Where: The Snape Mansion
When: Two years before Severus, aged nine years, began Hogwarts.
The setting sun filtered in through the tall windows lining the walls of Severus’ room, casting a bright glare over the expanse of paper laid out upon the floor he was busily sketching upon. Groaning, he paused in his work and rose from the ground, hurriedly running from window to window, throwing closed each rich purple curtain. The boy scurried back to his current project, eagerly picking up a pencil in both his left and right hands, the ends of the paper fastened under his knees. In swift, short strokes, Severus’ hands worked across the page, producing an image far surpassing what would be expected of a nine year old. Nose nearly touching the page, he drew, with frightening precision, the picture of an angel, from the ruffles in the pale fabric she wore, to the nearly invisible wrinkles at the corners of her eyes, and the single feather out of place on her right wing.
Finally completing his work, Severus glanced over it for a moment, a small, sad smile curling the corners of his lips. He tossed the pencils aside, and watched as the angel sprang to life before his wide, cobalt eyes. The reedy boy scrambled to his feet, snatching the picture up with one hand as he fled from his room, racing through the vast corridors of his home. Panting heavily as he climbed one final staircase, Severus came to a stop in front of a large, looming ebony door. Barely able to contain himself, the boy knocked at the door, fidgeting and shifting from his right to left foot before hearing a terse, “Enter,” coming from behind the entrance. Without hesitation, Severus turned the knob and pushed open the heavy door with all his weight.
His fidgety movements ceased immediately upon his entrance into the dimly lit bedchambers. Straightening himself up, he walked inside, combing back a few stray hairs from his face, and approached a desk in the far corner.
“Father,” Severus said in a quiet, yet excited tone, “Look. Look what I’ve made.”
“I’ve much more important things to do. Leave me be,” was the only reply the boy received.
He persisted, however, anticipating how proud his father would be at viewing the great work he produced.“But look what I’ve drawn,” he repeated, this time handing the picture to his father.
The older man snatched it up, glancing it over as he continued, “I thought I already informed you that this little habit of yours is a utter waste o—“ He was cut off in mid-sentence, all words and breath and rational thought escaping him as he saw the vivid, and frighteningly accurate face of the woman on the page.
Severus, misconstruing the man’s shock for admiration, said, “It’s Mother.”
Without another word, Severus’ father rose abruptly from his seat, knocking it over, and picked up his son by his neatly pressed and buttoned collar. Lifting him clear off the ground, he stalked over to the door and threw him back into the corridor, angrily tearing at the picture after he had done so.
“Is it impossible for you to find something productive with which to occupy your time? Must you waste it with stupid follies like every other stupid child? Here,” he proceeded into his room, randomly grabbing a large, dusty tome from his bookcase, and flung it at the boy, “Learn something respectable.” With these words, Severus’ father angrily shut the door behind him, causing the floor to shake with its reverberations.
The book landed heavily upon Severus’ stomach, leaving him gasping for air, his face pallid and terrified. After a few moments, he leaned back against the balustrade behind him, eyelashes catching the tears now welling up in his eyes. As the fat, salty droplets traced glistening trails down his cheeks, Severus finally looked down. Laying in his lap was a dark green, leather-bound volume with silver printed letters shining upon its cover, reading simply, The Art of Potions.