Chapter 1 : Villa Principessa
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Disclaimer: Okay, so everyone knows what I’m going to say…. I don’t own Harry Potter or any of the characters that are remotely recognisable. I’m just a poor impoverished student so if anyone wants to give me Severus Snape as a present for completing my degree I will be eternally grateful! As always please read and review….. constructive criticism is always welcome but flames will be used to burn my now unnecessary textbooks. Oh and this is AU and OOC.
Severus Snape apparated with a brief pop and smiled at the sight that greeted him; rolling fields full of vines lades down with fruits stretched for miles. He turned around to walk into the villa that stood behind him. If any pupils from Hogwarts had seen him they would have been amazed to see him in such surroundings. He walked into the white washed brick building and made his way into the huge, airy flag-stoned kitchen, and stood for several long minutes staring at the figure in front of him. A small but elegant woman stood in front of the huge table baking, her long hair braided down her back as she sang away to herself.
“Grandma?” he called out softly, not wanting to scare her
It was all in vain though as she spun around, throwing flour everywhere “Severus Snape! What on earth do you think you’re doing? I’ve told you before about sneaking up on me. You haven’t changed since you were four years old.” Even as she’d been speaking she’d been steadily advancing on him and as she finished speaking she threw her arms around him, sweeping him into a hug with a strength that belied her small stature. “I’ve missed you child. It’s been too long.”
That was all she managed before she descended into her mother tongue of Italian, pulling Severus fully into the room before she sat him down at the table and bustled around finding him food as she chattered away in Italian.
Severus just smiled, feeling completely at ease for the first time that year. The villa, set in the rolling hills of Italian Tuscany, belonged to his maternal grandparents and had been his favourite place since he was a small child. He started slightly as he felt a hand on his shoulder and craned his neck to see smiling black eyes, so like his own staring back at him.
He was promptly hauled out of his chair for one of the bear hugs that were always associated with his grandfather and Albus Dumbledore.
“You’re too thin child. Do they ever feed you at that castle or do they just work you to death? How long are you staying? Your grandma will be able to feed you up – proper food not that mass produced house elf stuff.”
“I’m here for the whole summer grandpa if you think you can bear to put up with me for that long. I’ve been invited to attend a two week potions conference in Surrey at the end of July but that is the only thing to demand my attention.”
“In that case you’d better get unpacked and out of those bloody robes haven’t you? If you want to we’ve probably got time for a ride around the vineyard before we have whatever your grandma’s cooked up for dinner.”
Severus made his way up to the first floor of the villa and into the huge sunny room that had been his since his mother had first brought him to the villa as a small child. Stripping off the heavy black robes laden with protection spells he wore whilst teaching he walked over and flung open the balcony doors, relishing the fresh air. As much as he loved Hogwarts, teaching there and its surroundings it was in Italy that he felt at home. He quickly shucked off the heavy black clothing he wore at Hogwarts in keeping with his role as the “greasy old bat of the dungeons” and showered before dressing in a light white shirt with riding boots and breeches, securing his hair back in a ponytail with a leather thong. Turning to walk out of the door a mischievous grin spread across his face; in three strides he was across the room and out onto the balcony. He swung a leg over the balcony before climbing swiftly down the creepers that covered that side of the villa and onto the roof.
He walked quickly around to the back of the villa where there was a fully working stable. He smiled as he saw his grandfather already mounted and holding the reins to Severus’ black stallion Thor. The horse had been a present from his grandparents when he was still a foal and the two of them had grown up together. He mounted swiftly and with a soft command the two were off, riding around the estate, the elder gentleman pointing out the changes since Severus had last been there. The two managed to cover the entire estate in an hour and a half before heading back to the villa where Lucrezia was waiting for them, freshly cooked pasta made with olives and tomatoes from their estate along with the wine that the Principessa estates were famous for.
Several hours later when Severus had retired to bed, exhausted from the continental apparition from Scotland to Italy, his grandparents sat outside on the patio and discussed their grandson.
“I’m worried about him Antonio. You’ve seen how exhausted he is – I know Dumbledore cares for him but he’s working him into the ground. He’s so pale and skinny and he barely spoke over dinner. You can’t deny that something’s got to be done.”
“I know Lucrezia but you’ve also got to remember that he has done a cross-continent apparition today as well as the fact that we rode around the whole of the estate this afternoon. That’s going to exhaust anyone, regardless of how much magical power they have.” He leaned the table and grasped his wife’s hand. “Let’s give him a few days to recover from the trip and if nothing’s changed then we’ll talk to him.”
Lucrezia didn’t look completely happy with that decision but finally nodded her agreement “Fine, but if he’s not back to normal in three days then we say something to him.”
Finally happy with what they had decided and, with the night air starting to grow chilly, they made their way inside and up to their room.
The next morning Severus awoke to the bright midday sun, a fact that was astonishing in itself both to him and those who knew him. It was a well known fact amongst the teaching staff at Hogwarts that the Potions Master was always up with the dawn regardless of how many hours of sleep he’d had as well as the quality of his sleep. Over his time as a Death Eater he had trained himself to wake as soon as he heard any movement in his rooms. Since the demise of Voldemort at the hands of an infant Harry Potter he had lost some of his paranoia, and he was less uptight and more relaxed anyway when he was at the Italian villa. Blinking sleepily he pulled the hangings on his bed back fully before swinging his legs out of the bed. Glancing at the clock on the bedside he walked down the corridor and down to the kitchen where he knew his grandmother would be setting out lunch. He silently made his way across the kitchen with the intent of sneaking up on his grandmother. He ruthlessly suppressed the voice that voiced the fact that he was being childish, responding that he was only 23 and therefore completely entitled to be childish. He was so intent on suppressing his little inner voice that he failed to notice that Lucrezia had turned around and noticed him, calling his name several times in an attempt to gain his attention. He let out a surprised yelp as he felt his grandmothers hand on his bare arm and looked down to see her smiling up at him, chocolate brown eyes twinkling in a way that reminded him disturbingly of Albus
“You looked as though you were away with the fairies child”
“No grandma. I think I’m just still half asleep. I don’t understand it though. I haven’t had a sleep that good for a long time”
“Well you obviously needed it and you look as though you need some food, so just sit down whilst I find you something. When was the last time that you had a proper meal?”
“I don’t know. You know what I’m like when I’m brewing, especially when I’m experimenting. I forget everything except the potion.”
“Yes, yes, I know. You take after my father in that respect. Now, sit down and eat your breakfast”
“Breakfast? Grandma it’s practically time for lunch never mind breakfast”
“Yes but you haven’t been eating properly so you’re going to be having breakfast, lunch and dinner until I say so, never mind what time you get up.”
Knowing that there was no arguing with his grandmother Severus sighed good-naturedly and let her fuss over him. Minutes later a huge plate of food was placed in front of him made up of preserves and home-made bread fresh that morning. His nostrils twitched as he caught the scent of the food and he realised that he was ravenous. He had practically inhaled half of the plate before his grandmother sat down at the opposite side of the table, holding two mugs of coffee and with one eyebrow raised inquisitively.
“Are you going to tell me what you’ve been experimenting with? I may not be up to your standard of brewing but I’m fairly sure that I can cope with the theoretical side.”
“I’ve been further experimenting with the Wolfsbane potion.”
“Isn’t that the potion to ease the transformation of werewolves?”
“That is correct. A gentleman named Damocles Belby invented the Wolfsbane potion. It eases the pain of the transformation somewhat and has succeeded in suppressing the wolfish mentality. I believe I have succeeded in completely eradicating the pain of the transformation as well as, rather than suppress the wolfish mentality, my recipe allows the person to retain their human mentality. I need to do a few more tests to be one hundred percent sure and then I need to get it patented. Probably here in Italy rather than in England. I doubt they’d let a Death-Eater patent it.”
He looked down as he felt Lucrezia’s hand close over his forearm in sympathy. “You’re not a Death-Eater sweetie. I know it’s difficult but the important people know you were a spy. Now, what’s this conference you’re attending? You normally avoid anything to do with these conferences.”
“Who’s blackmailing you Sev?” came Antonio’s voice from the doorway, full of humour
“You know perfectly well who’s blackmailing me.” Severus grumbled good-naturedly “It’s Albus and Minerva as usual. It’s only because the people running the conference want me to present a paper on the potion I created to relieve the after-effects of the Cruciatus curse.”
Both Antonio and Lucrezia looked impressed at what their grandson was telling them. So many people had suffered during the war as a result of the Cruciatus curse; one only had to look at the Longbottom’s who had lost their sanity at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange.
“Have you written your paper yet? Do you want any help with it?”
“No thank you. I might want you to check it over once I’ve written the paper Grandma. I had planned on having a couple of days rest before I start writing the paper. I brought all of my potions books and notes with me so it shouldn’t be too problematic. I just hate public speaking, always have done. There is also the stigma attached to being a Death-Eater that always clings to me whilst I’m in the UK. It is never a problem at home here in Italy but in England it’s a different matter.”