Disclaimer: These characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not to me. I'm just having a bit of fun with them and make no profit in doing so. The title is borrowed from e.e. cummings' poem, "somewhere i have never travelled," and I don't claim to own that, either.
Though Severus was accustomed to derision, he was sure he'd never been hated so totally, so passionately before. Every face he saw these days greeted him with the fullness of hatred, absolute and pure, from the Carrows' mulish, resentful stares to Minerva McGonagall's glower of disappointment and disgust.
Sometimes her hands twitched when she looked at him, and he knew that she was imagining how good it would feel to wrap those hands around his throat and choke the life out of him. He couldn't say if he would make a move to stop her, should she ever give in to the impulse.
The students, too, despised Severus with an intensity that revealed their previous dislike of him for the pallid, petty childishness it had been: the irritation felt for a mean teacher, for a taskmaster who insisted on spoiling their fun by making them learn. Now they had reason to wish him dead in horrible ways, and so they did. They scattered at his approach like a flock of ravens, but made no effort to hide the hate in their eyes; Severus felt the sharp sting of each accusing glare as he passed them.
Yet he met the tidal wave of enmity with a calculated mask of boredom, of faint amusement, of supreme indifference. After all these years, he knew precisely how to suggest villainy with the sweep of his cloak or the arching of his brows. He could drive them to seething resentment or frothing rage with just the right curl of his lip.
They were meant to hate him, after all. It was his function. He was good at it. Dumbledore had spotted that much earlier than Severus himself had, but now Severus understood it. They would hate him and he would save them when he could, and they would never suspect that it was coming. It was the ways things had to be.
He accepted it.
Yet there was one single fly in the ointment, an exception to this unwavering animosity. Luna Lovegood, as usual, was incapable of following where the herd led, and though her strange, silvery eyes were often on Severus, they were not narrowed in distaste.
He knew this because he had once made the mistake of meeting those eyes with his own.
Miss Lovegood did not hate him. She didn't fear him, either. She didn't wish for his messy, painful death. Her glance was curious, certainly, calculating in the way that Ravenclaws often were, and it glowed with a certainty and trust that Severus was sure he hadn't earned. Vulnerable and marginalized as she was, she trusted in him, though he was sure he'd shown her nothing but vileness. More than that, she was concerned for him. Had it not been a preposterous idea, Severus might have believed that she worried for his safety, and perhaps even his salvation.
Her keen, calm gaze, at once daft and discerning, was the only one for which Severus could summon no answering mask. The gentleness of her eyes flayed him with her honest compassion, leaving him raw and exposed, making him feel small and naked and helpless.
That, more than any hate, was a thing he could not bear. Not at this stage of the game.
When Miss Lovegood raised her eyes to him ever afterward, Severus looked away.