The past is funny when you think about it. Change just the tiniest thing and you could create a ripple effect, where the smallest thing affects more and more until the very fate of the world becomes at stake. Take for instance the butterfly. You know what they say, go back in time and destroy a butterfly and you could change the future, not necessarily for the better. A bit of an odd example I’ll admit, but take this into consideration.
An eleven year old boy grows up hearing of nothing but Hogwarts, his ticket to freedom. His chance to escape a home of abuse and hateful relatives. A chance for him to become the greatest thing imaginable, a wizard! And it all starts at Hogwarts. But what if he doesn’t go to Hogwarts? What if instead this raven haired little boy is taken to another school, where he is free to learn and even create the most powerful of magic. What then? What will happen to the wizarding world if this one thing changes?
Now I know what you’re thinking. That this is another example of the infamous Boy Who Lived being whisked away from the clutches of the great Albus Dumbledore, to become the most powerful (and most desired) magical being there is. Well it’s not. Not everything is about Harry Potter, no matter what some fangirls and even some fanboys may think. No, this is about a man before Harry’s time to shine. A man whose greatest mistake was to enter the halls of Hogwarts as a student, setting himself up for a lifetime of ridicule and torment. This is about the greatest spy even known, one Severus Tobias Snape.
What would happen if he never became who everyone expected him to be? What if he became something no one expected? Someone who was loved, desired and above all happy. Who would have thought that the greasy snake, the boy everyone despised, could become the boy everyone loved? And all it took was one little oversight to change the course of this boy’s life for the better.
Submitted for the approval of the History of Magic, I call this story; The Tale of Severus Prince.
The problem with running a school, a magical school at that, is that there’s a tremendous amount of work that needed to be done before the start of term. Schedules needed to be made, teachers hired or fired, and above all students needed to be assured their place in Hogwarts’ hallowed halls. One particular student waiting for confirmation was that of Severus Snape-Prince. A halfblood born to an abusive muggle, Tobias Snape, and his weak-willed wife Eileen Prince. Not the most stable of households to grow up in I assure you. As such, it was living in such a household that would later change young Severus’ life for the better, not that he’d become aware of this.
Now as many parents may tell you, it can be a long and frustrating process in getting your child into a good school. Magical schools I’d like to remind you are no different. Despite popular opinion Hogwarts is not the only magical school in Britain, although it is undoubtedly the best the British government has to offer. As such the competition to get into a place such as Hogwarts is immense. Students are typically from longstanding pureblood families of great wealth and power. Although there are those halfbloods and muggleborns, that have the funds to afford such a school like Hogwarts.
In Severus’ case however, things are somewhat different. After all no matter what you may be told, a school is still a business. Particularly a school like Hogwarts. It has staff to pay for, supplies to order and a building to maintain. This doesn’t come cheap, as many parents will attest to after seeing the cost of tuition at Hogwarts. In Severus’ case his mother was a Prince, a member of a proud and noble family who were above all pureblood until he was born. Naturally this caused quite the scandal, although neither Severus nor his mother were there to witness it, as she had chosen to stay with her muggle husband who knew nothing of her true heritage. To him, all he’d seen was a fit girl he’d wanted to shag, only to end up getting her knocked up.
Out of fear for her family and what everyone around them would say, Eileen pleaded with Tobias to marry her in a desperate attempt to protect her reputation. Now Tobias was a decent bloke, sure he was a bit loud and even a little violent after one too many drinks, but he wasn’t a monster. After all he was the one who’d gotten her drunk enough to forget her own name. He was also smart enough to realise that people might consider it rape, and that was one thing he’d never wanted to be associated with. So he took responsibility for his actions, married the girl who would later birth his son, and as with every fairytale, things suddenly went horribly wrong. Well it wasn’t that big a surprise considering the circumstances of Severus’ birth.
The first few years of Severus’ life were reasonably happy, sure he was poor and clearly malnourished due to their financial circumstances, but he was reasonably loved. I mean sure his mother was disowned and thrown out of her home, and his father was stuck marrying a one night stand to avoid being accused of rape, but they never held it against him. Or at the very least they never told him so directly. They weren’t monsters after all.
Anyway Severus spent the first few years of his live fairly happy, his parents fed him when they had the funds to do so, and they played with him when they had the time and energy to spare. All in all there were worse ways to grow up, after all Severus was loved even if the circumstances of his birth were not. Even the cruellest of gossiping mothers could not fault Eileen and Tobias’ affections towards their son. Of course they had plenty of things to gossip about, even without bringing up Severus; the Snape’s financial situation for instance, or the parents’ looks, or even the state of their home; anything was used to badmouth the Snape’s. Or worse pity them in order to seem more charitable. But still it was an unwritten rule amongst those cackling hens that Severus was not to be mentioned. Small mercies and all that.
I’m getting off topic again; the point is Severus was loved. As much as his parents could manage considering his birth was an accident. But as he got older Severus began to display something his mother had long feared since marrying a muggle man. Severus began to display bursts of magic.
Truthfully Severus had been displaying since he was just two, from levitating cups to making his toys move unaided across the floor. Of course at this time there had been a major construction project gong on near their home. Bulldozers would work at all times of day, sending vibrations throughout the house. The served as a convenient excuse as to why Severus’ toys may have moved, or why a cup may have smashed onto the floor. Truth be told, Severus was lucky that the circumstances were as they were. For if his father had discovered the truth at that age, well let’s just say his childhood wouldn’t have been nearly as happy as it was.
But as they say all good things must come to an end, and when he was five Severus made the mistake of summoning a football in front of his father. Of course he hadn’t meant to, he just wanted his dad to keep playing with him. How was he to know his father would respond the way he did? I mean sure he’d learned that when he wished hard for something he would get it; books would appear from thin air, sweets and biscuits would drop into his lap. Just little things that many children wished they could have, for Severus they would just appear when he wished for them. Over the years it had become natural for him to make objects appear at will. As such he was ignorant to the potential consequences, but how could he be? After all he was simply a child. He couldn’t be expected to understand how people feared what they considered unnatural, and unfortunately for Severus, nothing was more unnatural then the possession of magic, at least according to his father.
It happened soon after his fifth birthday; Severus was in their small garden chasing after a football with his father at his heels. How was he to know that by kicking the ball a little too hard it would go over the fence? How was he to know that his father knew nothing of his magic, having been warned by his mother to keep his abilities secret. How was he to know that by summoning the ball into his arms, his father would become consumed by fear and rage? How was he to know he’d be dragged inside, his father’s grip tight and unrelenting, before experiencing something he’d never experienced before? Finally, how was he to know that his father, the man who should protect him and love him unconditionally, regardless of the circumstances of his birth, how was he to know that this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back? All Severus knew was that once inside that house, his father’s hand crushing his wrist in a bruising grip, the very minute he was inside and the door was shut, he would never forget the moment his father turned on him.
Hours later Severus was locked in his room, a sobbing mess as he cradled his arm that had been broken by his father’s rage. His nose had clearly been broken, making breathing difficult as blood and snot clogged his airways. His skin littered with bruises and scratches, some of which had yet to stop bleeding. At that moment there was one thing Severus knew for sure. For the first time in his life Severus truly feared his father, and what was worse he feared what his mother would do when she returned from the shops. After all Severus had done the one thing his mother had forbade him to do, he had revealed his magic to one not of their world. And by doing so, he would pay the ultimate price.
In that very moment Severus feared for his very life, crying as every gasp for breath in his panicked state jolted his broken arm and made his nose throb with every sniffle. For a child of just five years old, it was heart-breaking. For Severus, it was devastating. As now he knew the cruelty of the world, what fear made people do, and that was a lesson he would never soon forget.
As he sat there sobbing quietly Severus failed to hear his mother’s voice as she announced her return, nor did he notice his father’s confrontation as he confronted his wife. What he did hear however was his mother’s scream as a harsh slap echoed through the house’s walls. Then another, and another and then a large crash before everything was silent. Severus didn’t know how long he sat there, crying and terrified as he listened frantically for his mother’s voice. All he knew was he couldn’t escape, the door was locked and this time no matter how hard he wished, his wishes weren’t coming true.
Minerva McGonagall had been the transfiguration professor at Hogwarts for many years now. She had been the deputy headmistress for a good number of those years; having attended Hogwarts herself as a child, she was familiar with the school and its secrets. As such, one of her duties was to ensure magical children were given the opportunity to study at Hogwarts once they turned eleven. This meant much of her time over the summer was dedicated to checking the records of magical births, whether pureblood or halfblood or even muggleborn. As such she was usually one of the first to recognise when something was wrong, as a system had long been set in place to alert the reader if a child was in danger. A necessity that had come about with the threat of war, where every magical birth was deemed precious, as all too many wizards and witches were destined to die at the hand of evil. After all it wasn’t like the ministry was good for much, expect for blaming anyone else for their mistakes
It was on one such night when Minerva was sipping her tea, warming by the fire, that an alarm sounded through her home and a name rose from the parchment. It was when the name shuddered and turned a blood red that Minerva rose in a panic, throwing floo powder into the flames as she called for a healer. Child abuse in the wizarding world was not a common occurrence; it was rather quite the rarity. Although it was notable that most cases occurred within the upper class families, where pureblood traditions and obsession over outwardly appearances meant punishments were harsh and at times fatal. As such staff at St Mungo’s were trained to respond immediately, well aware that every second could and often did count in saving a child’s life. Mere seconds later and a haggard Poppy Pomfrey stumbled from the fire before regaining her footing, tailed by two aurors as regulations required. Not only for the safety of the healer, but the safety and security for the victim, as children were rarely left alone for long.
With a hurried explanation and a frantic search through parchment to locate the child’s address, the professor, healer and two aurors apparated to Spinner’s end without delay. They arrived at sunset, unlocking the front door with a whispered alohamora as they were careful not to make a sound lest they be heard by whoever had hurt the child. It didn’t take long for them to arrive at a particularly gruesome sight, the body of a woman with long black hair, her skull smashed in by a glass beer bottle that lay beside her body. A sudden movement caught their attention as a roar of what could only be described as pure rage was emitted. Whirling around Minerva gasped as she narrowly avoided being tackled to the ground by a black haired man. Immediately the aurors sprung to action, stunning the man whose bloody hands revealed him as the culprit behind his wife’s death.
“Where is the child?” One ordered, wand in his face as he sneered down at the muggle bound before him.
Tobias Snape remained silent, sneering best as he could as he gazed blankly at the body of his wife, secure in the knowledge that he had beaten the freakishness out of her. In the back of his mind he briefly considered regretting his actions, at least towards his son. After all it was Eileen who had charmed him with her freakishness, he had no doubt that she had forced her magic on him to trick him into sleeping with her and later agreeing to marry her. Severus was just a child after all, he didn’t know any better. In fact Tobias started to convince himself that over time Severus would have learned to forget about his magic, like children forgot about imaginary friends. It was just a phase that would pass.
Of course he knew he’d handled it badly, beating the boy then locking him in his room, but who could blame him? He’d made the ball float in the air as though it were nothing. Who knows what else he could have done? And what if he’d done it in public where the neighbours could see? No. The boy had to be taught a lesson, Tobias was sure of that. However in the back of his mind he knew that perhaps he’d taken it a little too far. But it was too late now, what was one was done and there was no changing it.
“You get one more chance, where is he?” The auror ordered, his partner kicking the man in an effort to get him to speak. Once again his question was met by stubborn silence, the man closing his eyes in defiance. The only movement the spell would really allow him to do.
Sneering in disgust at the muggle, the auror nodded to his partner before flicking his wand and levitating the man off the floor, intent on remanding him in custody. He’d be back later with help to remove the body. His partner nodded in acquiescence before exiting the living room, intent on finding the missing child. Minerva and Poppy hurried after him joining the search as they quickly zoomed in on a locked door at the end of the upstairs hallway. Soft sobbing could be heard spurring the three adults into action. A quick alohamora and the door was unlocked, Minerva pushing it open to a sight she would not soon forget.
A small pale skinned boy, with black hair and matching eyes gazed at her fearfully, frightened by the strange woman who had just entered his room. His sobbing momentarily paused only to resume as in his attempts to escape her hand his arm jolted, reminding him of just how much pain he was in. With a hiccupping sob he held his arm close to his body, eyeing the adults with blatant fear.
Minerva gasped in shock upon seeing the boy, Severus, in such a state. His nose swollen and bleeding, his skin covered in bruises and scratches, and above all his arm clearly broken as she watched him clutch it to his chest, clearly in agony. Poppy shared similar shock, although she was more concerned about the boy’s rapid and uneven breathing. She feared it was likely his ribs were broken, or at the least bruised. At the worst she feared he may have punctured a lung. The final adult, auror Kingsley Shacklebolt, watched the boy with pity and alarm. The fear in his eyes reminded the auror of prisoners of war. Of those that had been tortured relentlessly in the pursuit of evil. But in his eyes this was worse. The boy looked around three, small and fragile, and the idea that the boy’s own father had done this to him made him sick to his stomach.
“Severus? My name is Minerva McGonagall. I’m a teacher and this is Poppy Pomfrey, she’s a mediwitch, it’s like a doctor. We’re here to help you, okay sweetheart? Will you let us help you?” Minerva asked, careful to stay calm yet keeping her distance out of fear of how he might react.
“What about him?” Severus asked, his voice wavering slightly as he fought not to tremble.
“My name is Kingsley Shacklebolt, I’m an auror, it’s like a policeman. I stop bad guys from hurting children like you.” Kingsley explained with a soft smile as the boy’s eyes widened in awe. “Will you let us help you?”
Severus appeared to think it over carefully, his fear slowly being overridden by the pain pulsating from all over his body, specifically his arm, nose and chest. Finally he nodded, whimpering as the pain grew worse as he was carefully examined by Poppy. A series of diagnostic spells, throughout which Severus watched with a combination of awe and fear, made Poppy’s smile fade into nothing. As she feared his ribs were broken, although thankfully he hadn’t punctured a lung. His nose and arm had been broken as well, although she had expected that. She was still worried about his breathing though. The combination of pain, fear and injuries meant his breathing was too erratic and that worried her.
“Severus, I’m going to give you some medicine to make you feel better. It won’t taste very good but it’ll stop you hurting all right?” At his hesitant nod Poppy offered a warm smile, removing a small vial as she encouraged him to drink a pain reliever. The effect was noticeable as Severus grew relaxed, his body losing the rigidity it had held since they’d found him. Severus made a face at the taste before turning to the adults.
“I want mum, where is she? Does she not want me anymore? I didn’t mean to make the ball fly, really I didn’t!” He insisted as he waited for their response.
Now you may be wondering why Severus hadn’t mentioned his mother until now. Truthfully he feared what had happened. After he heard her scream, heard the crash he’d heard nothing else. He was afraid his mother had left him because he hadn’t kept his promise. He was afraid his father had done the same. His mum had told him so many times not to make things fly in front of his dad, but he’d forgotten. He’d just been so glad to play with his dad who was always working, he’d forgotten the rules. And now everything was ruined, he had been very bad and now his mum might not even want him anymore. At that thought Severus’ resolve crumpled as he started crying once more, unable to stop.
“Oh Severus, I’m so sorry. Your mother, I’m afraid she’s not coming back.” At those words Severus knew he had ruined everything, wrapping his arms around Poppy’s neck as she carefully lifted him from the bed.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it! Please! Tell mum I’m sorry, I’ll be good! I won’t ever be bad again, just tell her to come back, please!” He sobbed unaware of the uncomfortable look shared between the adults.
“She’s not coming back sweetheart, I’m afraid your mother…I’m afraid she’s dead. She can’t come back even though I’m sure she wanted to.” Minerva spoke softly, flinching as Severus froze before the word’s registered in his mind.
“No! You’re wrong! You’re wrong! I want mum! I want my mum!” He cried, beating his fists against Poppy as she carefully carried him out the room. Minerva struggled to hold a sob of her own as she shared a look with Kingsley before following them out into the hall. Severus’ wails followed by a crack of apparition was all that was heard before everything at Spinners’ end was silent once again.