Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything affiliated with it. I'm making no proft from this. Lyrics are The Good Old Days by the Libertines. I don't own that either.
Note: This is a brief first forray into mapping out characters in Harry Potter. Obviously this doesn't account for even half the points of Snape's life that would make excellent fic material - ground to till later, perhaps. Anyway. A quick glance at childhood. Enjoy.
You know I've tried so hard to keep myself from falling
Back into my bad old ways
And it chars my heart to always hear you calling
Calling for the good old days
Because there were no good old days
These are the good old days
As a child, he is spiny - all ridges of vertebrae and skinny arms, loose clothes flapping like a blanket around flailing limbs. He grows - or rather, stretches - into the wiriness of adolescence, bones clicking into each other and extending. He has lived his life around magic; blue sparks and the murmur of spells, hotch-potched and out of place in his mother's clumsy mouth. There are arguments when he is very young, and he doesn't notice, and as he grows the arguments mutate into fights, but Severus Snape does not have any friends and he does not go round for tea, so for all he knows this is the way it goes, all the time and everywhere. He doesn't like it, though. He isn't sure why.
And so sometimes he will find himself running out - not away, no, never away, because the place has too tight a hold on him and he is not brave, not nearly brave enough to turn his back and run from it, leave it and fend for himself. But he runs for a while, through tall grass that tickles his ears, and his body is skinny and awkward and does not flow well into a run the way he sees the boys at school do it. He stumbles, he trips over laces looped over and over themselves, finds himself sprawling, in the summer time, on the warm earth with dry grass all around him, and the whispers in the stems rising up into the sky. There is laughter, somewhere, some way away, and he knows it's the Evans girl. Behind her is a petulant shriek, and that's her sister. From behind a mound of earth, cusping the top of a low hill, he can watch them, fascinated by the brightness of their clothes, and the wild redness of the one girl's hair -
He sees her magic and it thrills him, because it means he is not the only one here - he is not the defect his father sees in every wayward glance, he is something like her - all colours and laughter and unrestrained, unfettered youth. Childhood is ragged and free, even for boys like Severus Snape, who are trapped in walls and windows behind doors with no locks, but adolescence splays them, these children - unworldly and unwise, all awkward bones or summer dresses - into a world much bigger than the each of them, and like some tremendous catalyst forces them into contact with one, another, and everything - over and over, chaotic and inescapable, and magical.
Hogwarts is where Severus Snape learns that life is more than what he has known. And it is where he learns that all the roads splaying outwards - all the winding, golden paved roads to a hundred different futures - all get shut off as he boards the train, and the countryside fades into platforms at a train station and London fades as grey-spindled buildings spring up…
And he sees her, the golden girl with the mane of red - he sees each step she takes into the world, sees her grace and her vivacity and her beauty - and they are steps that he cannot follow. He feels stunted, awkward and clumsy, out of place - some kind of curiosity to be kept in a jar…and then somebody tells him that she is the one who is wrong. The golden girl.
There are many contradictions in the world, and many more different paths. The grime and dark of Spinner's End, decades later, in the dead of night when there is no moon and no starts and not a breath of wind and the golden girl has died long, long ago…it brings with it the memory of warm earth in the summertime, when he knew no better and took what he was given, and never yearned for more -
Those were the good old days.