by Flye Autumne
Disclaimer for this entire work: I own nothing. JK Rowling owns all of the Harry Potter universe and its characters - this is why she is rich and I am not. :)
A/N: Trigger warnings for scenes that will occur in later chapters- there will be references to abuse/neglect. If this is likely to upset you, you might want to read a different fic.
With all that being said, let's begin!
CHAPTER ONE: IT'S TRADITION
It had become an unofficial tradition at Hogwarts to take bets on which Houses the first years would be Sorted into — not that he, Severus, would admit to taking part in such a tradition. No, Severus Snape was not a betting man, although he did make certain... investments in students he knew would be Sorted into the House of Snakes.
"Now what about Longbottom," Filius asked conversationally. "He didn't lack for bravery from either parent, although Alice was a Hufflepuff."
"Five sickles says he goes to Gryffindor," said Pomona.
Minerva looked scandalized. "Really, Pomona, betting against your own House?"
The Herbology witch shrugged, clearly not wishing to share her thought process.
Severus smirked. Few people realized that Pomona housed an incredibly shrewd mind behind her friendly face. The Hat may wish to put Longbottom in Hufflepuff, but he will certainly end up in Gryffindor — that awful grandmother of his likely doesn't shut up about their alleged virtues. "Five galleons says that Malfoy, Parkinson, Crabbe, Goyle, Greengrass, Nott and Zabini will be in Slytherin."
Minerva scowled. "Severus, that's hardly fair...all of them are practically shoo-ins…"
Severus fixed her with a cold glare. "I hope you aren't typecasting any students, Minerva," he said silkily.
The Gryffindor matriarch looked flustered. "Of course not! I just -"
Filius took pity on her. "He's just baiting you -"
"So what about the muggle borns," Filius asked, clearly trying to steer the conversation into calmer waters.
"I do believe Minerva has a distinct advantage in that realm," Severus cut in. "After all, she is the one who delivers their letters."
"That's how it is every year, Severus."
"I know. And that's the reason I seldom bet on the muggleborns."
"You've never bet on a muggleborn."
"Never say never," Severus snarked.
"Pssh. I'll bet a galleon that you won't bet on a muggleborn's Sorting this year," Minerva scoffed.
Severus pretended to consider the notion for a moment. Really, it was too easy to manipulate his coworkers. "Who are my options?" he asked, trying to sound reluctant.
"Terry Boot, Kevin Entwhistle, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Hermione Granger, and Dean Thomas. Take your pick."
Severus pretended to consider once again. "Alright. One knut -"
"Severus, a legitimate bet!"
"Fine. Ten sickles -"
"At least over a galleon!"
Severus sighed in annoyance. "One galleon, one sickle, and one knut that Granger will be sorted into Slytherin."
Minerva snorted. "You can say goodbye to your money. Everything about that girl screams Ravenclaw."
Severus raised an eyebrow. Last time he checked, he was a far better judge of character than Minerva. "If you say so." He stood to leave. "I have a potion that needs to be checked on. I will see you at the Sorting."
He left the staff room and headed towards the dungeons as his thoughts slowly turned towards the bushy haired girl he met in Diagon Alley.
The bushy haired girl paused for a moment outside of Flourish and Blotts. A look of longing passed over her face, but it was quickly wiped away as she headed towards the secondhand bookstore. Severus took a quick stock of her person - faded but clean muggle clothes, a box from Ollivander's sticking out from the second-hand robe shop bag, and no parents in sight.
What? Severus mentally backtracked. Clothing convincingly muggle. First purchases were a wand and robes. No parents in sight. Severus was uncomfortably reminded of his first trip to Diagon Alley - no, don't think of that.
Severus followed the girl into Thorne's Secondhand Bookshop, trying his best not to look like a creepy stalker.
"I'm looking for the Hogwarts first year textbooks," the girl said quietly yet confidently. "I have my list right here -"
"You'll find most of them over there," Alastor Thorne grumbled, gesturing to the left side of the shop."
"Thanks." The girl scurried off.
Severus stepped forward, and Alastor's grumpy face broke into a grin. "Severus! Long time, no see."
"It's that time of year again."
"Ah yes, the start of school."
"Don't look so grim. I'm sure not all your students are complete dunderheads."
"You'd be surprised."
Alastor shrugged. Severus said the same things about his students each year. "There's a couple of relatively new potions journals in the back, if you're interested."
Severus nodded his thanks, his mind clearly already occupied with potions. He walked over to the back corner of the shop, scanning the shelves as he went - and ooh, was that the May edition of Potions Today? Severus snapped up the (only slightly) battered copy. And was that last year's copy of the Mastery magazine? Severus shuffled through the pile for a couple minutes before heading over towards the first year books - not because he was concerned about the girl or anything - he needed… a couple more extra copies of the first year potions textbooks - yes, that was it - he, Severus, was definitely not a caring, sentimental man. Absolutely not. He was sure of it.
The girl was standing facing one of the bookshelves and had a pile of books next to her. Severus recognized the distinctive black and gold binding of The Standard Book of Spells as well as the navy binding of A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration. The green and gray book was Magical Drafts and Potions, and the plain gray one was clearly The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection, which left - Severus followed the girl's gaze to the top shelf - One Hundred Magical Herbs and Fungi.
Severus sighed. I suppose I ought to play the gentleman and help her get the book down. He scoffed inwardly. He, Severus Snape, was contemplating helping a student out of his own free will? Absurd! Maybe he really was going soft…
Books shifted, and Severus was jerked from his musings. He looked up, expecting to see a collapsing bookshelf, or really anything that was more - no, not logical - but more expected than the sight of an old copy of One Hundred Magical Herbs and Fungi wiggling its way out from between its neighbors to land in the girl's hands. Severus raised an eyebrow, which was the equivalent of an average person jumping up and down doing a jig. The wandless magic alone was impressive, but the control exerted was a clear indicator of the girl's impressive raw magical talent. A look of satisfaction flitted over the girl's face, then she sat down suddenly with a slight ooph.
Concern flashed through Severus' mind as he hurried over. Had she - no… "Are you alright?"
The girl was very pale, but nodded slowly.
"A verbal answer, please," Severus asked out of habit, mentally wincing as the words came out of his mouth. The girl didn't know him. She'd think him mad - or cruel - not that he should care -
"I'm fine - I just get dizzy sometimes, that's all. I've done this before. I'll be okay in a couple minutes."
"You've done this before." Severus' mind was spinning.
"Well, yes - but only with small objects." The girl looked slightly uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name earlier - what was it?"
Smooth. "Professor Snape. I teach at Hogwarts. And your name is…?"
"Hermione Granger," the girl quickly supplied. "What subject do you teach?"
"Oh, fantastic," the girl - Granger - said as she straightened up, scooping her books into her arms. "I need to purchase my potions supplies - perhaps you could point me in the right direction?"
Severus responded in the affirmative, and they headed towards the register. Granger carefully counted out the necessary coins from a muggle change purse and started to heft the bag of books onto her shoulder.
"Wait one moment, Miss Granger," Severus said. Granger looked at him in askance as he cast a Featherlight charm on her bag. "The charm will last a couple hours." He handed the bag back to Granger, and her eyes widened slightly.
"Thank you, sir," she said.
Severus felt somewhat uncomfortable. It was only a Featherlight charm. "You're welcome," he managed.
Severus murmured the password to his private lab. That hadn't been the only occasion Granger made him feel uncomfortable - the fact that the girl was using her own pocket money to pay for necessary school supplies didn't sit well with him. When he pressed her for details, she had completely closed up, which disturbed him. In fact, the more he spoke with her, the more his concern grew - and it wasn't because of the things she said, rather, it was what she left unsaid. Severus originally pegged the girl for Ravenclaw, but her practiced avoidance of his questions was a strong indicator of Slytherin.
Severus sat down heavily, mind flashing back to their parting words.
He had given her several books that would be useful in understanding wizarding culture- Hogwarts, A History; Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century; Modern Magical History; and So You Just Found Out You're A Wizard. The girl had been slightly uncomfortable with the gift, but she had stowed the books carefully in her bag.
"Professor -" she began, "there was something someone said in a shop that confused me. It was something about" she paused, searching for the correct word "Houses at Hogwarts?"
Severus had sighed. "Yes, Hogwarts, A History will explain them to you -"
"Oh, sorry, I can just read about them then -"
"Admittedly, the book is quite biased." Severus wasn't sure what made him interject. "Students are Sorted into one of four Houses when they arrive at Hogwarts based on their strengths. Gryffindor prizes bravery, Ravenclaw - intelligence, Hufflepuff - loyalty, and Slytherin - cleverness and ambition."
"The person in the shop said something about Slytherin being... bad"
Severus scanned her face, looking for a sign of malice. Seeing none, he forged ahead. "I'm sure the individual said that in a far more - ah, expressive - manner. People tend to dislike those who are smarter, cleverer and more successful than they are." Pain briefly flashed across the girl's face. "Slytherin House has produced many successful witches and wizards. Unfortunately, the most recent Dark Lord was also a Slytherin, and people, being who people are, make generalizations that really do not apply." Severus felt defensive. "There is nothing bad about being in Slytherin, understood?"
"Good. One more thing before you go," Severus paused, trying to word his advice properly. Should I even tell her… "I advise that you don't reveal your blood status to anyone. There are some wizards who do not take kindly to those of non-magical origins. If someone presses you, make something up and stick with it - allude to the fact one of your parents might be magical - maybe they refuse to talk about their past, so you have no idea of knowing if they are a wizard or not.
"Whatever you decide to say, make it believable. Every lie as a grain of truth at its center."
"Of course, sir. Thank you for telling me."
Severus brushed off her thank you. "I will see you at Hogwarts. Safe travels, Miss Granger."
The girl had vanished into the bustle of the bus station, leaving Severus alone. I hope she makes it back alright.
Severus smirked at the memory. Sentimental fool. You'll turn into Molly Weasley at this rate. Severus shuddered at the thought. The Sorting will be interesting this year, that's for certain.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter! I will aim to update this fic weekly, although I may do so more often if you review (hint hint)! So, potential reviewers, do you have any predictions? Comments? Questions? Feedback of any kind? Just click that nice little button that says 'post review' …