A/N: This is me getting back into writing Harry Potter fics. I was watching the fifth movie and something about the way Sirius looked talking about his mother disowning him when he ran away made me wonder what would happen if he got lost on the way to James' and found out that he's not the only one who has a horrible home life.

Warning: There is child abuse mentioned in this chapter, as well as neglect. Severus' parents are both horrible to him in this fic. Both Severus and Sirius will likely seem OOC at times, but Sirius is undergoing shifting perceptions which would lead to him treating Severus better than he ordinarily would.

Sirius stormed out of the house, not looking back as he mother continued to scream obscenities after him. He was done, completely and totally done. He could not spend another day in that house, with his harpy of a mother.

I'll go to the Potters', Sirius thought, checking the pockets of his muggle jeans to ensure that he had everything. He had packed most of his things in his trunk, with the help of an undetectable expansion charm, and then he shrunk it. It and his shrunken broomstick were all he needed. His wand was in his pocket, and he was on his way to where he left his bike. I'll ride over. Now that I'm out of the house, the Ministry will know if I do any magic. James' dad can take me to Gringotts to file the papers to become emancipated, and I'll still be able to withdraw from my trust vault.

So occupied with his thoughts was Sirius that he didn't notice that, once he had started his bike and taken off, he was going the wrong way. He had never driven to the Potters' before, usually flooing or apparating with Mr. Potter. Everything looked different, and he had never bothered to ask for directions.

Two hours later, Sirius stopped the bike and looked around. There was no denying it; he was lost.

The dingy industrial town he was in looked nothing like James' hometown, nor did he see any of the landmarks he would recognize from around Potter Manor. Looking around, Sirius noticed a sign that read 'Spinner's End'.

That must be where I am, Sirius thought, looking around, but how the bloody hell do I get from here to James' house?

Before he could contemplate that further, loud voices from the ramshackle shack directly across the road from him caught his attention.

"Yer a worthless waste o' space," a man bellowed drunkenly, followed by the sound of someone crying out in pain. "I told ya ta stop all that freaky magic nonsense, but did you listen? Well, did you boy?"

Sirius had crept closer, curious and more than a little concerned, and he about jumped when a familiar voice, hoarse and broken, said, "No sir."

"Tha's right, ye disgraceful brat," the man spat, and Sirius was finally close enough to peer through a window. He had to look, as there was no way that the boy who screamed in such agony was Severus Snape.

Sirius' heart dropped as he took in the scene. Snape was on the floor of the shack, his shirt off and his back to Sirius. He could count each of the other boy's ribs, and couldn't even begin to attempt that feat with the scars littering his back. There were several bleeding wounds covering more scars. A man (a Muggle most likely considering how he was speaking of magic) was standing over Snape, a beer bottle in one hand, a belt in the other. As Sirius watched, the man lashed out with the belt again, striking Snape in the center of his back, directly across three open, bleeding wounds. Sirius could see the tension in the other boy's frame, knowing he was likely biting his lip until it bled to stop from crying out again. Sirius watched, horrified, as the Muggle man (who was apparently Snape's father) beat his son to the point of collapse, all the while making snide comments.

And it's all because he's a wizard, Sirius thought, feeling sick. The bastard is beating him because Snape's a wizard. And this isn't the first time either. For the first time, Sirius began to wonder if his taunting of Snape was as justified as he previously thought.

Eventually, the muggle seemed to tire and wandered off, hollering over his shoulder that Snape should clean the floor and the belt or else he'd have a similar experience in the morning. Snape didn't move at first, causing Sirius to worry that the other boy had passed out, but then Snape began to move. Sirius winced, knowing that Snape had to be in agony, but the other boy seemed far too used to this. He watched as Snape picked up his ratty t-shirt (one Sirius remembered mocking at school and now caused him to wonder if Snape had any better) and used it to wipe the belt clean.

Sirius looked at the floor, at the puddles of congealing blood, and knew that it would take a lot of scrubbing to get the stains out. He didn't think that Snape was strong enough to do it right now, and was afraid of what would happen if the other boy didn't manage to clean it to the muggle's standards.

Straightening from his crouch by the window, Sirius moved towards the door. It wasn't locked, allowing him to slip in silently. He managed three steps before Snape turned to face him, black eyes widening when they saw the intruder.

"Black?" Snape's hoarse voice carried none of it's usually malice. It was hoarse and broken, with a thread of defeat and resignation running through it that Sirius had never heard before. "Have I finally died and went to Hell?"

"No!" Sirius hissed, startled. Did the other boy want to die? "You're alive, although I don't know how. Why did that muggle beat you like that?"

Snape shrugged, hissing in pain. "I went to Hogwarts. That was my punishment for going."

"You get punished for going to school?" Sirius asked, disbelieving. Either Snape has gone round the bend or his dad did.

"My father despises magic," Snape explained, his eyes on his belt. He still believed that none of this was real, that this was some odd dream occurring after he passed out after his father's beating. "He didn't know my mother was a witch when he slept with her. She told him after, when they married."

"She didn't think to mention it before that?" Sirius asked.

"She only told him then because there was a chance I would be a wizard," Snape said, pushing a strand of his long dark hair out of his equally dark eyes. "She had hoped I wouldn't have magic. That was the second way I disappointed her."

"The second way?" Sirius asked, still slightly stunned. His mother is a witch, married to a magic-hating muggle, and she hated that her son had magic?

"I was conceived," Snape said, his tone so matter of fact that Sirius had to conceal a wince. "I was a mistake; they didn't want children."

"Where's your mum now?" Sirius asked, changing the topic. No one should be able to speak so matter of factly about their parents not wanting them.

"Working," Snape said. "Black, as interesting as talking to a hallucination is, I need to clean the floor. Dream or not, I don't need another beating so soon after this one. I need at least a few days to recover."

"Hallucination?" Sirius repeated dumbly. Then the rest of the sentence sunk in. Even if he cleans the floor, he's sure he'll get another beating again, sooner or later. "Doesn't your mum say anything about this?"

"Why would she?" Snape asked, sounding confused. "I'm not worth risking a beating for. As you and your friends have pointed out many times before, I'm worthless, lower than pond scum. What does it matter if Snivellus has to endure his father's belt every other day? He deserves it for being born and being born a wizard."

Sirius gaped, lips parting in shock as Snape spoke. The entire time, his voice didn't waiver, nor did he seem sarcastic. He actually believed that he deserved this. "Snape, no one deserves this."

"I do, evidently," Snape replied, turning away, presumably to go to the kitchen to get cleaning supplies. "If I didn't deserve this, then I wouldn't be forced to endure it. I wouldn't be forced to endure you and your friends making my life hell at the one place I believed I would have been safe."

Sirius said nothing, watching the other boy stiffly collect his supplies and bring them back, setting to work almost immediately. Snape was clearly in pain, yet he didn't stop cleaning.

Of course he won't stop, Sirius thought angrily. That muggle bastard would beat him again if he didn't clean this up. He's exhausted and beaten and school just ended. If this is how the first day of summer is going for him, he won't make it to September 1st.