Part 3: Already In Trouble
The boats bumped up against the dock on the far side of the lake at the base of the castle. One of the boys behind Severus jumped onto the dock and steadied the boat so the others could climb out. Severus went to step onto the dock when his legs suddenly became weak and went out from under him. He landed with a painful thud on his bum. His legs must be numb from the boat ride.
"Are you all right, Severus?" Lily asked, as she scrambled out of the boat.
"I'm fine," he lied, rubbing his slightly numb legs. He realized that he had been hit with a Jelly-Legs Jinx. He looked to one side to see James Potter bending over, pretending to tie his shoe. Sirius was looking around with a look of mock innocence on his face. One of them had cast the spell, Severus was sure of that. He just had to get them back!
Severus muttered the countercurse as he pointed his wand at his legs. He rose to his feet and followed the rest of the first years up the winding path to the castle. He kept his eyes on James and Sirius as the two laughed and joked with Remus and Peter. Severus envied their friendship until he realized that Lily was at his elbow, telling him about her parents' reaction to her letter. He wanted to kick himself: he did have a friend, and a really good one at that.
"How do they decide what House to put you in, Severus?" Lily asked, curiosity and anxiety evident in her voice.
"My uncle said one of the school relics decides, but he didn't tell me anything else," Severus replied, trying to reassure her.
"So I won't have to do any magic or anything like that, will I?"
"Probably not," Severus mumbled, keeping his eyes on James and Sirius, looking for an opportunity to hex them. Lily seemed to relax a bit.
Before long they were walking into the entry hall of Hogwarts. They were greeted by a stern-faced witch wearing dark brown robes trimmed in plaid. Severus knew right away that she was someone who was not to be trifled with. The woman had a very commanding way about her. Her sharp eyes carefully looked the group of first years over. She raised her eyebrows at the sight of Sirius Black's wet robes. Hagrid ambled over to her and started speaking in hushed tones. The witch's lips immediately formed a thin, angry line.
"You, you and you," she commanded without preamble, pointing and Severus, James, and Sirius in turn. "Follow me."
The three boys followed her obediently. James and Sirius glanced at each other, then at Severus.
Severus kept his head up and his eyes fixed straight ahead. They were just as guilty as he was. He knew that his uncle wouldn't mind him getting into trouble for hexing those two, but his mother would be very disappointed if he managed to receive a detention, or worse, before classes even started. Still, what he had done on the train was in self-defense. The incident on the dock would be a little more difficult to explain.
"Now, who are you, and why are your robes dripping wet, young man?" She wheeled around to face them, asking Sirius the first question.
"I'm Sirius Black, Professor." Sirius pointed at Severus. "It's all his fault! He used a Trip Jinx on me at the dock, and I fell in the lake. If Mr. Hagrid hadn't pulled me out, I could have drowned!"
"I see." Her eyebrows contracted. "And your name is?"
"Severus Snape, Professor. One of them used a Jelly-Legs Jinx on me when we got to the castle," Severus quickly added, trying to diffuse some of the blame onto the other boys.
"Only after you used a Leg-Locker Curse on me!" James said abruptly, snapping his mouth shut as the witch glared at him for speaking out of turn. "Sorry, Professor."
"When I want your input, I will ask for it." She spoke so sharply to James that he winced as if he had been physically slapped. "And you are?"
"James Potter, Professor," James whispered, hanging his head contritely.
"Need I remind you that each of you is underage, and therefore not allowed to do magic outside
of school unless it is under very exacting circumstances. Even though you were technically on school property at the time, you are not to hex another student for any reason. Have I made myself clear?"
"Yes, Professor," they chorused gloomily.
"For your punishment, Mr. Potter, you will lose five points for whichever House you are sorted into," she said harshly. Severus felt a grin breaking across his face. He suppressed it a bit too late. "You, Mr. Snape, will cost your future House ten points, five for each hex. You will also be doing a detention with me; I don't approve of students who find others' punishments funny. Now, back to the group you go."
Severus couldn't believe it -- ten points and a detention. It just wasn't fair! She never asked why he would bother to hex them in the first place. If she had known about the incident on the train, perhaps the punishments would have been handed out more equally. Well, maybe it was for the best that she didn't know about what had transpired on the train. He at least was getting away with casting the Hair-Growing Hex on Sirius. Ten points was less than fifteen points. Still, losing points before he was even sorted wasn't going to endear him to his new House mates, even if they were mildly impressed that a first year knew how to cast curses.
James and Sirius turned to walk away, Sirius's wet robes clinging to his shivering form. The witch stopped the two boys and dried the dripping robes and cast a warming charm on them. They were still a bit messy-looking, but they were now warm and dry.
Severus walked moodily in the witch's wake, trying not to think of what a terrible impression he was making already. He wasn't paying attention to where he was going and walked right into her when she stopped.
"For goodness sake, Mr. Snape! Please keep your mind on where you are going. I do have one question, before you rejoin your peers." She watched him in a way similar to how hawk would observe its prey. "How does a young wizard learn so many curses even before his first year?"
Severus returned her gaze without flinching. "My uncle taught me, Professor, so I wouldn't get bullied as much."
"I see. You do realize, Mr. Snape, that there are ways to solve one's problems other than resorting to the use of curses?" the professor asked pointedly.
Severus stiffened. "Yes, I do, Professor."
"See that you remember that in the future." With a final nod she ushered the grumpy boy back to the group.