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Cold sunlight drifted through the open air window in Severus' attic room. His body ached. His mind ached. His everything ached. One eye decided to brave awakening and opened narrowly, ready for the worst. Severus lifted and inspected each arm. He knew they'd be bruised, but geez… His skin looked as if someone had painted him black and blue. His Mum shifted beside him and he felt her arms pull him towards her. That made him smile. Some of the pain even seemed to subside.

He couldn't simply fall back to sleep like he so wanted to, however. He had to clean himself up. Otherwise, the wounds would become infected and Mum would have to take him to the doctor for shots again. Mum always took a beating if she ever took him anywhere. His father hated the thought of any money being spent on his worthless son.

Severus rolled on his side with a groan. He bit his lip as he tried and failed to hold in a whimper of pain. As he slowly eased out of his mother's grip, he knew that he wouldn't be seeing Lily any time soon. The wounds would take too long to heal and he hated the thought of her seeing him like this.

For some reason, that thought hurt worse than his body at the moment.

Severus stepped quietly out of the room, carefully closing the door behind him. He could hear the loud, almost cartoonish, snoring coming from his father's room. The noise filled him with hate. He never understood why his Mum never left the horrible beast.

His mother was a quiet and timid soul. At least, that's how she was now. Apparently, when she was younger and her spirit was not yet broken, Eileen Prince had been the first Prince to have the gall to stand up to her Pureblood traditionalist father and marry his Muggle Father. They'd been in love, so he was told, but looking at them now, he could never see it. It was all his fault. Once Severus had shown his first signs of magic as an infant, Tobias had turned nasty. Football star dreams were crushed right alongside Eileen's bones. She was disfigured from all the times he'd broken her limbs just to prove a point, and then forbidden her to go to the hospital. His poor Mum. Oh, he loved her so much.

His legs carried him shakily down the stairs, protesting the cruel treatment of last night as they screamed at him in pain.

The River.

It had been months since the family had had running water, so if Severus wanted to be any sort of clean or disinfected, the icy water of the river was the only option. He grabbed a small washcloth on the way out and began his journey towards the water. He shivered violently, having no coat and having forgotten Lily's scarf. It was utter torture, and he felt like a dog that had to drag itself by his front legs after being hit by a car. Newly scabbed cuts reopened at the combination of dry wind and movement, seeping blood. The crimson flow looked unreal against his alabaster skin that seemed to grow paler with each drop. It was creating a trail, his path marked perfectly by a red dotted line in the snow.

Finally, he reached the water's edge. He kneeled beside the water, dirty rag in hand and steeped it with the clean water. As he brought it to the scrapes, they stung like hornets. He didn't know whether the pain was because of the actual wound or the freezing water. Either way, he cleansed himself as best as he could, then began to make his slow trek back home.

Thankfully, Tobias was still sleeping when he arrived back home. He listened to his father's snores through the wall, grimacing. He had called that man "Daddy" last night. How could he? He never called his father anything like that before. It was weak sounding, as if he trusted his father not to hit him only because he was his "Daddy." Disgusting. Severus sighed and crawled back into his room. His Mum was beginning to wake up and, hoping for a few more peace filled hours with his mother, he couldn't let that happen. He carefully slipped back into the bed, his trip to the River going unnoticed by her, and he sighed as he felt her warm arms curl around him.

This was the day Severus took a solemn oath. If he was so lucky as to have his own wife and family when he grew up, he would never do anything to hurt them. He would love and protect, never rape or beat. As he fell back asleep, he tried to picture his future family. Funny, his wife always seemed to have red hair.

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