Damn. Idiotic little children. I read the note again.


I've scared up enough students for your Forbidden Forest trip. Mr. Malfoy tipped me off about some tom-foolery in a charms class this morning. You should speak to Flickwick; he failed to give them detention at the time.


I had already heard about the incident. Some first-years became over-zealous during the practice session for the Mobiliarbus charm, moving not only the practice pillows about the room but also tables, chairs, tottering stacks of paper, and Professor Flitwick himself.

Bloody idiots. They're practically trolls the lot of them. Tomfoolery could get them killed, especially when punishments are handed out by Death Eaters. Could they be more stupid? They certainly make my job more difficult. Protecting students is one thing. Protecting foolish, idiot children who do everything in their power to attract attention from the wrong sort of person is another.

Now I would be forced to take a group of first years into the Forbidden Forest to collect potion ingredients for some of my more pungent brews. It's less dangerous than a Carrow detention, which is why I had planned it in the first place, but there are still plenty of opportunities for injury. I closed my eyes and crumpled the note in my hand. I could see them already- tripping and falling into a nest of blackwort spiders, being trampled by centaurs, enticed by the fragrance of the devil's snare flower, eaten by god knows what… I would spend my evening in the hospital wing. I knew it. I have been doomed to wipe the noses of these bloody children for all bloody eternity.


A class had just let out down the hall, and a group of slovenly Hufflepuffs walked past me down the stairs. I scowled at their backs. My fingers twitched toward my wand. It would be so satisfying to hex one of them- the boy perhaps. He was wearing a scruffy robe that looked like it hadn't been washed yet this year. I pictured the boy flying through the air with the force of my hex, landing with a thud at the bottom of the stairs, covered in, ah, but I couldn't decide. Bat-bogey? So childish. Perhaps something stronger? A stinging hex? I glowered at his retreating back, itching to just think a spell at him- it would be so easy. But it would mean an additional trip to the hospital wing. I fumed. The hospital wing- sunny windows, the scent of calming potions, soft, warm sheets covering everything, benign springy carpet under the beds- intolerable. Hateful. It reminded me of that Umbrage woman's cardigans; it always makes my skin itch. I have spent far, far too much time there this year. Already.

I heard a clatter behind me, and whirled around. A little girl had dropped a book, had bent down to recover it, and was now cowering in fear under my mocking stare. Perfect.

I advanced ever so slowly, for maximal effect. I glared down my nose at her. The sound of my footsteps on the stone made an ominous tapping sound, which echoed off the castle walls. I stopped. Silence. The girl was positively trembling now. She stared up at me in fear with huge eyes. I was curious. Inside my sleeve, I touched a finger to my wand. Legilimens. I peered through her eyes into her mind.

The Ravenclaw dormitory, night. Flickering firelight cast frightening shadows over an older boy's face; he was telling a story with exaggerated hand movements. His mouth moved dramatically, but the words were not remembered. Her mind's eye constructed an image of his story; potions class, Snape whispering threats in the boy's ear. His face is partially obscured by a curtain of greasy black hair, his hooked nose alone signaling the movement of his face. Snape suddenly turns to the class, with billowing robes and glittering eyes he spits irritation at the lot of them. He swoops down on another student, dismissing her potion, coldly criticizing, bringing her to tears, and now coldly terrorizing the class with a hand on his wand…

At least she was right about one thing: I always had my wand at the ready. I removed my finger from it. Ahhh. The itching sensation from thinking about the hospital wing had vanished. I looked down at the terrified girl and suddenly felt an insane urge to grin. She had no reason to be afraid of me. But, of course, she didn't know that. No one did. This entire school was scared stiff, and for what? For nothing.

It was so easy to terrify. So bloody simple.

And so delightfully amusing.

I satisfied my urge to grin, turning it into a sinister smile. I dropped my voice to a whisper. "Detention." I savored every consonant. "After dinner, in the entrance hall." Perhaps assigning the children partners would prevent the worst of the accidents during our time in the Forbidden Forest. The more the merrier.

I put on my most terrifying face and leaned forward slightly, towering over her. "And if I ever catch you being so clumsy again," I smiled more widely, drawing out the moment. The girl looked like she might pass out. "I will make the punishment much, much worse."

I spun around and swooped down the stairs toward the dungeons. It wasn't long till dinner now, and I had to collect some ingredient gathering supplies from my store room. As I strode through the halls I glowered at Dumbledore's students. They fear me. So much the better. If the entire school hates me it will be that much simpler to convince the Dark Lord of my loyalty. Serving two masters- such a delicate game that I played for so long. Now I only work for myself and deceive everyone else. It is much easier than being selective in my deceit.

Much easier.


Only three people ever called me that, and only one with a female voice. She was not a legilimens, but you could never be too careful about people practicing new skills unexpectedly. I put a finger on my wand and cleared my mind before turning around.

"Ye-es?" I drew it out into two syllables between my teeth.

"Granger," gasped Alecto, still approaching at a jog, her robes billowing. Her eyes glimmered with excitement. That was rarely a good sign.

Wait, Granger? Bratty, bushy-haired Granger? Granger who was off gallivanting with Potter? I eyed Alecto. Legilimens.

Remus running up the walk from Hogsmead, a prone figure floating along behind him on a conjured stretcher. Madame Pomfrey bustling over, splashing through a puddle of mud to the girl's side, barking orders, feeling for a pulse…

Granger was back. An interesting development.

Oh sweet Merlin. A mudblood with information. The Carrows would torture her for sure.

"Granger?" I prompted, calmly raising an eyebrow.

"She's here," Alecto gasped. "In the hospital wing."

The hospital wing. Bloody…

A/N: I don't own anything. Reviews make my day. And you should all thank my beta, Savva, who is a SAINT for everything she's done for this story.

Also, thanks so much to Lasse17 on deviantArt for allowing me to use this fantastic picture of Severus!