The tall man in black robes strode down the road with purpose, glaring at anyone who stood in his way. That included a little girl standing before him.
She was a petite little thing, long brown hair that fell down to her waist and beautiful olive green eyes. The man flinched inwardly. Too much like Lily's eyes.
"What do you want?" He said, the words coming out harshly and roughly. That, Severus had learned, was the only way to get what you want.
The little girl was not deterred. "Sir, my name is Hannah. I lost my mummy when I went to look at something in a window of a store and now I can't find her!" Her voice had the same tone of panic that Severus had so often heard from himself when he was a young child.
Severus scoffed. He did not have time for this! He made to push by her, but stopped as he noticed a couple of bruises on her cheek. Curiosity, for once, got the best of him.
"Where did you get that bruise?" He demanded sharply.
The little girl, Hannah, looked down at her shoes and said shyly "I was late coming in for supper once and Daddy got mad."
Severus hesitated for a moment, walked forward and then looked back. "Come." He commanded. "What store did you lose your mother by?"
Hannah smiled and rushed forward.
It took hours to find the girl's mother. It turned out that she was at the Muggle police station, frantically telling them how she lost her daughter.
But then she turned around, spotted them, rushed forward and lifted Hannah up in her arms. "Oh, Hannah, darling! I was so worried! Don't you ever do that to me again!"
Severus noted with surprise that he had gone to Hogwarts with this woman, Olivia Abbott. It seemed that she recognized him too, for she gasped and took a few steps back.
"But….aren't you Severus Snape?" She asked, with both fear and surprise in her voice. He wondered if she was just intimidated by him or remembered the crowd he hung around at Hogwarts.
"Yes." He said curtly. Now that the girl was to safety, he wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.
But she smiled. "Well, thank you very much for helping my daughter. I daresay you'll be her favorite teacher at Hogwarts."
Severus snorted. "I very much doubt it. If she takes after her parents, than she'll be a Hufflepuff." As he said it, he remembered the bruises on Hannah's cheeks, and he was angry with himself for forgetting. At the moment, she was absorbed in a book her mother had bought her. As if sensing his gaze, she lifted her head and beamed at him.
Olivia shook her head. "Oh, I don't doubt it. She is very sweet, very hardworking at everything she does. It's in her nature to always remember people who have helped her."
Severus was barely listening. "Olivia, do you realize this child has been abused?"
She looked shocked. "Wh-what? By Greg, you mean? That just can't be. I've known him since I was 11! He would never do such a thing."
Hufflepuffs! He thought angrily. They were so dense, so naive! They could never believe that people could change for the worse. But he controlled his anger and spoke to her softly, very silkily, the way he talked to students who had done something incredibly idiotic.
"Olivia, she told me that her father hit her, gave her bruises, because she was late for dinner. Do you think she's lying?"
The woman still looked very shocked. "No, of course not, she never lies, but I can't possibly understand why she wouldn't tell me!"
Severus' nose flared. He could not remember Olivia being this thick in school, but she too, must have changed for the worse.
"Maybe because her father threatened her?" He said, taking a step closer to her. "Or maybe because she thought you wouldn't believe her?" Accusation was clear in every word he spoke.
Now the woman started to cry. Severus didn't care. How could she not notice something that was very obviously going on in her own home?
"And," He started out again. Olivia looked shocked that there could be more. "I seriously doubt this was a onetime occurrence."
Gasping through her sobs, she managed to get out, "How….how do you know?"
` Because he'd been there! He wanted to shout. Because he had long since learned that if someone was horrible enough to do it once, he wouldn't have any qualms about doing it again!
"I may be wrong." He said, smoothly, knowing he wasn't. "But wouldn't it be worth investigating?"
She nodded, slowly, and so fast that Severus never saw it coming, grabbed her daughter by the hand and dragged her out of the police office.
He was sure Dumbledore would be surprised by his sudden reappearance, might even have other business to take care of, but Severus didn't care.
As he stepped out of the fireplace, sure enough, the old man looked surprised.
"Severus." He said, standing up. "May I ask why you have returned early? I rather thought you'd spend all day cooped up in those Potion shops."
Severus didn't reply. He walked up to Dumbledore's desk and through a piece of paper on his desk.
When Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, Severus simply said "That is a 5 year sentence to Azkaban for Gregory Abbott. He has secretly abused his 6 year old daughter for 3 years. The Ministry wanted to take him into custody right away, but I thought you might want to deal with him."
Severus sincerely hoped that Dumbledore didn't have other things to do. He remembered when Dumbledore came to his house, how he dealt with his father. Maybe he could help Hannah.
Dumbledore nodded. "Of course, Severus. Should I leave right now?" There was a twinkle in his eyes, different from the usual twinkle, as if Severus had made him proud.
Severus nodded. "And, Albus?"
Dumbledore stopped as he was about to leave the room. "Yes, Severus?"
He pulled a letter that he had hastily written out of his pocket and handed it to Dumbledore. "Give this to the daughter, will you?"
Dumbledore beamed. "Of course I will, Severus." And with that, he left the room.
March 20th. 1996.
Severus was walking around the hospital wing, checking for potions that Madam Pomfrey was running out of, when they walked in.
Severus had to blink several more times than necessary to register the scene. Hannah Abbot was leaning on Poppy's shoulder for support, silently crying her eyes out, Poppy struggling to get through the door.
Severus did not want to ask what happened in front of the girl, but went to retrieve a Calming Draught from the stores. He could have summoned it, of course, but he knew that Hannah would not want him to see her tears any more than he had to.
When he came back, Hannah was sitting on one of the bed's, still crying and shaking, while Poppy was trying to reassure her with words like "It will be okay, I promise. Just breathe. Breathe. Don't think about it for now."
Hannah wailed even louder. "Don't think about it! Don't think about it? How can I not think about it? My mother is dead, and you don't want me to think of her? You're insane!"
While thinking snidely to himself that he couldn't believe a Hufflepuff would call a member of the staff insane, Severus was shocked that Olivia was dead. There had been a Death Eater meeting last night, but he had not realized that the Dark Lord would order Olivia Abbott dead. He wasn't aware that he had even known who she was. Though of course, Severus thought angrily, a Death Eater could've just gone out on his own and done it. Probably someone who had gone to school with her.
Poppy, who was supposed to be good at soothing people, for God's sake, was doing a terrible job of calming her, so Severus strode forward.
He kneeled down in front of Hannah and held out the vial. "Miss Abbott." He said the words calmly, slowly, but the girl jumped up as though she had been hit.
He was about to explain to her what it was but she took the vial drank it without question.
Hufflepuffs, he thought with amusement and exasperation. So trusting.
The potion took its effect very quickly, and though still crying, Hannah seemed more in control of herself. Those olive eyes looked up at him, and unlike most Hufflepuff eyes that rested upon him, they did not show fear. Rather, they showed curiosity and….gratitude?
"Thank you, sir." She said, with lots of feeling. Did Hufflepuffs ever talk any other way?
He raised an eyebrow. "There is no need to thank me. It is a simple Calming Draught."
She blushed, which utterly confused him. "That's not what I meant….I mean, I never got a chance to thank you for….what you did…my dad…"
Well, this was awkward, Severus thought. But he appreciated it all the same. "You are quite welcome, Miss Abbott."
He did not want to upset her again, but feeling like he should say something, he said "My condolences for your mother." Formal, sincere, but not personal.
A grim look crossed her face. Severus had never seen a Hufflepuff look grim before. "Um, thanks, Professor."
"Not at all."
Severus was glad to see a ghost of a smile appear on her face. He could not understand why he was glad, or why he still had a small spot of affection for this girl. He supposed it had something to do with her honest eyes, or her history of being abused, or something else entirely. It confused him, and rarely anything confused Severus Snape.
Poppy, who had left the two of them to their own devices while she went to her office to check something, had returned.
"Severus, I need you to leave. Her brother and cousins will be arriving soon."
Severus nodded, understanding, and chanced one last glance at Hannah before he left the room. She really did smile at him this time, and for one moment she was the little girl he had saved 10 years ago.
Severus couldn't help himself, he smiled back. It lasted only a second, and then he did his trademark dramatic spin and swept out of the room.
May 2nd. 2000
That was the last time Hannah had ever spoken to the man one on one.
Standing in front of the gates to the cemetery, she unfolded the letter she had kept on her since she was six, and reread it for what seemed the millionth time.
You are too young to read this at the present time, but I hope your mother will give this to you when she thinks you're old enough.
When I first saw you on that road in Ambleside, I thought you would be an annoyance, a roadblock, if you will. Just a random little girl enjoying the beautiful day. I could not have been more wrong.
You told me about those bruises your father created on your innocent face with his bare hands. I felt an uncontrollable anger towards the man. I knew instinctively that that could not have been the only time you were mistreated, because Hannah, I have been there myself.
Having said that, I want you to know that you are not worthless. Your mother certainly adores you, and I am sure once you are Sorted into Hufflepuff, you will have many friends. If you can make Severus Snape grow even the tiniest bit fond of you, than you will not have any trouble with the rest of the world.
Once at Hogwarts, I'm afraid, you may find that I will act cruel towards you. Please know that it is simply an act, an act one has to keep up if there is any chance the Dark Lord will come back. I do not say that to frighten you, I say it to keep you on your guard.
I used to think that Hufflepuffs were weak. That they were too loving, naïve, and foolish. You, Hannah, have proven me wrong. As we searched for your mother, your comments & observations showed that you were clever, kind, and certainly not foolish. And having met you, I cannot help but feel that maybe it is not a bad thing to be as loving and kind as you are, and that maybe everyone, including me, has a little Hufflepuff inside of us.
P.S. I certainly hope that you are no fool at potions. Somehow, I have a feeling that you aren't.
Hannah rubbed her thumb over the parchment one last time, then folded the letter back up and placed it back in the pockets of her robe.
She pushed the gate of the old cemetery open, and it squealed as if it had not been oiled since the 17th century. She took out her wand and muttered "Lumos." The tip of her wand emitted a glow, and she strode forward.
It had been 2 years to the day since the end of the war, 2 years to the day since he died. She had cried when Harry Potter declared him a hero, though she knew all along that he would be.
During her years at Hogwarts, he treated her like any other Hufflepuff: cruelly and harshly. But occasionally she would catch his eye and he would wink at her, or otherwise signal that he wasn't at all as bad as he made himself out to be.
Otherwise, she was treated like any other student. Though gifted at Potion's, he never complimented her. And the few times she messed up, he made sure the whole room knew it.
Hannah didn't mind. She didn't let such petty things bother her. Some might call it foolish ignorance, but again, Hannah didn't care what other people thought.
The day her mother died was such a horrible day. She certainly hadn't wanted him to see her cry. But somehow, he had made her feel better, and she wasn't sure why.
She had to find his grave, quick; Neville was expecting her soon. She didn't tell him he was coming here, she didn't think he'd understand. Though he accepted that Severus was a hero, he was still bitter about how he was treated in class.
Row after row of gravestones she tried until finally, at the 29th row, she found his grave. It was not huge; tiny compared to some of the other ones, but it fit him. She shone her light above it and read:
Jan. 9th, 1960 - May 2nd, 1998
Two simple words can change a man's life, and those are "Thank you."
Well, that was certainly not what Hannah had expected. As a tear rolled down her face, she conjured up 7 white lilies and laid them on his grave.
"Thank you." She whispered to the grave.
Well, I have no idea how this got started, to tell you the truth. I starting writing this today on a whim, having no idea how it would turn out, and discovered that I quite like it. I hope Severus is not too OOC. Please review! Thank you so much for reading.