The Prince household was much friendlier these days-- or, more than it used to be, that is. Lyanna Prince was the only remaining pureblood in the family, and she still ruled the house with a iron tongue that sometimes had Severus snapping back at her multiple times a day. Still, however, since the death of Silvius Prince, the Parisian home was not nearly as sinister, and Snape could navigate the halls without fear of being hexed out the door.
It was a Friday, which meant it was Severus's brewing day. The man had settled into this new weekly routine, needing to brew potent remedies for the scars of the war and Lyanna's failing health.
After the battle of Hogwarts, Snape's body had been dragged from the Shrieking Shack, nearly drained of blood. The doctors at St. Mungos had remarked several times that his survival was a miracle-- to survive such an attack and then to survive the vemon of such a vicious serpent-- it was incredible. Snape, however, didn't see it as optimistically, however. He had fully anticipated dying at some point during the war, and when he was dragged back to consciousness, wrapped in bandages on a hospital bed amid other moaning patients, he nearly looked around for a vial of poison to administer to himself. It did not help either, when he noticed how the nurses were afraid to touch him, or how the doctors could not look him in the eye as they ran him through his treatment options. They knew who he was, and they all feared him. Severus Snape. Former Death Eater. Murderer of Lord Voldemort. They required, by law, to nurse him back to health, but it was clear none of them wished to. Severus could not blame them. And even after his innocence had been pushed by Harry Potter, and his charges were dropped, he could not blame the hundreds of other people in the UK who still thought he should rot in Azkaban for what he did.
When Severus was released from the hospital, he was a broken man, mentally and physically. His body did not heal correctly, as if he were a jigsaw puzzle with pieces forced together in the wrong places. Snape walked with a limp now, and he had unexplained pain near his arm-- close to where his faded Dark Mark was writ into his skin. The doctors had explained that his condition may get better with time, but Severus, familiar with the effects of various venoms and understanding what malicious experiences the Dark Lord had probably performed on Nagini, knew that he likely would endure the pain for the rest of his life. Knowing this, he limped out onto the street, the world suddenly far too open and empty for him, and he immediately decided that he could not spend another day in London.
When Snape had arrived on his aunt's doorstep, it was a surprise to both of them. Severus had only visited the Prince household once-- when he was a 14 year old boy seeking help for his mother's poor health. It was such a long time ago, when Severus still had some semblance of innocence to him. He had tracked down their address, and was promptly thrown out by his grandfather, Silvius Prince, after learning of his daughter's half-breed child with Tobias Snape. Lyanna, though disapproving of her sister's choice, still sent letters on occasion, mostly to be updated on Eileen's condition. After the death of Severus's mother, however, the letters had trickled into nothing. The only contact with the family he maintained after that was Silvius's reluctant sponsorship of Severus's work with Lord Voldemort. He provided materials and ingredients to the boy prodigy, all for the Dark Lord's cause.
Back then, Snape was an impressionable teenager. He craved validation desperately, wanting power, an inheritance, a connection to his magical blood, which, at the time, was the only part of his bloodline that mattered to him. He was overwhelmed by the Prince family, the familial history that he could have claimed had he not been a half-blood, and back then, he sought to please them in every way he could.
Since then, and after everything that had occured these past many years, the family fortune and estate no longer appealed to him in the way it did. He had come to terms that he bore muggle blood, and was no longer susceptible to following the Princes's every whim. He finally felt ready to come back.
When Lyanna Prince answered, she looked at him with the same disapproving glare she had when he saw his skinny face outside the door all those years ago, except now, she looked up at him. Her black hair had faded to gray, and her face had gained a number of wrinkles. Her red lips, however, were still the same shade of Parisian sin, and their black eyes mirrored each other.
"I see you didn't get any handsomer." She said dryly. Snape smirked at this, his face now scarred and marred since they last met.
"You should have predicted that." He said. She opened the door for him to come in.
"I did. I just can't believe my angel of a sister produced such an ugly little boy." Lyanna led him deeper into the house that she now owned.
Over the next couple years, the two old villians settled into a comfortable routine. Lyanna was old, and needed help with the house. Most of their house elves had died, and since the Prince family business of potions selling was on the decline, she had not bought more. Snape merely needed a change of scenery and something to do. He appreciated her in how she didn't pry into his business too much. Surely she knew of his involvement in the war-- her father and his grandfather was quite involved in Lord Voldemort's plots financially. But Lyanna never pressed or even gave an inkling of an indication that she gave a damn, as long as Severus brewed enough pain-killing elixirs for the two of them and made sure they didn't drown in debt. Severus would bring her medicine infused in her morning tea, keep track of their diminishing inventory, and neatly wrote down their finances in a tome near the fireplace. For the rest of the day, however, they would leave each other alone. Despite the strange living conditions they had found themselves in, there was only so much of each other's company that they could tolerate, and it was incredibly vital to their wellbeings that they only have one conversation a day.
On one such day, his birthday in fact, Lyanna's topic of choice for their only conversation was a small bit of parchment she had slid under his nose as he was tallying up numbers in the living room, which prompted Snape to say:
"And that is?"
"I see you writing a lot." She said flatly. Severus quirked a brow.
"Yes? As most people do."
"Well, that's one of my contacts from Cambridge I thought you might be interested in."
Snape stared at her.
"You know, in case you missed all of that..." She waved her hands dismissively. "Academic riff raff. Tell them you know me and they may work with you on publishing some of your scribblings." She was terrible at this, this strange emotional encounter with her prickly nephew.
Severus folded up the paper and placed it in his pocket, not knowing how to navigate this situation either, so he gave a dry "Thank you." and returned to his work. Relieved and free of this awkward conversation, Lyanna hobbled back to the bedroom.
It had been some time after Severus had submitted his work for publication under the name "P. Beaumont" when he recieved a letter from someone whose mere name caused his breath to stop in his throat.
Of course, Hermione Granger would have her nose in every publication that existed, he supposed. He read through the letter, feeling an odd sense of accomplishment at her praise of his work and a strangeness resulting from the knowledge that she would, perhaps, never say such things if she knew that it was him. Strangely, the letter seemed to be his only connection he had with his old life-- he had spent so many days here in Paris, sometimes it felt as if he had escaped some terrible dream. Every day he woke up, he would bring Lyanna her tea, take his medicine, and perform research in the Prince's expansive library detailing magical elixirs and remedies. Despite their dwindling fortune, they still had enough to fund Snape's research and he spent most of his days in peace experimeting and writing. In some ways, it was marvelous, despite the reoccuring nightmares and the jolting dysphoria he felt when he saw his tattoo in the bath. But, as far as what he could have asked for out of life after the war, this was good. Now he held in his hands a small piece of the world that he and Dumbledore had literally given blood for. He felt drawn to it, out of curiousity, and was strongly repelled. He wasn't sure how to respond.
Snape thought on the letters for a few days, continuing his daily routines without much change, before, on one day, pausing in the living room over the Prince's finances. His brow came together as he continued to add and multiply funds, but it was clear what was happening: the Prince's potions business was officially dying.
Both Lyanna and Snape knew it would happen. The Prince's band had been dying since Snape's great, grandfather, Severus Prince had dirited the family name by approving of a marraige between some pureblood relative and a half-blood. They had lost a lot of funding back then, and Silvius Prince's investments into Lord Voldemort did not pay off (partially Snape's fault.) Now they were nearing the point of no return.
Snape rubbed his face, somewhat stressed, before making the decision to return to the lab and gather a few papers. Copying Hermione Granger's return address, he placed his latest research of potent painkillers in a large, envelope and set the family owl off on its journey. He didn't write that P. Beaumont was him, however. Severus wanted to see her thoughts on the work first, and perhaps he could use that to earn some income.