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Disclaimer// I do not own any of the Harry Potter Universe or it’s related characters. This one-shot contains spoilers of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Title credits to The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

A/N// This started out as a one-shot about Snape dealing with violence at home, but sort of turned into a timeline leading up to his joining the Death Eaters. So sensitive topic, I guess, for anyone who might be offended.

***

He can hear it through the ceiling. First just the quick fire snapping, the angry tones that alert him of trouble brewing again. It is the third time this week.

It doesn’t take long for things to escalate. The voices below raise fractionally, and he can hear the desperation in his mother’s voice, trying to resolve the situation before it develops into something more.

As the tone and the volume change bit by bit, Severus decides to read his newest school book, and screws up his face to the point that he struggles to read, ineffort to to concentrate only on the book, and to block out what is rapidly becoming screaming downstairs.

The words on the page are blurring before his eyes. He realises, as the screaming is as loud as it can get, that he has read the same three words over and over again, and that his face is wet.

With shaking hands, he closes the book, slides it under his bed and fumbles to wipe his face. There is a loud thud below followed by loud sobs and shouting, and Severus finds that his vision is quickly fogging from the tears in his eyes.

There is another, and the tears are coming too fast for him to wipe away. Another, and he gives a short, trembling sob.

By the time there is silence downstairs, and a loud slam to announce his father has stormed out of the house, he is crying freely, and shakily jumps up, his heart in his throat, he nearly falls down the stairs trying to get to her, he needs to know that she is alright, that he hasn’t hurt her too badly.

Severus slows down as he reaches the door, and wipes his face in a vain attempt to cover up his distress, and takes a deep breath before pushing open the door.

The sight that meets him nearly makes his heart stop, after all of the arguments and the fights, he had never seen his mother looking so broken.

He remembers the way she used to be when he was younger, before his father started drinking, and before the novelty of their life wore off. She was so proud and so strong, so reliable, whenever he felt down she would make him feel on top of the world, she always knew what was on his mind. She was a beautiful woman through and through.

Then he looks at the sobbing wreck, slumped half on the sofa from the floor, he cannot see her face and isn’t sure he wants to. Her clothes and hair look bedraggled, and what he can see of her skin is dotted with bruises and scrapes.

He tentatively reaches out and touches her shoulder, the familiar dagger wrenching in his gut as she flinches away from him, but softens as she realises that no more harm is to become of her tonight.

She looks up, and it twists in him again, choking the words right out of him.

“It’s ok, sweet-heart, mum and dad just had a bit of a falling out. I’m alright”

Although deep down he knows that this isn’t true, and from the desolate look in her eyes he knows that she knows this, Severus just wants this consolation, he wants to hear these empty words from her and to pretend for a while that everything is fine.

“Come here”

With no hesitation, he moves into the embrace, and in his own little fantasy world, neither of them are crying and sad, this is just a mother to son hug, for no reason other than love.

***

After times like that, Severus would go to her. He would send her an owl and he would met her under their tree. The tree he had first become friends with her under.

After that time, he remembers, he had been sat here near an hour, hugging his knees, as the summer sun began to fade, when down the street, he could see her vivid red hair, blowing in the slight breeze, then as she drew closer, her green eyes, filled with concern… how he loved those green eyes, he drew comfort from their ferocity, their strength. Her presence alone was enough to soothe him.

He had not even to explain himself to her, she would just put her arm around him and tell him that it would be alright, that one day it would stop; the both of them would be free. It was hard for his mother because she loved him, and that it was hard to see the faults in someone even when it was right in front of them through such feelings.

But today she will not come, she will not be here again. He knows that she won’t come this time, even as he writes the letter, as he ties it to the owl’s leg, as he walks down the road and still as he sits underneath the tree, waiting.

The irony of the situation, he thinks, is that this time he needs her more than ever, not only because unlike that day so long ago, his mother did not even bother to tell him that she would be alright, she did not pretend that she wasn’t hurting, and she made no attempt to stem the flow of blood from one of the gashes along her face, a wide drag from his fathers ring. He knew that each fight killed her inside, but it seemed to have reached the point where they no longer bothered her, it seems to him that each argument is just more scars for her to cover up, she'd resigned to the way things were.

This is not only why he needs Lily. Not only was she his sole confidante, but he understands now that she is so soothing to him because he feels something deeper, something that isn’t just going to fade away like the bumps, bruises and grazes his mother gets. His realisation makes everything all the more painful because not only has he lost her, but he understands truly his mothers pain.

He knows why she cannot just walk away, he knows why it takes a strong person to do so, and he knows for the first time in his life that after all he has put up with and all that he has been through, that he isn’t so strong after all.

Severus desperately wants to be this strong person, for his mother, for Lily, and more importantly for himself, but without either he doesn’t know how to be. He isn’t a child anymore, but he doesn’t know how to be anything else.

The wind bites into him coldly. The sun is nearly set, and Lily isn’t coming.

***

The next time it happens is after he returns from school. He knows that in his absence it probably continued, but it is the first he is aware of, and makes him painfully remember the shattered relationship he has with his mother.

This time, he is in the room with her, and he knows for sure that he is not strong enough to deal with it. As tears stream down his face, and he feels as though his heart is being ripped to shreds, he watches his father, incapacitated with muggle alcohol, beat and berate her, calling her all manner of names and insulting everything about her, before rounding on him.

What amused him though, as inappropriate a feeling amusement was at the time, was that it hurt him less to have his father direct his attention on him rather than his mother. His father would never physically attack him. He is a weak man, Severus decides, and would only ever attack those he can beat, but it still stings to have all these things said to him, though not as much.

His momentary relief is soon gone, as on cue the man leaves, and he is left there to deal with the mess he has created. A part of him wants to shout at her as well, for being so stupid and so weak. He would gladly run with her and get away from his father, if she were just to say the word, but now he understands her pain at the idea of being away from him, no matter how much he hurts her. The more this happens to her, to the both of them, the more the two parts conflict in his mind; is the pain of staying worth the little love she receives?

Severus approaches his mother, and lays a tentative hand on her shoulder, and feels a pang deep in his chest when she shrugs it off and continues her sobbing.

Did he do something wrong? He took his father's rage for her, he tried to pick up the pieces, what had he gone wrong? Convincing himself that she thought it was his father, he turns her around and pulls out his wand to fix her injuries, when she lets out a low moan and pulls herself away again.

It is then Severus notices that her own wand is not sticking out of her waistband like it used to, and he scans her in horror, wondering why she is not keeping it on her. She married a muggle, does she not know that there are people out there these days, people who will kill her if they find her?

Then he spots it, broken, snapped in two, flung away, at the base of the wall opposite her, and years of fights make sense, it makes sense why she is pushing him away and why she is taking it all; her father is angry because she is a witch, and he is angry that Severus is a wizard, he is angry at what he has created.

With one last look at his mother, who still will not look at him, he leaves the room, frustrated and seething.

***

Rather than seeing how unfair the kind of prejudice he and others receive due to their blood, his mind keeps turning back to his school friends' words, and an even darker conflict enters his mind.

He remembers firstly Lily’s words, and is ashamed at how he has behaved and what it must have meant to her to be discriminated against, and realises that this is what he has done to people like her, this is what he has put them through. It enters his mind that maybe it is true that blood doesn’t matter, and that everyone should be treated equally.

But the wounds start to heal a little, the righteousness subsides, and he is intoxicated with thoughts of revenge, and the idea of getting rid of people like his father, people without magic.  The words that soon resonate within his mind are not his best friend and love’s, but the words of his housemates, Macnair, Nott, Lestrange, how maybe Lily is wrong, how she might have deserved anything she got. If this was how muggles were to treat them, then maybe they should be put in their place. Inferiors. They do not have magic, why must he treat them with the same reverence as he would his friends?

The two ideas dance around each other, bouncing points and arguments against the other; if blood matters, then why did people, pure-blooded people like Potter and Black, consort with muggles and despise he and his friends? Would they despise him were it not for their muggle-loving ways? He loved Lily, he liked her before any of the blood status talk reached his ears, why is it different now?

More shouting and more fighting interrupt his pensive state, and the more it is interrupted, the more one argument seems the stronger one, the more one argument seems to show him the way. It reaches the stage where it is only the thought of her that is keeping him on the narrow line between the two; it is only her eyes, piercing into him, even in glares, and the thought of what it would entail for her, if things were to go the way this new and rising Dark Lord intended, that kept him from making his decision.

***

Two months into his final year, Severus loses hope. He makes his decision.

She had promised him, promised him, that nothing was going to happen between them, she had told him that she did not like him, she told him that just because he liked her did not mean that she liked him.

Lily had lied.

At first, Severus feels as though his heart has been torn in two, and he cannot control the grief that wells up inside of him. He wants to shake her and to make her see sense, he wants to tell her that he loves her, and that she is better off with him. He wants to hold her, not watch her being held, and he doesn’t ever want to let go of her and their friendship. He throws himself into his studies and withdraws from everything he possibly can so that he doesn’t have to see it anymore, proof that everything he has kept going for is no longer his, but in the hands of the one person he despises the most.

This fades to anger that she has lied to him and kept his hopes up, and he wants to make them pay for what they have done to him, and he sees only one way how and one way to make sure they both get punished.

***

As the day dawns, his heart is pounding. He is up at the crack of dawn, staring at the snow drifting outside the window, his trunk long packed, and nerves setting in.

There is no question in his mind about what he is doing, because in the month that he has been waiting, every time he passed them his resolve became a little stronger. Severus needs to prove that he is something to her and to him, and he needs them to suffer for what he went through, but he is scared now that his services will not be enough, and that he won’t be of any value to anyone. As Eleven O’clock comes around and he is boarding the train and walking to his compartment, he has more to worry about, and needs to learn as much from his travelling companions about the state of things as he can; these are the people he will be working with in the future, he needs to learn how they think so that he can keep up.

He nods mutely as he is told where and when they are to meet later that night, but does not head home, with what little money he has, he plans on renting a room at the Hogs Head for the holiday, because it does not matter where he is for Christmas anymore, because nowhere will keep him happy or at the least content. It is an inconvenience to need to apparate all the way back to Hogsmede, but the option he would rather chose. Severus sits in his shabby room and leaves his trunk packed, because he is uncertain of the room and stares blankly at the wall. It is all he will do for the remainder of the month, but it is better than anything else he would have been doing.

It has not stopped snowing since it started a few days ago, it has simply let up a little so that no further snow settles, and it is still freezing as Severus trudges out of the door, knowing he will have to apparate directly inside later, and walks a little way out of the village of Hogsmede before turning sharply on the spot and enduring the uncomfortable squeeze of apparation and appearing in a dense grouping of trees.

He looks around and sees the house described to him, he has been told he will know it by the long sloping lawn and the light in the second window from the left on what appears to be the attic, it is a shabby little hut, which he finds fitting. Severus does not want to be disturbed by intruders.

The door is locked, a simple test he supposes, to keep out all non magical beings; a muggle picking the lock would be detected and those who couldn’t get in would leave, the house is dark, he supposes this is another test, and rather than reaching for the switch, he lights the tip of his wand and seals the door behind him.

Voices can be heard upstairs, he silences the stairs in anticipation of the creaks they will give under his weight.

There is a circle of people in long black cloaks and masks, Severus steps forward into the empty space. “Tonight we get a new recruit” A high pitched voice cuts into the new silence, “Tell me, Severus, what brings you to Lord Voldemort?”

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