Severus ducked at the sound of the call, but it was too late. A jagged stone flew right into his forehead, bashing it painfully and bringing sudden tears of pain to his eyes.
“Aww, is the widdle Snapey going to cwy now?” jeered a voice he knew well. Maxwell Kane. The scourge of the neighborhood, the terror of the park, the overlord of the local bullies, and Severus’ devoted tormentor. Not bad work for a ten-year-old.
They had met in the local park three years previously.
Max had been wandering around his new neighborhood, scoping out the area. His questing feet had led him to the park, where he had come across an unusual sight: a small, skinny boy with a big nose buried in a bigger book. Max, who had never read anything thicker than a comic, was stunned by the sight of the massive tome in the youth’s hands.
He took one look at the boy reading it and decided that he hated him. A shredded book and a dunk in the pond later, the feelings were mutual.
Severus ran from the park with Max’s laughter still ringing in his ears. He grit his teeth and tried to keep any more of the unfortunate tears from falling as he made his way home. Arriving, he slowed his pace and slunk around the back, listening as he went. If his father caught him crying again, he’d get another “Be a Man” speech, one he had received far too many times in his nine years of existence.
Severus glared at the ground. It was easy for him to talk about being tough and standing up for himself, he never had problems hitting anyone, his mum never scolded him for brawling like a Muggle…his mum never scolded his father for anything. She just cried late at night, when his father was working and she thought no one could hear her.
Things would change, Severus vowed to himself, viciously swiping his sleeve across his eyes. When he went to Hogwarts, everything would change. He’d have friends who would help him stand up to his enemies; friends who could help him get even with his tormenters.
He smiled at the thought. No more teasing. No more bullies. No more brawn-over-brain favoritism. Oh yes, things would be different at Hogwarts.
Things would be different.
A/N:The real Maxwell Kane would never do this. For details, see The Adventures of Freak the Mighty.
(Belated disclamer: Making none of the money, receiving all of the praise. Hint hint.)