(mahy-oh-pee-uh) – noun
1. Ophthalmology . a condition of the eye in which parallel rays are focused in front of the retina, objects being seen distinctly only when near to the eye; nearsightedness.
He is seven, and his primary school teacher makes a call to his house—his mother really, she's the only one that ever picks up—concerned. This isn't unusual. Is in fact rather common. There is a lot to be concerned about.
He is clearly poorly groomed, poorly fed, poorly clothed, and poorly treated. And just plain poor. The other children pick on him constantly, making an already sullen and ill-tempered young boy even more sullen and ill-tempered.
But this call is made because his teacher is concerned he might be shortsighted. He's having trouble reading the board—always squinting—and it's beginning to affect his learning. The one thing his teachers can never complain about.
Eileen dodges the issue until she can't any longer. At which point she reluctantly takes him to an optician and fills out the paperwork for an optical voucher from the National Health.
Soon enough, he begins sporting a too large and unfashionable pair of glasses (he'll grow into them, his mother says). They slip down his face continuously. At first he doesn't care; just another unsightly addition to an already unsightly wardrobe. But the teasing from the other children gets significantly worse.
He doesn't dare let them win by taking them off as if he were ashamed, though he is.
But when at age eleven he passes through Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on his way to Hogwarts, he makes sure that the glasses are buried deep in his tattered trunk.
He has hopes that Hogwarts will offer him a new start, a safe place away from fear and hatred and loneliness. At the least he'll be able to spend more time with his only friend, Lily, a girl from his neighbourhood that went to a different primary school.
These hopes are dashes quickly, of course. But he knows by now not to give them one more thing to tease him for by wearing the glasses. He sits near the front in his classes, as a consequence, although that leaves him vulnerable to pranks from behind.
Being shortsighted, he's an easy target for Potter and his gang. He can't tell it's them coming closer until it's too late. Eventually he learns to avoid anyone nearing altogether. He learns to walk silently and in the shadows.
It rankles that his primary antagonist is, himself, shortsighted. And yet Potter is popular and well-liked; no one would dare tease or suggest that glasses detract from St. Potter's appearance. But the world isn't fair. That was a lesson he learned very early on.
He scavenges the school's library for spells or potions to improve his eyesight, but none work for more than a few minutes and are as likely to leave him blind as improve his vision. After a few years he attempts to craft his own, but they are just as unsuccessful. He decides that there's something particular about the eyes that must resist tampering and resigns himself to a life surrounded by fuzzy, indistinct shapes.
2. lack of foresight or discernment; obtuseness.
He hears whispers in the common room about a powerful man, with powerful friends. Many think the man is evil, another self-styled dark lord. But that's because they are afraid and don't understand. This man has grand ideas about a wizard's rightful place in the world. About how they need not pander to the muggles.
He wonders what his life might have been like, if he'd been able to hex his father when the bastard came too close, fists raised. He could help make this man's vision a reality. He could be powerful.
Lily tells him it's a terrible idea. What would such a man think of muggle-borns like her? What would such a man do to muggles like her parents? She's heard rumours of attacks and assassinations. He thinks she's being foolish, buying in to the Ministry's propaganda.
He makes cautious allies with some of his fellow Slytherins. They talk and dream about what they'll do after Hogwarts, how they'll join this man and help change the world. Some of their ideas disturb him.
But then Lily refuses to forgive him for one misspoken word, said in anger and mortification—is no longer his friend—and he commits himself to the cause whole-heartedly. There's nothing to hold him back, any more. He has no one. But when he joins Lord Voldemort, he'll at least be someone.
Very soon after he leaves Hogwarts, he stands before that man—an ill-looking older gentleman with rather eerie eyes—and receives his Mark among a room full of powerful people. He feels nothing but pride.
3. narrow-mindedness; intolerance.
He's spent years at that damned school. Teaching imbeciles for he knows not what reason. Dumbledore tells him that the Dark Lord is likely to return, but thus far he's seen no sign that it's true. He stays, anyway. He owes the Headmaster that much, at least.
Each day, each week and month and year is much like any other. Filled with idle, empty motions; making his rounds, making sure that the little brats don't kill themselves or worse.
Until that boy shows up. Potter. The little bastard is just like James. Lazy, brash, arrogant, and glory-seeking.
He attempts to remain composed in Potter's presence, but it proves impossible. The boy is just completely infuriating. Disrespectful. Ungrateful. He attempts to protect the twit anyway, though Potter makes it difficult. Always running straight into trouble, without a thought or concern for the safety of others.
The boy is simply intolerable, and he doesn't understand why no one else sees it.
(ahy-glas, ahy-glahs) — noun
1. a lens for aiding or correcting defective vision
Hermione comes across him standing in a corridor on the fourth floor, glaring out a window. She pauses and nearly turns around to head another direction, another path. He'll likely sneer and berate her for no real reason except that he can, if she passes by him. That seems to be his modus operandi, toward her particularly, since she came back to Hogwarts for her final year, after the war. Hermione takes it silently. She doesn't see the point in argument or protest, and one of them has to act the adult (funny that it's her).
But something in his demeanour convinces her to keep walking forward. There's an... exhausted air about him, a resigned melancholy and despair that she's not used to seeing, although she'd expected something similar much sooner.
He survived, somehow, Nagini's bite, yet she'd gotten the distinct impression that he wasn't happy about it when she tried to visit him at St. Mungo's, and when she attended his trial. He was absolutely furious, angrier than she'd ever seen him—and that's saying a lot.
She thought he'd wear himself out eventually, that no one could maintain that sort of anger at the entire world, especially when he really is lucky to be alive and out of Azkaban. But here at Hogwarts—where McGonagall had reluctantly hired him back once he was acquitted and Slughorn absolutely refused to stay—the anger, though slightly lessened, continued.
But it seems that, now, he's reached that point where he can't be angry any more. And Hermione's the one to stumble into him. What to do? She admits she's concerned, although he's always been a complete bastard to her. She's just that way.
Would he welcome her concern? She doubts it, but then it seems wrong to continue past him like she'd seen nothing.
So while she could go to the library like she'd planned, Hermione instead slows and comes to a stop right behind his shoulder. He doesn't seem to notice, so she looks out the window, too—at the view of the Quidditch Pitch where Slytherin's team is practising.
What is he glaring at? She admittedly knows little about Quidditch, despite the boys' efforts, but it seems to her that they're flying well.
Hermione examines his face; the narrowed eyes, the tension in his brow, the grimacing mouth. And it occurs her to wonder: Is he actually squinting?
"Are you shortsighted, sir?" she asks with surprise. It's a terribly nosy question, and likely not the best time to ask it (not that there's ever a good time), but she's understandably a bit shocked. If he's shortsighted, why doesn't he wear glasses? How many of his glares, over the years, were possibly an attempt to see clearly? She's sure most of them were genuine, but there's a chance...
He jerks, startled, with wide eyes. But he recovers quickly, stiffening, and his face—almost seemingly of its own accord—arranges itself in a sneer.
He opens his mouth, no doubt to utter a scathing response and deduct points... and then closes it with a sigh. He really does look exhausted.
"Yes, Miss Granger," he says flatly, "I suffer from myopia."
"Oh." He actually answered a personal question? There really must be something wrong. But as long as the opportunity is there... she never could resist asking questions. "Why don't you ever wear glasses?"
He says nothing, just returns to squinting out the window, and Hermione wonders if it isn't maybe because he's self-conscious. What an odd thought. But if she's right...
"If eyeglasses, uh, bother you, sir... Do you know that muggles have contact lenses? They're very small and soft, and fit directly onto the eye. And there's also surgery to correct the problem, using lasers."
He looks at her, seeming mildly curious for a moment, before losing interest and resuming his expression of helpless despair.
"Perhaps I don't want to examine things in great detail," he tells her quietly, "There is so much ugliness in the world, Miss Granger, and sometimes I think it's best I remain as ignorant as possible."
It's silly, but the first thing Hermione thinks of is spotty teenagers and wrinkles. That's not what he means, of course. It seems he's slipped into metaphor. She's not sure how to respond.
"Still, I think clear vision is very important," she says with a thoughtful frown. "There's bad to be seen, yes, but also a lot of good. And if you're always walking around, determinedly blind... that's not living, sir, that's hiding. And I've never known you to be a coward."
He looks at her carefully, examining her face, seemingly intrigued at what he finds. He can probably see her clearly, too, at this short distance.
"You're not talking about my eyes any longer," he says. It's a statement.
"No, sir. Neither were you."
He carefully considers his reply.
"And you don't think a certain amount of self-preservation is in order, Miss Granger, when all previous attempts at clear sight have accomplished nothing, and resulted only in strain and worse vision?"
"I'm a Gryffindor, sir," she says with amusement. "We're all about being recklessly optimistic."
"Of course, what an absurd question." His lips quirk in a small smirk for a moment, before he sobers.
"There's a lot to re-examine," he tells her.
"Then perhaps you'd best start immediately, sir," she replies, smiling.
His head dips in a nod and turns back to the window, looking thoughtful and much less disturbed than before.
"I suspect that if I could see through your eyes, Miss Granger, everything would appear tinted a startling rosy hue. But... thank you," he says quietly.
"No trouble at all... and sir?"
"Could I possibly—I mean, I'm curious... you do have a pair of glasses don't you?" she asks tentatively.
He seems bemused. But is apparently willing to humour her, because he wordlessly conjures some rectangular frames and balances them on the bridge of his significant nose with a raised eyebrow.
Hermione examines his face, in turn, pleased.
"Thank you, sir. I think you look very distinguished," she tells him sincerely.
His eyes widen slightly, while his face slowly pinks with blood and heat. Hermione laughs delightedly and departs with a 'good afternoon, sir'.
When—for the remainder of the school year—Hermione is regaled with shocked anecdotes of his sudden turn to calm and fair, if strict, judgement... she can only smile.
He'll leave Hogwarts after the year is out. He'll venture beyond the very narrow world that he's inhabited for the past twenty-four years. He'll wear eyeglasses. He'll see things closely that have always been far. He'll see possibilities. He'll see everything he's never seen, before.
His vision will be perfectly clear.
A/N: My hasty attempt at depth and subtle meaning while spending too much time in an airport, haha. I've read many fics that feature Snape as nearsighted, I think, but unfortunately can't remember them all. Hopefully this is a unique or at least enjoyable take on the issue.
Also... I didn't intend, at first, never to mention Snape by name. But after the first few paragraphs I realized I never did and thought it would be an interesting way to write. Please let me know if you disagree, I welcome criticism. :)
[Definitions taken from dictionary (dot) com.]