"The Lone Traveler: Young man who tried to change the past and save those he loved… plan failed and became the Lone Traveler, wandering through time and reality, making a difference wherever he went… very powerful… defeated a powerful Dark Lord… swept along the path he walked by a spectacular aura of blue light."

'Legends & Myths of the Wizarding World' by Gertrude Yolanda

FF St ID 2673584 – Chap 9 – The Professional

Part the First

Severus Snape sat within his office, contemplating his new position. To be perfectly truthful, he was quite bitter. The Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had forced him into this position.

As soon as the Dark Lord was defeated, Slughorn had almost immediately retired. He suspected that Slughorn had stayed at Hogwarts to take advantage of Dumbledore's protection. When that protection was no longer necessary, Slughorn had almost joyfully left – leaving the issue of the need for a new Head of House and the broken remains of Slytherin behind.

In truth, he despised the former Slytherin Head of House. Horace Slughorn, while skilled in potions, had no cunning in his cultivation of influence. A student who had something to take advantage of was treated well and given a leg up. A student who came from an ignoble background and had no useable contacts was ignored and often used as a foil.

So, here he was, in January of 1982, about to take charge. He was near a decision as to how he would comport himself as a member of Hogwarts staff. His bitterness would almost certainly lead to the further alienation of Slytherin from the rest of Hogwarts – except something was about to happen which would change it all.

Just as he was about to finish the last of his glass of firewhisky, there was suddenly a bright light in the middle of his office. It was bright enough that, in the dim setting, he had to shield his eyes.

That light coalesced into a figure. He reached for his wand, tightening his grip even as he forced his eyes to focus.

"Who are you?" he asked the newly arrived figure.

The man looked around. In disgust, he noticed the similarity between his old nemesis (thankfully now dead) and this newly arrived wizard. The man looked at him and said, "I'm known by many names. Perhaps you've heard the tale of the Lone Traveler?"

Severus Snape was once again drinking a glass of firewhisky. The newly arrived Harry Potter (he could barely contain his sneer of disgust) had told him a horrible tale of the future, thus necessitating the additional glass.

Finally, he looked at the calm figure before him and asked and asked (his disdain barely concealed), "So, why exactly are you here?"

The loathsome man before him shrugged. "I don't know." He paused and then asked curiously, "What were thinking about right before I arrived?"

With some annoyance he replied, "I don't see why that is a necessary piece of information."

With a smile that too closely reminded him of James Potter, the Traveler replied, "Well, considering that I arrived in front of you it is likely that my current task has to do with you. And it isn't as though I'm normally within any given universe long enough to take personal advantage of what I learn."

With a sigh he said, "Fine. Do you want to know what I was thinking? I despise the position I am required to take. I am required to teach the subject of Potions – regardless of the fact that most students were complete dunderheads and without any skill or vision whatsoever. I was forced to take a vow to protect the spawn of my most hated nemesis. I am required to take the responsibility of guiding Slytherin in such a way that none suspect my true allegiance to prepare for the time when the Dark Lord will most assuredly return – your own tale makes that obvious. I will be required to once again act at the Headmaster's spy. In short – I feel poorly used and I am feeling quite bitter about it."

The Traveler looked at him and took on a look of thought. Finally he asked, "Would you like my help? Freely given?"

Severus considered that. He, in fact, was feeling so alone that this offer of assistance was mightily tempting. Finally, in a neutral voice, he asked, "And what form would your assistance take?"

The Traveler smiled, "How would you like to turn your House members into true Slytherins – rather than the pale imitation that the former Dark Lord influenced them to be?"

Severus was very intrigued by that answer.

Severus made his way to his office. He had very little time. His dimensional visitor had left for most of the day to take care of a few items of business that would help prevent the Dark Lord from ever returning. Considering that he no longer wished to serve the former Dark Idiot, Severus had no issues with aiding the visitor with his own plans.

The Traveler had suggested calling him by his oft-used pseudonym of Gary Seven – it was far less uncomfortable for him to use this than his real name and so he agreed. He entered his office to find the visitor exactly where he anticipated.

"The prefects are gathering the students within the Common room. To be perfectly frank, this particular gambit makes me nervous – I do not need my reputation tarnished."

"You will, as you said, be able to monitor my actions from this office. Slytherin did a pretty good job setting this office up. Trust me – no one will know that the person speaking will be someone else."

Severus sighed. "Very well."

The Traveler took the Polyjuice potion that Severus had prepared and drank it. Before him, now, was his doppelganger. He grimaced at the sight – he did not have a very good self image. Seven then transfigured his robes so that they matched what he wore. He then paused. "Is there a charm that you use to make your robes billow like they do?"

Severus looked at his doppelganger with disdain and then cast a charm. "This will simulate it. I need no charm personally," he smirked as he explained.

The Slytherins were all congregated within the common room. There was a low murmur of chatter taking place as they awaited their Head of House.

Suddenly, the door to the Head's office opened and Severus Snape walked out. His bearing was confident and his expression was completely unreadable. He made his way to the area next to the door and stood there.

The voices in the background soon faltered and silence engulfed the room.

"Welcome back to Hogwarts. As the Headmaster explained at dinner, I am Severus Snape, your new Potions Professor and Head of House. Are there any immediate questions?"

One of the older Slytherins called out, "Why should we listen to one of Dumbledore's lackeys? My father told me that the muggle-loving fool backed you up in the Wizengamot – kept you out of Azkaban."

Severus cocked his head and considered the student. "I will answer that in a moment. Does anyone else have similar comments regarding my background? I assure you all that any meeting within Slytherin will stay within Slytherin. No comments or question, honestly expressed, will engender punishment or even subtle payback."

Another student, a fifth year, said, "My mum told me that you were a follower of the Dark Lord." This opened the floodgates and several more students made comments. Finally, Snape motioned for silence.

"Well. To answer all of your questions the answer is: I am Slytherin." There was much confusion in the room. "The question you must ask yourself is: What possible benefit would I obtain from claiming allegiance to Dumbledore OR the Dark Lord at this moment?"

The students of Slytherin House considered that.

"As of right now, the political situation with Great Britain favors those that opposed the Dark Lord. That might change. If I claimed allegiance to the Dark Lord, word might reach those in power and I would suffer. If I claim allegiance to the Dark Lord's opponents, I would suffer should he return to power. I know my allegiance and to whom I am loyal – why would I sully that by charging without thought like a Gryffindor?" His sneer was quite obvious.

Those that had expressed their concerns were calming down as they thought about it.

"Here is truth: I am your Head of House. Whether I obtained that position by truly aligning myself with Dumbledore or whether I am using guile to spy for the Dark Lord on Dumbledore, the fact remains: Here I am. I am not within Azkaban. I hold a position of authority. I hold power. Consider that for a moment."

After a few seconds, Snape spoke again. "Now that I hold power, however, I intend to keep it. And I will do so very simply: By being the best Head of Slytherin I can be. My question to all of you: What does it mean to be Slytherin?"

There were a number of comments shouted out. Included within them were: Tradition. Cunning. Guile. The supremacy of Wizards over Muggles. Ambition. And a number of other things.

"All interesting answer – some true, some false, some misleading." He took an item from his pocket and put it on the ground. He then waved his hand and wordlessly caused the package to unshrink. There were a number of gasps.

Snape smirked at the room. "The question you must ask yourself is: How powerful am I really? Did you not just see me perform wandless magic?" There were several awed nods. "Was it truly wandless or did I charm the box to resize when placed upon the floor? Did I have control of it through my other hand, held behind my back?" He pulled his hand out and all saw the wand within it. "Can anyone tell?"

The students all looked at each other and then back to their new Head of House. None looked quite certain. Snape nodded with satisfaction. "And I won't enlighten you either. I'd rather keep my skills to myself. As a proper Slytherin should."

He then, with his wand, wordlessly moved books out of the box and onto a shelf located within the room. "This is the Oxford English Dictionary, considered by both muggles and wizards to be the definitive authority on the English Language. It is eleven volumes long – in very small type. I expect each of you, within the week, to complete an assignment. I wish you to review the meaning of the following words and their origins: Ambition. Cunning. Guile. Power. Supremacy. You may not take these volumes from the common room. You are required to use them for this assignment. In one week, we shall have another meeting where we shall discuss the words and their context within what it means to be a Slytherin."

He then gave a very serious look. "In the mean time, I will tell you all now: You ARE Slytherin. One requirement I will give you right now: You are required to maintain decorum and unity whenever you leave this room. The other houses look down upon us because of our history. They feel superior right now. I require you to support each other. No Slytherin may walk outside of the common room without at least one other – and preferably two. If you are attacked, I require you to use defensive shields only. I require you to take no revenge and to NOT take liberties and attack the other houses – regardless of how attractive such should look."

There were sounds of outrage. "Quiet!" The room quieted instantly. "I plan on ensuring that Slytherin's reputation is repaired and expanded. If I can prove, through prior incantatum and other methods, that you only defend yourselves, I can ensure that we will no longer have the reputation of being the Dark House. Instead of Slytherin receiving disdain and mistrust, it will be the members of the other House that will. I am certain that you know of which House I speak."

There were several nods of understanding. He gave a tight-lipped smirk. "And if you follow me and listen to my counsel, I will make this promise: Slytherin shall enjoy unprecedented power and influence, not just within the walls of Hogwarts, but within all of Magical Britain. Are you all with me?"

There was a cheer that went up. The House of Slytherin had taken its first step toward returning to its roots.

Severus Snape considered the scene he had just witnessed. He had been hesitant to allow Seven to take his place and to introduce the House to a new paradigm. But he, as the Snape doppelganger had proclaimed, WAS a Slytherin. And he could see the value of it.

Finally, the door opened and his visitor returned. "Was that sufficiently within the image you wish to portray?"

Severus carefully considered his words before answering, "It will suffice for the nonce."

The two sat silently until the Polyjuice wore off. Finally, when both were back to normal, Severus asked Gary, "What is the next step?"

Gary Seven smirked as he replied, "You're going to make the remainder of your schoolyard tormentors indebted to you, as well as my dimensional brother."

Once again, Severus Snape was intrigued.

Remus Lupin made his way into the Hogshead.

In the last three months he had been scrambling to survive. Since the death of two of his closest friends due to the betrayal of the last, his transformations had been particularly harsh. It made it hard to find a job – especially when he wanted to curl up in a corner and die. The only thing that kept him from giving up was the idea that he might eventually be able to be part of Harry's life. He had one pack member left, no matter how young, and he would not jeopardize the final chance to have a pack.

He had received a letter via owl which had been slightly interesting. It had claimed that there was information available that would be personally valuable. As it came from Hogwarts, he was curious enough to follow up. He nodded at the Headmaster's brother as he entered. Albeforth nodded back and pointed toward one of the private rooms.

He went in and looked around. His hackles rose a bit when he realized who awaited him.

"What do you want?" Remus asked harshly.

Severus Snape sneered at the werewolf. "I am, as my letter said, providing valuable information for reasonable consideration. As the letter said, the Headmaster's brother is providing surety that neither one of us will attack the other."

Remus huffed and moved to sit down – far away from the other man. "Fine. What is it that you wish to impart?"

Severus considered the man before him. "You undoubtedly remember that prior to the incident in our fifth year that my closest friend was Lily Evans."

Remus growled, "Lily Potter."

Severus sneered. "Regardless of later appellations to her name, she was Lily Evans when she was my friend. And however I choose to remember the best friend I ever had before I was pushed into an egregious mistake through the actions of your compatriots is none of your concern. As I said, you will remember that my first and closest friend was Lily Evans."

Remus withheld the growl but ground out the word, "Yes."

"Then I hope that you can understand that I wish to ensure her betrayer suffers as much as I am able."

Remus was becoming more irritable. "Of course. But their betrayer now sits in Azkaban, so I don't see why you have asked me to come here."

"I know that such is what you – and most of magical Britain – believes. But I know that such a belief is in error."

Remus Lupin once again descended into growling. "What in Merlin's name are you talking about?"

Severus paused for a moment. "Are you aware that the Headmaster, in the recent spate of Wizengamot hearings regarding the Death Eaters, testified that I acted as a spy for him into the Dark Lord's organization?"

Remus was surprised. "No. I was not aware. I haven't been keeping up."

"Then know that it is true and that the Headmaster was correct. Regardless of any rash decisions I made upon leaving Hogwarts I never forgot my past. And when my first friend was targeted, I willingly betrayed the Dark Lord so as to prevent her death. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful – for the most part. With one exception: A small part of her survived."

Remus breathed out, "Harry."

Severus nodded curtly. "Correct." He looked Remus directly in the eye as he continued, "And I have recently found that the remaining part of my friend was placed with a person I feel is wholly unsuitable to his care and that must be rectified."

This was information that Remus had been searching for. "Who?"

"Lily's muggle sister Petunia."

Remus looked at Severus with horror. "Who the hell put Harry with her? She refused to even come to Lily's wedding – I remember James having to comfort her about that."

Severus sighed. "The Headmaster decided that it was the most appropriate place. He sees things through rose-colored glasses. Both you and I know that family is not always truly family. He does not see it. That is why I did not try to take of this through him. He would not listen, even though I grew up with the woman and know she is a vengeful, stone-cold bitch."

Remus growled again. "So what do we do?"

"Firstly, you need to be aware: Sirius Black was not the secret keeper. The secret was held by someone I later learned was a closet Death Eater: Peter Pettigrew."

Remus looked at Severus with horror and then howled. Severus was happy that he had set up privacy charms. Finally Remus looked back and said, "At least the traitor got his. How do we clear Sirius?"

"Two things: One. Peter Pettigrew is not dead. Two. I will tell you where you can find him and how to catch him. And you make me a promise in exchange for what I am telling you."

Remus looked at Severus with wild eyes. "What promise?"

With perfect solemnity Severus answered, "You ensure that the boy is taught the truth. That it was I who put aside childhood grudges to achieve freedom for his godfather. That it was a Slytherin who achieved justice for the betrayal of a Gryffindor. You will ensure that the boy is not raised with arrogance and prejudice. Ensure he is not raised to be a bully. Do these things and I will do my part to ensure that justice is accomplished."

Remus calmed down as he considered what he was being asked. In the end, he thought it a small price to pay to reunite his pack. "You have my word."

Severus once again nodded curtly. "Very well. Recently I overheard a first year Gryffindor telling one of his friends about the rat that his brother caught in their garden. What was interesting about the rat was that it was missing a claw on its right-front paw. I assume you remember what they found of Pettigrew?"

Remus nodded.

"The family is headed by a member of the Order. I am quite certain that you could arrange for the father to help you catch him. He should stun the rat – not try to just keep it contained. Aurors such as Alastor Moody and Amelia Bones could then be brought in to witness the forcible return of the rat to its true form. I am certain that the dark mark on the arm of every Death Eater will prove sufficient cause for questioning. Pettigrew is not a member of the old families and will not enjoy the protections they do against Veritaserum questioning. You can then ensure justice is achieved. I require the opportunity to speak to Black when he is released, as soon as he is medically cleared."

Remus nodded curtly. "What family has the rat?"

"The Weasley family."

Remus gasped. A more light-sided family you would be hard-pressed to find. He stood up. "I will do as you ask. And not because you demand it, but because it is the right thing."

"I understand. But my demands are not negotiable. While I want to ensure Pettigrew is punished, I AM a Slytherin."

Remus almost chuckled as he replied, "That is true."