Savior of the Broken Beaten and the

Chapter 3

A World to send you realing...

The first problem had come at the stop light. Though his seroundings were decrepit (in Muggle fashion, which was all the more depressing), spotted with graffiti, young eyes had wandered and spied some rather… precocious words on the wall. He'd caught the boy mouthing said words. Still, he wasn't speaking them aloud, and so it wasn't Severus' concern.

Lucius could deal with his brat whenever he returned.

Mouthing unspeakable all accidental. Soap worthy ones not the Azkaban worthy ones, they boy wound about cracks and the like not daring to step on a jag.

After all, step on a crack break your mother's back…

Eyes focused inward, murmuring snippets, the boy got into the spirit of things. Shedding decorum and the like and, while he didn't skip, he did a few hops on the trickiest spans of sidewalk that might have passed muster. Losing restraint as they went along, the boy's volume was increasing to the point he was almost audible.

Thus Severus was back to wondering if he should correct.

Deciding again that it was Lucius' problem, he stopped.

His ward, not knowing the import of a red light on high passed by his dark clad elder without a thought in his blond head.

"F-"

Looking up from the light, a glance down confirmed the obvious. The boy was no longer in his place, or at his side. Realization, revelation, he reached out, arms snaking about the child, pulling him up and back.

"-f-ack!"

Snape wouldn't be caught dead "holding" anyone, so he'd snatched and released. One shove and the brat was sprawled, watching in stupefied wonder as something massive upon wheels roared over the black span he'd of taken. Span… which was a road (Muggle variety mind) he'd of learned had he dared ask. As it was he never thought to ask. Grey eyes roved up, met black, the child's expression of shock twisted to outrage. Face reddening he opened his mouth-

"Mum! Mum!" A child, a different child. Severus craned his head to better glare at the little brat. Get one, the others come in droves, perhaps next outing out he'd cast a disillusionment spell on the littlest Malfoy to ward off the magnetic effects of having one of the snot nosed things acquire more.

He'd have the think that one over.

"Lookit the idiot!"

Hmmm… not so much a nuisance… one second thought, maybe he wouldn't cast that spell.

Face reddening for a different reason, Malfoy glared at the boy and his mother. Who was tolerantly letting herself be pulled along.

Muggle (worthless, hissed his training) clad, both were embroiled in such familiarity with the other that it made his pale features twist into outrage of another kind. How dare they… that.. boy thing… act so.. improper? How dare he judge. How dare he act like a little hellion, pointing and smiling all the while?

And the pointing, it made Malfoy ache for a wand.

(After all, he wasn't allowed to point, or run ahead, or act improper and like a little hellion, how dare anyone else be able to do so)

"Lookit the dunce, Mummy, walked into a red light…"

"Hush." The woman, plain, unmagical and disgusting because of both, scolded. Shedding her anonymoscity all accidental, she came closer, enough so that he couldn't pretend not to look at her. Smiling slightly, scolding her offspring with the barest of taps to the head she frowned at him, all open and worried. Draco squirmed under the tender assault. "Mr…" From him to Snape she looked, wondered. "Mr. Snape… is everything alright with your boy?"

"Fine." Ahead, beyond, Snape considered the light, waiting for it to turn. Behind, below, Draco struggled, stood, his hands smarted. Burned really. "Just a tumble on the boy's part."

"That's good… well it wasn't good he fell, but I'm glad that…"

Not looking up Snape waved a long fingered hand, beckoning her to silence. She either didn't see or care at the wizard's gesture.

(and that was wrong, wronger than wrong…)

She drew near, face puckered, indulging in a half frogish crouch before him. Then she did the unspeakable, this thing, this Muggle. She met his eyes. Jewel like, pretty so pretty Mummy would have wanted them (or something akin to them) on a chain and wound about her neck. Draco blanched at the creature's approach (save it wasn't, not a creature, creature's were its and she was a she, and pretty too), crept back until he bumped against something big and black. With blind eyes, for all he could see was her, not a Muggle, but a her, (and that scared him more than anything) he reached. Though large, the coat was a simple thing, with seams you didn't have to see.

One tug, one whimper, and she as gone, he was gone, lost in the folds of black.

Standing, steady, Malfoy pressed against the black and never mind if it was Muggle, there was folds and volume to hide under. So hide he did. Still, stiff, the potions master neither approved nor disapproved the touch. At least he didn't feel strongly enough to shove his attachment away.

Unknowing he shook (was shook) and caused a sizable chunk of Snape's coat to quiver with him

The Muggle's (hers) eyes were blue, just like…

(Evil thought bad bad. He pushed it back. A headache bloomed where it had been)

Like Mummy's, save it wasn't. Mum, Mummy or mother even. Lady Mother at best, a most indulgent tepid best.

Bitter best.

Recollection, father's voice, revelation

"The thing about girls… women really, is that they all want to be princesses."

Braver than the bravest Lion he peaked out form the edges. Peered up at eyes that were and weren't familiar. She was smiling, soft tender things he couldn't name twisting her features into patterns he shouldn't have recognized. Couldn't have recognized.

He hadn't seen them before after all. Still they tugged at something in turn, those patterns all unfamiliar.

There was no finery on her. No rings, no jewelry (save those eyes) no silks of scents adults called exotic. She didn't walk, towards him or anywhere, as if she wore the weight of some invisible crown on her brow. Still, she was wealthier by far, for the riches in her eyes.

No princess ever crouched, not like that. Not frog like. Still she did, waited for him to creep out. When she didn't she stood. Idly ignoring her giggling offspring.

"Are you alright sweetie?"

Dumbly he nodded, never knowing that she could see him. A chill digit tapped his skull, made him look up. Revisiting his inner fish, he goggled at the Professor.

"An Answer, Ms. Stevens requires a verbal answer if you would."

She glared at the professor, her kindness dimmed under irritation. "Really Severus, he's scared stiff…"

"Hardly." Her scorn didn't touch her target. There was something oily about the black, and not just about the man's head. "He's too blind for real fear."

Quiet, a moment, two…

"Your son, I assume?" There was a bite and growl to her inflection.

She bristled at the raised eyebrow that was the man's response. Between blinks Draco was sure he spied a badge. As it was, while the adults glowered, her child looked on with wide eyes. Silver met blue, two worlds' touched accidentally.

"No, I'm merely babysitting for the foreseeable future."

Green had flickered to yellow, descended to a bloody red at time's passing. A block, separate yet attached by a thick rod, was attuned t the descent, and when yellow became red it flared with the blockish image of a man in mid step Spying his prize Severus rumbled an order without words, his nudge and snarl indicated direction.

Forward, alongside the white path among the black, all was still but not. Things rumbled and roiled. Smoke and light and muted roars. There were dragons of a wheeled variety, another (nudge… no shove, he'd nearly staggered under it) encouraged him forward.

But he couldn't, wouldn't'. There were monsters, monsters all glossy and bright up ahead! Didn't he see that!

Looking back and up, face open, expression terrorized (sins to a snake, but even serpents had limits to their cold blood) he wanted to beg. Take me home. Put me back where I belong. Black met grey, then slow but sure that head shook. No… No! He was important, someone special! No one said no to him!

Vacillating between tantrum and breakdown he didn't take a step.

Red fell to green. With roars the Things raced forward in a rush of bitter smoke. He coughed, wheezed, might of staggered forwards if it weren't for the cold hand holding him back.

"Is he alright?" Gone was the brittle anger, and that something (all soft and unspeakable) filled till stuffed the syllable. Beyond it all, he fought to breathe.

"Parents… car accident… flashback... confusion…"

"Oh! The poor dear.."

They weren't poor! He opened his mouth to how at that outrage and wheezed instead.

Tears burned behind his eyes. He told his heart to stop it's thundering, tried to summon something of Daddy's sternness (save it wasn't Daddy, only Lord Father). And, please of please, stop right now. The other boy, the Muggle wasn't scarred, so he shouldn't be. Right? Right.

But the roars and the rumbles and smoke brought him to the conclusion that those lined things, those racing things, were dragons that weren't right. Not right. He suddenly craved white walls, bitter bright smiles that were comforting in their insincerity. Grace, he missed it. In others, in himself. Home was where the quiet was, where safety was. Where dragons that weren't weren't!

"H..Hi?

Overlooked, underfoot the other boy had crept forward. His mother's eyes shining from that otherwise plain face.

Above, beyond, they quarreled. Her back was back at his idle bite. Amused, for if he wasn't he wouldn't have indulged her the time of day much less a fight. Severus seemed to forget charge and standing all at once.

Save for that cold hand, that bit whenever to turned. Nails sunk in, a warning, a reminder.

"Hello."

Should he bow? Wizards bowed to each other. But this was a Muggle. As he dithered, wide eyes widening, the problem neatly solved itself. (The Muggle, Mudwallower, animal, thing, creature) It smiled. And that smile… could have made the thing (person) a wizard.

The woman's' softness was alive and well in every line and every feature of the boy's frame,

"I'm… My name's Justin, what's yours."

That softness, that something… no insincerity, he couldn't' find it no matter how much he hunted through tone and inflection of the other boy's greeting.

"D.. Draco… Draco Malfoy."

"Draco." Dilemma, well again, well met. As the boy fumbled through the odd sounding name –it's oddness a gift via the other child's inflection- Draco wrestled the demons of etiquette.

What to do? should he bow? Nod? Smile too?

Training, meet indecision.

He froze; meeting realized and thus frozen declared the winner without meaning too.

"Draco… Like a dragon, wicked!"

"Yes…" Grace abandoned him at revelation, he smiled.

Those… things weren't the only not dragon around after all.

Then, storm above (all hard words and withering glares) touched down, counseling silence for both children all the while.

She was nearly barking. She wheeled her's back as if to protect her own from those bitter black eyes. To that, Snape smirked, all wound up and in his blackness he indulged a spot of like colored humor at all their expense.

At least that's what the smirk assured.

"I do hope, Professor, that you're acquaintances do find a more suitable accommodation for your Draco."

"He's not mine, I assure you madam."

Silence, waiting, moment broken.

"Really?" Disbelief failed so well to describe her tone. This seemed another effort, of scorn, in an ongoing struggle. The indulgent smile on Snape's face assured one and all she'd failed. Still when she added her inflections of disbelief the mix was met with better results.

He pointed glance, long hand over little shoulder, seemed a rebuttal he couldn't shake.

"Yes." Release, a swipe down coat's front as if Snape didn't want to waste words saying how distasteful the touch was so he'd show it instead...

Draco tried not to be hurt.

"Really…"

Justin rolled his eyes, and Draco found looking at something level to him made the hurt go away faster. Another eye roll, and to that spot of bravery in the Badger's son, Draco grinned. Then blinked, blanked his face as Snape's glowered down at him after catching Justin's look first time around.

"If you suspect he's… Well if you're the best…"

Black eyes flicked up, after marking child and children as insignificant.

"Spit it out woman."

A breathe, a sigh. "If you're the best then what are they like?"

They. Short didn't mean stupid. Draco strained his ears. Rallying flagging attention for "adult things" he set himself to listening so he could report it latter.

After all Lord Father would want to know what others said of him.

When he came back.

(If he came back)

"They." Mother, father, all were encompassed in that word. "Are adequate."

It was hard to divide sarcasm from scorn, so the boy didn't try.

"Really?" Funny, hearing the same inflections in someone who was so soft. Draco almost giggled, another finger bite told him not too.

"He's breathing, isn't he?"

To that there was no reply.