Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me. I suppose I own Dunce, but I'd give him away in a heartbeat.
This is all DerektheRogue's fault.
First of September. Another school year, another Sorting, another bunch of ignorant brats determined to drive him to an early grave.
Well, perhaps not that ordinary a new year. After all, the students, and even his colleagues seemed to hum with nervous energy, determined to gossip about something semi-important (and of course, not involving him). However, Snape's Potter-sense was screaming, and that could mean only one thing, what with Potter senior terrorising the Ministry: it was something about their precious Dunce Who Lived. Maybe the little idiot had got lost in Diagon Alley. Again. It had been Snape's fondest wish ever since the boy six years old and had escaped the Potters' 'watchful' care to wreck his potions laboratory to introduce the boy to the wonders of Knockturn, and see how much he could sell a wizarding hero's organs for.
Snape began to drum his fingers irritably on the table – where the hell was that blasted hat? – and indulged in his favourite pre-Sorting pastime of seeing how many students he recognised as coming from families he traditionally liked to belittle/hex and which house they'd eventually shame.
Ugh. Longbottom. And a Hufflepuff if ever he saw one.
Muggleborn, that one. Ravenclaw, if the rapid recitation of spell incantations meant anything.
Ah, there was Draco, looking even more like his father. Snape wondered (and not for the first time) if the Malfoys had simply done away with normal reproduction processes back in the fourteenth century and simply cloned themselves.
Oh Merlin, another Weasley! No need to ask where that one would go.
Bones, Huffle- wait. Potter?
Yes, he realised, eyes flicking back to redhead. The Dunce Who Lived was at Hogwarts. Pity he hadn't been found to be a squib. Snape would've paid good galleons to see that. Regardless, the knowledge was important only for what it meant by proxy: that Harry Potter would be here too.
There. Black-haired and pale, and even more serious than the last time Snape had seen him, which had been aged eight, chatting with the snake in Salazar's portrait down in the dungeons (and hadn't that particular sight nearly given Snape a heart attack?) while his brother did a creditable imitation of performing dog for his fellow teachers. Dunce – Snape never had discovered his actual name, not that he'd use it even if he did – was talking loudly, and from the looks of it, boastfully, while Harry studied the ceiling with the intense fascination of someone bored out of their skull.
"What do you think, Severus?" A voice enquired to his left. "Twenty-five galleons he goes to Minerva's house."
"Pomona. You are aware gambling would set a detrimental example for the children?"
She raised an eyebrow expectantly. He sighed. "If you're talking about the Dunce Who Lived, then fifty says Hufflepuff."
"Really, Severus, you shouldn't talk about students that way! Fifty, my house," she murmured, carefully jotting it down. "And his brother?"
Snape smiled (judging from the fearful expression of Mr. Longbottom, handing that Hat back, it was a most terrifying sight). "Slytherin," he said firmly.
"Be serious!" protested Sprout. "A Potter in Slytherin! It's never happened!"
"Well then," Snape said silkily, "he'll just have to break a few trends. "After all, he is the one being Sorted, not his family." He gave her his most infamous Evil Smile of Certain Impending Doom. "I'm prepared to put two hundred and fifty on it."
There was a low whistle from Sinistra, and an awed hum across the table.
"Done!" Hooch said sharply, to be quickly echoed by the others. Snape smiled grimly. Not only would he have the real Boy Who Lived under his influence by the end of the feast, he'd also make money from it. Things just got better and better. He could even ignore that blasted nervous tic of Quirrel's – honestly, if he hadn't wanted to be terrified out of his wits, the man should have chosen to sit further away from a Potions Master who wants the Defence job. You had to wonder why any of the myriad defence teachers would ever sit next to him, given his well-known coveting of their job and his immense talent with poisons.
The sudden explosion from the Gryffindor table indicated Snape had lost fifty galleons with the Dunce Who Lived's Sorting. That, or the Weasley twins were starting early this year.
Snape's head jerked up, fixing the pale, dark-haired boy he stepped up with a gaze intense enough to put a basilisk with toothache to shame. Here it was, the moment Snape had been waiting for (though any who dared suggest such thing out loud would have to learn very quickly to be as paranoid as Moody over drinks).
He waited in tense, nervous anticipation of the Sorting Hat's decision. Of course, he was almost certain of where Harry would go, but the Hat, being able to see one's innermost characteristics had a slight edge over him, even with Legilimency. Still it was a must that the boy went to Slytherin: Gryffindor would be watching Dunce like a hawk, flaunting his mediocre skills. Hufflepuff – well there was never a chance of him going to Hufflepuff, Snape hoped. Ravenclaw put far too much emphasis on books and grades, none of which were of vital importance when you needed to learn how to kill a Dark Lord. But Slytherin emphasised cunning, caution and a certain disregard for rules when it suited them, all qualities Potter would need, not only to survive the school year, but also to survive random Dark Lord attacks.
And so he continued waiting patiently. Snape gave another glance at his watch. It had been five minutes and the Hat had yet to call out a house. How long could it possibly take for the Sorting Hat to realise something Snape had known since the boy was a year old?
After half an hour, he was seriously deliberating wrenching the Hat off Harry's head, bellowing 'Slytherin!' and dragging him to the table decked out in green and silver.
The other students, who fifteen minutes earlier had begun inquiring if maybe Potter was a squib (and had been superbly reprimanded and disabused of this notion by the Sorting Hat) had begun to occupy themselves however they could – the Ravenclaws began crosswords and hangman, the Hufflepuffs looked at their plates with woeful expressions. Snape amused himself by scowling ferociously at the still-unsorted students, thereby preventing them from sitting down on the stone floor of the Great Hall for fear of his ire. It was a petty, malicious pleasure, and no doubt he'd pay dearly for it in the classroom, but it was most amusing to watch them squirm, pull themselves upright on shaking legs as he glanced at them, sway idiotically and squeak with dismay when he caught one of them near fainting.
No wonder his students spent the next seven years of their schooling devoting themselves to making him miserable rather than learning.
The Gryffindors were suspiciously quiet. Snape's seventh sense – the more general Gryffindor trouble-making one – twitched into life, blaring, as it did only when Weasleys were near. At some unseen signal, the red and gold table burst raucously into song, giving their own mediocre sorting song bawling the 'virtues' of idiocy and thoughtlessness while simultaneously managing to slander their mortal enemies (and duels between Gryffindors and Slytherins were quite often mortal, let alone when they were being provoked in such manner as they were now). Snape closed his eyes with an expression of long-suffering martyrdom as he prepared for the fallout.
As the last out-of-tune note faded away, the Slytherins stood as one and began to sing with saccharine sweet and mocking voices their own version, beginning ominously with the line 'Slytherins are sexier' and somehow managing to insult every house in the hall by applying their less-desirable Sorting characteristics to their qualities regarding relationships.
The entire hall was silenced with equal parts amusement and horror.
Snape sighed. For all his dedicated years as head of house (perhaps not as many as Minerva, but still. He was giving the best years of his life to those brats), he'd never managed to impress upon his students the importance of never lowering themselves to the level of Gryffindors.
The Hat's 'brow' seemed to wrinkle in deep thought. Very deep thought, as the Hat broke Sorting etiquette as old as Hogwarts, by beginning to mutter out loud.
"Kids these days, think they know their own heads..."
Inaudible muttering from the poor unfortunate. Snape brightened. Now this was interesting.
"I don't care what your father thinks about it, it's-"
Mutter. Actually, more of a pleading.
"Rubbish," the Hat snapped, loud enough now for the entire Hall to hear. "Slytherin is a perfectly respectable house... sometimes."
Snape smirked, cheered immensely. Now, no matter if the Hat made a travesty of a judgement and sorted him into Gryffindor, he'd never be accepted there. Among the teachers, a brief, but unimaginably fierce debate that made Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald look a toddler's spat broke out. Snape took advantage of the situation to not only add another hundred galleons to his bet, despite a disapproving look from Minerva, who signalled Pomona to add another fifty to hers, but also perform a hastily muttered silencio when it looked like Minerva was going to remind the Hat that it was not supposed to argue out loud.
"Yes, plenty of courage... I did say that, didn't I? ...tempered by a Slytherin survival instinct. No Gryffindor has a survival instinct worth a damn."
Snape snickered, but hastily converted it into a hacking cough when Minerva gave a glare that promised vengeance. Painful, humiliating vengeance. Really, Snape noted, it was quite fascinating how thin Minerva's lips could go.
"Hufflepuff! Helga'd roll over in her grave if I put you there! Honestly, what's so bad about snakes? You've even got Salazar's talent with the little beasts."
There was a sudden silence throughout the Hall, which had been muttering the moment Harry's Sorting started (firstly, the Boy Who Lived's brother! Second, what's taking so long? I'm hungry! and third, Slytherin! No way!).
It was also amazing how an inanimate object could convey such frustration. "It's NOT an evil gift. It's a matter of genetics!"
This little titbit finally provoked the boy enough to yell back, startled, "I am not related to Voldemort!" (Screams ensued from the peanut gallery. Snape rolled his eyes, conveniently forgoing to recall his own terror of He Who Loves To Crucio).
"Did I say you were?" The Hat scowled (not that Harry could see it, it being perched on his head).
"Genetics. Who knows, perhaps Ms. Evans was not muggleborn after all, and is from a line of Slytherin squibs."
The boy snorted. "Squibs? In the noble line of Slytherin? They'd have been smothered the moment it was realised."
Snape was, by now, almost rubbing his hands with glee (almost, but such hopelessly trite actions were beneath him). Being well-versed in the art of sarcasm, he understood that the boy was dismissing the theory. The rest of the Hall, having only small portions of wit, thought he was supporting the Pureblood way, which only made him more enemies in the other houses.
The Hat continued to yell at Harry, and Snape was reasonably certain that if it wasn't a hat, it would be crying tears of frustration. Snape checked 'stubborn belief he knows best and can never be wrong' off his mental checklist for Slytherin qualities. Fine, it also shared the column with Gryffindor, but close enough.
"Merlin's sake boy, I've done millions of these things, and I've never seen a head more Slytherin than yours, excluding Salazar himself. Oh, and Mr. Riddle, of course." Naturally, this set the rest of the students and most of the teachers into a fury of whispering inquiring who the hell 'Mr. Riddle' was (Dumbledore was far from forthcoming with useful information – even something so little as Vold- the Dark Lord's former name)
"I'm nothing like that hypocritical murdering bas-"
"Language, Mr. Potter. And it's my solemn duty to tell you, having seen both your minds that you are. Besides, Slytherin is not really about 'pure blood', you know. It's actually all about cunning and ambition. And if you don't have those traits, I'm a tap-dancing flamingo."
There was a long, tense silence. Finally the tear in the brim opened wide and with ecstatic cheerfulness announced "SLYTHERIN!"
Harry Potter removed the Sorting Hat from his head and was faced with another first in Sorting history - total, utter, accusing silence.
Snape smirked cheerfully and began to applaud. Evidently, his regular little chats with Sorting Hat had paid off.
A/N: As previously mentioned, dedicated to DerektheRogue, who not only got the ball rolling, but provided a veritable mine of humorous situations, resulting in several different versions of Harry's Sorting, this being the fourth.
There are no planned sequels to follow this; hence it has been posted as a second oneshot, rather than as a second chapter. Although, seeing as this wasn't planned in the first place, that might change.
Lastly, the song the Slytherins traumatise the rest of the Great Hall with is 'Slytherins Are Sexier', by morrigan, to whom I meant no disrespect, only homage, in taking the first line.