Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Note: This story was written for alchymie (aka Paracelsus), to the prompt: Harry Potter fic: something that happened elsewhere (e.g. Hogwarts) while Harry, Ron and Hermione were out Horcrux-hunting. The story contains the implied off-screen torture and attempted murder of a minor.

Summary: Barely one week into the school year, and things were already spiraling out of control. Snape and the Carrows, during DH.

A Certain Point of View

Barely one week into the school year, and things were already spiraling out of control.

Severus Snape drew a deep breath, dug his fingertips into the edge of his desk, and glared at the Carrows. "This is a school," he hissed, "not an abattoir. We are here to educate children. Yes, the older ones are lost to us, but the younger ones can still be persuaded. But only if you let them live. Only if you offer rewards as well as punishment."

Alecto and Amycus stared sullenly back. "Little bitch had it coming," Amycus muttered.

"Be that as it may, you are never to take such drastic measures again," said Snape. "The Weasley girl is recovering in the infirmary, and I have personally Obliviated her entire class. This incident did not happen. Do you understand? And it will never be repeated."

"The Dark Lord said--" began Alecto.

"The Dark Lord," said Snape, "wishes to purify the world of Muggle filth. I fail to see how killing purebloods, however misguided their beliefs, falls within his plans." He forced his hands to unclench and steepled them on the desk: the image of control and disdain. "I would be within my rights to deal with you as you dealt with that class. But this is not the time, nor the place. We need to work together to maintain control until the Dark Lord's inevitable victory. And control is maintained through order, not through blind indulgence in childish revenge."

The Carrows shifted in their seats, their expressions defiant.

Snape stared silently at them, counting to ten, and again, and again. Their shifting grew more nervous. He was a stronger wizard than they, more cunning, much closer to the Dark Lord... and they knew it.

"Bruises are acceptable," said Snape, after a long, uncomfortable minute. "Small cuts. Harsh words. Humiliation. Even Cruciatus, for offenses that warrant detention rather than a simple deduction of house points. But you will not leave permanent marks, and you will never again, under any circumstances, risk the death of a student."

The Carrows were cowed, but still unconvinced. Mercy and restraint were foreign concepts to them. When had they become such beasts? When had they let their minds go fallow?

Snape hissed through his teeth. "Idiots. Think. Not only are they our students, they are hostages to ensure their families' compliance with the Ministry and the Dark Lord. A dead hostage is worse than useless."

Finally, his point seemed to get through. "Sorry," muttered Amycus. "I didn't think that far."

"Obviously," said Snape. "Don't let it happen again. Dismissed." He slid a sheet of parchment to the center of his desk and dipped a quill into the inkwell, shutting the Carrows out of his attention. After a moment, they stood and clomped toward the doorway.

"Thank you, Severus," Dumbledore's voice murmured as Alecto closed the door behind herself.

"I didn't do it for you," said Snape, refusing to turn and meet his painted eyes. "Everything I told them was true."

"Even so," said Dumbledore, gently. "You are a better man than you know, Severus, and I am truly sorry for the burdens I laid upon you." Painted robes rustled as he shifted, unseen.

Snape set down the quill and left the room. The parchment sat in the center of his desk, a single word staring back at the portrait:



AN: Thank you for reading, and please review! I appreciate all feedback, but I'm particularly interested in knowing what parts of the story worked for you, what parts didn't, and why.