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Freak.

The insult echoed in her head. Her own sister had just accused her of being a freak.

She huddled herself into the corner of her compartment, shared with two boys who hadn't paid her the slightest bit of attention.

Maybe if she could make herself small enough, she'd just disappear. It would be her greatest magic yet, the only trick she had that would make Tuney happy.

She was looking out the window and trying to ignore the loud conversation between her fellow students.

"Both my parents are Aurors," the boy with messy black hair boasted, trying to impress his companion. His hazel eyes glinted with pride behind his round glasses. They both had black hair, the two strangers. The other boy was sprawled out across the other seat and listening with the air of someone who never really gives an owl's hoot about anything.

"Well, nobody in my family works. We've got enough money to live off of. They just use it to work the system and get what they want," he drawled, closing his gray eyes as his voice trailed off.

Severus intruded the space and took the seat across from the mulling redhead. He looks so lovely in his Hogwart's robes, Lily thought to herself. Second-hand of course, but they fit so much better than the muggle clothes he was wearing since the day they had met in the park.

The same park he hurt Tuney in. The same park he had convinced Lily to take that stupid letter sent to her from the Headmaster.

It sounded louder this time.

Freak.

"I don't want to talk to you," she said stiffly as she looked out the window again.

The scenery that flashed by so quickly was rather lovely. She'd never been to London before, but the train had already left behind that spectacle and was surrounded by this beautiful countryside where the trees blended into one swirl of light and dark greens before her own jade eyes.

"Why not," he asked, hurt by her curtness.

She began to tear up as she heard her sister's voice again.

Freak.

"Tuney h-hates me. Because we saw that letter from Dumbledore," she stuttered, anger slowly edging into her frail voice.

"So what?"

She glared at him dangerously.

"So, she's my sister!"

Realizing she still had tears on her cheeks, she went to wipe them from her face discreetly and missed his excuse for what he had said.

"But we're going," he forgot the bad feelings at the idea of finally going somewhere where adults don't yell at children or at each other. Nobody could blame him.

"This is it! We're off to Hogwarts."

Lily was still a tad upset at him, but had to smile at the eagerness sparkling in his black eyes.

Not really dark brown eyes either, but pure black. Petunia always said they were creepy, but Lily thought that they were special. She had never seen pure black eyes. For a while she had wondered if everybody in the wizarding world had odd eyes as she peered at her own electric green in the mirror.

"You'd better be in Slytherin," he told her.

"Slytherin?"

The boy with messy hair stood up and looked over to Severus with a slightly murderous glint in his eyes.

"Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you," he asked his friend, who kept the solemn expression on his face. In a slightly apologetic voice, the other boy replied, "My whole family have been in Slytherin."

Lily was tortured with a terrible thought: what if you're always sorted into your family's house! But nobody in my family is magical. I won't be sorted at all!

The boy standing up looked shocked, "Blimey and I thought you seemed all right!"

The boys face now broke into a reckless grin.

"Maybe I'll break the tradition," he shrugged lightly, "Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?"

The boy with glasses waved his arm about with a dreamy look on his face, as if wielding a sword.

"'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!' Like my dad," he declared with conviction. Lily rolled her eyes dramatically, as Severus maked a small snort of displeasure.

"Got a problem with that," the Gryffindor-hopeful turned to Severus, the wistful look long gone.

"No," Severus declared, with a contradictory sneer, "If you'd rather be brawny than brainy-"

That boy lying down on the seats spoke rather harshly, "Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?"

They both laugh cruelly, to the point of clutching at their sides.

Lily stepped in before things got any more out of hand, "Come on, Severus, let's find another compartment."

They turned to the girl with mirth at the authority of her voice.

"Oooooo…"

Severus just barely missed the foot stuck in his way, intending to trip him as he exited the door.

"See ya, Snivellus," its owner called as he slammed the door behind the two.

"Oh, if I ever see them again," she began hotly. Severus laughed at her as they made their way down the corridor.

"What," she demanded.

"You're angered so easily."

Now that she thought about it, her face did feel rather hot.

People gave them odd looks as they passed by. Looking from Severus on her left to Lily, in disbelief. Like it was unlikely that they would be friends.

Severus wasn't exactly handsome, his black hair never seemed to come clean and it was quite plain that he isn't well cared for at home. But he was so smart, and had always been nice to her. Lily couldn't see why people wouldn't like him.

"What could that boy have had against Slytherin," Lily inquired, perplexed at the boy's behavior.

"Well, the fact that he's a Gryffindor helps," Severus retaliated bitterly.

"Tell me," she requested eagerly as they continued down the corridor, peering through the glass to see laughing strangers occupying every seat.

"About what?"

"The houses, how are you put into the right one?"

"I already told you about the Sorting Hat," he began, a lecturing note in his voice.

"No, tell me what qualifies you for the houses."

"Well for Slytherin, you must be cunning and gifted," he explained, as they skirted around the lunch trolley, "Ravenclaw isn't so bad, because only the smartest blokes are taken in there," he continued, "Hufflepuff is for all the kids who think that loyalty is the most important thing, or some rubbish like that," he spoke of the house carelessly, "and Gryffindor," his eyes narrowed slightly, "is for arrogant idiots who call themselves brave and heroic."

"Slytherin or Ravenclaw would be my first choice," Lily decided aloud, "but Hufflepuff doesn't sound all too bad. Loyalty is very important. I don't think I'd be Gryffindor, I'm certainly not arrogant."

"I would hope you are considering Slytherin young lady," came a booming voice in Lily's ear. She turned to see a man peering out of his compartment with an odd look in his prominent eyes. His head was nursing a bald spot on the top of his crown, while his lip sported a very magnificent silver mustache that bustled about as he spoke.

"It is the best house, if I do say so myself," he claimed grandly.

He looked at Lily, who found herself wishing he wouldn't. He seemed to be examining her, sizing her up.

"Would you join us for lunch," he invited suddenly, ignoring Severus completely.

She looked at him blankly.

"Where are my manners," he asked with a hearty chuckle at her bemused expression. She sighed with relief that Severus would be able to come along.

"I'm Professor Slughorn," he introduced proudly, "Potions master and head of Slytherin house," he said without a glance at Severus.

Many years of having proper manners drilled into her skull she responded automatically with a small, "Lily Evans," as she held out her hand, which was grasped and jiggled with eagerness.

She glanced pointedly over her shoulder toward the eleven yeard old boy, who was wearing a very nasty scowl on his face. Slughorn didn't seem to notice. Instead he just motioned for Lily to join him, no matter how long she had looked at Severus.

"Can my friend Severus come," Lily called out boldly.

Slughorn looked at her with his head cocked to the side.

"You won't be that long now," he said briskly and almost unkindly.

The compartment, it turned out, was elaborately decorated as was the man in his green velvet smoking jacket and matching tassled hat. The room was themed in green and silver and crammed with seven other students. Some of the older kids look at ease with Slughorn, but the girl closest to Lily looked just as terrified as she feel, so Lily took the seat next to her.

When it did not seem the room could hold any more people, Slughorn reentered completely, his impressive midsection taking up any remaining room that might have been imagined to be there.

"So," he said, rubbing his hands together almost greedily as he eyed Lily, "Evans."

She was dealing with a genius here.

"Could you be the niece of Shandy Evans, awarded an Order of Merlin First Class for exceptional dueling just last month?"

They all peered eagerly, wanting to know if she was related to this extraordinary witch. But her only aunt was currently six feet under the ground and had never shown the ability of performing magic.

"No, I don't think so," she admitted, "nobody in my family has ever been a witch or wizard before me."

Her statement received eight identical blank stares.

The boy on my right scoots slightly away from me.

"Mudblood," one of the older students shot in her direction.

He said it the same way Severus would say 'muggle'. Severus had told her that being the only witch in her family was fine, that it didn't matter.

'Liar,' she thought silently.

'Freak,' she thought just a bit louder.

As she opened her mouth to retaliate, Slughorn snapped, "I will not have that word said in my presence."

She returned his fond smile; it seemed he didn't mind that she didn't have any wizarding relatives. But there was no denying that he was shocked that her parents were Muggles.

Slowly everybody returned to their meal and forced small talk. Finally seeing something familiar, Lily reached for her fork and began to eat, only then realizing how hungry she was.

The boy next to her continued to ignore her, so she looked to the girl she had seen earlier.

This girl had a lovely mouth, with small dainty lips, that downsized her crooked teeth. Her large blue eyes were really stunning and contrasted neatly with her strawberry blonde hair and pale skin.

"Don't worry," she assured Lily in her surprisingly deep voice that was accented rather strangely, "not everybody is like that around Muggleborns."

She smiled encouragingly at Lily, who beamed back and held out her hand.

"Lily Evans," she offered, her green eyes sparkling.

"Celia Francot," the other girl introduced, "and future Gryffindor."

Lily Evans felt the smile slide right off her face.

"Really?"

"Why yes," she says, her eyebrows rearranging themselves into a confused expression, "Got a problem with that," she asked, painfully reminiscent of that other boy. Lily was sure making friends had to be easier than this.

"Well, I thought that you had to be arrogant and stuck up to be in Gryffindor," Lily admitted, feeling ashamed.

"Who told you that," Celia cried desperately, clearly baffled by this girl's attitude toward her preferred house, she had seemed so nice.

"Severus Snape."

"Well, your dear Severus Snape was wrong," she declared harshly, "Gryffindor is for those who are proud of what they do, which is always what they think is right. We are famous for being courageous and perhaps a bit hardheaded, but that's never to be looked down upon!"

It sounded like a much better house than Severus described, in fact, she recognized a few of her own traits described by this girl. Hardheaded standing out particularly clear.

"I'm sorry."

She forgave Lily's mistake quickly and smiled again, "Not a problem, love."

"I can see we are going to be friends."

x-x-x-x-x-x

The lighting in the compartment now came from the torches that had burst into life at the descending darkness. Slughorn jumped in feigned shock as he looked out the window.

"Oh, well look at the time. I suppose I will see you all in class," he waved his guests away cheerily into the bustling crowd now attempting to leave the train.

"That was fun," Celia said brightly over the noise as she and Lily went down the passage.

"Loads," Lily agreed vaguely, quite unaware of what she was agreeing to.

Somebody tapped Lily on the shoulder. A small fire danced in front of Severus's face as she turned around quickly and saw the boy she had been looking for, but not in the state she would ever want to see him in.

Celia gasped as Lily moved closer to him, raising her hand to her open mouth in shock.

"Oh, Severus," she whispered, touching a finger to the darkening bruise under his left eye.

It was easy to see that his face had been flushed, probably with embarrassment, and his shoulder length hair was frazzled as if he had been in a brawl.

He growled in her ear, "I hate Potter."