Pairing: Severus/Lily, James/Lily
Summary: A Prince born under a cruel curse. A young witch searching for adventure. A different kind of fairy tale that proves that ugly can be beautiful and that true love begins within.
Disclaimer: All characters are created by JK Rowling. "Penelope" was written by Leslie Caveny and directed by Mark Palansky. I own nothing.
A/N: This is an AU romance, based on the movie "Penelope," the story of a girl cured with the face of a pig. I immediately thought that I'd write a fic where Severus would be born with the face of a snake, as is more suiting to his character. Some of the dialogue is similar or taken directly from either Penelope or from the Harry Potter books. I'm just a sucker for Lily/Severus fanfics. There is no Dark Lord, no war, but blood status still causes prejudice and intolerance throughout the wizarding world.
My name is Severus Snape-Prince and my story begins with a curse. A curse that gave me the face of a snake.
My family was born to privilege. Pure-blooded, old money wizards that made respectable marriages and had strong, magical children. But legend had it that a curse had been put on the Prince family. The problem began with my great grandfather Percival Prince. He had the misfortune of disappointing his family by choosing for his bride a muggle-born witch from a poor family. After his family managed to convince him of his mistake, Percival sent the girl away, and the child she was carrying.
Shortly after that, Percival married a pure-blood witch and the other girl died of a broken heart.
The Princes thought their troubles had taken care of themselves, until the girl's godmother turned up at their manor seeking revenge. She was a powerful witch and wanted the Prince family know of the pain and humiliation her goddaughter felt. Especially the serpent of a man that had ruined the girl poor girl's life. The witch commanded that the next Prince male would have the face of a snake until he would find true love from one of our own kind.
Fortunately, Percival had only girls and they had only girls.
My mother, Eileen Prince married Tobias Snape, a wizard of great power and vast property. They lived in Prince manor, the finest house in the entire village. It was expected from the beginning that they would have many strong, magical children.
What they got instead was me and, well, let's say it was obvious that the curse was real.
I was born a healthy, perfectly average boy. I had all my fingers and toes, straight limbs and a steady heartbeat. There was just the problem with my complexion. The mediwizard feared that I was sick with some strange ailment, until he realized that my face was not green from illness. It was just green, and the skin was mottled like snake scales. My nose was nonexistent, save for two slits and already I had two very long and sharp canines, like fangs. The young healer on call fainted. My mother wept and my father had to pour himself a stiff drink.
Since magical surgery and glamour charms had no effect they did what any loving, concerned parents would do. They locked me in the manor and made sure no one would ever see my face.
Mother liked to remind me that no one suffered from the curse more than she did. She always did what was necessary, and always did what she had to do to keep me safe. Even if it was to protect me from myself.
So I spent most of my time in my library. My books were my only companions. I had a hunger for learning. I liked reading about spells and famous wizards and magical places around the world. I grew rare herbs and plants in my garden that I used to brew potions for healing draughts. I fancied becoming a healer when I was of age. I also wanted to go to wizard school like the other normal boys. And not just any school. Hogwarts, the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world. There were a lot of things I wanted in life, but as I learned, life is hard and more than often unfair.
I grew up tall and thin. My hair was dark and remained oily that no amount of washing could alter. My face grew more and more hideous to look at by the day. My eyes were the only part of my face that I could be proud of, jet black and clever. My one reminder that I was human.
Meanwhile, Mother made it her mission in life to break the curse. All she had to do was find a high-society pure-blood. One of my own kind, to love me for who I was. As soon as I turned sixteen she began inviting young witches to the manor in the hopes that one of them would fall in love with me and the curse would be broken. And then we would all live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, every meeting went about in the same manor. The girl would take one look at me and flee the pavilion screaming. Our house elf waited by the front gate to Obliviate each girl, on mother's orders, so that they would not reveal the family's hideous secret.
I must have been more of a monster than I thought.
Father had long since retired into his private study and goblin-made wine, leaving me with no choice but to continue with the motions.
After a year of this I was losing patience. Mother remained determined, though. She would find me a bride and remove the curse from the Prince name. Mother always did get her way.
Lily Evans was girl with a curse of her own. She was an extremely beautiful, young witch from a family of muggles. She was bright and kind and she also possessed the mind of a scholar. The girls did not care for her because of her beauty and the boys were intimidated by her intelligence. Sure, some of them would listen to her discuss all the properties of dragon's blood, but she suspected that they were busy picturing what she had on beneath her robes.
What she really longed to do was travel. She had read about discoveries in Egypt where wizards had found all these ancient wizarding potions and spell scrolls. She longed to work the fields under the tutelage of the world's finest professors, cursebreakers and naturalists. Lily wanted adventure and that required gold, something that her family was seriously lacking.
By luck she saw an advertisement from the Prince family in the Daily Prophet offering ten galleons just to take a survey. It wasn't enough to get to Egypt, but it was a start. Besides, she had just broken up with her boyfriend, for the last time and could do with a laugh.
So she did what any business-like witch would do. She put on her best dress robe and faked her lineage.
Mother was hopeful when she met the pretty red haired girl. She escorted Lily into my personal library and let her sit along with several other potentials.
I watched them from my secret room behind the wall. The mirror was spelled so I could see them but they could not see me. They were all pretty girls, and rich, and anxious for the healthy dowry mother was willing to spend on a bride.
"Please, dearest," mother said to me. "Don't go rushing in all at once again. Why can't you meet them one at a time like I suggested?"
I rolled my eyes. "It will flush out the unworthy ones faster," I answered, opened the hidden door and stepped into the room. "Hello," I said in a pleasant voice. "I'm Severus, and you are—"
The room exploded with screams and terrified girls stampeding towards the door.
"—just leaving?" I rolled my eyes and disappeared back into my room.
Mother sneered. A family trait. "I told you. Why didn't you listen to me?"
"I'm seventeen, mother. I'm of age. I want to go outside of this manor."
"Sweetheart," she tried to calm her tone as best as she could. "If you will just be civil to one girl, just one girl."
"And she will run, too! They always run from me. Do you know how that makes me feel? Why can't we just quit?"
"I'll never quit!" she declared. "We'll never quit. We can do this."
"Don't you think I'd like to? I'd like to believe that there is one girl in the world who will not run from the sight of me. But that will never happen."
"There's a girl in the library."
My father had joined us. He smelled strongly of drink and disappointment. He gestured to the mirror. "There's a girl still in the library."
The three of us ran to gaze through the glass. Indeed there was a girl standing there. A very pretty one too, with long fiery hair and the most striking green eyes I'd ever seen.
"Did she see?" I asked almost too afraid to speak.
"She must have. She is still here." Mother was nearly in tears with relief. "Go speak to her." They departed to give me some privacy.
I watched the girl. She was smoothing her dress that looked as if it had been trampled upon. Her expression was annoyed at best.
I held my wand to the mirror and cast the spell to allow sound to pass through.
"Did you see?" I said.
The girl started and looked around for the source of the voice. "Who are you? See what?"
"Did you see?"
"Again, see what?"
"You didn't see."
"How could I see anything while I was being squashed by all those stupid females? I was looking at your books when out of nowhere I was knocked down. But I'm glad we cleared that up. For a moment I had no idea what you were talking about."
"Why are you still here?" I asked.
There was an angry red flush to her face now. "I told you! They actually stepped on me! With high heels! What kind of a mental house is this anyway?"
This did not clear up my dilemma, so I sat down and regarded her. "You are impressed with our library?"
This made her pause. "It'd be hard for anybody not to be impressed. You have some pretty amazing volumes here."
"This is my library," I admitted. "We have several others, but these are the ones that I prefer."
She picked up a book with a blood red cover. "A first edition of Magical Water Plants of the Mediterranean. This must be worth quite a lot."
"So you are a fan of gold, not knowledge."
She glared at the looking glass. "I love all books! Especially the ones about magical places. But right now I could do with the gold, is all."
The girl was here for mother's dowry. That was all. "So why don't you steal it and sell it? You could, you know. Slip it into your bag and they'll never notice. You'll make a fortune."
She weighed the book in her hands, considering it. "But it's your favorite."
I froze. Was it possible that she could see me? Could she be a skilled Legilimens? "How-how did you—?"
She opened it to the first page. "You wrote your name in crayon. So, why is it your favorite?"
I smiled at her keen observation. "It just always seemed like a fascinating place to visit."
"Yes it does," she said with a lot more enthusiasm. "That's what I need the money for. I want to travel to all the magical territories."
"All of them?"
She laughed. "All of them! Have you ever been anywhere?"
"I don't get out much."
"I can tell. Why not? This room is filled with books about famous wizard explorers and the places that they've discovered. Why not go see it all for yourself?"
"How complicated could it be? If I had the money I'd be in Egypt tomorrow. They have these tombs that once belonged to ancient wizards. Some wizards opened them too soon and they started growing all these extra legs like beetles all over their bodies! Can you imagine?"
"I can imagine curses," I said. "But I thought you were from a wealthy family?"
She turned pale. "Oh, I am. Only, we've, uh, fallen on hard times. I'll be graduating soon and I'd like to travel before I start working."
I accepted this, mostly because I did not want her to run away. She was fascinating.
"If you like ancient magic of ancient Egypt then you should read the large book on the top shelf to your right. The one covered in mummy bandages."
She followed his instructions and her face lit up with excitement. "This is wonderful!"
"I'm Severus," I said.
"Pleasure. I'm Lily."
"Will you come back for tea tomorrow, Lily?"
"Will I get to see you?"
I blushed. "Perhaps, though you may regret asking. And will you discuss that book with me?"
"If you like."
She smiled and in that moment I knew I was lost.
Mother saw my changed expression at supper and she knew she had won.
A/N: What I loved most about the "Penelope" fairy tale movie, aside from the whimsical colors, beautiful clothing and Christina Ricci's adorable piggy snout, was the lesson that loving oneself is more important than what others think of you. In a world where appearance is highly judged, it's good to remember that old wisdom. And since canon Severus Snape, the one we all know and love, is flawed and suffers from self-loathing and insecurity issues, it's interesting to think of him learning to love himself rather than merely accepting his fate. Sure, the usually descriptions of greasy hair and sallow skin are examples that he doesn't care about what he looks like to others, but that's more out of neglect rather than self-confidence.
My version of Lily is always a smart, talented witch trapped inside the body of a beauty queen. She values intelligence and friendship over appearances, although that will be put to the test in this fic. I like that she is a Gryffindor with a streak of Slytherin cunning and is willing to do just about anything to achiever her ends.
This fic was also written for Snape's birthday, Jan 9. Happy Birthday, Severus Snape!!!