Ok, this story is post-GoF, pre-OotP, and since book 5, is decidedly AU. He is alive in this story, as in all of our stories, and will remain so as long as he continues to hold our house elf Tarquin captive. Gavin, Isobel, Jess and Toby are mine, my own, my precious (unlike that phrase) and may appear elsewhere in other stories if we feel like it. The relationships between them and everyone else are not explored here, though they may be later, if anyone wants them to be/the coffee revel hating half can be bothered. For now, however, they are and will remain for the foreseeable future rather PWAPesque. It starts with Snapey-poo, (surprise, surprise) although if he ever hears us calling him that there's no chance you'll ever find out what's going on…
Basil's in the Ratatouille
The Welcome Feast (or whatever inane title the barmy old codger had named it this year) was well underway and Severus was already irritated enough to death glare anyone looking his way, and consider gouging out his own eyeballs with solid silver spoons, even if they were decorated with Gryffindor lions (or griffins, which might make more sense). The insipid conversation and predictable food were grating on his single nerve, and to make matters worse, the new mysterious Defence teacher (was there any other kind?) was tardy, and there is never an excuse for lateness.
His musings were cut short as the double doors of the hall slammed open. The outside air chilled as it gusted in, making a valiant, but doomed attempt to turn a pigtailed Hufflepuff first year into a helicopter.
The death glare intensified. Dramatic entrances were his thing.
A hooded figure dressed all in black strode swiftly down the hall towards the teachers, barely glancing at the students.
This was not really all that unusual an entrance for a new teacher at Hogwarts, but the company the figure kept was rather surprising, and was the reason none of the teachers had moved for their wands. Flanking the figure were two unicorns, proud and noble creatures, pure in heart and choosy in their company. Even at Hogwarts this was a bit odd, since unicorns rarely ventured out of the forest. So amazed were most of the Great Hall at this, that they didn't notice the last creature in the procession until it leapt onto the Teachers' table and dropped the contents of its mouth right into Dumbledore's chicken fried rice.
The hooded figure laughed and issued a gentle reproach "Really, Toby, just because people are ignoring you doesn't mean you should ruin someone's dinner. Heel."
The lion (for that is what Toby was, not a harmless fruit at all) gave its best puppy eyes (which being a lion weren't very good) to the speaker and returned to her (for the voice was decidedly feminine) side.
"He must really like you to give you such a valuable gift Professor"
Dumbledore looked down "A rat, how charming! And it's still alive"
Not even Dumbledore could fake happiness at this little present. He had been looking forward to his dinner all day. He sighed sadly.
"Now, now Albus, this isn't just any rat. He's rather in demand at the moment."
"Pettigrew" whispered Snape almost silently,
"We might as well call you Sean Bean, Professor, you're so sharp"
"Jess?" he breathed, her name passed from his lips almost reverently, and he was swept up in a maelstrom of memories that had been locked away for more years than he cared to remember. She had been his guilty pleasure, later, his guilty secret and later still, when they had been discovered, she had been a test of his loyalty, and he had not wavered (though he hated himself for it, then and now).
The headmaster hurriedly excused himself, saying simply "Children, Sirius Black is innocent. The traitor was an illegal animagus, the one currently sleeping in my dinner. If you will excuse me, I inform Minister Fudge of these developments. If you could carry on for me, my dear?"
She nodded her assent, and the cloak was thrown back to reveal a tousled head of raven black hair, sparkling hazel eyes and a smile that could only be described as mischievous.
"Miss me?" the grin widened from mischievous to bloody cheeky, and with those two words, Snape's composure was back and the past twenty years had never happened.
"On the contrary, I barely noticed you were gone. I attributed the lack of invasions of my privacy to my increased skill at warding. New pets?"
"Toby's an animagus, Severus, remember, AN-EE-MAY-GUS, that's a boy that can turn into a lion?" she confided in a condescending voice.
She withered under a glare that could be classed as a weapon of mass destruction by even the most stringent of weapons inspectors. One should not attempt sarcasm when in the presence of the master.
"Oh, the unicorns… Gavin, Isobel, I'd like you to meet Professor Snape. Professor Snape, Gavin and Isobel." The whole school goggled as the snow white creatures and the stern professor bowed to each other.
The unicorns gently nuzzled her, and satisfied with her safety, turned, trotting regally out of the Great Hall heading for the Forbidden Forest.
"Tobes, make sure they get back ok?"
The lion/wizard paused, shook his mane and licked her hand with a tongue as rough as sandpaper. He then surprised everyone by licking the recalcitrant potions master before sprinting to the doors.
Jess (for indeed it was she) then turned to the rest of the Great Hall
"Ok, while I have everyone's attention"
A chuckle from Snape caused the few murmurers to fall silent. Snapes didn't laugh. Well, that was probably a gross generalisation. THIS Snape didn't laugh. At least not in public. Noting the response of the children, he smiled grimly. His personal arsenal in the war against students was up one weapon.
"I, as you may have guessed am your new Defence teacher. I apologise for my lateness, but was detained when a group of Death Eaters tried to kidnap me, blah blah polyjuice potion, blah, loyal servant in my place…"
'Well' thought Snape grudgingly 'it's a reasonable excuse for lateness I suppose'
"…you know the drill. Anyway, I am happy to confirm that I am me, and will, naturally, be submitting to every test you can think of to prove it. To avoid confusion," and here she glanced at Snape "I think it would be better if you called me Professor Val Jean.
"Now, what else? Ah, yes. I attended Hogwarts, where I was, to the eternal shame of my family" another glance at Snape, although this time, no one but he would see it "sorted into Gryffindor…"
She broke off at the cheering from the red and gold bedecked table
"…Although I had friends in every house. If *anyone* has *any* problems, I'd be more than happy to talk to you, day or night, Defence related or not; and I'll tell you now, Val Jean do not break promises."
She paused and her eyes swept the tables, meeting the gaze of the students as she did.
"Now since Headmaster Dumbledore is a little busy with Peter Pettigrew and an office full of Aurors getting an official pardon for Sirius Black, I suggest we get on with the feast. Mr Potter, stay where you are, you will be called for. Everyone else, the Headmaster will be back to explain more fully as soon as he can.
"And for the troublemakers among you who are hoping this will get missed out; coughWeasleysandPottercough; the Forbidden Forest is as implied a forest that is forbidden, off limits to all who do not have permission to be there. The list of banned items I assume is still on Mr Filch's door where it has lived since before I was a student here. I expect it has grown somewhat. And now, we get to one of the most important things I will say this evening. I actually had a bet with a school friend that I would never get to say this at Hogwarts… Tuck in!!"
She lightly vaulted the table and sat in the Headmasters chair, giggling and wriggling about, ostensibly to make herself comfy, while really calming the students considerably. The noise in the hall crescendo-ed and, but for the lack of a bearded nonsense spouter, the feast was back on track. The sight of McGonagall looking stern, Snape looking murderous, Binns looking dead and Flitwick looking short soothing the students' frazzled nerves.
The double doors slammed open for the second time that night, and no one was in any doubt as to why Dumbledore had hired this DADA teacher when she was across the table, running towards the entrance, wand out before the door hit the walls. She tumbled to the floor, wrestling with a black blur, which eventually revealed itself as a Grim when it pinned her to the floor and began ruthlessly licking every inch of her face, tail wagging nineteen to the dozen. She laughed, and addressed the second entrant
"Remus, it's wonderful to see you. Want to get your mangy mutt off me before I hex it green?"
The Grim-like dog was reluctantly removed and the hall erupted into laughter as Hogwarts' newest professor hexed the animal anyway. It growled, and turned back towards her. When, where the not very sinister looking green dog had been, Sirius Black appeared; the laughter on the students' lips died. Old habits die hard.
"Change me back?"
"Sure. Happy Birthday"
"You owe me 50 galleons"