January 9, 1976
Severus Snape awoke with an instinctive feeling of dread. The same day each year, the same pessimistic feeling. Nothing good ever happens on this day. Somehow fate seemed to know when to give him the worst luck, not that he was a particularly lucky person.
Severus sat up in his bed and glanced at the time. Groaning, he realized it was only three in the morning. The others in the dormitory were fast asleep. He always managed to wake up too early, but as always he was already fully awake. At least he'd have some time to himself for a while.
Severus quietly slipped down to the Slytherin common room, carrying with him his beloved Potions book, some parchment, and a quill. He had been practicing a new spell for some time now but just couldn't seem to perfect it. Still a little groggy from sleep, Severus set his materials aside and gazed into the crackling fireplace, allowing last night's dream to drift back to the forefront of his mind. He had been having the same dream quite often lately. He was dancing at a grand masquerade ball. Everyone was wearing a mask which disguised their hair and faces. Severus had the feeling he should know the woman he was dancing with but could not ever deduce who it was. When the time came for the dancers to remove their disguises, he always woke up, leaving the mysterious dancer anonymous.*
In any case, he wouldn't be finding the answer today. Severus refocused on the matter at hand. He gathered up his book, quill, and wand, and snuck down to the boys' loo. The spell he was working on would act as an Invisibility Cloak, concealing him completely from head-to-toe. Actually, once he perfected the spell, it would be even more precise as it could not fall off or be removed, and it would be completely impenetrable by any means. He used the mirrors in the lavatory to test his spell.
"Invisibilis corpus." ** So far he could see a shimmering ghost like form, not quite invisible yet better than the last attempt (it had looked like he had thrown a net over his body. Not invisible, just ridiculous). Severus took a deep breath, concentrated, and tried one last time, using a slightly different Latin phrase.
"Caeca corpus." *** He glanced at the mirror to examine his progress and saw something amazing. He looked back and forth between the mirrors in front and behind and saw…nothing. Maybe his luck had turned. Maybe today wouldn't be so bad.
He held the spell until he had reached the Slytherin common room then he let the concealment fall away. As he scribbled his findings into his book, the other Slytherins began to trickle from the dormitories.
Severus returned to the room, dressed, and headed down to breakfast. When he arrived at the Great Hall, a familiar voice called out to him.
"Sev! Wait up! You walk so fast!"
Chuckling to himself, Severus turned to see Lily Evans, his best friend, breathlessly trying to catch up to him. "Goodness, Sev. You'd think you were trying to avoid me today. Speaking of today, it's a pretty special day!"
"Well, it's not that special," he replied dryly.
"Not special? Don't be so glum. It's your birthday, Sev. Cheer up!" 1 Lily smiled.
"Today? His birthday? Well maybe we should give old Snivellus2 here a birthday present." A new voice loomed from behind Severus. Well so much for being lucky today.
"James, must you always act like such an insufferable git?" Lily exclaimed, exasperated.
Severus slowly spun to see the group commonly known as "The Marauders"3. Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, and the ringleader of them all, James Potter.
"Keep out of it, Evans. We just want to have a little fun with our chum here, right Snivellus?" James crooned.
How original, Severus thought to himself. He thinks he's the cleverest git in the world.
The Slytherin attempted to turn to leave the room, but was stopped by another snickered remark from James.
"I don't think 'birthday' is quite an appropriate title for a hatchling, do you, Remus?"
Severus did not wait long enough to find out. He pushed through the crowds in order to reach his secluded seat near the end of the Slytherin table. As always, his birthday was not looking up to being a very enjoyable day. However, there was always one thing he could look forward to, something even James Potter could not ruin: Potions class with Professor Slughorn.4 Though he did not want notice, and especially did not want to be brought into the "Slug Club"5, he still enjoyed the exactness and structure of creating potions. There was no grey area. You were right or you were wrong. You could do anything with potions.
He loved the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking, the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensaring the senses.6 You could bottle fame, brew glory, or even stopper death, as long as you knew how.6
He never once raised his hand in class, nor called attention to himself in any way, but Potions was his favorite class. There was one small drawback, however; it was a dual class with the Gryffindors. Hopefully he would go unnoticed today, but given his luck, today's class probably wouldn't end very well. Today they would all be brewing, or attempting to brew, Amortentia, the strongest love potion in the wizarding world. If brewed correctly, it can be very dangerous indeed. Though a potion cannot really manufacture love, but, in essence creates a powerful obsession.
Severus worked diligently, carefully collecting ingredients, cutting, mixing, and stirring. He filtered out the constant chatter around him, focusing on the creation of the potion.
Professor Slughorn called time and inspected each cauldron.
"Amazing work, Lily! As always. Well…you gave a good attempt, Mr. Potter."
As Slughorn weaved through the rows of students, Severus fervently hoped he would be politely ignored as usual. He was a social outcast, not someone for Slughorn to pay any attention to. The professor liked to focus on the popular ones, people with a chance to make it big somewhere. "Ah, Severus Snape! You have created a perfect potion. I am deeply impressed."
Now everyone was staring at him. He could see a scathing comment had entered James's mind.
"See how the color is a vibrant pink? Does anyone know the specific characteristics of Amortentia? Yes, Lily?"
"The potion creates a burning obsession for the brewer of the potion. Amortentia smells differently to each person depending on what attracts them."7
Severus concentrated on the scent of his potion. He caught a whiff of rain, fresh parchment, and the heady smell of freesias.**** This confused him. He was expecting the smell of sunshine and grass and lilies, Lily Evans's unique scent. He had been attracted to her forever, so why did he not smell her scent?
Maybe he hadn't brewed it correctly.
The students around him were moving, cleaning. He realized Slughorn had dismissed class and quickly cleared his spot. As he followed the herd of students filing out of the classroom, Severus found himself face to face with James Potter.
"I'll bet you've been practicing that one for ages. It'll probably come in handy so you won't always have to be so tragically alone. That is, if you can actually convince someone to get near you long enough to drink it!" James and his group of friends found this childish remark hilarious. Severus merely pushed past them to head up the stairs.
He drowned out their laughter and continued on his way. Wrapped in his thoughts, he did not pay any attention to where he was going and ran directly into another student. He began to stammer an apology when he glimpsed her face. She was pale with full, red lips and a delicate nose dusted with golden freckles. But what struck him most were her eyes. They were huge and a beautiful blue green color that reminded him of being underwater.* When he regained his senses, he caught her scent: rain, parchment, and freesia…
That was odd…but she was already gone. Severus had never seen that girl before though she seemed to be a sixth year, a year older than him. He immediately realized he hadn't caught which House she was from. Where did this strange girl come from and, better yet, why did he care?
These questions remained in his mind the entire walk to the Transfiguration classroom. Throughout the class he swore he saw her face haunting him; a glimpse here and there turned out to be nothing. He tried to tell himself he was going insane but he could not shake a feeling of familiarity.
As the class dismissed, he began to head instinctively toward the Slytherin common room but suddenly changed directions. He felt compelled to visit Lily Evans, the only person in the school he could trust.
With this thought overshadowing all others, he quietly whispered, "Caeca corpus" and headed off to find her.
Just a glimpse, and a hint of freesias
*The character mentioned at this point is an original character and cannot be found in any of the Harry Potter books. He or she is the intellectual property of the author of this novel or her sister.
**The spell described here was not one that was mentioned in any of the Harry Potter books. It has been invented by the author as part of the plot of this particular fan-fiction.
The Latin phrasing, Invisibilus corpus, roughly translated, means "Invisible body"
***The spell described here was not one that was mentioned in any of the Harry Potter books. It has been invented by the author as part of the plot of this particular fan-fiction.
****The scent that Severus Snape says he smells here was created by the author and her sister as part of the plot. Nowhere in the Harry Potter books does it mention what Severus Snape may smell when he sniffs the Amortentia potion.
The Latin phrasing, Caeca corpus, roughly translated means "Unseen body".
1The date for Severus Snape's birthday was taken from the Harry Potter Lexicon website.
2The insult James Potter calls Severus Snape, "Snivellus", was taken directly from the Harry Potter text.
3The nickname used here for James Potter and his friends (Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew), "The Marauders", was taken directly from the Harry Potter text and was first introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
4The assumption that Professor Slughorn was Severus Snape's Potions teacher was derived from comments made by the character himself in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. Professor Slughorn states that Lily Evans had been one of his students, at which point it was assumed that he had also taught Severus Snape as they were classmates in the same year.
5This phrase was taken from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
6 The original quote was taken from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and reads as follows:
"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking," he began. [...] I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses ... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death -- if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
7This description of this particular potion was taken from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.