Of Hurt Pride and Chocolate Frog Cards

by Iva 1201

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A/N: Betaed by my wonderful cardigrl.

THANK YOU! ((((-:

About 1981: you may have missed my last chapter due to the problems with alerts.

Next chapter is almost ready to be published. (-:

Now, enjoy!

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As on each other morning these day, Severus Snape stood beside the white marble tomb on the Hogwarts grounds, his hand lightly touching the icy stone, his mind overflowing with memories of the cheerful old man lying here. Snape missed the ancient wizard far more than he would have ever envisioned. The arguments that had once regularly disturbed their relationship were long forgotten, and Severus now understood many of the decisions the old man had made during the years with a clarity he wouldn't have thought possible before raising his wand against the greatest of the Hogwarts Headmasters.

As unexpected as it was, Severus Snape survived the war and, most surprisingly, was also pardoned by the Ministry due to the evidence his old employer had left behind. Snape knew this was the best he could have received with his unfortunate past and all his deeds – both as a genuine Death Eater and Death Eater turned spy.

Not expecting any acknowledgment for his services from either the Order's nor the Ministry's side, Snape had hid in his old Muggle home in Spinner's End in the weeks following the war. Bracing himself against the enmity of the outer world, Snape had immersed himself in breweing and the Defence against the Dark Arts research he had been running for several years now. Even weeks after his trial, the Daily Propht continued to count Severus in the Death Eaters' ranks, and Snape had no illusions about general public opinion. He knew that if he weren't very lucky, he would end unemployed and lacking money – just as Luping was before the war.

Snape's hard features softened with a fond, unusually bright smile as Severus recalled Minerva McGonagall arriving to disturb his solitude at the end of the last summer. The Headmistress had looked exhausted and much older than he had remembered her, so much so that he had found himself unable to refuse when she asked him to return to Hogwarts. Other than the blasted Boy-Who-Had-Yet-Again-Managed-To-Survive, only she and Poppy Pomfrey spoke on his behalf at his trial, and he felt perhaps even more grateful to her than he had once felt towards Albus Dumbledore.

Severus knew that Minerva McGonagall didn't forgive easily. Given that, regaining her friendship after all that had happened meant much to the younger wizard, even though she was not in a position to offer him his favourite Defence classes or reinstall him as the Head of Slytherin.

Running his long, potion stained fingers over the tombstone, Snape pondered how strange it was that the fact didn't bothered him more. He knew the war had changed him, but had it really altered his attitudes that much? Possibly. Having to deal with the Potter boy and his two annoying friends on the daily basis for almost a year had no doubt built Snape's newly gained reluctant tolerance towards Gryffindors, and the Professor couldn't deny that his assistance to the trio had increased his patience.

But had his patience grown enough for him to survive this last humiliation? Severus didn't think so, but maybe just the fact that he hadn't already thrown a temper tantrum in the Great Hall meant that he really had taken another step towards being a better-balanced person. Living in the current relative peace after almost twenty years of having to pretend on both sides certainly could do it to a person...

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I was right, Minerva McGonagall nodded to herself when she, heavily supported by her cane, spotted the black clad figure standing by Albus's white grave. She smiled when it occurred to her how very predictable Severus was these days. In prior years, Snape favoured hiding in the dungeons whenever he was troubled. Now, the younger wizard habitually visited Dumbledore in such cases. Strange how they argued almost contantly when Albus was still alive and how very close (in a sense) they had become after Dumbledore died...

The Headmistress shook her head and made her way towards Dumbledore's grave. With Pomona and Filius now permanently absent from the castle and Snape's newly acquired patience, McGonagall would have preferred to delegate more responsibilities to Severus back when she managed to persuade him to return to teaching. The Ministry and wizarding society in whole, however, was not inclined to give second (or rather third) chances to anyone -- and especially not Dumbledore's murderer.

Now she carried her best weapon to fight for Severus hidden in her pocket. But she was also much too aware how Snape would loathe being indebted to any Potter once again. Could she still bring him to accept this unexpected gift and exploit his momentary celebrity status? She hoped that speaking about this at Albus Dumbledore's grave would induce Severus to agree to her plan. The school desperately needed to regain its independence from the Ministry...

When she finally stood behind Snape's back, Severus greeted her (unmistakably recognizing the sound of her steps) with an amiable: "Hello, Minerva."

She smiled, grateful anew to have him back, and lowered herself on the bank Hagrid built specially for her. After a while, Snape turned to her. "You want me to use my appearance on that card, am I right, Minerva?"

The Headmistress looked up at him, her eyes earnest. "Hogwarts is not in the best position, Severus. It may help us. It would unquestionably improve your position. But it has to be your decision. I am not going to force you to anything." Not like Albus, she thought, sadly regarding the marble grave.

Snape nodded. "Thank you, Minerva." He gazed in the direction of the castle and rested his eyes on the building bathed in the morning's sunlight. His eyes unmoving, Severus spoke quietly, "I know what you have done for me, Minerva. I know what Albus did. I am grateful to you both. I know what was at stake last June." You didn't have to stand for me... Not when you could have lost Hogwarts with a single word spoken on my behalf... And you didn't have to offer me the teaching position when the Ministry was opposing your choice.

Minerva shook her head. "It was not charity, Severus. We needed you here more than ever. You see, I really don't have many people to trust. And even fewer people understand what Hogwarts needs right now. You would be my first choice for the Deputy if the Ministry wouldn't be strictly against your appointment... I know you care for Hogwarts, Severus, despite all that happened to you here during the years. Consider it, please. I am not asking you for more."

"I will," Snape promised. Minerva nodded. She stood up and approached Dumbledore's grave. There she reached in her pocket and took a Chocolate Frog box out of it. She laid it on the tomb stone and smiled at Snape. "Albus's portrait insisted that I bring him one of the boxes. I leave it to you to read him what is written on the card." When McGonagall saw Severus's disapproving expression, she chuckled: "Don't make that face, Severus. You know that he would have wanted to know... And Severus, remember that even Dumbledore didn't have a Chocolate Frog card until he turned 120. You still have a lifetime to receive your own."

Snape gave a nod but growled: "And for now I should be grateful to that brat that he hates being the centre of attention and let himself been photographed only in my presence, right?" Severus's voice was sarcastic.

Once again, Minerva McGonagall shook her head: "Oh, Severus," she said. "As if you didn't know that Harry had to agree with the form of his published photo. Had he wished, your figure could have been easily erased from the picture."

Snape returned to his trademark scowl for a moment: "And he agreed to its publishing only to annoy me, is that what you wanted to suggest?"

"Now, you will never change, Severus, will you?" McGonagall had to suppress a smile. She had greatly missed their teasing each other in the months when Severus lived on the run. "I should rather think that Harry wanted to publically thank you while not turning too much attention to himself. Believe what you want, Severus, but in my opinion the boy hoped to give you at least part of the acknowledgment that should have been rightfully yours..." Slowly walking towards the younger wizard during her speech, McGonagall stood now right in front of Snape. She patted his hand. "Let me know if you change your mind, Severus."

Motioning to Albus Dumbledore's grave, Minerva added: "We both would wish the best for you, dear boy. You have most certainly earned it." With that, McGonagall slowly made herself on the way back to the castle.

Snape remained behind and once again approached the cold marble. The Chocolate Frog box reminded him of his humiliation, hurt pride and fate that was again hard and yet merciful towards him. "Albus," he whispered. "I promise you not to let Hogwarts down... I promise you not to let Minerva down..."

He took the Chocolate Frog box and opened it. The frog jumped out and comfortably settled on Albus's tomb stone. Severus took out the card labeled: "Harry James Potter, the boy who lived." He shook his head and then read aloud: "Harry James Potter twice defeated the vilest dark wizard in the past century, Lord Voldemort, long called You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Harry Potter was a one-year-old boy when he encountered Lord Voldemort the first time and vanished the dark wizard for the next 14 years. After Lord Voldemort's rebirth, Harry Potter encountered Lord Voldemort several more times, finally disposing of him in spring 1998 with help of the Order of Phoenix founded by latest Albus Dumbledore, and namely by Severus Snape."

Severus looked at the picture accompanying the text and again shook his head. There stood the Boy-Who-Lived, announcing the death of the Dark Lord, supported from behind by Severus, who for once had let the public see a genuinely concerned expression. While Harry's forehead had lost his scarring, the boy had been bleeding from his many new injuries. Snape had known that none of them was life-threatening per se but the blood loss was dangerous by itself... He shuddered recalling the scowl Poppy graced him with when the press conference was finally over and he brought the boy hero to her... Potter was no doubt grateful to him. But had Snape ever asked the brat for any acknowledgment of his changed views, except maybe maybe finally adressing him as Professor or sir?

Suddenly, Snape's face above the card darkened. HARRY POTTER! What have you been thinking, you blasted boy! Me on a Chocolate Frog card! Don't you know that I have a reputation to maintain! How shall I maintain my authority when all the children will see me like this before they even arrive at Hogwarts! Don't you ever think, Potter?

Snape's angry eyes rested again on Albus Dumbledore's white marble grave and the Professor swallowed the rest of his speech. He bit his lip. You promised to help Minerva, he thought. You promised to help Hogwarts. He rested his hand on the tomb stone and then nodded. I will let her use it, he promised.

Severus laid the card back on Dumbledore's grave. Here you are, Albus. I hope that at least you are happy to have it... See you tomorrow, Headmaster.

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Several days later and many miles away, Harry Potter smiled at Hermione, who had asked if he had already received any news from Hogwarts. He nodded: "Professor McGonagall announced that she had appointed Professor Snape to be the new Deputy Headmaster at the faculty dinner today. I believe that Rita Skeeter's article about his involvement in the war proved rather helpful. But McGonagall warns me not to come within Snape's sight for at least another week. Apparently, Snape is disappointed that he will no longer be able to terrify his first years."

Hermione and Ron laughed. Ron shook his head then: "I don't think one week would be enough, mate. In your place, I wouldn't visit him for at least another month... or even better another year!"

Harry nodded – he didn't plan to. All he hoped for was that all their lives would slowly turn back to normal and that not only his scar would fade …

END

Please, review! (-:

BTW, both me and my beta would love to know how the cards are packed in the canon.

Do you have any idea? Are they really inside of the box? Or are they packed separately?

And well, scar didn't make it to the last place but 3 words before the end that's also rather good, isn't it? (-: