Author's Note: Part of the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest (response to: Scenario #32: Hogwarts holds some sort of quiz/comp/gameshow. How competitive is Snape, and who is his rival? What will he do to make sure he wins?; and Easy Pairing #23: Snape/Avery.) I have taken Certain Liberties with the canon timeline. Specifically, Rita Skeeter is now a year younger than Our Boys. I don't hear her complaining.
DISCLAIMER: I don't owns 'em. That's J.K. Rowling, don'chaknow. I just slips 'em out in the dead of night and makes 'em have little tea parties. Don't sue me. It'll all done in fun, I don't make a penny from my efforts (as the world at large seems so intent to remind me), and the most valuable thing I have is a kitten. If you sue me, she'll be sad. Do you hate kittens?
Part 8 - Breaking Homes
Evans was eliminated second round. Severus tied with Black for most correct answers.
It wasn't a terribly great shock to see her go.
It had taken several nights of tutoring to finally seduce her. The first, they worked on Charms until Lily decided that Severus was not only competent but excellent. She casually remarked that she needed help with Potions. Peter, apparently, had nothing but praise for Severus' tutoring abilities (Severus smirked at this piece of information), and Lily was simply sick of Dram's substandard instruction.
The second, third, and fourth, all made easier by Potter's and Black's continued detentions on Pettigrew's unknowing part, were spent in the Potions classroom. The fifth... well, it started in the Potions classroom, developed into a walk to help clear Lily's head of cauldron fumes, and ended in the Gryffindor locker room. At her insistence.
The inclusion of a backrub to ensure that she wouldn't break the news to anyone didn't do any harm. She asked why he carried massage gel with him; he said it was an experiment he'd not gotten around to filing away yet. There had been a bit less salve left than he'd thought, but given Peter's enormous quantities of flesh it was hardly a surprise.
Afterwards, when the guilt struck and Severus held her for an hour while she cried, they agreed it couldn't happen again. Just to be safe, there would be no more tutoring sessions. Lily didn't trust herself not to repeat her atrocious actions. Severus even managed a few tears.
It couldn't have gone better if he'd used an Imperius Curse.
That night, after cleaning up the Potions room, Severus swaggered up to Lucius' bed, pushed back the curtains, and kissed his friend into the mattress. "I have just had the most incredible night of my life."
Lucius raised his eyebrows. "Who?"
Lucius scowled. "Evans? Potter's girlfriend?"
"Potter's fiance." Severus smirked, giving it a moment to sink in. Lily had shown him the ring that evening; James had only asked her Sunday, two days before.
Malfoy's face broke into the widest, most vicious grin of which he was capable. "You slimy, cunning bastard," he said, eyes shining. "I'd have thought you'd prefer James."
"That's what she said. I told her not to believe everything she hears."
Occasionally, over the next couple of weeks, Severus would look across the Great Hall and catch Lily's eye. She would immediately look away and take Potter's hand. Of course, Peter would smile, thinking Severus was looking at him, and Severus would smile faintly back.
Life was good.
Damn, it was good to be the king.
The letter arrived December fifteenth, two days after the second round concluded. Severus stared, mouth gaping. You can't do this to me, you bastard! The parchment was stark and bland, emblazoned across the top with a simple, "Pescennius R. Snape, Senior Auror Second Class, Department of Magical Law Enforcement".
I fear that, given recent activities by Lord Voldemort, I am forced to rescind permission for you to visit the Malfoys over Christmas. I've already contacted Headmaster Dumbledore, and he has assured me that you're most welcome to remain there for the holiday. I regret to say that, given the recent danger, I would rather you be someplace safe than come home.
Give the Malfoys our regards and regrets, and we will do everything we can to visit you.
Severus shook. He crushed the note in his fist and tugged on a robe. It flapped a bit as he stormed down the stairs, but he didn't care. In the common room, he plucked some Floo Powder from the mantle and threw it in. Kneeling, he stuck his head in the fire (all that the Floo here would allow through, to prevent students sneaking out). "The Blue House," he snapped.
A few moments later he looked around. There was nobody in the sitting room. A large couch was pushed against the wall, and a steaming mug still sat on the table in front of it amidst parchments and folders. "DAD!" Severus roared.
The door from the kitchen swung open and his father, broad and bulky and even taller than Severus, hurried in. His black Auror's robes were undone at the neck, revealing his plain white button-up shirt. He carried a plate of samosas. "Good evening, Severus. Samosa?" Pescennius held out the plate.
"What's going on? Why can't I visit the Malfoys?"
Pescennius regarded his son coolly. "You've heard about the killings in Leeds, I assume."
"Yeah, everyone has. What's that got to do with me going home with Lucius?"
"Lucius' family is predominantly..." Pescennius trailed off. He stuffed part of a samosa in his mouth.
"Slytherin?" The word dripped from Severus' lips.
"Why do you hate me so much? Only because of my House?"
"I don't hate you, son. I know how intelligent you are, and I'd rather that not be exploited by... questionable individuals."
"So just because I'm not another fucking Hufflepuff-"
"I will not have that sort of language used in my house."
"Sorry." Severus pursed his lips. "It's not fair! Just because I wasn't a Hufflepuff I can't see my friends."
"This has nothing to do with your House." Pescennius didn't sound entirely convinced. "If you would stop to see what sort of a shambles our world is falling into you'd understand why I don't want to see anything happen to my-"
"YOU JUST DON'T WANT A SLYTHERIN IN THE FAMILY! YOU'RE ASHAMED OF ME! DON'T I WORK HARD ENOUGH FOR YOU? WHAT'S GOING TO MAKE YOU HAPPY, IF I WORK MYSELF TO DEATH?"
"THAT IS QUITE ENOUGH!" Pescennius dropped his samosa. The plate went, forgotten, on the pile of papers. Like some sort of enormous predator, he stalked back and forth, glaring at his son with a hard, lined mouth. "You will show some respect in this house, young man, or you shan't be allowed back. Do I make myself clear?"
Severus sulked. "Yes, Dad," he growled.
"I have good reason not to let you leave school grounds for the time being. You should be grateful, actually. I considered rescinding your Hogsmeade pass as well, but I thought that it might cause undue friction. Despite what you might have convinced yourself to believe, I do, in fact, care about you. Your mother and I had a long talk and we decided that this is for the best."
"Does that mean Raj and Hadrian aren't allowed home either, then?"
"Raj and Hadrian are grown wizards with lives of their own."
"So am I."
Pescennius rubbed his eyes. "No, son, you're not. You're seventeen, and still in school. Once you leave you can do anything you want. Within reason," he hastily added.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Severus' father fixed him with a hard gaze. "It's only that I don't want you taking any sort of path in life that might hurt you, or anyone else."
"I'm not going to run off with Voldemort if that's what you're saying." Severus sneered. "Only, because I'm a Slytherin you think-"
"It's not only because you're a Slytherin!" Pescennius crouched down in front of the fire. His mouth was twisted, and his green, flecked eyes were solemn. "Believe me, son, I'm doing this for your own good."
"Kenny?" A dark head peered around the open doorway leading to the hall. "I thought I heard-oh, Ajit!" Gita grinned broadly at her youngest. In a moment it turned mournful. "You got the owl, then?"
"Yes, Mum." Severus tilted his eyes down slightly. He'd not dare treat his father with such deference. "Why can't I come home?"
She came to crouch before the fire like her husband. "Ajit... Muaf keejeeye." I'm sorry. "It's too dangerous. There's so much happening, we don't want anyone to get... ideas."
"Gita," Pescennius whispered sharply. He scowled.
"What are you two not telling me?" Severus mirrored his father's scowl.
"Nothing important. Let your mother and I deal with it."
"What? Am I going to be dragged in and interrogated for my House?"
"I already told you, Severus, this has nothing to do with your House. And take that hat off. It looks ridiculous."
"I like my hat!" Severus tilted his chin defiantly.
"Listen to your father, Ajit." Gita reached forward as if to touch Severus' face. Her slender fingers darted back before they reached the flames. "You look thin. Are you eating enough?"
Her dark brows rose and knitted. "Are you sleeping? You're pale."
"I sleep too much, Mum. What are you not telling me?"
Her hands fluttered. "Nothing to concern yourself with." Her heavily accented voice was soft. Any other time it would have been soothing.
"Mum, please? It can't be that bad."
"So it's nothing to worry about." Her bright smile was a bit haggard.
"Severus, go on back. We'll come for Christmas. Raj and Hadrian want to see you, and Ananda's been asking after you. The little ones beg to visit you nonstop." Pescennius looked a bit tired at his son's presence.
"So you're just going to bring the whole herd?" Two parents, two brothers, two sisters-in-law, three nephews, two nieces, and a jobberknoll in a pear tree made up the immediate Snape clan; god forbid Severus' cousins and aunts and uncles and grandmother and whatever other relatives he had show themselves. There weren't enough seats in the Great Hall if they wanted to stay for supper!
"Only Raj and Hadrian and their families. Your nan's decided to stay home this year." Pescennius still looked grim, but no longer as focused.
"Can I go visit her? I don't think Voldemort's going to New Delhi anytime soon."
"This has nothing to do with... him." Gita didn't sound convinced.
"Then why would what he's been doing be a problem? Really, Mum, why do I have to stay here? It's not logical."
She shook her head. "It's nothing, Ajit. Honestly. Don't worry yourself."
"Come on. It's not as if The Ministry's got a dossier on me." Severus tried his brightest smile.
His parents went quiet. Pescennius shifted uncomfortably. Gita inspected the back of her hand.
"The Ministry's got a dossier on me."
"You didn't tell me."
Gita murmured something under her breath and got to her feet. She gave her son an apologetic look before hurrying into the kitchen.
Pescennius still crouched in silence. He ran a hand through his thick, brown hair. "It's nothing for you to worry about. We only don't want people to get ideas in case anything... happens."
Severus blinked. He stared at his father, at the severe profile he'd inherited. "You think I'm one of them."
Pescennius shook his head. "We never said-"
"Language!" Pescennius' mouth was knotted, his eyes trembling with the rest of him. "Maybe you're right, you're old enough to hear this," he hissed. "After all, you'll be eighteen in less than a month. It'll be your responsibility then. The Ministry's had a dossier on you since you were eleven years old, Severus."
"Ridiculous charges. Someone said you performed the Cruciatus Curse on a toad to impress your House. There are officials who take that sort of claptrap seriously. Your mother and I didn't want you to find out because we knew it would go to your head. You might try it."
Severus trembled. His fingers clawed at the Slytherin hearth. "How do you know I didn't?" he spat.
"Where would you learn that much about the Dark Arts? You're not even a trained wizard."
"I learned it from you."
Pescennius froze. "That's not funny, Severus."
"It's not supposed to be, Pescennius." Snape narrowed his eyes. "What do you think I was doing my whole life? Every time I asked you anything you told me to look it up! You're not an Auror for nothing, you know. You've got one Hell of a library."
"Hold your tongue." Pescennius frowned and pointed a sharp finger at his son. "I won't have those sorts of lies in this house."
"No, but you'll all but teach me the Dark Arts, then deny doing it."
Pescennius leaned close to the fire. His red face reflected the flame, and he looked more monster than man. "How dare you insult me like that. After everything we've done for you-"
"Like what?" Severus snarled.
"We've given you more freedom than was good for you. If this is how you're going to repay us, maybe it's time to take some of it back! We denied your grandfather's dying wish that we find you a nice, suitable bride. It's not too late-"
"Maybe I don't want a bride."
"Why not? So you can go gallivanting around with half the girls at Hogwarts?"
"What makes you think I'm gallivanting around with the girls?" Flecks of spittle flew from Severus' mouth and hissed in the fire. He knew perfectly well what he was saying, and what the consequences would be, but he was long past caring.
Pescennius' eyes went wide. "Don't lie to me, Severus." His deep voice was shaky. "It would kill your mother if she heard you."
"Then don't tell her. You're certainly good at not telling people important things. And I'm not lying. I like shagging boys."
A green eye twitched. "Get out."
"Send me my things and you'll never have to see me again."
Pescennius sneered. "You don't have any things here. If you're going to run about like some sort of deviant you've got no place in this family."
"I want my books. I paid for them."
"And I'm repossessing them. Consider it repayment for everything we wasted on you! Get out of my hearth, and if I ever see your face again I'll tear it apart."
"Don't 'Dad' me! You will leave, now, or I will remove you." He reached for a large bucket and charmed it full of water. "You'll be gone by the time I count three. One... two..."
Severus pulled his head out of the fire and shook the soot off. Stiff, quivering like a harp string, fists clenched and hat askew, he stormed upstairs.
Lucius was stretched out, holding some blood and guts novel over his face. He jumped when the door slammed. "What crawled up your arse and died?"
"The bastard that calls himself my father. I'm not allowed to come to your house for Christmas anymore. Oh, and he kicked me out."
Lucius dropped his book and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. "How come?"
"The Ministry's got a dossier on me. Someone squealed about that fucking toad!" He smirked bitterly to himself. "And I told him I'm queer. Didn't seem to take it very well."
"Why'd you do a stupid thing like that?"
"He wanted to set me up with an arranged bride. I'd rather eat bubotubers."
"No shit." Lucius shook his head and settled back on the bed. "That sucks, Sev. Your dad's such a fucking prat."
"I don't need you to tell me." Snape pulled on his cloak. He didn't quite know what he was going to do, but the close walls of the dungeon were oppressive. It grated on his soul and withered his intestines. "I'm going for a walk. If anyone asks, I'll be back later."
Severus didn't wait for Malfoy's answer. Hat firmly on his head and cloak tight around his shoulders, he stormed out of the dormitory, down the corridor (where he yelled at a pair of first year Ravenclaws and deducted five points each for loitering), and out the front doors of the castle. Snow was falling, and didn't look like it would stop anytime soon. A frigid wind gnawed through the cracks of his cloak and chewed on his bare fingers. Severus pulled the cloth tighter around him and went to find a hedge to hide behind.
It wasn't as if he were completely queer. He'd slept with girls before - Lily Evans wasn't the first by far. They'd always been a means to an end, or a bit of scientific curiosity, or posturing, or, in one case, pure vengeance. He'd enjoyed it as an ego boost if nothing else. It wouldn't matter to Pescennius Snape and his pristine moral code, though. For a moment, Severus considered mentioning Hadrian's term-long fling with Christopher Hardesty. It wouldn't do him any good, though.
He sat quietly on a stone bench hidden by naked rosebushes, hugging his knees and watching flakes of snow fall in the dim evening light. The pregnant clouds and their offspring, doomed as soon as the temperature rose, took every particle of light and volleyed it. The resulting glow felt impossibly close, and yet infinite. Severus wondered if his mother or his brothers were watching it. He doubted he'd ever see them again.
A snowflake tickled his cheek. Severus reached up to brush it aside, only to find a rapidly cooling bead of liquid running down his face instead. He shoved it away, only to be met with another, and another, until they flowed steadily and he could only hide them in his crossed arms. The holy silence of a snowy evening was shattered by low, wracking sobs.
"Are you okay?"
A small, soft voice made Severus jerk his head up. He looked around frantically to find Romulus Lupin watching him with a furrowed brow. "I'm fine," he spat.
"You don't look it. Can I help?"
"I don't need any help from you, werewolf."
The boy's pale skin turned ash white. He squeaked, and ran off between the hedges. Severus watched him as long as he could before burying his face in the safety and comfort of his robe.
Tears gradually ran dry. The salt they left itched his eyes, his skin, but Snape didn't care. He didn't know how long he sat there - minutes, maybe an hour - before another set of footsteps came up behind him. "Leave my brother alone," Remus Lupin snarled.
"Tell him to mind his own fucking business." Severus refused to turn around, refused to let Lupin see the salty trails dried on his face.
A hand grabbed his shoulder and jerked him upright. Snape's head tipped back, and for an instant he wondered if Lupin could transform into the snarling beast at will. "I'm going to tell you this once, Snape. You will not scare Romulus like that. You will not call him anything but his name. If I hear that you've called him that one more time, I will hunt you down and I will make sure you suffer for the rest of your worthless life. Do you understand?"
"Never knew you were such an alpha, Lupin."
Those gentle eyes narrowed, burning with rage. Lupin raised a hand, sneering. At its apex it stopped. He let it drop. "No," he whispered. "You're not worth it, you son of a bitch." Lupin let go and stalked backwards, watching his almost-victim intently until he had to vanish behind a hedge.
Severus buried his face in his arms again. When he awoke, his fingers were blue. He didn't feel any better for going numb.
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