Wrath of the Half-Blood Prince: A Tale of Severus Snape

By Matthew W. Quinn

Author's Note: This is Alternate Universe (AU). Its point of divergence from the canon Potterverse is that instead of playing his prank on Mary McDonald, Mulciber plays his prank on Lily Evans.

February 8th, 1976

6:30 PM

"Are you sure you want to do this, Sev?" Justin Avery asked, worry in his voice.

Severus Snape nodded grimly. Part of him said this was insane—Mulciber is twice your size, his father is a Death Eater—but another part of him didn't give a shit.

He hurt Lily, a dark angry voice in his head growled. He must pay.

"I mean, really," Avery said. "What Mike did really wasn't that bad. Lily wasn't in the infirmary for that long and…"

Snape cut him off. "I don't care. Lily is my friend and I'm not going to stand idly by while…"

"And Mike isn't your friend too? Come on, Sev. The three of us have been friends since we were Sorted. Mike just played a prank that got a little out of hand and I'm sure he'll get detention after detention for it."

"That's not enough," Snape grated, thinking back to what Lily's friend Mary Macdonald (who he thought very snooty, particularly where he was concerned) said had happened. Your Death Eater wannabe friend Mulciber's done something terrible. Lily's in trouble. Come quickly.

Snape had followed Mary back to the corridors near the Transfigurations classroom to find that Mulciber had cast some kind of hex that was bouncing Lily up and down the corridor. Mulciber had already left the scene, leaving him and Mary to get Lily down. Several impacts with the walls had left her badly bruised and she was extremely nauseous on top of that, so the two thought it prudent to take her to the hospital wing.

"Honestly, Sev, she's not worth picking a fight with Mike over. He's twice your size and, in any event, she's just a Mudblood."

Snape knew that Avery didn't particularly care for Lily, or any other Muggle-born witch or wizard for that matter, but he'd never heard his friend say the slur like that before. His expression darkened.

"I don't care," Snape grated. "Get Mulciber. Bring him here. Do not warn him." Snape's dark-eyed gaze fell on Avery like a thunderbolt and his expression brooked no argument. "Tell him you found a secret passage."

His eyes wide, Avery reluctantly nodded and scampered off. He left Snape alone in the dark, preparing for war.

February 8th, 1976

6:40 PM

"Okay Avery, where's this secret passage?" Michael Mulciber called. "It's just a dead end. There's nothing here."

Snape lurked in a shadowed alcove, watching the older, larger boy as he felt about the dead end of the corridor. Mulciber was fair-haired and a few inches taller than Snape, but much broader around the shoulders. If the two of them were Muggles, Snape would not have dared attack, but they weren't Muggles. Mulciber might be built like a Muggle tank, but he was inferior to Snape in magic, particularly Dark Magic.

"Oh there's something here all right," Snape said, emerging from the shadows. Mulciber nearly jumped, but quickly recovered his composure.

"Oh, hey Sev," Mulciber said, voice loaded with forced casualness. "Avery send you down here on a wild goose chase too?"

Snape did not reply. Instead, he silenced his opponent.

"Langlock!" The spell instantly attached Mulciber's tongue to the roof of his mouth. This ought to keep him from calling for help. Hell, it might even keep him from casting spells. A feral grin crossed Snape's thin face. That will make things a lot easier.

"Uht de ell are u oing!" Mulciber shouted with his tongue immobilized. He drew his wand, but Snape was faster.

"Confrigo!" A blast of magical power struck Mulciber, sending him tumbling down the corridor towards the dead end. Snape followed, hoping to trap the larger Slytherin against the wall and hammer him again before he could recover.

"Sthupefy!" Mulciber managed to shout, the Langlock spell already wearing off. Snape managed to deflect the spell, but the impact sent him staggering, allowing Mulciber to rise to his feet.

"What's with you, Snape?" Mulciber growled.

Snape righted himself and fixed his gaze on the larger Slytherin. "You likely know, Mulciber."

Mulciber chuckled wickedly. "It's that Mudblood Evans, isn't it? I take it you didn't find what I did very funny."

Snape ground his teeth so much they hurt. "Reducto!" he shouted, aiming his wand at a nearby wall. Chunks of brick exploded from the walls. "Depulso!" The debris flew at Mulciber, a storm of stone that would break every bone in the other Slytherin's body if they all hit.

"Protego!" Mulciber grinned wickedly and began deflecting the flying brick. "You'll have to do better than that, Snape."

Then a chunk hit him in the jaw, wiping the grin off his face. Snape grinned. "You talk too much."

Mulciber swore and spat blood. "Tripudio!" Snape felt a rush of magical power approach him.

"Protego!" He felt the magic Mulciber had sent his way retreat, but not before the spell had bounced him two bounces towards the entrance of the dead-end corridor. This must have been what he used on Lily. He'd never heard of the Tripudius curse before, but he made a note to jot it down somewhere and use it on Potter and his Gryffindor gang when they next tried to ambush him.

"Reducto! Depulso!" Mulciber tried to use Snape's trick against him.

"Protego!" Snape responded. His shield was more effective than Mulciber's; it blocked all but two chunks of brick and Snape managed to dodge them. I'm a smaller target than he is.

"Depulso!" Snape sent the debris flying back down the corridor. It wouldn't do to have anything get into the nearby corridors, which were much better traveled.

Mulciber was better prepared for that one. His shield charm blocked most of them and he was able to dodge most of the rest. One chunk had struck him in the chest, but that wouldn't hurt the bigger Slytherin much.

Mulciber inhaled and Snape knew that the bigger Slytherin planned to charge him. Can't let him get too close. If it came to a battle of fists instead of spells, Snape would surely lose.

"Blood traitor!" Mulciber shouted as he lunged. His words stung Snape, but he kept his cool.

"Impedimenta!" Snape's jinx caught Mulciber and cut his speed in half.

"Stupefy!" Both of them shouted the spell at the same time and although both tried to shield themselves, neither fully succeeded. The two wizards flew in opposite directions.

By the time Snape managed to struggle to his feet, Mulciber was already trying to charge him again.

"Trying to get away?" Snape taunted.

Mulciber glared. "Just getting close enough to wring your neck, you little traitor."

"I doubt you'll succeed," Snape said casually. Then his eyes locked on Mulciber. "Perhaps after this is through," he hissed. "You'll learn to keep your spells to yourself."

Mulciber snorted. "Why do you care? She's just a Mudblood."

"That may be," Snape responded, "but she's my…"

Mulciber grinned a distinctly unsettling grin. "Your Mudblood? That's the spirit. When the Dark Lord takes over, the only Mudbloods left will be the ones kept alive as our playthings, and then when we're through with them…"

The notion of Lily being kept alive only as Mulciber's "plaything" sent a tidal wave of fury crashing across Snape's rational mind. He'd been tinkering with a dueling spell that would cut an opponent's flesh—he was hoping to cast it on Potter the next time the Gryffindor hooligan gang bothered him—but he hadn't yet figured out a counter-spell. Much as he wanted to rip the other Slytherin to pieces, he knew that inflicting permanent damage was a quick way to get expelled.

So he decided on something that ought to hurt but shouldn't do permanent damage. He'd already used Reducto, but not directly on Mulciber. I wonder what would happen if the spell were directly applied to a human? Only one way to find out.

"Reducto!" The spell, useful for smashing objects, would surely wipe the leer off Mulciber's face.

Mulciber brought his wand up and managed to deflect the spell, but he wasn't able to avoid its effects completely. The wall next to him shattered, as did his left leg. The big Slytherin sank onto the ground with a scream and although part of Snape's mind screamed that this was likely permanent damage, or at least something that would take a long time to fix, he grinned in spite of himself.

"Now," Snape said, "I think it's time to teach you a little lesson in keeping your spells to yourself." He strolled leisurely towards the fallen Mulciber, contemplating just what to do. He might deserve to be Cruciated, but I'm not interested in being a Dementor's plaything for the rest of my life. Hmm…perhaps applying the levirosa to the injured leg?

He was so busy contemplating just how he would further hurt Mulciber that he didn't hear the footsteps behind him.

"Stupefy!" a cold, cruel voice shouted and Snape felt a magical hammer slam into his back. The attack sent him flying off Mulciber and tumbling down the hallway.

Lucius Malfoy, he thought, vision blurred and wracked by pain. Come back for a visit, has he? Malfoy had graduated some years before, but for some reason had been hanging around Hogwarts a lot during the last few months. His heart sank. Malfoy never really liked that you were friends with Lily. He's going to be pissed.

"Mr. Snape, whatever are you doing with Mr. Mulciber?"

Mulciber spoke before Snape had the chance to answer. "Avery came over, saying he found something interesting down this corridor," he said, spitting out a broken tooth. "I go to have a look and there's Snape. He bloody well tried to kill me."

"Bollocks," Snape sneered, the effects of Malfoy's spell wearing off. "This was a proper duel. He hurt my friend."

"Let me guess," Malfoy drawled. "Pretty little Lily Evans." He snorted. "A duel, on behalf of a Mudblood?" The way the former prefect spoke the slur dragged daggers across Snape's mind—although he'd used the word himself, against Muggle-borns who annoyed him (much to Lily's irritation), he'd never said it with that much venom.


Malfoy shook his head. "Stupid boy." Snape rankled at that and moved to rise, only to find Malfoy's wand pointed straight in his face.

"I can do things with Dark Magic that you can only dream of. Up!" Snape dragged himself to his feet, scowling at the former prefect. Malfoy then turned towards Mulciber, keeping an eye on Snape all the while.

"Reparo," he said, pointing his wand to the fallen Mulciber for a fraction of a second before swinging it back to Snape. "That won't fully heal the leg, but it'll put it back together enough for you to walk." He reached down and helped Mulciber to his feet, then let the injured Slytherin put an arm around his shoulder.

"Let's get you to the hospital wing," he said. "Then I'll take the Mudblood-loving weakling to Slughorn."

February 8th, 1976

6:45 PM

Rap, rap, rap. Malfoy pounded on the door of Professor Horace Slughorn, Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House.

"Who is it?" Slughorn said from inside the office.

"Malfoy," the former prefect grated.

"You're early," Slughorn remarked. "Our appointment isn't until tomorrow morning."

"I know, sir, but I had the good fortune of interrupting some shenanigans by one of your students and felt you should be informed."

"Shenanigans, you say?"

Malfoy nodded. "Yes sir. One of your students was assaulting another. I took the liberty of taking his victim to the hospital wing before bringing him here."

There was a long silence. "Bring him in."

Malfoy turned to Snape and glowered at him. "Now you'll get yours, you imbecile," he hissed.

The older Slytherin pushed the door open and dragged Snape through. Slughorn turned his chair around to face them and popped one last candy into his mouth.

"So Lucius, tell me what happened?"

Malfoy drew in a breath. "I was on my way back to the room where I was staying when young Justin Avery shows up."

Avery! Snape narrowed his eyes. Figures. He thought back to how Avery tried to stop him from attacking Mulciber. At least he didn't warn Mulciber of what I'd planned. Thank goodness for small mercies.

"Avery told me that Snape had persuaded him to lure Mulciber into a deserted corridor. Avery saw Snape assaulting Mulciber and went looking for help. Luckily, he found me before this troublemaker could murder the young man."

"That's a lie!" Snape protested. "I wasn't planning on killing him."

"Could have fooled me," Malfoy retorted.

"So, Mr. Snape," Slughorn said, "Tell me what happened."

Snape gulped. "M…Mulciber hurt Lily," he said. "Lily Evans, from Potions class," he added quickly. His expression darkened. "He needed to be taught to keep his spells to himself."

"A lesson you had no authority to teach him," Malfoy interrupted. "You're not a prefect yet, Snape."

"How badly injured was the boy?" Slughorn asked.

"Leg all but smashed, but I was able to repair the worst of the damage and Madame Pomfrey should fix the rest. Missing a couple of teeth and some nasty bruises." He shook Snape. "This hooligan was standing over him when I arrived. Probably intended to hurt him further."

Slughorn leaned back in his chair for a moment and shook his head. "Whatever am I to do with you, Mr. Snape? You were always so well-behaved, so studious, until now."

Time to grovel, Snape thought.

"Whatever you wish, sir," he said. "You are the Head of Slytherin House."

Slughorn looked at him for a long moment before speaking.

"You have some aptitude for Potions," the rotund professor said. "I will put it to good use. For your punishment, Mr. Snape, you will arrive in my classroom every weekday morning at 6:30 to help me set up for the day's classes, then report back to my classroom in the afternoons to help clean up. I think two weeks of this should be enough."

Snape felt Malfoy stiffen behind him. "Only two weeks, sir? All Mulciber did was play a practical joke on a Muggle-born girl and…"

"A Muggle-born girl who has shown great potential," Slughorn interrupted. He shook his head. "You need to look beyond lineage and blood, my boy, and see the potential of raw talent…"

"I will try, sir," Malfoy said. Snape restrained a disrespectful snort. I doubt that. "But still, two weeks is far, far too short. This hooligan" — he shook Snape roughly — "needs to learn a lesson."

"All right, four weeks then," Slughorn said. Four weeks? Snape felt his heart sink. He always enjoyed Potions, but waking up early to help Slughorn prepare for his classes for a solid month was far too much.

"Oh, and let's not forget fifty points from Slytherin," Slughorn added. "Hate to dock points from my own house, but forms have got to be followed. Now I've got some papers to grade. Take him back to the Slytherin common room, Lucius. I will see you tomorrow."

Malfoy's vice-like grip tightened on Snape's arm.

"Come along," Malfoy demanded, dragging him out of Slughorn's office.

February 8th, 1976

6:50 PM

Malfoy dragged Snape down the corridor towards the Slytherin dormitory and, once they'd reached an area without anyone there, he shoved Snape up against the wall.

"I thought you had promise, Snape," Malfoy sneered, face even with the younger man's. "But it looks like nature won out over nurture, as usual."

"Wha…" Snape began before Malfoy pushed him harder against the wall, silencing him.

"Your mother may have married a Muggle, but she at least had pure blood. When I was prefect, I figured you took more after your mother than your father, but I think your continued friendship with that Mudblood proves otherwise. Muggle filth is inevitably drawn to Muggle filth, I suppose."

That was too much to take. "You bloody…"

"Silencio!" Snape suddenly found himself unable to speak. This is certainly better than Langlock, he thought.

Malfoy flashed Snape an evil smile and continued. "As you know, your former friend Mulciber's father serves the Dark Lord. The Death Eaters cannot openly operate in Hogwarts, but I'm sure they can get to your family easily enough."

Malfoy's voice then took on an almost pensive quality.

"I wonder what he'll do with them? Perhaps he'll put your parents under Imperio and force them to kill one another. That would be most amusing."

Oh bugger! Snape thought that at worst, Mulciber's father would come after him. He didn't anticipate the possibility that Mulciber Sr. would come after his parents, even though that would certainly be easier than attacking him at Hogwarts.

His mind raced—how to keep his parents safe? He recalled reading about something called the Fidelius Charm that would make it all but impossible for anyone to find his home at Spinner's End, but he wasn't yet skilled enough to make it. Did his mother know any other witches or wizards who could help?

I doubt it. His father had always disliked his mother's friends from the wizarding world. He'd been particularly hostile to the one Snape recognized even then as the most skilled, an Irish wizard named Patrick Dixon. One day he had abruptly forbidden his wife from allowing other "magical folk" into the house and he grew increasingly upset whenever she went to visit them. His parents had fought more than once about this and Eileen's visits to the wizarding world had grown fewer and fewer over the years. The last time he recalled her doing anything prior to taking him to Diagon Alley for school supplies was when he was seven or eight and he remembered his father raising Cain about it.

Malfoy's voice ripped him out of his reverie.

"I see you're afraid," Malfoy hissed.

"I…am…not," Snape said, forcing the words out of his mouth. The silencing spell was wearing off, but not fast enough. He tried to squash the serpent of fear rearing up from the back of his brain, but to no avail.

Malfoy shook his head, then released Snape.

"Locomotor mortis!" Malfoy shouted, freezing the younger wizard in place. Malfoy stepped back and pulled back the sleeve covering his left arm.

Snape's jaw dropped. There on the older man's forearm glowered the Dark Mark! Snape swallowed, suppressing a peculiar mix of horror and envy. Power could be had, such power, by serving the Dark Lord, but the price…

"Know this, Mr. Snape," Malfoy hissed. "Once upon a time, I felt you might be worthy of this. No longer. Someday soon, when the Dark Lord triumphs, there will be a reckoning. Before we go out and make the Muggles our cattle, we'll kill off all the Mudbloods — I suspect your former friend Mulciber will be sure to get your precious Lily — and then we'll separate the wheat from the chaff among the Half-Bloods." Malfoy sneered. "You will be among the chaff."

Malfoy released Snape, who staggered towards the door of the Slytherin common room. He was about to speak the password and get away from the former prefect when Malfoy interrupted.

"Stupefy!" Malfoy shouted. The spell struck Snape on the shoulder and slammed him headfirst against the door. The impact knocked him briefly unconscious and when he came to, Malfoy was gone.

February 9th, 1976

2:30 PM

"You didn't have to do that, Sev," Lily Evans said, concern evident in her voice.

"I did," he said, idly drawing in the dirt in front of the steps they were sitting on with his wand. "That was cruel of him, knocking you around like that."

The pain from talking made him wince. He'd woken up that morning with terrible pain along the side of his head, from the hinge of his jaw all the way to his temple. He figured it would fade eventually—the bruises from James Potter's and Sirius Black's "pranks" disappeared within a few days, even without magical healing—but the pain made it difficult to talk.

"You could have been expelled," she argued. "And his father…"

"I don't care about his father," Snape grated. I care about you. Of course, he didn't dare say that out loud.

Lily sighed and changed the subject. "Are you hurt?"

Snape shook his head, but the pain from this movement made him wince again.

"You're a bad liar," she said exasperatedly. "Let me take a look."

She leaned forward and pushing his hair out of the way. Her touch electrified Snape and the young wizard felt his pulse begin to race. A disgusted expression crossed her face when she got a look at the massive bruise hiding beneath Snape's long hair.

"You didn't see this this morning?" she asked. "Sev, it's as big as my hand!"

"No," he said lamely.

She shook her head. "Honestly, Sev, you need to pay more attention to this sort of thing." Snape barely restrained himself from rolling his eyes. She's just like her mum. Mrs. Evans was always fussing over him, trying to make him eat better and dress in brighter colors, or at least something other than black.

"Hold still." Out of the corner of his eye, Snape saw her waving her wand in a particular pattern and saying an incantation that sounded like a song under her breath.

The pain disappeared. Snape rubbed the side of his head. No pain, even then. "Thanks, Lily," he said. "Where'd you learn how to do this?"

"Charms class," she said. "I think your section will get to it sometime this week or the next."

"Cool." This could be a useful charm to learn. No need to come crawling to Madam Pomfrey if you get hurt, although if Potter and Black are involved…

The thought of those two, and how he likely wouldn't even have the minimal protection his Slytherin clique gave him anymore, burst the momentary bubble of happiness that Lily's spell had created. Snape frowned and resumed drawing in the dirt.

It didn't take Lily long to notice.



"Something's bothering you again," she said flatly. "You've got that look."

He nodded. "As you're no doubt aware, I've never had very many friends. Father never really liked having any of Mother's magical friends around and Mother didn't want me hanging around with Muggles—she was afraid I might do something that couldn't be explained away easily."

He traced a final pattern in the dirt before stashing his wand in his robes. "Mulciber sure as hell isn't my friend anymore and I'll sooner throw myself at the Whomping Willow then trust Avery again." He sighed. "They were the first friends I made when I first came here. Unlike a lot of people in Slytherin, they didn't care that my father was a Muggle, they just liked that I had the proper 'attitude.'"

Lily made a sour face. "They don't look down too much on Half-Bloods because they're too busy hating 'Mudbloods,'" she said, voice dripping with scorn.

Snape exhaled. "Aye." She's right, you know. How easy it was to forget he was half-Muggle when the opportunity to mock those who had two Muggle parents came along, particularly if they acted like complete yobs when they first came to Hogwarts.

"Are you sure it'll be safe in the Slytherin dorm, Sev?"

Snape allowed himself a small smile. "Probably. They know I sleep with my wand under my pillow and my bed warded." It helps keeps the jacked-up little wankers who think they're the real masters of the Dark Arts from making trouble when I'm asleep.

Still, it didn't help to be careful. He'd be sure to add more wards to his bed and the room he shared in case Mulciber and his friends tried anything that night.


Snape sighed again. "Not everyone in Slytherin is friends with Mulciber or fantasizes about serving You-Know-Who. Perhaps…" He snorted. "Who am I kidding? Even those who didn't like Mulciber liked Malfoy—he was always good about finding jobs and connections for those who kept on his good side. There are those who'd side with me against Mulciber, but few indeed who'd side with me against Malfoy. I don't think I'll have many friends at all by the time word gets out."

Lily smiled and put her hand on his shoulder. "You still have me," she said. Snape felt his pulse race again and a goofy smile sprawl across his face. Stop that, he thought. You're giving yourself away. Do you think she'll still want to be friends knowing you want more?

Lily went on, apparently oblivious to Snape's expression. "And don't you worry, Severus Snape. You'll make better friends than those wannabe Death Eaters." She looked thoughtful for a moment. "I know some Ravenclaws you might be interested in meeting."

"Ravenclaws?" Almost all of his friends were Slytherin — he didn't really know any Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs and his half-hearted attempts to befriend Gryffindors other than Lily tended to fail.

Lily nodded. "Yep. I know a bunch of them. You might like Ian Jewell. He's really smart and he's been helping me with Transfigurations…"

Snape successfully suppressed an urge to scowl. Ian Jewell? He'd seen him somewhere before, a tall Ravenclaw, dark-haired like he was but without the unattractively huge nose. He better not have any ideas…

Oh stop that, part of him interrupted. You two have been the best of friends since you were nine. Doesn't that count for something?

But a darker part of him kept on whispering. He's better looking than you are, and probably richer too. All he's got to do is ask her out and…

"Sev?" Lily asked, yanking him out of his worries. "You okay?"

"Yes," Snape said, nodding quickly. "Just started…thinking about something there. Sorry."

She opened her mouth to speak, but received a very rude interruption.

"Oy, Snivellus!" someone shouted. Oh bugger. Potter.

Snape looked up to see James Potter and Sirius Black swagger into view, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew trailing behind. As soon as Potter spotted Lily, he mussed his hair in his usual pretentious manner.

"Hello Evans," he said grandly.

Lily rolled her eyes. "Hello yourself, Potter." Before she could speak another word, Potter turned his attention to Snape.

"Heard the little tattletale got in big trouble the other day," Potter said with a sneer. "Guess the grease-ball isn't such a goody-two-shoes after all."

He grinned maliciously. "Think you might want to come along with us when we go out some nights, to do something besides try to get us in trouble?"

Before Snape could reply, James snorted derisively. "Well you can't."

"Oh stuff it Potter," Snape retorted. "Why would I want to when…"

"You're in detention," sniggered Pettigrew, who then fell into giggling. He was the only one laughing and Snape detected Potter rolling his eyes.

"Oh spare me," Potter said under his breath before returning his gaze to Snape.

"At least you put your damnable Dark Arts to good use this time. I heard Mulciber had a bunch of broken bones and some missing teeth. Good job taking out the wannabe Death Eater trash."

Snape scowled. "I didn't do it for you, Potter."

Potter snorted. "Of course. We all know who you really did it for." He briefly made a googly-eyed expression before turning to the others. "Hey mates, he was tough enough to take down one wannabe Death Eater. Let's see if he can handle all four of us." Potter drew his wand, as did Pettigrew. Lupin was, as usual, slow to draw, but Snape noticed that Black hadn't moved.

Idiots, he thought. It would have been best to attack quickly, with the advantage of surprise. He drew his own wand.

"If it comes to a fight, he won't be alone," Lily said, pulling out her own wand. Snape saw James flinch.

"Oh, no worries Evans," he said with a laugh. "We'll be careful not to hurt you."

"Potter," she said angrily, "I won't be careful not to hurt you."

Snape smiled. Go Lily!

Lily and James kept their eyes locked for a long moment. Then the Gryffindor boy smiled.

"Have it your way, Evans." Then his gaze shifted to Snape.

"You may have done good this time, Snivellus, but you're still an ugly greasy git. Don't think we won't be back."

The Gryffindor boys turned to leave. However, as the others wandered off, Sirius Black remained behind.

"Snape?" he asked.

Snape raised an eyebrow. Not calling me "Snivellus" this time, you shit? This is interesting. Memories of that night in the Shrieking Shack, with Lupin in his wolf-form howling behind him as Potter pulled him away, pressed at the edge of his consciousness. He pushed them aside and kept his focus on Black.


"Be careful around Lucius Malfoy and them. They're bad news."

Snape barely kept his jaw from dropping. This bullying Gryffindor git tries to murder me and now he's trying to help? Gears began turning in his mind. Might as well make the best of it.

Snape nodded.

"I know."

Snape touched his left forearm. Black's eyes widened slightly and he nodded in return before following his friends.

This is interesting, Snape thought. He pondered what he knew of Sirius Black, which mostly came from his brother Regulus. Black doesn't believe that purebloods are better than other wizards and annoys his parents with his interest in Muggle culture. A light bulb lit in his mind. Perhaps Black is thinking that I might be walking the same path as he is?

Snape mentally restrained himself from snorting, but part of him recalled the things Mulciber had said and the skull-mark on Malfoy's arm with horror. Perhaps he's…

"Hello," Lily interrupted, waving her hand in front of his face. "Earth to Sev!"

"Yes!" Snape said quickly, startled. Must've been staring off into space again.

"You had that look you have whenever you're contemplating something," she stated. "What is it?"

Snape worked his jaw slightly. How to explain it? He decided to keep his conclusions to himself, for the present. "Black was being remarkably civil—he's usually worse than Potter."

Lily nodded and Snape allowed himself a small smile.

"Now, about those Ravenclaws…"