Chapter 2 : Hogwarts and Houses
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Disclaimer: I own no part of the Wonderful Wizarding World... anything you recognize (apart from Emmeline) belongs to J.K. Rowling.
The English countryside was a blur as the train sped north. Fields were golden streaks, lakes were just blue flashes, and the sky was a grey smudge. Lily had never been so far north before; she watched in fascination as the landscape changed around her – mountains were just visible on the horizon in the fading light. She was headed to Scotland, to Hogwarts! Lily felt a strange mix of excitement, apprehension, and sorrow. Her cheeks felt slightly damp from the tears that had streamed down them a short while ago. She sighed again and shifted so that she could press her forehead against the cool window…
The day had started off well enough. She had rose with the sun, too excited to sleep in, and had checked her trunk for the fifth time. Her parents had seemed to be in a cheery mood when she joined them for breakfast. Her mum had given her a hug and a plate stacked high with bacon and eggs. Her dad had ruffled her hair and said, “Lily, my dear, today’s the day! Today, you make us proud.” She had almost cried.
Lily had always been worried about how her parents would react when they learned what she was, and she had every reason to if Petunia’s reaction was any indication. When Professor McGonagall had revealed it, however, her parents had been thrilled. Shocked at first, but very pleased. They had braved the strange Diagon Alley with an enthusiasm to almost match Lily’s. Almost. They had even splurged to buy her a pet – her very own owl! She had picked out a modest-looking tawny owl with beautiful brown and white feathers and had named her Circe. Circe was currently asleep in her cage on the seat next to Lily.
But Lily and Circe were not alone in their compartment. Lily had been settled in and patiently waiting for the train to move when the door had slid open and a young boy had stuck his head in. When Lily made no objection, he had claimed a seat, promptly propped his feet up, and busied himself in a magazine. Lily had been curious at first (a wizarding magazine?) but lost interest when she noticed the title – Which Broomstick?. The two young students had been joined by another couple of boys as the train started moving and the compartment was filled with rowdy conversation and boasting.
Lily had sighed again and moved her head slightly to the left to access more cool glass when the compartment door slid open yet again and a familiar curtain of black hair entered.
Lily couldn’t believe her eyes! The Great Hall was even better than she had pictured – thousands of candles floated in the air, giving a cheery light to the enormous room. The four, long tables were full of inquisitive eyes as she followed her fellow first years to the top of the hall. The ceiling was an expanse of velvety blue, speckled with stars and a brilliant crescent moon, the goblets and plates on each table sparkled gold in the candlelight, and the magnificent stone walls towed above with their grand windows.
In front of her, Lily could see a large line of professors, all sitting at the head table and watching their progression with interest. She recognized the man in the middle from one of her books, Great Wizards of our Time, Albus Dumbledore. He had a long, crooked nose, flowing silvery-white hair and beard, and blue eyes that were twinkling merrily along with the flickers of the candles. He caught her eyes and gave her a small smile - Lily decided she liked him already.
As she returned her attention to Professor McGonagall, Lily heard Severus take a deep breath. He had told her that they would have to take a test of some kind to be sorted into their houses, but they had been unable to figure out what that test was. They had scoured Hogwarts, A History and The Founders Four in a desperate attempt to be prepared, but it seemed that the Wizarding community was determined to keep it a secret. Lily reached out and gave Severus’ hand a quick squeeze before dropping it again. They stood there, quiet and focused, as Professor McGonagall put a stool in front of the head table and gently set something on top. Lily had to get up on her tiptoes to see what it was –
“A hat?” Severus’ surprised whisper was a bit too loud. Several chuckles rang out from the students nearest to the pair and Lily saw his face flush scarlet. She fought to keep a straight face and returned her attention up front, just as a rip near the seam of the hat opened wide and the hat began to sing!
Applause rang through the hall as the Sorting Hat finished its song. Professor McGonagall turned to Lily and her classmates and informed them that they would sit on the stool and place the hat on their heads when their name was called. Then she began to call out names…
“Avery, Robert” A rather skinny boy with a mop of tawny-brown hair sauntered up to the stool and allowed the professor to place the hat on his head. For a moment, Lily was left wondering what would happen before – “SLYTHERIN!” The boy stood up and made his was to the far table to join his new housemates. Lily turned her head again to look at Severus – he was gazing after Avery with a thoughtful expression.
As if he could feel her gaze, Severus turned his attention to Lily and gave her a small smile. For the second time that night, Lily gave his hand a small squeeze before returning her gaze to the front of the hall. Two other students had been sorted, and now a boy was making his way to the stool. Lily recognized him from the train – he was the boy who said his family was all in Slytherin. I wonder if he will be too…
The hat cried out “GRYFFINDOR!” and there was a small gasp from the Slytherin table. Lily craned her neck to see what had happened, only to see a small group of students staring at the boy, gobsmacked. A girl with long, blonde hair leaned towards the girl next to her and started to whisper furiously. If the boy noticed, he did not show it. He stood up slowly from the stool and made his way to the opposite end of the hall. The Gryffindors were cheering for him and Lily saw him beam as he took a seat at their table, looking quite at ease.
Several more students were called up to be sorted before she heard her own name called out. Taking a deep breath, Lily started forward. She turned around and sat on the stool, taking care to keep her chin up. She had a fleeting view of the hundreds and hundreds of eyes peering up at her before Professor McGonagall placed the hat on her head. Staring around into the inside of the beaten up hat, Lily gave a small jump when she heard a voice: “Ah, what a refreshing mind! I see plenty of talent and determination… but also a potential for a sense of loyalty and bravery of the likes that I have not seen in years. Interesting… interesting… But where will you flourish? Yes… yes! It must be – GRYFFINDOR!”
Lily felt a thrill rush through her body, a warm sensation that filled her up, as happiness bubbled up and exploded out of her in the form of a wide grin. She heard clapping and beamed out at the Gryffindor table – no! her table! As she rushed to join her house, she beamed at Severus as she passed and whispered “good luck!”
The boy who she watched get sorted before her patted the seat next to him and she sat down, still smiling. Lily remembered how he had snubbed her and Severus on the Express, but she was never one to make snap judgments, so when the boy stuck out his hand and said “Sirius Black,” she grasped it, nodded her head once and replied with her own name. “It’s amazing, isn’t it? Being here. I’ve been waiting for this for…” but he was cut off by the applause of another Gryffindor being welcomed to their table. They both joined in and settled down to watch the rest of their year be sorted.
Slowly, each student was sorted and joined their tables. Several more students joined Lily and Sirius at the Gryffindor table – a pretty girl named Emmeline Holder, a shy boy with sandy hair called Remus Lupin, a small, round boy by the name of Peter Pettigrew, and finally, the other boy from the train - James Potter. Severus was now one of the last students remaining in front of the sorting hat. Lily crossed her fingers under the table when his named was called. She watched as he sat down on the stool and as the hat covered the top half of his face. She held her breath and waited one second… two seconds… three seconds… and then – “SLYTHERIN!”
September quickly faded into October as Lily settled in to life at Hogwarts. She was sitting in the Great Hall, enjoying a meal with her dormmates. As she bit into a slice of treacle tart, she hummed in approval. Maybe it was the magic of the castle, but Lily had never tasted such good food before. Even her own mother’s cooking paled in comparison to the meals at school.
“He’s staring at you again.” Lily followed Emmeline’s gaze to see Severus looking at them from the Slytherin table. She felt a grin spread across her face and stood up.
“I’ll see you guys in Charms!” With a small wave, she set off to join her best friend.
“Lily, where are you going?” Lily suddenly found her way blocked by a shock of jet-black, wild hair and a pair of glasses. “Not to join Snape again?”
Lily sighed. “James… what’s it to you?”
“He gives me the creeps, Lily. He knows things he shouldn’t! I saw him practicing some dark stuff in the library. He’s bad news. You shouldn’t hang around with –”
“Look Potter, I can decide who I should hang with for myself. It isn’t up to you! Believe it or not, but you don’t know best. Now move.” James had an ugly look on his face and grabbed her arm as she tried to shove past him.
“Fine Evans. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.” He sat back down next to Sirius and turned his back resolutely on her. Lily shot his back one last glare before continuing on her way to Severus.
“I can talk to him – I’ll get him to stop! Who does he think he is?” Lily reached out and placed her hand comfortingly on Severus’ arm.
“Severus… it’s fine. It doesn’t matter what they say! I don’t care if James and his friends don’t think… well. Let’s not bother ourselves about it. Tell me about quidditch again!” Severus gave Lily his little smile and plunged into a topic they both loved:
“You know, it truly is amazing to see! The rules are simple enough – it’s the strategies and actually playing them out that are the challenge. If the beater succeeds in forcing the opposing chaser to drop the quaffle, how does his team go about retrieving it and then staying in possession?” Severus’ eyes glinted with passion and he used his hands to stress each sentence. “I can’t wait to tryout next year. It’ll be so… but you’ve still not seen a match! Oh Lily, you just wait for Saturday!”
Lily giggled and joined in, “It cannot come soon enough! Gryffindor versus Slytherin! Oh how I wish we could sit together. But I shall be wearing brilliant gold and you silver. But the lions shall be victorious!” She emphasized her point with a sharp prod to the boy’s shoulder.
Severus shook his head, poorly concealing a laugh of his own. “I think you’ll find that the Slytherin team is more than capable of – oh you’ve got to be joking!” He jerked his head to their right. They were sitting in a corner of the library, surrounded by dusty old tomes, and skulking behind the nearest stacks, barely visible between the books, were four boys. They were peering out at the two friends and whispering. Before Severus or Lily could do anything, James and Sirius had emerged from the aisle and were stalking towards them. Severus cursed under his breath (“Severus!” admonished Lily) and drew out his wand.
“What’s the matter, Snape? Don’t want company?” Sirius gave Severus a sneer worthy of his surname. “Telling Evans here all about your mummy’s favorite curses?”
Severus stood up abruptly, leveling his wand at Sirius’ head. James and Sirius were quick to mirror his actions, pointing their wands at him in turn. “Shut it. You know nothing” Severus spat, “why don’t you –”
Before he could finish his sentence, Sirius had slashed his wand through the air, saying “petrificus totalus!” and Severus grew rigid, falling to the floor with a thunk.
Lily sputtered with rage and whipped her own wand out, leveling it at her fellow Gryffindors. “Undo it. Undo it now!” Her hand was shaking, but she kept her eyes steadily trained on them. “Potter! Black!”
James flashed her a mischievous grin and stepped forward, waving his wand and muttering something under his breath. Severus, released from his state, sat up, and Lily crouched down next to him. “Come on, Evans! We’re just having a bit of fun. You know what fun is, don’t you?”
“Leave now, Potter, before I do something unwise.” Lily had not lowered her wand, but was keeping it aimed at him while she helped Severus to his seat. When she continued to glare, James raised both of his hands up and shrugged. He turned around, grasped Sirius’ arm, and dragged him out of view. Lily turned to her friend and said, “Are you alright?”
Severus had a funny look on his face. It seemed as if he couldn’t decide on being ashamed, embarrassed, or furious. “Why did you get involved? I could have handled them!”
Lily scoffed. “Come now, Severus. We’re friends – best mates. That’s what friends are for!” At her words, Severus seemed to shake off his agitation, smiled, and repeated –
It seemed as if the year was flying by; weeks turned into months, which raced to be over. Before Lily knew it, she was approaching her first end-of-terms exams. The atmosphere in the castle was tense – the library was full, students were rarely out of doors, and the meal times were no longer a time for laughter, but for finishing up essays and propping heavy texts up to read while sipping tea. The first years were loaded down with homework – six inches for Defense Against the Dark Arts (What are the most effective ways to identify a threat and what are the proper steps to determine defense?), three inches for Potions (Identify the 12 uses of dragon’s blood and describe which is most useful.), and two new spells in Charms to study up on.
Lily felt confident, however. She had worked hard all year, never pushing off essays until the last minute as her housemates did. She and Severus did every assignment together and had begun revising during the Easter holidays. They had practically lived in the library, noses shoved in books, ignoring the taunts from James and his friends.
James, it had seemed, nursed a particular fondness for annoying Lily. Whether it was jinxing Severus in corridors or throwing bits of parchment at Lily’s head in class, he went out of his way to get in arguments with her. The upcoming exams had made no difference – he would plop down at nearby tables in the library, head bent close to Remus, Sirius, and Peter, plotting who knows what. Sometimes they would put frogspawn in Severus’ bag or bewitch the candles to flicker at alarming rates. It made serious revision near impossible.
“You know, it’s times like these that I wish we were in the same house, Sev,” whispered Lily, “then we could study in our common room, away from them.” Sirius had just sauntered away after ‘borrowing’ the book on charms that Lily had been referring to. “How I ended up in the same house as them, I don’t understand!”
“Just ignore them, Lily. They’re trying to get a rise out of us. They can’t stand to see a Slytherin with a Gryffindor – think its shameful. Or they fancy that if we weren’t friends, you’d hang out with them.”
“You can’t be serious! I would never… they think so highly of themselves, especially Potter. It’s unbearable! You should see him in the common room, showing off and surrounded by his admirers. I swear those girls have no brains! Thank goodness for Emmeline, or I’d go mad!” Emmeline seemed to be the only other Gryffindor first year that wasn’t enchanted by James and his friends. She, like Lily, did not approve of most of their pranks and was impervious to the boys’ blatant flirting. “You know, she tried to tell me that Potter fancies me…” Lily mused, “claims that that’s why he’s always pushing me and tugging my hair. But that’s just silly, right Sev?”
A shadow flitted across Severus’ face before he forced a laugh. Lily turned back to her studies, missing the glare he shot towards the table over, and the spell that he whispered. She had become so engaged in her book that she did not notice James Potter’s chair lose a leg and crash to the floor…
Author's Note: I always felt that James and Lily would have developed thier... attitudes... towards each other during their first year, but gradually. This chapter was intended to show that, along with introduce the sort of friendship I imagined eleven year old Lily and Snape would have. I hope I did it justice! Chapter three (second year) is already in the works - be ready for the Slug Club and Quidditch - yay!
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