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 DH award!
Rating: for angst, language, violence, gore and sexual situations.
Beta: Greenling (first 1/3)
Image cover credit: buukkin's fan art
Warnings: Will have some slash, though not flowery or OOC. Much is non-consensual. This story is quite dark and depressing.
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 Head 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 I care – 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 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 were just hiding it well.
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 – there was not enough in 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 spitting 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.
He was well aware of the jokes surrounding those moments. The remarks were never too loud, though, for the student did not want Severus to hear. Nevertheless, he always did – he had very sharp ears. He was equally as aware of the jokes about his greasy hair, but those jokes never bothered him. If "slimy git" were 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. People were relatively simple as well – wizard, witch, or Muggle, humans did not realize 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.
"And that was without the use of Legilimency." Severus shrugged.
The Sorting began. Professor Malinghan did not have a chance to reply to the black-haired man beside him. He wanted to pay attention to the Sorting, but had trouble doing so.
How in the name of Merlin did he do that? Professor Malinghan had heard many rumours about Severus Snape: that he was a Death Eater, that he was a bat, that he was a criminal, that he was a vampire... but had been assured that they were all false. However, he had been warned that the professor was ornery, and no one with whom he had spoken had even attempted to refute 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." He chuckled.
"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. What could they possibly want? Surely if they needed me to serve as a witness at someone's trial, they would have Owled or-
"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. "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