This story was entered in the Sycophant Hex: Deathday Festival.
Summary: Life is a series of choices. Severus Snape’s choices have been more difficult than those most people are faced with. Step into his mind and see what he was thinking when he made his most important choices.
Warning: Character death
Disclaimer: Nope, I still don’t own anything to do with Harry Potter and rely on Jo’s love of her fans deriving creativity from her work.
Part 1 – Set during Severus Snape’s sixth year at Hogwarts
All my life I have been an outsider. I have long since decided that I have no idea who to blame. As a small child, I blamed my father. We lived in a wretched hovel in an even more wretched neighbourhood. When they thought I was asleep, I could hear Mother and Father arguing with each other. They argued about many things. The more popular topics were money, or our lack thereof, and me. The arguments about money had always been loud, but whenever I was brought up, they spoke in harsh whispers.
When my Hogwarts letter came, I shifted the blame to my mother. How could she have kept a whole world from me? How could she abandon that world? Surely, magic could have made our lives better. I held onto this idea of blaming her until I was thirteen. By then, I had learned enough about magic and the wizarding world to know that it could not make your life substantially better, that there was still a need for money.
My Hogwarts letter. That was a memorable day. That was the only time I recall hearing my parents argue about me in my presence. It had not been a long argument and had ended when she grabbed my hand and took me out of the house.
For the rest of the summer, my father did not speak to her and barely acknowledged my presence. This had only enhanced my loneliness.
From the time I learned of the wizarding world until I left for school, I did everything I could to learn more about it. When no one was watching, I would sneak up to the attic and search through the dusty remains for anything from my mother’s past. It didn’t take me long to find her old school books. I snuck them downstairs a few at a time and started reading through them. I learned many interesting things from those books, especially those from her later years at Hogwarts. In secret, I would practice with my wand.
I had hoped that joining the wizarding world would make my life better, that I would get to start over. I had already decided that if I were to improve my position in life, I needed to be sorted to Slytherin. That was the House for the ambitious and cunning. I had also learned that most of the old pure-blood families that held the power were sorted into that House. As soon as I learned about blood distinctions, I decided that the less said about my father, the better.
I was quickly disabused of this notion. Even though I was sorted into Slytherin, the others did not readily accept me. Many of them had friendships going back several generations and they were suspicious of me as an outsider. I was able to successfully dodge questions about my family, having learned enough in my reading to know the importance of a well-placed lie.
Over time, they grudgingly accepted me due to my intelligence. Of course, I only had their acceptance as long as I provided them assistance with completing their schoolwork. The cheating was of no consequence to me. I could help them do their homework, but they would still need to take the test in the end.
This year, I began to hear whispers of a secret organisation, one dedicated to ensuring decent wizards received their dues and that the wizarding world would be preserved and protected from Mudbloods. I thought of my mother’s miserable existence, all because of a Muggle. It had taken me years, but I had finally learned the truth of how my mother, an accomplished witch, had come to be married to my father. I don’t think she was even aware of what I was doing.
When I learned that secrets were a powerful commodity, I began searching for magic that would help me gather these secrets. Once I learned of Occlumency and Legilimency, I spent my fourth and fifth years mastering those fields. Legilimency was easier to practice, especially given how open-minded most of my classmates were. Even now, I have not had much practice with Occlumency, though I suspect that practice will be coming.
Using Legilimency, I probed her mind. She did not fight me. While I had not particularly liked Muggles, I had not hated them prior to that moment.
While my mother had never been a beauty, she was well respected and had many friends. One night, her friends convinced her she needed a night out on the town. They had encouraged her to find a man and have a good time. She had done what they had suggested and at the end of the night, went home with a man, my father, but only after he had plied her full of drink.
I had been conceived as a result of that one-night stand. She had known that my father was a Muggle and knew that he would not react well to learning what she was, Muggles rarely did. That’s when she decided to hide what she was. He had only married her out of a sense of duty. That was why he had been cold and distant. I had always suspected I was an unwanted child, but it still hurt to have that confirmed.
My father had been deceptive and irresponsible. Although he avoided me when I was home, I was able to look into his mind once. My mother had not been the first woman he had done that to, nor had she been the last. She had merely been the only one to return, expecting him to fulfil his duties as a father. The fact that she was not the last incensed me. My father did not deserve to live. He was a cancer to society, one that needed to be destroyed. Now that I have heard the whispers of this organisation, I may have found a way to rid the world of him and others like him.
In order to gain the attention of the others, I began experimenting with poisons. At first, I tested them on the rodents and other vermin inhabiting the school for the amusement of my Housemates. As I became more proficient, I began experimenting with lesser poisons on those from other Houses, most notably, the Gryffindors.
My Housemates finally began to see my worth and began asking me to brew various potions for them. I always agreed, but for a price. It was not always a monetary exaction, but it was always to my advantage. Every now and then, I heard them whispering my name. I suspected it was only a matter of time before they asked me to join them. The prospect of joining this secret organisation excited me. I was finally gaining the recognition I was due. Soon, the wizarding world would give me the recognition I should have had my entire life.
Last night I found a letter on my bed. It had been written in non-descript block letters and simply commanded my presence at a given location. Escaping the confines of the school was nothing new for me. I had long been sneaking away, generally to gather ingredients for potions.
Unable to concentrate on anything meaningful, I have been sitting in a dark corner of the common room, watching my classmates come and go. An hour before the appointed time, I leave the common room and slip out of the castle. Once clear of the Anti-Apparition wards, I Disapparate to the appointed location.
People in black robes and white masks quickly surround me.
“Severus Snape, you have come when called,” says a disguised voice.
I assume that this is the secret organisation I had heard whispers of. “I have,” I reply confidently. I know that they will not like me to show weakness.
“Do you know why you are here?”
“I suspect why I am here.”
“Why?” the voice commands.
I have only a split second to make my decision of how much to reveal. “I have heard there are those who wish to preserve our way of life. To protect it from those that would destroy it. I believe you are those people.”
“Would you wish to join those people?”
“I would do anything to preserve our way of life,” I answer with conviction. It seems my suspicions were correct.
“Yes, anything.” I know that through this organisation, I can finally win the respect and recognition I need.
The speaker waves to the others and I see them dragging an unconscious man into the circle. “Do what you will.”
I grin, revelling in the idea of showing them how worthy I am. I had heard they tormented Muggles and I assume that is what this man is. I kick him to roll him over. It is crude, yet satisfying. Staring up at me is a face that looks very much like mine.
I fight back a momentary sense of panic. This is a man that I have spent the last several years hating. A man I have dreamed of torturing. But now that I am faced with the chance, I find it harder than I had thought. Pushing the weakness aside, I let a cruel grin creep across my face. “I’m going to enjoy this, old man.”
I wondered how many of them knew who he was. I had been careful to keep his identity secret, but with careful research, my parentage would not have been hard to divine. At least one of them had to know who he was. I focus on the greatness I can achieve and push aside the fact he is my father.
They may have thought I would be squeamish about torturing my father, and they were right. I have been dreaming of this for years and I developed many spells with the hope that one day I would be able to use them on him, but I had never imagined I would really have the opportunity.
Seeing the fear in his eyes, I can tell he is about to plead with me, and I silence him. Having mastered non-verbal spells, I cast spell after spell. At first, it is difficult for me, but as time goes by, I become more confident, drawing strength from those I am about to join, and the spells become more and more cruel.
Since I have stolen his powers of speech, his screams are silent, but still satisfying. I watch him writhe in pain, never giving him time to regain composure between spells. He is a Muggle and thus weak. I am purging the weakness from my body. It is the only way I can continue.
A voice from outside the circle says, “I want to hear him.”
I had not been aware there was another present, and this momentarily startles me. I should have been able to detect anyone else, but I had not. I assume this is the man that is in charge. The man whose name I had only heard in reverent whispers, Lord Voldemort. I quickly remove the charm and my father’s screams ring out in the small valley.
Since I know someone powerful is watching me, even if it isn’t Lord Voldemort, I decide the time has come to show my prowess. “Crucio!” I call out. The resulting screams are even sweeter than I had imagined.
As much as I am enjoying torturing my father, I don’t want to drag it out too long. I know that I am being judged. There is one last spell that I want to try. One that I have worked on for years, but have never had the opportunity to test. I don’t want them to know the spell in case it fails, so I cast it non-verbally. ‘Sectumsempra.’
I watch in fascination as his chest splits open and begins to spurt blood. This is an even bigger success than I had imagined. I watch him grasp at his chest, trying to stop the blood, but it is a useless exercise. In short order, his skin goes white and his hands fall to his side. It did not take long for him to die, and I realise it is over.
The same voice from outside the circle says, “Congratulations. You have purged yourself of the Muggle filth. You are reborn as one of us.”
I look into a face that is not entirely human, the face of my new master. “Yes, My Lord,” I reply, unsure of which words to use to address such a great man.
“I have been following your time at Hogwarts with interest. You have demonstrated a proficiency in many skills that will prove useful for us. And now that I know you can be replied upon to destroy the Muggle threat, you can be one of us.” He circles around me, examining me from all sides, before continuing, “Give me your left arm.”
I respond without hesitation. I am nervous, but control my fear as he shoves my sleeve up and points his wand at my arm.
“Morsmordre!” he says sharply.
I feel a searing pain in my arm, but force myself to remain still. As the pain moves through my body, seeming to rend at my soul, I collapse to my knees.
He chuckles softly. “No one has ever remained standing. You are now a Death Eater, in my service. When I call, you will come without hesitation. Is that understood?”
“Yes, My Lord.” I know it will be difficult if he calls while I am in school.
He seems to know what I am thinking. “No, I wouldn’t do anything to expose you or the others at school. Of course, given the ease with which you snuck out tonight, a summons should not provide you with any difficulty. From time to time you will receive orders in the same way you received the invitation. For now, you will be my potions brewer.”
“Of course, My Lord.” I know that I have impressed him. I will be a loyal servant and reap my reward. My natural affinity for potions is finally paying off.