First Year of Voldemort's Return
Severus Snape never cared about Longbottom's heritage. The Longbottoms were never part of his world. Yes, he knew Frank and Alice, and he knew what they did for the Order. But, ultimately, he didn't care. Faceless soldiers in a useless war between power-hungry fools.
Longbottom was staring at him now with wide eyes. You didn't have to use legimancy to see his fear. A clumsy weakling, easy broken like all the rest. Yet there was something special about him. Something which made breaking his spirit more fulfilling than the rest.
Severus remembered the broad grins on Crouch and the Lestranges' faces when the Dark Lord gave them their assignments. They were mindless drones; they enjoyed pain for pain's sake, not because of appropriateness or hate or any feeling but animal joy. Brutes. They could never understand how the suffering of others could be fulfilling on other levels, and how some forms of suffering were better than others. They had simply used Cruciatus, a spell he had never really cared for. It was a simple, cheap way of causing pain. There was no finesse, no subtlety, and no depth. He had told Voldemort that he preferred subtler, more psychological form of torture. The Dark Lord simply replied that he was getting too personal. "We have too many enemies for that".
Unadulterated bollocks. Snape had enemies too. Many were still alive. Indeed, most of his allies were enemies in one form or another. His debt to Dumbledore still didn't stop him from hating the man, and he actually was good to him, not like Voldemort and his ridiculous crusade. And yet he knew they would all pay, sooner or later. The strong would destroy each other, the weak would be trampled underfoot, and the war would destroy all.
Yet it was personal with Longbottom. He reminded Snape of the memories. He could see the Malfoy's brat son sneering at Potter. The irony was delicious. Potter's own son was feeling the stings and pain and torment. Still, Malfoy was simple-minded. He had no resentment, no cause. It was just a spoiled brat picking on another; child's games.
But Longbottom was personal. He wasn't merely irritating like Granger, or a target for revenge like Potter, but something else. He had to be broken. Snape wanted to see him crawl. Wanted to see him weep. Wanted to see him become desiccated and twisted like his own self. No one had a right to remain proud after abuse; they all deserved to be broken.
I will break you, his gaze communicated his thoughts to the trembling first-year. Learn what I learned. Feel what I felt. Die like I died. The pain, the humiliation, the agony of being. Yes, Longbottom; drink my draught. Granger took the boy's arm, comforting him.
Snape would have to deal with her later. The way that the loudmouthed mudblood was treating Longbottom reminded him of something he had buried deep. No….He stiffened. Lashing them into line would take his mind off it, he hoped.
Third Year of Voldemort's Return
Damn that werewolf to the blackest pit of Hell. It was bad enough having to see him strutting the corridors again with his typical obnoxious cheer, but this was the last straw. Snape had come close to destroying Longbottom completely. The simpleton ran at the faintest gaze from him, broke down at his glare. Now, to be publicly humiliated by that cretin and that damned werewolf in front of the Gryffindors was simply intolerable. He knew that Dumbledore approved of the filthy old dog, but Order or not, he would have to be rid of Lupin before all credibility vanished.
It was too late to regain his dignity, but he would have to go on another rampage against the Gryffindors just to stop the sniggering. He had no intention of crossing paths with old Augusta Longbottom, though. If she didn't blast him into oblivion, she would cave in his skull with her handbag. Although she did a splendid job at keeping Neville in a state of terror, she was fierce when provoked, and even Snape didn't want that sort of trouble.
Well, he had no time for Longbottom now. All he needed to do was to keep the boy in line, and the fool would simply shrink back to his usual self. Now, he had to tolerate Lupin and capture Black. Yes, he had heard claims that Black was innocent, but only Snape knew how to reveal it, and he had no intention of letting Black escape the dementors.
Longbottom could wait. He had older enemies to destroy.
Fourth Year of Voldemort's Return
The look in Longbottom's eyes when he spoke to Granger caught Snape's attention. The same longing. The same sympathy. The same naïve hope. For the first time, Longbottom hurt Snape. And it hurt him deeply. On one hand, it was another way to break him. Snape admitted it was his love for Lily that destroyed him, and hated himself for letting her share the blame. If Longbottom's heart would be broken, the boy would easily slump into despair and oblivion. It would be a decisive, complete victory, and one that required the least effort. Snape prided himself on his work ethic, but if Longbottom could be broken in a single blow, he could move on to Potter, Granger, and the miserable charade called a war.
But he had to admit he was struck deep by Longbottom and Granger. Yes, it was love. Granger seemed not to be particularly interested, being more interested in her soulless excuse for magical knowledge, but the boy was deeply struck. Just like…..
"Miss Granger", he snapped, breaking the moment before sweat could pool on his face, "I suggest you put your effort where your mouth is and focus on your own assignment instead of a lost cause like Longbottom. Ten points from Gryffindor". Her look of outrage was exquisite. Ah, the indignation of her, a Gryffindor, a mudblood, and a smart-mouthed brat. He loved seeing her choke back her pain and rage. Usually, this would send Potter in on another crusade.
He noticed Longbottom staring at him. What was on his face? Anger? Frustration? Fear? Pain?
"Get back to work, Longbottom, and if I see you rely on any handouts from your harpy of a girlfriend, it'll be a detention" he droned. Oh, Snape forgot how lovely it was to see the embarrassed rage of a boy smote down. When Lily was alive, fantasies of her were the best relief from his miserable life. Now, it was seeing the impotence of others and the knowledge that he was in control.
He could see the boy tearing up, his hands trembling as he made a mess of another potion. This time it was worth it, though. He had heard Longbottom cry before, usually distant and muffled by his own self-consciousness. He was no Midgen, Chang or Abbot in their emotional frailty, but certainly an excellent target for a bully. And Snape knew he was a bully. A damn good one that put Black and Potter and their gang to shame. They had the power, but look who had the power and who was down and out? James was dead, Black, sadly, was still alive but on the run. The Order meetings would be a lot easier to deal with without the werewolf and Black, but he knew he was the better. Malfoy's infantile assaults on the others were imitations of his own work, but mere shadows to true cruelty. It was immature and childish, true, but it was the only joy he could find in his teaching.
And he took this joy like a liquor; slowly, gently, coldly.
Sixth Year of Voldemort's Return
On the plus side, that pitiful fiasco at the Ministry had eliminated Black. Good riddance. Potter was, of course, distraught. The overly-emotional little whelp had been on a fritz that year, even snubbing both Voldemort and Dumbledore. Hopefully, that attitude would destroy him before the master plans could be set into motion.
On the other hand, he had to deal with Bellatrix again. Shrieking, shrill, and psychotic, she disgustingly drooled over the Dark Lord, cackled at every report, and generally irritated him to high heaven. "If the Dark Lord wants Potter's head to himself, can I have Longbottom's?" she had pondered aloud.
He had been tempted to reply about their combined intelligence would actually manage to match a trained dog, but he kept his mouth shut. Bellatrix had always been suspicious about how he had never expressed joy when he had done his share of murder. Airheaded little hellbitch.
And yet, there was something that worried him. No, it wasn't the master plans. He could take Dumbledore out of commission and let his harebrained plan undo Voldemort from the grave easily. Whoever won, he would find a way to live with. He had been on the losing side before, and escaped without a scratch.
What worried him is that Longbottom wasn't afraid anymore. Perhaps it was the news that he would face Bellatrix again. Perhaps it was that corpulent windbag Umbridge, whose mindless sadism was both frightening and boring at once. Longbottom had never gone with Granger, and embarrassed himself at that frivolous, timewasting ball with the Weasley's youngest insect. And yet he survived. All the pain, all the fear, all the despair failed to break him. Had he become numb to it like Snape had?
Had he grown past it? He knew Potter was on the warpath, and if the plan worked, would attack him with the fury of a street mongrel. Yet to have Longbottom also at his throat would be uncomfortable. Yes, he could deal with the fool easily as crushing a chick, but the fear was gone. Even his hate seemed to be controlled. He wasn't breaking with despair or fear. He wasn't turning into a channel for pure hate of the world, either. Something was going terribly wrong.
Seventh Year of Voldemort's Return
"Severus, he's all yours" Amycus Carrow drawled. Snape had to prevent rolling his eyes at his new subordinates. He had no desire of being headmaster, but being one patrolling rebels, victims, and petty thugs made it all more dreadful. Part of him wanted to aid Longbottom's (Longbottom's! He never thought it could happen! He never dreamed it could be possible!) rabble just to get rid of these mindless, uncouth, random drones, while the other wanted to crush the students, ask the Dark Lord for a leave of absence, and go back to the familiar rhythm of casual murder and wild, uncoordinated attacks.
The boy in front of him looked very unlike the one he had tortured so long ago. Pounds were shed from stress, skin had paled from confinement, scars outlined his now-grim visage. Why hadn't he broken? Cut off from his friends, under occupation, tortured on a weekly basis, he had every reason to break.
"Mr. Longbottom, it has come to my attention that you've vandalized school property. Are you aware how much those textbooks cost?" Snape said boredly.
"They contained curses that hurt the students" Longbottom replied hoarsely.
"And perhaps you have the dimmest comprehension in that empty cavity in your skull that they were there for a reason?" Snape's voice raised by a note.
"Yeah, to torture the students into thinking your way. You're still a bully"
"Say that again, Longbottom". It came out in a hiss
"You're a bully and a traitor"
"A bully and a what?" The hiss turned out in a snarl.
"A traitor and a coward", he snarled out.
"What did you just call me?" Snape replied slowly, dangerously, ominously. He raised himself to full height and glowered with all his hate.
"A coward. A greasy, loathsome, back-stabbing coward-"
That was too much to take. A bestial rage overcame him, a monstrous expression twisted his features as his lips curled back in a feral snarl. To take this insolence from Potter was insufferable enough, but to have Longbottom say it to him, expose it to him, burst it free from the shackles of his self-protection to savage all control was simply too much to take.
"NEVER" Snape slashed with his wand, striking Longbottom to the floor "EVER" Another slash ripped a gash in his cheek. "CALL" The force of it sent Longbottom flying into a bookshelf. The other headmasters on the portraits quickly ducked behind their seats. "ME" Blood poured out of the boy's arm. "A COWARD!" With a shriek, he sent him flying across the room to smash against the door.
All was still. Snape was panting heavily as Longbottom lay on the floor, gravely wounded. Amycus nearly tripped over the still figure. "Are you done with Longbottom?" he said calmly.
"Yes. Take him to the hospital ward and leave me alone" Snape growled. He was still shaken. Yes, he had taught Longbottom a lesson decisively, but it was what the nearly comatose youth whispered, just as he was being dragged out. "Coward".
Victory was yet again hollow.
A Generation After Voldemort's Death
Eternity like this. He didn't expect Harry would go with Dumbledore's mad plan. He didn't expect that Voldemort would be stupid enough to do this. He didn't expect that he would be obliged on letting Longbottom and his rabble not only to steal the sword, but humiliate the Dark Lord himself. He didn't expect for Voldemort to blindly accuse him and have him murdered. But he expected being barred from moving on and instead becoming a specter the least of all.
He had hoped to be reunited with Lily in the land beyond. Somehow, all this anticipation over the past thirty years led up to a major disappointment. Now, twenty years after this humiliation, he still thought he was cheated. The Bloody Baron had told him that it was fated to happen after Snape repeated the Baron's crime. Snape told him to shove it up his backside.
Still, the aura of fear followed him as always, and being a ghost made terrifying the first-years even more pleasurable. Not irritating like that delinquent Peeves or that miserable Myrtle that made him constantly move from room to room whenever she showed up.
"Does your mother know you wear your hair like that?" he sneered as he burst out of a wall and into a midst of first-year Ravenclaws. The prefect, a tall skinny Indian stepped in front of the cowering students. He stood up straight, indignant and spoke to him face to spectral face. "Snape, you're not going to set my class in a panic. You've been given several notices already, and you've been a nuisance for the past twenty years. Get lost"
"Make me" Snape sneered, "I didn't choose to stay a ghost. This is the only place I had in life, and it's the only place in death. I have the right to be here, and to act however I want to" The prefect didn't flinch.
"I'll have to talk to Professor Longbottom, then" he said, matching Snape smug for smug. Snape's smirk trembled for a fraction of a second, and the prefect saw it. "Yes, Snivellus, Longbottom. Now I have to get this class to their dormitory" With that, he turned on his heel and led his trembling followers down the hall, some faster than normal.
It had been five years since Longbottom joined the Hogwarts staff, and Snape knew he had lost the battle. It was Longbottom with the happy family. Longbottom that rose from the dregs of class. Longbottom that became a man. Every time they saw each other for the past five years, they both had known it. Snape had lost.
Snape drifted on through the halls. He felt like antagonizing someone. A boy with short brown hair creeping along caught his eye. Ah, Hugo Weasley. The mudblood and one of the Weasley brats had two brats of their own. They were not as insufferable in their arrogance, but in their terror and insecurity due to their parents. Easy prey. Someone he expected Longbottom not to protect because he had lost the nonsensical race for the hand of that loudmouth.
"You're going to be late for Transfiguration, you idiot. Your mum wouldn't like that, and you'd have to see another fight, wouldn't you?" Snape poured out from behind a statue into the face of the terrified boy. Weasley squeaked, tripped over his robes and fell on his back. "I can hear Rosie taunting you now. And your cousins are probably even laughing at you even as we speak" Snape hovered over the child like a dementor.
"Snivellus. Thought I might find you here" a familiar voice made Snape freeze.
"P-p-rofessor Longbottom, I'm so sorry…." Hugo sputtered.
"Mr. Peregrin is very forgiving. I'm sure he'll let you off if this hasn't happened before" the stout young professor smiled behind his reading glasses as he helped the first-year up. "If you're anything like your sister or mum, you'll do great. Now run along. I'll deal with this spook here"
Hugo smiled gratefully as Longbottom patted him on the head and sent him on his way, but walked briskly away from Snape.
"So, Snivellus"-Longbottom turned around, taking off his glasses.
"Never call me that" Snape snapped.
"Sorry. Harry told me about it and the name fits you, Snape" Neville smiled
"And now you're here to play cavalier to the boy that represents your total failure-" Snape tried to get the upper hand
"That's more than what you did to Harry, you miserable coward. I'm a good sport, unlike you"
"Longbottom, if you call me that again-" Spectral lips curled back in a snarl
"You'll what? I stayed when he came. You ran. You always run from him. You're no Voldemort, no matter how hard you try" it was Longbottom's turn to snarl.
"You'll wish that it was Him instead of me, boy" Snape closed forwards
"Grow up, Snape. It's over. You lost. You've been nothing but noise to me these years" Neville turned around.
"Don't turn your back on me!" the ghost cried. It was half-threat, but also a plea. A plea of the vanquished. Snape dropped his pretensions. He had lost it all, and the humiliation made him choke on his own rage.
"Don't waste my time, Snivellus" Longbottom called back as he swept back down the hall.
Snape simply wafted there, faded. Within moments, all there was left of his presence was a dank draft in the hall.