Meant to Be.... Enemies?
Disclaimer: I will say it again: I'm not JK Rowling; I'm just a humble fic writer who would love to be given the supreme honor of writing the official prequel. But seriously, what are the odds of that happening?
A/N: I am pleased to announce that this little fic received an honorable mention in the Death Day Festival at Sycophant Hex. Thank you to my wonderful, loyal readers; you make this worth my while. Thanks also to my friend and beta, Verity, who keeps me reasonably sane.
Chapter 5: Lessons to Learn
It wasn't until Wednesday afternoon of the first week of classes that Severus finally had a spare moment to write his letters home. He flopped down on his bed with a quill, ink and two pieces of parchment. First, he wrote to his uncle, telling him that he had been sorted into Slytherin. He was starting on his letter to his parents when the other boys came into the dormitory. Severus continued with his letter writing, doing his best to ignore them as they went on and on about Quidditch.
"What are you doing, Snape? That isn't homework already, is it?" Rosier asked, nodding at the parchments on the bed.
The pale boy barely glanced up at him. "Just letters home."
"Miss your mum so soon?" one of the other boys asked snidely.
"Not his 'mum,' Wilkes, more likely his 'mam'." Rosier went to snatch the letter out of Severus's hand.
Reflexively, Severus drew his wand and shouted, "Petrificus Totalus!"
Rosier's arms and legs snapped together. He keeled over as stiff as a board, lying helplessly on the floor, blinking furiously. Severus hopped off of his bed and glared down at the other boy. To hide how much the remark had stung, he raised his wand threateningly. "Don't you ever make fun of me again. Do you understand?"
The immobile figure on the dark green rug stared up at him. With a satisfied nod, Severus ended the curse. Just because all of the other boys were much bigger than he was didn't mean that he was going to allow them to bully him. As Rosier scrambled in an undignified manner to his feet, Wilkes and Flint looked at Severus with a newfound air of respect. Without a word, Severus went back to his letters.
The first week of classes wore on, and Severus hurried to Transfiguration class. He was looking forward to this class if for no other reason than Lily was also in it. Every now and then, he caught a glimpse of her in the corridors or in the Great Hall, but he hadn't been able to talk to her. Either she was with a crowd of Gryffindors or he was being watched by Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Black. He realized that he actually missed her company. Hoping to have a moment to talk to her before class, he was one of the first students to arrive at the door before class started.
"Severus!" a delighted voice sang out behind him.
He turned to see Lily and some of the girls from her House heading over to wait by the door. The red-haired girl smiled at him, and Severus felt a grin spread across his face.
"Hi!" she called, waving to him.
"How are your classes going so far?" he asked, ignoring the unkind looks that the other girls were casting in his direction.
He and Lily chatted until the other first years came along. One look from the other Slytherins gave him the impression that remaining Lily's friend was going to be more difficult than he had originally thought. At the same time, Potter and Black were coming up the other end of the corridor with Lupin and Pettigrew in tow. The four of them stopped short at the sight of one of their own holding a conversation with a Slytherin.
"Hey, Evans!" James called, walking over to them. "What are you doing talking to him?"
"There are plenty of Gryffindors to talk to; you don't need to waste your breath on a Slytherin," Sirius added, standing beside James Potter.
Lily lifted her chin defiantly. "I thought you wouldn't want to be bothered with a Muggle-born."
"Now how did you get that idea? You're a Gryffindor, same as us." James had a puzzled look on his face.
"We might be in the same House, but I'm nothing like you," she said coldly.
"Well, you're even less like Snivellus." James grinned, slipping his hand inside the pocket of his robe and sizing up Severus.
Severus felt his temper flare. He was positive it was his wand that Potter was reaching for. He stuck his hand into his own pocket and wrapped his fingers tightly around his own wand. There was no way he was going allow Potter to get the upper hand on him ever again. Before either of them could do anything, the heavy classroom door swung open, and Professor McGonagall stepped out into the corridor. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of the crowd of first years.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Potter?" she asked, the lenses of her spectacles flashing.
James shook his head. "No, Professor."
"Very well," the tall witch said in a tone that clearly conveyed she was not to be trifled with. "Into the classroom then."
They filed silently into the Transfiguration classroom. Severus took a seat by himself on the Slytherin side of the classroom, directly behind the dark-haired girl and one of her friends. He pulled out a roll of parchment, a jar of ink, and fine gray goose quill. Professor McGonagall gave them the strictest of warnings: there would be no fooling around in her class. Severus sat up straighter as she began her lecture, determined to improve upon the wretched first impression he had made.
The first thing they were asked to do was to transfigure a toothpick into a needle. He concentrated so hard that he broke out into a sweat, his fine, lank hair plastered to his forehead. Finally on the fourth attempt, he noticed that the little sliver of wood was at least pointy and metallic. He wiped his forehead on the sleeve of his robe, a satisfied smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Glancing around, he realized that none of the other students had had any luck yet. Professor McGonagall paused at his desk, nodding her approval. The bell rang, signaling the end of class.
"Very good, first years. It seems that we have a few students who have been able to make some change in their toothpicks. Good work, Mr. Snape, Miss Evans, Mr. Potter and Mr. Black. You all have earned a point for your Houses. For homework, write a fourteen-inch essay on the correct technique for the spell and read the first half of chapter two. You are dismissed."
Severus quickly packed his books into his school bag, hoping to enjoy a bit of fresh air in the courtyard before his next class, Astronomy lecture. He was turning to leave when Rosier, Wilkes and Flint beckoned to him. Curious as to what they could possibly want, Severus joined them.
"Hey, Severus, my brother lent me his Fanged Frisbee. Want to join us at break?" Sebastian Flint asked, patting the side of his school bag, which emitted a muffled snarl.
"I s'pose so."
"Great!" said Rosier. "By the way, how is your essay for History of Magic coming?"
Severus had finished most of it last night and was planning to recopy it that evening. He talked about it briefly and his dorm mates seemed impressed. He grinned a little. Maybe they were finally realizing that he wasn't just some scruffy idiot. Perhaps they would become friends after all. Wilkes offered him some Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans from the small bag he had hidden in the pocket of his robes. After the bad experience he'd had with them on the train, Severus declined the offer politely.
The next morning there was a notice on the common room board announcing that there would be flying lessons for the first years on the following Thursday. Severus wrinkled his forehead. He had only been on a broom a few times this past summer at his uncle's. While he was a decent flyer (meaning he felt confident that he wouldn't fall off and break his neck), he was by no means good at it. Well, surely there were plenty of first years who had never ridden at all. He wasn't likely to be the worst at it. Besides, flying was something that he would only tolerate until he was old enough to Apparate.
At the end of classes on the following Thursday, Severus marched down to the Quidditch pitch with the rest of the first year class. Some of them were nervous, some were excited and a few were scared. The first person he ran into was James Potter. The dark-haired, bespectacled boy wore a confident expression on his face, and Severus was sure that James was a really good flyer.
Suddenly he felt someone shove him from behind. Severus staggered and nearly lost his balance. When he turned around, Sirius Black was standing behind him, followed closely by Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew. He glared at them.
"Sorry, didn't see you there, Snivellus," Sirius said, walking around him.
Remus passed him silently, looking both embarrassed and apologetic. Peter scurried behind both of them, a nasty grin on his round face.
"They are so awful," whispered a voice at his side. Lily was standing next to him, her eyes flashing with anger. "I'll say something to--"
"Don't!" he squeaked in alarm, his voice jumping two octaves. He cleared his throat. "I mean, I'll handle it."
"Severus, Remus isn't like them at all. I've gotten to know him a little bit better. He really is very nice," she said softly.
She's making friends with them! Oh bloody brilliant! How long before she decides that a friendship with me isn't worth it? Severus thought in a panic. He frowned slightly. "If Remus goes along with them, then he's just as bad as they are. So much for Gryffindor courage."
Lily stepped back, looking hurt. "Well, you won't let a girl stick up for you!"
The first chance he had to speak to her since their Transfiguration class last Thursday, and he was arguing with her. He quickly changed the subject. "Are you looking forward to flying?"
"No." She shook her head, her red hair blowing in the breeze. "Have you flown before?"
"A little bit. Just don't let the broom sense that you're nervous, and you should be all right."
"I only hope I don't make a fool of myself." She chewed on her lower lip.
That makes two of us, he thought. "Well, good luck."
"Same," she said, giving his hand a quick squeeze before she hurried to catch up with her friends.
Ten minutes later he stood beside one of the decrepit-looking school brooms, eyeing it apprehensively. He listened to the instructor, a youngish looking woman with short dark hair, streaked lightly with gray, as she gave them some basic pointers. "... hover for a moment and touch back down. Ready now, first years? Call your brooms."
A chorus of 'up' echoed on the pitch as Severus and his classmates attempted to get the brooms to obey them. Severus looked around, noting that James and Sirius and a few others were already straddling their brooms. He glanced over at Lily; her broom was still on the ground. To his relief, his broom finally rose up and into his outstretched hand.
He went to swing his leg over the handle and the broom suddenly started bucking. Beside him the pretty, dark-haired girl from his House started laughing at him. Furious that someone from Slytherin would make fun of him, Severus was determined to make the broom behave. He tried several times to mount the broom and received a few bruises on his inner thigh for his efforts. Then, just as suddenly as it had started, the broom stopped trying to buck him off and calmed down. At least he finally got it to mind!
He went to kick off as instructed when things went horribly wrong. The broom began to shudder and shake again. Trying to get it more under control, Severus hooked his feet at the ankles and leaned forward. He realized too late that this was the one of the worst things that he could have done. The broom started to buck even more violently than before. Severus clung onto it for dear life as the broom rose higher and higher in the air. From there he noticed James and Sirius elbowing each other and laughing, and Sirius had his wand in his hand. All around him, he heard the laughter of his classmates.
The broom whipped up, hitting him sharply in the nose. He grabbed at his face with both hands and fell heavily to the ground. On impact he felt the air being forced from his lungs. Rolling onto his side, he clutched his nose, which was bleeding and swelling, and drew a shallow, painful breath through his mouth. A whistle blew, and the laughter died away.
"There now, Mr. Snape, don't move. I've sent for Madam Pomfrey," he heard the instructor say. "Bad bit of business with that broom. Just had the wind knock out of you, that's all."
"Severus, are you all right?" Lily was hunched next to him.
Wanting to reassure her that he was fine, Severus tried to speak, only to have the metallic taste of blood fill his mouth. His insides heaved in protest. He made an effort to empty his mouth without emptying his stomach. He managed to sputter, "I think by nose ib broken."
He took one of his hands away from his face and caught sight of the sticky, red blood on his hand. The sight of so much blood--his blood--made him fall back into a suffocating, swirling darkness.
Severus's eyes fluttered open and he noticed the crimson and orange light fading into purple in the nearest window. Sunset? There were no windows in the Slytherin dormitory. He must be in the hospital wing. He let out a groan at the memory of the event that landed him here. There is a special brand of humiliation that comes from fainting in front of about forty people. How was he going to live this down?
"Ah, I see you're finally awake," said Madam Pomfrey, the school nurse, as she smiled at him. She placed a covered tray on the cabinet next to his bed. "Excellent bit of diagnosis you did on yourself. You were correct: Your nose was broken. Well, I healed as best as I could, but there was so much swelling I may not have been able to get it exactly as it was before. You also have suffered a mild concussion."
Maybe my nose will be a bit smaller, he thought hopefully.
"Anyway, eat up. I'm going to keep you here overnight; you may return to your common room first thing in the morning. Oh, and your visitor left you a note." With one last warm smile, the nurse left him to his meal.
Severus gingerly felt his still-swollen nose, noting that it now seemed to be twice the size it was before. Maybe, just maybe, that was only the swelling. He inspected the meal on the tray: chicken legs, mashed potatoes, mushy peas and a small slice of chocolate cake. He polished it off quickly and picked up a note that was propped up against a water jug. He unfolded the square of parchment and read it carefully.
Madam Pomfrey says that you will be fine. But if you need to stay in hospital another day, I will be more than happy to bring my books for you to borrow so you don't get behind in your classes.
The boy grinned, which caused his nose to throb painfully. She must have been really worried about him if she came up to look in on him and left him a note. He sank back into the pillow, watching the sun as it finished setting.
A/N Normally this is where I beg for reviews, but I'm trying to be more dignified than that. Please don't make me beg.