"Mr. Black. Mr. Potter. Kindly take your seats so that my class may begin." The young teacher stood before the rambunctious fifth year class, her arms folded, foot tapping, obviously irritated. This was just her second year teaching and her first at Hogwarts. Being saddled with James Potter and Sirius Black she wondered if there would be a third. She certainly had not struck fear into the hearts of her students. "Mr. Black, I will not tell you again. Take your seat and leave Miss Simmons alone."
"Sit down," whispered Remus to his cohorts. "You just don't know when to quit, do you?"
"Oh come on, Remus, you can be so dull sometimes, do you know that? We're just lightening the mood a little. Defense is such a dark subject. What's she going to do anyway," James chided his friend.
"Take you to the Headmaster, Mr. Potter. I can have you suspended from the house team. I assume that you are planning on making a career of quidditch since that is all you care to study, but you better buckle down if you plan on passing any of your O.W.L.s."
"Yes, Professor Purefoy," James' tone was mocking but he and Sirius slumped into their desks just the same.
"Thank you. Now last class we began to discuss vampires and all of you should have read the chapter. Who can give me a fact that they found interesting but that is not common knowledge? Mr. Pettigrew?"
"I don't know. I didn't find it interesting reading."
"Mr. Pettigrew, you are going to have to put forth more effort. You can't expect your friends to bail you out every time. How about you, Mr. Snape? Did you find an interesting fact?"
Severus looked awkward and mumbled an incoherent reply.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Snape, but you'll have to speak up."
"They run with werewolves...work for them." His black eyes shot a fleeting knowing look at Remus that went undetected by all but Potter's gang.
"Very good, Mr. Snape. Ten points to Slytherin."
"Well he would know all about vampires, wouldn't he," snorted Sirius? "Just look at him. Did you make coffin this morning?"
"That is quite enough, Mr. Black. One more outburst from you and I'll see you in detention." He glared at the professor but didn't utter another sound.
"Not everyone finds you charming, Sirius. Keep quiet before you cost us house points. Between you and James we're lucky to have any at all," hissed Remus.
"You saw him imply..."
"I did. Now shut up."
"There are several ways that you can kill a vampire. Sunlight, fire, decapitation, and of course the tried and true stake through the heart. However, now we have a new garlic based potion that offers a quick clean kill."
"With modern sun block sunlight is rarely fatal and recent results from garlic potion testing show that it only works on certain colonies. Italian vampires are immune because in their human past they build up a resistance to garlic which carries over in the transfor...ma...tion," the voice trailed off as Severus became aware of all the eyes on him, not the least of which belonged to the professor. He hadn't meant to speak out loud and it was with rising horror that he realized he had.
"Did you just correct me, Mr. Snape?"
"I... I had just read..."
"In your textbook?" He remained silent. "I thought not. Never correct me, Mr. Snape. That is not your place." Her voice was extremely soft but not a student missed a word. An undertone of murmurings rang through the classroom as speculations were made about Severus' fate.
"Ol' Sniveley put his foot in it this time," Black roared with glee.
"Mr. Black, that is detention tomorrow afternoon with Mr. Filch."
"What?" Sirius' voice echoed with rage. "All I did was say what everyone was thinking."
"Don't raise your voice to me. I warned you, you failed to heed that warning and now you will suffer the consequences of your actions. I am the professor of this class, Mr. Black. When I require your input I shall solicit it from you. Until that time you are to remain quiet and attempt to learn something."
James and Remus looked at Sirius with a great deal of concern. They were afraid of how he would react and were prepared to intervene if the professor required their assistance but Sirius held his tongue and took to reading in his text. "That's much better. Thank you, Mr. Black. Now, Mr. Snape," she turned her attention to the frail boy who seemed to grow more pale at her voice. "You will stay after class so that you may explain what credentials you possess that give you the right to teach this class. Maybe a day or two of detention will serve to remind you exactly who is the student and who is the teacher." The boy did not answer but seemed to withdraw further into himself.
When class finally ended and the bustling push of students had exited the room, Patrice's glance fell on the still silent figure that remained at his desk. His head was hung low, long black hair shielding his face. Never had she beheld a more pitiful creature in her life.
"Mr. Snape." He shrank at the sound of his name. She walked slowly towards his desk. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?" He shook his head while keeping his eyes on the scarred desktop. "Nothing at all? No defense for yourself?" He shook his head once again. Her voice was soft and controlled but he could detect her irritation with him and it stung like a slap in his face. Severus respected Professor Purefoy and wanted nothing more than to please her. Now his foolishness had drawn her justifiable anger instead.
"Look at me, Mr. Snape." He didn't feel that he could but struggled to obey. His liquid midnight black eyes met hers briefly before they returned to the safety of the desktop. In that fleeting instant she saw such pain in his eyes that she felt her heart would break for the tormented boy. She could see the abuse he had suffered reflected there and marveled at his strength of character ; his ability to retain compassion for others. She laid a comforting hand on the boy's shoulder but he flinched at her touch.
"You are the most brilliant young man in this class and I believe in this whole fifth year group. You have unlimited potential, do you know that? I truly don't want to punish you but I have to. I need you to understand this. If I were to let this show of disrespect go unanswered I will have to contend with a whole school of Sirius Blacks challenging me for the rest of the year at the very least. I have to maintain order."
"It's for your own good as well, Severus. You must realize that they will taunt you for being a teacher's pet if I let this go."
"They taunt me anyway, but I so understand," his voice was sad and resigned.
"Come to my office tonight. You can help me grade essays for your detention. It won't be an exciting evening but no doubt your detention will be more pleasant than Mr. Black's."
A muffled laugh escaped the boy. "That's good. I was afraid you didn't know how to laugh. I'm your teacher, Severus, but I hope you will also let me be your friend. If you ever need to talk to someone I'll be here for you."
He raised his head finally and looked at Patrice. She was serious. She wasn't mocking him. She was offering him friendship. Severus wasn't sure how to respond and settled for a smile and nod of acceptance.
"You may go but remember, my office tonight at eight sharp."
"Yes, ma'am." He left the room feeling much happier than he ever remembered feeling in his life.
That was many years ago. Patrice Purefoy was standing in the corridor talking with Professor Flitwick when Professor Snape walked by. She smiled as she caught sight of the tall self-assured potions professor. He had grown into a truly striking man and a top instructor from what she had heard. She taught at a magic school in what once was the Soviet Union but tried to keep tabs on her old student. When vacation brought her to England she was happy to find him teaching at Hogwarts. She would have to touch base with him and catch up but didn't want to stop him in the hall when he appeared to be on an important mission. What Patrice didn't realize was that she had already caught his eye.