Author's Note: I own nothing but the idea. If you recognize this, its because I had someone else post it for me. Then I reworked it.

This was started before HP and the OotP but I'm not bothering to change it. I like it as is. You will notice certain signs of this, let me know if any of this works. Or even if you find it an impossible piece of work, that nothing works. The only thing I ask is that I not be flamed personally. If you think its stupid or I am, leave without saying a word. Please, show a little consideration. I would like constructive criticism though,

Story Synopsis: Professor Dumbledore did go against Grindelwald. He was successful in defeating him but it wasn't as permanent a defeat as they would've liked. Also, the professor was badly injured. Though he works at the school, he is not headmaster, he is the deputy headmaster. I haven't decided who the headmaster is yet, probably Dippet. Voldemort is around but not much of a threat.

Let's see, it takes place James & co's first year. Oh, the teams and player that James mentions during the opening feast, I found in that book "Quidditch Through The Ages." I just guessed at their timelines. And this is different from what I'm sure you've read before. At least, I hope it is. But it appeals to me, it has to be. I wrote it. This is actually just a one shot I wrote while brainstorming another one of my pieces. Which means, there might be more. Anyway, I'm sure none of you cares about this mumbo stuff. Onto the story.

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It all started with the missives for first year students and prefects to meet at platform 9 and three quarters in the dead of night.

Worried parents bundled up their tired kids and hurried them off, trying to hide what they were doing from neighbors as they rushed to get ready. Older students understood and did their best to help out, keeping an eye on their younger siblings. Tired kids obediently followed their guardians to a designated place where they traveled in a group to the station.

Many of them curled up and slept, lulled by the steady roll of the train. Others were too excited by the newness of it all and having the train to themselves. They walked around, talking and introducing themselves to the other students-always aware of the steady and watchful eyes of the teachers.

Without warning, the train was flung off its tracks and skidded downhill. Students screamed, others were jostled awake. Panic was clearly the order that ruled them. The train bounced and bumped along, tearing up bits of the landscape as it went along.

"Silence!" An authoritative voice came from somewhere on the train. It did not bellow but they could hear it as though it came from next to them. They settled, clinging to each other. But no longer as afraid.

"Teachers, to me." It was the same calming voice. Instead of stopping them through a painful death, the land seemed to cradle them and lead them towards another set of tracks further down the road and hidden deep inside the earth's cavity.

It was a quiet ride after that and they arrived in the afternoon, silently getting off the train and following the groundskeeper to the waiting boats. "All students to me. Prefects will sit in their own boats while first years will divide up into the others. Quickly now, the teachers are waiting." Gliding across the waters, a feeling of safety surrounded them.

Some of the students seemed to recover from their shock and began to speak, teasing each other lightly.

Other students drew into their thoughts even further as the voices seemed to pierce and add to the terror so recently experienced.

And then there were a few who were oblivious to what was going on around them. Lost in their own troubles and worries, they settled in for the ride.

"Settle down children." A firm voice, in fact the same voice from the train, spoke to them. Waiting at the edge of the castle, a wizard dressed in red sat, waiting for them. "Please, follow me." Those familiar with the non-magical world recognized the chair he was in as a wheelchair. With practiced agility, the wizard led them up the steep incline and into the castle. They realized that this must be the deputy headmaster-Albus Dumbledore. The famous wizard who'd fought Grindelwald and won-at terrible cost to himself.

They waited in the Great Hall, awed by the splendor surrounding them. "Welcome, students. I know that what happened today frightened you. Do not be ashamed of this, for it frightened many of us-and we were expecting something like this to occur. But I will not talk of this anymore. Please, sit down and eat. When the rest of the students arrive, you shall be sorted."

Evening:

"First years, Professor Flitwick shall attend you," Headmaster Dippet spoke and sat down.

The charms professor moved towards the stool and waited, list in hand. Nervous students listened as a battered hat began to sing. When the song was over, the names of the first years were called out and the hat placed on their heads.

"Black, Sirius!"

A dark haired boy, a bit on the small side, walked forward with great confidence. There was a smile on his face as he sat down, a slight smirk in the dark eyes. The hat lowered over his head and he waited, a bit nervously.

'Quite a practical joker, aren't you.' He jumped, hearing the voice inside his head. 'Don't worry about them. They can't hear me. But that wasn't a very nice thing you did to that boy. No need to fear, they won't figure it out. You're a sneaky one, Slytherin's the place for you.'

'But my family's Gryffindor!' he wailed.

'And with good reason. But your talents place you in that house. Slytherin you are. And Slytherin you shall stay.'

Forcing a bright smile onto his face as the hat shouted out his house, Sirius went to the nearly dead silent table. Pride kept his head high, though he wanted to flee the room more than anything.

"Evans, Lily!"

A skinny girl, awkward in her height, made her way to the seat and sat down. The hat was placed on her dark red, almost black, hair.

'Feisty and crafty. But smart and destined for greatness.' A voice mused, Lily blinked in the darkness but was quiet. 'I think the best place for you to be housed in is...' "Ravenclaw!"

She stood up and made her way to the blue clothed table, sitting down. On her right was a boy with bright red hair and laughing brown eyes. "Cary Weasley."

"Lily," her voice was subdued as she watched the other students being sorted. When she realized that he was waiting for something, she turned to him. "What?"

"You don't recognize my name?"

"I'm a mudblood," it was coldly uttered. She'd been on the train long enough to hear herself referred to by such a word.

"The preferred term is muggle born. And anyone who uses that disgusting term has no right to be here, though I suppose I've no right to say so," his voice was mild. "So, how did you find out?"

"I broke a teacup," she relaxed, returning his smile.

"What?" Brown eyes blinked in confusion.

With a laugh, she explained, "I fixed it-without glue. I knew that was weird, so I asked mum. She fainted and it was up to da to explain things to me. I lost my sister's friendship cause of it."

"Sorry to hear that," he pulled something from his pocket and offered it to her. "Chocolate frog?"

"Can't. I am allergic." She refused with a slightly sad smile, remembering her one and only experience with chocolate-and the resulting hospital stay because of it.

"Sacrilege! How do you stand it?"

"Never knew any different," she shrugged.

He shook his head, "shame. Have a bean, I'm pretty sure its not dirt."

"Lupin, Remus!"

The brown haired boy jumped, startled to hear his name. Moving cautiously so that he wouldn't trip on his robes, he nervously chewed on a fingernail. When he realized what he was doing, he jerked it away from his mouth and sat down.

'Oh, dark future. I see a great deal of pain there. A need to learn survival against all odds. One would think that Slytherin would be...but no. That's not quite the fit for you. You're a thinker but...your loyalty shines through more than brains.' The hat decided, "Hufflepuff!"

With a shrug, he stepped down and made his way towards the table decorated in shades of orange. He sat down between 2 nearly identical girls, though one had bright pink hair.

"I'm Sadie and she's my sister, Kalia," the one with pink hair introduced them.

Kalia smiled shyly, shaking his hand. "Welcome to Hufflepuff."

"I'm glad to be here," his voice was soft and slightly accented.

"Do you play Quidditch?" Sadie asked, studying him curiously. "You look like you've got a seeker's build."

Remus shook his head, regretfully. "I have asthma and the medi-healers advise me to stay away until my medicine is more regulated."

"Oh, darn. We could certainly use a better one. Phillip can't play worth a barrel of beans."

"That's all right, first years can't play anyway." Kalia comforted him.

"Pettigrew, Peter!"

A slightly pudgy boy stopped talking to his friend and walked up, embarrassed that he hadn't been paying attention to what was going on. His face was a sickly green. He didn't like the way people were staring at him and whispering.

'Hmmm...Pettigrew. I remember your parents well, nasty pieces of work they were. Always up to something. Only missorting I ever did. Better be...' The hat shouted, "Slytherin!"

Half-stumbling in his relief to be away from those eyes and that voice, he fell onto the bench. Sirius moved over, welcoming him with a sense of relief.

"Hi, Peter, isn't it?"

The ash blonde head nodded, "Sirius. We met on the train."

"Right. You were with that guy in the glasses. Pottery?" He guessed, hoping that he wasn't making a fool of himself. This Pettigrew, though he didn't quite like the looks of him, was his only chance for an ally in this wicked house.

"Close. It's Potter," he corrected gently, then he cautioned, "don't call him names, unless you'd like to walk around a permanent target for him."

Sirius' eyes widened at the warning, he'd already come up with quite a few rhymes. "Sensitive, is he?"

"Very. And quite capable of defending himself if rumors of his guardian are true." Peter's voice lowered conspiratorially, "he, that is, Snape took him in when his parents died. I'm sure you know what they say of him."

"Yeah, I know. I thought he looked familiar," Sirius muttered, searching for the boy in the crowd.

"Right, your families would travel in the same circles."

"Nothing good ever came out of that house." He replied, glaring at the back of the boy's head.

"James isn't bad. But that Severus, now that one is odd."

"Potter, James!"

'Good breeding. Fine family heritage. Unfortunate upbringing though.'

'Would you just get on with it?' he snapped irritably. 'I don't appreciate being on show.'

'Touchy,' the hat sniffed. 'Do you think I enjoy picking through dull pea brains like yours?'

'You must because you take so long to do it.'

'Well, I like that. You try to do a good job and this is the reward I get? No appreciation for what I do. None at all.' There was a pause, "Gryffindor!"

James stepped down and stopped by Severus, "You owe me a Merlyn card, cousin."

"Just because my father allows you to call him uncle does not make us relatives, Potter," Severus scowled blackly.

"As you say, cousin," he smirked, accepting the card. "I'll take good care of this and may even allow you visiting rights."

Severus growled, watching him go to the red table.

James' feelings of elation evaporated after he sat down. The students moved away from him, staring at him suspiciously. He sighed, it seemed that everyone here believed the rumors of his guardian being a dark wizard after all. Severus had warned him but he thought it was just an exaggeration to bug him. His friend sometimes did that. Of course, so did he.

Not for the first time did he wish his parents hadn't died into that accident. Septimus Snape wasn't bad but he did make life difficult for him to make friends. Seeing Peter chatting with a boy at his own table increased his feelings of isolation. He wished that he had lost the wager, though he really wanted that card, and ended up in Slytherin. At least there he wouldn't be an outcast.

"Snape, Severus!"

The spidery youth who seemed to be mostly arms and legs, made his way forward. James held his breath, Severus was his only hope for one friend in this new world.

'A keen mind and a tricksterish nature. Interesting combination. But I would guess that you want me to put you in Slytherin.'

'Not really. I'll accept any house except Hufflepuff.' He shuddered, thinking of their blind, unquestioning devotion. 'I think that Gryffindor would be best. I have a friend there who isn't like me. He isn't used to being the outcast in any group.'

'Loyalty, highly commendable. But you won't learn what you need to get by there. I am sorry but I feel that the best place for you is...'

James and Severus held their breaths, waiting for the verdict.

"Ravenclaw!"

Feeling the hat leave his head, he rose and went to that house's table and sat down, resting his back against it. Though he felt the withdraw of his fellow housemates, he ignored it in favor of his friend's pain. He tapped James on the shoulder, "hey."

"Hey," he was glum as he turned to face him.

"Don't worry, Potter. Your house can't possibly be filled with narrow minded bigots who can't see beyond their own noses."

The blue eyes narrowed before a smile curved his lips. "So, you have been listening to your lessons."

"Of course," Severus scoffed. "I am not like you, spending all my time drooling over a silly game."

"You only say that because you couldn't play Quidditch to save you skinny butt!" James defended himself, glaring at him.

"You play Quidditch?" A voice asked, startling them both. "What team do you favor? And position?"

James turned to face the tawny haired man. "I sure do. Keeper's my position. There's something about being the only one truly able to stop the other's from scoring that I enjoy. As for teams, I don't really follow one or the other."

"But if pressed, which team would it be?" He pressed, hazel eyes bright with curiosity,

"Then I'd say either the Falmouth Falcons or the Fitchbure Finches."

"An American team?" The boy was incredulous, "you a traitor?"

James's eyes narrowed dangerously, Severus leaned back to watch. "What's so traitorous about following a good team? Their seeker, Maximus Brankovitch, has led them in a few matches that almost took them to the World Cup games. In fact, it looks like he might actually do it this year."

"Good point, Potter." He paused, weighing his options before nodding decisively. "I'm called Devil."

"Called?" James repeated, not sure he heard him right.

Devil shrugged, "I shortened it from Daredevil. I earned that name after a spectacular move on the field, scoring the winning points in the last few minutes of our rainy game."

"Spectacular in a stupid, moronic way, berk." A girl from across the table commented. She turned and faced them, mocha skin glowing in the candlelight. Her long hair half circled her head in a French plait before falling to the side.

Devil sniffed, "comments from the peanut gallery will be ignored, Rafi."

"So you keep saying, but you haven't managed it yet." Rafi smirked at him, "tell me more of this team?"

Once the spidery youth was sure James was comfortable in his new house, he turned around and looked at his own housemates. To the dark eyes, none of them seemed like friend material. Although, the redhead with the Weasley boy looked promising.

Shaking his head with a sigh, he knew that there was no chance. His family and the Weasleys had never gotten along. She'd be warned off before long. Then again, she didn't seem like the type to break easily or waver from her convictions.

The expression on the pale face darkened angrily. If only people didn't believe everything they heard about my da, life would be better, he thought. Sure, Septimus Snape was a difficult man to get to know, being away from England so much. But it was a part of his job, being an author who desired authenticity, he often went to the source.

When James had come to them eight years ago, he had eased off a bit. But once they were older, it was back on the road for all three of them. Dark eyes stared at the table, wanting to go home. His father had gotten sick while they had been in India and their farrin blood made it harder for him to be away from home under the circumstances.

With a sigh, the Ravenclaw straightened, looking around. A young boy at the Hufflepuff table was looking his way and a shy smile crossed his face before he turned to the girl at his side. With a shrug, he continued to look around.

Meeting Peter's concerned eyes over the heads of the students, he shrugged that he was okay. Then gestured to his companion who was watching them with narrowed eyes. Peter mouthed, 'Sirius Black' and Severus was shocked.

How had he missed that strange sorting?

Black?

In Slytherin house?

Oh, that was sure to cause fireworks in the Black family, he thought maliciously.

Headmaster Dippet and Deputy Headmaster Dumbledore were talking rather heatedly at the table before the older head bowed, acknowledging the wisdom of his assistant's words. Rising, he clapped his hands for attention and waited. "I am sure that by now you have all heard of the attack on the train. I will not go into what happened, many here are still too young to understand. I will say this, even with the defeat of Grindelwald, we live in dark times. We have instigated new rules that apply to all years. We will do all that we can to insure your safety but if we must spent time looking for you, it will make our job that much harder. Therefore, I charge you with the responsibility of following the rules. No infraction will be tolerated. That goes for everyone here." He looked directly at the sixth and seventh years as he said this. "And now, let the feast begin."

It was a quiet feast, even the appearance of the resident spirits did nothing to liven the mood. After the feast ended, eight students rose and faced the headmaster.

"Excellent. Students, please follow your house's prefects to your dorms. Once you arrive, wait in your common rooms for your head of house to arrive. It is up to them to explain our newest regulations. I will not excuse you for claiming ignorance of the rules. If you have questions, ask. We may not always answer but we will not reject you. Remember, we want you to have a good year here."

Students rose and filled out of the room in a noisy procession. The younger students pushed, trying to get closer to the comfort of the older students. While the older ones tried their best to ignore them in an attempt to catch up with old friends.

A hand rested on the thin shoulder, startling Severus from his thoughts. "See you tomorrow, Maverick?"

"Of course, J.P.," the youth rose before sinking again. "Oh."

"Are you all right?" James knelt down immediately, ignoring the discomfort of the bench pressing against his back. Resting a hand on his friend's knee, he turned concerned eyes up to him.

The dark head shook, "it's the change."

Paling, James helped his friend up and half-dragged, half-carried the Ravenclaw out into the hall. The stumbling pair was spotted by Professor MacGonagal, whose lips thinned at the sight. "Breaking rules already?"

The Gryffindor didn't answer, just gasped out "infirmary."

"This way," she spoke sharply. Being careful, she lifted the burden from James. "You may be excused to go the to the tower. Mr. Potter. Go straight down that hall and up the second flight of stairs you reach. Walk up them until you reach the third floor. Using this short cut-which will only be allowed this once-you will get there by the time the other students do. Do you understand?"

Saying nothing, he just held onto his friend's limp hand and walked beside her. Again, her lips thinned disapprovingly, but she suppressed her remarks and led them on. James didn't care. For as long as he cared to remember, they had never not been together.

Friends from the moment they shared a small cradle, James couldn't imagine leaving Severus alone to face the change. Septimus had not been sure when it would happen but had told them a bit about it, just in case. Severus had matured early for his kind and it worried his father-when he remembered that he had children to care for.

"Madame Pomphrey, I bring you your first patient of the year," Professor MacGonagal said and turned to him, "Mr. Potter, you have seen your friend to safety. I will take you to your dorms, since it's too late for you to meet up with your fellow classmates unnoticed."

"I can't leave Severus, Professor," James' face was set stubbornly, "especially while he's not awake."

"Mr. Potter," Professor MacGonagal began but was interrupted by the deputy headmaster's arrival.

"Leave him be, Minerva. I have heard a bit about their situation. It is my feeling that it would be disastrous to separate the two under these conditions." He was calm, resting his hand on James's shoulder, reassuring the tense boy. "Shall we have a seat while we wait for Madame Pomphrey's analysis on Severus?"

"I mean no disrespect, sir, but he needs to hear the new rules and regulations." Her voice was frosty, making it clear what she thought of him for using her given name in front of students. "The headmaster will not be pleased with you catering to this student's needs. Others will expect the same from you."

"I will handle Headmaster Dippet. And he will hear them-when Severus awakens." Dumbledore was firm. "Your students await, Professor." It was a polite but firm reminder that she had her own duties to attend to.

Giving him a look that would've killed a lesser man, she left the room.

James hesitantly sat down. He wasn't a timid boy. It wasn't in his nature to be that way. Severus often complained of it-loudly. But something about the deputy headmaster brought it out in him and he wasn't sure he liked it. "Sir?"

"Yes?" Blue eyes looked at him curiously, waiting patiently. He was well aware of the effect he had on others. At times, it was quite handy. Then there were times, like this, were it was just irritating.

"Professor MacGonagal doesn't seem to pleased with you."

"Oh, I know. But she'll get over it. They always do-especially when they need something. Lemon drop?"

Scrunching his face up in disgust, he refused. A moan from the bed brought him quickly to the bed and his eyes met the dark ones in concern. "Severus?" he was quiet as he took the pale hand in his own. "You all right?"

"I'm fine, James. Or I would be if she would quit poking me. What's going on, sir?" Dark eyes stared at Dumbledore suspiciously, "am I being sent home?"

Dumbledore shook his head, "of course not. What would put such a thought into your head?"

Before the child could reply, Madame Pomphrey spoke up. "It is my opinion that Severus should go home immediately. I was against this in the first place. I know little of how to help this child and it goes against my training to allow a student to suffer."

"Don't worry about it, I know what's happening to me," the changed Severus spoke up in a less rough, more feminine voice.

"Severus stays, Poppy." Albus commanded, then looked at the child. "I see that your father has told you a bit of what is happening to you."

"He thought I should know."

"I will admit that it is unusual for one of your kind to be admitted when you are still young. But you have shown an amazing aptitude and as your eleventh birthday does fall within the school year, we saw no reason to withhold your invitation. As for your transformation, it should prove to be no problem as long as it is monitored carefully. Others have passed through these walls with greater challenges, ignore what the ignorant have to say about it." He spoke with the voice of experience. Suddenly, they saw beyond the reputation and to the real wizard behind it. "No, we will not be sending you home."

Severus was torn between relief and sadness.

James, on the other hand, was elated. He squeezed the hand in his reassuringly, knowing what was going on in his friend's mind. "We'll get through this together, Severus." He may have been happy to learn that they wouldn't be separated but that didn't mean he was unaware of his friend's feelings about everything. "What of these new rules everyone keeps talking about?"

"There really aren't that many, just new restrictions placed on the students. Hogsmead weekend has been changed. Now students are divided up into years and have their own days to go into the town, where they will be escorted by teachers. Also, Quidditch will be played but have time limits on the length, it will no longer be based on who catches the snitch but who has the most points after two hours. Also, rough play is not to continue, we don't want injuries if we can help it."

"But that ruins the game!" James protested.

"Be that as it may, we need to be able to keep everyone in line and out of danger." For once, his voice showed his natural authority and they nodded. "I believe that it is time to turn in. Mr. Potter, I will take you to the Gryffindor Tower. Whereas you, Severus, shall remain here."

"If you don't mind, sir, I'm staying." James was quiet, knowing he was pushing his luck. But something in Albus' eyes told him that he had been expecting that request.

"Very well, I will allow it this once. And only if Madam Pomphrey agrees," he turned to face the quiet woman.

"He may stay only if he sleeps," her voice was steely.

The two nodded, relieved. "Thank you. Good-night, Professor Dumbledore. Madame Pomphrey."

"Good-night, children." Albus wheeled out of the room, wondering how he was going to explain himself to the headmaster. But the happy expression on the faces of those children firmed his resolve. He had done what needed to be done.

Poppy handed James a blanket after he'd climbed into the bed with Severus, making a mental note to move him to another bed after they were both asleep. It would not do to encourage their odd dependency in such a way. "Sleep well," she spoke softly, leaving the room.

"You scared me, Sev." James said, pulling Severus into a tight hug for a moment. "Do you think you can avoid doing that next time?"

"I'm sorry, Jamie," the voice was contrite. "If you want to know the truth, I scared me. And since I don't know when its going to happen, I doubt it."

Yawning, they curled into each other's warmth. James yawned again, "will it always be like that?"

"Don't know. Must ask da when I write," the words were spoken between yawns. "Night, Jamie." The words were muffled in his throat.

"Night, Sev."

End Act One.

Author's Note: Yes, I realize James wouldn't call Severus, Maverick (there is an actual story behind that name) and Severus wouldn't call James, J.P. My excuse is that during their travels with Sev's dad, they picked up a few Americanisms.