A/N: So, this chapter was beyond difficult to write and I'm still not pleased with how it ended. Any suggestions and heavy critiques would be greatly appreciated.
1 September 1976
The Welcoming Feast had been awkward, to say the least: the Slytherins hadn't, despite the summer holidays, gotten over what they saw as Severus' “betrayal.” They had taken up the entire compartment, effectively blocking him out of the Slytherin portion of the train; shoved him towards the back of the group of students, so they wouldn't have to share a carriage with him; sat as close together as possible at the front of the table, making him sit alone at the end. They refused to speak to him, and looked at him – with contempt and malice, no less – only when necessary.
But, if Severus was honest, it was welcome. After a long, brutal summer of staying under the watchful eye of his father, and a horrid end of fifth year, being ignored wasn't nearly as bad as being noticed. Also, it served to prove, once and for all, to Lily that he wasn't ever going to become a Death Eater – he no longer had ties to those people.
Once the desserts were consumed, the feast crawled to a stop. Dumbledore, the headmaster, rose to his feet cheerily. Severus hadn't had many dealings with him, but those few occasions had প্রদত্ত Severus enough of a glimpse of the Headmaster's true personality for Severus to decide he didn't like him. Dumbledore was an odd, irritating, cocky man who seemed to know everything. Oh, he was nice enough. But he'd get this twinkle in his eye whenever something would come up, this light that seemed to say “I knew this was going to happen, but it's okay, I have it under control” and “I am so glad I'm right” all at once.
“Welcome!” his deep voice boomed around the Great Hall, “to another বছর at Hogwarts! I hope many of আপনি had a pleasant holiday,” his blue, twinkling eyes swept around the room. “As usual, Mr. Filch has asked me to remind আপনি all that magic is not, for any reason, to be used outside the classroom. This includes duels, practicing homework, and transfiguring the lavatory door into a giant niffler.” His blue eyes glanced sharply at the Dynamic Duo – Black and Potter – who were, almost assuredly, responsible for that particular incident.
Severus rolled his eyes and ground his teeth. Filch had been caretaker for only a few short years (he’d started during Severus’ first year) but he’d already made enemies among many of the students. He was a strict man, who, as a squib, often used intimidation to make up for his lack of magic. When that didn’t work, he ran to Dumbledore who, আরো often than not, smiled and shooed him away. It was not the man’s constant complaints of magic in the corridors that had caused the reaction in Severus – it was his class-mates reaction: tittering, laughing, and telling nasty jokes. They seemed to think that being a squib, being unable to use magic, was a choice. Something that Filch had chosen to be. It was, in all honesty, ridiculous and closed minded. Not one of them knew what it was like, to be trapped in a মহাকাশ where magic was needed but unable to reach it.
Dumbledore finished his speech –seemingly oblivious to the giggling students – and sent them all off to bed. Severus rose slowly, trying not to attract attention. While his house-mates had ignored him so far, Severus didn’t want to take the chance that one wrong সরানো would have them turn on him faster than the serpents that represented their house. No, better fly under the radar as much as possible.
He managed to lose himself in the throng of students. Normally, he would have gone to Lily’s side, but he thought it too much a risk tonight. The Slytherin’s would surely notice him with the muggle-born and, just as surely, skin him alive for it. All the way to the dungeons, he rode on the waves of students, always being careful to have to student in front of him and one behind. Eventually, though, it became all Slytherins.
“Snape,” an angry voice sounded from behind him. Severus tried hard not to flinch as he turned around to look at Avery. To say the boy looked furious would be an understatement: his eyes were narrowed and a vein was pulsing in his forehead.
“Have a nice summer?” Avery asked, his voice full of faux-politeness. He didn’t wait for Severus to respond, instead continuing on. “I didn’t, আপনি know. আপনি see, Slughorn told Dumbledore about our little,” he paused for a moment, seeming to think about the right word,” misunderstanding . Seemed to think we were fighting.”
This didn’t surprise Severus. After all, Dumbledore had written to his own father and his lack of reaction seemed to anger Avery even further.
“Got punished for it. My parents took my wand, made me do my homework in the রান্নাঘর while they were looking over my shoulder. I wasn’t allowed out অথবা to owl any of my friends.” He sneered down at Severus. “All because of you.”
A crowd was gathering now, called দ্বারা the smell of tension and anger that surrounded the two boys. This time was different though – many of the students were tense themselves. The Slytherins were a proud bunch, and Avery’s temper was certainly having a harmful effect on their image. But they were also afraid; Avery was a good fighter and was almost constantly backed দ্বারা Mucliber and Crabbe. He was, in a way, their leader, and they were hesitant to rebel against him.
“I didn’t – “ Severus began to protest, but Avery cut him off দ্বারা grabbing the front of his robes and hauling him forward.
“Slughorn!” a new voice sounded out, sounding wary. Avery instantly let go of Severus and whipped his head toward the voice.
The crowed parted slightly to reveal who had spoken; Regulus Black was standing toward the back of the group, standing sideways in order to both watch the spectacle and keep an eye on something down the hallway.
“Slughorn’s coming.” And, sure enough, their professor was waddling towards them, looking interested in the large group. Avery gave Severus a nasty glare, and then headed off to the common room, his “gang” following obediently behind. The rest soon followed, leaving Severus and Regulus alone.
“Everything all right? What’s going on, boys?” Slughorn asked as he reached them.
“Nothing sir. Mook just forgot the গুপ্তশব্দ to the common room, sir,” Regulus replied, his voice innocent and light. Slughorn studied the two boys for a moment, and then seemed to buy the excuse. He nodded to the pair, and continued on his way.
Regulus glanced over at Severus, his expression cloudy and unreadable, before brushing past him and heading into the common room, leaving Severus alone.