Chapter 9

Teaching standards, a heart to heart, and counseling

Cordelia enjoyed teaching far more than her high school self ever would have imagined. When she thought about it, it made sense. When teaching the attention of the whole room was focused on her, the kids thought she was a genius because she could explain how cars worked, and, shockingly, she really enjoyed it when they 'got' something. Who knew? She did learn a hell of a lot about curbing her attitude however. One day right at the beginning of term, one of the wizard-raised kids had asked "Wait, muggles have THEATER?" and Cordelia had given him a response that made her Queen C side proud. "Of course we do, idiot, where do you think Shakespeare came from?" The class chuckled, and the kid shut up, but later Cordy was called to Pomona Sprout's office where the boy was in tears about her response.

"I'm not an idiot!" He cried as soon as she walked in. "I just don't know! No one in my family even knows any muggles, it's not my fault!"

Cordelia was speechless. Biting wit was so inherent in her communication she hadn't even considered the effect it would have on this thirteen year old.

"I'm not an idiot." He repeated forcefully and sat with a huff. Professor Sprout laid a hand on his shoulder and stared meaningfully at Cordelia.

"I…I'm sorry." Cordelia apologized. The boy looked up in surprise. "I didn't even think that you might not know, I thought you were just being, you know, dumb on purpose, like you were making fun of me…I'm sorry."

Professor Sprout eyed her appraisingly.

"Under these circumstances I think we can all understand why we came to this conclusion. Can we shake hands and start again?"

"I promise that I won't be rude or assume about things wizards know." Cordelia offered.

"If I'm really surprised about something I'll ask about it in a better way." The Hufflepuff offered.

They shook hands and the boy headed off to lunch looking much better especially after Pomona shot a discreet Straighten Up spell at his back.

"Um… what's his name?" Cordelia asked sheepishly.

Pomona rolled her eyes.

Despite the embarrassing completion to the incident with Jerry, Cordelia had made a huge effort to just be nice to the students. She had never had a problem with feeling depressed or insulted in school, but she did admit that's because she was usually doing the insulting.

"It's karma…" She muttered to herself on her way to dinner. She was just two staircases and a hallway from the great hall when she heard the not-so-dulcet tones of the resident potions professor from around the next corner.

"What have you done now you ignorant twit?! Is it not enough to consistently profane my classroom with your incapable brewing skills, you must torment me outside of class?" Professor Snape said angrily.

Cordelia peered around the corner to find Snape loudly castigating one of her muggle studies students, a boy named Neville. While he was a little clumsy, she thought he was a really nice kid, especially since he was a pureblood. Most of the purebloods in the muggle studies class were little jerks, though she kept that opinion to herself. It looked like Neville had run into Snape in the hallway and spilled a bottle of red ink on Snape's robes.

"You foul excuse for a wizard! Can't even walk properly! You- "

"Uh, not cool." Cordelia interrupted, quickly walking around the corner.

"You find it acceptable then, that this idiot should soak me with his school supplies." Snape retorted in an ugly tone. Neville cringed, turning red and looking more ashamed by the minute.

"He is NOT an idiot." Cordelia said forcefully. "C'mon Neville let's get out of here."

Neville looked at her like she was his savior and immediately hurried to her side as she strutted away, and attempting to ignore Snape's seething glare boring into the backs of both their heads.

"So, what happened there?" Cordelia asked Neville as they made their way towards dinner.

"It was an accident! I was just walking around the corner trying to get my ink in my bag and he came around the corner at the same time and it spilled! I tried to apologize but he just started to yell like he always does." Neville explained.

"Always does?" Cordelia asked, a little more concerned than she was a minute ago.

"Yeah, he yells all the time in potions. I get really nervous when people are angry with me, so I don't do very well. I've melted three cauldrons just because he yelled at me and I accidentally dropped the wrong ingredient in." Neville said woefully.

Cordelia considered this admission of a teacher verbally abusing a student. While she was technically guilty of doing the exact same thing, at least she had only done it once and had apologized. This seemed a bit different. With the thought of karma still at the front of her mind, she began to plot.

"I would suggest keeping away from Snape as much as you can, and if he gives you any problems come and tell me, ok?" Cordelia suggested.

Neville nodded, relieved.

"Hungry? I think they made lasagna!" They both brightened up and hurried into the great hall.

"Heeeeyy, Wesley, I gotta a question for you."

Wesley regarded Cordelia, it was rare that she didn't just spit out whatever she was thinking. It must be serious.

"Alright, ask away." He said.

"Is it illegal for teachers to verbally abuse students here like everywhere else, or is there an exception because it's a wizard school?" She asked.

"Pardon me?" Wesley asked, alarmed. "What did you say?"

"Not me, you ass! I caught Snape tearing into Neville Longbottom before dinner today. He was calling him names and everything cause the kid accidentally spilled ink on him." She explained. "I was really surprised, not even Snyder ever got that bad. And then Neville told me it happens all the time! That he's screwed up in class because Snape goes after him."

"That… is very troubling. Clearly we need to contact the Magical Educators Association. I shall find the appropriate person to speak to." Wesley decided.

"Good. That guy's an asshole."

Approximately two days after Wesley sent off an owl to the M.E.A, two representatives arrived at Hogwarts, grim faced and wielding an investigations warrant that not even Albus Dumbledore could ignore. After discreetly speaking with representatives of every house and year they came to an obvious conclusion: Snape was intentionally nasty to younger years in order to weed out students that he didn't like, blatantly verbally abused a multitude of students in and out of class, and favored his own house to a shocking and often educationally debilitating degree. They presented their findings to Dumbledore with Snape present.

"We designed the interviews as a faculty review rather than an investigation. We wanted to avoid the students embellishing or diminishing their thoughts based on what they thought might occur, and if the accusations proved unfounded we wanted to preserve Professor Snape's reputation. This method is twofold in that we can see the emotional and clinical responses to our questions in an unbiased manner and that we also do complete a faculty review which we will be available to you, Headmaster." M.E.A. representative #1 began.

Dumbledore nodded for him to continue. Snape stared calmly at a spot on the wall.

"I'll cut right to the heart of the matter. Professor Snape is unfit to be a professor by M.E.A. standards. Despite his excellent qualifications in the field of potions we have too many recorded incidents of verbal abuse and favoritism to allow him to continue teaching." Representative #2 continued.

Snape's reaction surprised them all.

"Finally… deliverance." He breathed. Snape closed his eyes and basked in the feeling of freedom for a moment.

"Severus?" Albus asked, suprised. Snape ignored the implied question.

"Gentlemen, if I were to resign and withdraw from the castle immediately, would that be sufficient to keep this from public knowledge." Snape asked the representatives.

"While our faculty review would be accessible via public educational records as required by law, you may resign from the position with no public backlash." Representative #2 answered. "You will be leaving immediately then?"

"Yes." Snape said definitively. "Albus, if you will have my personal volumes removed from the school library and sent to my residence?" Dumbledore nodded sharply.

"I think this concludes our business then." Representative #1 finished. Without a further word the two gathered their things and left the office.

"Severus, allow me a few days and I shall have this sorted-" Dumbledore began.

"No." Snape said. "I am done, Albus, I have done all you asked me to, I have paid my dues, I have tried to be that kind professor you wanted while feeding you information from the underground. Albus, I am not a kind and jolly man. I do not like children and their inattentive attitudes towards my craft bring me closer to intentional hexing every day. I am done."

Dumbledore sat silently, for once without a response. He simply watched as Snape rose and strode towards the door.

Snape paused. "You may always count on me in your endeavors, Albus." And with that, he was gone.

Dumbledore sat in silence for some time. He had known that it was only a matter of time until an official inquiry occurred, but had never considered that Severus had been hoping it would. He fully intended to respect Severus' wishes, and to take him up on his offer of aid when the time came. Though what aid he would be willing to offer was certainly in question now.

Dumbledore shook himself and began the difficult task of finding a replacement professor mid-year.

Angel was doing business research when the house elf startled him.

"Professor Vampire Sir!" The house elf waited patiently while Angel yelped and then retrieved his copy of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency after it had landed perilously close to the fire.

"Headmaster Dumbledore needs you Sir!" The elf piped. Angel thanked the elf and quickly made his way to the headmaster's office. To his surprise, Albus was waiting at the gargoyle to meet him.

"Thank you for coming. I discovered Mr. Potter wandering the castle in quite a bad state a short while ago. He had a vision of some kind and is quite inconsolable and has been asking for Sirius and for you." Dumbledore explained. "I am glad that Mr. Potter is opening up to a staff member. He keeps far too much to himself."

Angel was silent.

"He is in my office, Fawkes has calmed him for the moment, but I would appreciate it if you would speak to him, my presence only seems to agitate him further." Albus said.

Angel nodded. Albus spoke the password and Angel rushed up the stairs. And found out that phoenix song made Angelus' presence very subdued. Shaking off that revelation he turned his attention to Harry.

The kid had one of the worst 2,000 yard stares Angel had ever seen. Tear tracks covered his face while dark circles under his eyes emphasized the empty expression.

"Harry." He didn't move.

"Harry." He didn't move.

"It wasn't your fau-"

"HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?!" Harry erupted. "How would you know ANYTHING about it?! How many people can you see die inside your head?! HOW MANY?! You think you can fix me?! Think it'll all be fine because it's just a DREAM? HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOU SEEN DI-"

"Thousands." Angel said brusquely. "Thousands upon thousands."

Harry regarded him. Not in horror, but as though he was weighing him very carefully.

"The vampire demon spent over a century killing for food and for pleasure before gypsies cursed him, me, with my original soul. One night I was following a pretty woman into an ally with sex on the brain, the next I woke up in a clearing with blood on my teeth and the memories of thousands of people dying by my hands." Angel said bluntly.

Harry was listening.

"I tore a man's face off and made him eat it, bit by bit, before I killed him. I killed a woman's six children one by one, youngest to oldest, and then let her live, but not before blinding her so that would be the last thing she ever saw. I tore out a priest's throat, carved a cross on his cheek, and left the body on the church steps just before mass." Angel continued.

"The vampire demon used my body to do all of those things and has no remorse, he enjoys the memories, feeds them, loves to relive them. There's another thing in here with me." Angel pointed to his temple. "It wants to kill and wants everything to suffer."

Harry was silent, but his gaze was present. Angel let him think. They sat in silence for a bit.

"After I have a vision, everything turns red for the next day. And I can hear what Voldemort says. I have to watch what he does and what he makes his Death Eaters do."

Harry said, voice hoarse. "He's weak, but he can still curse. He made the death eaters bring him muggles and he just cursed them over and over until they died. Seven of them. And he cursed them all in different ways and I had to watch it and feel it and I couldn't do anything."

Tears started to spill down Harry's face while he spoke.

"One of them was my age. He was so scared he pissed himself. Didn't know why he was being hurt, was saying sorry to his parents for sneaking out, said he'd never do it again, then he died screaming for his mum."

"Voldemort thought it was funny. Laughed about it, the Death Eaters laughed with him." Harry paused, tears spilling continuously down his face. "I wanted to die when I woke up from that. I wanted to kill him and die and just… I can't." He trailed off and hung his head.

Angel wanted to kill as well.

"Can I ask Wesley to research this?" Angel asked after a few moments.

"Research what?" Harry asked

"Wesley has a lot of contacts about fending off dark forces that I don't. If there's anything that can stop this from happening, Wesley can probably find it. Can I ask him to look?" Angel asked again.

Harry thought, then nodded, then looked up suddenly.

"You're the first person to ever ask my permission to talk about me." He said unhappily.

Angel didn't have anything productive to say to that.

"What do you want me to tell Dumbledore?"

Harry thought for a moment. "Tell him everything. If he knows anything about stopping it…"

"Understood." Angel replied. "And don't take this the wrong way," Harry's head shot up. "But you could probably use a counselor, because after I got my soul back I went crazy and ate rats for 14 years."

Harry gave an involuntary snort. Success!

"I know a guy in California. A watcher like Wesley, trustworthy, and really far away, can't get hurt. Want me to call him?" Angel offered. Harry nodded almost immediately.

"I mean, you can talk to anyone you want, but…"

"I know what you mean." Harry said. "D'you think they'd give me a sleeping potion tonight?"

"If they won't, I'll steal one for you." Angel promised.

Twenty minutes later Harry was out cold with a maximum dose of sleeping and anti-nightmare potion. Angel went back to Dumbledore's office. The headmaster was deep in thought at his desk but shook himself at Angel's knock.

"You heard everything, right?" Angel asked, certain that there was some form of surveillance in the office.

"Yes." Albus said without shame. "I must admit to a feeling of terrible despair. That Voldemort's thoughts have such reach to Harry's mind is something I had never imagined would occur. I fear for his safety and for what might occur if Voldemort learns what reach he has, what he might do to and through Harry, as Voldemort has shown himself capable of possession. I approve of Professor Wyndam-Price aiding us in the search for a barrier. I know of only one practice, Occlumency, that may help and it may be impossible for Harry to master in time. Who is the man you would have counsel Harry?"

"Rupert Giles. If he's willing to do it, there's no one I'd trust more with super powered teenagers." Angel said with a slight smile. "Cordelia could give him a great reference."

"I will write him at once. Though I am incredibly surprised that Harry was so receptive to the idea. Nevertheless, it is an excellent result." Albus said with a determined tone.

Angel waited. Albus raised an eyebrow in question.

"Aren't you going to scold me for telling him about my crimes?" Angel asked, almost annoyed.

"I thought that was quite masterful. Though the story about the rats was an obvious fabricat-" Albus trailed off at Angel's embarrassed expression. "No wonder it worked. Thank you for coming."

Angel nodded and left. No one ever believes me about the rats.

At 9pm on November 20th a fireball appeared in the living room. In one smooth motion Giles' crossbow was in hand and aimed at the space where the fireball had been, only to see a handsome male phoenix who quickly perched on the back of his couch. Giles had never seen one and felt his tension dissolve as the phoenix sung a few reassuring notes. After a few moments the phoenix lifted one leg to reveal a scroll clutched in one set of talons and politely trilled. Rapidly collecting himself Giles took the scroll. The phoenix trilled a happy tone, appeared to get comfortable in its perch and stared at him expectantly. With a start, Giles hurriedly unrolled the scroll.

To Mr. Rupert Giles,

I have been told you have great understanding of the emotional needs of teenagers with unimaginable responsibilities. My name is Albus Dumbledore and I am the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and one of my students is in dire need of assistance that I am unable to provide. The young man has recently witnessed a mass murder via a psychic link from a curse. While I may have a solution to the link itself, I do not have the necessary trust with the young man to help him emotionally, nor is there anyone in the wizarding community who could be given full confidence. You were recommended by the vampire Angel, who has been in my employ for the last three months, and who has shown remarkable wisdom in helping the young man already. If you would send your response back with Fawkes, I would be most grateful.

A. Dumbledore

Several dozen racing thoughts fought for consideration. Strongest was the absolute certainty that he would help, second was the sudden dismay that he had broken his favorite tea cup in reaching for the cross bow and that his carpet was now stained, third was the idea that Angel could legally be employed by a school. There was the persistent realization that he might open himself, and by extension, Buffy, up to more danger, but in the end, he sent a letter back with the phoenix. He would of course help. Provided this headmaster would come and meet with him first, and successfully pass through several wards. He had known a wizard to go bad, after all.

The next day, looking well rested for the first time in weeks, Harry stayed after in class.

"Professor... if I'm a wind elemental are there thin-" Harry trailed off at Wesley's confused expression.

"You're not a wind elemental, Harry, wind elementals are sylphs." Wesley said.

"But," Harry began, confused. "Last week, with the demon, I thought you said I used elemental magic."

"You did, but having an affinity for element based magic is very different from being an elemental." Wesley explained gently.

"Oh." Harry responded, crestfallen.

"Harry," The boy looked up, hopeful and disappointed all at once, "I promise I will leave no stone unturned in my search, and that includes any air based magic, but I cannot promise you anything that you don't have." Wesley paused. "Both of your parents were human, correct?"

"Um, yes." Harry answered, fairly certain someone would have mentioned it if they hadn't been.

"Then, we will continue on. Though I would recommend Bachman's Wind Beneath My Wings if you can get your hands on it. Don't try the superman spell without a spotter." Wesley advised with a grin.

"Yes, Professor." Harry promised, a small smile finally beginning to form.

Author's Note: So. It's been an embarrassingly long time, but I got an urge this evening and out came a chapter. Hope you all enjoy!