Albus Dumbledore entered the Great Hall.

"Welcome professors to another year at Hogwarts! I would like to introduce our newest faculty members. Professor Horace Slughorn as our new Potions master and Professor Svetlana Barrista is the new Ancient Runes Professor. Professor Snape will be taking over the Defense against the Dark Arts position. As is customary, the students will be arriving within the hour. Take this time to celebrate the new year, catch up with old friends, and make some new friends. The time is yours."

Snape eyed the new Runes professor. She was exceedingly attractive: tall and thin with long dark brown hair that went half way down her back. Her eyes were a deep chestnut brown. She turned and smiled at him. He toasted her with his drink. Taking this as a positive sign, she walked over to him and stretched out her hand.

"Hi. You must be Severus Snape. I've heard a lot about you," she said quickly.

"All lies, I'm sure," replied Snape tartly.

"Well, your amazing ability in Potions precedes you," she explained admiringly.

"Thank you, Professor Barrista," he said, a bit taken aback. "What brings you to our hallowed halls and what did you do before acquiring this illustrious position?"

"Oh, I worked for the Ministry. They would call me in when they needed a translator. They also sent me around the world to search excavation sites."

"That seems very exciting. Why would you choose to leave such an exciting life just to become a teacher?" He was eyeing her suspiciously.

She thought a minute. "There are many reasons, really. I've always loved teaching others, and quite frankly being in a different country every week was getting tiresome. I hardly spent any time with my family, nor did I have any time for myself."

"Ah, so then you have a husband hiding away somewhere?" Snape queried.

Giggling she said, "Oh no! I meant my parents and sisters. Another negative about my old work is that I never had time enough in one place to meet anyone, let alone date and get married! I'm actually looking forward to making some long term friends here."

"Well Professor Barrista…"

"Please, call me Lana," she requested.

He stared at her for a moment. "Svetlana…I hope you will find what you are searching for here," he said. And with that, the bell announcing the arrival of the students chimed. They separated to find their places.

He's an interesting man, thought Svetlana. She would like to get to know him better. As she approached the teacher's table she noticed that her seat was right next to his. Well, I guess sometimes we actually get what we wish for! she thought as she took her seat, giving Severus a little smile. He toasted her back then turned his attention to the festivities.

The sorting had finished and so had Dumbledore's speech. They were all beginning to enjoy the meal.

"So Professor Snape, what brought you to Hogwarts?" asked Svetlana.

"You may call me Severus," he told her. He paused, thinking. "I too enjoy teaching." He got a faraway look on his face. "And it keeps me out of trouble."

She chuckled. "That's an odd thing to say."

Snape gazed at her with a look that could bore through metal. "Let's just say that some people may tell you some nasty things about me. They're probably true."

She could only stare at him. Whatever does that mean? she thought to herself. He gets more intriguing by the minute.

Professor Slughorn took this opportunity to chime into the conversation with a question, "So Svetlana, did you attend Hogwarts as a youth?"

"Yes, I did. But I actually spent my first year at Durmstrang. My parents wanted me to know something about my heritage. I wasn't well suited to Durmstrang, though, so I transferred here for the rest of my education."

"What didn't you like about Durmstrang?" asked Snape.

"I am not a fan of the Dark Arts and even though they weren't taught openly, every class was infused with them."

"Sounds like you went to the wrong school, eh Severus?" piped in Slughorn.

"Possibly," Snape spat at him testily and returned to his dinner.

Soon the feast ended and everyone rose to turn in to their beds. Svetlana quickly sought out Professor McGonagall.

"Minerva, may I have a word with you?"

"Why certainly Lana, what can I do for you?"

"Well," Svetlana hesitated, "I wonder what you could tell me about Professor Snape?"

"What exactly do you want to know?" asked Professor McGonagall.

"He said something strange before the feast tonight, and again at dinner, something about people saying nasty things about him. Do you know what he means?"

Professor McGonagall got a thoughtful look in her eye. "Probably that he was once a Death Eater. He turned from the Dark side, though, and has been a spy against You-Know-Who ever since. I think he still has a guilty conscience though and it clouds his judgment of others opinions of him."

"He was a Death Eater…Really? What made him turn against the Dark side?" Svetlana asked.

"I'm not quite sure. Professor Dumbledore knows the whole story, but will never tell any of it. But he is positive that Professor Snape is sincere in his transition. I trust Professor Dumbledore, so therefore, I trust Professor Snape."

"Thanks Minerva. I trust you too," she said thoughtfully. "Have a great day tomorrow."

"Thank you Lana, you too and good night," said Professor McGonagall warmly.

As she returned to her room her mind was racing with the news she had heard from Minerva. No wonder Professor Slughorn had made that rude comment. Well, she was a person who took people as they were. If Severus Snape was no longer a Death Eater, he was fine with her. She would never say anything bad against a man for his past.

Snape sat in his room curled up on the sofa trying to read. His mind was not on it, though. It was on Svetlana Barrista. She was friendly and charming and he could not get his thoughts off her. Unfortunately she would find out soon enough that he had been a Death Eater and that would be the end of that. From her comments at dinner tonight she didn't have much room in her life for tolerance of the Dark Arts. Nonetheless, he found himself hoping that she could look beyond his troubled past and be friends with him for who he was now. Who knew what might happen.

His thoughts startled him. He had not hoped for a friendship with a woman in this way since his days at Hogwarts and his love for Lily Evans. That relationship had taught him that he had nothing to offer the opposite sex, and even if he did, he would screw it up anyway. He had made an effort to stay away from pretty ladies ever since then. But this woman had managed to get under his skin within a few hours. How could that be? He didn't have the answer. All he knew was that he was looking forward to tomorrow in a different way than he had any other day at Hogwarts. Disgusted with his inability to concentrate on anything but what the morning would bring, he gave up and went to bed. It would be a long night.

The next evening the Great Hall was abuzz with chatter. It seemed that everyone had a story to tell about the first day of school. Slughorn was bragging about the famous students in his classes, Hagrid was telling about a baby Thestril that wouldn't eat, and Professor Trelawney was complaining about having to share classes with the centaur Firenze.

Snape turned to Svetlana and said, "So, how was your first day?"

"Oh it was fun!" she beamed. "There's a girl in my sixth year class that really knows her stuff. She can translate very challenging Runes and has a knack for seeing beyond the symbol."

"Don't tell me, it's Hermione Granger." Snape said dourly.

"Yes, I think that's her." Svetlana said thoughtfully. "I'm having a hard time remembering names. She's very intelligent. I sense great things from her. So how was your day?"

His eyes gleamed greedily. "It was great. I'm finally teaching the subject I enjoy the most."

Svetlana raised an eyebrow. "So you like the Dark Arts the best?"

"I like readying students to fight against them the best," he replied tartly.

"A noble cause," she responded smiling, "especially with You-Know-Who lurking about."

Snape gave her a stern look. "The Dark Lord has better things to do than fool with school children."

"You seem to be rather sure of that fact," Svetlana said with a bit of trepidation.

"That's because Severus here knows You-Know-Who better than any of us. He worked for him you know. A real Death Eater. Nasty bit of business." It was Slughorn, and he was delighting in his revelation.

Snape wanted to crawl under a rock. This conversation was not going the way he wanted it to go. Oh well, now she knew. He supposed he could say farewell to this friendship.

"Actually I did know that," said Svetlana. "I also know that he left the Dark Arts and is working against them now. Do you have any other juicy gossip you'd like to spread?"

Slughorn looked like he had been punched in the stomach. He mumbled something under his breath and returned to his meal. Svetlana glanced at Severus and was surprised to see a look of astonishment on his face. She gave him a little grin. He leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Thank you for sticking up for me," he responded gratefully. He chuckled. "That's the reddest I've ever seen Slughorn, and he usually looks like a lobster."

She laughed and they went back to their meal. Severus reflected on the scene that had just happened. She already knew about his past and was still talking to him! That was unexpected. He usually received looks of reproach when people found out he was a former Death Eater. He couldn't blame them. He knew what being a Death Eater meant and felt the reactions were deserved. But she had stuck up for him and had insulted Slughorn in the mix. He took a quick glance at her when she wasn't looking. She seemed rather satisfied with herself.

Svetlana beamed inwardly. She had told that braggart Slughorn! There was nothing more she despised than people who judged others without knowing all the facts. Hopefully Slughorn would think twice the next time he wanted to besmirch someone's name in front of her again. She glanced at Severus. He still had that astonished look on his face. He must not be used to people standing up for him. That was too bad. Anyone could turn over a new leaf and should be given the chance to do so. She decided to make every effort to get to know Severus Snape and find out who he really was inside.