Snape stood at the back of a crowd of first years, watching as they huddled together shivering with excitement. It felt alien to him, viewing the sorting from this vantage point, and he couldn't help but feel a stirring of anticipation within him. He mentally scolded himself for allowing the atmosphere to effect him so much. He had no reason to be nervous, he had done this before, he knew what to expect and that there was nothing to fear.
He turned to glance over his shoulder and caught Draco's eye. Draco raised an eyebrow and gave him a smirk as the first name was called and a tiny blonde boy stepped shakily up to the stool and the Sorting Hat was placed on his head. The hat was quiet for a few moments while the boy visibly shook beneath it, then the brim opened wide and the hat shouted "Ravenclaw!" which was greeted with whoops and cheers from the Ravenclaw table and polite applause from everyone else. Severus watched with mounting anxiety as McGonagall worked through the list of names until he stood alone in front of the hat, all eyes in the Great Hall on him.
"As you may have noticed," McGonagall announced to the silent and intent audience, "A new student will be joining the seventh year and must be sorted." she paused and smiled before saying, "Asphodel, Evan!"
Snape stepped forward to take his seat under the hat doggedly ignoring the coiling sensation in his stomach. He felt hot under the collective gaze of everyone assembled and his heart hammered in his chest. If he had been capable of rational thought he would have sneered at his lack of emotional control. Sitting on the stool, he gripped the sides to still his trembling hands and the hat slipped down to cover his eyes.
"Well, well, well!" said a smooth, clothy voice in his head, "A rare treat indeed. I don't think I've ever sorted a person twice. How interesting to get a glimpse of the man that the boy became." and the hat gave a muffled chuckle.
'Spare me the all-knowing routine,' Snape thought to the hat, 'this is just for the benefit of those watching. I know as well as you do which house I belong in, so kindly get on with it.'
"Oh, but of course I know where you should go," said the hat "our brave hero could only be a-" "GRYFFINDOR!" boomed the hat aloud.
The Gryffindor table erupted into chaos as McGonagall whipped the hat from Snape's stunned head. Severus sat, mouth gaping foolishly, on the stool until McGonagall gave him a nudge towards the celebrating table. He moved, trance-like, towards his new house shaking his head in disbelief. He looked towards the Slytherin table to see Draco with an expression to mirror his own.
Severus then realised he had drawn level with the house table and people were moving up to make room for him, with words of welcome. He mutely sat down and allowed his hand to be shaken by multiple Gryffindor's, returning their smiles with more of a grimace. He turned, to come face to face with Harriet Potter grinning at him and clapping him on the back. Her green eyes sparkled as she flushed and stammered her greeting.
"N-nice to meet you. I'm-"
"The famous Miss Potter." he interrupted, sneering internally at her look of confusion when he used her name, "I, of course, read the papers and have seen your picture."
"Oh, yeah." Harriet said with a blush and squirmed uncomfortably. "The whole Girl-Who-Lived thing. I hope you get to know me a bit better than all the rubbish in the papers though." she blurted out and then blushed even deeper red, "I mean, being in the same house and..." her voice trailed off and she busied herself with loading her plate with the food that had just appeared.
"Smooth move!" Ron muttered from Harriet's other side, grunting when her elbow connected with his ribs. "Ron Weasley, we'll be roommate's this year." he said, with a wave of his hand to the boy sitting opposite him, "Us and Neville anyway."
Neville nodded at him with a smile and went back to his conversation with Miss Granger.
Snape, unused as he was to Longbottom smiling at him, was taken aback for a second by how different he looked with that expression.
"So where do you think that greasy git Snape is?" Ron said, nudging Harriet. "I thought he would be here terrifying first years or acting like an overgrown bat in the dungeons."
"Ron!" tutted Hermione, "You need to stop talking about Professor Snape like that. You know as well as I do he was on our side all along."
"Still a greasy bullying git." Ron mumbled, but not loud enough for Hermione to catch.
Severus seethed quietly, inventing ways to punish Ron when he got back to himself in the privacy of his own head. He ground his teeth and focused on keeping his magic from flaring out of control when a hand covered his. He looked up into familiar, searching, green eyes, filled with concern. He blinked.
"Are you alright Evan?" Harriet asked him, misinterpreting the look on his face for worry instead of anger. "I'm sure Draco will be fine about you not being in Slytherin." she said patting his hand, "He is family after all."
"Indeed." Snape said, pulling himself together and slipping his hand out from under Harriet's. "I'll speak to him after the feast." After all, he needed some time away from these infernal Gryffindors to collect his thoughts. Maybe he could appeal directly to McGonagall and have her move him to Slytherin where he belonged? Somehow he thought he knew what her response would be, but he had to try. He didn't care what the stupid hat said, he was a Slytherin.