This story was entered in the Sycophant Hex: Deathday Festival, and is an honorable mention.
Introduction: Did you ever wonder why James and Sirius hated Severus? My guess is that it all began with something very petty. Preteen boys don't really need a rational reason to dislike anything or anyone. As James said, sometimes you dislike someone simply because they exist.
Now, I am fully aware that there was a "no original character" rule for this festival; however, William Prince is not technically an OC, although I have given him a name and a background. When Harry saw the hooked nose man in Snape's memory, he automatically assumed that the person was Snape's father. Since I personally don't think that a Muggle could make a witch cower like that, I'm going on the possibility that the assumption was incorrect. There is a chance that one of Eileen's relatives, her brother in this story, was shouting at her. Just because the story is told through Harry's point of view, doesn't always mean that his perceptions are correct.
Many thanks to Verity, Owlbait and mouse for pointing out plot holes that needed patched. A huge thanks to Verity for the final polish.
Meant to be...Enemies?
Part One: King's Cross Station
It was the last day of August, and King's Cross Station was bursting with activity as families crowded into the station to see their children off to school. The heaviest foot traffic seemed to be centered around platforms nine and ten. The bustling crowds, however, did not seem to take notice that people somehow managed to vanish near the barrier. One such pair was a tall, black-haired man with a hooked nose and a young boy with stringy black hair and a nose that was in the process of becoming just as beaky. William Prince coldly ushered his nephew, Severus Snape, toward the barrier.
"Hurry up, Severus! I do not want you to miss the school train," the man said with a slight touch of impatience in his voice.
"I'm trying, Uncle, but one of the wheels on my trunk keeps sticking," the boy replied, frustration edging his words.
The tall man looked down at his nephew. Chin-length, jet-black hair framed the boy's pallid face. His bright, black eyes darted back and forth, trying to take everything in at once. The scrawny boy struggled along as he hauled his trunk behind him. Yet, for everything the boy lacked in the physical realm, he more than made up for it with his sharp and clever mind. A mind that would have been wasted had the child remained in Spinner's End. How fortunate the boy was to have an uncle who had been able to sponsor his education, paying for his school supplies. Prince only hoped that the boy's status as a half-blood wouldn't keep him out of the only worthwhile House at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
William's much younger sister, Eileen, had married a Muggle a little over twelve years ago, even though their parents had found a perfect match for her. The Prince family, of course, had been outraged that Eileen would go against their wishes. But the family decided that since she could not carry on the Prince name, it would matter very little in the end. William was the eldest of four sons, so there would be plenty of chances to keep the family name alive. Unfortunately, Fate had other ideas. It seemed that there would be no Princes left to carry on the bloodline, let alone the name. Two of his brothers had died childless, one was not interested in women, and William only had daughters.
Nearly six years ago, William had found himself in need of a male heir to secure a future business deal. Since his younger daughter had been born, his wife had been too ill to have any more. It was, however, common knowledge that Eileen had given birth to a son --a half-blood, but still a Prince. His only option was his sister's son. William had decided to meet with her during the day while her Muggle husband would be at his pitiful foreman's job. He had hoped to settle the matter without involving his brother-in-law. Eileen, he'd discovered, had decided to renounce the magical world to please her husband and had no intention of telling Severus anything about his heritage. William, seeing his nephew mostly as an asset to be exploited, had been infuriated. The two had argued bitterly over what was in the child's best interest.
Unable to change her mind, William had lost his temper and had threatened to take Severus away from her if she didn't reconsider. The threat had been enough to make his sister cower in fear. The worst part had been that Severus, barely six years old at the time, had crept in to eavesdrop at some point and had witnessed the whole hideous mess. William had stopped shouting at his sister when he had noticed the poor boy crying in the corner. He had realized that having the boy terrified of him was only going to make things more difficult. It had taken a lot of coaxing to get the boy to even look at him. Once emotions had calmed, William had persuaded his sister to at least consider the offer.
Two months later, William had received an owl, accepting his help. Eileen had explained the matter to her husband, saying that her family had agreed to pay for the boy's education. Shortly after Severus's ninth birthday, William had suggested that his nephew should come to stay with him for part of the summer to learn proper wizarding etiquette and for tutoring in the magical arts. During the last three summers, Severus had learned how to behave like any other pure-blood young wizard. William and his wife had taken it upon themselves to refine his manners, which were passable enough, and had worked to rid him of his appalling accent. Now the boy at least could speak and behave the part they needed him to play.
Last summer, William had discovered his nephew's natural talent for potions. Severus had been fascinated as he watched his aunt brewing various potions for household use. To keep him occupied, his aunt had taught him how to prepare ingredients. Severus had been meticulous in the preparation of ingredients and had possessed an innate sense of timing during the preparations. William had been sure that this was going to be the boy's area of expertise. Without delay, he had begun instructing the boy in the exact art and subtle science of potion-making.
The boy's knack for potions had paled in comparison to his proficiency with a wand. William had started the boy off with basic hexes and jinxes, allowing Severus to use his uncle's wand to avoid detection by the Ministry. The child had mastered them easily, and William saw no real harm in arming his nephew with the means to defend himself. This past summer, he'd taught the boy several curses. Besides, having a background in the Dark Arts would more than likely impress such highborn people as the Blacks and Malfoys. Making the child even more useful to the advancement of the Prince family.
William was actually rather proud of his nephew. He was a very bright lad who wasn't afraid of hard work. In fact, young Severus seemed to thrive on it. He became easily engrossed in his studies and retained nearly all of what he had learned. In spite of Severus's half-blood status, he would be a decent catch for any young witch who wasn't overly concerned about her future husband's looks. Thinking about his nephew's appearance suddenly made William very much aware of the fact that the boy was slouching and shuffling his feet as he walked.
"Stand up straight, Severus," he commanded sharply, "and remember everything that your aunt and I have been teaching you. I want you to be indistinguishable from a pure-blood. Your heritage and ambition will help you go far. Do not tell anyone that your father was a Muggle, unless you are asked directly. I'm sure that it probably won't make a difference, since you are such a clever young man, but I do not want to take that chance. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Uncle, I understand perfectly," Severus said, carefully enunciating his words as he continued to struggle with his trunk.
"Very good, Severus. We may not be a wealthy family, but the Princes are very proud," his uncle said as they walked. "We embody all the best of Slytherin House: cunning, ambition, intelligence. You have much to live up to, Severus."
The boy looked up at his uncle; determination was etched on his young face. "I will not let you down, Uncle."
William Prince smiled briefly at his nephew, a hint of pride in his voice. "I have no doubts that you will ever be anything short of excellent. Now, this is where we go through the barrier. Once on the other side, you can pull your school robes on over your other clothes. Just lean against the barrier, and you will slip right through."
Once on the other side of the barrier, the Severus Snape's dark eyes opened wide and his mouth dropped at the sight of so many other witches and wizards, but especially the huge, bright red steam engine. He had often gone with his uncle to Diagon Alley, which had always been an adventure, but somehow this seemed even more amazing that there could be a wizarding train platform right on top of the Muggle one!
"Severus, do close your mouth. I would like to introduce you to some old friends of the family; however, I would prefer not to do so when you look like a codfish," William said sternly, handing the boy a plain black school robe that he had been carrying draped over his arm. "Here, put on your robe, Severus. I want you to make a good first impression."
"I'm, I mean, I am sorry, Uncle." Severus covered his astonishment with an expression of casual boredom as he pulled his slightly-faded black school robe on over his street clothes.
He followed his uncle over to a group of well-dressed people. A tall girl of about sixteen watched him, as if trying to decide whether or not he was worth acknowledging. Severus thought she was beautiful, but there was something cruel about her whole demeanor. Severus was so captivated by her that he stumbled and fell against someone.
"Watch where you're going!" snapped a messy-haired, bespectacled boy, who was standing next to a new-looking leather trunk which had an Appleby Arrows logo emblazoned on one side, surrounded by several signatures. The boy was smartly dressed in a pristine, white cotton, button-down shirt and neatly pressed, charcoal gray trousers under his unbuttoned, black school robe. The boy looked Severus up and down, taking in the worn but clean appearance of his secondhand robe.
Severus muttered an apology before scrambling to catch up with his uncle, dragging his own slightly battered trunk behind him. The boy had to be about Severus's own age. Severus figured that the boy must be from one of those wealthy families to have an autographed Arrows trunk. No wonder the boy didn't want anything to do with Severus. Well, there wasn't any time to worry about it now; his uncle was getting ready to introduce him to the Blacks. The boy bowed gracefully: low enough to be polite, but not so low that he would seem like a servant.
"So, this is Eileen's son? I'm assuming that you have adopted him then, William? He must be worth something, for I know that you and your sister were never particularly close," said a tall man whose dark hair was streaked with silver. "So, what special talents does he possess?"
"Intelligence is his gift: brilliant with Potions and Arithmancy. I have been tutoring him the last few summers. I expect him to be taken under Professor Slughorn's wing before Halloween." Prince smiled. "Bellatrix has grown into a lovely young woman. Have you found a match for her yet?"
"Nothing that we are ready to announce." Black watched his daughter fondly as she walked off to chat with a group of Slytherin students. "My brother's eldest son will be starting at Hogwarts this year as well. He and Severus will most likely be House mates. Ah, there they are now with the Malfoys."
Severus stood up straight and endured another round of formal introductions. He shook hands with the boy, hoping to make a friend before he got on the train. Sirius was a very handsome young man. He was a bit taller and more filled out than Severus, and he had thick, black hair, and his eyes were a rather stormy shade of gray. Like the haughty boy with the glasses, Sirius took in Severus's appearance with a bit of disdain. Severus began to get the impression that his uncle wasn't as close to the Blacks as he let on.
He did notice that the tall, patrician-looking young man with the white-blond hair, Lucius Malfoy, was studying him carefully. Severus caught sight of a shiny silver and green badge on his school robes. He remembered seeing his aunt's old prefect badge. Young Lucius Malfoy was a prefect, definitely someone worth getting in good with. Severus felt the cold gray eyes snake over him, and he was tired of being looked down upon. Severus stared right back, meeting the gaze, determined not to blink or look away. After a moment or two, Lucius raised an eyebrow and smiled slightly at him.
"Come, Severus, it's nearly time to get on the train," his uncle said as he turned from the Blacks and Malfoys. His pleasant attitude shifted once they were out of earshot. "Haughty bastards! They think that they are so much better than we are, just because they have more gold than brains. They wouldn't have any of it if it wasn't for hard working people such as myself, making sure that the goblins at Gringotts don't rip them off. Severus, you are to study extra hard just so you can put them all in their place. Make sure that Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Black see how adept you are already with hexes and curses. If they see you as a person of ability, your station won't matter."
His uncle glanced around, grumbling still. "There are the Potters. As much as I hate putting on this sycophantic act, I must stop and give an obligatory greeting to them as well. Another old family, the Potters are. Sadly, they were all in Gryffindor and are a batch of Muggle-lovers to boot, but they are wealthy, important clients of mine. I suppose it will be good for business to chat with them. Do not mention the Dark Arts in front of them; they just don't understand the usefulness of Dark magic. Remember: it always pays to keep up appearances. And of course, the Lupins are there as well, though they have no right to even be seen with such highborn people. I believe that Mrs. Lupin was a Muggle-born. Yes, I suppose their son Remus, or maybe it's Romulus, would be in your year. Sickly looking child. Why, he makes you look healthy and strapping, Severus."
Severus was first introduced to the Potters, who looked old enough to be his grandparents. They greeted him with kind smiles, and Mrs. Potter remarked on his "lovely, old-fashioned manners." Severus lifted his chin, pleased with the compliment. He was introduced to the Lupins, another nice couple, who shook his hand readily. The sickly looking boy with light brown hair grinned at him and shook his hand with a friendly smile on his pinched and peaked face. Severus felt a surge of hope in his chest; perhaps they would sit together on the train.
Severus and his uncle were about to leave when a dark-haired boy bounded up to them and began pestering his father for sweets money. Mr. Potter had the youngster address Severus, who felt horrified to be staring straight into the face of the boy he had bumped into earlier. The boy with glasses was James Potter, the only child of the elderly Mr. and Mrs. Potter.
"Hello, my name is Severus, Severus Snape." He smiled politely. "I am sorry about bumping into you before--"
"Snape? That isn't a wizarding name I'm familiar with," James interrupted.
"James Potter!" gasped the older woman. "There is no need to be rude. You should be ashamed of yourself! Now apologize!"
James grudgingly did so. Severus hadn't intended to get the boy in trouble with his mother. This wasn't going well at all.
"Are you coming, Remus? We won't be able to get a compartment if we don't hurry," James said pleasantly to the other boy while he flatly ignored Severus.
"In a minute. Coming with us, Severus?" Remus asked with a friendly smile.
Before Severus could reply, James said hastily, "There won't be enough room. We already have four people.
"Sorry, Severus, maybe some other time," Remus said as he headed to the train with James. The two were almost immediately engrossed in a conversation about Quidditch.
Severus was so disappointed that he barely heard his uncle urging him to go on ahead while the older man chatted with Mr. Potter, who stood talking to the man with a stiff, forced smile on his face. Even though Mr. Potter continued his polite discussion with William, he had a distinct air of wanting to be somewhere else. As young as he was, Severus could tell that Mr. Potter was far from pleased that William Prince was continuing to inflict himself upon him.
Severus hauled his trunk and started shoving it up into the train compartment. He almost had it
when it slipped and landed on the top of his foot. He hopped about, tears of pain leaking out of his eyes. That had really hurt!
"What's the matter with you?" It was James. "What are you sniveling about, Severus Snape?"
"Dare you to say it ten times fast, James." Sirius Black was standing next to James, laughing.
"I'll take that dare!" James snorted, grinning viciously. He was on the third "sniveling Severus Snape," when his tongue went wonky, and he blurted out: "Snivellus Snape!"
James and Sirius nearly collapsed on the platform, laughing.
"Stop it!" shouted a voice. The voice belonged to a very pretty girl with thick, red hair and bright green, almond-shaped eyes. She stood with her fists on her hips, glaring at the two boys.
James grinned at her. "I beg your pardon, miss, but I didn't get your name."
"And you won't either. Now, go on with you!" The girl stood her ground, refusing to seem intimidated by them.
Remus stuck his head out of one of the windows. "James! Sirius! I found a compartment. Hurry up already!"
James and Sirius made faces at Severus before hurrying off to join Remus on the train.
"What awful boys!" the girl exclaimed, shaking her head in disgust. She turned to Severus; her face was kind as she smiled sweetly at him. "Did you hurt yourself badly? That trunk looks so very heavy. My name is Lily, Lily Evans. I know! If you help me with my trunk, I'll help you with yours."
Stunned into unthinking stupidity, Severus mutely followed the girl to the next door on the car and reached out to take the handle on her trunk. Between the two of them, they manhandled the trunk into the train car.
"Would you care to sit with me?" Lily asked. "If you want to, that is."
Sit with a... girl? Well, it certainly was better than sitting by himself.
"SEVERUS!" His uncle was beckoning to him. Severus excused himself and went immediately to his uncle.
His uncle glared at him. "What do you think you are doing, Severus?"
"I was helping that girl with her trunk, Uncle. It was too heavy for her to lift, and then she was going to help me with my trunk. I was only trying to be friendly."
"I heard that girl is a Muggle-born. If you are trying to make a favorable impression on Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Black, it would not behoove you to be seen with a filthy, little Mudblood. Severus, on no account are you to speak with that girl, or any others of her kind. Do you understand?" William asked, puffing up in anger.
"Yes, Uncle," Severus said softly, looking at his shoes. The girl had two Muggle parents; he had one Muggle parent. Dear Merlin, being a half-blood made him only one step away from being a Mudblood himself!
The train whistle blasted, signaling the final boarding. Severus darted to the train, and his uncle helped him lift up his trunk. Uncle William wished him a good term as the train began to chug slowly down the track. Parents and students waved to each other, calling out their good-byes.