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A Birthday Gift

A Birthday Gift

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sherlock.  not good?
Characters: Severus
Rating: G
Warnings: None
Summary: Severus receives an owl bearing a small present on his sixteenth birthday - a future.
Word count: 618
Author Notes: A short piece for his birthday.

Severus' family was not given to bestowing gifts upon their son, even at the customary occasions. He was surprised, then, when one of the morning owls alit near his plate in the Great Hall bearing a small silver beribboned box. When had Eileen possessed any inclination for wrapping, much less ribbons? His name had been no coincidence.

But it was his birthday. He knew.

He fed the owl some of his breakfast waffle, warm and buttered, soaked in syrup and topped with strawberry and chocolate. As he knew this was proper, he slipped a few knuts into the leather pouch at its leg. Usually his meals were perfunctory, accompanied and dominated by books that he carefully segregated from his food. This ensured there was little interaction with the latter. For his birthday he was indulging for once, a present to himself, and he had found an especially intriguing book of potions in the library, and had been saving it for this day. He had discovered it overlooked, without a cover and at a glance had seen its pale brown writing would have otherwise relegated it to the Forbidden section. These were to have been his birthday gifts.

Now, they were all looking at him. Rabastan had left after the previous summer, and Lucius was learning the duties of his father. Those damnable Gryffindors were waiting to jeer. He could almost feel their eyes and James was actualy standing and grinning in anticipation. Severus wondered if they had sent it, full of porcupine quills laden with boil-producing potion set to fly at him as he opened it. Or some such viciousness. There was no choice, though he would rather have opened it privately, to prepare protection or to appreciate it by himself, if it was a genuine gift. It was so small.

Untying the bow, he removed the paper and folded it precisely. It was a plain silver ring, but something caught the light glittering on the inner band. He looked at it closely - a skull, with snakes moving through them, small like the hallmarks he had been shown in the antique shop - small but definite. When he fitted the circle over his right forefinger, it immediately tightened itself, gently pressing the undulating symbol to the soft flesh behind his finger. It was tight enough that it would never fall, yet not so tight it would cut off the blood flowing through it.

Beneath it was a square of thick rich creamy paper. He unfolded it, now that the show was essentially over and the other students seemed only mildly interested in their scattered sneers. Snivel-lus has a girlfriend.

My felicitations, Master Snape, for the occasion of your sixteenth birthday. I will expect you to make yourself available upon the commencement of your holidays and again upon your graduation. You will join my household and there engage both in potions and spell-work, undertaking further instruction as needed.
The brief letter was signed with a seal, Abraxas Malfoy, and flared in flame once he had noted its author.

Severus curled his fingers in a fist, protective of the new ring. It lay curved just above the knuckle of the flat plane formed by the first joints of his fingers. Though it was so simple in appearance it seemed innocuous, he knew what power and what gift lay behind it, promising a brand, a hope, a life. It was command, but it was freedom.

It was his salvation, he knew.
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