ran his fingers through his blonde hair and sighed in a way that made Severus hate him at once. "I've come for your son."
"Where is he? The Prince with mud in his veins."
Severus' ma was across the room in an instant and struck her brother so hard across the face that he rocked back on his feet. Her lips curled back from her teeth and she met his infuriated gaze easily. "You will not say such things about my son. Get out of my house! So help me, I'll make such a scandal you'll never show your face at the Ministry for as long as you live!"
The man raised a gloved hand to his reddened cheek. "Don't threaten me, you pallid crow."
Severus dropped his book bag on his narrow bed.
In the other room, the yelling was getting louder and Marcus Prince shouted, "You live in this poor excuse for a hovel and barely have enough to put food on the table."
"My family eats very well, I'll have you know!"
More yelling and more until Severus thought his ma would scream the house down. They yelled right over each other's voices, not listening to what the other had to say. Severus pressed his palms against his ears, but the vision his ma had set in the air still showed him what happened in the other room and he couldn't force himself to look away.
Marcus Prince moved like a predator, like a lion Severus had seen on a film at school. The man prowled in front of Severus' ma, thumping his walking stick here and there as he made a point.
Eileen Snape held back the lion with her own sharp, biting words. When he would begin to move closer to her, her mouth would opened with a sneer Severus knew well. She stalked, also, striding to match her brother's pace and keeping him close to the door.
'Coward!' Severus berated himself. Gritting his teeth, he took his hands away from his ears. If his ma were going to be forced to go through the ordeal, then he could at the very least listen as she wanted him to.
"If you're done with the insults," Marcus Prince said. "Let's get down to business. Your son."
Severus leaned forward. His eyes narrowed just as his ma's did.
"What do you want with my Severus?"
Marcus Prince stroked the pommel of his walking stick. "I've been keeping an eye on him. His performance at Hogwarts is commendable."
Severus watched his ma's hands tighten. "Spit it out, Marcus."
"I want to buy your son."
Severus caught his breath.
"You see," Marcus Prince continued. "I believe I could use him in the future. He's got a fine mind and potential to be great. In fact, I do believe he'll be the finest of his year. Despite his mongrel blood, he's advanced far beyond his year. I suppose you had something to do with that? A little extra training before school? At least you had foresight there." Marcus Prince paused. "There are plans in the works that will change the world. At my side, your son will also be great. He will have more than," he sneered and looked around the house. "this pauper's life. Why you wanted to breed with a muggle - and a low-born one, at that - is beyond me." He stared hard at Severus' ma. "How could you do it? If you'd only wanted to experiment with one of them, I'm sure the family would have been fine with that. But no. You had to reproduce. At least the abomination you spawned has the merit of intelligence."
Severus' ma turned red. Her eyes blazed. "You'll get your hands on my son over my cold, rotting corpse."
"Yes," Marcus Prince's hands stilled on his walking stick. "I thought you might say that."
Severus went cold. With shaking legs Severus walked to the door, all the while keeping his eyes on the scene in the other room. No matter how Severus pulled on it, the doorknob wouldn't twist. He was stuck in the room. Severus turned and stared at the glowing circle. He couldn't think. He felt frozen, removed from his own body, and absolutely helpless to change what was happening in the other room.
"Are you sure you want to challenge me? You've been feeling poorly, haven't you?" Marcus Prince asked. "I'll bet you're not feeling so strong as you normally are. We don't have to fight. I'm prepared to pay you… "
"You finish that sentence and I'll gut you like a fish." Severus' ma drew herself up sharply. "Where's my husband, Marcus? What have you done to him?"
"What makes you think I did anything?"
Her wand whipped out of her sleeve and she aimed at her brother with a steady hand. "Tell me."
The pain made Severus drop to his knees. He felt the world close in around him.
Marcus Prince went on, "I had thought to… contact your son on his way home from school - though I did end up missing him. That would be difficult with the father hovering." He smiled. "I promise it was painless."
There was a twitch in her cheek when Severus' ma threw her curse.
Marcus Prince blocked it easily with his own wand, but instead of casting a curse of his own, he swung his walking stick and struck Severus' ma in the head.
She fell to the floor, slumping like a marionette with cut strings.
Severus started to cry. He stared at her until Marcus Prince raised his wand. He muttered a spell and, like a burnt out light bulb, the glowing circle Severus' ma had created flickered, then extinguished.
Severus reached out to where it had been, as if he could somehow find it and bring it back. There was nothing to touch. It was gone.
Severus sat on his knees in the dark room and wrapped his pop's coat around himself and his book bag, a childish protection against the pain burning him inside and the fear that threatened to undo him.
There was a terrible silence. Severus could hear only the blood rushing in his ears. It was a silence so awful that it made Severus tremble so violently that he thought he couldn't stop.
When the footsteps stopped just outside his door, Severus forgot that he was eleven and forgot that he was too proud to be afraid. He pulled his knees up to his chest and stared at the door. The doorknob began to turn and Severus panicked. He crawled under his bed and, making certain to pull his pop's coat fully under with him.
He watched as his bedroom door open and polished shoes walk in. The man stopped just inside the room.
"Poor little half-blood," Marcus Prince whispered. "Cowering like a mouse before a cat. You have good reason. What an awful life you've suffered. That deranged mother of yours… and your father."
Under the bed, Severus frowned.
"You don't have to be afraid of me. I'm going to take care of you, now. You must have been so frightened, hearing all that arguing. The thing is, Severus, that your mother couldn't properly take care of you. She was dying."
Severus clenched his fists.
"Your father found out what she did. She was quite mad, you know. Did you know? Perhaps it wasn't obvious from the outside, but she was insane. She bespelled your father into loving her. The spell must have worn off and he found out. He poisoned her; that's why she's been so ill. And tonight, when I wanted to take you for your own safety, she attacked me."
Severus wanted to scream at the man, wanted to rip his lying tongue from his mouth. Instead, he put his hand in his mouth and bit hard on his knuckles.
The bed above Severus shifted and drooped until it touched Severus' back. "Your father won't be coming home, Severus. He's murdered your mother and run away. You don't have anyone else but me. It's for the best. You really do have so much potential." He stood and walked to the bedroom door. "I'll give you time to grieve, but not long." With that, he was gone.
Severus stayed frozen under his bed and listened until he heard the front door open and close. He let out a breath before he crawled out. Still half under the bed, Severus saw his ma's body through the open door.
A nightmare. A hallucination. Something. It's not real. It can't be.
"Ma?" The walk into the other room seemed to take a long time. His feet felt heavy. "Ma?" She was dead. Pop was dead. "Ma?" Severus stopped at her side and knelt. He looked over her shoulder to see her face and felt sick. Her eyes were wide open. Strands of her black hair fell across her cheeks and forehead. His fingers were shaking when he reached out and pressed his fingers against her throat. Nothing. Her skin had begun to cool. Severus pulled away. He wanted to close her eyes for her, but didn't. Her skin had been so cold…
Severus stood shakily and stumbled to the telephone in the kitchen. He misdialed three times before finally getting the number he wanted.
Severus opened his mouth, but no words came out.
"Hello? This is the police station."
"Help." Severus' voice came out small and weak. Pitiful. He put his free hand against the wall and leaned on it.
"Help. I need help. I need you to come here. Spinner's Lane. I need you to come to Spinner's Lane. We're the only house here. You have to come to Spinner's Lane."
"Now, son, take it easy." The officer's voice was soft and calm. "Take a deep breath and tell me what's wrong."
"My ma… " Severus let his voice trail away. What to say? That his ma had been cursed to death? That his uncle, who had no existence in the muggle world, had murdered her? No. There would be no help from muggles. Severus hung up the phone.
He had no idea what to do.
Severus chewed on his bottom lip until he tasted blood. There would be questions he couldn't answer. What if no one believed him?
Severus put a hand to his mouth. He felt his insides twist. Practical. Be practical, He told himself. Ma and pop… they don't need me. Uncle Marcus might kill me, but he hasn't yet. He said I'm useful and people don't get rid of useful things. But if I don't do what he wants, he has no reason to keep me. And Severus had no intention of doing anything Marcus Prince wanted him to do. Muggles can't help me. Hogwarts… maybe Hogwarts would be safe. Severus nodded resolutely to himself once he'd made his decision. It was the only logical choice.
Severus went around the house, gathering what he would need. Sensible. Have to be sensible. The worn, sturdy book bag was full of everything Severus needed for school, but there were other things he'd need. He took spare clothes and a family photograph that hung on the wall. In the kitchen he found jars of peas and string beans and half-a-loaf of bread. On the top shelf of the pantry, in a jar marked for sugar, Severus pulled out the handful of money his ma had been saving and stuffed that, also, into his bag.
Severus jumped down from the chair he'd used to reach the money jar and ran to the front door. He paused a moment to look at his ma, then took off running into the night.
It was near midnight by the time Severus reached King's Cross Station. He was exhausted and starving. He'd never been in London at night, let alone by himself. Everything seemed bigger than it had in the daylight. The lights from the shops and the streetlights did very little to chase away the noises that lurked in the shadows.
There were prostitutes on the street corners, some of whom would pat him on the head like he was a stray puppy and ask where his mum and dad were while others spewed swears at him. On one street corner Severus passed a man who stared so intently that Severus ran to get away from him.
Severus ran until his lungs burned and his feet ached. He slowed only when King's Cross Station came in view. There was light everywhere, but it was harsh electric light and hurt his eyes for a moment. Breathing hard, Severus stumbled to a stop and leaned against one of the brick walls to rest. He could feel his heart thumping against his ribs and his head was ringing.
The station was busy, but no one took notice of Severus. Not even when he stepped through the illusion that took him to the platform for the Hogwart's Express. He'd never seen it so deserted. There wasn't a soul around. The train was still and silent where it would sit through the summer until it was needed again.
Severus walked to the end of the train station and stopped at the edge where he could see the tracks leading into the distance… to Hogwarts. Safe. The headmaster said students would always be safe there. He promised.
He walked for days. What took only hours on the Hogwart's Express was painfully slow on foot. He'd eaten the little food he'd brought with him as slowly as he could, but even scavenging berries and roots from the fields and forests near the train tracks, he was faint from hunger when Hogwarts castle finally came into view.
He stopped walking at the sight of it and stared at the castle. His stomach hurt. His feet were raw with blisters. He was dirty and so very, very tired. Severus set his shoulders and kept walking until he came to the end of the train tracks then hiked the rest of the way up to the school. Darkness had set it, but the moon was bright enough to let Severus see clearly. He walked as quickly as he could to the front door of Hogwarts and pulled on the door, but it didn't move. He pushed, but, still, the door didn't move. After a moment, Severus stepped back and glared at the door. "Open," he told it. "Open, now!" He tucked his cold hands under his armpits. "Fine. Can't physically open it. It won't respond to verbal commands. Probably, a spell is needed… a spell that I don't know." He began to pace in front of the door, moving faster and faster, desperately trying to think of a way, any way, to get into the safety of Hogwarts. In the end, frustrated and angry, he kicked the door as hard as he could. Severus cried out when pain lanced up his leg.
There were other doors and windows low enough to climb through, but each one that Severus tried was shut tight. He found himself back at the main door and stared at it. His anger faded away and all that was left was a cold emptiness. Shut out? After I came so far… I'm locked out?
There was nothing else to do. Severus sat on the wide stone steps of the main entrance. They were too cold to sleep on, so he went to the side, where heavy bushes grew on soft soil, and crawled under the low bushes. The soil was warm and the leaves soft against his face. Laying with his head resting on his book bag, Severus put his hands over his face and tried to think of anything but his ma and pop. He thought of the smell of the earth and the cool summer breeze. He thought of his throbbing feet and wondered if they were bleeding. He thought of his empty, complaining belly and wished he'd brought more food. He thought of his uncle's voice and of how much he wanted to kill his uncle.
With that last thought, Severus fell asleep with a fine drizzle of rain falling on him.
He rubbed his eyes, but didn't feel quite awake. He was sore and his eyes felt itchy. His head hurt. Slowly, painfully, memory eased back to Severus. He put both arms over his face.
Daylight filtered through the leaves of the shrub he slept beneath and the sun warmed his ankles. Severus looked down at his feet and only then realized that someone was standing near him. Warily, he pulled his feet further under the protection of the bush.
"Now, don't you worry. It's just me." The rough accent and soft tone were unmistakable. "Why don't you come out and we'll have some breakfast?"
Food was very tempting. Severus peered out of the shrubs and at Mister Hagrid's large feet. "Eggs?" Mister Hagrid was not only tall, but massive with a dark beard and long shaggy hair. His clothes were rude - brown and gray with the only bright color being a red handkerchief in his shirt pocket. His skin was ruddy from the weather and his laugh was like the rolling sound of a rushing river. If he'd ever decided to hurt someone, there was no one who could stand against him. Just being near him made Severus feel safe.
"Sure, if you want. Come on out, Severus."
Severus crawled out from under the azalea bush and looked up at Mister Hagrid. The sad, pitying look on his face made Severus look away. In the past year, Mister Hagrid had been Severus' only friend. He didn't want to see pity on that face.
"Lad, what are you doing here?"
Severus looked up at the large front doors of Hogwarts. "I can't get in."
"It's locked. It's all locked up in the summer."
"Oh." Severus sat in the mud and lowered his eyes. It wasn't fair. So far…
"Why don't you come with me? Got a right nice fire built up and we'll heat up some water so you can have yourself a bath - wash that mud off." Mister Hagrid knelt down and held a hand out, but Severus cringed away. "Hey, now. Is only me."
"I know who you are. I'm not stupid." Severus stared at his muddy shoes. "I just… " He wasn't afraid of Mister Hagrid. Mister Hagrid had always been kind to him, but
Mister Hagrid didn't say anything for a moment. "Severus? Come along. Ol' Man's been lonely without you."
"Right." Severus shakily stood up and brushed his clothes to rid himself of the mud he'd slept in. "Eggs? That would be nice. Thank you, Mister Hagrid." They walked side-by-side towards Mister Hagrid's hut. Severus rubbed a hand against his arm. "My uncle killed them."
Mister Hagrid stopped walking and Severus stopped with him. When Mister Hagrid spoke, his voice wasn't quite steady. "Who?"
"Ma and pop. He killed them." Severus looked up at Mister Hagrid. "Ma didn't like uncle Marcus much. They fought. I was scared. I wanted to help, but ma locked the door. I couldn't get out. They were both so angry. There was a crash and yelling. Then… everything went quiet." Severus shivered. "Ma was dead when I came out. Pop… " Severus hugged the coat. "I don't know where he is."
Mister Hagrid frowned, darkly. "Did your uncle hurt you?"
"No. He said I could be useful. He said he was going to take me to his house, that I'd live with him from now on. He said pop killed ma and ran away. Said pop didn't want me." Severus looked sharply at Mister Hagrid. "He lied."
"Yeah. I think you're right on that." Mister Hagrid ran a hand over his head and tugged on his beard. "Don't you worry. I'll send for the headmaster and he'll sort it all out. I'm sure he'll make everything right."
"No," Severus said. "I don't want him. I can do this myself."
"I'm going to kill Uncle Marcus. May we have toast with the eggs?"
"Toast? Yes. Sure thing. Got some jam, too."
"I like jam." Severus stopped walking and looked up, glaring at the sky. He felt… full. His insides were burning. Full of anger. Hate. Tears. Just full to the bursting point. "Strawberry?"
"Yup. And apple jelly."
"You're very nice to me."
"Well… you're a good boy."
"Maybe. I'm still going to kill my uncle."
"I wish you wouldn't."
"I know. Can we have eggs, now?"
Mister Hagrid put his arm around Severus and they started walking, again. "Yeah. We can have those eggs."
Mister Hagrid didn't say anything when Severus started to cry. Severus stopped walking, again, and lowered his face. "Can I stay with you?" Severus asked, softly. "Just tonight?"
Severus cried in earnest, then, with shaking shoulders and loud sobs. He covered his face with his hands and kept wailing even when Mister Hagrid lowered himself to his knees and hugged him. They stayed like that until Severus ran out of tears. When Mister Hagrid pulled away and looked at him, Severus felt smaller than more tired than he'd ever felt.
"We'll get it all sorted out in the end." Mister Hagrid stood and patted Severus' shoulder. "Let's get you over to my hut and get you settled."
Severus nodded and they started walking. The blisters on Severus' feet felt like spikes of pain shooting into the soles of his feet. "I'm sorry if I've cause you trouble."
"Now, none of that. You're no trouble at all." Mister Hagrid put a hand on Severus' shoulder, but pulled it away when Severus flinched. He hated his weakness for doing it. Such a coward. Unbelievable coward who hides under the bed…
Hagrid's hut was comfortable, by any standards. It was small and dim but not dark. Mister Hagrid's dog, Ol' Man, trotted up to Severus for a scratch behind the ears the minute Severus walked in. The fireplace was bare - as was to be expected in such hot weather. Even so early in the day, it was hot enough to sweat. Funny, that. Severus couldn't stop shivering.
What if the Headmaster wouldn't let Severus stay and he found himself back at King's Cross Station? What if Uncle Marcus decided to come back for him?
"You're shaking, lad." Hagrid ignored Severus' musing, if he noticed it at all, but put his massive hands on Severus' face. He pushed back Severus' hair from his forehead and let his hand rest there for a moment. "You're feverish."
"Really? And here I thought spending the night in the rain was good for one's health." He shouldn't have said that. "Imagine my surprise when my vision started doubling and my head starts throbbing."
"No need to get all testy. Let's get you comfortable."
Severus stared, then frowned. "I don't need you."
"What? Well, now, everyone needs someone."
"No. I don't need you." He did NOT need pity! "I'm strong. I'm smart. I don't need anyone!"
"Lad, you're not quite twelve." Mister Hagrid shook his head.
"I don't care." He chewed on his lip as soon as the words left his mouth. He did care. He cared so much that it flet like it was pulling him apart. It didn't matter so long as he was strong. He had to be strong.
That night, After Mister Hagrid had given him medicine for the fever, Severus slept on Hagrid's couch with Ol' Man sleeping on the floor next to him.
The next day, after a large, quiet breakfast, Mister Hagrid told Severus that the headmaster had returned and was asking to see him. The visit was delayed, however, when Severus forgot to control his limping and Mister Hagrid noticed. He cleaned and bandaged Severus' feet and insisted on carrying him to the Headmaster's office. Once there, though, the Headmaster asked Mister Hagrid to leave them.
When he was alone with the Headmaster, Severus explained what had happened as calmly as he could. A night's rest, though not exactly restful, had given him time to sort out his thoughts enough for him to be more rational than he'd been with Mister Hagrid.
When he's told it all, right up until Mister Hagrid had found him, Severus stopped talking and waited patiently for the Headmaster to assure him that Marcus Prince would be hunted down and arrested.
The headmaster, with his hands folded on his desk, looked at Severus, gravely. "I had heard word from Mister Prince that his nephew had gone missing, run away after a particularly traumatic day. He was frantic with worry that his only nephew had run away after it was found that his father had murdered his mother… "
Severus' brain screeched to a halt. Everything stopped, for just a moment.
" …and then escaped. They haven't been able to find your father since that day."
Severus felt like throwing up. "They didn't find him because Uncle Marcus kill him, too."
"Now, really… don't you think you're being just a little bit unfair? I know it hurts you at a time like this. I know you must be frightened and angry, but blaming your relatives is no way to react. He's opening his home to you."
Severus blinked. "I'll slit my own throat before I'll set foot in that man's house." He tilted his head forwards, letting his hair fall over his face, slightly. "Why don't you believe me? I've never lied to you."
"I'm not accusing you of lying. I think you're upset and confused and angry. You have every right to be. Come now, sit with me."
Severus didn't want to sit. "My parents have been murdered by my uncle. Do something!"
"I've already spoken with him as well as several people who testify that he was many miles from your home the night of your mother's death."
"Then he's paying them to say it!"
"His involvement in your mother's death has already been investigated, Mister Snape. I, as well as all other pertinent authorities, are satisfied with his innocence."
Severus felt sick. "Make him take Veritaserum."
"There must be adequate reason to force such a thing."
"I have reason. I saw it happen. I heard him!" Severus slammed both fists onto the headmaster's desk and leaned over the desk to put his face only inches from the headmaster's. "Let me take the Veritserum! I know the truth!"
The headmaster shook his head. His long beard wagged with the movement. "What you know is what your mother chose to show you. The words you heard and what you saw came only from the spell your mother cast. You admitted as much. If you were to take veritserum it would prove nothing more than you sat in your room and watched the spell. That you believe it to be truth doesn't matter. You never saw your uncle strike your mother. You did not see him raise his wand at her. You did not hear his words. You never even saw him. Your confusion is understandable. What she used is not a common or simple spell."
Severus walked to the office door, then back to the headmaster's desk. He paced back and forth several times before speaking. "And what if what she chose to show me is the truth?"
"It isn't." The headmaster smiled angelically. "Trust me."
"My ma never once lied to me. Never in my whole life." Severus spat out the words. "What makes you think she would start now?"
The pity in the headmaster's eyes was enough to make Severus want to hit the old man. "Why, to spare you from the truth, of course."
"What mother would want her child to see a fight between his parents? I think it's obvious that she tried to think of any lie that would keep you ignorant of your family's troubles. I'm sure she was tried to do the right thing."
Severus stared at the headmaster, then went to the door.
"Where are you going, Severus?"
"Mister Hagrid said I could have stew for lunch. He caught a rabbit the other day."
"You like Hagrid, then?"
Severus kept his eyes on his hand on the doorknob. He knew he didn't have friends; people just didn't like him. However, Mister Hagrid had never hurt him and at least tried to be kind. "He's nice to me."
"He's nice to everyone."
Severus clenched his hand around the doorknob until his knuckles turned white. So, it's unthinkable that he's nice because he's my friend? He's just nice because he's nice? No! Mister Hagrid likes me. He's my friend. He wouldn't deceive to me any more than ma would. Severus turned to look at the headmaster over his shoulder. "May I go back?"
The headmaster dismissed Severus with a nod, but said, "You will be allowed to stay here for the remainder of the summer, Mister Snape, as Hagrid has generously offered to keep an eye on you. Next summer, however, you will be taken into your uncle's custody. He only wants what's best for you."
Severus' vision blurred red before he could get control of his temper. He made fists so tight that he would later find that he'd cut his palms with his fingernails. Severus turned and left the office without a word.
To be continued…