Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any characters.

A young boy, all knobby knees and greasy hair, slowly shuffled up to the waiting stool. He had to step carefully so as not to trip over his overly large second hand robes. On the last step up to the stool he stumbled and fell. His face burst into flame as he heard laughter come from the nearby tables.

Angry at himself he shot a glare at the nearest table, where a young boy with untidy black hair was holding his sides with laughter and pointing at Severus.

Severus forced back tears as he sought out the sympathetic eyes of his only friend. Instead of helping him though, the pity there only made him angrier. How dare she feel sorry for him? He was the one who introduced her to this world! She wasn't supposed to pity him!

Angry, his young pride hurt, Severus stumbled to his feet, careful to lift his robe off the ground. He crossed the last two steps to the stool, and grabbed the awaiting hat.

He gave the laughing boy at the Gryffindor table one last glare before jamming the hat on his head without even sitting down.

"Ahhh, a Prince I see…it's been awhile," said a small voice in his ear.

Severus clenched his fists in annoyance, "Yeah, I'm a Prince, so what?"

"Oh, nothing, just making conversation, hmm," said the Sorting Hat. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting… So where shall I put you?"

For an instant, Severus imagined being in Gryffindor, with Lily, she couldn't pity him if he was in the same house as her. As the idea entered his head it was accompanied by an image.

The laughing boy stood over Severus, who was lying on the ground in a too-big robe, still laughing and pointing. Lily was beside the boy, her eyes full of pity as her hand rested in his.

Severus' anger grew even stronger after seeing the mental picture. No! He wouldn't let that happen! He wasn't going to let that scare him away! That laughing boy wouldn't take Lily from him!

She was his!


And we would make sure he proved it to the world!

"Hmm, such strength of character, with courage like that I better put you in-"

Severus' heart stopped for a moment as he realized what the Sorting Hat was about to say. For a moment, hope welled in his chest, and then he remembered – his mother. Her last words to him had been, "If you're not in Slytherin don't bother coming home, you'll be dead to me." The look in her eyes had been so hard and cold that Severus could still feel it now, hours later.

And with that thought Severus' courage left him, he slumped onto the stool. How could he prove he was good enough for Lily if he had no home? No future? No family?

He couldn't, it wasn't possible.

Hadn't his father always told him he'd be worthless without them?

The only way to make her his was to choose the path to greatness.

And that meant Slytherin.

"Don't you dare put me in Gryffindor," Severus said coldly, cutting off the hat before it could shout. "I refuse to be with those idiots." Silently, Severus said an apology to Lily for calling her an idiot, but he wouldn't apologize to the laughing boy.

"Not Gryffindor, eh?" said the Sorting Hat. "Are you sure? You could be a hero, you know, it's all here in your head, and Gryffindor will help you achieve that goal, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you're sure — better be SLYTHERIN!"

Severus pulled off the Sorting Hat and tossed it at the next kid in line. His face remained stony and cold as he took a seat at the mildly cheering table. As he watched the next student get sorted into Hufflepuff he dared to let his eyes look at Lily.

She was sitting, oblivious to Severus' gaze and talking to a young boy with scars on his face. Not once during the feast did she turn to look at Severus, no matter how hard he stared at her. The longer Severus watched the more his heart began to ache. Doubt clouded his thoughts, should he have chosen Gryffindor? Would he have been better off there?

No, he couldn't be better off there. He'd be nothing if he was there. He was nothing without his family, wasn't that what his parents continuously told him between their fights?

Carefully, so that no one would see, Severus wiped the beginning of a tear from his eye and turned his attention to his fellow Slytherins, trying to put Lily out of his mind for the moment.

As Severus turned away Lily stole a quick look at the Slytherin table, a small frown crossing her face as she realized that Severus was paying her no head. She gave a small sigh, put on a smile and faced the attentive, scared boy who smiled so sweetly at her remarks and laughed gently at her jokes.

She never knew how close Severus came to being that boy.

And she never would, not if Severus could help it.

Author's Note: So, this idea sprang into my head when I was reading comments on Mark Re-Reads Harry Potter and someone commenting on how the importance of choice is brought up in the Sorting Hat chapter. They wondered if Snape had a choice, and then this plot bunny was born in my head. So I hope you enjoy it!

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