By Snapegirl and Alethea27
Disclaimer: All HP characters are the property of JK Rowling, we are only borrowing them to play with.
This is a work of FICTION. People, places, and situations occur only in our imaginations, and any resemblance to people and places, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Warnings: This is an AU story—non-canon compliant, meaning that we pick and choose what we use from the books and the rest is tailored to fit our storyline. Characters may or may not behave as they did in the books, so if you read, don't complain that it's non-canon. It's meant to be different. Think of it as a what-if story. Be aware that there is some bashing of three Marauders, they are Potter, Black, Pettigrew. DON'T LIKE, DON'T READ!
The Girl Next Door
Written by Snapegirl
12 Spinner's End
Somewhere in Northern England:
"Mu-u-um! Lily's doing freaky things again!" eight-year-old Petunia Evans shrieked. Then she shouted at her younger five-year-old sister, "Go away! I don't want to play tea party with you anymore, Lily!"
Lily stared at her older sister, still holding a plastic cup with rosebuds in her small hand. "I'm not freaky, Tuney! I didn't mean to!" Huge tears filled her green eyes and threatened to spill down her cheeks at her sister's nasty words. She had been playing nicely with Petunia pretending to drink her tea, which was really milk with sugar in it, when she had tried to reach for a piece of bread with butter. It had been too far for her to grab and suddenly, she had managed to make the plate with the butter sandwiches move over into her hand.
Lately, she had found herself able to make things move simply by looking at them and wishing really hard. At first she had thought it was neat, but her sister thought it made her an unnatural freak, and kicked up a fuss whenever Lily did something like that. No matter how many times Lily told her she didn't know how she did it, Petunia insisted that she did things on purpose, just to get attention.
"Petunia, don't call your sister a freak!" Hyacinth Evans called up the stairs of their new row house. They had just moved in two days before and Cinthy, as her friends called her, was still trying to unpack a myriad of boxes. Her husband Paul was at work, having received a new position as foreman at the wool mill. "Now quit quarreling and play nicely."
Petunia glared at her smaller sister. "I don't want to play with you, Lily. I'd rather play with nobody, so there!"
"You have to! Mum said!" Lily argued.
Petunia stood up and clenched a fist. "Get out, before I take Belinda and cut off her head!" she threatened. Belinda was Lily's favorite doll, a pretty black-haired jointed doll with a pink and white striped organdy dress and real leather shoes.
"Would too! Because I could pretend we were playing Tower of London and Belinda was a traitor to the throne and had to get her head chopped off!" Petunia said smugly.
"You're mean, Tuney!"
"Why don't you cry about it, Lily-liver!"
"Don't call me that!" shouted Lily.
Petunia chanted the hateful name over and over, getting Lily so upset that she knocked over some of the tea set.
"Mum! Lily knocked over my tea set on purpose and made a mess!" shouted Petunia.
"Mum, Tuney called me Lily-liver!" Lily yelled.
"Girls, if you don't stop this bickering, you'll be sent to your room until your father comes home," Cinthy said exasperatedly. The girls had been bickering all morning and her patience was starting to fray. "Lily, come down here and leave your sister alone for a moment," she called, knowing that the best solution to the bickering was to separate them.
"All right," Lily said, taking Belinda with her. Then she stomped from the room. "Who wants to play dumb old tea party anyway?"
She came downstairs to find her mother kneeling down unpacking a box of kitchen ware in the small foyer.
"But Mu-u-m!" wailed Petunia. "Lily spilled milk on the floor! Why do I have to clean it up? She made the mess!"
"But you're older and know better than to tease her like that, Petunia Charlotte!" Cinthy declared, knowing full well that Petunia was the instigator. She turned to Lily. "Lily, next time walk away before you do something you know is wrong."
Lily hung her head. "I'm sorry, Mum. But Tuney was being awful mean."
"I know, but that doesn't mean you have a free pass to be destructive." Cinthy said firmly. "You can apologize to your sister after lunch. And she can apologize to you as well." She mopped sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand. The summer heat was sweltering, especially in a house without ceiling fans or a window air conditioner unit. "Why don't you go out front and play in the fresh air? I saw some flowers growing on the lawn, you could pick them."
Lily thought about it, then decided she would rather be outside than inside. "I'll be right back." She darted outside, Belinda held securely under her arm.
The front yard was small, but Lily didn't know that. To a five-year-old it seemed plenty big. She ran over to the small ash tree in the yard and began picking the bunch of wild flowers growing there. As she did so, she heard a strange sound, like a yowl.
She turned and saw a large gray and white cat come racing towards her, followed by a boy about her age. He had dark hair and eyes and was wearing a pair of faded denim shorts and a long blue T-shirt. He had on scruffy sneakers. "Greymalkin! C'mere!"
"Oh! A kitty!" Lily squealed. She loved cats, and the gray and white tom looked to be a particularly handsome feline. She knelt down and called softly," Here, kitty!"
To her surprise, the cat looked at her and meowed. She held out her hand, which still had milk stains on it.
Greymalkin sauntered over and sniffed her, then began to lick her fingers. Lily giggled. "Aww! He's sweet!"
The boy stopped and stared. "Wow! Usually Grey doesn't like anybody 'cept family." He knelt and picked up the cat before it could bolt. "He got out when my Mum went to water the flowers."
"I think he smelled the milk on me," Lily admitted, she stroked the ultra soft fur on Greymalkin's head, which was gray about the ears and forehead with a white face and green eyes. "It spilled when I knocked over my sister's tea set."
"He loves milk. That and tuna are his favorites," the boy told her, cradling the cat in his arms. The cat was large, over twelve pounds, and could have easily jumped out of the boy's arms, but instead settled down and began to purr loudly. "You're my new neighbor. What's your name?"
"I'm Lily. Lily Evans."
"Mine's Severus Snape." He scratched behind the cat's ears. Greymalkin went limp in his arms, like a ragdoll, and enthusiastically purred like a rusty carburetor.
"He's a beautiful cat," Lily said, stroking him.
"He's my mum's." Severus informed her. "But he likes to sleep on my bed sometimes."
"Aww, he's purring!" Lily said, smiling and scratching the big cat under the chin. Greymalkin's eyes half-shut and he purred and purred. "I wish I could get a cat, but my dad's allergic." She sighed wistfully. "I love them."
"You can come over and pet Grey anytime you want," Severus offered. "My house is right next to yours, back there." He jerked his thumb back behind him, where a rather worn house stood. It needed a coat of paint and some of the shingles were missing on the roof, but it did have a lovely flower garden and two pretty pink rhododendrons on either side of the stairs.
Just then a tall woman with long ebony hair done up in a French twist wearing blue slacks and a green crocheted short-sleeved top came around the corner of the house, and called, "Sev, did you find him? He's not under the hyacinth bush in the backyard."
"I got him, Mum!" Severus called excitedly, clutching the cat so tight that Greymalkin mewed a protest.
"Oh, thank goodness!" Eileen said, coming up to them and taking the cat from Severus. "Grey, you naughty boy! What do you mean, running off and scaring me half to death? I ought to give you chicken and water instead of tuna tonight!" she scolded, then she hugged the large feline.
Greymalkin just rubbed his head against Eileen's cheek, and didn't look even the least bit remorseful. Eileen just sighed and then she looked over at Lily. "Hello there! Severus, who's your new friend?"
"Her name's Lily. She helped me catch Greymalkin."
"I'm very pleased to meet you, Lily. Thank you very much for helping find my cat. My name is Eileen Snape. You just moved in two days ago, correct?"
"Yes'm." Lily said, a bit shyly. "We moved from Liverpool."
"Well, welcome to the neighborhood. Would you like to come in and have a snack and some tea?"
"Uh . . . I need to ask my mum. I'll be right back." Lily said, then she ran in to tell Cinthy about meeting their neighbors and helping catch a runaway cat.
Cinthy came out to say hello to Eileen and Severus, and Greymalkin as well, before telling Lily that she could visit, but had better remember her company manners.
"I will, Mum." Lily grinned, she had not expected to make a friend so soon. She glanced upstairs and thought about telling Petunia, then decided against it. Tuney had been mean to her, and she didn't think her sister would care about her new friend.
Eileen promised to have Hyacinth over for tea and scones when she wasn't busy unpacking, then she led the way back across the lawn to her house. Once inside, she set Greymalkin down and gave him a small dish of tuna and a bowl of water. The cat was ravenous after his attempt to wander away, and gulped the tuna.
While the cat ate, Severus sat next to Lily and watched as his mother served tea from their battered old china tea set, with the teapot cat which had a cat's face for the spout and a tail for the handle. The china cups were shaped like mice. There was also a plate of blueberry scones and another of pumpkin pasties.
"Mmm!" Lily said, eating a pasty. "This's very good, Mrs. Snape. I never had one before."
"Thank you, dear. I made them myself."
Lily smiled, then wiped her face with a napkin. Little did she know that this would be the first of many visits she would have with her new friend and his family.
That night, at dinner, Severus told his father about the new neighbors next door, and how Lily had helped corral Greymalkin. "Her name's Lily Evans, Dad, and she's really clever and she likes to play detective and thinks your old coin collection is neat."
Tobias had a collection of ancient coins behind a glass case, it had been started by his grandfather, and had been passed down to him from him father. When Severus was old enough, it would belong to him.
"Evans, huh? I wonder if she's my new boss' kid? Must be, since he just moved here." Tobias mused. He was second foreman at the wool mill, and a Union man.
"You have a new boss, Toby?"
"Yup. But Evans doesn't seem so bad. Least he's not a stuck up tosser like my old one, Rossmer. And unlike Rossmer, he knows what he's about. Told me he has two girls."
"He does, Lily told me she has an older sister, Petunia." Severus said. "Only she's a mean rotten bugger."
"Severus, you watch your mouth, young man!" Eileen frowned at him severely. "You know that's not a word I want to hear out of your mouth."
"But Dad says it sometimes."
"Never mind what your father does." Eileen shot her husband a pointed Look. "There, you see, Toby, what you've started."
Tobias winced. "Sorry." Then he turned to his son and said sternly, "Severus, you obey your mum, y'hear? If she says not to repeat something, you listen. Or else you can eat a bar of Ivory for dessert."
"Yessir. Sorry, Mum." Severus said quickly. He knew better than to test either parent when they spoke in that tone.
"You also shouldn't speak so about a girl you've never met," Eileen added.
"Lily was the one who said she was mean and nasty," objected Severus. "And she'd know, 'cause Petunia's her sister. I don't really want to play with her, Mum."
"You may play with whoever you want, Severus, but I'll not have you being rude. Understand?"
"Yes." The boy replied. Then he continued eating his supper of beef stew and bread with butter.
But despite his promise to his mother, Severus never really did warm up to Petunia. The older girl was bossy and scornful, saying she didn't want to play with primary school babies, and making fun of Severus' secondhand clothing. She also poked fun at Lily, often making the younger girl lose her temper or cry with her sharp tongue.
One day Severus had had enough. They were playing in the Evans' yard, Lily and he were pretending to be knights rescuing Belinda from an evil wizard in a tower—Lily loved fairy tales—and Severus loved King Arthur—when Petunia came out and started twitting Lily about staying in the sun too long.
"You ought to be careful, Lily, or else you'll break out in spots all over and look like you've got a contagious disease!" she sneered. "And your hair will become fire engine red and you'll blind Snape when he comes over."
"They're called freckles, Tuney!" Lily cried angrily. She had a few already on her arms and a sprinkling over her nose. "Mum says I have 'em 'cause an angel kissed me and they're not ugly!"
Petunia laughed scornfully. "Of course, she'd say that! She's our mum, she's supposed to say dumb stuff like that, even if it's not true. No mother's gonna admit her daughter's ugly."
"Stop it, Tuney!" shouted her sister, tears glistening in her eyes.
Severus turned and glared at the older girl, who wasn't anything great to look at herself. She had a long face and a thin mouth and her blond hair was lank and dull.
"Why don't you just leave Lily alone?" asked Severus, scowling.
"Why don't you mind your own business, Snape?"
"Why are you always picking on her? She's never done anything to you."
"Yes, she did. She got born." Petunia tossed her head.
Lily burst into tears, even though she had always felt her sister hated her, hearing it from Petunia's own lips hurt terribly.
"You're a . . . a . . .rotten hag!" Severus spat, trying to think of a name to call the selfish girl that wouldn't earn him a mouthwashing or a spanking. "Your hair looks like . . . a haystack and you have a face like a horse."
"Be quiet, Snape! You're only allowed over here because my parents feel sorry for you and want to show Lily that charity begins at home, you little ragpicker!"
Severus clenched a fist. "You take that back!"
"Or else what? You gonna run home to Mummy? Tattletale baby!"
Severus wanted to hit her, to knock her down and put dirt in her hair, but he didn't because she was bigger and also because Tobias had taught him that boys don't hit girls ever, and if he ever caught Severus hitting a girl, Severus would be over his knee so quick his head would be facing backwards. "I'm no baby. Why don't you go play with your own friends, Tuney?" he taunted. "Oh, that's right. You don't have any!"
Now it was Petunia's turn to flush red. "Shut up, Snape!"
"You shut up!" Lily cried, her face all blotchy. "Go find your own friend and leave mine alone!"
Petunia whirled on Lily. "Only you would be friends with a charity boy, Lily. I have better taste than that!" she sniffed, unwilling to admit that she was jealous as hell over the fact that Lily had a new friend and she didn't. She tossed her head in the air and marched back towards the house. She was done with playing with primary school babies. She could make friends at school, she didn't need her freaky sister and that grungy Snape boy.
"Th-thanks, Sev," Lily sniffled. She came over and hugged him.
He was startled at first, but then he hugged her back. "It's all right, Lil."
"Sometimes . . . sometimes I wish I had another sister."
"I would too," he admitted softly. "Hey, maybe she's a changeling, and that's why she's so nasty all the time."
Lily gave him a watery smile. "Maybe." Then they went back to their game.
Later on that night, when Tobias was tucking him in, Severus asked him, "Dad, if Petunia says mean nasty things to Lily, am I allowed to tell her off?"
Tobias was quiet for a long time before he replied. After pondering for awhile, he answered, "Well, Sev, that would depend. Normally I'd say to stay out of quarrels between family members and let them settle it. But at the same time you ought to stick up for your friends and help them, because that's what a true friend does. What's Petunia done to Lily?"
Severus told him. " . . . and sometimes she makes Lily cry 'cause she's so mean."
Tobias frowned and ran a hand through his light brown hair. "Hmm. Seems to me that Miss Petunia's green with envy that her little sister has a good friend and she doesn't."
Severus' wrinkled his brow. "Huh? She's not green, Dad."
His father chuckled. His son was very smart for his age, too smart, and because of that Tobias sometimes forgot he wasn't speaking to an adult. "I know. It's an expression, Sev. It means that she's so filled up with jealousy that she can't think straight. Seems to me that she needs a good talking to, as a reminder that she ought to be kinder to her baby sister. A big sister is supposed to protect her little sister, not make her feel like trash."
Severus nodded. "If I ever had a sister or a brother and I did that to them, you'd spank me good."
"I certainly would," agreed his father. "Probably just what the little snip needs. Good thing she's not my kid." He ruffled Severus' hair playfully.
"You mean, you'd rather have me instead?"
His father arched an eyebrow. "Sev, I'd take you any day of the week over any other kid, don't you know that? Nobody could ever replace you."
"Not ever? Not even a new baby?"
"Never. You're my best boy." Tobias said simply, love shining in his eyes. "You're a good kid. Keep on defending your friend. Just don't ever lift a hand to Petunia, even if she's being a bossy little twit. Or else—"
"I know. I know. You'll take me over your knee and wallop me with Mum's cauldron stirrer." Severus recited. "Because boys don't hit girls even when they deserve it."
"Right you are! Never forget that, Severus. And never throw the first punch if you can help it, and always try to find a peaceful solution before you get in a fight. But if you have to fight, give 'em hell. All right, that's enough talking. You need your sleep."
Severus yawned. "Night, Dad."
Tobias kissed him on the forehead. "Sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite." Then he turned to go, relieved that his inquisitive child was too tired to ask any more questions that night.
Until a small voice said, "Dad . . . what's a bedbug?"
May passed into June and June into the dog days of July. During that time, Severus and Lily's friendship grew, until the two were almost inseparable. They went back and forth from each other's houses, and just like their children, Eileen and Hyacinth became good friends as well. Petunia finally met a girl named Agatha Jones down at the playpark and soon was content to leave Lily and Severus alone, for the most part.
The owners of the mill began to rebuild the wool mill, trying to bring the old building up to code, so they didn't get fined, and that was when it happened.
It started out as an ordinary Friday for Tobias and his family. He kissed his wife goodbye and his small son and prepared to drive off to work. The mill was close, only about two kilometers away. Severus hugged his father and said eagerly, "Dad, I'm making a picture for you. Want to see it?"
"Is it finished?"
"Save it till I come home, Sev. That way I'll be surprised and have something to look forward to." Tobias told him, kneeling down to hug him.
"Sure, Dad. I think you'll really like it."
"I'm sure I will. Well, I'm off. Behave for your mum now. I'll see you this evening."
Severus waved through the window as Tobias got in the car and pulled out of the driveway. He enjoyed sketching, a hobby which both Eileen and Tobias encouraged, and he quickly scampered off to get his drawing pad and pencils. This would be his best picture yet. He began to draw . . . it was a family portrait, including Greymalkin.
No one knew exactly how the accident occurred. It was one of those chance freak happenings, to which could only be described as an act of God or bad luck. There was some scaffolding on the side of the mill, for the construction crews had begun fixing the roof on the west side. Somehow it tore loose on top and no one realized it until a brisk breeze came up and caused it to rattle. But no one was outside to hear it.
Tobias went out for lunch late that day, as he was overseeing a new project, and as was his wont, he sat on the bench on the grass near the west side and began to eat his roast pork sandwich with mayonnaise and pickles. He had just finished it and a bottle of spring water when a heavy wind gust came out of nowhere. It blew his favorite cap off his head.
Tobias went to retrieve it, it had blown beneath the scaffolding.
He knelt to get it.
The wind slammed into the building.
The scaffolding rattled.
A large block of concrete close to the edge fell off just as Tobias was crawling out from beneath the steel girders.
He never saw it coming.
It rained the day of the funeral. Severus stood holding Eileen's hand as the rain fell in silvery sheets from the sky, though he was dry beneath the big black umbrella. He still could not believe his father was gone. He had finished the drawing and couldn't wait for Tobias to come home to admire it. Until his mother had took him aside and held him on her lap and told him that his dad would never be coming home again.
"But why, Mum? Did he leave us, like Preston Carter's dad?" Severus asked, referring to a boy three houses down whose father had left one day and never came back.
"No, Sevvy. Not like that. Your dad . . . he's left us . . . to go to heaven . . . with the angels now." Then she burst into tears.
All Severus could think was Why? Why have the angels taken away my dad? Didn't they know I needed him?
Two days later he still couldn't quite wrap his mind about it. There weren't many people at the funeral, just a few close friends and co-workers, the Evanses, and Eileen's parents, Lord Marius and Lady Vesper, whom Severus usually only saw on holidays. Everyone kept saying how sorry they were, but it wasn't till he saw the coffin being lowered into the ground that it finally hit him.
His father would never come home again.
He would never tuck him in, never tell him another story, never get to see Severus' picture that he had drawn just for his dad.
It was all finished.
Only then did he turn and bury his head in Eileen's dark coat and cry.
Because Tobias' pension wasn't enough to live on, Eileen had to find a job so she could pay the bills and put food on the table. That meant Severus was enrolled in the small primary wizarding school next to Diagon Alley, where he could learn how to write with a quill on parchment and start memorizing Latin declensions and the history of the world Eileen had been born into, but had left when she married Tobias, to get away from all the factions and infighting between purebloods versus Muggleborns. Severus had always known that magic existed, but knew he had to keep it a secret, and so he had never told Lily about it. He was happy to start school, until then Eileen had homeschooled him, teaching him the basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic. The only thing wrong was that Lily couldn't be with him.
But he still saw her after school and on the weekends.
Eileen got a position in Scribbulus' Everchanging Inks as a clerk, it was one of the few available that late in the year. It was also one of the few where she could bring Severus along once his school let out and she was still on shift. The proprietor Goldy Scrivener, thought her son was adorable and pitied the poor boy because he had no father. She also liked the fact that Severus enjoyed sketching, and made sure to provide him with many colored inks and the leftover scraps of parchment to draw on.
Everything was going along as well as could be expected, and in October, Eileen decided to begin some Christmas shopping. It would be her first holiday without her husband, but she was determined to overcome it and make it as happy as possible for her son. Goldy allowed her to get off an hour early so she could shop a bit. She took Severus' hand and they went across the street to the cauldron shop, Eileen wanted to buy Severus his first potions kit and child's cauldron, and was going to let him pick out the one he liked best and put it down on his list for Father Christmas.
They were just coming out of the shop and were about to head over to one of the cafes to have some supper when they heard the sound of a scream and laughter coming from an alley two shops over. They could see flashes of hexes being cast and more cries of pain and jeering. It was getting on to dusk and there weren't many people about, since the shops were about to close.
Then a smallish boy about thirteen came rushing over to them, his robes were torn and his arm hung limply on his right side. "Help! These masked blokes in gray robes are attacking my mum and dad and little sister. I tried to stop them, but . . . I can't! Can somebody call the police? Please!" There was terror and panic written all over his face.
"Are you a Muggleborn, child?" asked Eileen softly, gripping him gently by the shoulder.
"Yes. They said . . . said that I was a . . . Mudblood and polluting their air and then they pulled out wands and attacked us!"
Eileen quickly drew out her wand and sent out her Patronus, a beautiful raven, to summon the Aurors. But she didn't think they would make it in time to help the poor Muggles. There had been many dark rumors floating about of late, rumors of a new dark wizard on the rise and his followers, ruthless purebloods who wanted to cleanse the wizarding world of all Mudbloods and blood traitors. Eileen suspected these were some of his supporters.
A loud shriek came from the alley.
"Stay here, Severus. You too, boy." Eileen ordered. She drew her wand. In her youth she had been an excellent duelist, but that had been before Severus was born. She turned to hug her son. "Severus, you stay here. Understand? Don't move until I come back. And don't make a sound."
Severus was frightened, but he just nodded. His mum would never leave him unless it was necessary. "Come back soon, Mum. I love you."
"Love you too."
"Jared!" called a female voice.
"Mum! I'm coming!" the boy cried and bolted back towards the alley.
"No! Don't!" Eileen cried and went after him.
A dark figure wearing a hideous silver mask stepped out of the alley then, wand pointed at the boy and Eileen.
A red light shot out of his wand and slammed into the boy, causing him to shriek in pain. He tumbled to the cobblestones and lay still.
"Bastard! Pick on someone your own size!" shouted Eileen.
"Mind your business, witch! Unless you want a taste of what I gave the Mudblood?"
In answer, Eileen shot off a hex at him that caused his knee to cave in.
He fell to the ground, writhing in agony.
Eileen gave a grim smile, then turned to face two more masked ones, who had come to see why their companion had not returned.
She dueled the two of them competently, holding her own, but even so, it wasn't enough, for a third crept around her back and fired off a Killing Curse. A green light shot out and struck her before she could even turn around. She fell to the ground, lifeless.
The three masked wizards laughed, and one kicked her body. "Interfering hag! Should have minded your own business."
Then they were gone, vanishing into thin air.
Severus remained frozen where he was, horror stricken. But at last he made himself move, running to the still form of Eileen Snape and shaking her. "Mum? Mum? Please . . . wake up!" But she was still. "Help! Somebody—help!" he screamed, tears falling down his face.
That was how the Aurors found him a few moments later. Had they arrived ten minutes sooner, they might have prevented a tragedy. As it was, all they found were four dead bodies and one small five-year-old who refused to speak to them.
"Has he spoken at all since . . .?"
"No. I think he's in shock. I've called Wizarding Children's Services. We contacted all the shop owners nearby, one of them identified the witch as Eileen Prince Snape. The kid there's her son . . . witnessed the whole thing . . ."
"Merlin! What a terrible thing to see!"
"Aye! Poor thing . . .hopefully he's got a dad somewhere . . ."
The voices floated above and around him, but he didn't feel like answering them. He was lying on a bed somewhere, in a blue room, and the voices were just outside the door. But he remained still. His mum had told him to be quiet and wait for her and that's what he was doing. Waiting.
Soon some lady in a green coat came in, and asked him his name. He just looked at her. "Please tell me, little one. I promise, no one will hurt you here. I'm a Healer, my name is Brianne Loren. I know your last name's Snape, but can you tell me your first name?"
He shook his head.
"All right. You can tell me later. For now, can you drink this for me? It'll make you feel better." She handed him a vial of a very strong Calming Draft.
Severus had had potions before, so he didn't fuss about taking them. The green lady gave him a sweet afterwards. "Thanks," was all he said, and it was said so softly that Loren almost missed it.
"Oh! You poor thing!" she whispered, stroking his hair. "Don't worry, Child Services said they've called your grandparents. They should be here shortly."
Severus just nodded, still lost in the nightmare.
He didn't even react when his grandmother Vesper came and picked him up, rocking him back and forth, weeping quietly into his hair. "Oh, Severus! Losing your mother and father so close together . . . it's just dreadful! But we'll take you home with us . . . you can stay at Mirrorvale . . . you'll be our heir now . . . we'll raise you like our son . . ."
Severus heard, but didn't respond. He let her carry him out of the room and then they vanished from the hospital and re-appeared in a large foyer in Mirrorvale Manor, which was the Prince ancestral home. Severus had only been there a few times that he could remember. He yawned and laid his head down upon Vesper's shoulder, too tired to cry. His last thought before he tumbled into sleep was of his mother and how much he was going to miss her.
The funeral was held in the wizarding manner, and no one thought to contact the Evans family to let them know what had happened until a day later, when Vesper came to pick up some personal effects from the Snape house, like Tobias' coin collection and Greymalkin, who kept meowing for Eileen. Only then did Cinthy and Paul and the girls learn what had befallen Eileen and Severus.
They were horrified and Lily cried hysterically, for she had loved Eileen like an aunt and she missed Severus something awful. Vesper promised to write and send her a letter with the Prince address.
But in all the confusion and heartache following the funeral, she forgot her promise. Severus was a wreck, the horror of seeing his mother murdered before his eyes throwing him into a deep depression. He barely spoke, and had terrifying nightmares about the masked men, who would later be known as Death Eaters, killing his mother. The only creature who seemed to fill the empty hole in his heart was Greymalkin, who was now his familiar. It was over a year before he was well again, and by then he was trying to adjust to his new life with his grandparents and had forgotten all about the little red-haired girl next door.
Until some six years later, when he went to Hogwarts.