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Chapter Fifteen: Welcome Back ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Severus watched Platform 9 3/4 dwindle from sight, seeing his mother attempting to cease Steven's waving and get him home before their father. He sighed and glanced around the compartment. Lily was eyeing him with concern, though the students parading up and down the corridors most likely prevented her from asking what was on his mind, and for that he was grateful. He hadn't seen her since Christmas, and he was loathe to talk about the events of New Year's Eve just yet. It wasn't until they were well underway, and the snack trolley had already passed that she finally spoke. "Your mum looked well," she remarked casually. "I suppose," he countered, his eyes remaining fixed beyond the windowpane. "Severus, don't start doing this, please." There was a hint of pleading in her voice which caused him to look up in bewilderment. "Doing what?" "Not telling me what's going on - making me fish for answers. I thought we were best friends." Her voice wavered slightly, causing him to feel guilty. The unshed tears which shimmered in her eyes only contributed to make him more miserable as he struggled to make things right. "You are my best friend," he consoled her, getting up and taking the seat beside her. "Don't cry Lily. I didn't mean to block you out, it's just -" he stopped as her eyes focused on him, and his reluctance to talk about his family overtook him once more. Just tell her, he thought. She's always got a way to turn things around. "Mum's pregnant," he revealed after a moment's pause. Her eyes widened in surprise. "What - I mean, how do you think your father will act?" "It's obvious, isn't it?" he retorted bitterly. "Just one more victim for him to terrorize. I'm sure he's thrilled to pieces." "But Steven will protect it, like you protected him," she said in an attempt to reassure him. "Let's hope Steven does a better job than I did," he answered morosely. Before she had a chance to respond, the door slid open, and Peter and Remus stepped in. "Can we sit with you?" Peter whined. "All the other compartments are nearly full." Remus, however, shook his head. He obviously felt the tension between the friends. "Why don't we sit with James and Sirius?" he suggested, giving the pair a questioning glance. Peter readily agreed as Lily shook her head, and the pair left. As the door closed, Lily put her hand over Severus'. "You did everything you possibly could for Steven," she assured him. "This baby is going to have two older brothers to look after it. Between the two of you, it will be just fine." Severus wasn't comforted by her words. With him at school for most of the year, how would he be able to do anything? Glancing at Lily, however, he decided not to press the matter yet. "Let's practice our jinxes," he said. "Maybe Black and Potter will burst in on us again." The sound of her laughter raised his spirits somewhat, taking his mind off of his family problems.
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Severus was in his dorm room alone, unpacking his belongings, when the trouble started. Or rather, the trouble entered. His dormmates approached him, eager smiles on their faces. "Heard you got invited to Lucius' party," Callum noted with interest. Severus shrugged. "And?" "We were invited, only Father had a much more important function to attend," Nikolas input quickly. Geoffrey looked at the other boy with a smug smile. "Callum's home is that important?" he sneered. Callum had to stop Nikolas from jumping at the larger boy, giving Aidan a chance to speak up. "C'mon, Severus! Tell us how to get on Lucius' good side." "Maybe it's the fact that I didn't try to get on his good side," Severus offered. The boys shot him scathing looks as they began to change into their pajamas. "We're your mates, aren't we?" Nikolas finally asked. Severus looked at him, a cold sneer learned from Lucius on his face. "Mates? Us? Do you live in this dorm, Nikolas? You four have been avoiding me ever since I hexed you! At any rate, Lucius found it very amusing that I'd managed to instill fear in the lot of you in a single day. I doubt he'd welcome you into his fold now." "We aren't afraid of you, Snivellus," Geoffrey spat. Severus reached inside his pocket and whipped out his wand at the same moment that the other boy brandished his. Their curses met in mid-air and deflected back onto the onlookers. Soon the remaining boys had joined Geoffrey's side, until Severus was hard-put to defend himself. He simply kept his shield up, attempting to dodge the others' curses. After a few moments, a well-aimed curse hit him in the side, and as he clutched the gash that immediately appeared, he threw the same curse in Aidan's direction, succeeding in hitting the other boy's hand. Aidan dropped his wand, and Severus attempted to take down the remaining three in the same way. Nikolas hit him with a full-blast boil curse, and he countered by sending the Morsius curse towards the other boy. Nikolas dropped his wand and began moaning as Severus lifted the boil curse from his own body, then took down Callum with the Ico curse. Geoffrey remained standing, however, and he and Severus continued dueling, each managing to get quite a few blows in before the door to their dorm swung open with a bang. "Accio wands!" Severus' eyes followed his wand to the speaker, and was startled to see Professor Melison silhouetted in the doorway. "Got it out of your system, have you, boys?" he questioned, his voice hard and low. None of the boys spoke, but Severus could hear Geoffrey's gasping breath behind him. His own heart was thudding in his chest, though he wasn't quite sure if it was due to the fight, or because Professor Melison's brown eyes were hard as steel. "Follow me," Melison demanded, turning around and sweeping down the stairs. The boys stayed where they were for a moment, glaring at each other, until Melison's harsh voice echoed into their dormitory again. "NOW!" None of the dorm mates wanted to go before the others, but they finally filed out and followed an exceptionally angry Melison to his classroom. "Crabbe! In my office. You four, wait here until you're called. There will be no further fighting. Understood?" They nodded morosely as they watched Aidan follow their Head of House, then took up glaring at each other again. Melison called them in one by one, never releasing the students he had called before. Finally, it was only Geoffrey and Severus again, and the boys were taking turns cursing each other with their minds. "Still think we're afraid of you, Snivellus?" Geoffrey goaded. Severus stood abruptly, knocking his chair over and balling his fists at his side. He knew he was no match for the much larger boy without his wand, but he was past caring. Geoffrey stood as well, and the boys lunged at each other. Thankfully, Melison emerged from his office at that particular moment, saving Severus from living out the remainder of his life as a bloody pulp. "Goyle, in here now!" Geoffrey sneered contemptuously at Severus before following Melison into his office. Severus righted the chair which had fallen, and placed himself in it once again. What punishment was Melison going to derive? Surely he wouldn't get away with this. He knew better than to think that any of the four boys before him would paint his part in the matter in a flattering light. It was nearly an hour later when the door opened once again. "Severus," Melison beckoned. The boy stood and followed him into his office, surprised to find it empty. He sat in the proffered chair, wondering how the other boys had left. A sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach had him believing that the professor had cursed them into oblivion, though his mind told him to stay calm. "Tell me what happened," Melison prompted. "I'm sure the others have already told you," he retorted sharply. "Haven't you gotten tired of it yet?" Melison crossed his arms and scrutinized the boy carefully. "I have heard the others' version of events," he said carefully. "I had hoped, however, that you'd refute their claims. Their stories are consistent, which alarms me. I would like to believe I know your character, son, and the petty behavior they described is beneath you. I would appreciate hearing your version, if you please." Severus met his professor's eyes as he answered. "We were talking, then Geoffrey insulted me," he answered flatly. "Haven't you ever heard the bit about the other cheek?" Melison asked, his voice sounding strained. "I am not going to let them make my life miserable," Severus stated with passion. "How were your holidays, son?" Melison asked after a moment of silence. Severus stared at him in surprise. "Fine, sir." "What stopped them from being great, if you don't mind my asking?" The boy continued to stare at him, debating what he should say. Finally choosing not to respond, he crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. Melison sighed heavily. "Detention, then. Best get up to the hospital wing with the others." Severus stood and turned to go. "And Severus, try to avoid further fighting, eh?" The boy said nothing as he closed the door behind him.
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Severus climbed the stairs to his dormitory wearily, collapsing gratefully on his bed. Rest was not to be had, however. No sooner had he closed his eyes than he heard Lucius' drawling voice from the doorway. "Perhaps you would care to explain to me how you lot managed to lose 100 points for this house?" he asked scathingly. Thinking the comment had been directed at him, Severus flicked open his heavy eyes. Lucius, however, had his eyes focused on the other boys, his gaze filled with contempt. "Do you realize we are now behind Hufflepuff?" "It was Severus," Aidan immediately responded, his finger pointed in the air. Lucius sniffed derisively. "Severus did not lose house points," he pointed out. "Whereas you four lost twenty-five apiece. I trust you will have earned double that amount by the end of the week, or face your housemates displeasure." He turned on his heel and left the room, his words leaving Severus' dormmates glancing worriedly at each other, and angrily at him. An overwhelming sense of triumph threatened to start him grinning, and he retired behind his curtains before he lost control.
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The next morning, however, brought Severus face-to-face with his own berating. "I can't believe you!" Lily hissed as she stormed into the Transfiguration classroom. "So you heard about my warm welcome?" Severus asked, suppressing a grin. "Who hasn't?" she shot back, tossing her books onto the desk. "Honestly, Severus - they could have killed you!" "Have at least a bit of faith in me, would you? I did just fine." She paused in retrieving her supplies and gave him a scathing look. "From what Rianna Renthorne told me -" "Who?" "Rianna Renthorne? She's in my house, in every class with you that I am?" She sighed in exasperation when he failed to look enlightened. "There," she pointed, twisting his head to stare at a rather homely girl scowling at him from the back of the class. "She was in the hospital ward last night when you five were sent up there. She told me that you were bleeding through your robes." "It wasn't serious, Lily. We were in Melison's office for a good couple of hours. You don't think he'd let us sit there if we would have bled to death, do you?" Lily's scowl deepened, but she didn't push the point. "You need to ignore them," she said out of the corner of her mouth as Professor McGonagall began the class. "Oh yeah, great advice. Just let them belittle me. After all, I'm used to it, right?" he snapped. "I didn't say that," she protested. "I just meant - it's just like with Potter and Black. They're doing it to get a rise out of you." "So now that I'm finally able to defend myself from being bullied, you want me to simply let their snide little comments slide off my back?" "As long as you keep up this ridiculous feud, you're playing right into their hands," she said firmly. "Miss Evans, Mr. Snape, would you care to teach this lesson?" Severus looked up sharply at Professor McGonagall, who stood beside their desk, her lips pursed in annoyance. He and Lily mumbled apologies, and spent the remainder of the lesson in silence. When the bell rang, Severus hurried out of the classroom, still angry that his best friend thought him unworthy of his own self-defense.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A/N: Thanks to those who reviewed the last Chapter. It gives me heart to know I'm not thought of as a hacker of torrid soap opera thingys. Yes. Thingys. Sorry if this one feels short, I thought it was an appropriate place to end it, though. *EEP!* I only have 2 more chappies typed out above this. Must.....write....more often.....

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