Chapter 20: Severus Snape

Severus was miserable. There was very little in life that he hated more than teaching these students. Especially Potions – Defense Against Dark Arts wouldn't have been so bad. But Potions was what he was forced to teach – watching idiots mangle such a fine art always cut him to the core.

Perhaps some of the Dark Lord's raids qualified as more painful… not that he had attended many.

The more frivolous attacks, the ones that were less about fighting Aurors and more of Muggle-baiting, tended to be voluntary – there was a low risk of getting caught or injured, seeing as the Death Eaters would disappear before the Auror's ever arrived.

Not to mention that they would usually be followed by a rather rowdy party for the participant. They tended to only be handed out by the Dark Lord as "rewards" for exceptional behavior.

The more combatative ones he tended to avoid due to a combination of his own expressed disdain for such amusement, and the fact that the Dark Lord considered his time to be better spent making potions. Still there were two or three times, when the Dark Lord felt the need to be assured of his loyalty, that he had been forced to go along. He still felt the need to vomit, even after all these years, remembering what he had done.

Still, even those raids had the benefit of being short lasting. The torture of teaching, however, refused to fade in time.

Snape looked over the class list. He glanced over Harry Potter, but that was already a known quantity. The boy would be an arrogant brat, just like his father, a self centered Gryffindor the extreme. Instead, his eyes were drawn to Tom Mason.

That boy was an enigma, that much was certain. As a muggleborn in Slytherin, Snape had expected that he would need to do some swift maneuvering to keep the other children from doing lasting damage – when he, a half-blood from a reasonably prominent pureblood family, had entered the House his reception had been much poorer. And attitudes towards muggleborns had only gotten worse since then.

There had been a slight uptick of tolerance in recent years – probably because the Dark Lord had been gone for ten years now. But he had felt the tension at the end of the last year – though it wasn't talked of openly, his Slytherins were intelligent enough to do the counting. Potter would be coming and that in and of itself would be enough to polarize everything again, regardless of what the boy did. Because he would be a Golden Gryffindor, and they would have to hate him.

So it had surprised him when no one had laid a hand on Mason, especially considering the rumors that claimed that he was friends with Potter, or at least had been before coming to Hogwarts. There had been some talk, some insults thrown around, but not a single hex had been thrown his way. Severus had had half a dozen in his first week.

But he realized why, soon enough. Tom had a gift – the ability to make others gravitate towards them. Like Dumbledore and the Dark Lord, and Lucius to a smaller degree – and as much as he was loathe to admit it, like Black and Potter.

Snape had never had that magnetism – he could lie convincingly, make people believe that he was on their side. But he had trouble being friends with people, forget about making them fight and die for him the way some could.

The change he had wrought on Draco Malfoy, however, was what made him feel more generous towards the boy than anything else.

He had known the boy since infancy, and Draco had been haughty and arrogant since he had learned to walk and talk – partly out of his own character, partly because Lucius and Narcissia did nothing to discourage him.

Draco was always impulsive, speaking first and then thinking, always quick to offend and be offended.

But Tom had wrought a change in the boy, making him quieter, less prone to outbursts. The change unsettled Severus, but he had seen nothing indicating that Draco was harmed in anyway, so he was just going to appreciate it for now.

Severus watched silently as the first years walked in, separating themselves instinctively along the lines of house. Their first class together, and they already knew the rules, as if they had been doing this for years.

He recognized Potter the second he walked in – he looked exactly like his father at that age. He waited for him to take the inevitable seat on the Gryffindor side of the room.

But he didn't. He walked over to, of all people, Tom Mason. Who was sitting straight in the middle of the Slytherins.

For a minute he was convinced that Potter had come to harass Mason, despite the grin on the boy's face, and a slight smile on Mason's.

But he sat down right next to Mason, pulled out his books and a quill, and sat facing the front, looking attentive. The other Slytherins gave him a look, but no one said anything.

Snape wondered whether he should make up a rule that Gryffindors and Slytherins weren't allowed to be partners. Well, as of yet, the two hadn't decided on being partners, they were just sitting together. Potter would probably decide that he wouldn't risk making a potion with a slimy Slytherin and decide to pair with a Gryffindor when it was time to find a partner. Or Mason would sense what a fool Potter was and decide he was better off pairing with someone who wasn't liable to explode their potion.

The class finished filling in, and Snape started taking attendance.

He paused briefly at Potter's name on the list, wondering if he should make a sarcastic comment about the brats celebrity, and looked up to see the boy staring at him unblinkingly with emerald green eyes.

He moved on down the list without commenting.

After he called all the names, he ran through his usual speech to first years, while they all stared at him apprehensively.

He glanced at Potter again. He realized what was bothering him.

In his time teaching at Hogwarts, he had never seen a Gryffindor and a Slytherin sit together for Potions. But the memory of a certain Gryffindor walking over to a certain Slytherin and partnering with them for the better part of five years in Potions was etched into his memory with perfect clarity.

No matter.

So Potter wished to partner with a Slytherin? That didn't change the fact that he was his fathers son, through and through. He might as well be a clone of him. Doubtlessly as abysmal at Potions as his father had been before him.

To prove that to himself, he fired off a question at Potter.

"Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

Grangers hand shot into the air the moment he finished asking the question. Impressive that she knew the answer that quickly, but raising her hand at a question addressed specifically to someone else was quite rude. Probably going to be an irritating know-it-all, convinced that she knew everything there was to know.

He turned his attention back to Potter, not expecting anything. He was rather surprised when Potter tentatively stammered the correct answer.

True, the answer to that question was in the first dozen or so pages, so all that proved was that Potter had bothered to open a book before coming.

He shot another question, more from a later section this time. "Alright then, Potter, where would you find a bezoar, if I told you to look for one?"

Granger's hand shot up in the air again, but Potter answered this question more effortlessly then before, this time with a confident smile on his face.

Snape sneered. So the brat was getting cocky, was he? Well, he clearly had skimmed through the book, but there was no way the brat had thoroughly read and absorbed it.

"Very well. How about the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

This time, Granger's hand didn't go up. Snape wondered if it was because she was stumped, or because she decided that Potter would be able to answer it. For a moment, though, it looked like he wouldn't be able to. Potter simply looked bewildered. Then he exchanged a glance with Mason, smiled, and replied "There isn't a difference."

"So it appears you have read the book, Potter. Congratulations upon your basic literacy." Snape sneered, and then glared around. "For everyone that didn't know the answer to those very basic questions – which I suspect is a majority of you – why aren't you all copying that down?"

He'd let them choose their own partners, curious as to whether the boy that he had previously suspected to be one of Slytherins finest could possibly partner with the brash, egoistical self-centered brat he believed the Potter boy to be. Especially in a science as fine as potion making, something that the Potter brat surely had no aptitude for.

He was surprised when not only did they partner, but they moved together with an unrivaled efficiency.

It wasn't so much that they handled the potions ingredients much more quickly or skillfully then their classmates. It was just something in the way they worked together – their communication seemed to consist entirely of shrugs and gestures, as they sorted out whom would do which part.

It was subtle admittedly, but Snape had been a spy. He was used to watching people and noticing how they interacted. And these two children worked with an almost uncanny coordination.

He stopped observing them from across the room and started pacing around the class, providing scathing criticisms of the potions that needed it. He twice just caught students about to make imbecilic mistakes that would have blown up their potion.

As he glanced back at Potter and Mason, he noticed that the pair next to them, Longbottom and Finnegan, had a potion that was smoking a color that indicated that their potion was not going well. As he strode across the room, robes billowing, Tom had apparently had noticed this as well and nudged Potter.

Before he had yet reached the potion and ascertained what precisely they had been doing wrong, Potter had spun around and grabbed Longbottoms arm.

"Stop! Wait! You can't put the quills in before you take the cauldron off the fire."

Longbottom looked at the instructions sheepishly and put the quills down, and assisted his partner in taking the potion off the fire. The potion was still rather discolored, but at the very least it hadn't exploded, which would have been the inevitable consequence had Longbottom finished his action.

"A point from Longbottom for endangering his classmates." Snape sneered as he swept by, pondering the oddness of Mason and Potter.

How did Potter realize what Longbottom was doing wrong so quickly? The mistake was a fairly obvious one, if Potter had been watching. But he hadn't been. Up until the moment that he had spun around and stopped Longbottom, he had appeared to be entirely engrossed in his potion. Mason had been watching, but Snape knew how to read lips. And Mason hadn't said a word to Potter, only nudged him.

Those boys would bear watching.

Short-ish chapter, but the next one is decently started.

Sorry about the incredibly long break but I think I might be actually writing again.

Also, sorry for not replying to any of the reviews, this time I promise I will! Thank you to everyone who reviewed!