Severus Snape stood in the middle of the Great Hall, a scowl fixed under a curtain of oily dark hair. A yellow hula hoop grasped firmly in one of the young boys hands, the other hanging at his side. All around him children laughed as they had more or less luck with the days PE lesson. He looked about him; scowl deepening as he noticed a couple of people beginning to look at him. James Potter, of course, hula'd like a trooper, earning envious looks from some of the girls. Sirius Black had discovered a much better use for the circular device, swinging it over the heads of girls to 'catch' them. What he planned to do with them Snape didn't want to know. He himself was envious of only one person, Remus Lupin, allowed to sit out games due to a certain 'sensitive disposition'. "Yeah right" thought Snape, "Call him sensitive when he's transformed, I dare you."
A brisk Scottish voice called down the hall, disrupting his sulk. "Mr Snape!" He snapped to attention, dark eyes widening in shame at being singled out. "Are you planning to partake today, or merely stand gawping about the room?"
"I'm sure. Next time I look in your direction I expect to see that hoop out of your hand and off the floor!"
"The hips, Snape, its all in the hips!" With that parting shot she strode away, dark red exercise robes swirling about her. Snape may not know why on earth it was important to learn to hula, but he certainly knew one thing. Whatever it was, it was most certainly not in his hips. After several more attempts, each failing more than the one before, feeling like was throwing his limbs around like a demented idiot and turning steadily redder with embarrassment he had an idea. There had been no stipulation as to how to get the blasted hoop around his waist. Concentrating on the evil contraption laying around his feet, he held one hand in a claw over it at chest height. Under his breath, he began to mutter, aware that the ridiculing looks from the other children were now looks of confusion. Getting it to waist height, he flicked his hand, causing it to spin, steadily and smoothly around his waist. Stopping muttering, he looked up, pleased with him self. Whilst he had done the charm many times before, it always pleased him when it worked. Unfortunately, he looked up straight into the tight face of Professor McGonagall. "What are you doing?!"
"What you as..."
"Silence! The use of wands during a PE lesson is strictly forbidden! With good reason!"
"You will report to the Headmasters office immediately! I will alert him that you are coming" Looking into his angry, upset, black eyes she almost felt bad. "Go!" She added, pointing at the door. The gangly youth dropped the hoop, which had been gallantly spinning all the while, and sprinted out of the door.
If any of the student thought anything strange about the boy in tatty old PE kit storming barefoot along the corridors they thought better of saying anything, Most of the school had been on the receiving end of the fifth years wit in the past, or witnessed it, and were if not a little scared of him, disliked him on principal. If any of them noticed the angry tears on his cheeks they looked the other way. As he reached the gargoyle guarding the office of Albus Dumbledore the tears had all gone and any sign of emotion hidden behind his usual scowl. The door opened on his arrival and admitted him into the calm atmosphere of the Headmasters office. Standing awkwardly in front of the door he laced his hands together behind his back and waited for the man behind the desk to say something. He felt the glittering blue yes search his, stealing himself to maintain eye contact, whilst all the time wanting to look away, it seemed an eternity before he was motioned toward a chair. Still looking into those eyes, he felt as if his very soul was being laid bare before him. Of all the people he had met in his short life, this was the only one he honestly could say he respected. And the only one he felt respected him. As a result, any pretences of being anything other than a scared, confused fifteen year old flew out of the window. 'Blasted hula hoop' he thought.
"Where are your pumps?" The question made him jump, not being what he expected at all
"I don't have any. I wasn't expecting to be having PE lessons, and my parents won't waste the money on frivolities."
"No? Well the lessons are the idea of someone at the Ministry, and we do try to keep them happy" Mentally he added, 'Damn Snapes. As if their son doesn't stand out enough without being barefoot' "I take it Hula Hooping is not to your taste? Personally I rather fancy the idea…" Snape kept quiet, not sure how to respond. "Professor McGonnagall tells me you charmed yours."
Small voice, "Yes Sir,"
"You do know wands are strictly forbidden in any sporting activity at Hogwarts?"
"Yes Sir! I tried to tell the Professor," he gabbled, pausing at Dumbledore's raised hand, "Slow down child."
"Yes Sir, sorry sir." Deep breath, "I tried to tell the Professor, I didn't have my wand! I just thought that I could make my hoop spin like everyone else, maybe people would stop laughing at me."
"I see. And did they?"
"And, how did you perform this charm, with no wand…?"
"I didn't have my wand Sir, really!"
"I believe you Severus! Calm down, you are not in trouble."
"Really? I'm, I'm not?"
Dumbledore chuckled gently, "No child. Now, how did you do the charm?"
"I just said the incantation, and sort of, "he frowned, he'd never had to explain magic before "let the magic drop from my fingers onto the hoop. It tingles a bit." He looked up, hoping this was the right answer. Dumbldore had leaned forward slightly, eyes narrowing ever such a little. Looking Snape in the eyes again he asked "Could you show me? Could you make this book "he indicated a book on the desk "move?"
"Go on". Snape looked at the book, pointed his right hand toward it and muttered a few words. The book hovered a couple of inches off the table. "Where would you like it putting?"
Through his badly concealed shock Dumbldore breathed "the shelf". The book glided over to the shelf flipped up onto its end and slotted itself onto the end of a row. Snape dropped his hand and looked back at his teacher, worried he had done something wrong as he saw Dumbldores expression.
"Headmaster…?" He asked, shrinking back into his chair. "Sir?"
Dumbldore shock himself and smiled at the boy, pleased to see the change of expression from fear to relief. "That was excellent, child. You have stunned me slightly" Worried frown reappeared much to Dumbledore's dislike, 'this boy expects every move to be criticised, even after four and a half years…' "Are you aware that the ability to do wandless magic is incredibly rare, Severus? And in someone your age, practically unheard of?"
"No. My parents told me everyone could."
"Ah. Tell me, where did you learn it? Was it your parents? "
"No. Well, sort of. When I was locked in my room I wasn't allowed to leave my bed. So, I really wanted a book to read, the hours really dragged otherwise, so "
"Were you often locked in your room?
"Well, only when I'd done something bad though, talked in front of guests or taken too much food. Anyway, I wanted my book, so I thought of the charm I needed, pretended my finger was a wand and it worked. So I kept doing it. I knew it should work as I had seen mother casting hexes with her hand…" Here he faltered, Dumbledore knew from what angle he had seen the castings, and worried that a child as painfully under weight as Severus had always been had been seen as greedy. Reaching out he tilted the boys down cast head to look at him, seeing the soulful black eyes scanning his face, desperate for praise of some sort. "Thankyou, Severus. You have done well, I think it is a wonderful skill, and you should be very proud of it. However, I must caution you against using it in inappropriate places. If a wand is banned, assume magic is banned. I will explain the miss-understanding to Professed McGonnagall, and, seeing as how you have no pumps, I do not see how you can effectively do PE. I think it would be your the best interests if you were to spend the sessions with Professor Slughorn, he could always use a hand sorting the dungeons and with his own potions. Now, whilst you're here, let's have a spot of tea. We do not have enough chance to chat, you and I, what else have you learned from your parents?" In all honesty Slughorn had asked him about the possibility of Snape spending more time in the lab, being "incredibly advanced", as was his term. This was just the perfect reason. Happily noting the eagerness with which the boy spoke if gently encouraged with smiles and praise, and assuring him he could have as much food as he liked as there was "far too much for just me", Dumbledore easily listened, trying not to look too amazed or excited on hearing words like occulmency, and apperate. Two pairs of eyes shone, happy in each others company.