Title: Penance

Author: Unspoken Tragedy

Rating: PG-13


Disclaimer: Nope, not mine.

Summery: As he watched the sea of hateful faces, he thought that maybe this game was more than he bargained for. Snape returns to Hogwarts.

Series: None

"You look as if you're attending a funeral."

Severus Snape frowned. "Albus," he drawled at the portrait of his predecessor, "don't you know that I am? It just so happens to be my own."

The framed Headmaster smiled at him. "I don't know why you'd say that, my boy."

"Oh, of course not, Headmaster."

Dumbledore shook his head. "You must stop calling me that, Severus. You're headmaster now."

The dark haired wizard scowled as he buttoned his collar. "I will have open rebellion by the time school is out."

Another grin. "Yes, you most certainly will. Good thing you've always had a strong hand for discipline." The look on the former Headmaster's face shifted to one of concern. "He mustn't suspect, Severus."

"I know. It is my life at stake here."

"You do know how grateful-"

"Yes." The word was hissed as if to say that he didn't really know such at all. The old man in the portrait looked away.

"It's not very fair, is it?" Phineas Nigellus piped up from his frame. Snape turned sharply in his direction. "Had you gained this post in other circumstances… You would have made a fine Headmaster."

There wasn't really anything to say to that, so he simply nodded stiffly in reply.

"Are you ready?" Dumbledore asked.

He laughed mirthlessly. "I wonder how often they ask that at executions?"

Severus stalked out the door before his former boss could even formulate an answer. No amount of reassurance could ease his dread. There were no allies here for him now. He had to face an entire school filled with witches and wizards who wanted him dead, alone.

His heavy sigh echoed through the empty corridor. He felt just as he had as a child, entering the Great Hall the day that James and his posse had waged war against the young Slytherin. There were two kinds of people that day: those that hated him and those that avoided him, afraid to become targets themselves.

He pushed the doors open as one and stepped inside. The entire hall hushed as their new Headmaster took his seat. Snape glanced over faces that reflected fear and hatred. Still, not one word was spoken.

"Minerva," he said, "You may commence with the Sorting."

There was an eerie quiet as each child place the Sorting Hat on their head. The hat's decisions were met with muted applause, as if no student dared make much noise, in fear that Snape may turn his wand on one of them.

The Headmaster didn't even have to tap his glass to gain the attentions of each child at the Sorting's conclusion. "You now find yourselves in a new era," he started. "What you may or may not have learned in your schooling before this is insignificant. It is what you will learn from here that matters. The world has changed and we must change with it, or face the risk of becoming negligible as well.

"New rules and regulations will be posted here in the Great Hall. You will do well to remember them. They could very well define the outcome of your entire year."

No applause sounded as he regained his seat. Not as if he expected any.

A wave of his wand filled the tables with food and the students gradually began to shake the fear and despair that had thus far held them mute. As the Great Hall filled with noise once more, Severus felt that he could at least for a moment pretend things were as they always were.

He wasn't sitting in Albus's seat. Voldemort held no power here. The teachers trusted him to some extent. And Dumbledore was just retiring in his office after a long day of work.


"Protego!" Snape threw up his shield almost before the spell had even been finished. "Longbottom," he hissed. The boy stood tall, wand outstretched and face set in angry determination. Severus hoped that the boy would never lose it.

Nevertheless, "Expelliarmus." He deftly caught the boy's wand. "A hundred points from Gryffindor and detention for a month."

Teachers and students alike held their breath as they waited for what came next.

"And my wand, Headmaster?" Longbottom used the title as if it were a curse.

"Confiscated until such a time you can prove that you will not misuse the power that comes with the possession of a wand."

"And if I can't, sir?"

"Then it will not be returned to you." Snape glared over at their audience. "Let that be a warning to the rest of you. I will not tolerate insubordination." He tucked the wand into his robes.

As he watched the sea of hateful faces, he thought that maybe this game was more than he bargained for. Then he caught a glimpse of red hair.

And he remembered this was his penance.

He just hoped that it might be enough.

THE END I think.

A/N: This may or may not become more than just a one shot. I'd really like to finish the rest of my stories before pursuing anything with this one, so don't keep your hopes up.

Deathly Hallows… Confirmed what I always believed about Snape. It ended the Harry Potter saga nicely… But that doesn't mean I can't still play with JK's world. )

BTW, I cried for the last hundred pages. I was really hoping for a happy ending for Severus, but I guess it was not to be.