“First row, left to right: Miss Mather, Mrs. Hawes, in charge of the unit; Dr. Tallant, Dr. Maud Kelly. Second row, left to right: Miss M.l Rooke, Miss R. Johnson, Miss Mary Ashley, Miss Hague, Miss Marjorie Carr, Miss Catherine Hooper, Miss Millicent Lewis, Miss Marie Wolfs, Miss Elizabeth M. Dana. Third row, left to right: Miss Marion Bennett, Miss Anne Chapin, Miss Elizabeth Bliss, Miss Alice Leavens, Miss Margaret Woods, Miss Ruth Gaines.
The Smith College Unit was one of the first of the Women’s College units to organize for service in France.”
ELVIS PRESLEY’S POPULARITY WAS LARGELY FUELED BY THE FACT THAT ROCK AND ROLL WAS AN AWESOME GENRE OF WHAT WAS KNOWN AT THE TIME AS “BLACK MUSIC,” AND RACIST WHITE AUDIENCES WERE UNWILLING TO LISTEN TO BLACK PERFORMERS, BUT WHEN A WHITE PERFORMER BEGAN SINGING MUSIC HE COPIED FROM BLACK PEOPLE, MANY WHITE AUDIENCES SUDDENLY FOUND THEMSELVES COMFORTABLE WITH THE IDEA OF LISTENING TO ROCK AND ROLL AS LONG AS THE PERFORMER WAS WHITE.
THIS IS ALSO ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS EMINEM AND MACKLEMORE BECAME SO POPULAR SO FAST. WHILE NOT ALL THEIR FANS ARE RACIST, A GREAT DEAL OF THE REASON THEY RECEIVED SUCH WIDESPREAD MEDIA ATTENTION IS BECAUSE THE WHITE SUPREMACIST MEDIA IS MORE COMFORTABLE PRESENTING RAP AND HIP-HOP WITH A WHITE FACE.
WHILE THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO SLIGHT THE TALENTS OF MR. PRESLEY, MR. MATHERS, OR MR. LEMORE, THEY ARE ALL RATHER GOOD AT WHAT THEY DO, BUT THEY HAVE ALL BENEFITTED FROM A SOCIOLOGICAL PHENOMENON IN WHICH THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF PEOPLE OF COLOR ONLY GET MAINSTREAM VALIDATION WHEN THEY ARE SOLD BY A WHITE PERSON.
I wrote this short fic last year for Remembrance Day. I meant to post it yesterday on Armistice Day, and then thought about posting it tomorrow on Remembrance Sunday…and decided instead to split the difference.
The screaming became louder.
Eileen didn’t flinch.
Severus stood in the bedroom doorway, his desperate calls drowned out by
the ever-increasing volume of the radio.
With her left hand wrapped in a rag, his mother continued dusting the
already pristine windowsill, and the constant flick of her unsteady right hand
caused the Crystals’ singing to be so loud, the neighbours would’ve sworn on
the holy book that those young American starlets were performing in the Snapes’
Blood beat slack in Severus’ ears as he raced down the wooden stairs. Three steps from the end, he
gripped onto the door frame in a smooth, well-practised move, and his momentum
caused his scrawny build to fly across the kitchen, his ill-fitting shirt
billowing comically in his wake. He
landed heavily at the outside door, grabbed last night’s discarded newspaper
from the worktop and hastily tore the sheets into uneven pieces as he headed
out into the rain soaked yard.
Here, the screams were loudest of all. Severus was surprised that the neighbours
hadn’t come out to investigate, especially that nosey old bat at number 9. Mrs Mathers might have been old and riddled
with arthritis, but she always had an uncanny knack of witnessing everything
you wished could stay behind closed doors.
He swiped at his left ear, remembering how his mother had clipped him
around the head last night, and how Mrs Mathers had seemingly sprinted to the
fence to get the best view possible.
But tonight, it appeared she wasn’t interested. He raised himself on his tiptoes, using his
arms to leverage himself up onto the fence, striving to peer through next door’s
window – but he was thwarted by the thick condensation on the kitchen
window. A frown crossed his brow; even
someone as young as Severus knew how bad steam was for a house. His mother would never set a cauldron to boil
unless the windows - never the door, lest the neighbours would see - were cracked open.
The rain started up again, drizzle quickly turning into a
downpour, and Severus turned his attention back to the now damp paper he was
clutching in his hands. Black ink ran
across his pale skin, smearing across his palms. The screaming was reverberating in his ears,
and he felt as if had a lump of coal from the bunker wedged in his throat. He was barely able to swallow as his tiny
fingers pressed heavily on the cold metal latch.
The privy door swung open, revealing the source of the
Severus had seen his father naked before, of course. Every Friday night, Tobias would heave the
tin bath before the fire, and would soap up before donning a clean shirt and
heading to meet the lads at the pub.
Eileen would be next, with Severus bathing last. To say he hated bath night would be an
understatement of the highest order – by the time it was his turn, the water
was cold and grey, and he felt dirtier when he got out than when he got
in. It was always late when he finished,
so his hair wasn’t given enough time to dry before he was sent to bed, and he
hated how his pillow would stay damp throughout the night.
This was different.
This wasn’t bath night. This wasn’t
his father jovially preparing for a night full of ale. Tobias was leaning heavily against the
whitewashed brick wall, dressed only in his dingy underwear. His broad shoulders and a blurred tattoo were
the only things hinting at the man he’d been before poverty had dragged him
down. Now he was lean and
undernourished, all gangly limbs and pale skin.
His fists were raw from beating the wall; his face streaked with tears
This disagreement was nothing new. Severus had heard the argument a million
times before, and could practically whisper along as each parent taunted the
other. She’d wail at him to be a man –
to pull himself together. He’d sneer,
the wrinkles on his craggy face deepening.
He’d peer down his large hooked nose, and in a dangerously low hiss, he’d
mock her for hiding away at her posh school, playing her ridiculous games
whilst the rest of the country pitched in and did their bit.
It was always worse in November.
Darkness would fall by half four, and fireworks would erupt
with an ear splitting boom shortly afterwards.
Tobias would pace and scowl like a skittish, feral creature. He’d stalk through the house, clutching his
ash tray in one hand, his cigarette in the other. By the end of the night, he’d retreat
outside, and a trail of fag ends from the house to the privy would litter the
Then, that Sunday would come around. Eileen would refuse to go, telling him that
this year, she was putting her foot down, and she was no longer going to be
part of his misery. Tobias would beat
her until she relented.
And so, once a year, they would all bathe on Sunday morning
instead of Friday night, and dress in their finest and pin red paper flowers to
their breasts. Once a year, Tobias would
put his money into a collecting tin instead of behind the bar. And once a year, Tobias would stand in the
outhouse and scream until his throat was hoarse, and saltwater streaked his
Some days, they’d gripe and grumble, slam doors and sulk in
separate rooms. Other days, their sniping
and bickering would escalate into a full scale fight, complete with shattered
crockery and purple bruises.
As their voices got louder, the more genteel neighbours
banged their windows shut. Airing dirty
laundry in the street was commonplace, so no-one would take Tobias and Eileen
to task, but it was well known down Spinner’s End that nobody ran a Punch and
Judy show quite like the Snapes.
Mrs Mathers left her window wide open.
Severus slammed his bedroom door, and his wand quivering, he
added layer upon layer of charms on the lock, Ministry be damned. He sank down onto his sagging bed, rested his
head against the pillow and closed his eyes.
“You’ve done this to him!
You’ve made him into a freak! Flouncing
around in those dresses-”
“-waving that useless stick!”
“Useless?” Her tone
was dangerous, and Tobias paused. "So
you’d rather he was like you, eh? All
fists and fury with no brains to speak of?!“
"At least then he’d be a man!”
Severus pulled his thin pillow over his head, and pressed it
firmly against his ears.
“And what sort of man stands in the toilet, screaming
so loudly that the cows can hear you over the river? What sort of a man is
that, Tobias Snape?!”
Block it out.
“The sort of man who wasn’t afraid to look them Jerries
in the eye when he pulled the trigger!”
Her laugh was bitter. “I know exactly what sort of man
you are. And I dare say your son knows as well. No wonder he’d rather follow in
my family’s footsteps than follow his idiot father. Your proudest achievement
is how many men you murdered in the war, and you can’t even do that right. You’re
“Says the woman who turned tail and ran away.”
“Not so chatty now, are you, Leen? Where would you be without me, you ungrateful
bitch? Where would you both be? Think Daddy would even look at you with that
half breed mongrel in tow?” Tobias
laughed loudly. “And don’t you think I didn’t see your bag shrunken down,
ready to leave. If it wasn’t for that
useless brat upstairs, we wouldn’t be here now, would we?”
Severus’ shields slipped and he lowered the pillow, his long
slender fingers covering his open mouth.
“And don’t you tell me that you didn’t know about my
“It was all arranged, Leen! You were running back to Daddy, and I was
going to have someone normal. A proper
wife and family!”
Block them out.
“But you got scared. You thought he’d slam the door in your face,
and then where would you be? No father,
no husband, nobody.”
Block. Them. Out.
“So you got yourself knocked up with that useless
streak of shite, and now we’re stuck, for better, for worse.”
“You’re weak, Eileen Prince, and your fairy son is just
the same. No honour, no guts! You wouldn’t last five minutes in the real
world – in battle, in a war – and neither would he. You’ve ruined us both with your freakish
BLOCK. THEM. OUT.
Severus’ chest heaved, and blood poured from his nose. His hand fell limp, causing his wand to spill
to the floor with a clatter.
Severus stood in his teaching robes, aiming curse after
curse at the dingy outhouse and burnt it to the ground. If the neighbours thought it was odd that he’d
had his own private bonfire in his tiny back yard instead of joining the rest
of the street at the rec with their toffees and fireworks, nobody dared speak
In fact, nobody dared say much at all to the mysterious,
dark, imposing figure he’d become. The
older neighbours remembered the dirty, scrawny, awkward boy he’d once been, but
it was hard to reconcile the cowed youth with the scowling man who stalked down
the high street with a permanent look of disdain etched across his features.
They’d heard from his father how Severus had won a
scholarship as a kid, and had been shipped off to some fancy school in the
wilds of Scotland. Tobias told all who
would listen that his son was a teacher there now – a housemaster, no less –
and was some sort of prodigy when it came to chemistry, or physics, or
something scientific anyway. Tobias
could never quite remember.
It didn’t stop him extolling Severus’ virtues in the
pub. His job long gone, and his wife
dearly departed, Tobias was a permanent fixture at the bar, proudly regaling
all with tales about his son’s success.
His son, apparently, rang once a week to keep his father in the loop –
although the neighbours knew better.
They knew Tobias’ landline had been cut off for non-payment many years
When Tobias had died, Severus’ return had taken the
neighbours by surprise. He wouldn’t be
seen for months, and then he’d suddenly appear – although nobody could remember
seeing him walking from the station, or jumping off the bus from town. As soon as they were used to him being
around, he’d suddenly vanish.
Then, one Easter, all changed – and Severus became a
permanent fixture in Spinner’s End. Tobias
and Eileen had persevered with their tin bath arrangement long past the days
when it was decent, but Severus wasn’t prepared to strip down and wash before
the fire. His hatred of baths was deeply
engrained, he opted for installing a shower.
He’d hired a Muggle builder, who’d huffed and moaned, and
put his hands on his hips, telling a displeased Severus that it was the wrong
decision. The builder sat him down with
a mug of overly sweet tea, and told him that all of the other houses in the
street had built an extension in the yard, allowing them to keep the bedrooms
intact. When that didn’t convince Severus
the builder patiently explained how many thousands he would lose off the property
value if he forged ahead.
Severus didn’t care.
He wasn’t looking to sell. He
wasn’t expecting to live. So that night,
he took great delight in destroying his parents’ bedroom to make space for the
When the builder returned the next day, he was instantly
horrified at the destruction, but then, to the neighbours’ amazement, he
suddenly changed his attitude. The
grumbling stopped, and he was a lot more compliant. He whistled as he worked, and the shower room
was built. Severus barely said a word,
but the neighbours noted that a small smile now adorned the young man’s face.
His poky childhood bedroom was now ever so slightly bigger
than the remnants of his parents’ bedroom, making his room the master bedroom by
a hair’s breadth. He didn’t stay in his
house often, but he liked knowing it was there – liked knowing that he had
somewhere to retreat to, in amongst the Muggles, where most wouldn’t think to
find him. Albus knew, of course, and
Lucius – but the rest of the world didn’t have a clue where to find him, and
that’s the way he liked it.
His joy was short-lived.
A few weeks later, he returned from Hogwarts with a permanent houseguest
in tow, forced to house Pettigrew on the Dark Lord’s orders. Severus had been tempted to make the rat
sleep outside in the yard; even tempted to rebuild the privy just to lock him
He hadn’t. He’d shown
him to the newly modelled bedroom, but the rat still moaned. He’d wailed that Severus didn’t take his
status seriously, threatening him with the Dark Lord’s wrath. Severus soon tired of his whining, and wordlessly
flung open the door to his own bedroom.
Seeing that the rooms were fairly evenly matched, Pettigrew had
retreated. After what felt like the
world’s longest summer, Severus was relieved to return to the sanctuary of
Ten months later, he returned to Spinner’s End. This time, his guest was Draco.
The blond boy was startled, and unlike his father, lacked
sufficient tact to school his shock. Lucius
had visited Severus often, and even Narcissa had graced him with her presence
on rare occasion – but Draco had never stepped foot in the Muggle street where
Severus had grown up. It was the
antithesis of Draco’s privileged childhood, where his every whim had been
tended by an army of house elves.
When Severus had bustled the trembling boy into the living
room, he’d been so focused on setting wave after wave of enchantments to
prevent the Order – or Harry bloody Potter – from descending on them in the
night, he’d forgotten that Draco had absolutely no idea how Muggles lived. Least, how poor Muggles lived. He’d forgotten in his desperate flight that
in Draco’s eyes, he was a respected man - not an impoverished half-blood who’d
dragged himself out of the gutter.
But Severus was weary, and couldn’t bring himself to care. He’d completed his dreaded task, at great
personal cost – and the boy was so grateful, and equally terrified, he wasn’t
about to speak out of turn. With leaden
feet, Severus trod up the wooden stairs.
Silently, he headed into the bathroom, stripped off his teaching robes
and stepped into the shower. The icy
water pounded against him, and he let out an unreserved howl of agony.
For the first time in years, the neighbours slammed their
And there, outside the bathroom door, Draco stood, blood
beating slack in his ears. He felt as if he had a lump of coal wedged in his
throat, and he was barely able to swallow as his trembling hand pushed against
the bathroom door.
It swung open, revealing the source of the noise.
He’d seen his father naked before, of course. But this was different. For all their similarities, Severus and Lucius
were two opposing creatures, and never had it been more apparent. He stood in
shock at the sight of Severus leaning heavily against the white ceramic tiles -
lean and undernourished, all gangly limbs and pale skin, his fists raw from
beating the wall and his face streaked with tears and fury.