Title: The Teacher
Disclaimer: Everything that's part of the Harry Potter world belongs to J. K. Rowling.
Author Notes: I just needed to write a Harry Potter fanfiction again and i had this idea for my favourite pairing (though I do like RL/NT). The story is told from Severus's PoV and there will be quite some insight into his mind at all times. I tried not to make this AU and actually it isn't, though I didn't really go into the SS/LP situation, not that I don't like it but I couldn't quite fit it into this story and I found it just a little overdone. I liked the idea that Severus isn't as cold as he seems, though, that fact was good for the development of the story. I used all the knowledge that the 7 books give us, so there shouldn't be too much, maybe nothing at all, which couldn't have happened in that short third year. I enjoyed thinking about ways to explain Severus's behaviour as it is described from Harry's PoV in PoA, therefore in later chapters there are bits of dialogue taken from the book. More chapters to come.
Edit: I've rewritten chapter one, I didn't really like it the way it was. Still not perfect, but better.
Usually the start of a new school year was a good thing for Severus, for he could escape Spinner's End for another year and return home, or the closest he had to a home. This year, though, Dementors were guarding the entrance to the castle and passing them without feeling downright horrible was simply impossible. It was nothing new that Potter spoiled his mood, but all summer the papers had reported without pause about the spectacular break-out with which Sirius bloody Black had terrified wizarding Britain. Though nobody talked about it, everyone seemed to know where he was going. To Hogwarts, to kill Harry Potter. And one thing was sure, if Severus crossed his path, one of them wouldn't survive it. All in all a good thing, if it wasn't for the Dementors. Severus thought that nothing could worsen his spirits more than the knowledge of his arch enemy's freedom. The Dementors did. Still, when Severus had arrived at Hogwarts Castle a few hours before, he had thought that it would be just another one of those years, in which he was turned down by Albus and had to watch another idiot fighting his way through the Defence job, teaching the students nothing at all and annoying Severus to the extent of exploding while everyone knew that he would only stay for one year.
This year he had hoped that Albus had finally run out of dunderheads who volunteered to do the job, for he had long run out of competent volunteers for the position. Lockhart had been the last straw. Surely that meant that there was no one left who could possibly be appointed for the job? But as usual, Severus had been disappointed. As usual, Albus had shaken his head with an apologetic smile when Severus had approached him after Lockhart had been carted off to St. Mungo's and the holidays had started.
"I'm afraid there's already someone else I have asked, Severus, and who has kindly accepted. Very kindly if I may say so. Not that I would have expected otherwise. The circumstances required it."
"Another incompetent fool, no doubt," Severus had snapped petulantly.
Albus had smiled under his white beard and there had been that gleam in his eye that told Severus that he wouldn't like the new teacher. "Quite the contrary, I might say, you will agree with me that he is a far better candidate than dear Gilderoy," a slightly amused chuckle had interrupted him and he had continued, "oh yes, indeed."
"Well, who wouldn't be," Severus had muttered, leaving the Headmaster's office.
Severus took his usual seat in the staff room – the armchair before the fire – and started to get irritated immediately. When McGonagall passed him she gave him a curt nod but seemed to be avoiding him. He hated it when she avoided him. It always meant there was something going on he didn't know about. And in fact he hadn't yet been told the name of the mysterious new staff member. He didn't think it mattered much, though, he would be rude to everyone and he would be rid of them in a year. And really, who could be worse than Lockhart? But Severus was mistaken. There was someone worse than Lockhart. Much worse.
When the door opened Severus didn't look up, Albus was always last to arrive, and he wanted to show him that he was still angry about not having been given the Defence job. Even though really being angry was becoming increasingly difficult, too much time had passed. It was merely a stubborn indignation now. That changed when Severus noticed that everyone was walking towards the door and a voice could be heard greeting them that Severus couldn't seem to recognise even though it sounded strangely familiar. His curiosity won over his stubbornness and he looked up. He thought he must be dreaming. And it was a nightmare.
Right there beside Albus, or rather half hiding behind him in the doorway, stood – and Severus came closer to check it twice – Remus John Lupin. Truth be told he was not the same as Severus remembered him: he looked much older, even had grey hairs, he was unhealthily thin and his robes were shabby and darned, but it was Lupin alright. Though he hadn't seen him in twelve years, Severus knew his face well.
Now it was official, Albus had gone mad. Severus had always suspected it, especially after Lockhart, but this made the fraud look like a good choice. How could Albus have kept something as important as Lupin's employment from Severus? After all, Lupin wasn't only one of the people Severus disliked most in the world, he was also a werewolf. And appointing a werewolf as teacher for Defence against the Dark Arts was not just questionable it was … no, Severus had to admit, the real point was that it was Remus Lupin. Who had once almost eaten Severus alive. Who had been Black and Potter's best friend. And now that Black had miraculously escaped from prison … It was a shock.
Not so for the other teachers. Apparently Severus was the only one who had been left in the dark. That was typical of Albus. He hadn't even asked Severus for his consent, knowing that he wouldn't receive it. And now it was too late. And Severus was angry. He marched towards Albus and Lupin; the latter was being welcomed more or less cheerfully by the others. He shoved some of his colleagues out of the way while the anger inside him grew with each step.
As he drew nearer, he attracted Albus's attention and the Headmaster's eyes twinkled in an annoying way before he spoke. "Ah, Severus! May I present you with our new Defence Against the –" Albus began but was run over by Severus's angrily raised voice.
"You can't be serious, Headmaster!"
The other teachers backed off, knowing how Severus could explode, but though Lupin seemed mildly surprised by Severus's reaction, he didn't move an inch. "You told me that Severus had been informed, Professor Dumbledore," he said in a hoarse voice. He sounded much older, too, but he was very calm. And this calm made Severus even angrier.
"How daft must you be if you think I would ever agree to you being employed?" Severus snapped at the werewolf who raised his eyebrows but didn't respond.
"Severus," Albus said in a warning tone. "Neither of you would have agreed if you had known the truth. So let us call it warping the facts."
Severus wanted to retort something but suddenly he remembered another, rather casual conversation he had had with Albus while they had been leaving the castle for the holidays. And he scowled to himself because he had missed the obvious hint. But really, who could have foreseen something like this?
"Have you read the article about that newly invented potion," Albus had said, "what was its name – ah – Wolfsbane Potion, I think. It prevents werewolves from going savage …"
"Of course. Quite sensational," Severus had replied, trying to hide his respect for the revolutionary break-through of that show-off Damocles Belby with his Order of Merlin.
"Have you looked at it? Do you think you could brew it? As I understand it, this Potion is especially complicated."
Severus had given him a look. "I can brew every potion."
"Of course you can."
Now Severus cursed his big mouth. It hadn't even occurred to him that Albus might be implying something. He couldn't just accept it like that.
"How could you take him of all people? I'm astounded that you didn't even consider asking me –"
"Severus," Albus interrupted him impatiently and Severus fell silent, "I took the one man that I thought best for the job. It was my decision and if I remember correctly I am the Headmaster of this school and that is why you will respect my choice of staff! And now enough of your complaints!"
Severus was boiling with anger. He hated being told off like a child. Albus came closer to him and said very quietly, "I told Remus that you would brew the Wolfsbane Potion for him, that is why he agreed to come here, and I have full trust and confidence in your abilities. That is why I also have full trust and confidence in Remus's abilities to teach at this school. I will supply you with all the ingredients you need so, please, Severus, do not disappoint me."
Severus looked at Lupin and hoped the contempt he felt was visible on his face. He wondered how Albus imagined this to work. Even Lupin's mere sight made Severus sick. The kindness in his eyes in the face of Severus's anger was simply provocative. Severus was sure it was meant to be.
"I'll do my best, Headmaster," hissed Severus between clenched teeth and Albus nodded, obviously satisfied.
"I never doubted that, Severus."
Lupin smiled then, a smile that was somewhat odd. But Severus didn't know what it was that seemed strange. "Well, I thank you, Severus," said Lupin with disgusting familiarity.
Severus wrinkled his nose. "I'm not doing this for you," he snarled but it didn't have the expected effect on the werewolf who only raised his eyebrows.
"I thank you nonetheless."
Severus glared at him. Lupin was far too relaxed for his taste. He could at least show that he was a little intimidated by Severus, but nothing Severus did or said had any effect whatsoever on him. He was relaxed and friendly. And that smile on his face never changed. It was a mystery. And despite himself Severus felt interested in what lay beyond it.
"I heard about the Dementor on the train," said Albus. "You fended it off?"
Lupin's face darkened. "Yes, but poor Harry fainted. I gave him some chocolate but I fear it rather scared him. It is irresponsible to let them run wild."
"I quite agree. Good you were with the children, Remus. This is going to be a hard time for all of us, I'm afraid. But for the safety of the students –"
"Student," Severus interrupted and earned himself a disapproving look from Albus.
"Well, now that everything is settled, I believe we all need a good dinner. Let us go into the Great Hall," said Albus loudly and the teachers trooped out of the room after him. Lupin didn't move. He accepted the words of thanks from McGonagall for saving her students with one of those mysterious smiles. Then he turned his eyes back on Severus who hadn't moved either.
"Well, then I hope we will get along well," he said with a little smile that was so unlike the others that Severus was startled for a few seconds.
"Hope can be treacherous," he replied coldly.
Lupin's smile widened and he shrugged. "And it never dies," said he and his voice was soft.
Severus glared. It was shocking indeed. A werewolf – the werewolf – teaching at Hogwarts, giving Severus additional work in the form of a potion without which he would rip his rooms apart, and on top of everything Severus was confronted with all the memories of his unpleasant childhood. Severus still couldn't quite believe it. But what was even more shocking was the fact that despite his hatred of the man, Severus couldn't help but find the soft curve of his jaw, the kind expression in his eyes and his unwavering smile rather agreeable. Rather nice to look at. It made him livid.
Severus wondered how he could make that smile disappear, for he couldn't bear it. "Life hasn't been kind to you, has it, Lupin?" he said when the werewolf made to turn away. He had an irresistible urge to insult him. Lupin stopped and Severus continued, "Those robes of yours … aren't you feeling ashamed to come here looking like that?"
Lupin turned round and met Severus's glare with his amber eyes. Yes, amber, indeed, not merely usual brown… but what did it matter? There was something in them that almost made Severus step backwards. "It means nothing to me. And I'm surprised that it does to you," he replied calmly and made Severus feel somewhat uneasy.
Then he left and Severus was so annoyed and angry that during the whole feast he couldn't stop shooting him hateful glances. He started wondering how he was supposed to stand Lupin's presence for a whole year without killing him. Lupin would have to watch his step.
After the feast Severus returned to his quarters, frustrated and tired. He shed his robes on his way to bed and let himself fall into the sheets with a heavy sigh. The Dementors, Black's escape and now Lupin on top of everything. This year would be even worse than the last and the year before that and … every other year, actually. How could Albus let a werewolf into the castle? A werewolf who would surely help his escaped friend Black to fulfill his plan of killing the Potter brat? Not that Severus didn't approve of that plan. He sighed again. No, this wasn't about Black or Potter, this was about the fact that Albus had appointed a man who had helped making Severus's childhood hell. He felt betrayed. He would have to talk to Albus. First thing in the morning.
He pulled the blanket over himself and closed his eyes. And thought of Lupin's face. He couldn't help it. This was something irrational that couldn't be suffocated by his dislike. It was inexplicable. There was something in those eyes and that smile, in that soft face that made Severus feel … no, impossible, he shouldn't even think about that. But it was there, no doubt, a feeling he couldn't suppress. It was inappropriate and unwanted. But something about Lupin had Severus see him even when his eyes were closed. And his mere sight made his anger cease. And yet he hated the man, he loathed him for it. And now he had to bear his terribly relaxed behaviour and his annoyingly mysterious smiles. The smiles.