Author: Morphea
Rating: PG-13 for violence in later chapters
Summary: Snape hated his life. Not only had he been denied the DADA position for the 16th time in a row – he sure had broken records in that regards – but he was risking his very life spying for the Order without a single hint of recognition from his peers. The Wizarding World was such a bunch of ungrateful illiterates...
Disclaimer: I am not related in any way to the Harry Potter universe. I didn't create it. I would love to have, but I didn't. I wrote this story for fun only, and I'm not making any money from it (though I'm sure you all guessed that already)

Author's Notes: This story is novel-length and almost entirely written (working on last chapter as I speak!), so the updates will be very frequent, at least once or even twice a week. If the story is popular, I can decide to increase the frequency of the updates. So if you want me to update more often, just let me know in a review. Chapter 1 is a bit short, but the next ones are longer.

Chapter beta read by Beulah Page. All remaining mistakes are mine.

CHAPTER 1
A NEW YEAR BEGINS AT HOGWARTS

Severus Snape, Potions Master at Hogwarts and Head of Slytherin, truly and sincerely hated Albus Dumbledore. He now had the certitude that the old man was doing his best to make his life a total hell. He already knew this year would be most upsetting - and they were only one week into the school year.

This year would have been horrible enough without Dumbledore putting his oar in. First, Potter and his gang, now in their last year, behaved as if they were the kings of the world more than ever. Potter remained his usual arrogant self, Granger had become Head Girl and would certainly begin to emit all sorts of ridiculous complaints or requests very soon, and Weasley… well actually, Weasley was the least of his concerns, while Longbottom was as ever a proper public menace. Snape's only consolation was the prospect of being rid of them all at the end of the year - hopefully forever.

Dumbledore could have made him the new DADA teacher to help him grin and bear it, but no, the Headmaster had had to make it even worse… Not only had Snape's application for the DADA teacher position been rejected again, but the old man had given the job to a complete idiot.

Snape would never understand what exactly Dumbledore's selection criteria were when deciding who the new DADA professor would be. It certainly had nothing to do with having any kind of knowledge about the Dark Arts, if some of the last teachers were any indication. Maybe this year's decisive factor in Dumbledore's choice had been tap dancing - it wouldn't be completely surreal coming from a wizard who considered all dishes should be flavoured with peppermint. At least it would explain a lot.

Snape had never questioned Dumbledore's wisdom but he had to admit that the Headmaster had been particularly careless in the choice of the most recent DADA teachers. Voldemort's host, a usurper more preoccupied by his personal grooming than the safety of his students, a werewolf, one of Voldemort's lackeys, the Ministry's agent, and… No, better not think about the disaster of the previous year. The memory was still painfully lingering on his mind.

Anyway, now that the final war against the Dark Lord was drawing close, now that they really needed a good DADA teacher, someone who knew exactly what the Dark Arts were, someone who would be able to prepare the students for the inevitable battle, someone like, say, himself - which was a totally random suggestion - they had ended with the antithesis of a bright and experienced wizard.

And right now, at supper and at the high table, Severus Snape had the great misfortune of sitting next to Hogwarts's brand new DADA teacher. Mizar Ursaglow. Roughly twenty years old. Former Hufflepuff. And obviously able to speak endlessly about Ashwinders.

Snape decided to listen for a few seconds to what the young man was saying, and instantly regretted doing so.

"… but the shortness of their lives makes it almost impossible for one to really study them. Only one hour! Did you know that their eggs were red and gave off intense heat? And it's made even more thrilling by the mystery that surrounds the way they…"

Snape briefly wondered if this year Hogwarts students were relieved to leave the DADA classroom for the History of Magic class. Professor Binns' soliloquy certainly sounded extremely appealing compared to Ursaglow's chattering.

Snape couldn't understand why the young man persisted in talking to him. He had tried his best to ignore him since the beginning of the meal, but somehow Ursaglow had kept talking to him. Every now and then Snape would come out with a cold and cutting retort in order to have the other teacher keep his mouth shut, but it was no use, for the young man was obviously too dense to take the hint.

Was that milk Ursaglow was drinking? Snape observed with a snort. What had Dumbledore been thinking when hiring him? That he would be a great addition to Hogwarts's staff? The boy certainly wasn't experienced in the Dark Arts at all, especially since he passed his NEWTs only recently.

For having him as a student only a couple of years before, Snape knew him to have been a very average student - which meant execrable in Potions. But that was probably the best one could expect from a Hufflepuff.

"… and if you consider how fast they can infest a whole house it makes them quite dangerous creatures. Most people underestimate the threat they can be, and many a time has a wizard been surprised by…"

This was getting worse and worse. Was he repeating his lines for his next lessons or did he just enjoy the sound of his own voice? Snape decided to look for help on his other side - if Ursaglow realised he was speaking to someone else, he may stop talking, though he wouldn't bet on that - before remembering he was sitting next to this year's other new teacher.

He wasn't exactly sure why Flitwick had suddenly decided to retire the previous summer. He didn't know how old the former Charms teacher was but he had always seen him at Hogwarts. And Snape - without doubt along with most of the other staff members - took the hint that Flitwick's decision to leave his position at Hogwarts was linked to some major event in his family.

Anyway, the Charms teacher was now a witch - which reduced the male members of the staff to himself and… this, Snape thought with disgust while giving a side look to Ursaglow, who was of course still talking - there was also Hagrid, but the half giant didn't really count.

Dumbledore probably made fewer mistakes when hiring her. She seemed both serious and competent - she had to be, for she became Head of Ravenclaw as well. And at least she was older than the DADA clown.

She was probably around five or six years younger than himself, Snape estimated, which meant she had probably been his student during his first years as a teacher. Endora Wilson… No, he didn't remember the name. The only Wilson he recalled was a Gryffindor boy - who had been a first-class nuisance. If she hadn't left her mark it was probably because she hadn't been exceptionally gifted or poor, at least in Potions. However, he had the vague feeling that she reminded him of someone or something, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

He hadn't really had the opportunity to talk with her yet - but if her conversational skills were half as developed as the new DADA teacher's he would avoid any discussion with her like the plague. However, as he systematically did when meeting someone, he had put her on the list of people he disliked.

Come to think about it, there weren't many names on the list of people he did like. Dumbledore was one of them - or rather used to be one of them. The old man was a great wizard that Snape respected, and despite his deliberate unwise choices of DADA teachers year after year, he had managed to remain on the liked people list. But this time was the last straw. He had clearly gone too far and Severus had just decided to put Dumbledore on the other side.

Anyway, Snape instantly knew he would get no help from recently appointed Professor Wilson. She was already in the middle of an animated discussion with Professor Vector sitting on her other side, and considering the circumstances, he almost envied their complex discussion about Arithmancy. Anything had to be better than -

"… while they're created when a magical fire is allowed to burn unchecked for too long, one can wonder if it also applies to fires like the…"

… than this, Snape thought with an irritated sigh. He hated being interrupted in the middle of his thoughts. And Ursaglow just kept doing that. Snape gave him his best death glare, the one he usually kept for his most despised students, the one that usually made said students shiver with fear, look down to their feet guiltily and whisper "yes, Professor" with shame. But somehow it didn't have any effect and the young man kept talking as if he hadn't noticed anything - which was probably the case considering his dimwittedness.

"Severus!"

Snape turned to the other side of the table with hope - someone had probably decided to help him out of his misery - only to find Dumbledore looking at him with an amused expression on his face. Of course he was amused; the old wizard was the one who had put him in this situation.

"Don't forget the staff meeting after lunch," the Headmaster simply said with a kind smile before turning the other way round.

This was going to be the worst year in his entire life, Snape thought - and that was saying quite a lot.