Summary: A time travel story. When fifth-year Severus Snape tries to create a forward time-travelling philter to prove his worthiness to Lord Voldemort, he is disappointed to find that his creation is worthless. Or is it?
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and fictional places do not belong to me; I am merely borrowing them for playtime before (respectfully) putting them back. Thank you, JKR, for allowing such things to happen.
Pairings/Main Characters Hermione Granger and Severus Snape, the other Severus Snape. A cast of other canon characters and couple of OFCs as well.
Warnings: This story is rated NC-17/MA, and it is not suitable for children under age 18. It is Alternate Universe, and includes strong language, lemons (graphic sex), violence and mention of violence/torture, unresolved sexual tension, and major character death.
Thank You: To the village that has raised this baby over the course of several chapters: Roo, Tom Without, Allee, Lauren, Nathaniel Cardeau and ThornedHuntress. Additional thanks to my current amazing "Team Tyche," who have listened to me bounce ideas and have cleaned up my writing, making this story so, so much more than it would have been otherwise: Dragoon811, BSC_AG, AdelaideArcher and Stgulik.
A thousand further thank yous to the extremely talented SusanMarieR, who created the official banner and cover art for this piece.
Chapter Seventeen: (In which Atreus is sorted into Ravenclaw and tempers fly)
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, 1 September 1996, 09:09 PM
Severus stood at the back of the Great Hall, attempting to put distance between himself and what felt like far, far too many first years. He eyed the noisy, sticky little crowd with distaste, and tucked his robes closer around his body. Surely he had never been as silly and immature as this lot. One of the nosier boys had asked him point-blank why he was standing with them, but had thankfully not required an answer beyond a disdainful look.
After the disastrous outing to Diagon Alley, Madam Pomfrey had brought him back to Hogwarts for the remaining week of summer hols. His illness had shown almost immediate improvement. By his third day back in the castle, he was feeling completely normal again. The woman had muttered and fussed, running several diagnostic spells, but had finally released him from the hospital wing after a hushed argument with his elder counterpart.
He had not seen a great deal of the professor since returning to Hogwarts. The man had checked in on him the first day, looking rather ragged and worn out himself. He had not stayed long, disappearing when Madam Pomfrey had fussed at him. Since then he had only appeared sporadically, once to stiffly ask if he needed anything further, and once to apparently argue for his release.
When Severus had been ushered to the back of the Great Hall for sorting, he had shot a panicked look at the staff table, only to find the professor missing from his accustomed place. He had then turned to the headmaster, who had merely smiled benignly. He was apparently not very worried that the Sorting Hat might actually do its job and sort him into his honest house. One way or another, the hat must have been rigged to sort him into Ravenclaw.
He had rather expected them to just have him join the Ravenclaw table and explain that he had been sorted privately before the feast. Instead, it appeared that he was going to have to suffer the indignity of perching on that stool in front of everybody. Gods. He hadn't enjoyed that experience when he had been a firstie. It took effort to not visibly squirm at the prospect.
Discreetly grinding his teeth so that he wouldn't fidget, Severus waited impatiently through the sorting for "PRINCE, ATREUS" to be called. When it finally was, curious whispers exploded around him as he made his way to the front of the Hall. Feeling embarrassed and sour, Severus eased himself onto the stool and let Professor McGonagall lower the Sorting Hat onto his head.
"Hmmm…a very keen mind you have," the hat mused aloud. In his thoughts, the hat carried on a different conversation entirely, sounding almost… annoyed. So, you again. I suppose I should have known it would be one of your sort when they told me I was to put you into Ravenclaw, regardless of what I found in here.
"One of my sort?" Severus whispered the question, barely moving his lips.
"You're ambitious, too, and certainly loyal… tricky, tricky, tricky." The hat continued to dramatically stall aloud.
You didn't think you were the first student to fumble about with time, did you? Frankly, this guided re-sorting nonsense is getting tiresome. I do know what I am about—it is my very purpose, after all. Are you quite certain you wish to be in Ravenclaw?
Severus had difficulty keeping his mouth from falling open. There had been other instances of time-travelling students? How extraordinary! He licked his lips; then said, "I'm not the first?"
I just said as much, did I not? You're not even the first student to travel forward instead of backward. Though I must admit, there haven't been many of those. You lot seem to find it much more difficult. Quickly now, answer the question. You are certain of Ravenclaw?
"You…you're asking me? Don't we have to do what the headmaster says?"
It's always a choice. One that shapes lives. Most students don't even realize they are making it, but many of them already have their minds made up. Your headmaster very nearly ended up in Slytherin House.
"So you're saying we all get to choose?"
Essentially. So is it to be Ravenclaw?
"It… it's probably for the best, considering." Severus mumbled reluctantly, his thoughts still whirling with the implications of the hat's words. As a result, the shouted "RAVENCLAW" very nearly deafened him and he startled badly enough that a ripple of laughter ran through the hall. Severus felt his cheeks heat, and slid off his perch quickly, nearly dropping the hat in his haste to put it back on the stool behind him.
In contrast, his walk to the Ravenclaw table was slow as he tried to figure out where he could sit. Typically, the sorted first years sat at the front, nearest to the staff table. The older the year, the further back down the line on the table one got to sit. Exchanging your seat for one further back was a Hogwarts student's rite of passage at the beginning of each year. There was no way he was going to sit with the first years, but there was a good chance that there might not be room for him further back with his year mates.
His eyes darted, frantically searching down the table for even the smallest gap where he might squeeze in and force those around him to shift aside a bit. A small motion caught his eye, and to his relief it was a boy with a prefect badge lifting a hand and motioning to an empty place next to him. Relieved, Severus approached and the boy stood to greet him.
"Hullo, I'm Anthony, and that's Padma." The boy gestured to a pretty girl sitting across the table as the two boys sat again. He continued, his voice easy. "We're the sixth year prefects for Ravenclaw. We had a short meeting on the train here with the others and Professors Vector and Saxina mentioned another sixth year would be starting. I know it can be a bit overwhelming, but you'll get the hang of things quickly. The castle really is much smaller after a couple months. Just keep your grades up and your nose clean and you'll be just fine."
"Ravenclaw hasn't produced a single student with a failing grade in any class in twenty-four years," said Padma proudly, and then gave him a direct look. "If you have any trouble, all you need is to say so, and arrangements will be made to help with whatever is needed. Tutoring, shared class notes, extra reading material, study groups—"
"Or even just peace and quiet to get some extra sleep," Anthony interjected. "We take care of our own, and our Head, Professor Flitwick, is very understanding and reasonable. You'll be in far more trouble with the house if you need help and don't speak up, believe me." He gave a perfunctory nod. "It all turns about in the end. You will undoubtedly be good at something that someone else is struggling with and will be asked to help, too."
"Potions and Defence are my best subjects," Severus answered.
"Really?" Anthony smiled. "Brilliant! You see, we've—"
"Oh, shut it, Goldstein. Dumbledore's saying something." A beautiful, dark haired girl on the other side of Anthony cut him off, waving a hand at the front. They listened in polite, bored silence for a moment, and Severus noted idly that his elder version had returned to the table at some point. Then, the headmaster introduced their "new" Potions professor, come out of retirement.
"Potions?" It seemed the word exploded out of every mouth around him, and reverberated around the hall in waves, followed by hushed conversations in which his name—Snape—featured prominently. Severus stared in stunned surprise at his Potions master, Professor Slughorn, sitting at the staff table. The instructor's presence hadn't really registered with him earlier, but of course he was out of place in this time, when students were used to learning Potions from, well, him.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and continued loudly. "Professor Snape, meanwhile will be taking over the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts."
The Slytherin table clapped politely as the rest of the hall exploded into the whispers again; one outraged "NO!" could be heard from the Gryffindor table. The professor raised a hand and acknowledged his house's applause, a faint smile twisting his lips.
Feeling pleased that the professor not only seemed happy with this turn of events, but that it was sticking in Potter's craw, Severus turned to the food that had appeared in front of him, and happily helped himself. Their table ate in silence for several minutes; it was nearing nine thirty, and everyone's last meal had been whatever they had brought on the train.
"So, Atreus. You play Quidditch?" He lifted his head from some incredibly delicious chicken dish to see that the beautiful girl on the other side of Anthony had leaned forward around the prefect and was staring at him. She gestured with her fork. "I've been named Captain this year, now that Davies has graduated, and we lost all three of our chasers. You've got the build for it. How are you on a broom?"
Severus shrugged uncomfortably, remembering his tryout for the Slytherin team at the start of third year. He had studied the sport's rules and strategies extensively, and had considered himself something of a shoo-in for the team based on his knowledge. He hadn't quite realized how difficult some of the manoeuvres actually were to accomplish. He understood the mechanics of them and the Quidditch players had always made it look so easy… He had been informed in no uncertain terms by his house that he was not to try out ever again.
"I'm only an adequate flier at best, to be honest," he said finally. "I'm good at game strategy, though, if you are looking for a fresh take on that sort of thing."
"Hmmmm." Her brows furrowed. "That's a pity. I may take you up on that help with formation coaching, though."
"Don't pay attention to Cho, she's convinced that Quidditch is the only extra-curricular activity worth thinking about. Hogwarts has lots of different clubs, though." Padma reassured. "There's both Chess and Gobstones, an Arithmalete team, the frog choir, a few bands, and Dean Thomas started a running group a couple years back. You'll want to join the DA, too, since you mentioned being good at Defence."
"The DA?" Severus repeated.
"It's a Defence and Duelling club of sorts that Potter and Granger started last year, when we had this really awful professor deny us any practical application practice."
"It's honestly a great Defence study group," Cho chimed in. "Harry is good at explaining and teaching—he's even good with the younger years."
Opposite Cho, a girl with an increasingly sour expression slammed her glass down on the table loudly enough to make everyone near turn to look. She gave their group a scathing glance and grabbed an orange off the table.
Cho tilted her head to the side and said pleadingly, "Marietta, don't go. We'll change the subject."
"No need. I'm full." The girl spun on her heel and marched out of the Great Hall.
Cho winced, then murmured, "She's never properly forgiven me for sticking with the DA."
Severus looked questioningly at Anthony, who shrugged. "The professor we mentioned—the one who wouldn't teach practical application?—was given authority by the Ministry to ban all clubs. The DA was technically against the rules when it was formed, but we were all so desperate to not be helpless in the current climate…" His head wobbled back and forth.
"Anyway," continued Padma, "Granger cursed the sign-up list so that anyone who broke the oath of secrecy would get pretty severely hexed. It was for everyone's protection. Marietta snitched, and got what was coming. She was warned."
Cho retorted. "Professor Umbridge threatened Marietta's little sister; what was she supposed to do? Granger's hex has permanently scarred her. Not even Madam Pomfrey has been able to fix it completely, and Granger refuses to lift the hex. The DA is a good club, Atreus, but I would strongly suggest staying away from Granger. She's bad news. It shouldn't be much of a problem. She's only into famous blokes anyway, like Victor Krum and Harry Potter." Bitterness leaked through Cho's tone.
Severus felt his eyebrows climb, and only barely kept from squirming in his seat. He felt as though he should speak up and defend Hermione. She was, technically, still his girlfriend, wasn't she? The story being told certainly didn't sound like the funny, compassionate girl he'd got to know over the summer. He thought about it for a moment and then had to concede to himself that it did, however, seem more in keeping with her behaviour in Diagon Alley, and with his older self's opinion of her.
He refocused on the conversation in time to hear Padma snapping at Cho. "She may have threatened her family, but Marietta still might have given the rest of us a head's-up before she went and spilled. Under the circumstances, Granger would probably have exempted her from the hex and we could have been sure to start meeting elsewhere. As it was, fifteen students were caught and punished for learning how to defend themselves. Fifteen, Cho. Seven of which were third years or younger! They have permanent scars, too!" She turned and explained to Severus, "Professor Umbridge was fond of making students write lines with a blood quill."
Ah, this must be the same that woman Hermione had mentioned at Grimmauld Place his first night here, the same one that she had tricked into Centaur territory. Severus toyed with his food for a moment, thinking. While the two prefects in his year did not seem to harbor any ill-will towards Hermione, the Quidditch captain a year above them clearly did, as did her friend. He would have to be careful. The headmaster might say that Hermione was the "perfect" person to introduce him to this time, but it was his housemates he would actually be living with. He had been given a second chance at Hogwarts—no one here knew his old reputation. Did he really want to spoil it because of a girl whose friends had already made up their minds to hate him? It might be better to cut his losses and integrate himself with the Ravenclaws around him.
Isn't that where you went wrong with Lily?
Lily. Severus felt his gut clench. It already felt like a betrayal of sorts that he had moved on to Hermione so quickly after she had—to him at least—died. Barely two months later and he had been kissing Hermione on the roof of his childhood nemesis' home. Severus mechanically chewed his food as he recalled that evening, and the benefits of having Hermione as his girlfriend. First of all, a girlfriend. He had never had one before—and it was rather nice just having one. It made him feel… proud of himself, in a strange way. Proud that there was a girl who wanted to be his girlfriend.
More than that, Hermione was soft, warm and smelled really good. She had snuggled against him and it had felt both wonderful and tortuous. She had a sharp mind and perfect little tits that she had actually let him touch through her sweater, and those low little sounds she had made in her throat were…
Severus shook himself, feeling his cheeks heat a bit as he suddenly realized that he had a rather insistent cockstand. Silently, he thanked whichever gods might be listening that the trousers he was wearing under his school robes would keep it from being noticeable when he stood. He chewed his lip a moment, wondering if he could somehow adjust the uncomfortable bulge without people realizing he had his hand in his pants.
Finally hitting on a solution, he turned to Anthony and said, "Look, mind telling me where the loo is?"
The boy swallowed his own food and gestured at the hall doors with his fork. "Yeah. Through the main doors, hang a right and it's the third or fourth door on the left—I'm afraid I forget which, but it's marked."
"Right, thanks." It was the third door, after a maintenance cupboard and the girls' loo, but he wasn't supposed to know that yet. Quickly he made his way out the door and towards the bathroom to make himself a bit more comfortable, but was halted just outside the door by a soft call from behind him.
The object of his discomfort was twisting her fingers in front of her, her eyes uncertain. She took a hesitant step closer to him. "I wasn't sure if you wanted to see or talk to me—you didn't seem happy to see me last week at Flourish and Blotts, and you were angry when you left the table at lunch."
Severus crossed his arms and gave her a cold look, his erection thankfully going down in the face of this confrontation. "Your friend started our acquaintance by sticking his wand in my face after you told me he wasn't like his bullying father. You couldn't even be arsed to say hello to me. Then you didn't back me up when he was throwing accusations around. You were pissy all lunch and kept acting jealous of the blonde bint, and hardly looked at me. Now my new housemates tell me your taste runs to famous people. Do you expect me to be pleased?"
Hermione's mouth fell open. "I'm sorry it slipped my mind to say hello off the bat, but my boyfriend and my best friend were threatening each other at wand-point after they had promised to try to be nice, and I didn't take Harry's side, either! At lunch Lavender kept baiting me, you saw it, and Ron did nothing to defend me. I was angry."
"That doesn't explain how jealous you were acting. Which is especially strange, since he's apparently not famous. Why are you with me, anyway? Were you just bored or something?"
Hermione's fists clenched at her side, and her voice raised shrilly. "Who even said that? It's not like that with me, and it never has been! Why would you even listen to them? You've spent, what, an hour in their company total?"
Severus crossed his arms mutinously. "I was sitting with Anthony, Padma and Cho. Two prefects and the Quidditch captain! They said you like famous people 'like Victor Krum and Harry Potter.' They're my housemates, and they've bloody well been nicer to me than your friends. Which really, doesn't surprise me much! Gryffindors!" he spat. "You're all no different now than the last group was then! Who's this Victor Krum fellow anyway, and why is bloody Potter so bloody interesting?"
"Oh, that's rich. I've never dated Harry, not even once. Which is more than either Padma or Cho can say! I can't believe you're trusting their word over mine! I am not interested in Harry, and I won't ever be. You're the one who's acting jealous!"
"That's what Lily said!" He shouted it, and Hermione actually stepped back a little from the force of it. Severus took a deep, angry breath and continued bitterly. "Lily said she would never be interested in Potter, but she was." His voice deflated, and to his horror, Severus felt tears prick his eyes. "The professor said." He whispered, more to himself than to Hermione. "Lily did want him. She loved him. She married him, and never spoke to me again!"
"I'm not her." Hermione stepped forward again and held a hand out beseechingly. "Severus. I'm not her. I like you. You saw it yourself inside my head. You."
"Who's Victor Krum, Hermione? You're not denying you liked him."
"I… I… no. I did. I did like him. Not at first. I thought he was just a meathead athlete, but he was actually very sweet, and he was interested in me, and no boy had been before and it was just… nice. We're not together now, though. We haven't been for a year."
"You still haven't said who he is, Hermione. Why would Cho call him famous?"
Hermione winced. "Well… he's a Quidditch player. He plays for the Bulgarian team."
Severus stared in disbelief. "You've dated a National Quidditch team player."
The girl in front of him half-shrugged, and said in a small voice, "Not because of that, and anyway I like you now."
Severus ran a hand through his hair, and shook his head. "Look, I like you, too. You're pretty, and you're smart, and I really like kissing you. But… but I just don't see how this is possibly going to work with you hanging out with Potter all the time. I just… I can't do that."
Now tears glittered in Hermione's eyes and spilled down her cheeks. "You're asking me to choose between you and my best friend? Severus, he and Ron were the only two friends I had when I first came here. They were the only two willing to be my friends. I can't choose between you two. Please don't ask me to!"
Severus shook his head again. "Then I guess… I guess this just isn't going to work out. I like you, Hermione, but I can't go through that again, losing you slowly over time to stupid Gryffindors."
"I'm one of those stupid Gryffindors!"
"No. No you aren't. Not really. Look, let me know if you change your mind. I'm… I'm going to get some pudding or something." Severus forced himself to walk away before he could betray himself and stay despite everything. It was better to cut the ties now, before they broke him. He prided himself on learning from his mistakes, after all.
A/N: Well, our pair seems to be off to a very rocky start. Miscommunications all around. :-(
Thank you again so much for reading! I really do appreciate the lovely reviews I have received from you guys. :-) I really can't tell you how much it means to me that you are still reading and following me after all this time!