So, Becca invited me over for dinner tonight, right? Not too out of character, as I'm getting to know my nephews and neices rather well, which is very nice. But, she said she had someone coming in for the wedding, and kind of quickly invited me and Tace over around seven. By itself, a little nerve-wrecking, but then, it's in-laws. Most of which are supposed to have me as dead. So...
:: Flashback ::
I remind Tacey of this (she gave me a reassuring kiss -- a nice and long one, I might add, which did very much reassure me (read: made me forget why I was complaining) because she's a very good kisser, which is probably her way of saying, "Yeah, I know, sweetie. But you'll do fine!" because she knows I'm worrywarting) as we're at the door, and then I knock, a bit nervous about who it might be, and a little excited at seeing someone I haven't seen in years that will be so excited about my engagement, they might forget what a miserable bastard I've been for the last god-knows-how-long?, way too many years. Shy opened the door and let me in -- I think, looking back, that he looked tense, but I kind of pushed Tace in in front of me, probably reassuring her that everything was going to be okay, and then next I see Becca. I recognised her expression as apologetic and "Please don't kill me." Not out of character, seeing as it's family and could have been a cheek-pinching aunt or something. Next is this golden haired angel of a woman who I've never seen before, who quite quickly comes to greet us. Tacey, being in front of me, holds out a hand, but she waves it away and envelopes her in a hug, which Tace reluctantly accepts with a nervous laugh. A girl comes behind her, and she's introduced as Tabitha. I introduce myself as Severus, and Tacey as, well, my fiance Tacey -- insert big grin here, and we both kind of blush -- and Becca seems to be waiting for something.
And that's when I spot him. He had been hovering by the kitchen, but now reluctantly came forward. I inherited my father's height and hooked nose -- I couldn't miss him. His eyes weren't black and beady like mine, but a hazel the colour of rum or scotch. His glare was dark and vengeful, though, and after catching my breath in my throat, I echoed the same.
The nerve of him. I knew it was Becca's idea, for sure, but still. That he actually came into this house with my sister's children - yes, that was honestly my first thought - was appalling. I looked back at Tacey, who was now talking with the woman -- Marigold, she added -- and introducing my father.
"Yes, and this is my husband, Tobias Snape."
"Yes, this is my father," Becca added, smiling politely for Meredith and Tacey, but when her eyes locked with mine, I think I saw her jump. I tapped into her head for a moment - honestly wanting to know why she would do this? - and I got a flash of my father, with Ellie. My father, at Ellie's funeral. My father, at Reggie's funeral. My father, holding twins. And another child. And another child. And another child... Births, the occasional birthday or Christmas, even his own wedding, and the birth of another child -- this one with her holding it with awe and him explaining, and then, the girl before me. The horror that flooded through me was mixed with revulsion at the repeated visage, as guilt stabbed me in the gut, twisting inside me, so as I didn't forget it. That was supposed to be me. But those eyes were not black. They were amber. I turned back to my father, and he was decidedly ignoring me, shaking hands with Tacey, smiling lightly towards her, a kind fondness in his eyes. That was the final straw. If I was stunned before, I was furious now.
"Tacey," I warned. She stopped, surprised, and looked back at me. I saw her, too, gasp -- apparently my fury was evident. I held out my hand to her and she reluctantly took it. I held it to my lips, letting the scent of her calm my fury -- god, I could have killed someone if I wanted to, right then. And I did. And, being dead, I would have gotten away with it, too. Mind, her or Becca would've been blamed...
I recall moving myself in between Tacey and my father, not wanting him anywhere near her, for the love of all that was sacred. To his wife - what business that man had touching another woman... - I turned with forced kindness. Was she as foolish as my mother? Wooed by his musical talent, height and tall voice (as I'm sure Tacey had been by me, as far as I could tell -- they were redeeming features) so much as to ignore his violent, drunken rages? I could only have so much respect for a woman like that. Becca had been trapped, but my mother... I'd promised her I would help her, and I would've done anything in my power to help her get away from him, but she hadn't listened... I fought the frustration down as I bowed lightly to my... half sister? He had no right to procreate! She was pretty, like her mother -- maybe one day she would be able to outive the curse of her patriarchy. I could only wish such for the poor girl.
:: End Flashback ::
Yeah, I was right about it being Dad. I really hate being right. It kills me, it really does. I mean, seriously. It's painful.
:: Flashback ::
I could hardly breathe throughout dinner. It was the least I could do to listen to the dulcet tones of my beloved darling -- who, though very unnerved, performed spectacularly amongst her new in-laws, much better than myself. Becca mediated a bit, keeping the conversation moving, and keeping food on all the plates -- both my father and I avoided looking at each other, though I kept an eye on the bastard through reflections on the silverware and serving utensils -- old brass things that I'm sure Becca rarely used normally. The eldest twins came in occasionally for family matters -- Becca had them eating/entertained in another room, having gotten over the excitement of company, I suppose, and whatever else Becca had to do to keep her children from encountering a murderous Snape -- Tobias or Severus -- but for the most part, it was just us. I was scarcely paying attention to the conversation, until it turned to something that might actually prove important to listen to:
"You have such wonderful children, Becca," Marigold was saying. "You and your husband must be very proud of them."
"Don't know us," Mara replied, taking a plate back into the kitchen. Marigold turned to Becca.
"Simon Peter...isn't around much," she explained. "I mean, he wasn't around much before, but..."
Tabitha looked at Andrew. "Why couldn't your daddy be here, anyway?" The girl liked to sprout out wih questions that I personally thought were getting increasingly annoying -- such as when Tacey had gushed abou the spa adventure with Becca, and Tabitha had asked why they would get into a mud bath. But, this one was a fair enough question.
Becca answered for her children: "He's in A--in prison just now."
My father set his glass down so hard he made the table rattle. We all looked at him in surprise - yes, even I looked at him - and the anger on his face was rather familiar as he pushed away from the table and stormed out of the room.
"Good riddance," I heard myself muttering before thinking, and as soon as I realised I'd said it aloud, I sheepishly looked to Tacey, who was horrified. I glared at my food again, not wanting to see her look at me that way -- but it haunted my mind. It wasn't fair, that that bastard had to come into my life and ruin things when they were going so well...
Tacey leaned toward me, and looked very angry. "Sev, what is the matter with you?" she hissed. "What on Earth has got you two so mad at each other that neither of you will eat, let alone look at each other?"
I looked to her -- I couldn't stay mad when I looked at that pretty face. And the way it was contorted in frustration was actually quite cute -- and then at my father's plate, which appeared to be in a similarly mushed up state as mine.
"Is everything okay, Mama?" Sol asked, helping his mother back into her seat.
"She gave a weak smile. "Fine. Tabitha asked where Simon Peter was, is all."
"I can see where you get your miserable personality from."
"Caroline Elizabeth!" It took Becca's scolding for me to realise the comment was made towards me, and I snapped towards my niece, whose eyes were in tears. I was a bit shocked by the strange outburst, but I think I heard Tacey hiding a laugh and turned to her, too, but she was decidedly not looking at me.
Carrie excused herself, as Sol tried to comfort Becca.
"It's not your fault, Mama. I think she's just a little... confused."
Becca sighed and looked down at her dessert -- I looked at mine, and found it to be a monstrously huge slice of god-knew-what. "No, it is my fault. I should have known something like this would happen." She looked up at Marigold. "I guess when I said that Dad and Sev ddin't get along, it was something of an understatement."
"I guess so," Marigold agreed.
Tacey, my dear Tacey, tried to smile, although I felt a jab of her fork which made me curl up into myself again. For some reason sticking my tongue out at her seemed like a real bad idea at the time.
"So, Marigold... How did you and Tobias meet, anyway?"
Marigold smiled. "Now that's a story..."
:: Flashback Ends ::
As I suspected, she met him as a drunk. Which means she knows how bad he can get, and she's still foolish enough to be with him. A bit like Tacey, in that respect. Who in their right mind dates a Death Eater, I still haven't figured out. Anyway, so she was a singer at a bar, and they happened to be there at the same time -- him drinking, no surprise -- and they started talking. If anything, it's because music is what made him start drinking, and it's probably about the only thing that would pull him out of it. Apparently, his glorious stories of his days as a composer, musician, songwriter, living muse, whatever, wooed him -- like I said. That damned voice. I've been told it's "lusty" and "like velvet", but either way, apparently chicks dig it, just not always enough to... over look things like a Dark Mark. But apparently, it is that good. Or good enough to cover the scent of alcohol on my father's breath.
:: Flashback ::
I don't know why, but I just couldn't seem to hold my tongue. "Still drinking, then?" I interrupted. I hadn't really told Tacey much about my father -- I kind of avoided him as a topic of conversation, so she was a bit shocked at that question, but Becca seemed to have the decency to be embarassed about it.
"No. He quit three years ago," she answered. "Tabitha was taking violin lessons through the school--we hadn't really said anything to Tobias, he could handle the jazz music I was singing in the bar, but classical music sent him over the edge--and she was using one of the school violins. She had a concert about mid-way through October and he came, which surprised both of us, and he just sat there and listened and didn't say anything, so we didn't say anything either. But on Christmas morning, he gave Tabitha a violin he had picked out himself, and he told us he'd been going to Alcoholic's Anonymous since the concert and hadn't had a drink in ten weeks. He still goes every week, and he'll be three years sober this October 15."
AA. I kind of knew what that was like -- me and Karkaroff had had a few of our own pirvate DEA meetings, if you can call them that. And alcoholism isn't something you just quit -- it's an ongoing problem. Just like my ruddy Dark Mark. If some miserable Death Eater decided to set it off one day, it would, and it would hurt like hell, and I would be summoned there, which is infuriating to ponder about by itself.
Although... Lily had been my anti-drug, as it were. My father's was always his music...
"Has he... by chance written either of you a lullaby?"
Marigold gave me a strange look. "Now that you mention it...he has been writing a lullaby, but it's not for either one of us. He's calling it 'Ellie's Lullaby'."
I am sure my face fell. Ellie Snape... and Ellie Black. Two souls I had lost. There was a commemoration in the works for them both, and the writer of that commemoration was now outside, hating my guts as much as I hated his.
In a way, we both blamed each other, and ourselves. I blamed him for my mother's death, and he blamed me for Ellie. But he'd tried to be there at the last moment for Becca... which was more than I had done...
"Was that your mother's name?" Marigold asked softly
"And our sister's," Shy replied.
:: Flashback Ends::
Apparently, my father has gone sober, and is writing music again. Tacey and I managed through the night, eventually coming to a nervous, polite acquaintance with Marigold and her -- as I told Tacey later -- incessantly nosy child, but my father didn't return, so we went home, lest he be forced on the street all night. In a way, I shiver at the thought of him so close to me after all these years, and yet, I'm releived that, maybe, time can heal some of our wounds. Even if I have to moderate through Tacey and his wife, I think I could survive my father in town for my wedding. At least, I hope so.
~For Always, Most Sincerely Yours,
Severus Snape, the Half-Blood Prince