DISCLAIMER: Anything you recognize does not belong to me :-D All Harry Potter material is J.K. Rowling's, not that you honestly ever thought I was her anyways, but you know, legal stuff. If you recognize anything else, it's probably not mine, but if I add other stuff, I'll say in the individual chapters. So, for the record, this disclaimer stretches over all of this fic. (This is so I don't have to put it on every single chapter. But you get the picture, right?)
Chapter One: A Boy With A Broom
Snape stalked over to Longbottom's table. His face was a mask of impatient frustration. When he arrived at the table, he glowered over the cauldron to inspect the problem, and his face took on a more guarded, wary look. After nearly thirty years of potion-making, he knew the look of a cauldron about to explode. Neville's cauldron seemed to be quite flubbed, in the bluntest sense. The potion was angrily hissing and spitting. The ugly black liquid inside was heavy and viscous, broiling and churning against the rim of the cauldron
Snape's eyebrow twitched slightly, as he came to the realization. The potion would not be contained much longer, no matter what steps were taken to attempt to alleviate the problem.
"Step away from the table," He said to Neville and Seamus, who, looking back upon it, he should have known not to let pair up. They always made the worst mess of things when they worked together. The fact was, he had been distracted and not paid attention to who had paired with whom. The students began to step slowly away from the churning explosive.
He looked at Neville, who hadn't moved, and was staring at the hissing cauldron with wide eyes and a trembling lip. "Move out of the way," Snape snapped, with an edge of urgency. Time had run out. If the boy didn't move immediately, he'd be receiving a face full of boiling who-knows-what.
Yet, he stood stark still. "Move, you idiot!" Snape shouted, roughly pushing Neville away from his cauldron. In his detainment by the stupidity of the Longbottom boy, he himself had stepped away just a moment too late, and as he heard the wall-rattling explosion, he also felt the scorching hot goo sink through his clothing to begin gnawing at his flesh.
He yelped and found himself backing away towards the wall. He was attempting to remove his outer robes, with a quiet, desperate thought that it might help. The potion burned his eyes and skin, he was painfully aware of every cell of his body, for the sole reason that they all felt as though they were on fire. He had a sudden feeling of distortion. He seemed to be flickering in and out of consciousness. He staggered in disorientation.
The students were seeing something peculiar. Snape's dark form was fading in and out of vision, the air around him warping and blurring like heat rising from pavement on a hot day. Confused and frightened, the students pushed back, a half circle of twenty feet between their feared Professor and them. He began to feel nauseous and dizzy, as his childhood memories started playing before his eyes in ultra-speed. "Holy fuck," He coughed. "My life is flashing before my eyes," He managed to glare menacingly at Neville, which was quite a feat while one was swaying and stumbling. "If you've killed me, you can be sure I'm coming back to haunt you," he said with as much menace as he could. Neville looked quite pale at the prospect.
Snape's memories suddenly stopped, him suspended in a single moment of a single one. The loud bubbling sound that usually filled the dungeons was barely audible to him. He was vaguely aware of dropping to his knees, a small 'hurk' sound coming from his throat. He was trapped in a single moment, his memory. He was in the air, with people zipping about speedily around him. "Changing…" he heard himself say. His voice sounded hollow, and far away.
Neville heard what Snape had said, but before he had time to contemplate it's meaning, there was a collective gasp from the watching students. Snape had vanished nearly completely from view, being nothing more than a hazy outline. The outline suddenly shifted and changed, violently and without explanation. The form was suspended for a moment, before it became immediately defined, and crumpled to the floor in an unconscious mass of arms and legs. It was a boy, from the looks of it, a quite dark-haired boy. He wore elegant-looking black robes with red cuffs and trim, and a short, decorative silver cloak with a long green stripe down the middle. On the floor next to him, still in his hand, was an old model of a broomstick, though it looked barely used, as if straight out of the past. The boy had thick, padded guards on his arms and legs. Dark green gloves were visible, peeking out from beneath the long sleeves of the robe. It was a Slytherin Quidditch uniform.
He was face down on the floor, masking his features from sight. The only thing they could really tell was that his raven hair was spiked slightly, random orange streaks adorning it. There was a long silence in the room, as the students stared at the unconscious figure, unsure of what to do.
"What the hell is that?" Draco said, finally. "No way that's Snape, look at his hair." He blinked as if it were obvious.
However, though no one responded to Draco's question, the voice seemed to wake the boy slightly. His free hand moved to rub the back of his head, a muffled groan coming from the form. His hand paused when he felt the hair. He moved almost comically for a moment, touching the tips of the hair as if in confusion. He shifted his weight, sitting up on his knees. He looked around the room, a sour expression on his face, a hint of panicked confusion in his eyes. He stood up, leaning against the broomstick to support his weight as he levered himself up from the floor. He seemed to notice the broomstick for the first time, and dropped it from his hand as though it were a venomous snake. "What the fuck," he hissed. He noticed the gloves and cloak he was wearing, and seemed quite upset that he was wearing them.
"What the bloody hell did you do to me?" He said, his voice edging on hysteria. He quickly stripped the uniform from his body. The small spikes of his hair were sticking out oddly from the action, and it was revealed that he was wearing a ridiculous black shirt with a large Jolly Roger printed on it, and worn-looking denim jeans, over a pair of scuffed black boots. All of the clothing was artistically torn and pulled back together with safety pins.
"Holy fucking…" he trailed off. His hand flew to his ear, and he felt a large metal object protruding from it. The students looked and saw that there was a shining silver safety-pin pierced through his ear. He seemed quite flustered. "What in god's name have you done?" Severus snarled at Neville, his expression so like an angry cat's that you could practically see his ears flatten. Neville looked suddenly scared.
Without warning, his hand flew to his left eye. His fingers danced along the flesh there, feeling the long, jagged scar. The scar, it was back… he'd been so euphoric to be rid of it, and could have happily gone his life never having to think about it again. Yet, it was back. It was there again. Rage and pain filled his chest.
He swore very colorfully, tearing into his office. The students could still see him, having left the door hanging open. He grabbed a mirror and pushed his hair out of his face. He stared at the large scar. It ran from his forehead to his cheekbone, going over his eyebrow and eyelid in a serrated pattern. He let out a frustrated roar and smashed the mirror against the stone wall.
He turned his head, then, slowly, his dark, angry eyes boring straight at Neville. It was like a bad scene from a murder movie, but the novelty of it didn't stop Neville from being absolutely terrified. Severus started walking briskly towards the round-faced boy, before eventually breaking into an actual run and tackling the frightened boy like a rugby player. There was a brief scuffle between the two as Severus seemed to be pummeling Neville anywhere he could get his hands. Neville was trying to defend himself, but was not succeeding well, and kept giving off shrill shrieks of pain and fear.
"Look at what you fucking did to me!" Snape shrieked, his ears and neck burning red.
Crabbe and Goyle managed to grab Snape by the arms and drag him off Neville, who whimpered as blood dribbled down his face. Harry looked at Severus, his eyes wide and stunned. Severus's face was a mask of fury, but he was actually quite small, and didn't look capable of doing that sort of damage.
Severus snarled something unintelligible and tore his arms away from Crabbe and Goyle. His long sleeves were tattered on the end, and Harry could see smears of red on his knuckles. Neville's blood. The prospect made Harry's stomach churn unpleasantly. Just what in hell was going on?
"Look-at-what-you've-done!" Severus shouted, his words running together as his small chest heaved for breath. Hermione watched for a moment, thinking that something was wrong about the way he was breathing. Instead of slowly catching his breath, they seemed to be getting shorter and more laborious.
Uh-oh... she thought.
As his breathing got worse, he clutched at his chest and turned away from the students, leaning against the wall for support. His eyes were clenched shut in pain and fear, his fingers digging through his shirt as his lungs began to feel tighter and less fulfilling to his desire for air. His breath became almost nonexistent, as he hunched his shoulders. With a shudder, his lungs simply stopped. No more air would go in, and Severus had a panicked look on his face. A few moments passed, his fear rolling off him in easily detectable waves, before he shuddered again, and a great breath escaped him. As he gulped the air back into his body, looking relieved and weary, He pinched his nose between his thumb and forefinger. His hands were trembling slightly as he turned back to the students.
"What just happened?!" Neville asked, stunned. He seemed to have forgotten his previous engagement attempting to stop the bleeding from his nostrils.
"Get out of my classroom." He said, his voice rough and flat. The students looked at him stupidly, before his anger seemed to flare up. "Get the hell out of this classroom!" He roared, and there was a scattering as they gathered their belongings, before they poured out of the room.
"What was that? Why couldn't he breathe?" Neville asked once they were out of hearing range, struggling to walk, carry his books, and hold his nose all at once.
"He had a panic attack." Hermione said knowingly. "He was hyperventilating. I've read all about it."
The students chattered in confusion and speculation all the way from the dungeons to their respective common rooms, where the gossip began to burn through the school like a wildfire.
By dinner-time, the entire school had heard about what had happened during the fifth-year Gryffindor/Slytherin potions class. There was no attempt to hide that everyone noticed Snape and Dumbledore absent from the High Table. The stories about his panic attack, his strange adornment of clothing, his violent reaction towards Neville had already been told over and over, becoming an instant legend in the school. After a mere twenty minutes of dinner, the Headmaster floated into the room, a look of determined solemnity on his face.
He stepped to the front of the room. "Well," he sighed. "You all have likely heard what has happened already, I have no doubt that the Hogwarts line of communication has been at its best all day. As such, I have no qualms about being blunt. Severus, in his current state, will be unable to command the required respect and attention from the students needed to perform his duties as Potions Master of this school."
"Are they sacking him?" Ron whispered to Hermione.
"No, Mister Weasley," Dumbledore said sternly, causing a fierce blush to appear in Ron. "We are not, as you so put it, sacking Severus. We would never leave such a dedicated and efficient staff member out in the cold. He will be staying here. A temporary Potions Mistress has been hired to take his place until he is no longer inhibited. Though Severus is, inherently, an adult, it is highly suspicious to both the Deatheaters and the Ministry, both of whom we have been having problems with, to have a boy loitering about the school, with seemingly no classes or purpose in being here. As such, we have deemed it necessary to enroll him as a student. He will attend classes with the Slytherin fifth years, and will be staying in the Slytherin boys' dormitory. As you have gathered, we are trying to keep this occurrence as low profile as possible. I am not ashamed to tell you that the House Elves took the liberty to slip a serum into each of your drinks that will prevent you from relaying this story to anyone outside of the school walls. The story we're going to go with is that Professor Snape is simply taking a long-awaited and wholly deserved leave of the school. He is vacationing in, oh, let's say he's gone to Italy. I know he's visited there before and quite enjoyed himself, in fact, I believe he has a home up there." Dumbledore seemed to be trailing off. "So, it's quite a believable story!" He pointed his finger upward, smiling brightly. "Without further ado, you may return to your meals!" He said. The room broke out in excited and suspicious chatter. "Severus, you needn't hide behind that door. Come on out and have dinner, you can't keep yourself covered forever," they heard Dumbledore say. Expectant, hungry eyes gazed towards the door, and the hall erupted with eager chatter as soon as the dark-haired boy creeped in, trying to look inconspicuous, which was hard with the tufts of orange hair sticking from his head. He attempted to glare at the students, as soon as he reached the High Table, but he seemed much less menacing with his rowdy appearance.
His ears turned red and he stared at his plate, holding the fork in his shaking hand, not eating. He felt an intense mixture of shame and anger. "I feel like such a fool. I should have let Longbottom get hit with the damned potion." He frowned. McGonagall gave him an appraising look.
"You did what you knew was right. Of course, you didn't have to attack the boy directly afterwards. Honestly, Severus, I thought you had more control than that," she scoffed.
He sneered. "I got in fights like that all the time when I was a student."
She shook her head, a disapproving look on her face. "You're an adult, Severus. Simply because you don't look like one for the moment doesn't mean you should compromise your morals and the standards you set yourself by" she scolded.
"My mind has been altered, I think. There's a distinct difference in the fluidity of my thought patterns and my logic. I'm thinking the way I did as a student. I have the knowledge, and memories I've acquired over the years, but the sudden change has made the ridiculous youthfulness of my thoughts very obvious to me. My emotions are more prominent and less controlled. I don't know why it is, but my brain must have been effected as well." He said, leaning his forehead against the table. McGonagall suspiciously thought she saw a stray tear escape from the confining bottom lid of his eye, but he inconspicuously brought his arm up and rested his face against it, wiping the tear if there was one.
He brought his head back up, looking out at the student body. Eyes kept flicking to him, but seeing him looking straight at them, they self-consciously jerked their eyes away from him. "They're staring, Minerva." He scowled.
"Well, of course they're going to stare. They've never seen you like this. Personally, I'm less worried about their treatment of you than, if what you say about your mind is true, what kind of trouble you'll get into until we find the antidote."
He rubbed his neck. "I have the most horrible pain in my neck… Christ. Minerva, I have a question." He said. She looked at him, feeling much like his teacher again.
"When I was turned into a child, I was wearing my Quidditch Robes and holding my broomstick. How could that happen unless the other me, the child me, who was apparently in the middle of a Quidditch Match, was turned into me, wearing my teachers robes and without a broom?"
She shook her head. "I don't know, Severus. That would be most unfortunate, but if that did happen, it would have been changing the past, and I would have remembered it in such a way. Seeing as I don't remember you ever being turned into a grown man with no broom while playing Quidditch, I'm assuming it didn't happen. Let's hope, anyways." She said, giving him an amused smile.
He scowled at his plate. "It's not fair. Why do all the bad things happen to me?" He said, his voice raising slightly. He grabbed a small crystal salt-shaker and tossed it angrily at the stone floor. It smashed, sending the grains of salt flying over the floor.
"That felt pretty good," He said, having satisfied his anger for the time being.
The student body stared at him. His ears blushed in embarrassment, and he slumped back into his chair, folding his arms angrily.
"Severus! Control yourself!" McGonagall said, reprimanding him.
He scowled at her. "I hope you lot don't expect me to wear children's student robes, because I won't. I'm not a student." He growled stubbornly.