Severus Snape strode through the corridors of Hogwarts like a prince in his palace.

Students instantly parted to make way for him, their petty conversations faltering; his seething gaze stilled their tongues as effectively as a freezing charm.

Black cloak billowing behind him in the breeze of his long-legged pace, he feigned to bestow a rare and much sort after honour on one of the students; he nodded his head the merest fraction in recognition and spoke a greeting.

"Malfoy," acknowledged Snape, not slowing his pace.

Immediately the student stood taller, prouder. Others watched with nothing short of naked jealously.

"Professor," returned Draco evenly, his platinum blond locks framing the arrogant features perfectly.

Older girls swooned in Snape's wake; their hearts captured and their minds befuddled by the tall, mysterious, and darkly handsome Professor, with his long, flowing locks, and proud features.

There was something captivating about the man, although they could not say what it was.

The silky tone of his voice, even when it was berating them for their perceived incompetence, was the stuff of dreams. His presence alone often made them forget what they were doing, and to begin to daydream. They tried to imagine that same voice whispering words of praise or affection, and the bolder ones often dreamt it saying a lot more than that.

Snapes widely known association with the Dark Arts lent an air of seriousness to him few in the wizarding world could match. Everybody, even senior Ministry officials, were wary of the infamous Professor.

Truly, it was an existence to strive for.

However, as he approached his chambers and the number of students in this part of the school dropped to nil, Snape's stride became slower and less graceful. His expression changed from the trademark arrogant sneer to a less dignified expression; one of pain.

His hair also stopped flowing and started wriggling instead.

"Yes, yes," he snarled. "We'll be there soon."

His voice was no longer the sultry song it normally was; it was several octaves higher and decidedly scratchy.

By the time Snape reached his door, he was limping profoundly, and his face was contorted in agony. His hair too seemed markedly different; it was sticking up all over the place and appeared to be struggling to leave his head.

"All right, all right," he squeaked, "we're there already!"

Taking a large brass key from inside his robes, he unlocked the door, but did not immediately open it. Instead, he took out his wand and touched it three times in different places.

The door did not move.

Muttering under his breath, Snape tried again. This time he tapped his wand a bit harder on the door and counted off to himself as he went.

"Third from the right, second down, far left."

Still nothing happened.

Swearing loudly, Snape positively slapped the door with his wand.

"Open you lousy, stinking door before I turn you into a cat flap for the student's pets to use," he threatened, while hitting the door even harder.

The door did not appear impressed.

Snape stood back, sighed, and then levelled a heavy kick at the door. It burst open at his powerful blow.

Satisfied, the no longer entirely composed professor entered his room.

Once inside, he closed the door behind him and conjured a bowl of milk, which he placed on to a table. Then he took the black mop his hair had become off his head.

"There you go sweetums," he said in his squeaky voice, while placing the wig down in front of the bowl.

The mop made soft cooing noises and scuttled over to the bowl to apparently start drinking.

Normally hidden by the wig creature, Snape's head was covered in patches of short, wispy green hair; the legacy of some ill-advised potions research.

"I have got to get these shoes off," he complained in a positively whiny voice.

He bent as if to undo the laces of his boots, but halfway down a groan of pain escaped his lips. Slowly he stood up again and took out his wand.

With a wave, the laces untied, and then Snape stepped down onto the floor. Without the boots he was a good six inches shorter, but his feet were a great deal more comfortable.

Sighing in relief at the release of his feet, Snape next removed his professor's robes, revealing an impossibly tightly strung girdle. Another wave of the wand, and the girdle burst open and flung across the room, knocking several jars from a shelf with the force of its impact.

An enormous 'potions gut' flopped out in front of the Professor.

"Ah," sighed. "That's better."

Snape grabbed a large cup from the pile of unwashed dishes in his sink, and ladled in some glowing, blue potion from a bubbling cauldron.

House-elves did not frequent his chambers; he had banned them several years ago when one nearly walked in on him in a similar state of 'undress'. Only one other person in the world knew the true appearance of Snape, and that person was currently sitting in his own office inside Hogwarts; no doubt, planning his next round of extortions.

Sinking into an overstuffed lounge chair, Snape drank deeply from the beaker. Smoke curled out of the cup and tickled his enormous red nose, but he did not stop drinking until he had drained almost half of the goblet.

There had to be a way to get rid of Dumbledore, and that damn pensive where he kept all his 'compromising' memories. Without that object, Dumbledore's empire would have long ago gone the way of the snark, and become just a footnote in "Hogwarts: A History".

Merlin only knew how many other secrets the cunning old bugger had managed to collect and store in that cursed object.

Idly, Snape clicked his false teeth with his tongue as he nursed the dregs of his drink. The potion eroded, blackened stumps of his natural teeth were barely sufficient to hold his dragon born replacements in position. If it were not for the sticking charm that constantly needed renewal, his replacements would have flung out and struck the first student he confronted in more than whisper.

Potions were Snape's one true weakness.

Many believed he had an unnatural fascination with the Dark Arts, but they were mistaken. He had been on the receiving end of so many hexes and curses that it was only natural he develop an affinity with them; necessity had forced competence on him.

It never occurred to him to be less obnoxious to lessen the frequency of incidents; that was not in his nature. Instead, he developed skills to defend himself and counter-attack his antagonists.

Snape ladled another helping of the blue potion into his cup and lazed back in the chair.

A bit like that Potter boy really - Stupid offspring of a stupid man and his vindictive Muggle born wench that he is, thought Snape.

James Potter had a lot to answer for.

First James and his thrice-cursed friend, Sirius Black, abducted Snape's dog and turned it into a human, well half-human anyway - occasionally it reverted to its true dog form.

How in the world they had convinced everyone, including Lupin himself, that he was a werewolf, was a mystery to Snape. They did not even pick a realistic name for him; 'Remus Lupin' for the love of Merlin. You could not have made it more obvious if you had left him wearing the collar with "Grommit" written on it around his neck.

Then James had seduced the nastiest piece of work in the whole campus, Lilly Evens.

Snape was sure that had been a bet between Sirius and James, but even Hagrid, who was happy to relieve Snape of a few days pay every fortnight in their late-night Gobstones matches, would not have taken that bet. Why make a bet that, even if you win, you lose?

Stuck up Lilly had been no prize as far as Snape could tell. Thought she was too good for the Wizarding world. Thought every Wizard was a silly eleven-year-old just waiting for mummy to tell them what to do.

Then, finally, there was the practical joke that had cost Snape his hair and much of his dignity.

He should have known better than to believe James and Lilly had invented a potion that would allow you to turn into an animal. The whole charade with Lupin, and their illegal Animagus research, had been to trick Snape into making a potion that had nearly cost him his life.

Curse all mongrel animals and their friends.

Snape scratched at his forearm. The Dark Mark was clearly visible, mainly because it was not really a Dark Mark, but was actually a tattoo he had obtained in a Muggle parlour one night after a particularly long potions bingle; another joke gone too far.

Now he had James Potter's boy at his mercy, and he was going to get a full measure of revenge on the brat of his nemesis.

All it would take was a few years, and the boy would never be able to look another wizard in the face again. The shame Snape would subject him too would break his spirit and destroy his ego, which, by all accounts, was as large and bloated as his father's had been.

Snape filled his now empty goblet again with the potion.

He had invented this particularly fine brew not long ago. It was destined for distribution in one of Lucius Malfoy's many underground clubs; once Snape had obtained a job as chief barman.

It bothered him to have to be nice to that spoiled idiot Draco, but he had done worse in his time, and probably would again. The boy had his uses, few though they were, and Snape desperately needed to believe he would one day have a way out of this hell hole.

The empty goblet fell unnoticed from Snape's hand, his eyes closed, and his mind entered a world where his wishes came true. He was not completely asleep, and knew he was dreaming, but it was a dream he could very well achieve.

If only he could get rid of Dumbledore.

Finite Incantatem