ODDBALL PRIDE
A series of events during Severus Snape's first year at Hogwarts.


Prologue

'SEVERUS!'

Robes, hat, gloves, winter cloak.

'SEVERUS SNAPE!'

The Switch Guide, Trunkshot History, Herbs, Potions, Miranda of course, Fantastic Beasts, Trimble and Waffling. Not to forget the cauldron, the telescope and the brass scale. And... phials. The whole set.

'ARE YOU THERE AT ALL? WILL YOU COME DOWN!'

There was noise coming from downstairs. Voices. And the sound of footsteps. Someone was walking up and down the hallway. Severus took his trunk and dragged it to the top of the staircase, just when a man arrived at the bottom of it. He seemed relieved and angry at the same time.

'Where have you been? We're very late!'

'Sorry,' muttered Severus, his eyes fixed on the tip of his shoes. 'I overslept.'

'Very well, very well,' said the man, not showing the faintest interest in Severus's excuses. 'Come on. The others are waiting outside. Everything is ready.'

'How are we going to get to the station?'

'Walk,' said the man impatiently. 'King's Cross is one of the most crowded places in London. You can't just apparate there - or go by Portkey, for that matter. It is packed with Muggles. Will you HURRY UP!'

He grabbed Severus's trunk, who quickly glanced at his mother. She was passively standing next to the staircase, staring into one of the flowerpots that surrounded the radiator under the window frame. Did not seem to take part in the events around her, but Severus knew that she was desperately trying to understand what was going on.

'I forgot my wand,' he said, now looking into the man's eyes for the first time. 'I'll have to go back and get it.'

The man was not pleased.

'Hurry up, then,' he growled. 'I'll be waiting outside.'

Severus nodded and went back upstairs. When he returned, his brand-new ebony wand safely in his pocket, his mother was standing at exactly the same place where he had left her. She had tears in her eyes.

'It is today, isn't it?' she asked. 'You are leaving today.'

'Yes,' replied Severus. 'I am going to Hogwarts. You'll be on your own.'

'I see,' she muttered, taking his face into her hands. 'Severus,' she said suddenly, 'I love you.'

'Hm,' said Severus, not sure what to reply to this. 'Don't wait for me, mother. And tell... tell him I'll write as soon as possible.'

She nodded. 'He will be so proud of you, my dear.'

'Yes,' said Severus quietly. 'Bye, mother. See you next year.'

And he stepped out of the house into the sunlight. The day was exceptionally warm. A light breeze was coming from somewhere, and in front of a group of beech trees a woman and her child were waiting, apparently calmer than the man was. He had taken out his wand, and was reducing Severus's trunk to a little suitcase, stuffing it into the large, brown shopping bag his wife was holding.

'We are late now,' he said. 'Very late. Come on!'

Severus's gaze fell on the black-haired boy who was considerably taller than him, with a haughty look of boredom on his face. Severus's first thought was that he would rather not meet this chap in a deserted street at night. The boy returned his look with the same lack of interest his father had shown towards Severus's excuses.

'Sirius,' he said. 'Sirius Black.'

Severus nodded. 'I am-'

'I know who you are,' Sirius interrupted, his facial expression changing to impatience rather than boredom. 'You're Snape.'

Severus nodded again. No one spoke another word until they had reached the end of the lane and were standing in front of a deserted precinct. Sirius's father stopped, considered for a moment and chose a street to the left. He was obviously not used to walking down Muggle streets, let alone reading signs. Severus was lost in thoughts, wondering whether his mother would remember to tell his father about the letter. Sirius, on the other hand, was watching the bypassing people with a strange look of curiosity on his face. His father was not pleased.

'Stop showing so much interest!' he snapped, causing his son to give him an angry and challenging look. 'They're Muggles, for Merlin's sake. Plain Muggles! It is not natural for a wizard to pay so much attention to them. Especially not for a Black.'

'I find them fascinating,' said Sirius merely. 'Why do we have to go by train anyway?'

'I told you, you cannot go to Hogwarts other than by train,' his father replied. 'It is the only way. For students, in any case. Now, come on. Here is the station.'

They had reached King's Cross within a few minutes time. Severus stared at the huge building and marvelled at the sight of the arriving and departing trains. There were people everywhere. And noise. Every corner of his head was buzzing, partly of excitement, but most of all because of all the different sounds that were surrounding him all of a sudden. So many impressions. He hardly noticed that his trunk was restored to him and a voice gave instructions on what to do next. It was only when a sharp slap met the back of his head that he realized Mr. Black was towering over him, making an obvious effort to disrupt his daydreaming.

'Will you listen to what I say?' he snarled. 'The others have gone through. You're next.'

Severus gazed around. Sirius and his mother had indeed vanished. But where to? He rubbed the back of his head, trying not to look too confused. 'Sorry,' he muttered. 'I wasn't paying attention.'

'I noticed,' said Mr. Black coolly. 'I said, you will be next. Walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten and don't stop.'

Severus felt a lump of fear rise inside him. 'B-but... I'll get hurt!'

'Hasn't Lance told you anything?' growled Mr. Black. 'It's how you get through. It is the way to our platform. And if you'd been paying attention, you'd know how it is done. Go on, now. You haven't much time left.'

Severus nodded, not daring to contradict another time.

'Thank you,' he whispered, 'for taking me with you.'

But Mr. Black had already vanished from his sight. Whether he had dived into the new crowd of arriving Muggles, though, or simply apparated against his own advice, Severus could not make out. He took a reluctant step forward and, suddenly deciding that it would be the easiest thing to do, shouldered his trunk and broke into a run.