THE TAKEOVER

Disclaimer: Unfortunately I own none of the characters, objects or places that you may recognise but I won't be making anything from them – except possibly a paper aeroplane.

Summary: Severus Snape becomes Headmaster. Set in the summer between HP6 and HP7 and relatively DH compliant. SS, MM, FF, PP, PS.

-*-

It had certainly been a quick takeover, but painless was not the adjective that Pomona Sprout would have chosen to describe the 'shock' appointment of the new headmaster. Minerva had been saying all summer, especially in the last fortnight since they had joined her back at the castle, that she was only keeping the seat warm. She had done as much as she physically could to get the school and it's staff ready for the knew term but she had been brutally honest about how short her tenure was likely to be from the moment that the Ministry had fallen.

Whether Minerva had never thought that lackey they would replace her with could be Severus, or had just chosen not to dwell on that particular possibility Pomona didn't know. But there had been absolutely no denying the look of surprise on her face when the Minister had opened the staff room door to reveal him. The Head of Hufflepuff had watched the other woman's eyes, taken in the trembling hands Minerva had forcibly stilled and then turned to catch Filius's eye.

"Now naturally," Thickness had continued after introducing not only Snape but also his two cohorts, "Professor Snape will be relying upon his Deputy to look after the more banal aspects of the school's running and I think we'd all agree that there's no one better equipped to offer that support than Professor McGonagall. She does rather beat everyone else in terms of experience."

"If that's all right with you of course Professor?" Snape had drawled at this stage and at Minerva's rather awkward nod he had continued. "I will of course have the final decision in all matters and will take control of one or two more pertinent areas such as…. Oh well, let's just say punishment for example."

"Naturally. Naturally." The Minister agreed. "And I believe there has been some difficulty in filling some of the vacant positions on staff…"

"There have been one or two issues certainly," Minerva responded, suddenly having found her voice. "There are however contingency pans in place."

"Yes, I see Minerva that you were intending to continue taking Transfiguration yourself." The New Headmaster commented pointedly, while perusing a stack of papers.

"Needs must Severus, and it was only an interim…"

"Well it needn't be now." He cut her off.

"And as for Defence and Muggle Studies the Professors Carrow will fill the posts."

"It might also be worth noting that as of the start of term it will be compulsory for every student to take two periods of Muggle Studies every week."

"Of course, Minister." Minerva's response was not in any way sarcastic, just somewhat detached as she conjured parchment and quill and began to take notes of the stream of edicts Snape and Thickness were issuing. All Pomona could think of at that moment was what a huge change in the basic schedule this was and how long it had taken Minerva and Filius sorting out the students and Professors timetables the week before.

"There are of course rooms made up that the Professors can make use of?"

The Slytherin finished several moments later, drawing her back from her mental shuffle of the coloured squares that had taken over the staff room during her colleagues scheduling sessions.

"There are several rooms in the West Staff Corridor…" Minerva responded but was quickly cut off before she could continue.

"And I will of course be needing you remove any of your possessions which are currently in my office and personal quarters. It's…" he continued making a great show of checking his pocket watch. "8 o'clock now. I'll give you till half past – and then of course we will need to transfer the wards."

"In that case, I shall go." Minerva replied, her tone still completely fee from emotion. "Unless there's anything else?"

Severus dismissed her with a wave of his hand, and she turned and left without even a momentary glance at the rest of her colleagues.

"If that's all Minister, Headmaster?" Filius asked and Pomona begged silently that it was, wanting to follow her friend from the room and try to offer some form of support.

"I think that's everything for the time being – though we will need your input in preparation for the transference."

"Of course, Headmaster."

"In fact, you're all dismissed." Severus declared, turning his attention to the small group of staff members as a whole for the first time. "If you're not needed tonight then I expect to see you at breakfast. Tomorrow is a big day, after all."

Pomona didn't stop to consider anything further, she moved past the gathering of visitors and headed straight out the door, still only just in time to see the sweep of Minerva's cloak vanish around the corner and up the next flight of stairs.

-*-

Filius could feel Pomona and Poppy on either side of him tense as he atmosphere in the staff room darkened. For all that Minerva had been trying to prepare everyone for the eventuality that she would be replaced, none of them had really been ready for the Minister to appoint Severus Snape in her place.

"We feel at this stage," Thickness had begun expounding to the gathered professors, "That our purposes and the needs of the students, of course, would be better met with someone else in charge."

Minerva had not responded, but dipped her head briefly as though in acquiescence.

"And on that note;" he'd continued, "I'd like to re-introduce you to a former colleague…" The Ravenclaw was certain that if he'd taken bets on who was about to walk through the door at that moment, most people would have plunked for Dolores Umbridge, an unpleasant enough prospect, but one he would gladly have taken over what they had received. There was also an unnerving quality about the gleams in the eyes of the Carrow siblings, which made him more than slightly uncomfortable given that it seemed they were to be joining the teaching staff.

Filius concentrated on the details, watching the interactions between them all as Severus began to wield his authority over his former superior by spitting out instructions. He was immensely proud of Minerva at that moment, as she refused to rise to the bait. Refused to enter into the sparring at which the two of them had been so competent at, now that the tables had been turned so severely against her. It was no easy thing he knew, for her to rein in her fiery Scottish temper.

His ears pricked up at the reference to the wards however and he began to pay more attention to what was being said. Snape obviously wanted to go through with the ceremony as quickly as possible, knowing no-doubt, that until he did he would have no control over the castle itself or any of it's defences no matter who it was that had appointed him.

Filius's thoughts began to whir through everything that he knew about the passing of wards from one wizard to the next, and trying to tie it up with what he knew about Hogwarts unique system of complex charms and enchantments. It was not necessarily a problem, though most of the documented cases that he could recall had been of people accepting the responsibility from the castle after the primary control had returned there on the occasion of the previous Heads death.

"If that's all Minister, Headmaster?" Filius attempted to excuse himself after Minerva's very plain dismissal, itching to get his hands on the records and double-check what it was he thought he remembered from earlier in the summer.

When they were all freed to go, both Pomona and Poppy exited the room with all due haste, no doubt hoping to catch up with Minerva. He wanted nothing more than to comfort his friend as well but knew that she wouldn't thank any of them for trying to cosset her, especially at this particular time. By the time he reached the gargoyle on the seventh floor, the three women were busy gathering Minerva's belongings from around the office and removing one or two of Albus's remaining possessions as well, shrinking them all and adding them to a trunk by the door.

Looking up from where she knelt emptying books from one of the shelves, Minerva swept back a lock of hair that had sprung loose from her braid and paused to consider him.

"Minerva?" he asked, closing the door behind him, slightly disconcerted by the look she was giving him.

"I'm so sorry." She apologised, the plaintive tone in her voice not one he was used to hearing from her.

"Whatever for, my dear?" he asked crossing the room and placing a hand on her shoulder.

"She's feeling badly about your demotion." Poppy supplied, rolling her eyes.

Filius looked back at the Gryffindor. And then back at Poppy. And then to Pomona. And then back to Minerva. And then tried valiantly not to laugh. When he ended up choking instead, Minerva patted him on the back and waited patiently for him to recover.

"My apologies ladies, but really Minerva, I assure you that of all the concerns you might have after today, my being slighted about being looked over for Deputy Head, is not one of them. I enjoyed working with you immensely but I wouldn't swap with you now for love nor money." And with that he raised her hand to his lips to brush his lips against it, before becoming all business once more.

"I told you so." Pomona retorted quietly, chiding the other woman. "Now do you really want to move 'Unfogging the Future', AGAIN?" she continued holding up the book and trying valiantly to lighten the mood. "You can't have opened it in 50 years."

"That's not the point." Minerva countered having slipped back into what was obviously a comforting persona of the Professor. "You never know when a book might come in use for something and in the meantime - it doesn't eat anything."

"Much like someone else I know…" Poppy snorted.

Filius tuned out their discussions as he levitated himself up the bookcase on the opposite wall to where the women were working. There were tomes upon tomes on the magically enlarged shelf and it took him a moment to find the volume he was looking for. His nose was still in that same book when Severus Snape and the Minister entered with as much subtlety as a tonne of bricks.

-*-

"Now do you really want to move 'Unfogging the Future', AGAIN?" Pomona asked with an exaggerated sigh. "You can't have opened it in 50 years."

"That's not the point. You never know when a book might come in use for something and in the meantime - it doesn't eat anything."

"Much like someone else I know…" Poppy responded automatically earning her a well-honed scowl from the witch in question. Filius, probably wisely chose that moment to drift away.

"Don't look at me like that young lady." She continued, in her best scolding matron tone. "I said it yesterday and I'll say it again today – you have been neglecting yourself. Again." And it was true. The medic in her, had noted the condition of her hair and skin, never mind that her frame was even slighter than it had been at the end of the previous year.

Poppy had known Minerva for over fifty years now though, and this complete disinterest in her own health was nothing new. She had also made it an art to compensate for that though whether it was by encouraging the House Elves to add spoonfuls of cream cheese into her mashed potatoes or spiking her afternoon tea with multivitamins. It wasn't her friend's physical condition that had her most concerned though; Minerva had spent far too much time on her own in the intervening months, rattling around in the castle with no-one but ghosts and house elves for company most of the time.

The Gryffindor chose to ignore her comment and purposefully asked Pomona something about the charms on greenhouse 3 in an attempt to re-route the conversation. Poppy let her retreat knowing that today and the days to come would undoubtedly hold more conflicts for the former Headmistress than anyone.

At twenty-eight minutes past eight, Minerva closed the final drawer and sat back in the seat behind the desk.

"Well that's the last of it." She declared with an air of resignation. "Except…" Without bothering to remove her wand from her pocket she held out her hand and with an effortless flick of her wrist summoned a full bottle of whiskey from the top of one of the ornate bookcases.

"I knew you were holding out on us last night." Pomona declared, standing and straightening the skirts of her robe.

"As if you were in need of more lubrication." Poppy pointed out with a raised eyebrow.

"I was keeping it for an emergency." Minerva said with a little reticence. "It was my last Christmas from Albus." She added quietly turning look at the still slumbering portrait.

There was a moments quiet before the indomitable Professor returned and coming out from behind the desk, she crossed the room in quick strides before nestling the bottle in the top of the trunk and closing the lid. When she looked up, there was a steely look in her eye that while doing nothing to reassure the medi-witch about what was actually going through her mind, let her know that there was no way Minerva McGonagall was going to be beaten. At least not tonight.

It was exactly eight o'clock when the Minister and the new Headmaster entered the tower.

"I take it you're ready?" Snape asked of his Deputy as soon as he entered the room.

"Of course." And with that Winky appeared on cue. "If you would be kind enough to return this to my office."

"And my chambers?"

"I never moved out of my old rooms. With no-one to take over head of Gryffindor…"

"We really will have to speak about your people skills Minerva…"

Winky disapparated at that moment with what seemed to be an excessively load snap, making her point the best way she could.

"Let's get on with this then shall we." The Slytherin continued, turning to where Filius was perched on an ottoman. "Assuming you can't see any problems."

"No. No, I don't think that there should be any complications, although one can never be sure when dealing with Magic as old and as intricate as Hogwarts wards." He glanced purposefully at Poppy at that stage, and she nodded her reassurance that she wasn't going anywhere, quite yet.

"Then lead on Professor Flitwick –" The Minister instructed, not to be out done on the macho testosterone front. "I'm rather looking forward to seeing the much vaunted 'Core'."

"If it's all the same to you Headmaster," Pomona spoke up at that instant, "I think I'll leave you to it. There's something I have a sudden urge to unpack."

She was dismissed, freeing her to break into Minerva's rooms and liberate the whiskey no doubt, a mission that Poppy approved of wholeheartedly and was slightly jealous of, as she followed the others down into the base of the tower.

-*-

Minerva just wanted today to be over. Not that she had a great deal of faith in the immediate tomorrow being any better, but she was hoping valiantly that a few hours sleep might let her rally her defences a little to prepare for the long war of attrition ahead.

As they descended the stairs that led to the Core, the centralized gathering of all the strands of magic that ran through the school and it's foundations, she took a deep breath and tried to centre her own magics. She could feel the power as they approached, not in the same way that you would feel a magical barrier as she stepped through it, or even in the way that she could sense when one of the younger students was on the verge of loosing control, it was almost as though it was connected to her, part of her. And in one sense, she supposed it was.

When Minerva had accepted the Headship, and the Wards, the day after Albus's funeral, it had felt oddly comforting to have the familiar magical essence of the castle wash over her and when the tidal wave had receded it had still felt like there were tendrils of it were still their, entwined with her, part of her.

Now, it felt almost as though those bonds were tightening, like vines shrinking around their host. She tried to relax, tried to distance herself from her awareness of what was going on at the periphery of the grounds. Tried to take a step back from the point where she had been able to request the stairs provide the most direct route to the seventh floor and the entrance to the office upstairs. But for every step she retreated, it seemed almost as though Hogwarts followed her back, closing the distance.

The chamber that held the nexus was small, and by the time that the five of them were in place, she was sure that they were all glad for Filius's small stature.

"Now I think that the most sensible way to do this," Filius began, removing his wand from his sleeve, "is for Minerva to relinquish the Wards back to the castle and their restive state and for Severus to accept them from there. So if I could ask everyone else to take a step back. Minerva?" He gestured for her to step forward and she did so.

"I know it's difficult, my dear," he continued from beside her, his tone hushed and his words meant solely for her. "But I need you to be relaxed as possible."

She nodded stiffly and taking another deep breath, was struck once again by how generous Filius really was with his feelings and just quite how unfair these games were on people like the diminutive Charms instructor. He had shrugged off her genuine regret earlier, but none the less, she couldn't help but feel that it was the good, kind souls like him that always seemed to come off worst.

Pushing her concerns aside she moved to face the column of light that formed the nexus of all the magics that ran through the school. Opening her arms, she turned her palms upwards in a demonstration of subjugation to the twisted strands of multi-coloured. Closing her eyes against the glare, she tuned out the Charms Master's words, until suddenly it was as if someone had pulled a plug out somewhere and like water, the ancient tendrils of charms and enchantments that she had become so used to of late, poured out of her body.

It couldn't have taken more than a few seconds in total but in those moments she felt so much slipping away that it felt almost like a bereavement. And then it was over.

As that realisation hit, her knees buckled and it was only a well-timed arm around her waist from Poppy that kept her on her feet.

"Min?" the medi-witch asked as the strength returned to her legs, and she pulled away from the supporting arm before lifting her head.

"I'm fine." She reassured the other witch with a small smile, before purposefully turning towards Severus.

In reality the last thing she felt was fine. She supposed what had happened was like a drastic change in altitude or blood pressure, and in sympathy with that her head felt like it was about to explode. Concentrating on appearing relaxed and on not giving in to the temptation to close her eyes and groan, she watched as Severus performed the same right she had completed only two months previously.

In contrast to her own experience, it seemed to take an age for Filius to complete the ritual that bound the new Head to the school. The small part of Minerva's mind that was still functioning on a higher level, wondered if perhaps the school did not particularly want someone wearing the Dark Mark to be in control of it's defences, that the magic already coursing through his veins was making this more difficult. She suspected, given the array of former Heads the School had had in it's past, that the magics weren't quite that discerning.

Severus' almost sensual sigh as the process was complete, would she suspected, be fodder for much whiskey fuelled gossip later, at least for the women. She had a horrible feeling that Filius would take a little more intellectual interest in it and begin to question her further on what the process felt like.

Minerva was still contemplating quite why it was that she didn't want to expound further upon what she had already told the Head of Ravenclaw when she realised that the others were preparing to leave the chamber. She could feel Poppy's eyes on her even from the other side of the room where she had obviously stationed herself just in case Severus had needed her, so when they came to filing up the steps back to the Headmaster's office she purposefully hung back and gestured for he other witch to go first.

She hadn't realised quite how dark the staircase was, until they stepped back out into the open, and the change in the level of light did nothing to lessen her discomfort and only increased her desire to finish with this farce as quickly as possible.

"Well, if you think everything is in order Headmaster," Thickness began; Severus nodded, slinking across the room to stand behind the formidable desk. "Then I should return to the Ministry."

"Thank you for your time Minister. If I could ask you to ensure that all of the interested parties are informed of the evenings success."

"Of course, and there will be an article in the Prophet tomorrow morning, so at least some of your more literate students should know that to expect upon their arrival. Good evening Professors, Madame Pomfrey." And with that he left with what Minerva felt compelled to describe as a poor imitation of Snape's own billowing robe routine.

They all listened as the griffin descended and slid into place with a resounding clunk.

"Well, now that we're on our own, we can turn to business." Severus declared leaning forward so that his hands rested on the well-worn leather writing plate. "Make no mistake. I am in charge here and I will not tolerate any insubordination from you or any other members of the staff. You would do well to remind your colleagues of that."

He left that threat hanging in the air before breaking the tension by collapsing back into the seat behind him and idly beginning to sort through the methodical stacks of paperwork Minerva herself had been working only hours before.

"Hadn't you better be going?" He asked, looking up after what Minerva struggled to determine as a matter of moments or minutes. "I'm sure you have last minute things to be doing before tomorrow and if you don't, I certainly do."

Massively relieved, Minerva turned to follow Poppy and Filius from the room only to reach the door before being called back.

"Minerva – I will be needing to look over the timetables at breakfast tomorrow and I'll expect them to reflect the changes to the statute of compulsory education the Minister was kind enough to highlight earlier."

"Naturally, Headmaster." She managed to dredge from somewhere, before turning and leaving with as much dignity as she could muster.

When she reached the bottom of the stairs, Filius had disappeared but Poppy remained.

"Come on, Trooper." she said, without a hint of false enthusiasm. "Let's get you something for your head and then a large drink."

Minerva had long since stopped being surprised at her friend's ability to see through any front she tried to put up and so she settled simply for letting her guard slip a little further.

"I… " She began, suddenly overcome with an immense sense of exhaustion, "I need to look at the timetables before tomorrow morning." She admitted, lifting a hand to pinch the bridge of her nose.

"We need to look at the timetables." Poppy corrected. "And I've always thought you think better after a glass of something." Choosing not to argue Poppy's rather dubious point, Minerva simply straightened her shoulders and started off down the corridor.

When they reached the central staircase, the flights were arranged in such a fashion that was going to take them on a particularly circuitous route back to Minerva's office and the Gryffindor paused for a fraction of a second before straightening up and telling herself to 'deal with it'. Before she even set foot on the top step however, there was the quiet grumble indicative of a movement and suddenly the ascending staircase before them swung away, only to be replaced with one that led directly to the 2nd floor.

"I thought that was only supposed to happen for the Head." Poppy commented, looking first at the stairs and then up at her.

"It is." Minerva replied bluntly, puzzled but strangely buoyed by the turn of events. "It is."

-*-

Severus waited until he was sure that Minerva had descended the stairs and the Griffin had slid into place behind her before he stilled his hands, and looked back up from the papers before him. He wasn't quite sure what to do with himself in that instant and so he simply continued to sit. Every piece of parchment on the surface before him was covered in Minerva's painfully familiar and distressingly immaculate copperplate.

Why it was that her writing of all things that had given him pause he wasn't sure. Perhaps, he considered, spotting a folder neatly marked 'Timetables 97/98 (Master Copies v4)', it was because it brought home, quite how much work it was she had already done in preparation of the following day and the arrival of the students.

He was just about to pick up the file to take a closer look at it when he had the sudden and overwhelming feeling of being watched. He almost overturned his chair in his hurry to turn and look at the most recent addition to the Headmasters gallery. There was nothing at all, however, to indicate that Albus had shifted since Severus had gotten his first look at him upon entered the room earlier that evening. It was several minutes before he could tare his eyes away from the portrait, and even then, he was uncertain in his conviction that he'd imagined the sensation.

Rather than let the thought become the seed of an obsession though, Severus actively chose to push the incident to the back of his mind. With a click of his fingers, he summoned a House Elf and tried not to cringe as it scraped the floor with it's bow.

"Master Headmaster Sir!" it squeaked. "What can we's be doing's for the new Headmaster Sir?"

"I require some tea."

"Would Sir Headmaster Sir be likings his usual blend?

"YES!" he snapped. "And you will inform all of the elves in kitchens that you will address me as either 'Sir' or 'Headmaster'."

"Whatever you's is wishing, Headmaster. We is only wanting to serves."

"Well just be sure that you do." He instructed, before dismissing it with a wave of his hand.

Alone again, Severus ignored the urge to turn and check the portrait of Dumbledore and instead climbed the wrought iron staircase up to the viewing station and opening the French doors, he stepped out into the night. Ever since they had completed the transference of the Wards, he had developed what seemed almost to be some form of sixth sense, this strange sort of peripheral awareness of the schools defences. An overall feeling of the magic that coursed through the castle though seemed to sit just outside his grasp, close enough that he would know if there was anything drastically amiss but not as instinctual as he had perhaps expected it to be.

It was certainly something to be investigated further, something his Master had expressed a specific interest in, but it could wait. There were more urgent matters that required his attention tonight; he needed to get up to speed on what changes Minerva had made in the standard procedures, and what alterations she had made in the schedule of the school year. Primarily, so that he could rescind the majority of them.

Focusing his mind on those immediate tasks, he returned to the warmth of the main office, his office, and began a closer inspection of the sheaves of parchment he had left there earlier. After a pot of tea, and some careful consideration he had to acknowledge that the fact that they had managed to pull any sort of workable arrangement out of a situation where they were three key teaching staff down was impressive.

The Staff was not the only area where it looked like they were going to have significantly smaller numbers than in previous years however. Opening the cover of the folder marked simply 'School Role 97/98' he was met by more, flawless copperplate and one of the most startling examples of the changes to acceptable Wizarding society.

Of the 42 names listed on the first year sheet, 6 had a single line through them with the initials MB marked clearly in the margin. Muggle Born – and therefore they would not have even received notice that they were in fact witches or wizards. Their future had been firmly removed from Minerva's hands and he suspected that it had cost her dearly to acknowledge that was not a battle she was going to win.

A further 2 names were scored through with the simple annotation, Deceased, and 1 marked as Missing which Severus knew could in all probability be read as the same. There were also another 7 names marked simply as Withdrawn, undoubtedly as parents fled the country, bringing the number of new first years they were excepting down to 26.

They had, presumably in response not only to the shortage of teachers but also to the fact that the numbers of students that were expected tomorrow were significantly lower than in previous years, timetabled all the first years together irrespective of house. Now while this was an incredibly sensible and practical option, he would tell Minerva in no uncertain terms that it was totally unacceptable.

Partly, this was because the Dark Lord had impressed upon him how key Hogwarts was in shaping the minds of his new and elite future and if he was supposed to be readying these children for a segregated society that was something they would have to reinforce here.

He scrawled his note, almost in an antithesis of Minerva's own work, simply stating that he expected the new timetable to allow for separate Slytherin/Gryffindor and Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw classes in all subjects and that he would need it before 7am the following day. He didn't bother to sign the missive but simply folded and stamped it before asking the now obviously terrified elf who had fetched his tea to take it to the Deputy Headmistress.

Once that was done Severus followed an impulse and flipped through the rest of the School Role, until he reached the last page. Scanning the lists of students, separated by house now, he quickly found the name he was looking for and for the first time in a long time, Severus Snape had to repress the urge to laugh. To all intents and purposes it looked as though the Headmistress had expected Undesirable Number One, to be arriving back at school for the start of term.

In the same way that Minerva's writing had been a sterling reminder of the effort that she put into everything, this complete lack of annotation to Harry Potter's name reminded him not only of the fact that she was incredibly savvy but also of her impeccably dry sense of humour.

He had pushed Minerva tonight and knew that he would have to continue to do so over the coming weeks and months. He was going to make a concerted effort to keep her on the back foot for as long as possible and then to taunt her in public and humiliate her before her colleagues and students whenever she stepped out of line or failed to meet his exorbitant demands. After all, she was not only the primary threat to his authority within the school but also a known member of the Order.

The Minerva that he knew, that he had worked with, would rise to the challenge though, and would push herself to breaking point in the process if that's what it took. What he was going to rely on was that she would be level headed enough to toe the line, that she would understand to choose her battles carefully and that she would understand just quite how vulnerable a position she was in as, to the world at large, the last bastion of Albus Dumbledore's Hogwarts.

That was where her friends and colleagues would come into play though. They wouldn't, he suspected, make grandiose stands against him themselves, but they would help to temper Minerva's Gryffindor impetuousness and still her hand when the fight was un-winnable. Or at least that was what he was hoping for.

He scoffed himself for even thinking in terms of hope. It had been so long now since he had even considered his own existence in terms of survival that hope seemed such an inane term to use. The way the webs had twisted, there was no chance of him being able to succeed in his role and escape with his life, it had simply become a question of how much he could achieve, what level of success he could attain, before one or other of the sides took him out of action. His thinking had become purely tactical, the emotion so far removed from years of almost constant occlumency.

Yet it was those long repressed, denied and ignored emotions that had led him, incoherent with grief to the feet of Albus Dumbledore almost twenty years ago and it was those same emotions that had resulted in him standing here today, in Dumbledore's place, a twisted travesty of the 'great man'. The Headmaster had used his emotions to turn him into a pawn in his game against the Dark Lord, a game Severus now played alone.

A/N: Well I hope you enjoyed this as I've already started on the next instalment set a couple of months in the future.

I always like to hear what you guys think and if you have any questions I'll always try to answer them.

Thanks for reading

xLx