Sirius was relieved to find that the second years had a much better grasp on the basics during the afternoon session. Around the same number of students showed up for this group. They started off the lesson in the same way with Sirius disarming the group in a circle. Sirius, expecting it to happen was able to decrease the time it took him. With this group, they were able to move on from simply disarming a static partner. Professor Keenan had the pairs moving around the room making the target a bit harder. Students who wanted an extra challenge could pair up with Sirius and about five students gave it a try. One of them was able to successfully disarm Sirius, who was only allowed to use a Shield Charm as a defense.
The session passed even more quickly than the first. Sirius was almost disappointed that it was over. Keenan waited until the last of the students left before addressing him. “Thank you for your help, Mr. Black. I hope you got some enjoyment or at least fulfillment from this.”
Instead of commenting on his enjoyment or fulfillment, Sirius asked, “Do you need help putting the tables back, sir?” After all, the best part of assisting was still the shortened detention. This hadn’t been a life changing experience.
“No, I’ve got it. I plan on having at least one more Saturday of lessons for the first and second years. If you still are serving Saturday detention at that time, would you be interested in helping again?”
“Probably,” Sirius replied. It was better than scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. He supposed there had even been something endearing about the younger students.
“There is a possibility you will no longer be serving Saturday detentions, since I am not sure when I will schedule it. You would also be free to volunteer if that is the case. I believe the students gained a lot from having an older student there.”
Helping out instead of detention was one thing, but giving up his free time? He tried to appear as if he was sincerely considering it. “I don’t know…with OWLs coming up, I’ll be swamped with school work…
“I only ask that you think about it. Volunteering like this could look good for a CV when you graduate. You could use a boost with your detention record. Just keep that in mind.”
Sirius was getting nervous about the direction the conversation was heading. He found Keenan much more likable when he was not in lecture mode. So, he needed to make an exit quickly. “Can I go then, sir?”
Professor Keenan looked disappointed. “Yes. And try and stay out of trouble.”
“I will, sir,” Sirius answered. He hadn’t given a career very much consideration up to this point. As Black heir his future had been laid out before him. Now he actually had a choice. Now he had to pave his own path.
Sirius loitered at the door of the classroom, Keenan’s advice circling in his mind. He didn’t usual seek out the advice of adults. He still had two years before he graduated, so it wasn’t urgent he needed the answer. Yet something made him swallow his pride, and ask, “Will it really matter?”
Professor Keenan lowered his wand slightly; the desk he’d been levitating remained floating in the air. “Sorry?”
Sirius already regretted asking the question, but now that he had, he figured he’d continue. “My detention record…will it really matter for jobs?”
Keenan appeared thrown by his question. He lowered the desk back to the ground before answering. “The extent it will matter will depend on the job. Is there a career you were leaning towards?”
“I don’t know…maybe an Auror?”
“Hmmm…well yes I believe for that job it would be a significant factor, but I don’t say that to discourage you. You have two more years at Hogwarts to improve your behavior.”
Sirius frowned. “How much will it really matter? What bearing would detention have on being an Auror?”
“Discipline for one. A record of detention would certainly indicate lack of it. All recruits must pass an extensive training program. They’ll be testing not only your skill, but your conduct as well. You’ll be expected to follow orders of your superiors without question. Failure to do so could get you or a member of your team killed.”
Sirius wasn’t impressed by what he was hearing. Would the job really consist of just taking orders? “So they want robots that will just do what they are told without thinking?”
“No, Mr. Black. This is why I believe, with a little bit of self-control, you’d be an ideal recruit. It’s a balance they’ll be looking for; discipline and obedience with bravery, skill, and quick thinking.”
Sirius stood quiet for a moment. It was strange to hear an adult even consider he have positive attributes. His parents and family had always focused on the negatives. “There’s still the fact that I’m a Black.”
“You’ve broken ties with your family rather publicly. They might vet you more carefully, but I wouldn’t think you’d be given any problems. The best advice I can give you is to work on the things you can control. Put your best foot forward, so this way if they deny you, you will know it was because of something you couldn’t control and not because you slacked off. Study for OWLs, stay out of detention, and keep up those grades, and you will have a very good chance.”
There was an awkward silence as the teacher and student looked at each other. Sirius looked away feeling out of place. Keenan’s advice was logical and reasonable; Sirius just wasn’t sure how qualified Keenan was to give it. How would Keenan have any insider information on Auror training? It was very possible Keenan had said what he said so Sirius wouldn’t give up because while he couldn’t quite understand it, he could tell Keenan wanted him to succeed.
Keenan cleared his throat. “Anything else I can help you with, Mr. Black?” His tone had become more business-like.
“No, sir. Thank you,” Sirius mumbled. As he crossed the threshold of the classroom, Sirius realized this was the second time in the past week he had thanked Professor Keenan. He wasn’t sure how that had happened, but he was grudgingly beginning to respect Keenan as a teacher. Sirius sighed loudly and as he trudged back to Gryffindor Tower, he thought of how he would spend the rest of the afternoon.
Snape approached Three Broomsticks warily. He knew it would be crowded and filled with the type of students he avoided in the castle. The crowd was one of the reasons Lily and Severus had agreed to meet up at this time. There would be so many students around that a Gryffindor and Slytherin have a butterbeer together would hopefully go unnoticed by both their Houses.
Severus Snape spent several hours with his roommates at Hogsmeade before going off on his own. He even had a chance to peruse a secondhand book store before meeting up with Lily Evans. He’d been chased out when the owner realized he didn’t have the coin to buy anything.
Snape ducked into the room, right at the heels of a loud, boisterous group of boys from Ravenclaw. They carried on in way that Snape was relatively sure they were Quidditch players. He wasn’t obsessed with the sport like so many boys his age. He paid so little attention that even under the threat of death he wouldn’t be able to name the players for each House. The group of boys in front of him grabbed the only large table left in the place. Snape hung in the shadows as he searched for Lily or an empty two-seater table.
Diagonal from where he stood, he saw Potter and he couldn’t stop himself from throwing a glare in the boy’s direction. Potter, of course, was too busy with his fans to notice. How someone so arrogant was popular made no sense. To add to his frustration hanging over him was the fact Potter had saved his life. After getting cold feet, he reminded himself; unfortunately this did not negate the first factor.
He had some ideas about how to get back at them. He’d rediscovered a spell he’d been tweaking over the summer after arguing with his worthless Muggle father. He knew it was Dark Magic, he knew it was dangerous…he knew if uncontrolled the magic could be lethal. And he wasn’t planning on killing Potter and Black – just convince them that he was; an eye for an eye. The spell was for another day. And at least presently he could revel in the image of Black in detention…scrubbing on his hands, knee deep in filth.
He spotted Lily next. She was sitting alone at a small table, book opened. She was twirling a piece of her red hair and looked deep in concentration. Severus smiled at the sight of her. She was waiting for him. Not Potter. Not some other suitor.
He started to move towards her. Usually he couldn’t wait to spend time with her, but he found himself faltering. He wished he could forget yesterday’s conversation with Lestrange. Seeing her brought it all back to the forefront of his mind.
Rabastan Lestrange had summoned Snape to the seventh year dormitory yesterday. It was Snape’s second summons of the year, and it was difficult to know whether to be honored or concerned.
Lestrange was lounging in an armchair. The seventh year dormitory was larger and furniture looked more expensive. It had been like that back in first and second year when he’d been called up by Lucius Malfoy. He suspected that the furniture was not Hogwarts issued, but brought in by pureblood families.
“Severus, have a seat.”
He did as he was told; the use of his first name put him on guard.
Lestrange surveyed him with his cold eyes. Snape felt conscientious of his threadbare robes that were now too short courtesy of a growth spurt. Lestrange’s robes fit him perfectly and fabric looked brand new. He felt his cheeks begin to redden, but he reminded himself that they knew he was poor, and yet he was still important enough to be summoned. It was yet to see if it was for a positive reason. “Severus, you’ve been doing very well in Slytherin. For a half-blood, you’ve excelled past our expectations. This is why it saddens me when I continually receive reports about questionable behavior.”
Not prepared for the direction of the conversation, it took several seconds for Snape to answer. “I was not aware that my behavior was not proper.”
“It has. It is one thing to be irritable and anti-social, but it is unacceptable to have no House pride and act as if you are superior or better than everyone else.”
Severus wanted to disagree. He fervently hated Gryffindor House as a unit. Did that not show his pride in Slytherin? And as far as being better than everyone else, he was…academically speaking. He could stir circles around anyone in potions. He was also gifted enough that he could invent spells. Since he’d shared some of his spell inventions with them, Lestrange was well aware of it.
“I admire that you don’t let your blood status prevent you from getting to the top, but it must not be forgotten. You must not forget your place. Some of us are concerned that you have forgotten that your blood is tainted.”
Severus wanted to laugh. As if he could forget? The Slytherins, especially his roommates, constantly made note of it. It was why he had to try harder than anyone else. “I’m well aware that I am a half-blood,” Snape responded icily.
“And what does that mean?” Lestrange asked leaning back in his chair, regarding him coolly.
“Mean?” Snape echoed, not exactly sure where Lestrange wanted the conversation to go.
Lestrange’s tone turned more conversational. “Let’s say you had to pick from two partners for a school project. One is a pureblood, one is a halfblood. The halfblood is a better student, which would you pick?”
“The better student. I’d want the best marks I could receive,” Snape answered, already guessing this was the wrong answer. This was obviously a meeting to remind him about the importance of blood. His best bet was to look ashamed and let Lestrange lecture him.
“There lies the problem. You do not seem to grasp the importance of blood. The importance of magical purity. This idea is the very foundation of our movement.”
Snape knew he should just agree and move on, but it was important he get a little more information on Lestrange’s view. The only way to do this was make a comment. “I just thought half-blood status wouldn’t matter in a case like that. Especially a half-blood that has proven magical ability-”
“It always matters,” Lestrange cut in. “If you start with half-bloods being equal to purebloods…well it is a slippery slope…and one you’ve already slipped down.”
“Evans. The mudblood. Do you think we don’t know about her?”
Snape felt his stomach drop. “No…I haven’t kept her a secret. Besides she’s full of magic and…”
“And again you show poor judgment thinking it does not matter. That for some reason when it involves you and magical ability, that it should be considered a special case. I’ll repeat what I said before. Blood purity always matters. It is more important than anything.”
Severus waited for Lestrange to continue. He was convinced if given time he’d be able to prove Lily was an asset to the Magical World. Someone like Lestrange might not understand, but surely Lucius Malfoy would at least hear his argument out.
It appeared Lestrange was waiting for Snape to speak and though he was worried he might say something that would put him in a worse light; he didn’t want to sit here in silence for another second. .
“I’m not a Mudblood supporter.”
It was a safe statement and it was true. He didn’t care about their rights. He only cared about helping her. He only cared that Lily could share his future.
“I can’t say I’m convinced,” Lestrange drawled.
“I’m not,” Snape stated forcefully again.
“How can you be smitten with a mudblood and then say you are not a supporter?”
Severus couldn’t answer that.
“She’s a trap, Severus. She may smile at you prettily, but she’s filthy and dirty. She’s a mudblood.” Lestrange paused and there was a gleam in his eyes, “Say it.”
Severus felt himself tense. Lestrange was smirking. “Say it.”
He knew he didn’t have a choice. “Evans is a mudblood.”
“Very good. Remind yourself of that every day, every hour if you must, and your crush on the Mudblood will fade.” Lestrange leaned forward, his expression more intense. “I’ve been officially recruited now. The day I graduate I’ll be seeing the Dark Lord himself. You might be wondering why you should care? More than likely I’ll be asked how Lucius Malfoy’s half-blood prodigy is fairing. If I were asked today, I would give you a negative assessment.” Lestrange stared straight at him. “But I believe your potential value allows for a second chance.”
“What sort of second chance?” Snape asked warily. He hadn’t made a decision about joining Voldemort because it was over two years away, but to think that door could be shut made him nervous. He was beginning to think it was the only way he could become someone important.
“Prove to me your devotion. Prove to me Mudbloods don’t matter. Do that convincingly before summer starts, and I’ll gladly sing your praises.”
So there it was; his first test (though unofficial) to becoming a Death Eater. He should have been really nervous, but he was relieved. Lestrange hadn’t said he had to prove Lily didn’t matter. Yes, there was a conflict of interest with Lily being one of them, but he would figure out a way to keep her out of it and prove his dislike of Mudbloods.
Snape couldn’t stand there loitering any longer because Lily looked up from reading. He approached and Lily’s face split into a warm smile.
“Sev! Hello! How are you?”
For a brief moment Snape couldn’t speak. She looked stunning with her hair let down and wavy. It was if the lighting in the room had been set up purposely to cast her skin and hair in the best way possible. It was becoming a nuisance the way he could so easily get tongue-tied around her. He just had to hope Lily didn’t notice the change in behavior. “Hi, Lily,” he finally managed. He could feel his face flush, but blamed it on the heat of the room.
“Ugh,” Lily said flipping her hair back over her shoulder. “My hair feels like it is all over the place today, but Mary says I should wear it down more often.”
“I like it down,” Snape stated, feeling self-conscious the moment the words were out of his mouth.
Lily beamed. “Thanks!”
Severus nodded, hoping she couldn’t see his cheeks were still burning and took a seat quickly across from her.
“We lucked out with this table. A couple was leaving just as I walked in, so I snagged it. I’m thirsty. Want a butterbeer?”
“Yes, I’ll go-” He was halfway out of his seat, but Lily would not have it.
“No. This is my treat. I insist. Be right back.”
Snape rolled his eyes, but knew it was pointless to argue with Lily when she had made up her mind. He hated how often she ended up treating him since he had very little extra spending money. Each time this happened he vowed it would be different soon. Malfoy had suggested monetary rewards for the Dark Lord’s most loyal followers. It was another reason to consider joining them.
Lily returned with the butterbeers and conversation flowed smoothly. It helped that he could just listen to her chatter on for hours. She was also one of the few people he felt honestly wanted to hear his opinion about things.
As Snape took the last sip of his butterbeer, he saw Lily’s eyes widen slightly. Wondering what had gotten her attention, he followed her gaze. She was staring at Potter snogging one of the girls he’d been sitting with. As fate would have it, their table had an unobstructed view of that table.
Snape’s eyes darted from Lily back to the couple back to Lily. “That’s revolting,” Severus tried. Lily seemed unable to tear her eyes off the kissing Gryffindors, and he suddenly felt nauseous.
Lily cleared her throat looking slightly embarrassed. “Yes. Very,” she agreed curtly.
He wished not for the first time for the ability to read her thoughts. She hadn’t been staring dreamily at Potter, but that certainly hadn’t been disgust in her face either. And it appeared it was taking effort for her not to look in Potter’s direction. Strange.
“This is a public place, we should have to deal with – with that.”
“What do you expect?” Snape asked dryly. “This is Potter. He probably only kisses girls when there’s an audience.”
Lily laughed, which again was the reaction he’d wanted. He suddenly wanted – needed- confirmation that Lily didn’t fancy Potter. He racked his brain for a way to do this without straight out asking her.
Lily glanced once more in Potter’s direction. “Still going…ah, they’ve stopped. She’s leaving.” Lily suddenly ducked her head and stared straight down at their table, looking flustered. “Merlin, Potter saw me looking.”
Her statement only confused him more. Why would she care if Potter knew she’d seen? Lily must have sensed his puzzlement because she added, “It’s just I don’t want him thinking…” She trailed off and then suddenly brightened. “Oh! I bought you something at Honeydukes.”
He stared at her blankly, but as she rummaged through one of her large bags he didn’t comment on the change in topic. He’d rather they stop speaking about Potter. Lily handed him a small box. “
You didn’t have to get me anything,” he said, though secretly he was thrilled she had thought of him.
He opened the box and inside was a candied apple. Severus stared at it. Candied apple? He knew they were one of her favorite treats and while he didn’t dislike them, certainly fudge or licorice would have suited him more.
It was the thought that counted anyway, so he thanked her and placed it into his own bag. He didn’t see Potter’s narrowed gaze. He didn’t notice Lily giving James one last side glance.