They fell back into that familiar routine. Hermione would wake up and they'd go on a long jog, Snape puffing and wheezing while doing so as his lungs struggled to take in enough oxygen.
Today, however, was January 9 and he refused to come out from under her bed, even snapping at her, baring sharp, long teeth, his black lips peeled back. He absolutely hated January 9th with a sharp, acidic passion.
There's a good reason, he told himself as he pressed his bum flush against the wall, wedged in the gap between the edge of her bed and her dresser, his eyes glued to her bare toes, noticing the pink nails. "Come on," she sighed heavily, and then her face was level with his, pleading brown eyes and he nearly caved, inching a bit closer.
There's nothing special about the day of one's birth; it's just a bunch of bumbling dunderheads hollering and foolishly waving their wands to entertain each other's minuscule brains with bright colors and sweets, he had told everyone who asked, a sneer on his lips as he hid his trembling hands inside his robes and swept away. Snape sighed and edged back instead, hearing her swear as she rose, her maxi skirt falling back to her ankles. "Why? Today's only…the ninth…" Realization crept into her whimsical voice. "Oh, Severus! I'm so sorry. It completely slipped my mind!"
If only it had, he thought dryly as he watched her feet moving, first to the left, then to the right, pausing.
"She takes birthdays very seriously," crooned a voice. It was Crookshanks, peering down at him from atop the dresser, yellow eyes focused on him.
Snape shrugged one shoulder as the cat leapt down gracefully and settled himself in Snape's line of eyesight. The Dark wizard's eyes narrowed as the half-Kneazle looked at him. "She won't do anything if you tell her not to," he told the man-turned-dog, twisting his head to lick at his back.
"She will?" Snape echoed, black eyes widening a bit as a shadow fell across them. "How do you suppose I do that?" he sneered, bristling as the dresser was shifted and the air smelled of light flowers after a summer's rain.
"There." It was Hermione, towering above him, her cheeks flushed and hair exploding out of its half-assed bun. "Why don't you—" She was reaching down—it was another hand, covered in thick black hair—he was in another life, still too small to defend himself from his father's rage.
Snape coiled his muscles tight and, just a hair's length from her hand; he exploded at the last second, tearing out of the room with a great, frantic speed. Her footsteps followed—it warped, growing louder and heavier, shaking every fiber of his being.
He was running away, just like before, his feet moving as quickly as they could, ignoring shards of glass and burning cigarettes. "Severus!" His father's voice boomed as he dove into his hiding place, a small, animal-sized crack in the wall, wedged in there, his bony chest heaving as his heart pounded in his ribcage. His father entered the room, a blood-red anger dominating his once handsome face, his lanky black hair hanging over his large nose and into his blue eyes.
"Please, Tobias, leave him—" Eileen begged, her black eyes filled with tears as he turned, fast, sharp, and struck her hard. There was a crack and she collapsed to the floor, cradling her broken jaw. A rancid, cold feeling filled him as his father ignored her sobbing and began walking the length of the room. His back was burning with the punishment of what was to come.
"Oh, Sev-er-us," Tobias called, a mocking lilt to his deep voice. Snape pressed a hand against his mouth and flattened himself desperately against the left wall, hearing the loud thud of his father's work boots get closer and closer, thumping loudly.
He tasted sweat and grime on his lips as his father passed his hiding place. The belt in his hand was taut and flashed in the light, a heavy, thick leather that left welts when struck with that stayed for days. The footsteps faded, for a split second, and then rushed back, even louder than before. An angry, blue eye peered in and a huge, veiny hand reached in, grasping his hair. He screamed shrilly, the first note of his cry escaping his mouth, and then he swallowed it; screaming wouldn't help him.
"Severus!" It was Hermione, eyes shining above him, her hair framing her face. Snape quickly realized he was crouched; teeth bared, fur on end and quickly lowered his lips over his teeth, his heart beating too fast for him to calm down. She looked frightened, wide-eyed; it took him a minute to regroup his scattered thoughts and notice the red lines on her arms, dozens of them.
He looked around. Froze as the blood in his veins turned to ice, chilling him considerably. It took him less than a second to realize he'd caused those scratches, probably while fighting in his memory, lost in the struggle with Tobias. His lips curled back at the thought of him hurting dear, sweet Hermione.
"Things just keep getting worse and worse," Crookshanks said from his corner, licking his long canines free of mouse fur and blood. Between his teeth dangled a skinny, pink tail, stained with tufts of thin fur and chunks of intestines. He slurped it up disgustingly and licked his lips after a short burp.
"It's okay, Severus. I know you wouldn't hurt me, and I probably brought up bad memories, and you would never hurt me on purpose. You're a good guy, I know you are," Hermione babbled, wide-eyed as she looked down at him, meeting Snape's eyes.
The fat, squash-faced cat stretched slowly, smirking as he licked his claws slowly, eyes gleaming yellow-green.
He blinked hard and looked into her brown eyes, the color of cinnamon. Hermione. He took a deep breath to steady himself and lower his racing heart and watched her reach for him. His knees gave out and he crashed to the floor.
"Oh Merlin, Severus," Hermione whispered, crawling to him and cradling his head in her lap, stroking his side gently, a ghost of a touch.
Darkness flooded him.