Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, Hogwarts or Severus Snape. The girl in the story, however, is mine. :)

She wasn't pretty, he thought, but then again, neither was he.

Her hair was too thin, and she kept it long, always braided down her back. She wasn't skinny, by any means; she had an ample waist as the polite would put it. Cruel ones called her fat. Her eyes were too narrow so that when she smiled, the irises disappeared and it appeared as if she were squinting permanently into the sun. But she never smiled, hardly talked, and when she did so, her mouth opened to reveal an unattractive and gap-toothed smile. Those who knew her said she was dull and morose. She had no redeeming qualities, they spoke, and even those of her own house, Hufflepuff—the house that accepted everyone—felt she was better off somewhere else. Perhaps a different school, the nicer ones suggested, while those who held no pity for her coldly suggested a different life.

They didn't know her, he thought. Not like he knew her.

He watched her. Watched her as an eager eleven year old, quick to follow a teacher's request, quick to try and make friends. She had been overweight then too, and because her body hadn't evened out, others teased her. They teased her for her appearance; the long sleeves she always wore, even on the hot days, the drab, grey tights that encased her legs beneath her uniform skirt. Even her robes suffered torment. "Circus tent, circus tent" they would chant until she ran from them crying, her feet thudding against the stone corridors as her tears fell to the ground.

Second year he watched her too. Watched as the teasing progressed into whispered insults in the hallway. He watched as they mocked her for messing up her spells in class, laughing as she turned red and looked down to hide the tears that fell at their harsh words. Something had changed in her though; he knew by the way her chin jutted out, by the way her eyes, a dull grey, would blink furiously in an attempt to rid herself of the tears.

Third year was the year a pair of fifth years hexed her at dinner; she started to leave the table, and her shirt began to shrink, the white shirt clinging to every roll she hid behind her poncho-like robes. That was the year she had hid in the only place she knew no one would look for her: his classroom. One moment he had been scrawling a caustic remark on some fifth year's essay, and the next he was surprised when she came running in, her robes flapping behind her. Arms shaking, she moved to the corner of the room, hugging her books to her chest, blinking back those tears she hated so. He didn't ask what she was doing there. Didn't offer sympathy; didn't offer help. It wasn't his place, and he somehow knew she wouldn't appreciate it.

Thus began a routine. All moments she wasn't eating, sleeping, or going to class, she spent in his classroom. He knew she questioned why he allowed it, but she never verbalized it; that wasn't her way.

Forth year was no different from her third. The teases and taunts still occurred, and she bore it silently, as she always had. The year had changed though; it was the year she stopped going to the Great Hall. He would scan the Hufflepuff table, looking for her black braid and frowning face, but it was never there. He learned her secret finally, one day after he had spent the afternoon cleaning up two potions messes by a couple of second year dunderheads. He walked out of the storage closet to see her heading to her customary seat in the corner. He thought about saying something, but decided against it; she wouldn't appreciate it. So he let it go, and she continued to skip her meals in the Great Hall. Whether she was eating sometime else, he didn't know. He never asked her, never bothered to offer to bring her a meal. It wasn't his place.

Her fifth year, he remembered well. It was the year she almost died. The unwarranted hatred by the other houses and even her own house exacerbated once puberty hit. Over the summer, it seemed, she had filled out. Where once was a girl, a young woman had blossomed.

The day she almost died, he found her near the astronomy tower. Her body sagged against a statue, half-hidden in the dim light. When he spotted her, he hurried over, and was disgusted by the sight that greeted him. Someone had ripped her blouse, and with what seemed to be a cutting spell, carved the words, "Fat bitch" into her abdomen. Her skirt was hiked up; it was clear to him she had been violated in every sense of the word. Her breathing was shallow, and it was only when he waved his wand over her that he saw why: the whole right side of her head was bloodied and beaten. He covered her as best he could with his outer robes while levitating her to the hospital wing. When they arrived, he set her down on the bed before going to seek out Madam Pomphey.

She'd grabbed his hand as best he could, but didn't say thank you. Didn't say anything for that matter. Had she been anyone else, she would never have grabbed his hand, but she had. Just simply grabbed his hand, squeezed it lightly, and then let go. He supposed she had thought about thanking him, but it simply wasn't her way.

Sixth year he remembered best; not because it wasn't all that long ago, though it was. Rather, he remember sixth year because it's when everything changed.

When she came back to Hogwarts, he hardly recognized her. Gone was the long black braid; in its place was a short chin-length pixie cut that looked as if someone had given taken the shears and raked it across her hair. Her robes, if possible, were baggier than ever, and instead of grey tights, she wore black. Black tights to match her black shoes, black robes and black hair. Grey eyes, grey long-sleeved sweater. An ashen face stared out at him her first Potions class of year. She was completely devoid of color, of emotion.

Except her eyes.

One look in her eyes and he knew she wasn't devoid of emotion; she simply bottled it up. It wasn't his place to say anything. She was a student, and he stayed away from the minds of students as much as possible. But those eyes haunted him at night, after he'd extinguished the lights and all was quiet in his chambers. Those stormy eyes would haunt him; follow him until he woke up in the early hours of the morning, his grey nightshirt covered in sweat.

They followed him in his dreams, and soon enough he could feel those eyes follow him during the day as well. Constantly he would look up, and find her staring, those turbulent eyes watching his every move.

It wasn't until the last day of classes before the midwinter break that things changed. She had kept her routine all that time, spending her spare time in his classroom, and that evening had been no different at first. She sat in her corner, but instead of working on homework like she always did, she watched him grade. He knew her eyes were on him, but paid it no mind as he finished grading yet another dismal antidote paper. It was only when she stood in front of his desk that he looked up.



His eyes widened momentarily as she spoke; her voice…it was nothing like when she spoke in class. Then, she kept her voice low, scratchy, but outside of class her voice was light. It had a vaguely musical quality to it, a sort of lilting melody that seemed to be unintentional. It seemed as if she was torn with indecision, but upon finally deciding something, she leaned over his desk and placed the barest of kisses on his lips. He reciprocated, though unintentionally at first. It had been many a long night since his bed had been warmed by any willing woman.

In the back of his mind, he knew it wasn't prudent. Relationships between student and teacher were forbidden, and if he was found out, he'd most likely be fired. But at the moment, he didn't care. Her lips were soft, hands warm, and as he led her to his chambers, he couldn't help but think how different she was then.

That night, she showed more of herself to him than she had to anyone. Not physically, though she was a willing participant in the times they came together under the soft glow of candlelight. No, that night, she took down the walls that separated her from the outside world. Her soft cries of pleasure mixed with his own moans made a melody he knew he'd never fully forget.

That night, she had been free.

When he woke the next morning, he felt for her, but she was gone. His body was still curled around the silhouette of his grey-eyed songbird. That was what he had taken to calling her whilst in the troughs of passion—his own tempestuous songbird. He showered and dressed slowly, uncommonly anxious to go to the Great Hall for breakfast. She wouldn't be there, but he still couldn't shake off the ominous feeling surrounding him.

The halls were abuzz with chatter, but he chalked it up to the foolish antics of children excited for the holiday. Nothing seemed different until he reached the high table. The teachers, normally cheerful themselves at the upcoming respite, were uncommonly somber. He sat between Profs. Sprout and Vector, the former practically replenishing her own drink by the tears she shed. Soon enough, he got the full story. A student coming to breakfast in the early morning found a body floating in the entrance hall. He thought it was a prank, but upon closer look, he noticed the body wasn't floating; it was hanging.

His melodious lover was dead.

From what he'd gathered, she'd hung herself early morning, sometime after she left his rooms. No one knew why. Some speculated it was her own weight; body issues she couldn't defeat. Some said she did it for attention. Those who said so soon found themselves in a month's worth of detention with Filch.

That day it poured the rain. Thunderclaps shook the walls of the outer buildings of Hogwarts while lightening lit up the blue-black sky. How fitting, he thought, that the weather would reflect what he saw whenever he envisioned those eyes of her. In their own way, those eyes had kept following him, even with her death.

He could have saved her.

He should have saved her.

The rational part of him knew he had no way of knowing what she was planning; her mind had been a mystery that even his skills couldn't break. But, the other part said, you should have tried.

He shed no tears for her; she wouldn't have appreciated it. Later that evening found him sipping his third firewhiskey in the hopes of dulling the low ache that had settled in his chest, but his body remained stubbornly sober. Gazing into the fire, he couldn't help but see her face staring back through the flames. It was as if it were a vision of her future self; the same grey eyes, though nowhere near as tempestuous as his one-time lover's had been; the same black hair, though the roots had faded to grey. It was then he realized it wasn't her future self at all; someone was well and truly staring back at him through the fire. It must have been her mother, he guessed by the resemblance.

"What do you want?" he snapped, in no mood for idle chatter or sentimentality of any kind.

When the witch spoke, it was as if the ghost of his lover had swept right into the room with him. The mother's voice, her voice spoke in the same soft but lilting melody that he had heard while they had made love under the dark of night.

"You're Professor Snape?"

He nodded curtly, and she sighed. "She admired you, you know. I, when I learned the news, I," At this, the woman broke off. Tears fell and he waited with some impatience until the woman regained control. "I went through her things. She-she wrote of you often. About your classroom, about how it was her saving grace. I found a-a letter. In her pocket. It should be arriving soon by owl; it's addressed to you. I don't know if she told you how much you meant to her during her-during her life. I'm sure you know, it just wasn't her way."

Without saying anything else, the woman departed and he was left with the curiosity of what the letter had contained.

Soon enough, a tawny owl appeared outside his chambers, and he went to receive the letter. It was a plain envelope, his name written evenly across the front in black ink. He wasn't sure why he couldn't open it at first, but it was true he couldn't. Many times he turned the letter over in his hands, pondering what it said. A firewhiskey later, and he finally broke the seal and pulled out the letter inside.

Professor Snape,

By the time you read this, I'll be gone. When you woke this morning, I'm sure you thought I left out of shame, out of embarrassment. Know that I did not; if it were in my fate, I would have stayed with you for as long as I could.

It will come as a surprise, learning of my death; I'm sure my mother cried, and the students mocked as they always have. I couldn't stand it, I just couldn't go back home. You wonder why, I'm sure. I will not bore you with long winded stories; I haven't the time. I will simply say that my father's love was not as a father's love should have been, from the time I was seven, continuing until the present day. Please, if you think you could have changed the way things ended, don't. It wasn't your place.

The letter ended then, signed with nothing but a well-detailed drawing of a snake wrapped around a music note. It didn't explain why she felt dying was her only way out. The only mention of anything sentimental was a quick sentence. He wanted answers. He wanted more than a piece of paper with a half-written note.

He wanted to scream, to cry and rage against the heavens, but it wasn't his way.

He wanted her there with him.

But it just wasn't her place.

Well, there you have it. It's my first Harry Potter story, and actually quite different from my normal style. I hope you have liked it; please send a review and make me a very happy writer! Also, if any of you are readers from my Chuck stories, I'm really sorry there hasn't been another chapter update in quite some time. I've had horrible writer's block on it; AC, sadly, has been without a computer since the beginning of summer (due to a family emergency & having to travel where she didn't have access to a computer). We'll try to have new chapters out soon as we can!