The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure.
Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader.
The mind is a complex and many-layered thing!
— Quote modified from Severus Snape’s speech to Harry Potter regarding the art of Legilimency —
“… the traitor is late again Albus, and after tonight’s news, do you not see that he cannot be trusted?” Alastor Moody’s voice resonated down the hallway as Severus opened the door to the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place where the majority of the Order of the Phoenix was gathered. At the head of the long scratched and bare old table that had been scrubbed until it’s dull shine had all but vanished and it’s lustre was gone, just as it was from the rest of the old house sat Albus Dumbledore watching with a disappointed scowl, the twinkle gone from his eyes completely, as Severus entered. Severus gaze took in those gathered around the table. On Albus’s right sat Minerva McGonagall, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Alastor Moody, Fred and George Weasley, Dedalus Diggel, Ephias Doge, Emmeline Vance, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Sturgis Podmore, Arthur and Molly Weasley, Bill and Charlie Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, Filius Flitwick, Pomona Sprout, Oliver Wood, Monique Westingburgh, Arial and Darin Westingburgh. Those sitting on Dumbledore’s left leaving an empty chair between them and Darin surprised Severus only slightly: Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, Nikolai and Alivia Snape. The expressions that was varied between grief, anger and disappointment bit into Severus as he regarded each member in turn.
Severus glided over to his seat and sat down between Lucius and Darin, his eyes having met each in turn. He knew that this meeting would not end well for him. It was like ice sliding into his heart. He knew that as surely as he knew that no matter what he answered next none of them would believe him, except his family of course. Those four people that sat between him and Albus the only ones who appear to be angry about the turn of events that was to follow.
“I want it known that I object to this,” Nikolai began. His cold eyes landing squarely on Albus as he spoke in a dark and deadly voice. “My brother has done nothing to warrant this level of hostility and I am frankly getting rather disappointed in the lot of you. Your constant harassment and distrust of his actions will end tonight one way or another.”
“I am well aware of your reservations and opinions on the matter Nikolai, however, Severus refuses to allow the rest of the Order to know why he is loyal. After tonight they are right to be concerned with where his loyalties fall. Was it not only half an hour ago that all four of you underwent questioning by Veritaserum to prove your loyalties to them?” Albus inquired softly. Severus felt his blood freeze in his veins. So they had questioned his brothers and sisters. His family. Now they wanted to do the same to him.
“It matters not brother, I will undergo their interrogation,” Severus responded in a deadpan voice. “I will answer under Veritaserum.” Severus repeated coldly before anyone could speak again.
“It isn’t that simple Sev,” Lucius told him laying a hand on the man’s arm. Severus flinched slightly, though he hated himself for the betrayal his body had on his iron will. He hated any physical contact he was not explicitly expecting. The quick movement had caught him off guard even though he’d been watching everyone steadily since he’d sat down stiff. The flinch was intensified by the pain his battered body had suffered.
“How ever not?” Severus demanded coldly. He did not enjoy the look in his brother’s gaze. Lucius looked worried and hurt.
“You are perhaps the most powerful Occlumens Severus, It is well known to all that even Legilimency would be in question with you. You won’t just be taking Veritaserum, you will be put under Imperium Romanum to insure that you cannot fight the serum at all. They don’t just want to question you Severus, they want to see your thoughts, emotions and deepest hid secrets. They want to bear witness to the events their questions will invoke in you, not just your words,” Lucius explained in a tired voice.
“What exactly do you mean Lucius?” Severus inquired, though he knew exactly what the man meant. He could resist Imperio, easily enough, he had done it in the past. An Imperium Romanum spell he could never hope to overcome, no one could. Though the fact it took three people to cast the spell meant it wasn’t used, outside of the Auror’s. Neither of these options that Lucius spoke of would be able to show his thoughts or memories. Not unless they continually removed them while they questioned him and viewed them in a Pensieve.
“They want you to hold a Pensieve quia lapis while they question you,” Lucius said softly. Disgust dripping from his aristocratic voice. Severus regarded Lucius with horror. He didn’t even known one of the seeing stones remained in this world let alone one that acted as a Pensieve. He shuddered at the very thought. He could well be driven to insanity by this very thing.
“Severus, I’m sorry, but after the death of the Dursleys and the destruction of their home,” Albus said gently his hands spread in a helpless gesture. “I would spare you this if I could, but as you made me vow never to reveal the best of you, this is all that is left. I’m sorry, my boy.”
“So it has finally come to this,” Severus said gazing at his mentor. A man he has trusted for many years now, almost unconditionally. His gaze is impassive, but he knows that Albus can see the hurt and pain lingering in his haunted eyes. He turns to regard everyone of the Order members. “I take it that none of you trust Albus’s words anymore? This is the only way you’ll believe my reports?”
“Not all of us agree with this Severus,” Minerva said her mouth set in a thin line, “we are simply outvoted.” She added glaring darkly at the group of Auror’s before turning her angry gaze to Albus.
“I see,” Severus responded, though in truth knowing that not everyone in the order wanted to see him undergo this process made him feel mildly better. Though the bitter and biting pain that laced through his back as he leaned back in his chair did nothing for his current angry mood. “I presume that everyone here will be a witness to my degradation?”
“Yes,” Alastor barked out before anyone could respond. “You do this boyo or I will personally see to it that you’re in Azkaban tonight!”
“Alastor that’s enough,” Albus said in a dark tone. “We have agreed that Filius and Pomona will be leading the questions. Kingsley has put together a list of all the questions that the Order needs answered. No one else will be allowed to speak during the proceedings.” Albus reassured him, though to Severus this wasn’t reassuring at all. If anything it was distressing. His narrowed gaze focused on the man. He seriously doubted that those terms would be followed at all. Knowing Alastor as he did he had no doubt the Auror would jump in the moment he was given even the slightest chance he could get. Never the less he gave Albus a cold gaze and sighed heavily.
“Very well,” Severus stated. He rose and regarded the gathered group. “We will required the use of your den Black, I trust that much isn’t beyond your hospitality?”
“Not at all Snivellous, I relish the experience. I’m looking forwards to being proven right about you, slimy little bastard that you were.” Sirius said with an evil grin. His eyes dancing maliciously.
“Say that name again cousin and I will hex out your tongue,” Narcissa said in a silky smooth voice. Though the dark undertones were quite prevalent.
“We will all retain a civil tongue for this discussion,” Albus said rising. His tone was cold. “There will be no need for name calling or provocation,” Albus added looking between Sirius and Severus. Severus gave a curt nod. Spinning on his heel he left the room in a billow of black cloak and stormed from the room.
It took but a few moments for the rest of the Order to make their way into the den and situate themselves on the armchairs and settees that encircled the fireplace. Albus waved his wand and caused one of the unoccupied settees to float into the centre of the room and settle there before he caused it to lengthen so that Severus could lie down upon it stretching himself out. Severus lay on the burning cuts of his back and winced slightly feeling the chaffing of the material against the open wounds. He wondered with grim satisfaction if his blood would stain the rich white material. Or if the Black matriarch hard been smart, or sane, enough to cast an imperious charm over the furniture.
Kingsley Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Tonks and Arial Westingburgh stood up. Each taking a place to form a loose circle around Severus, their wands pointed directly at his head. Severus didn’t close his eyes as he watched from his back the people around him. Those that he could see, the three Auror’s as well as Filius and Pomona who rose as well each standing on either side of him. Filius held a small black stone in his hands cradled on a cloth of blue velvet. He held the stone out towards Severus who gently took it into his hands laying them over his stomach with the stone cradled in his open palms. Resting there so that it’s glittering surface shone brightly as Filius cast a soft spell. Whispering a string of latin words as he did so.
“Quia lux splendens lapidem superficie dilata. Propono cogitationes animam hominis istius. Paravit onera. Enim eum requiescere secreta revelaret. Sana vulnera, et opitulentur olim videns onera ferre praesidium.” Filius’s soft and squeaky voice reverberated the words as a bright white light shot from his waving wand towards the stone making it glow a vibrant white before snaking black lines spun out around the stone turning it’s surface black once more as his words finally stopped.
Pomona walked forwards then holding out the bottle of Veritaserum towards Severus. He obediently opened his mouth and she let three drops fall onto his tongue before she returned to where she had been standing.
The three Auror’s spoke in unison as they chanted, “Imperium Remanum, Imperium Remanum, Imperium Remanum”. A combination of three blue beams of light converged just over Severus’s forehead before a single thicker beam of light sank into his head and vanished. His black eyes became unfocused and glassy. His whole body relaxed and as it did the surface of the stone he cradled in his hands pulsed a bright white light to each beat of his slowed heart rate.
Kingsley spoke in his deep baritone intoning the words deliberately as the two others slowly lowered their wands until they stood at ease in their space. Not moving or looking away from Severus’s face. They looked like statues. “Severus you will speak the truth fully and completely, you will hold nothing back no matter how small or inconsequential the detail.” With those words spoken Kingsley lowered his wand as well, though he too remained still as stone his unwavering gaze fixed on Severus.
Pomona spoke for the first time, “What was your earliest childhood memory?” She asked. Though her voice was gentle and soft she cringed at the question. Those who had known Severus during his career at Hogwarts knew that the answer to this would be perhaps worse then even they suspected from his tenure as professor.
“My father was a violent drunkard and my mother was too weak to defend either of us against his violent nature…” Severus began. As he spoke those words the stone in his hand pulsed brighter and slowly like mist figures began to take shape in the air. It appeared almost like ghosts moving through the motions of every day life, or a movie on a screen. Giving grisly details and reality to the emotionless monotone words that Severus spoke.
The small four year old woke with a start. Sitting bolt upright and flicking his black startled eyes about the room. Looking desperately for any indication of the sudden harsh and loud noises that had awoken him in a cold sweat. The harsh screams of his father and the soft pleading of his mother reached his ears moments later. Something slamming to the ground and the sound of shattering resonated over the harsh loud noises. Severus couldn’t make out what was being said at all and was wondering if it was another fight about money, alcohol or him. He didn’t known what his father would be angry about now, but it didn’t matter. The boy knew intimately that his father’s anger was nothing short of terrifying. Severus felt cold and wondered what he should do.
Sneaking out of his bed and slowly making his way to the window he looked out over the desolate street. The muddy dirty river snaking across the muddy and grassy expanse between this row of houses and the next. Severus gave a shiver at the blank and grey cloudy sky. Another rainy day then. He sighed.
He wondered what he’d do now. He didn’t know if he should leave his room, but as silence fell over the house he made up his mind. Silently sneaking from the dark room and into the dim hallway beyond he tip-toed to the washroom and went about getting ready for the day before he silently made his way down the creaking stairs to the lower levels. He found his father seemingly passed out on the couch and breathed a sigh of relief as he dashed past the living room and into the kitchen. He spotted his mother making some sort of soup on the stove. No doubt they were out of food again and his mother was using what they had left in order to offer him a meal at least. Severus wondered if she’d eaten today. Her pale face was facing away from him, but he knew it would be deeply shadowed by lack of sleep and aged beyond her years by near starvation and poverty.
“Severus, eat your breakfast, you’re coming with me to the store today,” Eileen said gently to her son. Her hand waving at the plate on the table where a single slice of bread sat with a glass of water next to it. Severus climbed up to his seat and settled himself on the large chair taking the bread in greedy hands and beginning to eat it as fast as he could. Pausing every once in a while to gulp down as much water as he could before devouring the rest of the bread in his hands. Never letting the bread out of his grip. He’d just finished his meal and was sliding down from the chair when his mother turned.
At first he didn’t see any difference in her black eyed, pale face framed by dirty blond hair that hung limply about her face. Until his gaze saw the left side of her face that became visible as she moved closer to him. A dark bruise covered that side of her face, abrasions cut into her cheek and her eyes was swollen and nearly closed. Severus gasped loudly.
“Who hurt you mom?” The boy demanded loudly. So loud in fact that his words reached the living room where his father was resting.
“Silence Severus,” his mother warned, but it was already to late. Severus wasn’t letting it go.
“Who. Hurt you!?” The boy shouted. Wanting to known who’d dare hurt his mom.
“Shut up you ungrateful brat!” thundered the angry voice of the dark shadow that leaned heavily on the doorframe of the kitchen glaring with blood shot brown eyes was the dark haired male. His hand shot out and he grabbed the boy. “You think you can make such racket in my house you ungrateful worm? I’ll teach you to disturb your betters!”
“Tobias, don’t hurt him,” Eileen pleaded reaching for her husbands arm. He backhanded her with his open hand and threw Severus towards the entrance of the kitchen so the four year old landed in a heap ungracefully. Terror written plain as day on his face. His wide black eyes staring at the advancing male as he grabbed Eileen and pushed her roughly against the counter.
“Woman, I thought I’d made it clear you were not to challenge me. Now take the boy and get out of my sight,” Tobias growled. His fist slamming down into her chest causing her to cough as the air left her. She gasped for breath as Tobias flung her away from him. It was all Eileen could do not to fall on Severus who had yet to move from where he’d huddled up against the wall. As Eileen fell to the ground she watched her son scoot over to her.
“Mom?” the little boy whispered reaching out for her.
“Shut up! GET. OUT!” Screamed Tobias. Grabbing Severus’s outstretched hand and yanking the boy to his feet before bodily throwing him towards the front door. Eileen was rising to her feet unsteadily trying to get between Tobias and Severus.
The scene swirled into a greying mist before re-solidifying into a white ghostly memory once more. Everyone in the order watched in horrified silence as the scene shifted from moment to moment. The shouts and arguments blending into each other. Though at the core all the same. It was evident to everyone in the room that Severus’s childhood had been filled with anger and fear.
The four year old sat on the stool next to his mother as she worked on a cauldron. Explaining every step of the way. The boy was unnaturally still, eyes focused and wide. She would point out the instructions and the boy would read it aloud to his mother. His voice shook as he stumbled over some of the words, but it was evident that the four year old was far more advanced in his reading ability then a child that age should be. Eileen would explain the steps to the child as it was clear that he didn't always understand. She quizzed him and he answered. She explained and he listened. She would go over the formula and instructions with him and when she was certain he understood they would begin the process.
“What do we do now Severus?” Eileen said having set up the cauldron. Today they would be making a basic Sleeping Draught. She had already had him read the instructions. Put all the ingredients on the worktable, knife, mortar and pestle, measuring scales and bowls lay in wait for their work to being. Eileen regarded the small four year old as he looked at the instructions again. A slight frown creased his brow.
“We count out 4 sprigs of Lavender,” Severus said after a brief hesitation at the start of the sentence.
“Go ahead love,” Eileen told him with a gentle smile and the small boy got off his stool to stand in front of the work table, having to climb up onto the short stool so he could reach. Slowly taking one sprig at a time until four of the dry Lavender sprigs lay before him. He looked up at his mother who gave him one raised eyebrow to tell her the next step.
“We need to crush it to a fine powder,” Severus told her. Eileen nodded and brought the mortar to bear. Adding the Lavender to the mortar she began to crush it gently into a fine powder.
“Go on Severus what is next?” Eileen demanded. Her tone sharpening as she slowly lost her patience with the young boy.
“We add 2 measure of Standard Ingredient to the mortar and mix with the Lavender powder until it’s a creamy purple paste,” Severus said pointing to the bottle of mixed powder on the desk. Eileen gave a nod and did exactly that.
“Now what do we do Severus?” Eileen demanded, her voice gentle still, but it was clear her patience was running out at having to ask that question each time. Severus regarded her for a long moment before turning to the book while Eileen demanded again, “enough of this Severus. Read the instructions, I will not ask again.”
“Yes mother,” Severus replied pulling the book a little closer and reading out hesitantly. “We mix three measures of water with two measures of Medical Base number six to the cauldron and set over low heat,” Severus’s voice wavered and he looked up to point out the large jar of black liquid. Eileen did as the instructions said and her gaze turned back to Severus. He went on. “Add 2 blobs of Flubberworm Mucus and 2 measure of Standard Ingredients,” Severus read out and waited. Watching as his mother did what the instructions said. “We raise the heat to high and let it heat for 30 seconds.”
“Good,” Eileen told her son. She did just that with a wave of her wand and upturned a 30 second hourglass. Severus watched intently as the sand trickled down until nothing remained slowly counting the seconds by mouthing them. He was delighted with the exercise. When the last of the sand had run it’s course he read the next line.
“Add 3 measures of the Lavender and Standard Ingredient mixture. Stir three times counter-clockwise, wave your wand three times over the mixture and then let simmer for 70 minutes,” Severus said to his mother as he read the next lines. He looked up to watch her empty out the measures into the cauldron before she took up the ladle and had him count the stirs. He did this slowly to make sure he got it right. Watching in delight as the color began to change from an almost midnight black to a midnight blue.
His mother put the stirrer down and waved her wand in a slow figure eight over the mixture three times before she turned over the one hour hourglass. Turning to quiz her son on the properties of the ingredients they had used and the base. Severus kept his eye on the hourglass and when the hour was up his mother turned a 10 minute hourglass over and they continued their lesson.
Severus rose as the last of the sand trickled down and read out the next step. “Add two measures of Standard Ingredient. Turn the heat up to high and heat for one minute,” Severus took the one minute hourglass and waited patiently before his mother gave him a nod and he turned it over. Watching intently as the sand trickled down. Until it was all gone.
“Add 4 valerian sprigs,” Severus said and at his mother’s nod he counted out four of the sprigs and handed them to her. She dropped them evenly into the cauldron one at a time and Severus read out. “Stir seven times clockwise. Wave your wand once over the mixture. Turn off heat and wait until it is pale blue before decanting your completed potion,” Severus smiled as he knew they were nearly done. He looked at the colour and found that the mixture was sky blue.
He counted as his mother stared the mixture and watched with bated breath as she waved her wand in a z pattern over the cauldron once before turning off the flame and Severus watched the mixture lighten until it was the palest shade of blue he’d seen and he gave his mother a wide smile as he watched her decant the potion into the small bottles that would later be sold with this weeks order.
Though the flashes were brief it was evident that the small child had spent hours reading and studying and learning with his mother. Each one of them nearly the same. Spinning from scene to scene. Some of them showed the four year old picking out ingredients and handing them over to his mother. Measuring out what was needed. Reading the instructions. The boy in his room reading the books his mother provided him to read. Hiding away from the constant background of screaming that seemed to fill the house. Quicker and quicker the flashes of his childhood flicked by. Moments trapped forever in time and memory.
A small six year old sitting at a table drawing as his mother worked on a soup for their evening meal. It was pre-dawn outside. The dreary light shifting through the window of the kitchen. The house was silent beside the sounds of bubbling and the soft splashing of ingredients being added to water. The boy’s attention was purely on his drawing. So much so that he didn’t notice when a towering figure appeared nearly behind him.
“What is the meaning of this rubbish?” demanded an irate and mostly drunk Tobias as he grabbed the paper on which Severus had been drawing. Severus looked up startled and fear suddenly darkened his gaze. His eyes wide as the man waved the paper in the direction of his mother. “Trying to turn the boy into a wimp Eileen?”
“Leave him be Tobias, Marjory gave the children an art project for homework and Severus is only completing his work,” Eileen told her husband, though her voice wavered as she looked at the nearly murderous look in the man’s eyes.
“I will have none of this nonsense! Not from you and not from some teacher!” Tobias growled and took out a lighter from his pocket. One he usually used to light his cigarettes. Severus tried to reach out for his drawing to rescue it from his father’s temper. The man glared at him and pulled it further from the small boy’s grasp. “Silence!” he thundered as the boy’s soft voice had begun to plead with him in near inaudible words.
Without warning Tobias clicked the lighter and watched with malicious glee as the paper caught fire and his son’s eyes filled with tears. “That’s right boy, cry. Prove how weak you are. Worthless bastard!” The man growled out tossing the burning paper onto the floor of the kitchen and walking away. Severus watched in horror as the paper curled and the flames licked out. Touching the floor and singing it. Eileen grabbed water and threw it over the fire trying to put it out before it could spread. It was too late for Severus’s drawing. The picture was ruined. What wasn’t ash already was nothing more then blackened crumbling paper with the smallest traces of his drawing still on it’s ruined surface.
Tears fell down the boy’s face and he looked up helplessly to his mother. Wondering why his father took such joy in destroying his things. His efforts. He let his head drop back down his eyes moving away from his mother’s sorrowful gaze.
“Go up to your room Severus, I’ll call you down for supper,” Eileen told her son and the boy left without a word.
The small six year old sat curled up on his bed, the quiet of the night and the darkness oppressive as he tried to see the page. Wishing desperately for light. He wanted to read. Wanted to distract himself from the ever louder shouting from downstairs. The shattering noises and the breaking of furniture resonating ever more frequently from whatever fight was unfolding bellow him.
So suddenly that the boy shrieked and fell sideways off his bed to land in a sprawled heap on the floor a flood of light filled the room chasing all the dark shadows away until it seemed the very sun was in his room. Severus shielded his eyes as the ball of glowing white light dimmed until it was just a normal light floating over his bed. He gaped open mouthed at it. The perfect sphere of light.
The door flew open almost off it’s hinges as two figure entered the room. His father leading the way with his anger a force of nature itself to the boy who lay gaping between the light and the door. Scooting backwards until his back was to the wall as the towering man advanced on him.
“Your a freak! Just like your worthless mother!” Tobias shouted at him advancing on the boy with a raised fist. His other hand going to his belt intent on teaching the boy to be silent. A lesson the small boy knew well.
Eileen stood in the doorway watching as Tobias advanced on Severus and the small boy curled up into a ball as the man took his belt and began to lay into the small crying form. Severus only prayed that his two year old brother wouldn’t come to see what the noise was all about. The sharp searing pain exploding over the boy’s back as the first hit landed on him, over and over until Severus didn’t know if it would ever stop.
What felt like hours later the boy looked up to feel the gentle small hand of another child. He gingerly reached out and took his little brother’s hand. “Shh Nik it’s ok. You shouldn’t be here, if he comes back you’ll be hurt.” Severus said softly as he forced himself to get up. Pulling the terrified two year old close to him. Holding his brother in his arms. Too tired and sore to do more then sit on the floor holding onto the one person besides his mother that he loved more then life itself. Tears flowing down his face until both of them fell asleep.
Severus woke up to a small hand shaking him. He looked over at the four year old boy standing beside his bed. Tear stained blue eyes looking at him with pleading in their gaze. Severus scooted over inviting his brother up onto the bed. Severus was eight years old and he knew that he’d have to get them both out of there today. He had tried ever since Nikolai was three to make sure they were rarely home. Either studying in their mother’s apothecary or hiding out in the park that was down the block from there house.
The boys had just been lying in bed for a few minutes when the shouting downstairs got to the point neither could stand to hear it. Severus sat up and looked at his brother, “go get dressed Nik, were going to the park.” Severus instructed deciding that it was nice enough outside today.
A few minutes later, both boys were dressed and Severus took Nikolai’s hand and began to lead him silently down the stairs pausing at the bottom to check that his father and mother were not able to see them. He snuck to the kitchen doorway and watched as his mother and father’s fighting got physical. Reaching back he grabbed Nikolai’s hand and pulled the younger boy out the door and into the street outside. Both of them took off running never letting go of the other until they reached the park. It was still far to early morning for anyone to be around and so they sat on the swings together in silence. Slowly enjoying the cold and peace of silence. Nikolai looked over at his big brother. Severus still had bruises on his face from where their father had hit him for accidental magic. Nikolai knew that Severus had taken the blame for his magic, but he also knew that Severus wouldn’t want to hear that he knew.
“Do you think things will ever change?” Nikolai asked Severus in a soft frightened voice.
“Dunno Nik, but no matter what changes, I’ll always protect you,” Severus said firmly. His eyes holding a fire that no amount of pain could extinguished. Nikolai gave him a thin smile.
“Hi,” a bright red haired green eyed girl called out as she danced towards them. “Can we join you?” The girl inquired.
“Sure,” Severus replied, though he seemed to be transfixed with the girl. Another girl with blond hair and equally green eyes walked more slowly up. The older of the two looked at her younger sister and glowered.
“Come on Lily, I don’t want to be here, not with those two!” the older girl said to her sister in what was suppose to be a whisper.
“Well I do Tunney, plus you shouldn’t judge! He’s the smartest boy in my class and I hear rumours that his brother’s even smarter then he is,” Lily said mater-of-factly to her sister. Before she turned to the two boys and got up onto the swing next to Severus’s separated from him by the bars of the swing set. Unlike the two boys Lily began to swing in earnest. “I’m Lily, Lilian Evans and that’s my sister Petunia Evans.”
“I’m Severus Snape and this is my younger brother Nikolai Snape,” Severus introduced being polite, though his voice was cold and untrusting. He looked suspiciously at Petunia as she got on her swing and began to lightly swing back and forth. Lily kept going higher and higher. Uncaring what anyone thought.
“You want to see something wicked Severus?” Lily asked as she reached the top of her arch. Severus shrugged not really caring, wondering why this girl was talking to him. Nik’s eyes were wide with interest as he gave a warm smile to the girl. Lily reached the top of her arch again and jumped off to Petunia’s shrieks.
As Lily flew into the air she seemed to hover there for a moment before gliding gracefully back to earth with a wide smile on her face.
“You're a witch!” Severus stated having stopped moving completely. Lily glared at him insulted.
“I’m telling mom! You’re such a freak Lily!” Petunia shrieked as she rose angrily from her swing before running off.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say,” Lily told Severus angrily.
“He didn’t mean it as an insult you know. It’s true though. You can do magic, that makes you a witch. Were wizards and our mom, she’s a witch, but dad’s not,” Nikolai told Lily with wide innocent eyes. Severus frowned at her, at a loss for why she thought being called a witch was an insult. In his mind it made her worthy to be his friend.
“What do you mean?” Lily inquired curious.
“You did magic,” Severus said bluntly, “that makes you a witch,” Severus went on. His hand outstretched he looked over at the tree and willed one of the seeds to spin down and into his open palm. The seed did exactly as he wished and spun around and around about a centimetre from his open palm when it reached his hand. “Just like we are wizards because we can do magic.”
“Wow,” Lily said grinning, she looked over towards the houses on the good side of town and frowned. “I have to go, cuze Tunney’s gunna tell mom and try and get me in trouble, but are you guys going to be here tomorrow? I have so many questions. I would love to ask you if you don’t mind.”
“We’ll be here,” Severus replied simply. Wondering why she’d want to hang out with them, but glad that they would have a friend at last. He always wondered if he’d always be so lonely. Nikolai had friends his own age. Proven the next moment when a group of younger boys came into the park with a much older sibling and called out to him. Nikolai ran to them and the play structure while Severus sat on the swings watching with a sense of loneliness he’d become so familiar with.
Many more scenes flicked through the smoke. Nikolai with his friends while Severus watched on in the shadows. Severus in class being teased for being intelligent. Severus being bullied in the school yard. Severus defending Nikolai against some of the older bullies and taking the punishments. Severus getting into trouble. Severus being beaten by his father for various things. Severus covering for Nikolai’s accidental magic. Severus sitting with Lily under a tree talking about Hogwarts. Time spent at Lily’s house. The growing friendship between the two. Lily and Severus at school where they spent time in the library with Nikolai and sometimes with Nikolai’s friends. The evident favouritism Eileen displayed to Nikolai. The lack of violence Tobias shows Nikolai. Always finding Severus in the shadows watching his parents being slightly warm to Nikolai while being either cold, in the case of his mother, or violent, in the case of his father, towards Severus. The hours spent reading every book he could get his hands on.
Overall the picture that was being drawn of Severus’s childhood the Order soon realized was one of loneliness, solitude, learning and silence. It was little wonder to those who knew him at Hogwarts as to why the brilliant child was silent, rarely speaking unless directly asked. His every movements were usually so silent that it was hard to tell where exactly the boy was at any given time. Now everyone there knew exactly why the man was so quiet. Overall the environment of neglect, violence and abuse was abundantly clear and it made the adults who had known the child in school feel regret that they had not seen it sooner. For those adults of the Order who had not known him as a child it made them sad he had had to endure that level of upbringing and made their own interactions with the grown man understandable in a way it had never been before. For Nikolai, Narcissa and Lucius it brought home the true horror his life had been. For Narcissa and Lucius they fully understood how much Severus was the protector of his family and why he had demanded their promises when he’d been eleven and they had discovered that he was mistreated at best at home. For Nikolai he realized the full extent that Severus had sheltered him during his childhood. He’d known of course that his big brother had protected him, but to the full degree he had, it was astonishing. It was heartbreaking.
Worse of all this was only the first question to be asked and already the majority of the Order were regretting having given in to this endeavour to understand their spies motives.