Title: All Sorted
Age-Range Category: Two
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Lucius, OMC, Narcissa, Lily, Sirius, James, Severus
Beta Reader(s): annietalbot
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Note: I've always been struck by this particular little moment in 'The Prince's Tale'.
Summary: What is it about Severus that induces Lucius Malfoy to take him under his wing?
If hope were not an unbecoming state of mind more suited to a Hufflepuff, Lucius might have admitted that he was, as usual, having a hard time not being hopeful about the Sorting. To admit to hope about the affair would be to admit to optimism—and that would never do. Unrealistic states of mind were a handicap. One needed to cultivate a ruthless realism to get on in the world. Malfoy Book of Ethics, chapter one, verse whatever.
Nevertheless, with his shiny new prefect's badge in its rightful place on his chest, Lucius decided it would not be inappropriate to... speculate... Yes, that was the word. It would not be inappropriate to speculate about the quality of the first years who would be the fortunate beneficiaries of his new status as a recognised authority in Slytherin house. Of course, he'd had status all along, but now he had stepped into a role recognised by the school, he felt it was reasonable to indulge in some... anticipation... that there would be recruits worth the shaping.
A few seats along, Crabbe, Goyle, McNair and that crowd were catching up noisily with each others' exploits during the summer. Lucius rolled his eyes. He supposed he'd have to put some effort bringing them back into line again. Peasants. Every September, they came back to school thinking they had some sort of hold on him because they were so eager to fall over doing his bidding. And every September, he had to hammer it back into their thick heads that approval came at his whim and not as a necessary consequence of their relentless toadying. Does one thank the hammer one uses to drive in a nail?
Narcissa gave him a haughty look from the other side of the table. She tossed her silky blonde hair and turned her shoulder, returning her attention to the ugly Bulstrode girl, who was talking about horses—again. He couldn't fathom what she saw in that lump of a female, but it didn't really matter, did it, when she was wearing the silver and pearl earrings he'd sent for her birthday in August. She might pretend she was the one leading this dance, but he knew he'd have her writhing under him and begging for more by the end of the year. And in the meantime, there was her crass little sister giving him the eye. She'd be a useful outlet for his urges, and he'd be able to practise some of the techniques he'd learned in the Far East this summer. At least she was pure, in any sense that mattered.
The doors opened and McGonagall led in the usual gaggle of minuscule firsties, all staring around and gaping at the ceiling, the tables, the teachers, the other students, as if they thought everyone wanted to see their revolting tonsils. Lucius scanned the little crowd and got the usual sinking feeling that there was nobody in the whole school worth his time and trouble. It would be another year of providing busywork just to keep them out of his sight. He curled his lip right at the moment a scrawny, underfed little boy caught his eye and curled his own lip right back. Interesting. He had a look of the Princes about him, apart from the horrendous nose he wasn't doing much of a job of growing into. Lucius hadn't been aware that the Princes had any children in the family at all. The kid turned his dark eyes to the red-head beside him and whispered something that made her smile. Lucius turned away, bored and, if he were honest, disappointed.
"That foxy girl's going to be a foxy lady in a few years," murmured Miles Zabini, his dark eyes on the red-head.
"What does it matter? She's a Gryffindor—and a Mudblood by the look of her," Lucius replied, kicking off their yearly betting game. He laid a little stack of sickles on the table. Since the second year, when Zabini had been fool enough to bet favours and Lucius had taken him to the cleaners, they'd stuck strictly to cash. If he called a kid's Sorting correctly, Zabini gave him a coin; if Zabini was correct, he paid. If neither got it right, they each put a coin in the middle, to add to the bet on the next kid. If they made the same call, there was no bet. Lucius always won, of course.
McGonagall ushered the brats into a knot at the front of the hall. For some reason, Lucius was still watching the scrawny kid. A couple of well-fed, bigger boys jostled him, but he didn't retaliate. He simply moved towards the back of the crowd, the girl at his side. Merlin, what a Hufflepuff, thought Lucius until he noticed the boy's angrily calculating stare at the ones who had shoved him. They were acting like a pair of randy pigeons, all puffed up and smug, until McGonagall snapped at them to behave. The scrawny one smiled a little and stayed unnoticed by Authority.
"Isn't that one of the Blacks?" said Zabini.
Lucius gave his attention back to the crowd. Yes, one of the two pigeons was definitely a Black. He'd have to squash that talent for being obvious once the boy got Sorted.
"I call Slytherin for him," Zabini said.
And there was another one with a gift for the obvious. "Gryffindor, I think," said Lucius, just to be perverse.
The Sorting of "Black, Sirius" caused quite a stir, and made Lucius aware that he was going to be especially prescient this year. By the time they got to "Evans, Lily," there was quite a satisfactory pile of Zabini's sickles in front of him.
They both called Gryffindor for her, so Lucius was free to concentrate on what the girl's friend was going to do when she marched away from him. He looked briefly stricken as she gave him an apologetic grimace and went to find her place as far away from Black as she could manage, but then he slammed down the shutters on his expression. He did a reasonably good job of it, too—brave little kid, well used to hiding what he felt.
A few new Slytherins had come to sit below the green-and-silver banners, but the coveted place at Lucius' side was still empty. Every single new firstie looked like a second-ranker to him—useful, but not really assets. The other pigeon followed Black into Gryffindor and the scrawny kid sneered. He turned his eyes up to the great House flags displayed behind the teachers' table and seemed to be weighing his options. So... He was planning to argue with the Hat, was he?
Zabini was beginning to look nasty about losing so much money. With an inward sigh over people who would rather get angry than become competent, Lucius decided to change his game. He let Zabini have a couple of obvious calls and then, calculating that they were very close to his objective, made sure they were both wrong for the next handful. Zabini was practically slavering over the pot by the time "Snape, Severus" was called.
"Ugh," said Zabini. "Just look at that weedy little specimen. Who'd want him?"
"Not the Gryffindors, that's for sure," said Lucius. The pouter pigeons were laughing at the kid being swamped by the hat—as if they'd looked any less ridiculous.
"Well, he's not a Puff. Looks too much like an angry shrew for that. I say Ravenclaw," concluded Zabini.
"Slytherin," murmured Lucius.
"You're not serious!" scoffed Zabini, but the words died on his lips as the Hat shouted its decision.
The newest member of Slytherin house hopped off the stool without a glance at the Gryffindor table, where a few merry catcalls were ringing out. He headed towards the end of the table where the other firsties were clustered, but Lucius, to the accompaniment of much astonished whispering, half rose and beckoned the boy to the place at his right.
Ignoring everyone else, the boy scrambled gracelessly onto the bench with a nod at his prefect, who patted the thin, tense back.
"Welcome to Slytherin, Snape," said Lucius graciously, knowing how awe-inspiring he would seem to this awkward little kid.
The awkward little kid took in the pile of cash, Zabini's angry face, and Lucius' self-satisfied smirk with an ironic and oddly adult air.
"Aye. I reckon I might be, at that," he said.