Title: Snape's Ponderings

Author: Bamfwriter

Genre: Gen, HP, PoA movie

Summary: What went on inside Severus' head during the werewolf scene in the PoA film. Warnings: Spoilers for PoA.

I made my way along the passage beneath the Whomping Willow, aching with every step. I was wandless; apparently after I was hit by the spell, someone carried my wand away.

I was sore all over from Potter's disarming spell. Or to be more exact, from the aftermath of said spell. I remembered crashing through something that felt rather like a rotting tree trunk. It turned out to be one of the support posts of that moth-eaten canopy bed. Luckily, the bed was weakened by age and neglect, or the force of being thrown through that support may very well have killed me, rather than simply knock me unconscious.

I would not have wanted young Potter to live with that memory; he had plenty already.

The tension in the shack had been palpable as I had stood there, preparing to take Black into custody. Unfortunately, it seemed Flitwick had neglected to teach his pupils that heightened emotions, plus the lack of control that comes with inexperience, can result in the "expelliarmus" charm having a much stronger effect than intended. Although I must admit that, had Potter inflicted that charm on someone other than me, I would have been impressed.

But all that aside, he had attacked me, a teacher. I wondered if even Dumbledore would be able to forgive him this time.

I clambered up out of the trunk of the massive tree and took a deep breath of fresh night air. Motion to my left caught my eye, and I saw my three problem children, Potter, Weasley, and Granger, staring at me with a mix of horror and fascination. As I moved to stand before them, I realized they were looking past me at something beyond my line of sight. Whatever it was could wait.

"Potter...," I growled. I was alarmed to hear an echoing growl from behind me. An inhuman, but strangely familiar growl.

I whirled... and felt every drop of blood in my body turn ice cold. Were my hair shorter, it probably would have stood on end. There before me, not three yards away, stood Lupin. Or rather, Lupin in Wolf-form. With a rush of dread, I realized that I had neglected to prepare his potion tonight; I had been so focused on capturing Black, and proving that the two of them were in cahoots.

Well, tonight my pride would cost lives. But if I had any say in the matter, it would cost three less.

Straightening with an aura of fearlessness that I did not feel, I spread my arms out, enclosing the youngsters behind me in as protective a pose as I could muster, unarmed. If the beast wanted blood, it would have mine before it touched a hair of those children's heads. If Lupin was able to maintain any degree of control without his potion, the blood of one victim might be enough to slake his visceral gluttony. I was prepared to be that one.

The creature stalked toward us, head low, sniffing the air, tiny amber eyes aglow with eager bloodlust.

I could feel the terror radiating from the students as they drew close to huddle tightly against my back, and wished there was some way I could reassure them. Compassion mingled with guilt tickled my conscience.

For three years I had maintained a reign of fear over them. For three years I had made their lives, or at least their time spent with me, miserable. As the beast came closer, time seemed to slow down, and I found myself wondering if they understood why I was so tough on them. Or if they knew that, aside from my sworn duty as their nemesis, that I was first and foremost, their teacher and protector?

Lupin's sudden movement snapped me out of my musings, and I tensed as one massive paw came at me, low and sideways on. It struck me full force in the ribs, knocking the air from my lungs and sending me to the ground. The students fell with me like dominoes, and I heard a frightened cry from one of them as the creature loomed over us. The killing blow would fall now, and I did my best to keep the werewolf's attention on me.

As we sprawled helplessly among the fat roots of the great tree, I kept my eyes locked with those of the beast, hoping that Lupin would be able to live with himself once he became human again.

But before the werewolf could attack again, there was a violent roar, and a large streak of bushy blackness erupted out of the darkness. Sirius. The dog and the wolf tore into each other, tufts of gray and ebony fur flying about, their snarls echoing in the still night air.

They moved a short ways off, both totally engaged in each other, temporarily forgetting us. As I got to my feet, I caught a glimpse of something in the grass beyond the fighting beasts, glinting in the moonlight. With a start, I realized it was a wand.

For a moment I started toward it. With the wand I would be able to protect myself, as well as my students. Perhaps we would all survive this night after all.

But I paused. The wand lay beyond the fighting creatures. If I went for it, I would leave Potter, Weasely and Granger completely open to attack and defenseless. Even if I moved with all the speed and agility I had, it would take precious seconds to reach the wand, and resume my position between them and the danger. A few seconds would be all the werewolf needed to throw off Sirius and round on the children. No, I had no choice.

Resolved, I resumed my stance, spreading my arms out and forming a protective shield with my cloak, behind which my students huddled. Lupin and Sirius were a writhing ball of fur now, they moved so quickly that it was impossible to tell where one creature began and the other ended.

Sirius managed to sink his teeth into the wolf's hide, and Lupin gave a pained yelp. Granger whimpered behind me, and I felt her little hands move to grasp my shoulder and arm. I turned my head slightly, intending to reassure her, when suddenly the two beasts charged away. They reappeared at the crest of the hill, and now Lupin definitely had the upper hand.

I sensed movement to my left, and turned, but not in time to grab Potter as the foolhardy boy bolted away from my protection. I had no doubt that he was going to assist Sirius. I bellowed at him to come back, but he was either too intent on his task to hear, or ignoring me. I suspected the latter. So like his father, it was uncanny.

Granger then tried to push past me as well, but she was smaller and easier to overpower. I wrapped an arm around her and drew her back against me. She started to object, and I leaned down, putting my mouth to her ear.

"Be still," I commanded sharply, but kindly, "There is nothing you can do. Potter can handle himself."

My comment was meant only to dissuade her from putting herself in danger, but I realized with some surprise that I was not exactly lying. And as I watched Potter stare down Lupin, I felt a sudden surge of pride for the boy. I believed it.

This boy could handle himself.