Disclaimer: I do not own anything that JKR has under copyright, neither do I own the rights to any quotes, references or otherwise mentioned materials

Author's Note: OK, so this is one of my bigger fics...I have around 20,000 words written of it so far, as well as archived at Twisting the Hellmouth. The goal that I set for myself when writing this piece of work was that, for once, I would write a fic where the main character was both believable and intelligent (I have a propensity towards creating Mary Sue's; I'm in detox for it, but the process is both overdramatic and rather painful; there are no patches for this particular addiction). Ultimately, I have created an original character that is entirely too much like my mother for my own peace of mind; I am, however, confident that she will prove as amusing and aggravating to you as she has been for me.

A Question of Heroics


Brethany took in a shaky breath, then smoothed her skirt with trembling hands. Really, this couldn't possibly be any more difficult than standing before the panel of wand makers to prove that she had earned her wand making license. Setting her shoulders with a grim smile, she walked hesitantly into the Great Hall. The chattering halted as soon as the group of teachers caught sight of her.

"Ah, Brethany," blue eyes twinkled at her from across the table. Albus Dumbledore smiled brightly. "Please, do come in! I believe we may have left you some supper." Brethany managed to work up a small smile as she approached the table. Oh, dear…all those sharp eyes, staring at her… "May I introduce our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher," Dumbledore indicated her, and eyes widened in shock. "Brethany Lewis, these are your fellow staff members, Minerva McGonagall, Transfiguration professor; Filius Flitwick, Charms professor; Sybil Trelawney, Divination professor; Irma Pince, our librarian; Rubeus Hagrid, Care of Magical Creatures professor; Pomona Sprout…" As the introductions continued, Brethany met the eyes of each person and nodded in acknowledgement. Inside, she threw up her hands in defeat; names were definitely not her strong point. Maybe she could ask that they wear name tags for the first few weeks? A smile fought its way to her face just as the last introduction was made. "…Severus Snape, Potions professor." Her smile faded; oh, dear…

Severus Snape sneered slightly at the young woman. Merlin, she was young! What had Albus been thinking?! She looked surprisingly collected for being such a young adult, but Snape could also see the slight tremble in her hands.

"Professor Snape," Brethany acknowledged him quietly, nodding her head in greeting.

"Oh, no need for that, dear," the school nurse…Pomfrey!...grinned at her. "Just call us by our given names. I am Poppy, and that is Severus, but don't mind him, he's always grumpy when he has a potion waiting for him." The Potions teacher scowled, and Brethany suddenly began to feel more at home. Really, they were just a bunch of overgrown teenagers. Gossipy, incredibly talented and experienced teenagers, but teenagers nonetheless.

"You may call me Professor Snape," the man told her sharply. "I do not permit children to address me by my given name." He glared at her critically. "I see the Defense position is still holding its regrettable loathsome luck. Really, Albus, even with the history of that position, was it necessary to contract a naïve little girl for the job?"

Behind Brethany, someone inhaled sharply. She was holding back a laugh as she regarded the dark man before her. "Professor Snape," the young woman spoke evenly, "Hogwarts has survived many years with a senile old man as headmaster; I am quite certain she will survive with a naïve little girl as the Defense teacher. Perhaps the position needs a change of scenery in order to break its 'regrettably loathsome luck'." She held his gaze calmly, her mouth twitching slightly as they both ignored the shocked gasps behind her. Really, she hadn't had so much fun since she left home!

"Hogwarts may have survived, but that is not to say that she remains untouched," Snape spoke wryly, his black eyes glinting. "Still, you cannot be much worse than many of our former teachers."

Brethany raised an eyebrow. "Was that a compliment, Professor Snape?" she asked drolly, smirking slightly.

Snape raised an eyebrow as well. "Take it as you wish, Miss Lewis. Meanwhile, I must attend to a potion." With a brusque nod to his colleagues, the man swept out of the hall, his robes billowing behind him.

"Oh, my…" Brethany turned around to see Minerva McGonagall smiling at her in bemusement. "You may indeed take that as a compliment, Brethany. Severus rarely says such things, and he always means it."

"Congratulations, Brethany, on succeeding where many others have faltered," Albus told her happily. "You have prevailed against Severus Snape using his own weapons against him."

Brethany grinned. "Oh, he's just like my brothers. They enjoy making subtle digs at people without their targets ever realizing it. I'm quite familiar with sarcastic taunts and witty debates. I think I like the Potions professor."

"Well then," Poppy smile at her brightly, "You have half the difficulty I teaching here conquered."

The Defense teacher frowned. "What's the other half?"

"Now you simply have to establish yourself with the students," Minerva told her sympathetically, patting her on the shoulder. "Don't concern yourself overly much; it is quite likely that you will survive the experience."

Brethany eyed the older woman suspiciously. That had not sounded particularly reassuring.

Word Count: 768

----Please feel free to review...I actually enjoy getting flames...they're so ridiculously useless by their very design, which is to build the flamer's ego up while at the same time tear down the flamee's...if you look at it that way, I just feel sorry for the people who do nothing but leave flames...ah, well...