With a firm thrust the professor pushed the door to the classroom open, from which the low murmur of the waiting seventh-years of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw could be heard in the corridor. Taking a deep breath he leaned on the crutches and entered the room. After he finally placed himself in front of the teacher's desk even the last whisper from the students had yielded to anxious silence. The class stared at him with a mixture of disbelief and tense expectation. As he inhaled deeply his lips automatically curled into a comfortable sneer.
"You are here to study the effective and efficient methodology of Defence against the Dark Arts. Even if some of you might be under the mistaken impression that the value of this subject has decreased in the light of the Dark Lord's demise – that is not so."
He made a pause and let his gaze glide over the rows of students. They seemed to hold their breath – it was so quiet that one could have heard a pin drop.
"I will teach you how to brace yourself against fatal poisons, deflect dark curses and face dangerous creatures in an appropriate manner," he continued smoothly. "And since there will be final exams held this year we will have a lot to do and must not dally. Open your books to page five and read the first chapter."
The day after the decoration ceremony Snape came to the Headmaster's office as told. After they had exchanged the usual greeting phrases and Snape had taken a seat, Dumbledore surveyed him with a smile on his lips.
"When will you be able to get back to work, Severus?" he asked with an innocent expression.
Snape arched an eyebrow. "Poppy said in one or two weeks."
"Excellent," smiled Dumbledore. "Can you bring the curriculum for Defence against the Dark Arts up-to-date within two weeks?"
"I'm afraid I don't understand…" the Potions Master answered reluctantly. Did Albus want him to make the preparations for the new professor? He couldn't be serious!
"Well, I assume you wouldn't want to start teaching the subject unprepared, would you?" the Headmaster chuckled, amused.
"What…" Snape's jaw dropped. He didn't know what to say.
"You should see your face," Dumbledore laughed – whereupon the Slytherin closed his mouth and braced his posture.
"You are saying that…"
"Your application for the job is still open, I hope?
"Certainly," answered Snape and furrowed his brow. "This, however, comes slightly unexpectedly…"
"Well, Severus," Dumbledore said, his expression serious again. "Voldemort's downfall brought a shift in perspective in this case as well. I think you are ready to take the task now."
"Thank you, Albus," the Potions Master answered. "Thank you for your trust. I will start with composing the curriculum right away."
"Very good," the Headmaster smiled. "Concerning Potions classes – you cannot teach two subjects for the entire school. I have found a promising young teacher who could take over the younger classes. This means that there would be only the two highest years for Advanced Potions classes left for you – if this would be alright for you, certainly," he added.
Snape gulped. This meant that he wouldn't have to deal with the little brats any longer. Students who chose to study Advanced Potions usually showed at least some interest in the art of potion-making, which made teaching them at least tolerable. He tried not to show his delight at these prospects all-too obviously and took a deep breath.
"This is definitely fine for me, Albus."
So he hurled himself into the establishment of the updated curriculum. To Snape's utter surprise the young teacher even turned out somewhat capable, and thus he could take over Potions classes from Professor Sprout right after his arrival.
Furthermore, in the course of the week Snape ordered MacKinnock and other mutinous students from his house to his office for a long and emphatic discussion. He knew that this wouldn't solve the problem but he at least hoped that it would ease the current situation. And time would help out eventually…
A couple of days ago he also remembered the envelope Arthur had given him and which he had forgotten on the mantelpiece since then. At the moment he opened it and a handful of colourful and strangely folded papers fell in his lap Kingsley came over for a visit.
"What are these?" the Ravenclaw asked, taking a seat.
Snape flipped through the bizarre leaflets puzzled while he slightly befuddledly scratched the scar on his forehead. The papers were obviously of Muggle-origin since the photographs and weird illustrations didn't move.
"Arthur gave it to me," he answered. "Seems like brochures for Muggle medicine… orthopaedics… prostheses…"
"Maybe this could be something for you," said Kingsley. "There are a lot of fields in which the technological research results of Muggles are at least on par to our magical solutions. Let me have a look…"
Hope burgeoned in the Slytherin, as he handed over the brochures to Kingsley. A new leg…? His heart started to beat faster at the thought. But then he grimaced and shook his head.
"Poppy said these things won't work in our environment," he said quietly.
"Severus," Kingsley answered. "Nothing against Poppy – she is a remarkable healer, but she is no specialist for Muggle orthopaedics. You should at least talk to her and show her these papers."
Snape emitted a dry bark of laughter. "And what for? Just to learn again that this won't be an option? I have far more pressing matters to take care of then to wallow in unrealisable illusions."
Kingsley shook his head and smiled. "Don't underestimate Muggles, Severus. That's an elementary problem in our society, if I may say so. You would be surprised in the innovative ways they tend to go to make up their lack of magic. And I daresay that this is not different when it comes to their healing practises."
"Pah!" Snape snorted disdainfully and placed the brochures on the side table. He didn't intend to let himself get frustrated anew – not after all he had been through.
But still – the idea didn't leave him alone. Kingsley's words continued to ring in his ears all afternoon – so vehemently that he finally gave in and met Madam Pomfrey. As he showed her Arthur's strange papers her eyes widened with interest. And on the same day still she flooed St. Mungo's to establish contact to the corresponding Muggle institutions for planning of the further procedure.
Lost in thoughts the professor sat behind his desk while the class read the first chapter of the textbook. Beyond the bowed heads of the students he stared into space and didn't even notice the unintended smile that played around his lips. As he felt a pair of eyes rest upon him he narrowed his eyes and his gaze focussed at the source – two emerald green eyes behind round glasses.
The Slytherin felt strangely caught and adjusted his facial expression back into a – more appropriate to his teaching – frown. Yet Potter didn't drop his gaze back onto his book. Instead he put up his chin and answered the professor's glare.
And while an impish smile broadened on the young man's face he slowly raised his hand and – with a slight appreciatory nod – touched his scar.
A/N: Dear readers, that's it. Thank you very much for reading my humble story, I hope you enjoyed it (well, if you read it until here I do hope you did it because you liked it, and not because somebody standing behind you with a big club and forcing you ;-)). Thanks a lot for all the kind and constructive reviews you gave me, they helped a lot. My special thanks go – certainly – to my great Betas, Persephone Lupin, Ermione and Lucidity, you are the best! Go and read their stories, they are much better than mine :-)
As a last favour I would kindly ask you for a last review. I would appreciate it very much if you could tell me what you liked in my story and what you didn't like. Don't be shy, I can handle critique – especially since I assume that I know most of the flaws in this story anyway ;-). From my profile page you can find a link to "my forums", where I invite you to discuss if you feel like. And there is also always the option of email or personal message if you don't want to leave an open comment. Ah well, I should stop now. Thanks a lot; it was a pleasure to write and translate this story :-)
As for my new story, Killer in me, I'm currently working on chapter three but I unfortunately still cannot guarantee any frequent updates soon.