Disclaimer:  Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR.  The miniscule bits of plot left over belong to me.  Inspired by the trailer to Prisoner of Azkaban and, of course, Alan Rickman ::swoons::

You Need Not Fear Me

I suppose it was all so frightfully amusing.  I am certain they laughed themselves silly over the spectacle.  Hogwarts most loathed professor.  A greasy git of a man who would deduct points for the most miniscule of errors.  An overbearing bat who favours his own house students to the detriment of all others.

Reduced to becoming a parody of myself…and in drag no less, as Albus cheerfully pointed out.

In a word, humiliating.

It does not surprise me that I would be the form a boggart would take for Longbottom.  What surprises me is that my form did not appear more often.  Most of my students have cowered in fear from my tirades at one point or another.  There are very few who haven't.  Mr. Potter is such a one.  Always defiant…seemingly above the rules. It would be a simple enough matter to dismiss his little escapades as arrogant showmanship...if one were to look past the grievous wounds he has incurred as a result.  Saving the Weasley girl last year…facing a basilisk, no less.  As much as I hate to admit it, and I will certainly never admit to it out loud, I admire his courage and am rather thankful for the sheer dumb luck that has kept his skin intact up until now.

Miss Granger is another such student, merely because she never makes a mistake and has nothing to fear.  She has talent, drive, ambition but it is her technique that, try as I might to find one, is without fault.  Given sufficient time and training, she could very well make me obsolete.

But the others…they fear me.  I know that.

Ridiculous, really.

These children, with the exception of the Dream Team and perhaps one or two others, have no idea what is out there in the real world.  Most are too young to know the true horror of Voldemort's rise just over a decade ago.  Too young to know death and pain…that which I have seen…that which I myself have caused.

They are too young…far too young for any of this.

And I know that there will be a time when they will learn this.  A time when they realize that I am not the one they should fear.

I am nothing…nothing except a bitter man.

And that is nothing to be afraid of.

Each time I see Longbottom…see his eyes, which remind me so much of his mother's, widen in fear, I am sorely tempted to grab his shoulders and shake some sense into him.  Tell him…Neville, you need not fear me…I am not the evil you believe me to be.  You know what true evil is.  You see its handiwork each time you visit your parents.

The evil that destroyed Frank and Alice Longbottom is still out there…I have no doubt of that.

But that evil is not me.