“Snape staggered – his wand flew upwards, away from Harry – and suddenly Harry’s mind was teeming with memories that were not his: a hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired boy cried in a corner …”
(J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, p.521 UK version.)
“He was only looking, Da! He didn’t mean anything by it …” The woman’s pleading voice ended in a yelp as the man back-handed her across the face, and the terrified little boy in the corner huddled in on himself, trying to make himself as inconspicuous as possible.
“Shut your mouth, you filthy tramp!” The man was red in the face now, his wand gripped so tightly in his other hand that it seemed it must surely break from the pressure. “You tell your half-breed bastard to keep out of my books, do your hear me? He is not to touch my wand, my papers, nothing! If I find him reading my spell books again, you’re both out of this house, understand?”
“Da, please!” The woman gasped and cowered back as the man raised his hand threateningly again. “He’s your grandson … ”
“No Eileen! That little half-blood scum, a Prince? You run off with some bastard Muggle, then drag back here with a kid when it doesn’t work out! Who the hell do you think you are anyway?”
With a last disgusted look at the crying child, the man stalked out of the room, leaving Eileen to sink to the floor, her shaking hands over her face.
The boy waited for a moment, to be sure his terrifying grandfather had left the room. Then he crept from his corner and scurried to his crying mother.
“I’m sorry Ma,” he whispered, crouched by her side.
The woman looked up at this, then put her arms about him, gathering him to her side, hugging him comfortingly. “It’s all right, Severus,” she murmured. “Your Granddad just doesn’t like having his things disturbed, that’s all. Don’t …don’t read his books again, all right?”
“Why can’t we go, Ma?” the boy asked. “He hits you, he hates me. Can’t we go just home?”
Eileen smoothed his hair back from his face. “We can’t ever go back, Severus.” She gave a wavering, uncertain smile. “Don’t let Granddad’s ranting frighten you. He won’t turn us away – like it or not, I’m a Prince, and so are you! We’re family. And that means a lot, in our world … ”
Severus nodded. He knew what she was talking about – the magical world.
“But am I magic too, Ma?” he asked. It was his biggest fear, that he might be a Squib. Then his Granddad would be proved right, he’d be just a useless waste of space after all. At least, if he had some magic, he’d be worth something, his Granddad would send him to a special school where they taught magic, but if he turned out to be a Squib? It didn’t bear thinking about. “I mean, what if I’m not? That’s why I was reading Granddad’s books, trying to see if I could make any of it … work …”
His mother sensed his frustration. “You’ll be a wizard, Severus,” she said reassuringly. “I know it. You’re a Prince.” It was said with unshakeable conviction.
The boy looked down at the floor. “I’m a half-blood,” he muttered.
His mother put her hand under his chin, raised his face until he looked into her eyes.
“Still a Prince,” she said firmly.