By reddit user /u/Mu-Nition
His home life left a lot to be wanted. Poverty in the sixties in England was no joke, especially in a mill town where alcoholism and beating the family was the norm, rather than the exception. Pre-Thatcher UK was a different place. Working class people did not get to hang around middle class or upper class ones. It was unheard of. And even though his father was worse than most, he still would have grown up fine if he wasn’t different.
Crooked teeth due to malnutrition causing his jaw to be underdeveloped. His nose had been broken by his father so many times that it would never have a semblance of normalcy. His mother didn’t do much. His father didn’t like much of anything. Always hungry, resorting to hand-me-downs not only from his father because they were too scarce, but from his mother as well. He was bullied relentlessly. He learned to steal, lie, cheat and fight very well by then.
He was nine years old. Both his curse and his hope could be summed up in one word: *magic*. And he had found someone he could share it with. Her name was Lily. They couldn’t meet in public, because she was middle class, and the scandal would cause both their parents to force them apart. But that would be fine, because once they went to Hogwarts, they could be seen together in public. And that made everything seem better.
Severus Snape got sorted into Slytherin. He heard good things about it from his mother, when she spoke of a time when she wasn’t so beaten down. Lily was in Gryffindor. His hope that they could be seen together in public vanished in that moment. His hope for acceptance from his peers got destroyed by the first night, when he was beaten for being a *mongrel*, a *half-breed*. His impure blood and his poverty made him a pariah in his own house.
Four Gryffindor students would hunt him down relentlessly. Still, his life on the street prepared him for it. Along with his talent to invent spells, he rarely came out wanting. But the staff were a problem. He was always blamed, because Horace Slughorn, his head of house, was surprisingly cold towards him. Many years later, he understood that being a brilliant half blood from an abusive background scared the old man, parallels to Voldemort running through his head. But as a child, he learned that he needed to make alliances with his loathsome dorm mates.
It wasn’t a choice, not really. He needed protection, and they needed someone to help them with potions and were afraid of his inventiveness with curses. Some of them were actually rather decent. Avery and Rosier didn’t sneer at him anymore. Sure, he had to learn a bit of their ideology so he could understand what they were talking about. He didn’t really agree with it, but they offered him something he didn’t know he wanted - a chance to belong.
He saw that Lily was listening to her friends. They all told her he was evil, disgusting, horrible, *dark*. And what was worse, he saw how she was attracted to James Potter, his main bully. It all came to a head when once again, Potter had humiliated him in front of the entire school. She came in and lashed out against James, but she was holding back a smile. She had found his humiliation funny. He had never felt so hurt, and so angry. So he said the most horrible thing he could think of to her. If she wouldn’t learn to respect him because he was weak, then she would never feel what he would like her to feel.
She never forgave him. She forgave Potter for everything though. The fact that he was a bully, treated her possessively, was arrogant beyond belief, that was forgivable. Because he was rich, handsome, and oh so popular. Severus knew he would never be any of those. But, he could be powerful. He could have a group of allies that would be even more impressive than schoolyard popularity. He may have not believed in what they believed, but he didn’t care.
They offered him everything he wanted. A higher education which he could never afford. Recognition for his brilliance. His own lab, with a couple of assistants. And really, as far as he knew, they weren’t so bad. There were rumors, yes, but they were mostly a group of Slytherins, and everyone hated them and thought they were pure evil anyways. He brushed those aside.
He went to Albus Dumbledore, to try and get the Defense Against Dark Arts position, as that was an acceptable reward from his superiors. He tried to sneak into get an advantage, and while he heard some bullshit “prophecy” from the other side of the door, he was kicked out by the owner of the establishment in short order. He returned and told everyone the story. For some reason, the Big Man took some interest in it.
He returned to his lab, enjoying his work, the high salary, and within a few years, he could finish paying off the huge debts his father ran up. Life was fine, all in all. That is, until he heard that Lily was being targeted. He asked the Big Man to spare her, but Voldemort was unwilling to commit to anything other than saying he would try. So, he went to Dumbledore.
He became a spy. While she wasn’t a friend, Lily had been the only person who had (for at a time) liked him for who he was. She became like everyone, who had just saw in him what he could offer. That meant more than she would ever understand. That was his most important memory - that at one time, someone actually cared.
Teaching was a nightmare. He loved Potions, but the students had no inclination, talent or respect for the subject. He had to be vicious in order to establish ground rules in the classroom. Some people remembered him as a beaten down runt. He had to disabuse them of that notion.
And then she died.
The next few years were a blur. Dumbledore and he knew that Voldemort would return. He learned to relax a bit with his sixth and seventh year students, who had some talent and respect for his subjects, but he could not drop his vicious monster persona. He favored the sons of his “comrades”, and despite his disgust with the fact, didn’t nurture the muggle-borns. He played up his loathing of Gryffindors. All to prepare for Voldemort’s inevitable return.
And then came Harry Potter. No doubt rich and pampered like his parents were. A celebrity for all the wrong reasons - he stole the credit for his mother’s sacrifice. And he looked just like James. When he first looked at the boy, he saw him looking back and wincing. The same instinctive hatred his father felt, no doubt. But he decided to give him one chance. If he had read to first chapter of the book, he’d know the answers. Just like Lily did. Perhaps he was her son even if he didn’t look it except for his eyes. Of course, he didn’t. James and his lazy arrogance all over again.
But those eyes haunted him. Every bad thing that happened in his life could be summed up with those eyes. And just like with Lily, all semblance of emotional control was lost whenever he looked at them. And protecting that little liar, who broke the rules over and again, lied (badly) to cover it up, and had his friends lie for him… and physically assault him for trying to defend the little shit. With the protection of everyone else in the staff, naturally. Of course they would. It was James Potter all over again.
And then, Dumbledore decided to reward the little idiot for his rule breaking. By humiliating Slytherin again. After all those years making Slytherin work together and understand that a single person couldn’t beat them united, the headmaster took that away. His house wouldn’t recover from this lesson in years to come.
Things got worse, as defense teacher after defense teacher were more incompetent, stupid, or plainly risked the students’ lives (Remus Lupin would never give information about Sirius Black, no matter if he could protect the students by doing so). He returned to spying. Of course by then, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin did all they could with their bountiful spare time to make him a pariah in the Order. Really, to expect them to change was too much.
And then Dumbledore went and got himself killed. He tried to save him, but only ended up extending his life. The vicious bastard of a headmaster commanded him to become a murderer. And excused Harry bloody Potter for trying to murder another student, because really, the rules were beneath a Potter. Just a slap on the wrist for him. Some things never change when a Gryffindor tries to murder a Slytherin. No doubt in a few years he would brag about his wonderful “prank”.
And then he became a killer. And the most hated man in the world. All to get a chance to protect the children of the school - because if he wouldn’t be running the glorified concentration camp the school had become, it would have been Bellatrix and it would become a charnel house. He saved them from the worst of it, and managed to help Potter and his friends from behind the scenes. Getting them the sword, keeping the Death Eaters off their backs, all he could with the information he got from Phineas.
And then, just as he had a chance to complete his mission, get the final bit of information to the ungrateful brat, the rest of the staff decided to revolt. He didn’t fight back. He just protected himself and ran. He’d find another chance to get Potter the final piece to Voldemort’s fall.
Then, as he had guessed would happen, he finally died. As he got the infomation to Harry, he mused about his life. He failed to protect Lily. He failed to protect her son, who had to die. He never moved out of his home. All of his relationships were disasters, as he could not tell anyone the most important things about his life. He had no family. No friends. His last one, Charity, had begged him to help and he couldn’t. He was the most hated man in the world. He would be remembered in history as the murderer of Albus Dumbledore. But finally, he didn’t need to prove anything to anyone. It wasn’t a happy end. But at least it was an end.
And that is the Harry Potter story, from the perspective of Severus Snape.