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Chapter 6: Money and Girls, Girls and Money
Hello, this is Severus Snape. I will be a fifth year Slytherin in September. I know this may seem a little odd, but I don’t know who else to contact. My mother has left my house, and I don’t have any money or food. I wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, write you, but this is rather extraordinary, and you did say when my father died that you’d help. Please let me know soon, sir.
Severus looked down at his parchment and sighed. It was not what he had wanted to do, but he had done it. Not only had he asked for help, but he’d asked it from a man some people were beginning to call the “Greatest Headmaster Hogwarts has ever seen.” Severus rolled the parchment and waited for the rain to stop. His long black hair was dripping summer rain down his pale, bony back, and his clothes stuck to his skin. The long, spindly fingers topped with short, bitten fingernails were muddy and cold.
Severus decided to shower and change his clothes. By the time he was finished, the rain had subsided, and he went outside to locate the wild owl his mother had used to deliver post at school. It was not the greatest owl when it came to directions, but he was beginning to remember the way to Hogwarts.
“This letter is for Albus Dumbledore,” he told the owl, whose afternoon nap had been rudely interrupted. “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You know the way?” The owl hooted knowingly, and Severus tied the parchment to its leg. The bird took off and left Severus standing alone.
Inside the house, Severus found cabbage, crackers, and some tea. He made himself dinner and decided to read some of his books. As he was reading, an awful thought descended upon him like a ton of bricks.
“I can’t pay for new school books,” he thought glumly to himself. “I can’t buy new potion ingredients, I can’t…I can’t go back to school.” Suddenly he felt very stupid for writing to Dumbledore. Even if he did send food or something, never would it be enough for new books.
Severus tried to push the thought out of his head. He submerged himself in the practice of non-verbal spells, which was beyond the ordinary wizarding level. There was nothing good about the prospect of not returning to school. He’d have to live as a muggle, maybe even break his wand in half, just because he couldn’t pay. No, that was a stupid thought, surely they didn’t punish you for being poor, there must be something that could be done.
Severus thought about the prospect of living as a muggle for more than an hour before he heard a tap on the glass of his dirty, foggy windows. He turned his head to see a man standing there, letter in hand. Severus got up off the sofa and walked cautiously to the door.
“Sir? Can I help you?” Severus asked quietly, staring at the man. He was tall with broad shoulders and sandy hair. He had on a navy blue uniform, and Severus recognized him as a muggle postman.
“Blimey, your house was hard to find! Don’t know that I’ve ever delivered post here before, but this is for Ms. Eileen Snape?”
“I’m her son, I’ll take it,” Severus said, taking the letter. “Thank you.” He turned and walked back into the house, intrigued as to why a muggle was sending his mother a letter. He sat back down next to his school books and quickly opened the letter. It was addressed to his mother in very neat calligraphy.
Dear Mrs. Snape,
We are terribly sorry to hear of the loss of your husband. At your request we searched through our records and found that your husband did not have a will, therefore the money in his account is legally yours. We have enclosed the necessary paperwork for the account to be switched into your name, and also your son’s at your request. Thank you for your inquiry.
It was from some bank Trustee in London. Severus’s heart leapt. His mother and father had finally done something of use! Now he would have no trouble going back to Hogwarts, all he would have to do is fill out this paperwork and he’d be dandy. He thought of the letter he’d sent to Dumbledore, and appropriately instantly wondered whether or not he had a hand in this. As soon as he had thought of it, he saw a great tawny owl at his window. He opened the window to let the owl in, and he read the attached letter.
Thank you for your letter, and your trust in me. Do not worry that you are not going to be able to come back to Hogwarts, because I assure that you will be accepted. As I understand it, you will be coming into some money shortly, so do not worry. I fully expect you to have a wonderful holiday, please enjoy yourself!
Severus couldn’t help but notice how fast he had gotten a response and wondered where exactly Dumbledore was. At this point, he didn’t care. He was going back to school!
The summer months passed in a blur. Severus filled out the paper work, forged his mother’s signature, and found that he had enough money to return to Hogwarts at least until he graduated. There wouldn’t be much left after that, but Severus didn’t care. By that time he’d be able to go off and make his own money somehow. There hadn’t been one word from his mother or his grandfather the whole summer. It worried Severus very much, but since he didn’t know where his grandfather lived, there wasn’t much he could do. Severus spent his days in the forest, studying under trees, cutting firewood and trying to patch the rotting sides of his little shack.
It rained a great deal, but every once in a while there was a brilliant sunset through the trees. Radiant oranges, reds, and pinks painted the sky with hope of a new tomorrow. At night he’d lie outside and watch the stars twinkle. Severus would give anything to be outside at Hogwarts now, but of course it was silly thought. Students were not allowed to stay during the summer holiday, but oh how he wished he could. There was nothing more perfect, nothing better than being at Hogwarts. The only time he wished he were anywhere else was when Potter and Black bothered him. Other than that, it was the perfect place to be.
Before he knew it, Severus found himself back in Diagon Alley, pockets stuffed with muggle money to be converted to gold galleons, silver sickles and bronze knuts at Gringott’s. He knew better than to waste his money on silly trinkets and went straight to Flourish and Blott’s with his book list. He purchased everything on his book list, and then decided to go exploring.
The last few times he had been here it had been with his mother, and now that he was by himself he decided it was definitely the time to check out Knockturn Alley. He strolled through the bustling crowds of Diagon Alley and eventually found himself in a dark, dank alley that could only be Knockturn Alley.
Severus gazed into some of the shop windows. Illegal substances were being sold on the streets, cursed objects lined windows and everything looked appealing to Severus. This worried him for only a minute. After all, what kind of wizard lusted after dark objects? This thought quickly disappeared from his thoughts when he saw a book inside a small dirty book shop called 1132 Curses and Hexes For Recreational Use. Without thinking, Severus snatched the book and paid for it. Curiosity got the better of him, and just because he bought a book on curses didn’t mean he would actually use any of them.
“Don’t usually get many of your kind in here,” the old hag behind the counter said, a faint smile playing on her nearly nonexistent lips.
“Yes, well, that’s probably because parents threaten to hex their kids if they even set foot in this alley,” Severus said truthfully, suddenly very uncomfortable.
“Indeed, indeed. Hows about you comin’ behind me counter, I’ll show you some interesting new products that just arrived from Latvia.” Severus started to back away from the counter.
“N-no thank you, ma’am. Good day to you!” He ran as fast as he could from the counter clutching his new purchase, the hags hacking laughter rising behind him.
Back in Diagon Alley, he found himself staring longingly at new robes, but it was silly to pine away for them. He looked down at his own wardrobe- gray, patched trousers and a dull white collared long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. His sneakers were worn and there were holes in his socks. His long black hair was tied back at the nape of his neck. He wore this style due to the heat only. One thing different about Severus, however, was the color of his skin; the hue was normally milky and sallow, but for the first time in his life, he’d been out in the sun all summer long. He did what he could to fix up his run-down shack of a home, oftentimes stripping his shirt because of intense heat. Because of this his skin had roasted to a golden brown. This gave his eyes a much lighter appearance and made him look like a much different person. If it hadn’t been for the deep lines etched in his face or his near constant frown, one might consider him to be a handsome man. Severus shook himself out of his reverie and continued with his trip. He returned home shortly, ready for a new year.
The worst time of the day for Severus was the night. He often entertained himself by zapping flies in his room with his wand. Since he didn’t actually say any words or do anything other than point his wand, the Ministry of Magic had not sent an owl to complain about violations of underage magical use. He was very lonely, and though he kept himself busy during the day, at night he just laid there, basking in his problems and difficulties. The only thing that could cure this horrible depression was Hogwarts, and luckily for Severus his date with the Hogwart’s Express came quickly.
When classes resumed in September, all the fifth year students were greeted by very stern teachers with the message of learning and success. Ordinary Wizarding Level tests, or O.W.L.s would be upon them at the end of the year, and the professors’ could not talk enough about their importance. Later in the year they would all have career counseling, and they were all warned to be very studious and serious about their learning. This was all old hash for Severus because he had already been aware of the importance of O.W.L.s. He was going to make something of himself and prove his family wrong. The career that Severus found most interesting would be something that would use his knowledge of the Dark Arts. An auror would be an interesting career, but he wasn’t exactly sure that his talents would be most used there. A career in the academic field might be right up his alley. Perhaps he could be an author and roam around the world researching. That would be exciting. Maybe he could be a healer; his knowledge of potions was unmatched in his year, but this career track didn’t sound right to him either.
His first meeting with Potter, Black, Pettigrew, and Lupin didn’t go so smoothly, either. They made fun of his tattered robes and locked him in a broom closet in the fourth floor corridor. He had to wait for the caretaker to find him, and then he was accused of mischief and given a detention. Still, this was mild compared to what the four, particularly Black and Potter, were capable of, and Severus was still trying to find a way to fight back. He spent some time over the summer trying to create spells, although he couldn’t really try any of them out to see what they did. One of them was Levicorpus, and the idea was that the person hit with the spell would rise into the air and under the control of the caster. He couldn’t wait to test the accuracy of the spell, but he had to wait for the right moment.
For the most part, his school work and daily life went uninterrupted. He spent hours alone in the Slytherin common room studying and making notes in the margins of his books. It was a bad habit that he had and made the sell back prices of his books less, but there were some books that were worth marking in. His friend Malfoy had graduated along with Crabbe and Goyle, and now all that was left of his group were the seventh years Narcissa Black and Rodolphus Lestrange, the sixth years Bellatrix Black and Harmit Shane, and the fourth year Regulus Black. He found himself annoyed by Bellatrix and her antics. She was perhaps the most evil of the group, only behind Malfoy himself.
Narcissa was quieter than her younger sister, and if it was possible she had grown even more beautiful over the summer. Severus felt freer to look at the blonde beauty since her boyfriend was graduated. Some say that he went straight into service for the Dark Lord, but that was just a rumor milling around the Slytherin common room. Severus very rarely interacted with anyone, and when he did he appeared annoyed at the interruption.
The only other place Severus spent more time than the common room was the library. Much to his despair, he found that his four arch enemies kept longer hours in the library now than they did last year. Every time Severus looked up he saw the four crouched around a book, or taking books out of the library to wherever they so chose to create more disarray. Severus was highly critical of this as it was well known that Potter and Black did not study. He had heard them muttering things like “Marauder’s” and calling each other stupid nick names like “Prongs” and “Wormtail.”
Whatever they were up to, it wasn’t good, and if Severus didn’t care so much about his studies, he’d spend more time tailing them. As it was, he had to devote every waking hour to memorizing every little fact out of every book he could.
There was, however, one thing besides these new “Marauders” and his studies that was catching his eye. Suddenly, out of no where, girls began to materialize in front of him. Not that they hadn’t been there before, but suddenly they were everywhere. Not just Narcissa Black, because she was out of his league, but all girls, from every house. He noticed what they were doing, what they were wearing, what they were saying.
Sometimes when he saw them he got a funny feeling inside his chest that he’d never felt before. He got that feeling when he looked at a few girls, but most notably was Elise Aguirre, a fifth year Gryffindor and Lily Evans’ best friend. They were often in the library together studying. Elise had long curly hair that fell a third the way down her back and often carelessly into her dark brown eyes. She was tall with olive skin, and Severus guessed that she was of Greek or Spanish descent. Her lips were somewhat thin, and her nose was just a little too big, but her unique appearance made her beautiful.
Severus watched her smile when Lily told a joke and he couldn’t help but wonder why he’d never noticed her before. He never really saw boys lusting after her like they did Lily, and Severus could not figure out why this was- this girl was prettier than Lily could ever dream of being, in his opinion. He chalked up her lack of attention to a full figure. The girl was very curvy for a fifteen year old. Her hips were a few sizes bigger than Lily’s, but her waist was still smaller than her hips. All in all, she was well proportioned, just bigger than most boys might like.
Severus realized he was staring at her more often than not on one particular October day while he was trying to concentrate on the theory behind transfiguring a rose into a canary; unfortunately, her voice kept distracting his thoughts.
“-and I just can’t remember the composition of the sleeping draught! For some reason every time I try-“
“-utmost concentration is essential to this transfiguration because the change between petals and feathers is particularly difficult. In order to-“
“Yeah, I know! Professor Upren is being unreasonable! Two essays due the same day? Does he think Defense Against the Dark Arts is the only class we have? Seriously!”
“-utmost concentration is essential to this transfiguration because the change between petals and feathers is particularly difficult. In order to-“
“-O.W.L.’s coming later this year, I don’t know what- Lily, I think………………..is staring at me! Look over there!” Severus quickly lowered his head to his book. Had she meant him? Had she seen him? He collected his things and attempted to walk smoothly out of the room.
When he got back to the common room, he let out the breath he’d been holding. Elise had helped him in Charms once. He had been having a particular difficulty with a happiness charm, and she’d so graciously given her time to help him. Since he wasn’t exactly the world’s happiest person, being able to perform a charm to extend happiness- a bit different than cheering charms, which was equally as difficult for Severus- was not easy. Severus sank down in a green easy chair and tried to study but found himself increasingly annoyed. Why were these feelings suddenly affecting him? He hated himself for feeling this way; it was completely out of character for him to suddenly pine for a girl- and a Gryffindor at that! He could only dream what his friends would say. Bellatrix would probably kill him where he sat. Yet even in his treacherous disgust he could see Elise’s face shining through. Her school robes clung to her in all the right places, and that hair, dark and curly...Severus shook his head roughly. She was a Gryffindor, in the worst way! God she was gorgeous today.
“Snape! What the hell are you doing?!”
“Right, well…..we’ve got new information. Come on.” Severus got up, knowing fully well what was next. New information always meant that someone else had died.