Disclaimer: I don't own any part of HP except for my books, my Severus Snape Lego figures and a few autographs. JKR owns them all and worthy is she.
The promised report came as pledged, ten days to the very minute of Dolores Umbridge's inspection of his class. With a soft pop, a tray appeared on his desk, and upon the bright, silver tray rested the threatened piece of parchment.
He picked up the parchment, realized it was sealed, and he flipped it over. The wax seal… by Merlin's Beard, His Wand and His Bloody Cloak, was a kitten with big, blue eyes that blinked and… by Merlin's Polka Dotted Knickers, Twisted and Bunched in a Gordian Knot, it meowed softly even as he inspected it in complete disbelief.
That arseface Umbridge's obsession with kitty cats made his skin crawl.
Maybe, he thought dryly, that was one of the many reasons why Minerva McGonagall thoroughly disliked the woman.
It was hard for others such as himself to take Minerva's animagus form very seriously when one realized how the High Inquisitor would love nothing more than to put Minerva the feline into an outfit with a matching bow. And Minerva… prim, proper Minerva, with her need for complete and utter control of any situation, from her hair being just so, down to her tartans and her rules… combined with her bloody Gryffindor pride… that would be horrifying.
Imagining a very irate Minerva in cat form being stuffed into a tartan outfit complete with matching bow while Dolores' little girl voice droned on and on about what a cute kitty cat Minerva was, made him smile. Fortunately, he pounced on that moment of weakness as his lips barely quirked upwards before his obligatory scowl returned in full force. Repulsed by the very thought of his students seeing him… smile, he put the bloody pink parchment back on the tray, but it was then that he noticed that every sound in the room had ceased, and every student's eye had turned his way.
Ah… yes… the little snotty brats were curious if Umbridge had finally gotten rid of their loathsome Potions Master.
He should be so bloody lucky.
In quick order, without so much as raising his voice, as he prided himself on his hard earned emotional restraint and he refused to lose his self-control twice in as many minutes, the Slytherin inflicted a week's detention with Filch to the entire class, assigned them a foot and half essay on why one should concentrate on their potions during the preparation process and ridiculed the laughable versions of the potion they had been assigned to prepare. Then he dismissed the second years, grateful that they were so fearful about further angering him that they bolted from the classroom in a mass panic. At least the fumble fingered, daft troublemakers were being mercifully silent when they ran for the hills.
With a casual wave of his wand, he closed the dungeon door behind the last of the little snotty miscreants, barely missing entrapping the slowest student slug in the door frame. Then gathering his courage, he gestured quickly with his wand. The parchment became airborne, flew from the tray and landed in front of him. Not wanting to directly touch the pink parchment further, he tapped the parchment with his wand.
The wax kitten gave a plaintive, last meow as it was ripped asunder as the parchment opened. He tried to stop his mind from contemplating how Dolores Umbridge would react in the same situation… but it was an extremely satisfying daydream…
A nauseating sweet smell drifted from the pink parchment, interrupting his pleasant reverie of loud screams with pink fluff flying everywhere. The stench was horrific, causing him nearly to puke, and considering that he had survived Neville Longbottom for as long as he had, that was indeed saying something.
Pink, perfumed ink? He would have immediately failed any student that thought to use pink, perfumed ink in his class.
By Merlin's Dirty and Much Darned Socks, how OLD was Dolores Umbridge?
Here are the results of my examination of you and your teaching methods.
At this time you are on Probation, as I feel that several areas listed below are in much need of improvement.
I will examine your class in a fortnight to further determine if your probation is to be continued. I am confident that you will make every effort to improve in the areas that you are deficient. It goes without saying, that probation is only a temporary option. Continual deficiencies in key areas will be cause for dismissal.
Knowledge of Subject: O
Comments: Former Death Eater
Loyalty to the Ministry's methods of Teaching: T
Comments: Strengthening Draught being taught to students.
Masochistically, Snape continued to read the parchment silently, counting the numbers of T's and D's on the various Ministry biased minutiae that would make The-Boy-That-Lived's-Grades-Look-Like-He-Was-A-Bloody-Genius-In-Comparision. Yes, he enjoyed pain and suffering, after a lifetime full of it… but even Severus Snape had a breaking point, which was after receiving a T for
Scaring the Knickers off his students. They're children, Professor Snape, not prisoners in Azkaban.
End of Quote.
He angrily tapped the parchment with his wand, and silently thought, "Ignis igneus!"
Snape watched the parchment combust completely, leaving only a trace of a sickening mix of odors in the air; the sweet scent of perfume and the smell of burnt cat hair.
Minerva McGonagall was sitting next to Filius Flitwick. The two teachers were in the empty staff room in the midst of a very intense though hushed discussion. The diminutive Charms Master was upset and Minerva wished she knew what to say. It was hard to comfort a man old enough to be her great-great grandfather and who had been her Charms instructor to boot those many, many years ago.
"You're on… PROBATION, Filius?"
It was ludicrous, the very idea that Filius Flitwick was on Dolores' little list of probationers. She knew full well why she was on it, but Filius? He had taught at the school for over a hundred years, was the bloody head of Ravenclaw… and… it just boggled her mind that Dolores had placed FILIUS FLITWICK on probation. It couldn't be because Dolores hadn't received an O.W.L. in charms? Even the Weasley twins had! By Merlin's Beard, everyone from Albus on down, had double checked that. It wasn't that the Weasley twins were stupid; far from it… they just didn't focus and apply themselves.
Except to pranks.
"Yes," the little Charms instructor squeaked. "I'm on probation."
He pushed the pink parchment at Minerva. Quickly, she whispered a spell so that she couldn't inhale the perfume that many of the staff members were secretly calling Eau de Toad.
"And do you know why?" His voice squeaked again, showing how upset he was. "I passed every part of her little freak show. Read it… Read it, Minerva."
She read the childish handwriting of Dolores' report swiftly, marveling at how well Filius has scored on the Dolores-meter. Outstanding on everything!
Except for his height, but then again… she had failed that, as she towered over Umbridge.
But putting an instructor of Flitwick's instructional stature on probation for his height? How could he be on probation for THAT, and then she saw a scribble at the very bottom of the page. An icy hand reached for her heart and squeezed it… of all the STUPID reasons to be put on probation. Her eyes looked into Filius' eyes and he wearily nodded his head.
"You're not trustworthy… because…" Minerva stopped, unable to give voice to that arse Dolores' idiotic prejudices.
"Because my great-great-great-grandmother dallied with a goblin. I'm not pure human, Minerva… I'm only 31/32nd parts human. That's the stated reason why I'm on probation. By Merlin's Beard, it's a bloody good thing that Remus Lupin isn't still on staff. Umbridge would have a holiday with a werewolf."
"Your smidgeon of goblin blood can't be the real reason why you're on probation, Filius. Of all the mindless prejudices!"
Minerva's voice firmed, even as she instinctively straightened her robes. It was an automatic gesture, as though she was putting on her armor to go forth and do battle. Regally, she rose from her seat.
The small Charms Master placed his hand on Minvera's and the physical contact seemed to startle her. The witch looked down at her old friend; precariously placed on a half dozen assorted cushions, he looked older, smaller and frailer than she ever remembered him being. She had to defend the Ravenclaw from this insanity, no matter what the cost. He was a fellow teacher, her former instructor, and most importantly, Filius Flitwick was her dear friend and confidante.
"Don't," Flitwick whispered softly. "We can't loose you. You confront Dolores directly and she'll find a reason for you to be replaced by another of her ilk. Most of the staff is on probation, so don't throw everything away just for me."
"Rolanda Hooch isn't on probation… nor is Pomona Sprout," Minerva retorted with a snort of disbelief.
"Dolores couldn't put Hooch on probation as Rolanda was Cornelius Fudge's favorite female Quidditch player. He gets all school boyish when he's around her. I may be small, but I observe. Damn shame he's such a fool that he doesn't realize that she's a Beater for the other team," Filius reminded her with a slight squeak of laughter. "Pomona… Pomona isn't classified as dangerous to the Ministry, as who in their right mind would be afraid of a dirty witch covered in dirt and mulch?"
"I would be," Minera retorted, remembering momentous events from years past. Easy going Pomona Sprout was a Hufflepuff after all, and she turned into a literal badger when goaded. "I know exactly what Pomona is capable of doing."
"They don't," Filius explained. "Dolores is afraid of Dumbledore because Cornelius Fudge is. She's frightened of you because you're the one of the Unholy Triumvirate most likely to lead the entire school in a rebellion against her."
Minerva opened her mouth to protest, and Filius interrupted.
"Forgive me for interrupting, but who would lead the charge against her? Minerva, my dear, I've often told you that you should have been in Ravenclaw. That was not idle flattery…but the truth. Put the pieces together. See what she sees."
She nodded her head. If she was the Toad, who would she fear among the professors? The answer came easily to her, and as she began to speak aloud, Flitwick nodded his head approvingly.
"Who would stand up against her? Gryffindor bravery would lead the rebellion, and combining it with Ravenclaw smarts and Slytherin sneakiness could cause an explosive reaction. We're a threat. Not dear, sweet, gentle Hufflepuff."
"She believes that if we're on probation, we won't act against her… directly…" Flitwick spoke softly before laughing. "She's a fool, because sometimes indirect action can be far more powerful than one on one confrontation. Remember that old saw, Minvera? For the want of a spell, Minerva, the Ministry was lost."
Yes. Common sense would have reared its ugly head before she confronted Dolores directly, but damn it, she wanted and needed to do something. It was Flitwick, after all! The Senior House Head and a very close friend.
"Severus was the last of us to be evaluated," Minerva paused before continuing slowly. "I'm not even sure if he's even on probation. He may not tell me even if he is. Unlike Horace, he doesn't reveal much."
"Unlike our former Potions Instructor, I don't believe Severus will run and hide either," Filius retorted. "I know the boy quite well."
The two instructors shared a pained laugh, as they had their fill of listening to Horace Slughorn's longwinded discussions about his intricate web of connections he had made throughout the years.
The Charms instructor sighed before he rubbed his aching head.
"It's only recent years that the heads of your two houses have not been friendly, in spite of the feelings between your two Houses' students. This is not our weekend to watch the Houses as Pomona's turn starts after dinner. I suggest a strategy meeting at my suite later tonight. I need you to ask Severus to attend."
"My relationship with Severus is not as cordial as the relationship between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff is," Minerva reminded Filius of the obvious. "He may not agree to join us."
"We're at war, Minerva," Filius retorted. "Let bygones be bygones. We have to protect the students. I'll get Pomona to pop into our meeting."
"Why can't you invite him to the meeting? He'll attend if you request him to do so."
"We have to protect the students, Minerva," he repeated firmly. "I predict that Dumbledore will be removed as Headmaster before the school year ends. We will need to be prepared and that means that all the House Heads need to be on speaking terms. That includes you and the lad. All the House Heads must work together, Minerva."
She uneasily recalled the last time the House Heads had met for a strategy meeting.
Voldemort… Horace Slughorn had been the Slytherin Head then while Severus Snape had been still among the Death Eaters. Filius, as the Senior Head of House, had called for a strategy meeting among the House Heads and Horace had not responded.
No. Slughorn had been afraid, secreted away in his classroom, unwilling to make a stand for either side, hoping that whoever was victorious would look kindly upon him and his formidable talents for not interfering. If Horace had actually gotten off the bloody fence, his connections would have been exceptionally useful.
The great bloody fool.
Instead, it had been just the three of them, Gryffindor's Lion, Ravenclaw's Eagle and Hufflepuff's Badger, swearing that they would defend Hogwarts and their students, be they pure-blooded, half-blooded or Muggle-born, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or even… SLYTHERIN…with the very last drop of their lifeblood.
Without Horace's support, they were unable to muster the complete defenses of Hogwarts. The Castle would not respond and the paintings were unable to help. The Ghost Council could have bowed to the will of Three House Heads, but the Bloody Barron, being Slytherin… had refused to lend their assistance because of Horace Slughorn's inability to get off the bloody fence.
No Barron, no Peeves.
Bloody hell, they needed Severus!
Albus Dumbledore trusted him, and that should have been enough for her. Albus had put his faith in many people in his lifetime… and he had never been wrong yet. But she didn't trust Snape, not completely, as he was a cipher to her. All these years he had worked at Hogwarts as an instructor and she had never caught a glimpse of the true Severus Snape. He wore a mask, even on those few times when they conversed, and she wondered anew at what he was hiding.
And he was concealing something. The secret was in his eyes, how he talked, and in his ramrod straight posture.
"The Head of the Houses must be as one on this, and if necessary, we'll force that damn Slytherin by hook or by crook to stand with us," Minerva McGonagall decided. "He'll be there… even if I have to drag the git here by his ear."
The small Charms Master laughed then turned serious. "Remember… Albus can not be made aware."
Minerva nodded her head in understanding. If Albus was unaware, then only they would hang if everything went wrong.
McGonagall swept into Severus Snape's office, a force of nature akin to the ocean waves beating upon the shore. Truly all she needed was a set of bagpipers loudly playing "Black Bear" and her face painted blue, and she'd be the perfect picture of An Outraged Scot. Dear Dolores Umbridge was really getting to Minerva if the trademarked Minerva McGonagall composure was slipping that badly, Severus Snape dryly thought. The Deputy Headmistress stopped a few feet from his desk and he decided to keep marking his essays.
"I hope I am not interrupting," she began.
"Alas, you are," he retorted quickly.
To his keen eye, he noticed that the woman he had nicknamed the Gryffindor's Lioness slightly stiffened in annoyance, and he mentally thought, "Point to Severus." He then put his quill down as though he was the one bestowing the favor to a supplicant, and he looked at her.
"To what do I owe… this unexpected honor?" The Potion Masters questioned. His voice was smooth, silkily smooth, though he stressed the word honor with enough acidity to scare lesser mortals.
"Filius has called for a meeting of the Head of the Houses," Minerva explained. Her tone was just as smooth, as though she hadn't heard the slight twist he had deliberately placed on his words.
Ah. Minerva… it was always a highlight of his day to parry words with her. He couldn't verbally joust with Sprout… for she was Hufflepuff…liable to break into tears at a cross word and Filius Flitwick would just give him a stare, making him feel like he was an insignificant eleven year old once more, wearing patched fourth hand robes, clutching his mother's battered student wand.
But Minerva… he relished their verbal confrontations because their disagreements meant that she was forced to focus on him and just him. Their jousting was akin to verbal foreplay.
The few times he had made her laugh out loud had been relived in his mind so often that he could no longer truly believe that they had happened as he had remembered.
Ever since he was a shy adolescent, he had possessed a painful crush on his stern Transfiguration teacher. Unlike his mother who had been beaten into cowed submission by his abusive father, Minerva stood tall, proud and equal to any man. She was composure and serenity personified, while his inner turmoil ate away at his soul. As an instructor, Minerva instinctively decreed respect, esteem and dare he even think it? FEAR… from everyone… including the Dark Lord… while he had commanded nothing more than ridicule and torture by her young Lions.
Potter. Black. Pettigrew. Lupin.
How his life would have been different if he had been placed in Gryffindor rather than Slytherin.
But the Sorting Hat had succinctly summed up his parts, declared him utterly wanting in valor and courageousness, two characteristics necessary for Gryffindor; while he was bright, not truthfully clever enough for Ravenclaw and lacking any ounce of the humanity for which the House of Hufflepuff was well loved.
But he had watched Minerva. During his student years, wanting, wishing… craving… nothing more than a kind word and perhaps a soft touch in acknowledgement of a lesson well learned. And now that he had returned to Hogwarts… he desired more.
Naturally, Minerva McGonagall, Bastion of Gryffindor Pride, Upholder of the Values that Godric Gryffindor held most dear, would be appalled to know that the Greasy Haired Git with a Dark Mark tattooed on his arm and on his soul thought of her in THAT way, so he said not a word. But who was he kidding, really?
Even he didn't dare think of Minerva in THAT way, as he held her on such a high marble pedestal.
Merlin knew that it wasn't because he was a celibate monk. Far from it.
There were the Dark Revels that the Dark Lord enjoyed, where the Death Eaters had their pick of attractive victims. Raping muggle women made his skin crawl and his soul scream, but that act of violence was part of his cover. He needed to be the picture-perfect Death Eater and that included participating joyfully and willingly in the Dark Revels. Yes, some might be able to claim that what he did was for a Greater Good, but it mattered not whenever he first looked upon his chosen victim.
They always said the same thing.
Please. Don't do this.
Plus he regularly visited the dregs of Knockturn Alley to get his physical urges eased. Every stopover he used a different Glamour to conceal who he was, but each and every whore, the young, the old, the pretty and the not-so-pretty, all mockingly called him Mr. Silence, as their physical transactions were completed in utter silence on his part. Merlin curse his damnable father for breaking his jaw when he was a young boy, as his distinctive drawl was too unique a feature for people not to notice.
Thank Merlin; he hadn't yet bedded a former student yet, as he recognized a few of the down trodden girls from earlier years. The whores thought it was a sexual quirk in which he inspected each girl for the tell tale scent of a Glamour before their sessions, but his soul was damned enough. To have sex with a student… alone a former student… was a one way express ticket to eternal damnation. On the infrequent times he recognized a former student; he would shake his head to signify his refusal to the transaction. But before he sent the girl away, he'd slip a Galleon or three into her trembling hands, for the women he rejected were so new to the life that they still showed their fear.
Please. Don't do this.
He should hate the girls, as Snape knew about their assorted wagers. Each thought they'd be the girl to shatter Mr. Silence's muteness and reveal who he truly was to the entire world… or just their personal, private hell better known as Knockturn Alley.
He had first learned from his father how not to cry out from pain a long, long time ago, and pleasure… was nothing more than another form of pain.
Speaking of pleasure and pain, how he thanked Merlin that only one person knew of his longing for the woman he could never have.
Not Minerva. Not the Dark Lord…
But damnable, whimsical Albus Dumbledore knew his secret.
When he had renounced the Death Eaters and had offered to be a double agent, Dumbledore had cast the Legilimens spell onhim, desiring to know the true reason for his change. Really, why should anyone trust Severus? Dumbledore hadn't been gentle as the Headmaster had rummaged through his mind like a second year looking for a clean pair of socks. He had been in Dumbledore's study, refusing to cry out, forced to stare into Dumbledore's blue eyes even as he relived assorted hated memories.
Trying to protect the one secret he dared not reveal, he tried to keep his mental barriers down, allowing Albus to have full access to his mind. Why would Albus search for those well hidden, silent thoughts that were hidden beneath the loud and vulgar thoughts of his mind?
"Why should I trust you, Severus? Prove to me that you are not a viper, ready to strike!"
He was a small boy, hiding, watching father hit his mother. She was a witch, why did she not defend himself? Tobias raised his hand once more and he relived the sickening fear of a terrified boy that had known that his father was going to kill his mother. He ran from his hiding space, stepping between his mother and his father, taking the hard blow. The agony of his jaw breaking flared anew…
Please. Don't do this.
"You try occlumency on me, Severus?"
Pain. Pain. Oh Merlin, the pain.
Lucius Malfoy inviting him to join the New Order. Lucius, who had everything he never had, extending a welcoming hand. The alien feelings of belonging and being accepted by others. They admired him for his magical skills.
"Severus…Why are you turning your back on that?"
James Potter had hexed him, threatening to unpants him in front of the mocking crowd. He screamed a counter curse, felt himself falling as Potter's spell collapsed. He relieved the painful impact, his stomach churning when he heard the sounds of his accident. The sickening snap of his forearm. The sharp crack as his wand shattered. The sound of breaking glass as his ink bottles shattered in his book bag… the spreading of red blood mixed with the black ink created a growing pool that spread and stained his clothes.
The formerly brave in numbers crowd scattered in fear, leaving him alone while he cradled his broken arm. The bones of his forearm were sticking through his skin, and he marveled at how similar they looked to his snapped wand. But sanity soon returned and he began whispering spells… striving to fix something.
He would not cry. Would not cry… but his mother would be furious.
The school paid for his books, his clothes… everything… as he was attending Hogwarts on a merit scholarship… but he remembered the contract he and his mother had signed. The school wouldn't pay to replace anything that was ruined due to horseplay. His family would be responsible for replacing the whole ruined lot. Severus knew that Tobias Snape would kill him. Then his mother would beat him senseless. There was no way they'd be able to afford to replace the wand, let alone the spell books. He was as good as expelled.
"Reparo Wand!" He whispered the spell over and over again, trying to salvage something… anything… from this situation. His wand remained broken…the ink was still spreading…Snape was getting light headed but still he doggedly repeated the spell. He had to save something… no matter how small… It hadn't been his fault. All he had done was walk near where Potter's gang had been stationed. Then the wolves had attacked...
Why, why, WHY did they always go after him? They had everything he lacked, friends, money...
Please. Don't do this.
"The boy's shocky," said a male voice.
"Poppy's aware, Filius," said Professor McGonagall. "She says to get him to the infirmary as soon as we can safely do so."
Her hand was on his face, and she muttered a soft spell. His head was resting in her lap? Someone was pressing down on his arm, and he bit his lip so not to cry out.
"I'll need to straighten the arm, there's no pulse."
Pomona Sprout? Three House heads were here?
He felt his arm being pulled, the bones no longer grinding against each other. A lesser soul would have screamed… but Severus refused.
Emotional control. Control your emotions. Do not let them control you
"It's straight, Pomona. Filius, you better splint it before the boy chews through his lip."
"Ferula!" Flitwick casted.
His arm was then magically bandaged and splinted. Snape was growing dizzier by the moment, the sky was spinning and wonders of wonders he was looking UP at Filius Flitwick. The diminutive Flitwick was furious, and he knew the Charm Master's anger was his fault.
"Go to sleep, lad. When you wake up, your arm will be as good as new. Shhh…" McGonagall whispered softly, even as her hand began stroking his face.
So tired. Couldn't fall asleep as those damnable Marauders would attack when he was defenseless. But his eyes were growing heavy…his head was spinning like a top… the pain was receding… it was no longer razor sharp but instead a dull ache.
"Easy… you're safe. No one will harm you while I'm here," she whispered. "Go to sleep."
He implicitly trusted her promise of sanctuary and so he allowed himself to drift off to blessed sweet oblivion.
"MINERVA? YOU TRUST MINERVA?"
He tried to block Dumbledore… but the old wizard was shattering his mental barricades with an ease that truly frightened Severus.
When he woke up, he was in the infirmary. Alone. His arm was pain free, but it was still splinted. Gingerly, he moved his fingers, and he sighed in relief when they all moved.
Whenever one of the damn Marauders so much as stubbed one of their little Gryffindor's toes, they were surrounded by visitors, sweets and much weeping from their respective parents. But he was alone and Severus wondered if anyone had bothered informing his mother. Would it be better that no one had? Or that they had, and she couldn't be bothered to show?
"The wand's shattered beyond repair. The books are utterly unsalvageable," said a male voice. "I've spent the last hour in a futile effort to save something. He's here on a scholarship, so we either have to petition the board of governors to release funds to replace everything or we do it ourselves. It will take months to get money from the board."
Filius Flitwick, his mind prompted.
"The boy's hitting a growth spurt." Pomona Sprout commented. "He needs new robes and pants; as he's taller and lankier then he was last month. He's growing like a weed!"
"It happens to all, Pomona," McGonagall dryly commented.
"Alas, Minerva, not to all," squeaked Professor Flitwick. "So, we're agreed?"
The teachers laughed easily, and McGonagall dryly quipped about Horace Slughorn naturally not being around to handle this financial responsibility.
"He's at a Holyhead Harpies game," Sprout snickered. "With his bloody group of Slugs."
"Very well, we'll get the boy suitably attired. I'll handle getting him a wand. Fortunately, it wasn't his wand arm, so I can test him here at least. Hopefully I have a wand that will work with him, so we don't have to take him to Olivander's. Pomona, make arrangements to get his books assembled at the bookstore and Minerva… you'll get the boy clothed in something suitable."
"He can make the trip with you … though don't overdo it. He's still recovering, and I want him back within the afternoon."
"Yes, Poppy," chorused Sprout, Flitwick and McGonagall in unision.
The three House Heads then visited him. HIM! Visited by three House Heads to which he did not belong. To Severus' surprise, McGonagall assured him that the Marauders would be punished. The four had detention for a month with Filch and Potter was suspended from his house's Quidditch team for that time frame.
"It appears to have been a stupid prank that went wrong. I don't believe that they deliberately tried to break your arm," McGonagall explained. "They'll be by later to apologize."
He didn't want that. He wanted to be left alone as those damn boys had wanted to kill him, to hell with whatever blinders McGonagall wore in reference to her beloved Lion Cubs. To be subjected to Potter and his cronies while he was in the infirmary unnerved him. Wandless, he couldn't defend himself.
"Are you up to taking a small trip?" Flitwick questioned.
That simple question led to the most remarkable afternoon.
He was escorted to Flitwick's personal chambers by the three teachers and everyone stared. Everyone! Once there, he was instructed to try out a dozen or so wands to see if any of them worked for him. One handedly, he unrolled several of the cloth rolls that held Flitwick's various wands, marveling at the delicate, finely crafted wands. In the background, he could hear Sprout teasing Flitwick about his many Wizard wands and what that supposedly meant about Flitwick's sexual prowess, even while Flitwick confirmed that they were dueling wands from when he was much younger and far more reckless. McGonagall laughed as Flitwick reenacted a particularly hard fought duel and he never thought he had heard such a marvelous sound as her laughter filled the room.
"Severus, Minerva again?"
Walking in Diagon Alley with McGonagall as the Deputy Headmistress replaced his ruined school supplies. Nothing too fancy, but his new second hand robes weren't covered with patches and the hems weren't frayed. And they were long enough to cover his ankles! But his school books…they were NEW! Unwritten upon and pristine and Professor Flitwick had promised to charm his notes from his old books to the new ones.
The feel of her hand on his back, as she guided him through a door.
Her conspiratorial wink as she suggested that they finish the day with a stop at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. Staring in disbelief as the prim and proper Minerva McGonagall daintily licked fudge off one finger with a cat like grace.
"Again Minerva…What is this fascination with Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape? I will find the answer. Did Voldemort send you here to harm her?"
He tried to hide his secret behind the strongest mental shields he could, but Albus Dumbledore continued to press and force his way into his mind.
"What do you fear to reveal to me, young Severus?"
Merlin's beard, Albus was causing him such pain. He couldn't think. His mind was racing in circles… and the agony of Albus forcing his presence into his mind.
Please. Don't do this.
"What do you fear?"
The pressure hurt far worse than his father's fist against his face. His soul was screaming in fear…No, Father… forgive me… don't be mad at me….
Please. Don't do this.
"You feared your father...when he was angry with you… what did he do? Severus… I am rapidly growing impatient with you, Severus."
Dumbledore's anger caused him to panic. Albus was so much stronger than his father... He screamed in terror as he felt
his mind begin to crack as Dumbledore began rummaging through his mind even more aggressively. He was losing his mind... He was...
PLEASE MASTER, DON'T DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!
His mind flashed to what happened to him when his father was that enraged and then Albus Dumbledore was the one pushing him towards the closet closing the door on him leaving him alone in the dark closet where as a young boy he had been sentenced when he was bad because he was bad and Albus knew he was wicked and wicked boys always got punished by their fathers because their fathers loved them and wanted them to be good even though the little boy was evil and the darkness wouldn't just hurt him the darkness would swallow his soul and the light from the hallway would be the only thing to prevent him being completely surrounded by the darkness there was the slightest crack at the bottom of the closet door that let the light in but the door was closing it was dark he was alone, and he was surrounded by the darkness the darkness was absolute as Dumbledore had turned the light off in the hallway so the little crack of light was gone even while Dumbledore was locking the door he was securing the door he was padlocking the door and Snape tried not to scream because a wicked sniveling boy only further angered the bad boy's loving father who was forced to punish him severely as he was a bad little boy but the panic was rising as he hated and feared the dark…
He was panicking, having an attack of such overwhelming terror that he couldn't breath, couldn't think.
He was locked in the closet and Dumbledore, his father, his mother, Sirius Black, Remus, James, Peter had barred the door. They were leaning on it…with all their weight… not letting any of the blessed light reach him… because he was wicked… wicked…. They were laughing… because they knew he was terrified. No matter how hard he tried to be brave... he couldn't… he was a coward, a sissy.
Clawing his face, he welcomed the pain…because then he wasn't alone, drifting in a dark, empty void. He ripped his face raw…determined not to scream out loud… but in his mind… he was screaming…. And he knew… his sanity was close to snapping… because he was trapped in the abyss... forever and ever.
Unexpectedly, there was the faintest sliver of light. Dumbledore, sweet, merciful Dumbledore, had turned the light on in the hallway…so he wasn't alone in the pitch dark. Relief filled him and the tight band around his chest eased enough so he could breathe.
"Darkness isn't so bad, Severus. One's not always alone in the darkness."
Soft sounds in the dark, the soft feel of a woman; all the while, knowing that the only woman he desired would forever be out of his reach. But it didn't matter when the lights were off because he could pretend it was her moaning beneath him.
No! Those weren't his thoughts as he never thought of her in THAT way. It was Dumbledore in the light forcing him to defile her with his corrupt touch and his dark need.
He thought of the blank-eyed, hollow, defeated women that he regularly bedded in Knockturn Alley. He was dead inside, and they were lifeless so their coming together was meaningless to the both of them.
"It would be so different if the woman you bedded was the one for which you cared, Severus."
A woman's soft voice, calling out his name, urging him on, wanting him to savor the experience as their bodies blended. Never had he felt like this…
No. No. He NEVER thought of her in THAT way.
GET OUT OF MY MIND!!!!!!!!! DESECRATION!!!
"Severus Snape. Is this woman the reason why you turned your back on the Death Eaters?"
In the darkness where Dumbledore was sentencing him forever and ever because he was wicked boy and Albus Dumbledore was righteous and good, Snape held on tightly to her name, refusing to let Albus Dumbledore take it from him.
He wouldn't shame her by acknowledging his affection for her. Never
Her laugh sounded in his mind, and Dumbledore pounced on the noise.
"What's the woman's name, Severus? You'll tell me, won't you? Who is such a wicked little boy protecting? Was it Lily Evans Potter? You two were very close, once upon a time, Severus. Is she the one?"
He had been friends with Lily once, but she had fixated on James Potter, and so that relationship had ended. Yes, he had once deeply mourned the lost of the only friend he had ever known but now he didn't give a rat's dirty ass about the Potters. James' best mate, that damnable Sirius Black, had tried to kill him after all and the entire damn lot deserved each other. James had only stopped it from occurring so that freak Remus wouldn't get expelled from Hogwarts.
It hadn't been his fault as he hadn't known it was them when he had overheard part of the Prophecy… he had told the Dark Lord… but the Dark Lord had been the one to decided that he needed to strike against the Potters… He had given that information to Dumbledore to show that he was serious about turning against the Dark Lord.
Wasn't that enough? Dumbledore could save the bloody Potters. Why wasn't that enough to prove his sincerity?
"Not Lily? Then who, Severus? Who is the reason for your change?"
An overwhelming sense of being unclean; listening in sick revulsion as The Dark Lord told his delighted followers what he had planned for the upstart, mud blood bitch who had never known her place. Even when the Dark Lord had been a student, he had such sick plans for her…and now that the Dark Lord's hate had decades in which to fester… the bitch would pay. The closeness he felt toward the other Death Eaters, the intimacy, the brotherhood... was revealed in all its ugliness and fetid nature to him.
He worried that they'd take it upon themselves to hurt her.
"Yes. Only a wicked little boy like you would desire to be friends with people like THEM. Tell me the truth, Severus."
No. He couldn't be party to that. He'd willingly die before he let the Dark Lord or his ilk harm M….. If it was the last thing he ever did, he'd protect Minnn… He'd protect her even from Albus.
The agony increased tenfold and he began to weep.
No… Master… Please… no…
Albus was pulling her name from his lips. No. No. Noooooooooooo….
Please. Don't do this.
"Severus. Who did the Dark Lord want to harm?"
"Minerva McGonagall?You are willing to turn traitor in order to protect Minerva, Severus?"
Snape collapsed to the floor after Albus painfully ripped the secret from his mind. Only then did Albus cease the relentless rape of his mind.For what seemed like years, Severus stayed on the floor, prostate before his new Master, fearfully anticipating for the blow to land. Would Dumbledore being a mindless brute like his late and unlamented father? Would he be like the Dark Lord, inflicting a punishment that was physical, emotional and psychological? Or would the older man be like his mother, warping love, hate, despair, affection and pain into something dark and twisted….
No... no... it would be far worst, as Dumbledore was ... whimsical.
The blows would land for Dumbledore would be rightfully furious about his inappropriate feelings for Minerva. How could the Head Master not be? A known Death Eater... secretly fancying the Deputy Headmistress. He bit his lip hard, vowing that he would take the punishment like a damnable Gryffindor. But the old dark fears returned, of those anxious times he had spent hiding, waiting for his father's festering anger to bubble forth, and the abuse to begin. That was always the worst part; the waiting, the building of an inescapable terror that would only find release after his father had punished him.
He would take his punishment like a Gryffindor. Head held high... but instead his bravery ran for this hills and he had started to shake as his fear grew and grew. Instead of the feel of a man's fist, the impact of a boot in his ribs, he felt Dumbledore's fingers gently touch him on his shoulder. Before he could understand what was happening, Albus was holding him, rocking him, and the younger man took what little comfort he dared from the man he loved, feared and failed, much as he had loved, feared and failed Tobias Snape.
"If you had only told me that your change of heart was due to Voldemort's plans for Minerva, I wouldn't have had to do that. I'm well aware of Voldemort's feelings regarding Minerva," whispered Dumbledore. "Minerva is protected as much as anyone can be during these dark times. Forgive me for doing that to you, Severus. I needed to be certain of you."
"Let me heal your face, Severus. I am sorry, my dear boy. Never did I think you would react that way. I had underestimated the strength of your regard for Minerva."
He nodded his acceptance, even as Dumbledore healed him. The wizard continued to hold him, and Snape leaned into his embrace.
Then Snape kissed Dumbledore on his mouth… like he had been taught so many years ago by his mother. After she had finished punishing her son, his mother had trained him with a rough type of affection which had left him sickened, dazed and confused. He needed to thank her for punishing her because she loved him. They'd kiss, and she'd weep about such a wicked boy he was to make his mother, who loved him so very much, so sad.
His Master was upset because he had to punish him… but it wasn't his Master's fault. He was flawed and needed correction.
The older man didn't respond, and so Snape hesitantly proceeded from the closed mouth kissing to the far more intimate open mouth kissing that the Dark Lord had preferred. How far did his Master want him to go? Would his Master force him to share his bed?
It was then that Dumbledore pushed him away with gentle hands, and he nearly wept. For his Master was repulsed, and it was his fault.
"Master? How have I displeased you?"
"I'm not your Master, Severus," Dumbledore protested. "You are not chained to me, Severus."
"You are my Master…and you are far crueler than the Dark Lord. No wonder he feared you so," Snape whispered. "Don't tell her, I beg. I beseech you not shame her so…Master… please? I swear my allegiance to you…but please…do not tell her."
To his surprise, Dumbledore held out his hand, and motioned for Snape to clasp it. "You will be my Secret Keeper in this matter, Severus. I will speak of this to no one unless you yourself reveal it to them. It's not normal practice for the Secret Owner to be the Secret Keeper, but I do this, so you know that I trust you."
Savagely, he chastised himself for letting his mind wander for Minerva was still talking.
"As the head of Slytherin, you will be expected to attend. It will be one hour after dinner. You are not to inform anyone."
A House meeting? Called by the senior most Staff Member? This was… unexpected. In fact, this was the first time since he had joined the Hogwarts Staff where he had been summoned such.
For a moment, Snape remembered Horace's less than thorough explanations of what the position of the Head of Slytherin required. The last thing Horace had told him had been…
"Be careful, Snape. If Filius unexpectedly ever calls for a House meeting, you be wary, boy. I missed one… Only ONE, Snape, and the three of them have never forgiven me. The scheduled meetings are bad enough… but an unexpected one? Far, far worse, Snape."
"Pray tell, Minerva, what matter is so all important that we're having a meeting tonight, rather than our regularly scheduled one?"
"Filius will inform you at the meeting," Gryffindor's Lioness tersely stated.
Bloody, bloody hell. What the bloody hell had my little Slytherins done this time to get Filius' itty bitty knickers in a knot? I'll make those little brats pay for this.
"My lack of enthusiasm for the regularly scheduled time wasting meetings is well known," Severus retorted. "I can assure you that my eagerness to attend a meeting where I am not given the courtesy of knowing what will be discussed is… less than zero."
Minvera's nostrils flared slightly. It was an emotional gesture that was akin to Pomona Sprout bursting into tears. The Lioness was extremely irritated with his attitude.
Poor, poor Minvera. Another point to me! Severus two, Minerva zero.
"Filius has called the meeting. As the Senior Head of House, he does not feel the need to explain why he has done so. If you have a problem, I'd suggest you discuss it with Filius at the meeting. Do not be late, Severus. As you well remember, Flitwick dislikes tardiness."
The Lioness gave him a wintry smile, before leaving this office. He growled in disgust as Minerva had just verbally flipped him over her knee and had merrily proceeded to paddle his arse. And she knew that she had done so! That was the worst part of verbally jousting with the Deputy Headmistress. When one lost in their duels, the defeated party KNEW that they had lost.
Well, it wasn't like he had anything planned for tonight anyway. He rubbed his aching temples, wishing he didn't hear Slughorn's voice once more.
"Be careful, Snape. If Filius unexpectedly ever calls for a House meeting, you be wary, boy. I missed one… Only ONE, Snape, and the three of them have never forgiven me. The scheduled meetings are bad enough… but an unexpected one? Far, far worse, Snape."
The Dark Mark on his arm began to burn, alerting him to the Dark Lord's summoning.
Bloody hell, I'm popular tonight. But it's still early; I should have enough time to get to Filius' meeting.