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Chapter 1 : Gryffindor!
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"Evans, Lily!" The red-haired girl stumbled to front of the hall. She sat down on the stool, well aware that everyone was watching her. What if she wasn't a real witch? What if it had all been a big joke? She wouldn't fit into any of the houses, and she'd be sent back home. Not that she minded home, but...
She caught Severus's eyes and smiled nervously. He looked back to her, silently reassuring. He was so brave! She put the hat on her head, and immediately heard a voice in her ear. "Lily, is it? Now, where to sort you... A bit of Ravenclaw there, but no - too down-to-earth. Not Slytherin, anyway." She wasn't sure whether to be disappointed at that or not. Severus had always favoured Slytherin. "No, not Slytherin. I may take your choice into account, but I cannot go against my nature. So, Hufflepuff or Gryffindor. You'd do well in either, but... GRYFFINDOR!"
Lily had been about to ask for Hufflepuff - anything but Gryffindor, anyway - but it was too late. She took the hat off and crossed to the table where her new house were cheering her. She passed Severus on the way and saw his miserable expression. "You are brave, Severus," she whispered to him. A boy slid along to make room for her, but she recognised him from the train. She sat down a little way along.
"Potter, James!" It was the scruffy-haired boy from the train. The moment the hat touched his head the rip in the brim opened wide, and she joined her house in applauding their new member. If not quite as enthusiastically as the others. He glanced at her before sitting down with his friends from the train - or at least two of them. "Pettigrew, Peter," a little ratty-faced boy, had been sorted into Hufflepuff a moment before James. He'd looked longingly at the other boys, but had made his way over to his new house table.
"Snape, Severus!" Severus started and moved forward. He almost tripped, not looking where he was going, until he glanced over to the Gryffindor table and saw Lily watching him. He stood up straight and strode forward, looking more confident than he felt. Lily had told him he was brave. He could be brave. He WOULD be brave!
The hat slipped over his eyes, and he heard the voice in his head. He ma confused - surely his occlumency barriers should have protected his mind. Clearly the hat contained powerful magic. Oh well, it couldn't hurt him or it wouldn't be used every year. He'd always hoped to be a Slytherin, like his mother - if he wasn't, he'd probably be disowned. But he pictured Lily's face, and realised that he would give anything to be with her.
"Gryffindor, please, Gryffindor," he thought as hard as he could.
"Are you sure? You have the makings of a fine Slytherin. You'd do well in Ravenclaw, too, or even Hufflepuff. I remember sorting your mother - a true Slytherin, she was. Are you sure you don't want to follow the family?"
"Gryffindor, please." He was muttering it out loud now, though too quietly for anyone else to pick up the words. "I don't care if they disown me, please Gryffindor."
"Don't care? I doubt that."
"Alright, I do care. But it's worth it to be with Lily."
"You're young for love, though it's genuine now. This is a big thing to decide on one girl. You may regret it later."
"Hmmm. I cannot go against my purpose, and you would do well in Slytherin or Ravenclaw. But you are willing to risk everything. Maybe you are a GRYFFINDOR!" It took a moment to sink in that the hat had said this last word out loud. But over on Lily's table they were standing and cheering.
"Thank you! Thank you so much!" He thought these words quickly before removing the hat, and just managed to catch the reply.
"Not a Slytherin after all, it seems." He took the hat off his head and, shell-shocked, managed to cross the room. Lily jumped up to hug him, then he sat down next to her. The sorting hadn't quite finished, but he paid it little attention. In his mind, he was busy going over all the connotations of what had just happened.
His mother would not be happy. She had always scorned Gryffindor, and had even warned him several times before he boarded the train. "Steer clear of Gryffindor! No child of mine is one of them." His father was a muggle, and didn't care for Hogwarts. But he hated magic, and wouldn't hesitate at an opportunity to banish Severus from the family.
But Lily's warm little hand found his, and he realised he didn't care. As long as he had her, everything would be fine. He was struggling to realign his previous opinions of the houses. He'd always been told how great Slytherin was, and how Gryffindors were fools and bullies. Now he was a Gryffindor. Well, he wasn't a fool or a bully, and neither was Lily. Bravery wasn't really such a bad thing after all.
The hat and stool were removed, and Lily nudged Severus to make him pay attention. The headmaster, a tall man with silver hair and beard, had risen to his feet and was looking over his half-moon glasses at the now silent students. Severus had seen his picture often enough, though his mother had always criticised the headmaster. He met Dumbledore's eyes for a moment and seemed to see a twinkle in them even from this distance. A small smile, then the professor began to speak.
"Food comes before words. Tuck in!" All of the first years had been prepared for a welcoming speech, so this was unexpected. A laugh went up as some of the older students saw the baffled faces. All of a sudden, the table in front of them was piled with food, and Lily was loading up her plate and indicating for him to do so too. Once everyone had taken the edge off their hunger, conversation sprang up all around.
Some of the older students introduced themselves, while others just chatted with their friends. Severus received odd looks from a few, no doubt due to his greasy hair and scruffy uniform. With Lily beside him, he didn't care. It was the best meal he'd had in a long time, and he enjoyed it. He managed to put aside his concerns about his choice of house - for it had been his choice - for the moment at least. A ghost drifted up along the table, and he was introduced to Sir Nicholas. The others called him "Nearly Headless Nick", but it was clear he didn't like it. Severus knew how it felt to be called names, so he used the ghost's preferred title.
The food vanished and the headmaster rose again. This time there was a proper speech, welcoming them and pointing out the rules. Severus couldn't help liking the smiling headmaster - he was finding himself revising many of his previous views. Then they were leaving the common room and following the prefects up to the common room. It had been a long day, so he said goodnight to Lily and climbed the stairs to his dormitory.
His first impression of the room was that it was red. Red curtains, red blankets, red carpet... and gold here and there. Too bright for his tastes, really, but he'd get used to it. It was very different from home, but was that such a bad thing? Anyway, he didn't want to think of his parents, so he got into his pyjamas and prepared to climb into bed.
"Hey, greasy! Where'd you get the pyjamas?" He knew without looking who was speaking. It was the idiot off the train, Potter or whatever his name was. His hair might be greasy, but at least he combed it in the mornings. He was used to being laughed at for his clothes, and wasn't surprised. No-one else had lace on their pyjamas.
"Night, Potter." He would try to be friendly. No point in making enemies now, particularly not within his own house. Still, with idiots like this, he kind of wished Lily had ended up in Ravenclaw. The hat had said he'd fit in there too, and the conversation would be more intelligent. Plus, it would probably have been slightly more acceptable to his parents.
Stop! He wasn't going to think about that, at least not tonight. He was a Gryffindor, he was brave. The sorting hat wouldn't have sorted him wrongly - it couldn't have done. The thought wouldn't even have occurred to it. "Stop it, James! Give him a chance. Goodnight - Snape, is it?"
"Severus Snape." The one who'd spoken to him looked rough and tired, with nasty scars and shadows in his eyes. But he was looking at Severus in a friendly way.
"Snivellus?" Potter again.
"Severus, James." The friendly boy spoke softly, but Potter shut up and got into bed. "Remus. Remus Lupin." His new friend held out a hand, and they shook, which felt a bit weird as they were standing in their pyjamas. "Ignore these idiots, they don't know when to keep their mouths shut."
"Oi! I haven't said anything!"
"Sorry Sirius. You haven't, have you? It's just a bit unexpected..."
The boys were all in bed by this point, but they didn't draw the curtains on their four-posters yet. Remus and Sirius were exchanging some light-hearted banter, the topic of which Severus wasn't entirely sure. It didn't take long for Potter to stop sulking and join in, and Severus listened to them with a mixture of confusion and jealousy.
Eventually the topic moved on. "I thought Peter'd be with us." That was Sirius.
"Thinking about it, he's a Hufflepuff really. Not exactly 'brave at heart', I guess."
"Don't be cruel, James. But I think you're right. 'Daring, nerve, and chivalry' are hardly words to be used in conjunction with him."
"Not the only surprise sorting tonight though, Remus." Severus knew what Potter were referring to but kept his face blank.
"The sorting hat puts students where they belong, James. I would like to think it is a better judge of character than you." Severus was glad of Remus's words, if a little embarrassed at needing someone else to defend him. They settled his own mind as well as silencing Potter - the sorting hat would not have put him somewhere he didn't belong.
It was late, and it had been a long day, so before long Remus suggested that they get some sleep. Closing the curtains around his bed, Severus fell instantly to sleep, dreaming of Lily who he knew was in the same tower.
A/N: So, first chapter of a new story! This one is going to be good... I've got some Snape/Lily and lots of Remus lined up, teachers nice and nasty, James being James, and lots more besides. So please add it to your reading list - I'd love for you to stick out the first few chapters at least.
What do you think? Please review!
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