Mandatory disclaimer: I own nothing but my brain; I make no money from this; Harry and Snape are not my characters, Umbridge is not mine and I wouldn't want her even if she came with free shipping and handling and a pair of fluffy bunny slippers.
The paranoia is in bloom, the PR
Transmissions will resume, they'll try to
Push drugs, keep us all dumb down and hope that
We will never see the truth around, so come on
Snape had encountered Umbridge on the day of her arrival to the castle. She'd …summoned him to the Defense Against the Dark Arts office. Severus Snape did not appreciate being summoned. When he'd arrived, the office had already been wallpapered in pink, while a chorus of pitiful meows emerged from a cardboard carton in the corner, containing the kitten plates with which she had begun to festoon the walls. He sympathized with the noise; it was the sound his soul might make if he were to remain in this office for any extended period of time, while it shriveled and died.
"Professor Snape! I've heard so…much… about you," she'd said, pursing her pink lips and tilting her head in a way that was meant to suggest that she had read his file, and was ready, like a toad, to spit the contents venomously at the eyes of the world, should he cross her. At her gesture, he'd settled on the pink velour pouf that sat opposite her desk.
Adjusting the collar of her puce tweed jacket, she'd leaned across the desk toward him. "My sources have informed me that we are in the same camp as to the…ridiculous accusations made by the Potter boy."
Ridiculous? He thought. With her clearance at the Ministry, she would have seen every scrap of evidence available, all of which proved the return of the Dark Lord. Perhaps not as clearly as the Dark Mark which even now throbbed on his forearm from the previous night's meeting… he wondered idly whether her acting skills were truly this refined, or whether she was simply delusional. To have a career within the Ministry, one or the other must be true, if not both. For her benefit, he simply arched an eyebrow, and she continued, layering treacle into her voice:
"I really would feel sorry for the boy, as he is obviously mentally unbalanced, but these accusations of his are simply malicious."
Snape lifted his lip in a carefully practiced sneer and replied, "If I were you, I shouldn't waste my energy. The boy is spoiled, arrogant, and entirely self-centered. Regrettable, he would do nearly anything to maintain his…celebrity." His voice dripped with every ounce of contempt he could dredge up—every bit of it inspired by her—and her round pink face, just like a over-ripe fruit, split into a smile.
"A few good men at the ministry have been working to dispel these horrid little rumors through our contacts with the press, if you know what I mean," she said, giving a little wink. She had actually winked at him. The Daily Prophet, that propaganda machine… fit for lining the cage of an owl, perhaps…
"I have a few ideas," he replied. She smiled at him. Simpered.
"I know we will be very good friends, won't we." she had said; there was no question in her voice, just smug satisfaction. And then she'd laid one stubby, be-ringed paw across his hand, warm and fleshy and moist, and pink, like the rest of her.
The very smell of her made him ill, perfume redolent of musk and rotting flowers and the faint whiff of some animal scent. She was a toadlike little woman, but in her eyes was the furtive skittering look of white laboratory rats, that frenzied, dumb hunger looking for the next bit of kibble or the next hand to sink her little yellow teeth into.
"I'm sure," he'd replied, his voice soft and icy, his face locked into the impassive mask that he'd forged with years of careful practice, while inside he longed to hex that simpering smile off her face. Later, he would scrub the hand she'd touched with the solution he used to clean cauldrons.
Another promise, another scene, another
Package not to keep us trapped in greed with all the
Green belts wrapped around our minds and endless
Red tape to keep the truth confined, so come on
At their second meeting, he'd given her a phial of veritaserum—as she'd requested. No, as she'd demanded—and she'd looked up at him and smirked. The veritaserum was a fake of course; he doubted that she would tell the difference if he'd filled it with bubble juice. She'd slip it into Potter's drink someday soon, so it was instead an extremely mild version of an invigorating potion—anyone who experienced an interview with her would need the help; Severus Snape had a few ounces of empathy in his black little soul.
But Snape had known that look in her eyes. It was the one that his father had given their dog when he was a boy, when it had fetched the paper and sat wagging before him—or when he was about to give it a good kick. And Snape realized: she thinks she owns me. Then he thought: what a fool. He could have laughed; Lord Voldemort himself did not own him, and this bloated toad of a woman sat, croaking in satisfaction, sure that she had him under her stubby thumb. But his expression had never faltered, his mask had never slipped, because he was a good spy, and because he kept his emotions tucked far, far away.
His eyes were frigid as he looked back at her, but she didn't even have the sense that a rat has, to be afraid before a snake. The fool believed that shewas the predator.
They will not force us
And they will stop degrading us
And they will not control us
We will be victorious, so come on
It was Potter's second detention of the year with Snape; Umbridge had claimed the pleasure of giving the boy the first detention of the year. Within the first five minutes of the first class, no less, and though Snape would have preferred to pin a medal to the front of Potter's robes, he instead had him scouring cauldrons.
Even in the dim light of the dungeon, he had seen the marks on the back of the boy's hand, and had swooped across the room, pinned the boy's wrist to one of the potions benches with an unrelenting grip.
"What is this, Potter?" he had asked softly.
"N-nothing. It's nothing, sir," Potter had replied, going pale, staring up at him with those green eyes wide in his face. Even wider than usual behind those imbecilic glasses, Snape thought. Always staring at me with those green eyes… He snapped his attention to the boy's hand, where the lines stood out in angry red against the pale skin of Harry's clenched fist, as he still struggled to free his hand.
"I. Must. Not. Tell. Lies," he read, each word perfectly enunciated. Umbridge. He felt the cold flash of adrenaline race through his veins. A basic biological reaction, a simple animal impulse, he thought. Of course, it was the base impulse that animals felt when they were threatened… or when their young were threatened. It was the chemical biochemical basis that drove a bear to rip the throat from a man who threatened a cub.
The boy had simply stared up at him, panicked, jaw clenched shut like a trap. Snape loosened his grip slightly, lest he bruise the narrow wrist; he could feel the pulse fluttering against his thumb.
"It doesn't appear to be 'nothing'." Silence. "Let me suggest a chain of events, Mister Potter. You served a detention with the charming Professor Umbridge." Harry gave a nearly imperceptible nod. "Who instructed you to write lines." Another minuscule nod. "Using a Blood Quill, which is an instrument of dark magic, and therefore highly illegal, and has been since the twelfth century." Snape's voice was perfectly neutral. No nod from Potter at this last bit; he simply looked away, but that was all Snape needed to know. Too damn self-sacrificing for his own good. Just like Lily—no, he wouldn't let his thoughts wander into those minefields. He shoved that thought away, pushed it deeper than even his hatred of Umbridge. He'd drown it in the chasm of his mind, if he could. Those damn green eyes. It's always those green eyes.
He thanked whatever god was out there that the boy had been looking away at that moment. Because if he had looked into the professor's face, he'd have seen the momentary flash of pain and tenderness in those pitch-black eyes, as the mask slipped for just an instant.
Swiftly summoning a vial from across the room, he placed it into Potter's hand as he released the boy's wrist. "That will serve you for more effectively than the Murtlap Essence," he said briskly.
"You are dismissed."
"What-" Potter looked absolutely bewildered, blinking at Snape as though he had transformed into something unrecognizable—a hippogriff, a Breck hair model, or perhaps…someone even vaguely sympathetic. Luckily, Snape knew how to fix that—curling his lip into a scowl, he spat,
"Out." The boy started, then scrambled to snatch up his bag and fled the room. Snape stood, staring at the doorway, for several long minutes. Anger was a messy, tangled thing. It ruled people, made people clumsy and foolish, and Severus Snape was neither clumsy nor foolish. He coiled this thread of fury away, stored it where it would wait and simmer until he transformed it into something vastly more useful—as any good potionsmaster would.
Snape spent the remainder of the night carefully cutting the spleens and hearts from rats, jarring them in formaldehyde. Every incision was precise, perfect, fired by the fury that burned within him. He imagined that each and every fleshy, pink heart was that of Umbridge.
(This was quite obviously a fantasy, as Umbridge had no heart to cut out.)
Rise up and take the power back, it's time that
The fat cats had a heart attack, you know that
Their time is coming to an end, we have to
Unify and watch our flag ascend, so come on
Revenge was a dish best served cold, and while Snape had little doubt that Umbridge would get her full comeuppance sooner or later, he had an interest in something closer to instant gratification. Fortunately, Snape had retained all of the notebooks from his student days at Hogwarts. He now had occasion to resurrect them from storage. Then all he had to wait for was the right time, and Severus Snape was a patient man.
Then he'd summoned the Weasley twins to him, and once he'd made clear that this was not a trap—or rather, that it was not one intended for them— they'd had a conference which lasted an hour and a half. As a parting gift, he'd given them twenty-eight inches of parchment worth of precise instructions, five galleon's worth of fluxweed and flobberworm mucus for the portable swamp, ten galleon's worth of Erumpent Horn to give the fireworks that extra… pop. He'd told them to be creative.
He'd also made it eminently clear that if they were to reveal any of this, they'd pray to be hung by their toes by Filch, than face what he'd have in store for them.
Once they'd left the dungeon, he at last let himself smile, and it was a fearsome thing indeed to behold.
Oh, he was going to enjoy this.
This'd be my first songfic, based on a challenge to use 'Uprising' by Muse. It's not a perfect fit with the song, but it got me to thinking that there's no way Snape would take that nonsense from Umbridge lying down, even if he couldn't attack her openly.
Oneshot! Sorry, the 'writing well' part of my brain is a bit rusty; too much work and no play makes me a dull little writer. I might come back and tune this up a bit more later, but I figured it was presentable enough to bring to show-and-tell.
Review? Please? 3