I own nothing.

For the Alliteration Competition.

Character: Severus Snape

Words: Shakespeare, September, silence, shooting, secondhand, severed, servitude, sunflower, simile, sulfur, salute, simplistic, slowpoke,

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"A Life Like Potions"

Severus Snape grows up in a world so close to hell that he can smell the sulfur and brimstone. He learns that silence and snarky retorts are the best defense when his opponent is twice his size, and he learns it well.

By the time he's five, he's stopped believing in things like Santa Claus and shooting stars – he knows that he has to make his own magic.

It's about that time that he starts brewing potions in his mother's lab. She doesn't know – at least, he doesn't think she does. He doesn't tell her – he sneaks down in the dark of the night and pulls out the recipe book that's nearly larger than he is, and he loses himself in potion-making. Strangely, it's because of how complex perfect potions are that makes it so simplistic. That's what he loves about potions. When it comes down to it, it's just him and his hands, and the result is what he can do. If something goes wrong, that's his own fault, because when you combine the right ratio of powdered root of asphodel with an infusion of wormwood and stir three times clockwise, you get the Draught of Living Death – every time.

He's never found that sort of consistency in people. With his father – well, yes, silence and snark are his best bet, but there's no surefire way of pacifying him. There's no simple set of rules – do this and this and this, and you'll be okay.

He tells himself repeatedly to be optimistic – to turn his face to the sun, as the sunflower does. But his life is too cloudy, and he can't seem to find the sun. He can't even come up with a good simile, for Merlin's sake. Sunflowers? Really?

Shaking himself, he tries to focus. Similes don't matter when he's brewing.

And then he turns eleven, and things change. September comes, and with it, Hogwarts. The school where, finally, he can be whoever he wants to be. He doesn't have to deal with his SOB father or his perfectionist mother. He can just be Sev.

His roommates are terrible, quite frankly, but they're nothing compared to what he's dealt with for the rest of his life. He'll take a bit of taunting about the fact that he reads Shakespeare over living black and blue any day.

And then he turns sixteen, and things change again. His mother dies. He finally – finally – severs all ties with the family he was born into. He pulls all of his inheritance out of his mother's accounts at Gringotts and starts his own, just so that he really feels like it's his. He stops wearing tattered, secondhand clothes, and he stands taller, prouder. He still hides behind his cauldrons, true, but he comes out every once in a while.

When he graduates, he feels like he's got the world at his fingertips. His friends introduce him to the Dark Lord, and Severus sees a man who knows what the world is all about. He sees a man with power that knows how to wield it. He doesn't see that he's signing himself up for a life of servitude.

But he deals, because he's a Slytherin with a survival instinct, so he pays his tribute to the Dark Lord like a good little minion. Yes, Lord, no, Lord, of course, Lord, Salute! Merlin, if this was the life he'd wanted, he'd have joined the Muggle military.

Still, he can't bring himself to work his hardest for a cause he's never believed in, so he drags his feet and brews oh-so-slowly, and he's verbally (and physically) shredded for being such a slowpoke, but he's okay, because he feels like he's doingsomething. Maybe he should've been a Gryffindor. The thought is horrifying.

And this life of servitude is the life he's gotten himself into, it's his lot, and finally, life seems like potions, because he gets out what he earned.