Sabriel awoke to the shrieks and giggles of the girls of the fifth year Gryffindor dormitory, as they got ready for the first day of classes. Lavender Brown was showing a pretty Indian girl who Sabriel hadn’t met yet a brand new pack of Tarot cards. Hermione was straightening her prefect’s badge in the mirror and pulling a face at her impossibly bushy hair. One other girl was stroking Hermione’s cat Crookshanks. She had chestnut coloured hair and small eyes.
Sabriel lay still for a minute. She had tossed and turned for hours before finally falling into a fitful slumber. She felt vaguely sick. Half of it was nerves at her first day of Hogwarts, half was the awful thought that her father was ashamed of her. They always did this; they had a fight and let their feelings fester until neither of them could sleep peacefully. They never talked about anything. Her father never talked at all, at least never to her.
She lightly shook her head. She had to snap out of this ‘my father never talks to me’ nonsense and get over it. There was no room in her family for any self-pity. Her father had the monopoly on that.
“Oh, Sabriel you’re awake.” Hermione walked over to Sabriel’s bed, while she sat up and began brushing her hair.
“Time for introductions, I think. You’ve met Lavender.” Lavender gave a little wave, but she didn’t smile. “This” she pointed to the girl holding the Tarot cards “is Parvati Patil.” Parvati said a small “hi” and turned back to Lavender. “And this” Hermione turned to the girl stroking Crookshanks “is Ruth Vegrandi.” Ruth gave a small smile and kept stroking Crookshanks. “Everyone, this is Sabriel.”
Sabriel smiled at them all, but couldn’t discern any real warmth in any of them. She turned to Hermione who was desperately trying to look delighted and gave her a look which said: ‘it’s okay, they don’t have to like me.’
After quickly getting dressed, Sabriel and Hermione headed downstairs towards the common room.
“It’s alright you know, I understand why they’re wary of me. I would be too if I were them.”
“Still.” Hermione frowned. “It should be enough that you’re in Gryffindor and actually trying to be friendly. I’m willing to bet your father wouldn’t be this nice.” She realised what she was saying and looked guiltily at Sabriel. “Sorry… I mean if people talked about my dad like that I’d hate it. Sorry.”
Sabriel smiled at her. “It’s okay, I’m used to it. It’s not like he doesn’t deserve at least some of it. He’s not the easiest man to get along with. Anyway, I’ll probably be talking like that about him by the end of the day if he stays true to form and treats me like a Gryffindor.” She remembered the look of shock on his face when the Sorting Hat had placed her in the hated house.
Sabriel and Hermione had just walked into the common room where Harry and Ron were dressed and still yawning.
“Shall we go down to breakfast?” Harry began to drag the basically asleep Ron through the entrance hole.
The Great Hall was buzzing with conversation as they sat down at the Gryffindor table. Professor McGonagall was already handing out the year’s timetables. When she spotted Sabriel she hurried over.
“Now dear, I’ve just put you in the basic classes which most people seem to take. If there’s anything you’re unhappy with, just tell me.”
Sabriel quickly scanned the subjects on her timetable. Transfiguration, Charms, Care of Magical Creatures, Astronomy, Herbology, History of Magic, Defence against the Dark Arts, Divination and Potions. She almost gagged at Divination.
Professor McGonagall looked inquisitively at her.
“Could I maybe swap Divination for something else? Like Arithmancy?”
Hermione looked delighted when Sabriel showed a preference for her favourite subject. “Oh, yes Professor! Sabriel will love Arithmancy!”
Professor McGonagall replied with a stern grin “of course you can take Arithmancy.”
With that she tapped her wand on Sabriel’s timetable and her classes magically rearranged themselves to fit her new class in. The Professor then moved on to the next group of students, wondering why on earth anyone would voluntarily take Arithmancy.
“Yay!” Hermione squealed. “You’ll love Professor Vector; she’s my favourite teacher ever! Oooh, finally I’ll have a study buddy! We can put up number charts in the dormitory and colour code our notes together!”
Harry and Ron looked exasperatedly at each other and inwardly prayed that Sabriel wasn’t going to be as academically enthusiastic as Hermione. Their prayers were answered when they saw the look of horror on Sabriel’s face.
“I wonder what that Umbridge woman is going to be like?” said Ron, piling hash browns on to his plate which was already covered in scrambled eggs.
“Well, I doubt she’ll be anywhere near as good as Lupin, but… Ron, you’ll be sick!”
“What are you now, my mother?”
“Who?” said Sabriel. They looked blankly at her. “I mean, who are you talking about?”
“She introduced herself last night at the feast.” Hermione looked confused. “She said all this stuff about ‘progress for progress’ sake’ and such nonsense. Don’t you remember?”
Sabriel understood. “Well, I was a little preoccupied, so it’s possible I wasn’t listening.”
“You and the rest of the Great Hall” said Harry glancing back at his timetable.
“’Ear ‘ear” said Ron through a mouthful of eggs. He had another look at his timetable and quickly swallowed.
“Oh no.” he looked up, his face longer than Nearly Headless Nick’s. “We’ve got double potions – with the Slytherins – first thing Monday morning! Eurgh!”
Harry joined in the misery. “Two hours of Snape just after we’ve woken up. That’s like mental cruelt – OW!”
From the look on Hermione’s face it seemed as though she had kicked Harry under the table. Harry looked guiltily at Sabriel.
“Honestly you guys don’t worry about it! If I’m not happy about anything you say, I’ll tell you, but in the meantime, you don’t need to tread on eggshells every time I’m here.”
Ron looked relieved. “Thank Merlin. If I have to bottle up every time I’m annoyed at Snape, I’ll explode before Christmas!” Sabriel laughed at that but stopped immediately as she saw the man himself walk into the Great Hall.
He looked exhausted as though he hadn’t slept. His head was down and his face looked drawn and gaunt. He looked miserable. He wasn’t looking her way, but Sabriel sensed that he was trying very hard not to. She had to talk to him before the double period began.
She stood up. “I’ll meet you guys at Potions, okay?”
Ron looked confused. “How will you know where it is?”
Sabriel smiled. “Because I’ve spent every summer holiday that I can remember at Hogwarts, a considerable portion of which was spent in the Potions class. Trust me; I know every nook and cranny of the dungeons.” With that she headed off towards the staff table.
Harry and Ron looked at each other. Ron smirked. “Every nook and cranny? Just don’t let Fred and George hear her say that, imagine the carnage!”
George’s head popped round from behind Angelina Johnson.
“Did somebody say carnage?”
Snape looked up from his porridge to see Sabriel edging towards him. He couldn’t quite discern her expression, but it wasn’t good. He sighed and pushed his chair back. He gestured for her to follow him into the antechamber which had been used for the Triwizard champions at the beginning of the previous year. She followed him inside and closed the door.
Outside, the Hall broke into whispers as everyone discussed what they had just seen. The new girl and her famed father were the hot topic of the first day, everyone wanting to know how the Potions Master was taking the fact that his daughter was one of the newest members of the Gryffindor House.
The students who were the most curious were the green-clad Slytherins, who were anxious to see how their Head of House interacted with his daughter. They didn’t know where to put themselves, caught between hating all Gryffindors and not wanting to upset Snape.
Malfoy especially wanted to know, as he was going to find it hard to torment his favourite enemies if Snape’s daughter was friends with them. If, however, Snape disowned her or something, Malfoy didn’t think he’d mind so much. Then again, he thought, she was very good looking. Just a touch of a sly grin flickered across his face, before he turned back to Pansy Parkinson, who was doing an awful impression of Potter fainting in the presence of a Dementor, a joke which everyone else had given up years ago. Yes, he thought. Time to move on.
Sabriel turned and looked at her father. He was dressed in his usual black robes, robes he seemed to find specifically for their ability to billow around him without any need for a draft. She waited for him to say something, but he remained silent. He just stood there and looked at his shoes.
“Well?” she said. He looked up.
Sabriel almost threw her bag at him.
“Well what do you think? I mean, you just disappeared last night before I got the chance to talk to you!”
He looked furious. “What do you mean ‘disappeared’, I didn’t bother you because I could see that you were busy with your new best buddies. Already come up with some witty nickname for me have you? Is it at all innovative or have you just stuck to Snivellus?”
She looked shocked. She felt like he’d slapped her across the face. She replied quickly, he’d taught her to be always ready with a sharp retort.
“Are you so insecure that you think I’d treat you like that? Of course I don’t mock you, why would I? Anyway, it’s not as though you’re the only thing in the world to talk about. It is possible to get through a conversation without mentioning your name.”
He recognised the sarcastic tone as his own and he saw her bottom lip curl, just like his did when he was angry. The quirk softened him a little.
She saw his expression lift and knew that she had got through to him. She quietly broached the subject they had both been avoiding.
“So… are you angry? I mean, that I’m in Gryffindor?” She held her breath.
Snape hesitated. He sure as hell wasn’t pleased, but she was his daughter. He couldn’t just alienate her.
“I’m surprised. It was so unexpected. I never dreamed that you wouldn’t be in Slytherin, but then your mother wasn’t. You’ve always been more like her than me anyway.”
Sabriel looked disappointed. She had wanted more of an assertion that he didn’t think any less of her. Snape quickly picked it up.
“This doesn’t change anything between us.” He said firmly. “You’re my daughter, Slytherin or Gryffindor. Probably not Hufflepuff though.”
She laughed. “It could be worse; the Hat might have just chucked me out.”
“With your genes? Never.”
They smiled at each other for a moment, both relieved that the conflict had been resolved. She walked up to him and kissed him on the cheek.
“See you in class.” She walked to the door and turned around just before she left.
He chuckled to himself. This was going to be interesting.