"At last, when only a dozen students remained to be sorted, Professor McGonagall called Snape."
~Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Prince's Tale
"Gryffindor!" called the Sorting Hat.
With just the hint of a smile on his pale face, Severus walked down off the stool to the bench where Lily Evans was sitting. She beamed at him. "Isn't this great, Sev?" Lily whispered to him excitedly.
"I suppose so," Severus muttered back, with one last longing-filled glance at the table to his right, decorated all in green, before tearing his gaze away and turning to Lily once more. Suddenly, Dumbledore's booming, yet gentle, voice broke over the room of chatter:
"Welcome, everyone, but especially our first-year students," Severus could have sworn Dumbledore smiled, just at him. "A reminder that the forest is off-limits to all students. Now, enjoy the feast!" Lily was not the only one to gasp in amazement when trays of food materialized on the long rows of tables.
Between mouthfuls, James turned to Severus with half a smile. "Guess I was wrong about you," he said. "If you and your friend over there" Here he winked at Lily. "ever want to hang out with us, feel free to." He held out his hand for the other boy to shake.
"I think I can tell who the wrong sort for me are, thanks." he said coolly.
James Potter did not go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his cheeks. "I'd be careful if I were you, Snape. I've heard about your parents, all the Dark things in your past... and that might have been a bad idea."
Lily turned back to her pork chops, pink-faced and teary-eyed.
"This way, everyone! First years, follow me!" The Head Girl of Gryffindor motioned down the table, prompting James's gang, as well as Severus, Lily, and a few other students to push away from the table, and, in small clusters, trot alongside the tall, blonde seventh year.
James and a group of three or so other boys walked ahead of everyone, while Lily linked hands with Severus and timidly stepped forward, like a gentle but flighty young robin.
"To enter the common room," stated the Head Boy loudly, "you must provide the password. The current password is 'serendipity'. If, for some reason, you forget the password, you will have to wait for someone who knows to let you enter." At the mention of the the password, the portrait swung open. A cozy room full of squashy armchairs, end tables, bookshelves, and a blazing fireplace lay ahead. Some students ran into the common room at full speed; others, wide-eyed, tried to take in everything and ended up walking straight into tables. Through the chatter, the Head Boy began talking again.
"Through this door are the boys' dormitories; the girls' are this way. Girls, follow Catherine. Boys, follow me."
Severus ran to catch up with everyone else, waving to Lily, who was trying to decide whether to introduce herself to her fellows or stay silent.
"The boys' dormitory is right up this hallway. There are five beds in the room. Lights out is at ten-thirty on weekends, and nine-thirty on school nights. Yell if you need anything!" The Head Boy, finally, shut up and left a large group of eleven-year-old boys unsupervised, which maybe wasn't his best decision.
"Let's go, guys!" James and his lot dashed off the stairs to find a room. Snape, however, held back; he didn't know anyone here, having lived in a Muggle neighborhood his whole life, and had hoped to be put in Slytherin.
"Hey, buddy, what's the matter?" The Head Boy came up to Severus and put a hand on his shoulder. Severus stiffened automatically at his touch. "Do you want me to help you find your room?"
"No, I'll be fine. Thanks." This was a feelingless, monotonous, expected reply. In all honesty, he had absolutely no idea where he was going to room, or who with. He headed upstairs anyway and into the proper room.
Of course. They were here.
Severus darted out of the room before (he hoped) anyone noticed him. Unfortunately, an all-too-familiar voice proved he was being irrational.
"Snivellus? Is that you?" James Potter's voice taunted him, while Severus's fight-or-flight response kicked in.
He held his breath and tried to walk away, but was caught by the back of his robes. "Where d'you think you're going?"
"I, um, I was going to find a room, but obviously this one was taken, so I suppose I'll be heading out..." Severus's voice trailed off.
The Head Boy's voice (he knew it well by now) drifted through his head, reminding him, with the force of a tonne of bricks, that this was his room.
Could this day possibly get any worse?
Yes. Apparently, yes, it could.
"Lights out, everyone!" the Head Boy called from downstairs a time later.
Severus pulled the covers over his head to block out the voices of those around him.
Stupid, stupid boys.