“Mother, I’m bored. Can we go home now?”
“We just got here, boy. Go and find someone your age to play with,” Mrs. Black looked disapprovingly down at her first-born son, aged eight, and a thorough nuisance. Why he couldn’t be more like his younger brother, she would never know.
But for his part, Sirius didn’t notice or care that his mother wasn’t very happy with him. He saw the opportunity to leave and go and find some fun, so, being the hyperactive eight-year-old he was, he took it. With one last quick glance at his mother, whose attention was no longer on him, he vanished into the milling crowd of guests.
Once he was out of sight, Sirius wrinkled his nose. He didn’t like his mother’s friends, and this party was just full of them. They were too stiff and prim and proper, and Sirius thought that they wouldn’t know a good prank if it bit them on the arse. And it was no use mixing with people like that—they never properly appreciated someone fun like him. He went to find someone more interesting.
Sirius dodged around various adults, who ignored him beyond staring down their noses at him for a moment before looking away. He vaguely thought of going to find one of the house-elves and asking for some pumpkin juice to drink, but that was when he saw the boy standing by the wall, the one who looked to be about his age. Grinning, Sirius went to go and join him.
However, he was having seconds thoughts as he approached the boy leaning on the wall. Going by his greasy, chin-length hair, Sirius decided that he didn’t have very good hygiene. Sirius hated bad hygiene—it made things all smelly and revolting. No one should have to endure bad hygiene. So Sirius decided it was up to him to save this boy from drowning in his own hair-generated grease.
“Hello,” Sirius said as soon as he got close enough to the boy.
“Hello…” the boy replied, looking curiously at Sirius.
“I’m Sirius Black. Who’re you?” Sirius asked.
“Severus Snape,” the boy replied. Sirius grinned to himself. Contact was made, now it was time for the mission. Operation Good Hygiene was now in session.
“Okay. Um, well, I didn’t know if you know, but you know…” Severus raised an eyebrow at Sirius’s fumbling, so Sirius decided to just say it simply. “Is your hair supposed to be that greasy? Because if it’s not there’s things you can do to stop it. Like shampoo, and such. Though sometimes I have to wonder how good shampoo is. I mean, it has the word poo in it, and…” Sirius trailed off, because Severus did not look very happy. In fact, you might even call him very unhappy. Because he was now glaring at Sirius. Sirius gulped.
“Yes, I know what my hair is like!” Severus snarled. “And I don’t need you coming around and telling me how to take care of it!”
Now Sirius felt bad. He hadn’t meant to insult the other boy, only to help him…but still, he didn’t need to have been so rude.
“Well, excuse me!” Sirius replied, offended. “All I was trying to do was help, and you know, it really does look like you’re letting your hair get that greasy. I don’t see how you could have that much grease in it and still wash it regularly!” He glared at Severus, who glared back at him.
“Well, I didn’t ask for your help, and for your information, I do wash it regularly!” Severus retorted.
“Well it doesn’t look like it!”
“Yeah! And you’re too pale. You look like a vampire!”
“No I don’t!”
“Yes you do!”
The two boys resumed glaring at each other again, before Sirius narrowed his eyes and decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. He’d go and find his brother. Regulus was sometimes fun to tease, though he did have a tendency to call for their mother, who would always believe Regulus instead of him and it wasn’t fair. But Sirius doubted that Regulus would make a fuss in the middle of the party, or Mother would be very unhappy with him. Regulus didn’t like to make Mother unhappy.
So now, completely ignoring Severus the Nasty Greaseball, Sirius turned around and vanished into the crowd of adults, looking for his brother.
His brother, however, a cheerful seven-year-old, was meanwhile wandering amongst the adults, looking for something interesting to do after his mother shoved him away when she saw a tall man with white-blond hair, named Malfa or something. They didn’t look very nice, so Regulus didn’t mind being shoved away that much. There were so many nicer-looking people here, so he’d go and find one of them around his age and make friends.
However, the first person he saw around his age didn’t look very nice either. He was scowling darkly off in another direction, so Regulus was a bit hesitant about approaching him. But he shrugged—he didn’t know how many boys around his age he’d see tonight, so he might as well make friends as best he could with the ones he did see.
So Regulus bounced up to the boy and chirped, “Hi! I’m Regulus, who’re you? Wanna be my friend?”
The boy turned around to face him and looked at him warily, like Regulus would soon jump at him and shout “Ooga booga!” Regulus was therefore understandably confused, because he didn’t think anybody had ever looked at him like that before. But still, he politely waited for the other boy to return his greeting and offer his name.
However, when the other boy did speak, it was not to say his name. “Are you a Black?” he asked, looking at Regulus with narrowed eyes.
Regulus nodded and cocked his head. “Yeah, I am. Why?” he asked, and the other boy scowled at him. Regulus scowled back—he and Sirius would often play The Scowling Game, in which they would try to out-scowl each other, but this boy looked like he would be an expert at The Scowling Game. Regulus wondered if he had any brothers to practice with.
The other boy’s eyes narrowed further. “Do you have a brother named Sirius?”
Wondering what Sirius had done now, Regulus nodded.
“Then you tell him that he’s a git!” the other boy announced. Regulus just smiled and nodded. Sirius was a git sometimes, even if he didn’t mean to be. And judging from the boy’s hair, Regulus decided that Sirius must have gone on one of his good hygiene crusades.
So he asked, “Was it because of your hair?”
The other boy’s scowl deepened. “Don’t you start making fun of my hair too,” he warned. “I really do wash it! And I’m not a vampire, my skin’s just naturally that pale!”
Regulus nodded wisely. “They wouldn’t let vampires into a party like this. My mother told me. They’re half-breeds, and shouldn’t be allowed to associate with purebloods like us.”
The boy smiled hesitantly as he saw that Regulus was not going to make fun of him. He stuck out his hand. “I’m Severus Snape.”
Regulus grabbed his hand and shook it enthusiastically, smiling back at Severus. “Don’t worry about Sirius,” he confided in a whisper. “He really is a big git sometimes. The best thing to do is just ignore it. It makes him really angry.”
Severus laughed, and Regulus grinned. They spent the rest of the party talking about various things, and when Mrs. Black bore down on them several hours later with Sirius in tow, Regulus had to be dragged away, protesting loudly. Before they left, Regulus saw Sirius and Severus stick their tongues out at each other, but then Severus ignored Sirius and waved to him. Regulus waved back, and then he went home, happy to have made a new friend.