Several days more passed and in the afternoon the flames in the Potters’ fireplace colored green, announcing the imminent arrival of the guests. Severus lifted himself off the floor and caught little master Lupin – who seemed to be in the stage of being fascinated with fire – so that he would not hurt himself nor fall under the guests’ feet.
Snape was shocked when Hermione Granger – Weasley now – turned out to be the visitor. She brushed the ash off and moved aside – which meant someone else would be coming in a moment. So when master Ronald Weasley tumbled out of the fireplace, the slave was not surprised anymore and walked forth to serve the guests.
Master Potter’s brother-in-law first choked on the air and then pointed the wand at him, prompting his wife to lift her eyebrow. Mistress Weasley gave her cloak to Severus – which immediately found itself in its correct place – and her husband was watching with disbelief written all over his face. Severus bowed and froze in a position he learned, waiting for him to give the cloak to him.
‚Ron’ Miss Granger… no longer Granger… nudged him ‚give him your cloak’
Master Weasley complied absentmindedly, and then exploded upon seeing his travel garb in Snape’s hands.
‚What game is it? Who in the bloody hell are you and why are you imitating Snape? You’ll probably bloody want to take points away too, won’t you?’
The slave lifted his eyebrow.
‚You are no longer at Hogwarts, master Weasley’
‚Moment… Hermione, you said that the greasy git is dead! What is he doing in my sister’s house and why is he talking like that guy that they tried to make Mum purchase?’
‚Harry will answer your question the best’ the brand-new mistress Weasley said, tearing herself away from welcoming the child.
‚Harry? Why Harry and not Snape himself? What did you do, git, that you managed to survive?’
The raised voices brought the attention of the Potters, who just entered the drawing room. Severus retreated a bit. He had done what was requested of him, they couldn’t find fault with him.
‚Ron! Hermione! It’s good to see you again!’
Ron snorted. Hermione hid a smile. The man welcomed his sister first and master Potter second by the way of a demonstration. Snape noticed that master Weasley seemed to have matured a bit – he waited with the questions until they left the room and were out of the slave’s eyesight.
‚Harry, who is that guy and what is he doing here?’
‚That’s our slave. I had bought him before I learned that I cannot free him’ master Potter’s voice floated from the other room.
‚A slave? But the slaves are the former Death Eaters – do you want him to kill you in your sleep?’
‚He won’t do that. He was brainwashed. His only goal is to please his owner.’
‚”Brainwashed”? You can wash your brain? I’d like it sometimes…’
‚It doesn’t work this way’ Miss Granger… mistress Weasley… interjected with a laugh. ‚This means he was taught to think in a completely different way… to believe in something completely different than he used to’
‚Well, it’s a pity they didn’t do it to Malfoy, then’
„Malfoy”? What did Lucius do to these people to make them hate him so? Or maybe master Weasley meant the Malfoy heir, Dracon? The Slytherins dislike Gryffindors and vice versa, the slave remembered.
The voices of master Weasley and his sister, mistress Potter, moved away. Only master Potter and Miss Granger remained in the other room. Severus heard the click of the door closing – possibly so that little master Teddy did not interrupt their conversation.
Therefore he was tossing the snitch to the child or was directing the movements of Remy the plushie wolf, but he was not able not to hear the conversation, no matter how much he wished it otherwise. They seemed to have forgotten about him.
‚Hermione… Did you learn something?’
‚Something. If you remember, I was on my honeymoon until recently…’
‚Uhm… err…’ it seemed his owner was embarrassed ‚I know. So what did you learn?’
‚Won’t you ask about the honeymoon?’ the new mistress Weasley joked ‚Well. I’ll tell you just this – I feel sorry for Professor Snape’
‚That bad?’ Potter asked in a worried voice.
‚The Ministry used anything that was not Unforgivable. Along the lines of „the aim sanctifies the methods”. I won’t describe it to you, it was simply torture… Diffindo, the whips, the knives…’ mistress Weasley paused and Snape guessed the memory of Bellatrix Lestrange came back ‚They even managed to master Sectumsempra…’
‚S-Sectumsempra?’ master Potter repeated in a shocked voice.
‚And the healing spells. They didn’t want to kill anyone, of course‚ Miss Granger jeered ‚From what I managed to dig into, it seems they used mostly his own inventions on the P… Professor. I do not know how many times they’d cast Sectumsempra on him… how many times they’d beaten him like his father Tobias used to…’
‚Oh…’ master Potter said quietly.
Severus dropped the ball. He heard a male voice shouting Sectumsempra, and then felt like a thousand knives were piercing his body. He was aware of the fact that he was laying in a pool of his own blood.
They never let him lose consciousness… his wounds were always healed… just for the spell to be cast again. The spell he created himself. Or his father appeared… He shivered.
He was aware that someone else was in the room too. He curled into a ball, like he was expecting to be hit. Tobias was always beating him… where’s Eileen? Mother? Where’s Lily? When she is around he does not dare hit him…
A crack. Blood. So much blood. Stench. His own scream. The smell of alcohol. Pain. Mum… Lily…
‚Severus!’ female voice, full of worry.
‚Mum? Lily?’ he whispered or at least believed he did.
He did not think himself able to emit a sound. He heard fast footsteps and curse words through the veil of pain… He tried to make himself smaller, to disappear. No! He will not endure anything more!
‚What’s happening to him?…’
‚… call for help…’
‚… St. Mungo’s hospital…’
Had he fallen down so deeply? Had he shared the fate of Bellatrix’s victims? The Longbottoms? – such was his last sane thought before the pain, blood and scream engulfed him.