Snape in a Snit
Severus Snape strode quickly through the halls of Hogwarts, glaring at any student who happened to catch his eye. He would've flooed to the Headmasters office, but after the day he'd had, the long walk was both needed to clear his head and also provide any chance of unleashing his temper before he sat down with his elder. As he passed a dark niche, his keen hearing heard the giggles and whispers of a passionate couple. Abruptly, he wheeled about and lit the space with a bright –"Lumos!" And then,
"100 points from each of your houses-" he roared, " –for your abominable lack of discretion within these halls, as well as your choice of partner!"
The couple in question reacted with high-pitched shrieks; even the boy. Before Snape resumed his long stride, he felt satisfaction in the fact that the girl fainted dead away, and instead of catching her, the boy simply watched as she keeled over and cracked her head against a suit of armor, taking it down with her. In his wake, Snape heard the clank and clatter of the armor pieces scattering across the stone floor. Many running footsteps promised that others would quickly arrive to further humiliate the couple. A brief moment of cheer brightened Snapes eyes. "Imbecilic teenagers…deserve what they get if they're bloody well bent on infantile behavior…"
He arrived at the gargoyle entrance to the headmaster's office. Rolling his eyes, he uttered the password that felt anything but sweet to him, "Pop rocks!"
The gargoyle staircase opened and began turning, but he did not wait for the ride, fairly leaping up the steps to the landing. He rapped on the door, impatiently waiting for permission to enter.
"Come in, Severus, come in!" Snape flung himself into an armchair and glowered at the headmaster, as he bustled about conjuring up tea and sandwiches. Once the older man had seated himself, Snape lost no time in jumping up and pacing the length of the office. His robes billowed around him with each turn across the room. "Severus…you seem to be a bit…upset…"
"I am furious, Albus!" Albus merely poured the tea as he watched the younger man attempt to get a grip on his emotions. He knew this man well. His observation was only to provide the man an opportunity to start saying what was currently on his mind. From experience, Albus knew that this verbal outlet would serve to diffuse some of the raw emotions so that the man before him could begin to see the problem more objectively. Albus waited patiently for him to start his tirade. Finally, Snape sat down in a cloud of black cloth and leaned forward, his hands on his knees as he addressed the headmaster.
"I just do not know how much longer you expect me to put up with the kind of students Hogwarts has seen fit to admit this year. I realize that we are supposed to be enlightened about there being no difference in pureblood, half-bloods, and muggleborns, Albus…but some of these muggleborns are truly trying my patience. Do you know that even now, after almost a whole year of school, that there are still some who cannot even tell the difference between bottled versus fresh bubotuber pus? And even then they will gag until their partner drops it into the caldron for them…and then they still insist on stirring only clockwise, and can't understand why their concoction goes wrong when they tap the rod against the side of the cauldron instead of simply letting the excess drop into the brew of it's own accord…and if one more of them sticks their fingers into the cauldron to taste it before it's done, I swear, I will let them lose their hand just to teach them a bloody lesson!" His chest was heaving for breath. He looked into the twinkling eyes of his mentor, reading there the amusement at his display of temper. With a loud exhalation, Snape sank back into the chair. His voice was quieter when he continued. "Really, Albus…they are a danger to themselves and the other students. At least that is true in my classroom. You know how exacting potions are…there is really no margin for the kind of errors I am forced to accept."
Albus watched the Potions Master for a few minutes before he responded. "Are you afraid for your students, Severus, or are you afraid for your reputation as Potions Master?"
"What kind of question is that!" Snape stood up quickly again, to pace as he spoke. "Afraid for my reputation! Didn't you just hear me say they were a danger to themselves and others? I don't care about my reputation as Potions Master! I do care whether or not I have to listen to Pomfrey complain about the daily accidents she has to clean up, after the little urchins damage a body part. That woman thinks she can tell me how to do my job better and does she ever think that perhaps the student might be at fault in these accidents? Noooo, she has to rant about how I am purposely letting them injure themselves just to get them out of the classroom! As if that does anything to help. It only gets them more behind in their work and more afraid to even attempt following clear instructions as to the proper way of brewing!" Once again, he was almost panting after he finished his tirade. He made another pass across the room and then threw himself back into the chair. With his elbows on his knees, he covered his face with his hands, shaking his head. When he looked up at Albus again, he sighed. "I am sorry, Albus. I shouldn't have gone this long without venting my frustration. It's just that I am frustrated with teaching students who lack the background to understand the dangers inherent in the laboratory." He paused. " I had thought that the new course in Muggle Studies would help smooth the way for them. But the more muggleborns we admit, it just seems to get worse."
Albus gazed at him in thought. "Well, the Muggle Studies curriculum was really to give the wizard born students an idea of the muggle world…not the other way around." He steepled his fingers against the bridge of his nose. "You do have a point though, Severus. There is much more of a handicap in the knowledge that the muggleborns have of the
wizard world, when they arrive here." He stood up and walked slowly across the room with his hands behind his back. "Perhaps the time is ripe for us to consider adding a wizard world orientation course for those who come from muggle families." He continued his thoughtful walk for another moment. "Yes. That is precisely what we must do." He stopped and stared at Snape.
Snape let a relieved exhalation of air relax his shoulders as he nodded in agreement.
Albus continued. "Of course, to plan it properly, we must first have a better understanding of the world the muggleborns come from." Snape nodded in agreement. "We know that there are differences, but have we ever troubled ourselves to see what their world is really like, those of us who have not often set foot in it?" Snape shook his head. "Yes, we must research this subject extensively, if we are to get it right." He stopped and stared at Snape again, a mischievous glint barely surfacing, though it went unnoticed by the Potions Master. "It will require a master spy to infiltrate muggle society successfully and glean the information that would allow us to most help our students." Too late, Snape saw the direction of the headmasters' thoughts and began to shake his head, even as the headmaster continued. "A spy who would be able to conceal what he really is and yet discover what he really needs to know. Someone with experience, I believe."
"No." Snape continued to shake his head vigorously and rose up to his full height to tower over Albus. "Do not ask this of me, Albus. There are others far more suited for this…this endeavor. And what will happen when the Dark Lord calls me? I cannot be both a spy for you in that, and another for- A triple agent?" He stopped and stared at Albus for a long moment. "No. I will not do it."
"On the contrary, my dear Severus. You are the best and the most experienced for this endeavor. Especially as you believe that the necessary information is of the utmost importance to the art of potion making." He held the other mans' gaze, not intimidated by the blazing blackness in their depths. "This summer, you will become a Hogwarts spy in the muggle world. As for Voldemort calling you…we will have to make certain you convince him that you are unavoidably tied up in doing my bidding, and that you cannot risk yourself to be thought a true Death Eater by the Order of the Phoenix. He will not want to lose his spy."
Snape glared daggers at the older man while the blue eyes remained steadfast and calm as Albus stared back. With a voice that was low, filled with his customary coldness, he asked, "And precisely what do you expect me to tell him when he asks what it is I am doing for you? He will want to know, and if he discovers I am studying muggles, he will bend it to his own nefarious purposes."
The headmaster slowly paced the room, his hands behind his back. Silence stretched out while he remained lost in thought. Finally, he looked back up and spoke softly, "Perhaps we should think on this for a bit. We most certainly would not want him to be aware of what you are doing. You are correct that he would use the information to further his own agenda of muggle torture and murder."
Snape watched him carefully. He could see, even without using the mental connection he shared with Albus, that the decision to follow through with this was made. What remained was to decide and plan for the difficulties this decision would cause in other areas of Snape's life. Being a double agent had suited Snapes' personality. He had an inborn talent for playing both sides of the game. Voldemort believed him to be a loyal Death Eater. Albus Dumbledore believed, and knew, that Snape was really a loyal Order member. Snapes personality lent itself to most everyone else believing the former. He was anything but light and goodness. Even among the long-standing members of the Order, there were many who believed Dumbledore was a misguided fool. Their gut told them that Snape was not to be trusted with Order business. What they did not realize was that Dumbledore never trusted any information to Snape until it was clear that the information being in Voldemorts hands would be of benefit to the Order. It was with mutual agreement that they maintained this secrecy. Voldemort was a supreme Legilimens. There could never be a chance of dangerous information about Order business being made known to him. Snape knew this and accepted it as how it must be. Even when it chafed that he was not privy to all information at Dumbledores' disposal, he could find respite in the fact that no one knew everything except Dumbledore. He alone held all the pieces to any plans or designs against Voldemort. Until Harry Potter became old enough and strong enough to defeat Voldemort in a final battle, Dumbledore alone was the key to all that held him at bay.
Snape inclined his head to the headmaster. "Then I leave it to your capable hands to decide best how to proceed." With that, he turned in a swirl of black robes and stalked to the door. He paused then, and turned back. "I only ask you to truly consider whether I am the most logical choice to go amongst muggles. I will do my utmost if you assign this to me, of course. But triple agent?" He could not stop thinking about the tangle that would likely be. " I fear my roles would somehow become confused at an inopportune time…" He stopped speaking, and after one more non-verbal look of questioning in his eyes, he swept silently out of the room.
It irritated him no end that the Headmaster had twisted the complaints he had come up with against him. Damn! He somehow always overplayed his hand when it came to manipulating Dumbledore. As he stormed back down the stairs to his dungeons, he longed to hex another student or two. Unfortunately, no one had been stupid enough to step unwittingly in his path as he made his way. Back in the Potions classroom, he stood with his hands clenched at his sides. Everything had been cleaned up from last period and was ready for the next group. The order seemed to help him calm down. His domain was a good place for him to be. His. At least until the Gryffindor and Slytherin 2nd years arrived in a short while. He groaned inwardly as he remembered the Gryffindor muggleborn in that class. She was as inept as Longbottom ever was, and twice as unfocused as Lovegood in Ravenclaw. It was a distinctly deadly combination in Potions.
With a mental shake of his head, Snape began a plan of action that he was sure to have to take when todays potion brewing went wrong.