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Chapter Nine: New Worries ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Any inclinations Severus had about feeling at home in his dorm room vanished as soon as he met the boys he'd be sharing it with. First was Nikolas Avery, the first boy he'd seen sorted that evening. Short and round, he revealed to Severus that his parents had toyed with sending him to Durmstrang, where his mother believed he'd receive a more suitable education. "They don't let mudbloods into Durmstrang," he'd announced while they had been changing into their pajamas, his blonde hair sticking in all directions. "Father and Mother would have been much happier if I'd gone there." "Why didn't you, then?" Severus asked with annoyance. "Grandmother threatened to cut Father from his inheritance," he said knowingly. "So here I am." "Hooray for us," sneered another of his housemates, Geoffrey Goyle. Geoffrey was every bit as tall as Nikolas was short, with brown eyes that held no warmth, and a body mass which discouraged contradiction. Adrian Crabbe, who seemed to be Geoffrey's constant companion, was in all physical appearances identical to that of his friend, though his dull blue eyes hinted at his low intelligence. "I've seen you somewhere before," he demanded of Severus as he pulled on his pajama top. "If you have, I obviously didn't notice you," Severus said derisively. He was not going to hide that the way the boy clung to his friend disgusted him. "I don't think anybody notices Adrian," laughed Callum Nott as he jumped into the bed across from Severus'. Apparently, he and Nikolas got along fairly well, though the strawberry-blonde haired Callum towered over the diminutive Nikolas. His scornful green eyes scanned the room before he turned to his friend. "What do you think, Nikolas? Have you ever really noticed old Adrian over there? I know I try to avoid the git at all costs." Nikolas snorted with laughter as Adrian turned a violent red. His eyes snapped angrily, and he stepped up to the side of Callum's bed. "That's only because I know something about you that you don't want me to tell," Adrian shot back, the vein in his thick neck bulging grotesquely. Callum sat up immediately, his eyes flashing a warning. Severus noticed that the boy's wand had somehow found its way from his nightstand to his hand. "And you aren't going to tell, are you?" he said scathingly, his gaze not leaving the other boy's face. Adrian looked from the wand to Callum, then glanced over his shoulder at Geoffrey. The other boy shook his head, nearly imperceptibly, before noticing Severus' stare. Adrian turned away and threw himself down on his bed, fuming as the ringing of Nikolas' laughter filled the room. "What's wrong, Callum? Afraid he's going to reveal some dark secret? Like how your sister's marrying a Muggle next month?" A flash of light sprang from Callum's wand to cut Nikolas' laughter short. The smaller boy looked enraged as large boils began to creep across his skin. He quickly found his wand and performed the counter curse, muttering about people not being able to take a joke as he crawled into bed and pulled the draperies shut. Callum turned to Severus and Geoffrey, his wand still raised defiantly. "Either of you feel like having a go at my family?" he asked angrily. Severus shook his head. "I don't give a damn who's in your family, mate," he replied evenly before crawling underneath his own covers and surrounding himself with the darkness from the closed curtains. His heart was thudding in his chest as he stared overhead at the canopy. Callum seemed awfully touchy about people knowing he was going to be related to a Muggle, indicating the boy had the same ideas Silias had tried in vain to impress upon Severus. And judging from the reaction and conversations of the other boys, they held the same beliefs. And at least two of them had enough Dark Arts knowledge to produce a very complicated curse and it's counter. Lying there in the darkness, Severus fought a battle between his conscience and his instinct for survival. Sebastian's words flitted through his mind, the words warning him against the Malfoys and their pureblooded ideas, and yet - if it would ensure that they left him alone, wouldn't it be in his best interests to at least seem as though he shared their beliefs? "As long as I don't start hating Lily," he mumbled to himself as he drifted into a restless sleep.
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Severus met his Head of House early the next morning at breakfast. Perhaps met isn't the right word...it was more like he caught a glimpse of him. He seemed weak and frail as he stood at the head of the Slytherin table, passing schedules down the rows of first years. The wrinkles which lined his face were furrowed in concentration as he looked along the line, his deep brown eyes studying each new student. Severus glanced down at his timetable and read the first two lines:
Slytherin First Year Timetable Head of House: Professor Malichi Melison
He looked up again at the wizened old man who was now returning to his seat, and barely suppressed a snigger. It was no wonder Lucius had made prefect: this doddering fool was probably scared to death to make him angry! Shaking his head in disbelief, Severus looked again at his timetable. He was both thrilled and disgusted that he had many of his classes with the Gryffindors. It meant seeing Lily again before the afternoon, and he was anxious to warn her about the possibility of danger from the Slytherins. On the down side, it meant being stuck in lessons with James and Sirius, something he would have traded a month's supply of Numbing Potion to avoid. He stood from the table, realizing with a groan that his dorm mates had risen immediately after him, and resigned himself to the fact that they'd most likely be walking to Transfiguration, their first class, as a group. Gritting his teeth, he did his best to ignore Callum's disgusting and totally inappropriate joke regarding a Muggle, a mudblood, and a squib. His dorm mates would have none of it, however. "You can't tell me you didn't think that wasn't hilarious," Nikolas chided, clapping Severus on the back and grinning. Severus forced a smirk onto his face. "Oh. Yeah, it was very - amusing," he said shortly, spotting the classroom just ahead. As they walked in, he noticed Lily was sitting by herself, and he made a beeline for the empty chair beside her. Remus sat at the desk ahead of them, next to a very round boy who continuously glanced over his shoulder. "Hullo, Severus!" Lily greeted. He saw her eyes shift behind him, and realized his move had most likely startled his new 'friends'. "Are those your dorm mates?" she asked with interest. "Yes," he said shortly. "Oh. Why do they look so surprised?" Severus did not need to glance over his shoulder to get a glimpse of the other boys' faces. "They probably didn't expect me to want to sit next to a muggle-born," he said with disgust. Lily's lips tightened in anger, and he had to restrict her from giving the boys a very rude gesture. "Honestly! Just because I'm muggle-born doesn't mean I'm any less of a witch," she fumed. "Lily, you're preaching to the choir. I'm not expressing my beliefs, only theirs. Believe me when I say I will never view you as anything but my friend." She smiled her thanks at him, and he retrieved his textbook from his bag. Class began without Severus having looked at his dorm mates once. He did, however, notice when James and Sirius came rushing into the classroom twenty minutes later. As did the rest of the class. Professor McGonagall looked up at them sharply, her lips pressed thinly together, her eyes showing her disapproval. "Sorry," James breathed as the boys found an empty desk at the front of the room. Evidently he'd managed to go to the hospital wing to mend his face, as it now bore no mark of the curse from the previous day. The duo glanced back at Snape as McGonagall resumed her lesson - after only a short ten minute lecture on punctuality - and glared at him. He returned the favor gladly before focusing again on McGonagall's lesson.
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Severus parted company with Lily, Remus, and Peter Pettigrew (the boy Remus had sat next to) after class. They were headed for History of Magic, while the Slytherins were on their way to Defense Against the Dark Arts. Much too soon his dorm mates had caught up with him, and from their faces, they were not at all pleased. "What are you hanging around with that mudblood for?" Geoffrey demanded. "I do not feel it's necessary to justify my friendships with you, Geoffrey," he responded dryly. "But Severus, she's a Gryffindor!" Adrian admonished. Severus shrugged indifferently. "What's your point?" "You can't go around being seen with that trash," Callum said firmly. "It will ruin your reputation." "I wasn't aware I'd made a reputation for myself already," Severus said idly. "Well, you have," Nikolas pointed out. "Cursing that Potter boy on the train yesterday, and then that face-off with Lucius -" "You can't have been paying that much attention to our conversation if you think I'm going to abandon my friend just because of her bloodline or school house," Severus interrupted. Nikolas laughed. "You can't be serious, Sev! She's nothing! Why risk the alienation of your own house for the unfounded friendship of that worthless piece -" Nikolas did not get a chance to finish his sentence as Severus whipped out his wand. "Corium Macula!" The curse hit the other boy full-blast in the face. His skin began immediately to erupt in large, blotchy black circles. "And my name is Severus" he said coolly, turning away to proceed to class. "Snape!" Professor McGonagall's voice carried from down the hall, and Severus turned to see her fussing over his victim. She looked absolutely livid. "Detention! How dare you curse another student! And on the first day of term! Get to your next class, all of you! Snape, I shall send you an owl when I've arranged for your punishment. Honestly! Leave it to a Slytherin to cause problems immediately after the first class," she muttered as she steered Nikolas to the hospital wing. Severus ignored the stares he was getting from the other students in the hall. So what if he had earned detention already? At least now they knew he was willing to back up his threats.
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Severus sat alone during his next classes, choosing to let the boys stew over his actions. And stew they did. By the end of the day, he was catching snippets of conversation from people in other houses, all of them talking about how he'd cursed Nikolas. He smirked as he walked out of Charms, past a conglomeration of Hufflepuff boys who grew silent as he strode by. All this because of a simple curse? He thought with interest. I could definitely get used to this. His good mood diminished slightly as James and Sirius spotted him. Instead of running the other way, as he'd hoped they would, they approached him, triumphant grins on their faces. "Hexing your own housemates now, Severus?" Sirius said smoothly as the duo matched their strides to his own. "That's low, even by Slytherin standards." "If you two don't sod off," he said through clenched teeth, "you'll be headed for another one yourselves. And this time, I'll make sure it can't be healed." "Tsk, tsk, Severus," James chided. "Such a temper! You know, I don't think Severus really suits you, do you Sirius?" Severus continued to stare straight ahead as he tried to make his way to his common room, his hand clenched around his wand. "You know, James, I think you're right!" Sirius responded with mock astonishment. "Maybe we should find something a bit more - suitable - for our dear friend." Severus' grip on his wand grew tighter, fighting the urge to end this now and have them lying on their backs, humiliated in front of the school. Why not? he reasoned. I've already got one detention, and they are definitely asking for it. Before he could decide, however, James spoke up again. "I've got it," he said loudly. "We shall call him Snivellus!" The boys roared with laughter, as did a few of the students who were passing the trio. Despite all of his efforts, Severus knew his face had gone red. He'd made his decision. As he turned to hurl the first hex that came to mind, he noticed they had begun to walk away. "See you later, Snivellus!" Sirius called back over his shoulder, sending James into fits of laughter once again. Severus stood with his wand held before him, but did nothing. He was not going to curse someone when their back was turned: it would equate him with his father, and he did not want that to happen. Ever. He shoved the wand back into his pocket and stormed into the common room, aware of the eyes of his housemates as he threw himself angrily into a chair. For the next few hours, he attempted to focus on his assignments, but found it was impossible. Disgusted with himself and the pair of Gryffindors, he took his books to the dorm and stalked down to the Great Hall for dinner. As he speared a potato, imagining it was James' head, the now-familiar drawl of Lucius floated from across the table. "You ought to exercise a bit more caution, Severus." The boy looked up into the prefect's gaze, his anger diminishing slightly in the face of Lucius' soft tone. "Detention already?" he continued, dishing out his own dinner. "I was showing those dolts that I wasn't going to put up with their snide comments about my friend," he said angrily, spearing another potato. Lucius laughed, startling Severus so much that he dropped the spud from his fork. "What's so funny?" he asked with annoyance. "You are, ickle firstie," the older boy replied, his eyes reflecting his amusement. "Perhaps it would behoove you to learn a bit of discretion. Be at the edge of the Forbidden Forest after classes tomorrow." Severus watched him as he took his plate and joined his friends at the other end of the table, now suddenly finding himself without an appetite. What exactly was it that Lucius had planned for him?

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