Summary: Severus Snape thought that his name was cleared after the end of the War, never thinking that the lifelong punishment of slavery handed to Death Eaters would be extended to him. Nevertheless, he was strong. He wouldn't break. SS/HP. Winner of a Deathly Hallows award!
Rating: M for angst, language, violence, gore, self-harm, and sexual situations (slash and very little hetero; non-consensual and consensual).
Image cover credit: buukkin. For more Unwell art, visit my profile!
Structure: Split into two books, Book One and Book Two.
Author's Note: NSFW. This story is quite dark and depressing. As I began this story several years ago, the beginning can be rough at times; it is being edited to reflect the quality of later chapters, so please bear with me! Also, when I first began writing this story, there was less canon information available (for example, Teddy's full name was wrongly assumed to be Theodore), so please forgive canonical inconsistencies.
I appreciate my readers so much; you are why this story has gone as far as it has. Thank you so much for your loyalty, and for the kind reviews and messages you leave. They make my day.
Disclaimer: I do not own "Harry Potter" or the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
"A Stale Start"
Severus Snape took his seat at the high table with grace. He was a proud man. He was wearing the same black robes it seemed he wore every day.
He absent-mindedly pushed a lock of greasy hair out of his eyes. To his left, Minerva McGonagall, now Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, chuckled. "Not nervous now, are we, Severus?"
"Of course not." He grumbled. "Why should I be nervous? I have only been teaching for eighteen years. Why? Indeed."
Minerva just smiled, placing a hand over Severus' cold thin one. She had known Severus for many years, and was one of the few that could see past the cold and vindictive mask he put assumed. "The students will not think any less of you for the events that happened last year."
"I assure you, they could not." Severus snapped. "Not that it is a matter of concern to me, as the more students are afraid of me, the less I have to deal with-"
The doors of the Great Hall opened and students began flooding in, all dressed in black robes that were identical, save for their House colours on the underside of their hoods. Of all ages, shapes, and sizes, the twelve through eighteen-year-olds appeared excited to be back at school, and seemed to have shed any bad memories of what had happened in the Great Hall just months before.
That is, some seemed to have forgotten. Others seemed barely able to hold in tears.
Severus could read people well. He always had been able to. A trait of a child with an abusive father, he supposed. He had learned at a young age to tell how much his father had had to drink, or what he was thinking. Now, Severus had very good Legilimency skills, and could probe into people's minds at will. He did not usually bother to look into his students' minds though, as there was usually not enough there to look through.
"Potter is here," Minerva murmured.
"So I've seen." Severus sniffed. The short, black-haired boy stood calmly at the Gryffindor table, chatting with his Weasley friend. He caught Severus' eye and, to Severus' surprise, nodded in greeting.
Severus ignored him.
He had never liked the Potter boy. Severus had gone to school with his father, James, and they had hated each other. Severus had never done anything to James to make him hate him, but Severus had had good reason to hate James. James, along with his best friends, had played pranks on him and embarrassed in just about every way possible. As if that were not enough, James married Lily Evans, whom Severus had loved. Only two years later, Lily and James had died; Severus would never forgive James for marrying Lily, and for not protecting her from the Dark Lord. And he hated Harry for being a replica of the man he despised. Hero, indeed.
James and Lily's son was the image of James, except for the eyes. Harry had his mother's eyes. Hidden behind glasses, they shone a bright emerald green. Severus often found himself staring into those eyes and thinking of Lily, before snapping out of his daze.
Since Potter had likely seen it fit to share his memories with his fellow Gryffindors, Severus was anticipating humiliating remarks from students who thought he was out of earshot. Students often mocked him, thinking he could not hear them. Nevertheless, he always did, as he had very sharp ears. He was very aware of the jokes about his greasy hair, but those jokes, like any other joke made by a student, never bothered him. If "slimy git" was the worst thing he was ever called, he would be much luckier than most.
The doors of the Great Hall burst open again. Hagrid, the half giant, was leading in a bunch of first-years. Tiny and scared to death, usually in brand-new robes, the first-years were all the same.
Severus gave them a hard stare, and enjoyed seeing most of them look away in fear. There was little better in his job than scaring first-years. He got sparse enjoyment from his job as Potions teacher, and whilst he loathed students, he actually enjoyed the teaching itself. He still wanted the Defence Against the Dark Arts job – he had gotten a taste of it before, but wanted to do it his way, and not under the eyes of the corrupted Ministry.
He liked how Potions was precise – if you stirred this root with that weed clockwise thirty-three times, you would get the same Potion every time. It was something that was true, that always stayed the same. One never had to worry that four Leeches, sixteen scruples of Fluxweed and fifteen blades of Knotgrass, and certain other things, would not result in Polyjuice Potion. It would be. It had to be. It was relatively simple.
Simple was not always better, however. People were relatively simple as well – wizard, witch, or Muggle, most humans did not realise how boringly predictable they were.
"A penny for your thoughts?" Sylvester Malinghan, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor asked.
"Look at them." Severus said. "They are just the same – every single one of them. The first-years are just like the seventh and eighth-years were at their age."
"They are children, Professor." Professor Malinghan reminded the Potions Master. "Surely-"
"Look at that small one." Severus interrupted as if Professor Malinghan had not even spoken. "That second-year, in Hufflepuff. Watch her. She is about to look over at the Slytherin table and grin."
Professor Malinghan set his eyes on a petite black-haired girl who indeed glanced over at the Slytherin table and grinned.
"Now she will whisper something in her friend's ear, and look up towards our table."
The new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher watched in amazement as the young girl did exactly that.
The Sorting began. Professor Malinghan did not have a chance to reply to to Severus, but did not have a chance due to Minerva's speech. Severus enjoyed watching him twitch umcomfrtably out of the corner of his eye.
Honestly, if predicting the actions of a small child worried Malinghan, what was he doing teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts? Now that the position was no longer cursed, he would have to have another word with Minerva on the subject.
That said, he was sure the new professor had heard stories about Severus, which made his concern more understandable. Given the events of the past year, any new staff member had to be briefed on why Severus Snape, former Death Eater, was allowed to still teach. He knew Fillius was having fun spreading rumours about him to the new staff in order to discredit the Death Eater stories. It had gotten back to Severus that he was apparently both a bat and a vampire. That day, Minerva had addressed the rumours at a staff meeting Severus had chosen to attend incognito. She assured new staff that they were all false, including the rumour of his being a Death Eater as it had only partially been true.
The new assistant groundskeeper had then asked why he was so ornery, and no one who knew Severus attempted to refute or explain that.
Just as things began to calm down in the Great Hall, students properly Sorted and food on the tables, the large doors of the Great Hall swung open. Three Aurors came in. Severus stood and brandished his wand on reflex. Nearly every other staff member stood as well, though concealing his or her weapons.
The Great Hall, normally full of chatter and laughter, fell silent.
"We're here to find Severus Snape." An Auror announced in a thick accent. "Professor Severus Snape."
What? Why? Severus kept his expression carefully guarded, as he did at all times. He often had little control over events, but he could control his reaction to them. If he never showed emotion, that he was happy, angry, or surprised, he was not weak.
Severus caught the eye of the lead Auror. "Ah, Mr. Snape." He pointed his wand at Severus, the other two Aurors following suit. "Stringy black hair, pale, on edge... I think we've found our man."
"May I help you?" Severus said coldly. He hated to be the centre of attention and to be so in front of students was even worse.
"Lower your wand, Mr. Snape." The Auror ordered. "You are under arrest by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, a branch of the British Ministry for Magic."
"Am I?" Severus challenged, not lowering his wand, ignoring the strangled gasps from around the Hall. "Under what charges?"
The Auror smiled menacingly. "For conspiring with You-Know-Who, and consequently, for multiple murders, rapes, and use of all three Unforgiveables."
At those words, Severus saw Potter jump to his feet, aiming his wand at the Aurors. "He did no such thing!" Potter yelled in Severus' defence. "He-"
"Thank you, Mr. Potter." Severus said, using a calm monotone voice. However, he felt anything but calm. Former Death Eaters were guilty until proven innocent, and were often arrested and punished in haste as Aurors and the Ministry wanted to take few chances with them. "I see. However, I am sure you have made a mistake, Mr...?"
"You will call me 'sir' and 'sir' only." The Auror sneered. "We have a warrant for your arrest. Come along with us, now – we haven't all day."
"I am sure that you have received the necessary papers from the late Professor Dumbledore and the Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt?" Severus inquired. "I assure you, I have been cleared of all-"
"Petrificus Totalus." The Auror said simply, before Severus could react.
Severus felt his legs come tightly together and stiffen, his arms coming to his sides in an equally rigid position. He immediately fell to the floor, stiff as a board, hitting his head on a chair on his way down.
Coming up next in Unwell...
Chapter Two: A Life Altered