The Last Resort
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful young maiden named was Camilla Durvene. She was a happy child. Her father was an affluent wizard, very well respected in the community. A witch herself, Camilla was as talented as she was lovely. She wed early in life, to a handsome and wealthy young nobleman by the name of Luthien Snape. And she was happy, for a time.
Then a year passed, and another. It became more and more clear to the couple that theirs was a barren match. Camilla mourned that she could not provide her husband, whom she loved dearly, the heir he so desired. Distraught and despairing, she decided to return with her husband to her childhood home to seek council with her father on the matter.
Now, it so happened that Camilla had a sister - a half-sister whom her family did not acknowledge. Evelyn was much like Camilla in appearance, having the same long, dark hair and warm, brown eyes. She even shared Camilla's vivacious and mercurial temperament. Unlike her sister, however, Evelyn was a squib, born out of wedlock. She did not receive an excellent education or a generous dowry. She did not marry an eligible bachelor. Instead, she worked at her father's manor as a servant, helping with household chores and tending the gardens.
One night, Evelyn ventured into the woods on an errand. Though well aware of the monsters that haunted enchanted forests after dark, the girl decided her task was too urgent to be put off till dawn. The consequences of her daring were both violent and devastating. A dementor came upon her, swiftly and silently. She was helpless against the creature. In the morning, she was found raped, bleeding, and half dead under the boughs of a large tree.
Her father carried her home. It was the first time he ever treated her as his daughter. He held her hands as she regained consciousness. He plead with her to tell him what had happened and wiped her eyes when she started to cry and stroked her hair until she fell asleep again. "It is over now," he told her soothingly. But it wasn't.
Six months later, Luthien and his wife made their journey to Monseigneur Durvene's manor. Camilla had been looking forward to the prospect of seeing Evelyn again, and expected to find her sister well. She was horribly stunned to discover that Evelyn was in fact desperately ill, half-mad from trauma, and quite large with child.
The babe was born on a June morning, an hour or so before dawn. He was thin, with skin so pale it was almost translucent. His features were striking - curiously stark for an infant. High cheekbones shaped his narrow face, framing a nose that promised to become long and hawkish. Dark eyelashes framed eyes so black it was impossible to tell where the pupils ended and the irises began.
Evelyn trailed her hands over her son's face, over small ears and pointed chin. She whispered her fingertips along his slender arms, from narrow shoulders to tiny, perfect hands. She traced limbs that bent around sharp edges and stretched over straight lines. She spoke with her hands, the affectionate curve of her palm, the protective crook of her elbow, conveying promises with every touch.
But beneath these tangible expressions of caring lurked a goodbye. Evelyn knew that her strength would not keep. The trauma of the past months had weighed heavily upon her, and the birthing had drained what little vigor she had left. And so she delivered her child, cocooned in her love, into the arms of her sister.
"You must care for him," Evelyn cried, a desperate urgency in her voice. "He's not like me. There's magic in him. There's power. I can feel it."
Camilla, caught in her sister's imploring gaze, could not bring herself to refuse the request. "I will raise him as my own," she murmured solemnly. "I swear it."
Evelyn nodded her approval, and a look of contentment warmed her face. After offering her sister one last tremulous smile, she lowered her arms to her sides, rested her head back against the pillows of her bed, and drifted off to sleep.
She did not wake up again.
And so it was that Luthien acquired an heir, and Camilla, a son. A birth certificate was drawn up, naming the child as the legitimate successor to the Snape legacy and fortune. All records of Evelyn's existence were destroyed. With a son to present to their peers, Camilla and Luthien once more became the perfect couple.
Lies were told and secrets were kept and all was right with the world.
Camilla named the boy Severus - a fitting name for a child with such cutting features and so austere a presence. She hired him a wet nurse and a nanny. She bought him toys and clothing. She played with him as any good mother would, whispering promises of a bright future. "You are my son now," she said, "and you shall have the best of everything."
Severus was not like other children. He spoke rarely, and his words were always careful and articulate. He took to walking early, drifting about the manor with an almost ethereal grace. "My little ghost," Camilla would murmur, glancing furtively into her son's eerie black eyes.
She worried about Severus. He did not laugh, and smiled rarely. His face showed little emotion aside from curiosity. Her inability to understand her son distressed her greatly. She had been raised in a world of bloodlines and legacy, where aberrations were hidden or eliminated. She knew nothing of the nature of dementors.
Eventually, she brought her concerns to her husband, requesting that he research the matter. Luthien did as she asked. He plumbed his libraries for information on monsters and half-breeds, child rearing and the dark arts. Unfortunately, dementors were creatures of which the wizarding world knew very little, and though he plumbed through his archives many times over, he discovered nothing but superstitions and hearsay.
He went to Azkaban to continue his research. The prison brought him answers, but not the ones he had been hoping for. Dementors, he was told, were emotionless creatures, unable to feel anything but hunger. They had no souls themselves, and so were driven to devour the souls of the living. Their minds were covered in endless shadow, and their only relief was to drink the joy of others.
Luthien took this news in stride. He knew that Severus had a soul, and that the boy was indeed capable of the full range of human emotion. He sensed that the boy's human attributes were being suppressed by his darker nature, and that this was the reason for his unique demeanor. There had to be a way to force the boy's humanity into expression. Luthien needed only to wait for a solution to present itself.
He waited for a long time. His son continued on as he always had - quiet and unaffected, mysterious and watchful, always curious - for curiosity is only another form of hunger. It was not until years later, when his son had reached the age of six, that something managed to alter the boy's pattern of behavior.
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