Chapter 4: Prince of the Snake pit
"Thank you Severus, you have been most helpful."
Dumbledore sat before the Pensieve, swirling with memories he had extracted from his companion. Some given quite readily, such as those concerning present and future Death Eater activity. Others Snape fought tooth and claw to keep, but relented after gentle prompting by the old headmaster.
A memory of Lily floated across the surface, causing Snape to mentally shrink inwards.
Dumbledore had collected from him mostly memories concerning the first war, of how it was fought, and how it was nearly lost. In this schooling period of his life he hadn't known much of worth, so it was the rumours and news he overheard that Dumbledore took. These memories were few and far between so they had zipped quickly through Snape's school days, mercifully glancing over his actual school life and delved into the darkness that was to become of his adult existence.
"A regrettable choice." Dumbledore muttered as Snape's committed atrocities played out in the shimmering memories. The first of which he was ever tasked to commit had been the murder of his own parents.
"What was the reason he asked this of you, do you know?"
Snape glowered. "You do not believe it was simply because they were a Muggle and a Blood-Traitor?"
"I believe that is not all of it."
The once-Death Eater relented. "You would be correct." He tapped a finger on the desk, a fidgety movement he thought he trained himself out of. Perhaps muscle memory was learned by the part of the brain that could not be passed back through time.
"Amedeus Prince." He began, tasting the bitterness that came with the name. "The last of the Prince line and he is without heirs. He is also my grandfather."
Dumbledore appeared to lean forward. "A dark bloodline. I would have thought the Princes had thrown his support behind Tom." The Dark Lord's hidden name. A name that did not inspire fear. A name Snape was grateful Dumbledore used for the sake of his nerves. He was no coward but he was not one to court fear without reason. He was no Gryffindor.
Snape glanced away. "No. Not in its entirety. Amedeus is old. His concerns are no longer that of political squabbles. It is of his legacy." He let that statement trail off. Knowing Dumbledore's keen mind followed.
"Goblin laws on inheritance differs from ours. So even if your mother was disowned…" He stroked his beard thoughtfully. "So Tom made you eliminate the only person who could have claimed that inheritance."
Snape dipped his head in grim acknowledgement. "And made me renounce my claim to the name. Like a fool I agreed readily, not even giving a thought as to why. It was only many years after did I discover the timing of my orders coincided with the extinction of the Prince line."
A sympathetic smile graced Dumbledore's lips. "It appears you did not make many good decisions in your lifetime."
"Perhaps that was my only one. I was not killed for the foolish pursuit of a fortune that was never mine."
"A wise way to put it." Agreed Dumbledore, and with a cheerful hum Dumbledore returned to his bowl of memories, picking out new ones to question its donor about. "Now concerning this of the prophecy-"
"No!" Snape hissed, barely restraining himself from leaping off his seat. "We will not be pursuing that conclusion! I will find and strangle that Trelawney woman to keep her from uttering those cursed words if I have to."
"Now Severus. That is no way to treat fellow staff members."
Snape snapped. "I will not be a staff member ever again."
With a twinkle in his eye Dumbledore sat back in his seat and let that pass without comment. Instead the old man glanced at the wobbling clock as it pinged and puffed out purple smoke. "My look at the time! You've missed a whole day's worth of classes!"
Snape glanced up and observed it was already five in the evening, almost time for dinner to begin. His stomach grumbled in complaint about its missed midday meal.
"I only had Herbology left in the afternoon. Tuesday is a two class day." Snape grumbled. He couldn't quite believe the headmaster was actually bringing up class attendance as if was of such vital importance to a man who had already done his due.
Dumbledore nodded and drew out a garishly feathered quill. "Then I shall arrange for a note to be passed on to Pomona. I expect she'll excuse your absence. For now I must agree with your stomach's sentiments. Off to dinner with you Mr Snape." The headmaster drew out a parchment and dipped his quill into his multi-coloured inkwell. A clear message to the younger man that he was dismissed.
But the Potion Master could not let this be. "If I should be so bold headmaster, but would I not be of better use dedicated to this war rather than stuck repeating my studies?"
The headmaster lifted his eyes from his parchment. "Severus. As much as I appreciate your ability, we're fighting for the future. I would like you to have one."
"I know my spells and potions! There is nothing I could possibly gain from two years of wasted time!" Defence Against the Dark Arts and Charms were already turning out to be a bit of a joke. Herbology and Potions Snape knew like second nature. As for Transfiguration he had never been the best at the first time around but after decades of practical use he could conjure with the best of them. While Arithmancy and ancient runes had large portions of grey areas, he was adamant that the only parts he needed were the parts he utilised in potion and spell development.
"I believe you might not be as on top of the theory as you might think." Dumbledore looked wistful. "Alas the years do tend to take things away from us."
Snape glowered. "What I cannot remember has obviously not served me in the course of my life. What would be the point of picking up that useless information again?"
"Now Severus. That is not the attitude a Professor should take."
"I am not going to be a member of staff!"
Colours swirled around him. Snape knew he was dreaming again, and this time he had been expecting it.
He stared out at the expanse of a field from atop a hill, filled with a tangible flittering joy. He felt the warmth of the spring afternoon, the tickle of a breeze that should not have a tactile component as it did within this dream. He turned slightly, and from the corner of his eye he glanced to the young man standing beside him. A handsome young man with blond curls to his shoulder and a mischievous grin that made his mismatched eyes sparkle.
The same man who had decried his innocence over the body of the dead girl.
It appeared however in this dream all was forgiven, or this was from a time before that chaos, because no grudge or regret gilded these memories.
A shiver of nervousness ran through the boy, as if the observer feared to be caught staring. His heart sped up and Snape could not help but feel the thrumming emotion familiar, but for the life of him could not find a way to associate it with this context.
Despite the caution of the observer the handsome boy noticed. Eyes were quickly turned away and embarrassment permeated the memory. A hand fell upon his arm as the observer turned his eyes up, meeting the one grey and one dark eyes of the handsome taller boy.
"For the greater good." That boy said firmly, hand gripping so hard upon the watcher's wrist that Snape felt the tingle in his own fingertips. "Don't lose sight of that. I'll need you by my side for what is to come."
The scene melted away and the serenity was shattered by the sudden violence of a spell explosion, magical projectiles whizzed about his head. With a great sweeping arc of his wand the observer brushed aside three curses aimed for his life. Howling fanatics rushed at him, clad in black, each carrying the mark of the triangular eye.
A green streak darted towards him. With impossibly quick reflexes he Disapparated, reappearing in the throng of battle, the cacophony was deafening. Swinging around he parted the crowd with a powerful sweep of his wand, revealing the man who lay at the heart of this chaos.
Those mischievous mismatched eyes sparkles no more, his handsome face older, worn, and bared in a horrifying rage. A fanatical rage.
Fear permeated the memory, a dread that sapped the strength from his limbs. The roiling press of war appeared to silence as the ground before their meeting cleared. Nobody wished to stand between their encounter.
The fear was almost overwhelming. Snape felt himself choking on the sensation. This was a man who was ready to flee.
But he did not. He drew his wand and approached, with the courage of a man ready to face the darkness within himself.
Snape awoke, pulse racing. He did not see the end of the confrontation but he recognised it instinctively for what it was.
And he recognised the blond man for who he was.
Snape muffled a groan as he attempted to regain sense of reality. He parted the green drapes cautiously, noting the faint green filtering of light through the lake outside windows. It was morning, however too early for everyone to be up.
One of his roommates was scuttling about, picking through his belongings carefully and quietly, as if afraid to wake the others. Snape pulled open his drapes, startling the boy who apologised wordlessly and darted out of the room.
Miles Lester, a boy Snape could no longer remember, his name too had been a mystery until he heard a Professor call him in class. He could not fathom how someone he must have shared a room for seven years could have such a faint imprint on his memory.
Rolling out of bed gingerly Snape stretched and pulled on the back of his nightshirt cautiously. No sticking this time, no bleeding scabs. Perhaps he was finally healing.
With a soft motion the rattled not-so-young man sat on his bed edge, shaking the memories from his mind. When viewed from a Pensieve a memory was removed and distant, the viewer did not share in the subject's emotions of the moment. These dreams however were viewed from the core, steeped with personal regret, with fear and failure, with unrealised hope.
All emotions Snape did not need reminding of.
This would not do. He had enough regrets of his own without Albus Dumbledore's cluttering up his mind.
"Come in." Dumbledore beckoned from his desk, still pouring over the Pensieve dish. The exact position Snape had left him in the evening previous. "Ah Severus. Should you not be having breakfast?"
"I could ask you the same." Snape returned smoothly. He knew the headmaster did not grace breakfast until close to its conclusion, he simply wanted to lash out. The old man's memories was putting him on edge. It was discomforting to say the least.
Like he was given audience to a secret that should have gone to the grave.
"I have decided to forgo public appearances today." Dumbledore indicated to the memories floating within the Pensieve. Crystal bottles were already arranged in a container by the desk, undoubtedly for storing the memories to be fished from the bowl, preserved and organised. "You have given me much to work with Severus."
"Then I expect you do not need any more of my memories." Snape said almost hopefully.
The headmaster peered at him thoughtfully over his half-moon glasses. "Not right now. I've yet to finish sorting these, but I will summon you later tonight."
It honestly was too much to ask for. "Very well." Snape conceded. "But I do not wish to be the only man read like an open book."
A wariness passed over Dumbledore's face as he waved the younger man in and invited him to sit. An invitation he did not oblige. "I do believe you have already seen my worst memories Severus."
"And for some reason they were made so that I cannot avoid glancing into them while I sleep. I cannot discern what relevance they possess. Or fathom its content." Snape began to pace, uncertain how to express his frustration, or even understand what the source of his frustration was.
A gentle smile graced the headmaster's lips. "After witnessing your memories I find myself understanding why I might have given you mine."
So we'd be on equal footings this time.
"And I understand I must have considered you a precious friend to have wanted to help you in this manner."
"Help me?" Snape hissed. "How is giving me these scrambled visions of lugubrious dreams in anyway helpful?"
"Perhaps some empathy Severus." A small twist darkened the gentle smile of Albus Dumbledore. "To show you that you were not the only man to have fought to be loved, only to find bitter regret instead."
Suddenly silenced Snape froze mid step. In his mind emerged the memory of the nervous young boy shooting glances to the dark-wizard-to-be, the familiarity of the cloying emotion finally clicked in Snape's mind.
"That… I… It's different." Suppressing the growl in his tone was all the younger man could manage.
With a tired voice Dumbledore agreed. "Yes Severus. It's different."
Snape was agitated, he hadn't meant it as criticism. It was not a common occurrence in the wizarding world, but it was by no means illegal. Yet it was a hushed affair, something never spoken of, and never admitted by, even up to his own time. The once-Professor never formed an opinion on the matter, he was never given cause to.
Nothing should have to change in that regard.
"I only meant you… your regrets were not like mine." Snape shook his head. "You stopped before it consumed you."
"Before I became a dark wizard you mean?" Dumbledore asked lightly.
The younger man let out a rush of breath, unable to meet the eyes of the headmaster. It was his most foolish decision, one he still could not believe he had made. How? How could he have done what he did? How could he have been so hate-filled and stupid in his youth?
How could he have chosen such evil?
"We never journey onto the dark path believing we are evil Severus." Snape looked up in surprise, strengthening his mind walls instinctively but was not met by the sensation of Legilimency. "We walk our paths believing ourselves righteous. It is only at the journey's end, when we finally look back, do we realise how deep into the darkness we had slipped." A kind smile graced the old man's face. "That is the insidiousness of the dark side."
Snape scowled, still unwilling to meet the headmaster's piercing blue eyes. He didn't need metaphors and platitudes. If Dumbledore was offended by his reaction then he did not show it.
"There is nothing more I wish to say. I best be off." As the younger man stood from his seat, Dumbledore held his hand in a placating gesture.
"One moment Severus. Before you leave I wish to discuss your classes."
"I will attend them." Snape spat. Of all the things of vital importance, his dratted education was what Dumbledore fixated on.
"I'm very happy to hear that." Dumbledore said, his smile was sincere as far as Snape could tell. "However I understand you might find a direct repetition somewhat unstimulating. So I propose another solution."
"Give me my NEWTs and send me on my way?" The younger man muttered sardonically.
Dumbledore's smile took on a wry appearance. "Alas my solution is less efficient than that, but perhaps you might find it more gratifying."
"Doubt it." Snape sneered but waited patiently for the headmaster to get to the point.
With the beckon of his hand, Dumbledore summoned a plain wooden box from a shelf and set it upon the desk between them and waved over the younger man with an inviting gesture.
Snape ran his fingers down the length of the box, finding the two metal catches that held the two halves of the top closed. He flicked the box open and it split down the middle, breaking into multiple layers
"What is this?" Snape asked as he was faced by a collection of assorted ingredients that was comparable to that of a potion making kit. Bottled solutions sat in vials strapped to stable pockets, dried grasses, flowers and herbs were packed into labelled sliding compartments. Strangely there was one layer composed of nothing but metals and stones, inorganic substances that had no place in a potion. The centre piece of the box, sitting in a holder on the bottom-most layer was a flat round stone of an indistinct beige colour.
"It is an alchemy kit."
Snape startled, suddenly unwilling to touch it. Alchemy kits were notoriously expensive, so much so that it directly affected the availability of the class taught at Hogwarts. Alchemy was only offered on NEWTs level and could rarely be met with practical delivery due to how few students could satisfy its requirements. To gain entry into the class the student must have an OWL grade of Outstanding in both Potions and Transfiguration as well as the two hundred galleons needed to obtain their alchemy kit.
Needless to say this kit was more expensive than anything Snape's ever owned at this point in his life.
"I cannot afford this!" Snape growled, humiliated to have been forced to admit aloud something the headmaster should have known.
"It is a gift Severus."
"I do not need charity!" He spat.
With an understanding look, Dumbledore gave him a gentle placating nod. "Then think of it as an investment. A brilliant mind like yours with such expert knowledge in potioneering, I want you to be trained in alchemy Severus."
Snape glared with hateful intensity. He loathed being reminded of how little he had, and how much he had desired at this point in life. For Dumbledore to simply hand him the monetary equivalent of more than what his parents had ever provided him was galling.
"If you offer this to me because you wish for me to have a source of mental stimulation then you needn't bother."
"Then I offer it to you because you need a convenient excuse to meet with me at least once a week."
Snape frowned. "You do not teach alchemy."
Dumbledore smiled gently. "No. I do not. However as a professor you must be aware it is taught through a two-way-mirror by a teacher who never sets foot in the school."
Snape nodded stiffly. "I have only seen it taught twice, once by a witch in Kenya, and another time by an American wizard."
"Ah yes. Kayla and Ruthvin no doubt, or maybe Arnold. But I digress. The students only have access to their teachers once a week for an hour at a time. They need a tutor closer to hand for any questions they might have concerning this very difficult subject."
Understanding came to Snape. "And you are the only trained alchemist on staff."
His anger calmed, recognising the plan's practical value. This was not just for his own benefit. He needed to still exist among the students of Slytherin. Frequent associations with Albus Dumbledore would not be left unscrutinised.
Snape snapped the lid closed, its many layers sliding into place. "I accept your offer."
Dumbledore smiled. "First class is tomorrow, first period after break in classroom 7-D."
Autumn had not yet touched the leaves of the trees but brought with it a breeze that chased away the mugginess of summer.
With a sigh of relief Lily strode down from the paddocks by the forbidden forest, enjoying the cooling wind as it took away the smell of mooncalf dung. She honestly didn't know what she was doing in the Care of Magical creatures NEWTs class, she obviously didn't have a knack for it. As much as Lily loved these creatures they rarely loved her back. She's been bitten, scratched and gooped on more times than she could count, once she even got her hair set on fire by the errant fart of a fire crab. James had jumped to her rescue then, dunking her heroically into the trough, only realising belatedly a Water-Making Charm would have been just as effective and less messy. She didn't hold it against him however as she had been less than useless in her panic.
Today they were preparing the mooncalves for their moonlight romp, it was an event none of the students would get to witness as it would occur past their curfew. These shy little creatures did not come out of their burrows during the day, or in fact most nights, leaving their burrows only under the light of a full moon. The dung they produce that night had special potion-properties so hence the need to clean their burrows before the evening started. To cap it all off Lupin was absent from class today, leaving her partnerless for her burrow-cleaning exercise.
Lily supposed she could not hold it against him. Though he never spoke of it to her she already knew why he was absent. It was difficult to not notice the patterns of his illness.
Always on the full moon.
She was shaken out of her worried thoughts by the presence of another Marauder. One who never seemed to be too far away, or too affected by her constant rebukes.
"Good afternoon Potter." Lily greeted the boy politely as he trotted up from behind and fell into a casual step.
"Heya Evans." He put on a cool façade, casually running one hand through the back of his hair, making that messy nest stick up further. "Fancy seeing you here."
Lily rolled her eyes. "We just came down from the same class." James and his partner Black had spent nearly the entirety of class attempting to unearth one of those poor creatures, claiming if they had to shovel dung they should at least get to meet the thing. What part of 'Only during full moons' did they not understand?
If Potter was embarrassed to have been caught out he didn't show it. "Well I just attended a most fascinating Muggle Studies class this morning." He began, seemingly nonchalantly. "And could not help but think you'd be the most useful person to pose questions to."
Lily conceded, if it was study related she really can't fault him for utilising his resources. "Sure, fire away. I'm not exactly up to date with the muggle world but I'm fluent with the basics."
"Well there's this thing called a cinema. Where they have moving pictures. Aren't they just like our photographs then?"
"You could think of it that way..." Lily struggled to find a way to explain something she had never needed to explain before. "Only they're much bigger, like the size of a classroom wall. And these pictures are accompanied by sounds and music."
"For muggle entertainment." James nodded solemnly as if reciting from a textbook.
Lily nodded enthusiastically. "Correct."
"It sounds like a fascinating thing to see." James said, with almost a too casual wistfulness. "Would you be interested in giving me a tour of one of these cinemas?"
"I honestly wouldn't know where to begin with a tour." Lily was beginning to suspect this conversation was not just of academic interest.
"How about with a viewing of one of these moving pictures?" James asked eagerly. Yep she guessed it. A date.
"Did you know one of these moving pictures, or 'movies' as we call them, lasts for over an hour?"
James looked aghast. "Really?" He could barely sit still for the hour's duration of a class.
"Yes. Frequently up to two hours even." Lily could barely fight the smile trickling onto her face as the boy struggled with the thought of being shut in a room for two hours straight.
"Right. I don't think the cinema is for me. Perhaps then this activity known as bowling?"
Before Lily could form an excuse a shout rang up across the field. "Hey Prongs! Quidditch Pitch is this way!" Sirius stood on the forking path, waving over to his friend.
Lily expected James to look annoyed at being interrupted in the middle of his attempts at flirtation but he conceded readily. "Right. We promised Wormtail we'd help him prepare for the Quidditch tryouts." Even as the team captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team James Potter wasn't going to let his friends on without qualification. He was the kind of friend who would go out of his way to do everything he could, short of nepotism to help his friend qualify. Lily couldn't help but smile, however unpleasant James could be, he was at least a true and loyal friend.
Why can't he always be like that?
With lunch's end Lily had the whole rest of the day to herself. Sixth year was lighter on classes but unfortunately the homework load meant she couldn't enjoy the free time.
With a sigh she trudged into library, lugging a backpack heavy with textbooks and homework. She needed to at the very least get Transfigurations done, the homework was set on the very first class on Friday and she had waited till today, a Wednesday to start. It wasn't the very last minute but it was still cutting it mighty fine.
Sneaking by the irate Madam Pince Lily searched for an empty table, or at least a table with familiar faces to share with. Almost immediately she spotted the one familiar face she didn't want to see and darted behind a shelf.
Severus Snape was sitting alone in his corner, working hard as she always knew him to do. He was likely completing his charms essay, he never left his homework long.
After Slughorn took him out of Charms class yesterday he never showed up for Herbology. Professor Sprout had taken his homework to Lily and asked her to pass it on to him. The good natured Professor must not have heard about the falling out they had. It took Lily a good awkward minute to explain that they had ended their friendship. The concept appeared foreign to the kindly Hufflepuff, and highly upsetting.
Lily's heart twisted, wondering who now would bring him his homework when he missed class? Who would he sit with to study? Would he always be alone in the library?
That empathy turned to annoyance almost immediately when Slytherins emerged from the shelves beyond where she hid and dropped messily into the seats surrounding Snape. Avery, Mulciber, Rosier, the whole snakey gang.
What was I even worried about? He has 'friends.'
Lily stalked away in a huff, picking the seat furthest from Snape as she could manage, inserting herself into a group of startled third year Ravenclaws. Almost sulking Lily pulled out her Transfigurations homework and measured out the required length of parchment.
Her attempt to ignore the Slytherins was thwarted when a sudden commotion arose. Loud arguing could be heard from even her side of the library, and like a storm to the beat of a Thunderbird's wings Madam Pince was immediately at the site of the disturbance. Her screeches of "Out!" echoed through the chamber, chasing out the pack of unruly boys.
Head bowed low Lily could not help but bitterly feel they somehow deserved it, despite not knowing what had happened and why. Slytherins were after all, entirely dark wizards and death eaters in the making. The House must have been founded upon the principles of being unpleasant, cruel and evil.
How else could she explain how the darkness was able to take her best friend so completely?
Furious, Snape hefted his bag over his shoulder and marched down the library corridor.
"Hey! Don't you walk away from me!" A large grubby paw grabbed a tuft of Snape's robes, swinging him around to meet the snarling face of Mulciber.
Snape had been calmly working on his Herbology essay when his Slytherin 'friends' approached. His homework was brought to him by Avery the evening before. Apparently Sprout had been close to tears when she asked Avery to take it to him, something the rat-like boy couldn't make heads or tails of. She had been perfectly cheerful during class.
When Avery, Muciber and Rosier arrived they sat down and immediately demanded Snape hand over his Defence homework, evidently not there to complete the studies themselves. So like any conscientious professor, Snape had advised them that they were better served finding resources and completing it independently. That did not sit well with the larger boy.
"If your reaction to not getting your way over a little homework is to roughhouse like a muggle you'll be several degrees of useless to any lord willing to take you." Snape spat, completely disregarding the fact the other boy was a good head and a half taller and had his collar gripped in his gigantic mitts.
Snape was slammed so hard against the wall that he briefly saw stars as pain shot up through his back. "I don't know what's gotten into you lately Snape but I will not tolerate this." Muciber hissed, spittle flecking the smaller Slytherin's face. Down the hall a young Hufflepuff turned and darted back down the corridor, his need of the library apparently no longer a priority.
"Whoa there Mulciber." Rosier inserted himself rather heroically into the conflict. "Perhaps Snape's right. It's our NEWT years. We can't afford to simply cruise on his efforts anymore."
Apparently reason was to win the day. Mulciber released his grip and the smaller boy stumbled away, adjusting his torn collar. Snape cast a quick wordless Repairing Charm on the damage and it stitched itself together imperfectly, creating a thin worn patch. His robes were getting tattier and tattier.
A thick finger jabbed into Snape's chest as Mulciber growled, apparently not done with him. "Watch yourself Snape. I suggest you not tick me off again. Remember your place."
With barely hidden disdain Snape replied. "You give a tall ask, prohibiting something so easily and unintentionally achieved." Anger flared again on the larger boy's face. Snape instinctively took one step back out of arm's reach.
"Ever since your humiliation by the lake you've been worse than useless. Pining away for that mudblood like the blood-tainted filth you are." He spat. "What, was she repelled by the sight of your balls? I suppose even mudbloods have standards."
Snape felt his anger flare red hot. Had he been a young man he might have attacked Mulciber here and now, swinging at him with his yet unexperienced but well-practiced spellcasting. Maybe he would have even won, three to one.
But Snape was a different man now. More cunning. More patient.
"I wonder Mulciber, if you heaving your weight about so desperately isn't a symptom of a fear that your time on the top is ending." Snape let that sentence sit, watching the dark rage build behind the larger boy's eyes. "I wonder, between the two of us who is the better wizard? I wonder what would happen if I were to… step out of line?" A flicker of fear darted across Mulciber's rage-contorted face. Dense as a brick he may be but he did not doubt who'd come out on top in a contest of spell power between the two. Behind him surprise was stamped across the features of Avery and Rosier. Mulciber could not let this go and save face now.
But the boy simply had no idea how vast their difference was now.
"Pathetic." Snape spat and he spun around and swept down towards the staircase. His billowing cloak not quite having the same effect when it was worn and filled with holes.
"Snape!" He heard the boy roar. The thumping of his feat tore down after him.
This isn't the place.
Quickening his step, Snape found the staircase and darted down as quickly as he could, the lumbering great footsteps getting closer behind him.
Not yet. I need more to witness.
As a young man Snape never realised exactly how much power he could have commanded with his cunning and ability. He had been too eager to please, too shy to act, and too inept to harness his strengths.
As an older and wiser man, a man whose life had been completely embroiled in the movement of power between Slytherins, both within Hogwarts and without, he knew how to move the dynamics in the House of Snakes.
Snape slowed his step on the Entry Hall landing. Students were returning from the grounds, first and third years mostly. Slytherins knitted among their numbers.
This was to be the stage.
"FACE ME SNAPE!" Came the huffing bellow of Mulciber, barrelling down the stairs.
Snape was beginning to grow short of breath too, having only jogged most of the way down from the first floor it was a worrying sign of how little stamina his younger body possessed.
As his foot hit the ground floor Snape slowed to a walk, pacing out in a large arc, parting the tiny students before him. They stared, wide eyed as the two older boys squared off.
With an out of breath growl Mulciber flicked his wand violently upwards. Snape brushed aside that poorly cast wordless Levicorpus. Undoubtedly Mulciber sought to down him with a method that had proved successful on him in the past. He had more thinking capacity than Snape had given him credit for.
But it would do him no good.
With a dark smile and barely a flick of the wand, Mulciber's legs suddenly snapped together and he fell roughly onto his hands and knees. The larger boy struggled uselessly against the Leg-Locker curse having dropped his wand in surprise.
With two quick strides Snape was upon him, yanking up the head the head of his defeated opponent and pressing his wand to the larger boy's throat.
"Remember your place." Snape said silkily, repeating to him the boy's own words.
Snape's eyes flickered upwards to the two watching from the top of the Entrance Hall's stairs, Rosier and Avery, disbelief etched upon their face. With a sweep of his cloak Severus released Mulciber and stalked off. Flicking his wand behind him in an almost casual motion to dispel the curse he set upon his opponent. Knowing full well a new memory was burnt into the minds of every witness today. Leaving no doubt of where the power laid within the House of the Snake.
A/N: Warning to all readers Dumbledore will be featuring heavily in this Snape story. He was the only character Snape had ever worked closely with that hadn't been on Voldemort's side.
There are many Snape fans that wholly loath the headmaster and his manipulations, and I understand why that must be. It is difficult not to empathise with the characters and take their plights personally. That being said Snape is not a wholly wholesome character in himself, but I do not believe the he is a bad person, just like I do not believe that of Albus Dumbledore or of James Potter to be either. The wonderful thing about the universe of Harry Potter is that none of the characters are one dimensional, there's good and terrible things about the greatest characters of its world.
This is a story about redemption, it is useless if Snape has done no wrong to need it. It would simply not do to treat other characters like they do not deserve the chance to do so as well.
Next Update: Friday 7th April 2017 AEDT.
Chapter 5: Patience of a Slytherin
Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter universe and do not seek to profit in any way, shape or form from this fan work.