Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable. For entertainment purposes only.

Notes: This is similar to another posted story, Old Habits. This version, however, has a decidedly darker ending. I'm not quite sure which Snape I like better.



Old Habits, Twisted

Because of his particularly vile mood, the students in Professor Snape's Potions classes were more subdued than normal. There was very little noise from the dungeon room: the grinding of mortar and pestle, small choppings of various herbs, the occasional 'pop!' of a bubble breaking free of a thick liquid. The students themselves cast each other worried looks, but no one-not even arrogant Draco Malfoy-tempted Snape's wrath by whispering.

The silence and tension suited the Professor fine. Black thoughts tumbled through his head as he stalked between the cauldrons and the children huddled around them. He barely realized he muttered wickedly to himself.

"Um . . .sir? P-professor Snape, s-sir?" A tentative voice broke through his concentration.

"What is it?!" he screeched, turning on his heel, looking like a great bird of prey. His black robes swinging behind him added to the illusion.

All the students jumped and watched with wide eyes. Neville Longbottom, who'd been the one to dare speak aloud, seemed to shrink under Snape's piercing gaze.

"I'm s-sorry, sir, Professor Sn-snape," he stuttered, "but . . . it's . . . time for lunch."

Snape's eyes glittered. "Ten points from Gryffindor," he hissed, "for Neville Longbottom being presumptuous." Neville winced. Snape ignored it and continued. "All of you-out of my sight! I want a written report of the differences in the ingredients and techniques of voodoo potions and our own! Now get out!"

In record time the students had cleaned up, packed their supplies, and hurried out the door.

Professor Snape pinched the bridge of his nose and walked back to his desk. He didn't remove his hand as he sat down.

How could they-! Snape's brooding rushed back to him in force. Did no one in this school understand, did no one comprehend anything he had to say?! He had long ago given up the notion that anyone cared for his opinion, but to blatantly ignore it? To laugh at him?

When Headmaster Dumbledore mentioned he had hired a guest teacher, Snape had protested immediately. He remembered the way the rest of the staff rolled their eyes and shook their heads when he did.

"Do you have to object to every new teacher Albus hires?" Professor McGonagall said stiffly.

"After all these years, it's tradition!"

Several of them present covered their mouths to smother chuckles, even as Snape glanced angrily around the room. Turning back to Dumbledore, he noticed that infuriating hint of a smile on the Headmaster's face. Snape took a deep breath to steady himself.

"Severus," Dumbledore said, "it's only for Muggle Studies, not the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. And she's only a guest. She shan't be staying for the entire school year."

And he could protest no more, not without more laughter.

But deep in his heart, Snape knew that once she was here, she wouldn't leave. The students would find her fascinating, the staff would adore her, and he would-

"Hey there, Big Bad." A voice interrupted his silent tirade.

Snape sucked in his breath and snapped his head to the doorway. The woman there leaned against the frame easily, a faint amusement playing at her lips. It reminded him, furiously, of Dumbledore's secret smile.

He sneered back.

Without thinking his actions through, acting on his first impulse, Snape stood up and stomped across the room. He brushed passed the woman roughly, refusing to look her in the eye.

"I'm late for lunch," he snarled, and began making his way up the stone stairs.

"You can't avoid me forever, Severus," she called after him.

Internally he flinched but made no indication of it for her to see. In a second he was up the stairs and out of her sight.