Professor Snape was looking just as disgusted as usual. He had managed to make a mess of his potion somehow. The potion was meant to be as black as night, but it had turned out emerald green. Snape had just stooped to examine it when it over boiled, drenching him with a roar. It stung his face. Suddenly he felt very odd. He looked round and, spying a metal bowl, peered into it, trying to see his reflection. He was in for a shock. A first year looked back at him, undersized, with black hair and eyes and a too pale and drawn face. As he looked down he swallowed, what was he meant to do now?
Elsewhere in Hogwarts Dumbledore was staring down at his roles as a new name added itself to the first year's list, it fit snugly between "Snak, Margaret and Sorrel, Dean, with amazement he read, then reread the name now inked onto the parchment, Snape, Severus? He suddenly knew that something was terribly wrong. He sprinted down to the dungeons, only to find a very embarrassed eleven year old. The child looked very familiar and Dumbledore had a strange feeling of deja-vu as he stared down into too familiar black eyes and realised, not only that this was a future first year but that it was also Professor Snape. Or at least he had been a professor, he was now an eleven year old orphan and Dumbledore realised that he had to find someone willing to take him in. No sooner had his mind begun to work on this new problem however, he had his answer.
"Hiding you, Severus, I think that's the answer."
"To what, professor Dumbledore, sir" Snape asked
"To your problem of course"
"What problem, I'm just another eleven year old!"
"All the others will be in first year, though, Severus, you aren't, yet."
"You'll be a first year of course, Severus."
"How do you expect to do that sir?"
"That is not any business of an eleven year olds, now run along and pack."
Scowling for all he was worth, Sev Snape walked down the corridor and almost ran into Professor McGonagall who started to shout at him before getting a good look at his face.
"What the, what happened to you, boy?" she said in horror.
"Ha, very funny Professor, not!" he shot back.
"No first years are meant to be here yet, now what's your name." A horrible suspicion had drifted into the back of her mind.
"Professor, I'm scared. I don't know what happened. Help me, please!"
"Did the train leave without you then, dear, are you a second year?"
"I'm not eleven, or twelve,not really."
The suspicion deepened into absolute certainty.
"You're a student that's had an accident right?"
"No, but if you don't recognise me then no-one else will either."
"O.k. kid, that's weird, do whatever you were doing before, I'm going to see Professor Dumbledore. She walked briskly along the corridor, until she was outside the gargoyle.
"Sugar plums" The gargoyle sprung to life as she entered Dumbledore's study. "Dumbledore, why is there still a first year wandering around?"
"So it worked! Even you don't recognise him."
"Who is he Dumbledore, is he a student?"
"Yes and no. He got hit by a falling potion bottle this morning.
"You mean that's Severus? I don't believe it!"
"Believe it, Minerva, no matter what he looks like, he's still very sensitive."
There was silence in Dumbledore's office as McGonagall contemplated this. So many things that had not seemed to fit about that boy slid into their rightful pattern. Of course he was tiny and too thin, of course he had black hair and a pale complexion. This was how he naturally looked after all. Just because the potion had changed his physical age didn't mean it had changed his physical characteristics as well. He was still the same on the inside too; she had seen a flash of it in his eyes when she had run into him.
"Dumbledore, what do we do with him?"
"We teach him of course; after all young minds are there to be nurtured." He managed to hold his expression for a full half a second before he burst out laughing. "To be honest with you I don't know. We have always taught eleven year olds and I don't think this will change. However, how we are going to incorporate him among the other first years I will leave up to his head of house. When he comes back I will administer the sorting hat test and we'll see how he turns out."
"But we already know don't we?"
"I have reason to believe that Severus Snape will not be placed in Slytherin. But we'll see."
When he came back, carrying his luggage, Dumbledore said:
"Right, let's check something," and with that much ceremony the sorting hat was dumped over his head.
"Hmm, interesting, I believe we have met before, Severus Snape" the sorting hat said in his mind, "but I think you have changed, no I'm sure of it."
"Well I am younger" Snape couldn't help but blurt out.
"That makes no difference, plenty of courage, but without the brashness, intelligence without a desire to put yourself forward, you do not belong in either Hufflepuff or, as last time, Slytherin." Severus winced at this; it had taken a great deal of arguing on his part to be put in Slytherin instead of Ravenclaw. But what else could he have done? He was part of a traditionally Slytherin family and his parents would have disowned him had he been put anywhere else. "Now where to put you, ah, the missing ingredient, yes I can safely say, GRYFFINDOR!"
There was silence for a long while after the sorting hat had made its judgement. Dumbledore had been expecting it to cry RAVENCLAW and McGonagall SLYTHERIN. Snape himself was in shock. This was the one judgement he had not been expecting. He withdrew his left sleeve and stared. The Dark Mark had disappeared. He looked back up at Dumbledore and said softly:
"I'm free, I'm normal again." He said it almost reverently as he stared back down at the smooth unblemished skin where the mark used to be.
"You're also a future Gryffindor, Severus and I guess I congratulate you," Dumbledore and McGonagall said together.
"Thanks" he said sarcastically, "I'll try to live up to the Gryffindor bravery, and stupidity."
"You really hate them don't you, Severus?"
"It's not a question of hate, Professor; Gryffindors just get on my nerves, that's all."
"You are a Gryffindor, boy." He turned in his swivel chair to face Professor McGonagall and said "He'll need a new name of course, any ideas?"
"How about Damien Grant?" she said dryly.
"Perfect, Minerva, now run along Damien." The parchment then changed accordingly to his new name. Snape, Severus disappeared and Grant, Damien was placed in the list in its respective place.
The Sorting ceremony
Travelling on the Hogwarts express was something of a novelty for Severus as it was for the true eleven year olds. Dressed in a blue T-shirt and jeans, with white trainers poking out at the bottom he certainly looked the part. On Dumbledore's orders he had had a much needed haircut, care of Madam Pomfrey and she had shut down the gland that made his skin and hair greasy- permanently. With very untidy, short black hair and eyes no longer reflecting the black of his clothing, he even looked good. His natural eye colour was in fact sea green and he felt very confident that no-one would recognise him. He was right. A couple of other first years introduced themselves as David Peters and Chris Parks. He had struck up a good friendship with them by the time they reached Hogwarts, using his fake name of course. He stood with the others as Hagrid organised them into boats then they rowed across to the castle. None of the first years touched anything however as the boats were rowing themselves, stately and slowly across the black water. When they reached the castle professor McGonagall was there to meet them.
"Hello, students, I am professor McGonagall, the deputy-headmistress, welcome to Hogwarts. Before the start of term banquet, you will all be sorted into houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony. There are four houses, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and you will all become a credit to your house. While you are at Hogwarts, your good behaviour will earn you house point while any rule breaking will result in the loss of them. At the end of the year, the house with the most points will be awarded the house cup. This is a great honour. Now follow me" She swept out of the chamber, the first years, Severus (Err, Damien), included, walking in a higgledy-piggledy line after her. "First years line up" she barked. They all scrambled to their places and the sorting ceremony began.
"Accra, Oscar" A scrawny boy with a full head of blond curls sidled up, nervously, to sit on the stool. "HUFFLEPUFF!" the sorting hat cried almost immediately. As the ceremony progressed, Severus… ah Damien, could feel the nervousness that he had felt the first time around rise inside him once again. Like a sleepy sluggish serpent, it wound its way around his stomach and knotted painfully in his heart. After what felt like centuries it was finally his turn.
"Grant, Damien," as he seated himself on the stool he was aware of hundreds of eyes upon him. "Hmm… I thought I did you, GRYFFINDOR! The hat snapped irritably before McGonagall whipped it off his head and he joined the scarlet clad Gryffindor table. Almost immediately he noticed a big difference between the two houses he had been sorted into. Where as Slytherin had been none too impressed with having yet another scrawny first year among them, the Gryffindors were practically ecstatic, as he sat down people were clapping him on the back and saying things like
"Welcome to Hogwarts" and "Gryffindor is the best house, you'll see." (He privately snorted at that one.) Eventually his friends were sorted
"Parks, Christopher" Chris scrambled to the stool through the milling remainder of his year,
"Peters, David" David's long brown hair disappeared under the hat,
He looked over sympathetically at David, who, just as he had been when he was really eleven, was being totally ignored.
A/N An idea that was chasing itself in my head. You have all these stories where Severus becomes Sixteen or an infant, so why not have him as a first year for a change?