Six Social Disasters that Never Plagued Severus Snape (And One that Did)
He gulped, eying the stairs in front of him as the rest of the Great Hall eyed him.
The hat seemed to have gotten to the last part of the alphabet abominably quick. He'd thought it had been quite amusing while it had been singing its song, had even chanced an approving whisper to Lily when it began its verse about Slytherin, but, despite all his careful planning, everything seemed to have gone wrong.
Shifting uncomfortably from boot to boot, hands clenched into fists, he'd watched her as she strode up onto the stage, sat herself down in the chair, and awaited the answer. This was it. She was his only friend, both at the school and really anywhere else, so it made sense for them to be together, didn't it? It made perfect, logical sense that both he and Lily would go to the same house. And it followed that, naturally, it would be Slytherin.
It hadn't taken the hat long to shatter all his dreams to pieces, as its cry reverberated about the lofty ceilings of the hall:
The echoes fell like stabs, discordant and disconcerting.
Things seemed to speed up after that. The hat had whipped through the g's and k's, done the great line of p's and o's, and soon...
A lump caught in his throat and he tried to remain calm. This wasn't supposed to be happening...he was supposed to walk up to the stage with hope and promise, knowing in his heart what he wanted, not like some dreary gallows march.
He sat on the stool and at once the brim of the hat covered his eyes. Squeezing them shut regardless, he--
"Ah, I see..."
A shiver ran through him and his body tensed at the unexpected intrusion. So, this was how the hat worked. But just how much could it see? Trying to close his mind against all outside force, he concentrated on one thing and only one thing...
"Bit paranoid, aren't you?"
Severus frowned. He was absolutely not paranoid. This hat obviously didn't know a thing about him. It was just that the whispers were already starting to prickle through the hall... People were starting to notice that something was amiss.
"Worried about other's opinions...Well, that just about sorts it. I think you already know where you should go. Why the hesitation?"
A pause. Someone was starting to laugh in the back rows of chairs, and the sea of murmuring grew into a dull roar.
He bit his lip, and then half-whispered, half-thought, his mouth forming the word as it said it in his mind, he hissed:
"Lily Evans? Ah, you're in a bind there...quite a bind. I suppose it could be Gryffindor, but it would come at a price you might not agree to."
"What?" He hissed aloud, forgetting that the thing could just as easily read his thoughts. "What's the price?"
Someone giggled up front. "Look at the first year, trying to bribe the Sorting Hat!" The professors conversed amongst themselves, frowning. It was no doubt an excellent first impression he was making.
"I'll put a question to you: would you rather save her life or marry her? Answer well."
Severus absently hoped the two weren't mutually exclusive.
Damn that hat.
It took him less than a moment to respond.
Save her. Every time.
"Well said. It seems the only house for you, then, is..."
And as the Sorting Hat shouted out the name of the house which he would reside in, become the future head of, and ultimately govern Hogwarts under, Severus Snape couldn't help but feel that something in his timeline had altered. For good or for ill, as he sat down, red-faced, taunts of "only a true Syltherin would try to bribe the Sorting Hat" and "never took that long on any other first year" ringing in his ears, he knew that somehow, something that was everything had changed irreversibly.
Years later, he would wonder if he'd made the right choice.
The potted plant felt weightless in his hands as he sped down the hall, clutching it tightly. His eyes stung something fierce and no doubt he'd have to be led blindedly to the infirmary if this took too long, but his heart was racing. He found her waiting by the window, watching the countryside change color in its autumn thrall.
"Hello, Sev." She cocked him a warm smile that made him forget all about the pain. "You been running anywhere for a reason? You look all out of breath."
He smiled in return and held out the pot. "Here."
At first, Lily was confused. Then, she recognized the flower blossoming in the container.
"Sev, this is a snowdrop...how'd you get it to bloom?" Her eyes narrowed questioningly and a spark of mischief flew in them. "You nicked something from Herbology, didn't you? I thought I saw you hanging around the back of one of the greenhouses. This is it, right? Snowdrops are winter flowers..." she mused, admiring the tiny white petals, "How'd you get it to bloom in the fall?"
Spading his hands in his robe pockets, he shrugged and explained, oh-so-nonchalantly. "Everwinter soil. I had to modify it slightly, but I thought you might like it." This "modification" had involved brewing a rather complex warming potion to get the soil suitably tepid enough for a snowdrop to grow and to maintain that vital temperature, which, in hindsight, Severus realized he really ought not to have tried, as the reaction between soil and Calitrix Potion had seared his eyebrows clean off-- he was trying fervently to hide this as he spoke--and hoped Lily wouldn't notice.
She didn't. The flower occupied too much of her attention.
"That's really impressive! And this is for me?"
He nodded. "You like them, don't you?"
"Yeah, I always end up missing them when summer comes around. They're one of my favorites. Now I'll be able to have one all year round. You've got to teach me how you did this!"
Promising her that he would later, Severus departed, leaving Lily to her plant. Had he not been so carried off in happy daydreams, he would have noticed the gang of four cross his way. As it was, he didn't.
"Hey, Snivellus, what happened to your eyebrows?"
"Guys, let's not make fun of him. It's not his fault if he lost them in a duel."
"Y-you know he would!" Peter Pettigrew cackled.
"Anything for a noble cause, eh, Snape? Good luck getting girls with that!"
Severus made to execute a quick turn on his heel but failed (it would take many years before he perfected that particular skill), and found himself completely surrounded by Marauders.
The result was that, red-faced, robes in disarray, he limped into the infirmary a half hour later. Madame Hilda was quite used to students accidentally blasting their eyebrows off--goodness knnows, she usually had half a dozen girls in in the course of a week who had done it while trying to get rid of zits--but never a case like this. She regrew Severus's without incident, but refused to let him go until he told her the entire story.
Caught in an unfortunate position, he lied and said that his zit-zapping spell had gone wrong. A strange expression clouded her features.
And, as Lily Evans found a nice place for her new plant on her dorm window sill, Severus Snape was skulking in the dungeons, vowing to learn every healing spell in the library. He would never visit that infirmary willingly again.
"Alright, class, does everyone understand how to produce a Patronus Charm now?"
Severus was bored out of his mind. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you looked at it), Defense Against the Dark Arts was one of the few classes that he did not have with the Gryffindors. Students from Ravenclaw and Slytherin were busily practicing the incantation to themselves as they were lined up to test their abilities. Rabbits, birds, bears, all manner of animalia flittered through the air around him. Some students hadn't been able to cast the spell correctly and had to do it multiple times. He sighed.
When it at last came his turn, he was a little anxious. He knew, beyond doubt that he would be able to properly carry out the spell, it was what his Patronus would be that worried him. The other boys had racoons, bears--one even had a whale, which at present moment was placidly floating around the ceiling--he hoped that his would be something impressive, albeit maybe not so...big.
"You're up, Severus. Got a happy memory?"
He called to mind an incident that had happened three months prior, when the nights had grown cold and he and Lily had snuck down to the library late to study for potions. They'd spent the evening enjoying each other's company, all conversation ceasing when someone walked up, absolutely terrified of getting caught together (though, it had been completely irrational to fear that; no one would have thought anything of it: they were in the same potions class after all), laughing at something--he couldn't remember what it had been--before they had finally departed. He recalled Lily's shiver as she turned to make her way up the stairs to Gryffindor tower.
Unwinding his scarf (his companion had forgotten hers) from about his neck, he held it out to her. He remembered the odd warmth her touch had excited in his fingertips as she took the scarf and wrapped it around her own neck. Her green eyes matched the green of the scarf perfectly, autumn red hair brushing against the fabric's folds. Etching the image into his memory, he'd sighed contentedly to himself, and turned to go.
Thinking better of leaving, he had stood there for a few moments at the foot of the ascent, the closest he could get to walking her home, expecting her to be halfway up the tower stairs when he heard her call out his name.
He spun around (not on his heel--still not quite good with that yet) and glanced back.
Lily was seated on the third step, twirling the ends of his scarf absently as she regarded him. "So, how long were you going to stand there?"
"Just 'til you got up to the tower."
She laughed. "Well, I'm not going up now. Look," she pointed outside. The grounds had grown misty and gleamed with pure white promise of winter. "I wanted to watch the snow. Want to stay?"
Severus obliged, sitting next to her.
"It's so warm." Lily had murmured, before tucking her scarfed head into the crook of his shoulder. He'd started, not knowing what to do, heart pounding, a million mini-paranoias zinging through his mind, scarcely able to draw breath, let alone think coherently. Before he could resolve on any definite course of action, he heard a soft, measured breathing escape her lips. She'd fallen asleep.
He remembered having to carry her up the stairs, waiting, fretting, hoping for an errant Gryffindor to come around with the password, and swearing them to secrecy as he deposited Lily in the Common Room on a couch and covered her with a blanket. He'd gotten a week's detention for being out late, but he'd never forget how she'd smiled that night, his scarf snuggly about her.
Summoning the memory to him, he said the words of the spell.
Something white and fleeting burst forth from the tip of his wand and bounded around the room before coming to a halt in front of him and nuzzling his hand. Severus held his breath. It looked like a horse at first--which was good-- but...
"Oh..." It was a deer. A doe, to be more precise.
He blushed rather furiously amid the gales of laughter.
Both his fellow housemates and the Ravenclaws remarked on his "girly" patronus. Someone, in an effort to be nice that failed wretchedly, called it cute. By lunch, he was quite sure that the news had gotten around to the entire school, so he barricaded himself in his dormitory, and occupied himself with the task shooting down flies from the ceiling. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher mentioned to him later, in private, that patronuses could change in time, but it offered small consolation.
He didn't want it to change. Much as he'd rather it be the other way around, he realized, rather strangely, that he didn't mind being protected by Lily.
He just wished he could have returned the favor.
This was probably the reason why he found himself clutching a Time Turner so fiercely in his hand that it was on the verge of breaking skin, yelling bloody murder at the Headmaster on the night of her death.
"You knew it would happen! You knew it and you didn't even try to change her mind!"
He swept across the room, pacing in a fury, the golden hourglass gripped ever tightly, ever possibly...
"Why did they change to Black? They should have known that you were the best Secret Keeper they could get." His jaw set, fire choking the black abysses of his eyes. "I'll bet Potter made her do it. Lily never would have consented to anything so stupid unless he'd forced her into it. What an --arrogant--fool!" The last word came out half-rage, half-sob. A pause followed before he lashed out again.
"She could have asked me if he was safe to use. Black put himself far more in danger than you ever would. She could have asked me..."
He was unable to continue. The Headmaster looked up from the book he'd been reading at his desk, knowing what had been left unsaid.
"Now come, Severus, would Lily Potter--" the other flinched at the sound of the name "--really have trusted a Death Eater to be her Secret Keeper? Come now, even your distressed mind must see some logic in that. Would she allow you tell her who was safe to trust? Why, she'd be more likely to agree to blindly choose someone as Secret Keeper than accept your recommendations."
"Go on, rend my heart into as many shreds as you like! She doesn't have to trust me," he said, giving the Time Turner a twirl and preparing to flip it, "she wouldn't even need to see me."
"Nor ever will anyone if you persist."
The Death Eater looked up, paler in the wake of his furor.
"Did you really expect to be successful? If you cross Voldemort, do you really think he'll let you save Lily and escape? He'll kill you, and if they do manage to flee thanks to your stupidity, he'll continue to pursue the Potters relentlessly. Even if you save them tonight, he will find them and kill them another time."
"We could hide them. They could come stay at Hogwarts. I'd..." He swallowed. "...I'd stay away, return to Spinner's End, if that's what it would take for you to--"
Dumbledore shook his head. "Would Lily and James agree to that, agree to living a life of fear, locked away from their friends? Severus, you must not go back. The only thing that would be accomplished is your death."
Severus slouched miserably into a chair, the charm falling from his fingers. "Then let me die."
"Not yet." Picking up the Time Turner, Dumbledore gingerly locked it back away in its drawer. "There's work to be done."
As it turned out, though, he'd ended up living long enough to see Lily's young son make it through his first year in Hogwarts. Harry Potter was every bit his father's son: he was haughty, disregarded rules, and was absolute rubbish at Potions. Severus could barely keep a level head in class, knowing that those eyes--Lily's eyes, but not, under any circumstances Lily, just those thrice-damned green eyes-- were staring at him. He'd never felt so angry at fate, not just for taking Lily away, but for leaving him with this constant reminder of her, and her choice.
He'd nearly added poison to a draught he'd promised Professor Quirrell when he realized that this might have become a bit of a problem.
It was, therefore, quite by a fortunate accident that he, in one broken night of forlorn dreams and too many memories, stumbled upon the mirror.
Some part of him knew what it was, and knew that it was not something to be taken lightly, but still he returned. Night after night, he watched the shadows under his reflection's eyes grow longer and more pronounced as he watched the woman smile lovingly at him from the other side of the glass, saying she forgave him.
This went on peacefully for a while, Lily ever forgiving and Severus ever vigilant, until that one night everything changed.
"Headmaster. I believe we need to move the Mirror of Erised."
Dumbledore glanced at the watch he wore, then out the window. The moon had barely began to descend from its crest and the castle was sound asleep, discounting himself and the Potions Master, the latter of whom was looking decidedly haggard and panting, like he'd come running from something terrible. "Well, that was the plan, Severus, but don't you think it's a little late to be doing anything now?"
"No. It must be done right this instant."
Frowning, the Headmaster followed him through the halls, snaking through corridors, to get to the Room of Requirement. He smothered a yawn. The mirror stood innocently in its place. Severus blatantly avoided gazing into it, instead choosing to stare at a particularly intriguing floor tile.
"Would you mind telling me why it was so imperative that this be done now? I was just getting to the good part of my dream. I believe it had something to do with a dragon guarding a trove of lemon drops and I am most anxious to find out more."
Severus walked toward the mirror, took a deep breath, and looked into it. He remained mesmerized for a few moments before jarring the hold it had over him, and turned rigidly, his back firmly facing the thing, to his mentor and confidant.
"I suppose you can imagine what I see when I look into this."
Dumbledore yawned, not bothering to restrain it. "I am going to venture that you are not holding up a pair of thick, woolen socks."
"Then, in that case, it does not interest me. Your wishes are your own business."
Severus grit his teeth against the remark and those coming. "It got worse tonight."
Half-way poised between leaving, Dumbeldore stopped. "So you've been visiting regularly."
"Can you blame me?" He ran a hand through his hair. "Only now it needs to stop. It's gone too far. I need it to be as far away as possible, where I can't get to it any more."
"I see...You know, another person in the castle also found this mirror and has taken to paying frequent visits. I've already talked to him about it and I was going to move it next week, but--"
"It goes now."
The headmaster's brow furrowed. "Why are you so anxious about to see it gone?"
Severus swallowed and told all, trying unsuccessfully to dispel the crimson flush seeping its way into his face. "Because now she's wearing a wedding dress and if I don't stop now I'll never leave this room again."
There was a very long, very awkward pause.
"Really? After all this time?"
Meeting his eyes evenly, despite the tears threatening to overtake across his vision, Severus nodded.
He turned back for one last look before the mirror vanished from his sight: Lily stood beside him, flowers adorning her hair, white robes delicately clasped at her neck, her arm tucked into his, her head gently resting on his shoulder. She was about to reach out to stroke his cheek when everything went black. The room swam for a moment and Lily was once again gone forever.
Holding onto the wall next to him, he steadied himself. Withdrawl had never seemed like it would be this hard. "Yes?"
"I need you to come along with me. I can never work out your blasted potions trick down there."
Severus rolled his eyes.
And that was the end of that.
Severus had gone through great pains to make his voice calm. After the release of Sirius Black, the catalyst of Lily's murder, most probably freed at the hands of her idiot son, it was everything he could do at first to keep himself from yelling at the infernal, justice-hungry boy. Harry, he could tell, still wasn't convinced that his Potions teacher wasn't going to lash out at him again, as he'd been doing for most of the night.
"I've heard that your patronus came in the form of a deer."
In all actuality, he'd nearly spat out the Pumpkin Juice he'd been drinking when he overhead Remus Lupin mentioning it in passing at the staff table.
"Yeah," Harry nodded slowly, unable to quite fathom why this was so important. "It was a stag."
Severus let out a breath that he'd been holding. Then, he said, voice low and a faint smile ghosting around his lips, "Remind me never to call forth my patronus anywhere near yours."
Harry fixed him with a confused, slightly fearful look at the Potions Master's odd expression from his infirmary bed, but no explanation was forthcoming.
Severus Snape was a terribly jealous man.
"Trust me, Tonks! It's the best way to introduce yourself to this particular member of the Order." Sirius confided to the pink-haired Animagus.
"Really? And you're sure he won't mind?"
"Oh, he'll think it's a great lark! Won't bother him in the least--in fact, it'll just commend you to him. We all need to have a little fun every once in a while. He's always been a big supporter of that sort of thing. Now, you certain you can pull this off?"
Tonks stuck her tongue out and winked, her hair shifting to a brilliant blue just to prove her mettle. "Piece of cake."
"Good." He handed her a small square of paper. "Will this do?"
"It'll do just fine," she said, her appearance altering even as she did so, eyes still fixed on the paper for reference. Her hair became a brilliant auburn, his irises swam into emeralds. Sirius was very impressed.
"Excellent! I didn't think you'd be able to catch the likeness this bloody well."
She grinned and punched him on the shoulder playfully. "Hey, it's my job to do this kind of stuff! Dont'cha think they'd 'ave fired me if I couldn't?"
Motioning for her to quiet down as he listened at the door, Sirius whispered: "I think this is him. Do you remember what to say?"
Tonks nodded, giving Sirius just enough time to melt into a curtain with Lupin and a few other members of the Order they'd gotten in on the joke before the door opened and Severus Snape stepped in.
He hadn't been expecting anyone to be waiting for him. Having been called down from Hogwarts on rather short notice (he'd had to leave a potion half-complete, which vexed him to no end), his robes were splotched with splashes from ingredients he hadn't gotten a moment to clean off, his mind elsewhere, he never expected to bump into Lily Evans at a meeting for the Order.
His throat constricted, and all of a sudden it felt like someone had scooped all the air out of the room. A chill overtook his heart and ran rampart over him, casting itself down his limbs. He tried blinking his eyes, thinking that it must be a fever dream, maybe he'd poisoned himself by some cruel mistake and was hallucinating. He'd been overworking himself all this week, that was bound to be it, had to be. Lily was gone.
This was just some twisted figment of his imagination come out to haunt him at an inopportune moment.
She reached out and touched the sleeve of his robe, sending a shiver racing through his arm.
He let out a strangled "Oh," forced to acknowledge that this was really happening, that the apparition was really real.
The smile, the green of her eyes, seeing her face looking back at him from what seemed centuries ago, perhaps the feeling of simply not being quite so alone any more--he couldn't identify what exactly made him bridge the space between, take her in his arms, and refuse to let her go, but he knew that if he didn't give into the tempest now, he may never get another chance.
Clutched tightly against his chest, Tonks heard him whisper something fervently, something so soft that at first she'd doubted she'd heard it at all. She felt a tremor rack his body--why? He wasn't crying, was he? Sirius has said this was a joke...-- and felt his heart pound unevenly against her own.
All at once, everything was over as quickly as it had began. Lupin, furious, had burst forth from the drapery, a Sirius wheezing with laughter in tow.
"You lose, Moony, old boy. Looks like Snivellus here still has a thing for her after all. True love just lasts forever, doesn't it?"
Severus was gone so fast that only Tonks, jerked out of his arms in an instant, caught the look of burning hatred he threw at the two remaining Marauders. The door slammed behind him and a soft pop! a few seconds later confirmed that, no, Professor Snape would not be attending this particular meeting of the Order of the Phoenix.
Lupin sighed, pulling a galleon out of his robe pocket and turning to Tonks at the same time. "He didn't hurt you, did he?"
"No, of course not."
He smiled. "Well, we'd better start getting ready for the meeting then. Severus is going to need to come up with a good excuse. I imagine Dumbledore won't be pleased."
And as they fixed the chairs and tables, all the way through the introductions, updates, and the general commencement of the meeting, Tonks couldn't focus. Even when called to report on the status of her charge, her mind kept drifting back to what she'd heard whispered in her ear most insistently moments prior:
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
A/N: My first Harry Potter fanfic ever! It's Snape-centric, and I'm a big fan of him, so I hope you liked it! I think I might have written him a little OOC--it's my first time writing him, but I hope it was enjoyable! Thanks for reading!