A Hundred Lines

I must not interrupt my teacher when she is talking. I must not interrupt my teacher when she is talking. I -

The first time Minerva caught him he felt as though hot lead had been poured into his stomach, eating him up from the inside. It stayed inside him until long after the noises of the day had settled down inside the castle, and long after he had pulled close the curtains around his bed in the Head of Slytherin's quarters. The look on her face as she was standing in the doorway had not been so much startled as curious, some mild incomprehension on her face, and yet he could not imagine the loathing and disgust she must be feeling.

Severus could not imagine why he had let it come this far. The burning shame inside him chased him out of bed and made him pace the worn wooden floor of his study in the near darkness, then guided his hand to the decanter of whiskey stored in his lower desk drawer. Shakily, he poured himself a glass. He drank half, then shook his head and poured the remaining contents of the glass into the sink, then stared at the empty eyed, tired-looking man in the mirror in front of him. What had he done!

He looked young in the mirror, young, stupid, and tired. He made a face at himself by habit and turned around, crawling into bed, where he lay, unable to sleep, heat tormenting his stomach, thoughts racing through his head, and again and again, the sight of the parchment in front of him and Minerva, her eyes widening behind her glasses, looking at him, looking at his parchment. He had to obliviate her, it was the only option. It was bad enough that he, a teacher, felt this aroused at the thought of being a student again, but that his long-time colleague and friend had seen, and worse, must have understood what he was doing there was too horrific a thought to be real.

He had been sitting at his old desk, writing, when she had come in. Lines upon lines upon lines, all in the same spidery, black-inked scrawl that she must remember from earlier years. One parchment had already lain in front of him, full of drying ink.

I must not interrupt my teacher when she is talking. I must not interrupt my teacher when she is talking. I must no-

When he had heard the door creak open and seen the green swish out of the corner of his eye, he had panicked. In one hasty movement he had vanished parchment, ink and quill, disentangled himself from the desk and then wordlessly left the room, striding along as fast as he could, trying to look as arrogant as possible to keep her from commenting. He had not looked around, but the quiet 'click' of the closing door to the Transfiguration classroom slapped him as he left. Images of Minerva's eyes followed him, staring at him accusingly from his memory. What had he been doing there, in her classroom? What had he been writing? Who did he think he was, becoming a teacher? He noticed that he was sweating and welcomed the cool breeze the corridors.

He avoided her for a week after that, it was not hard. Given the flexible nature of their - understanding, she did not seem to be too worried. It was not unusual for him to disappear for weeks on end after having shared her bed nearly every night before, and she had given up trying to schedule his visits – she either let him in or didn't, and he never minded being turned away. It worked. Now, all he had to do was skip lunch and take a very early breakfast and a very late supper. She did not pry, probably because she was too ashamed to have been associated with him in any way, the heated voice in his head told him.

He could not face her expression, and at the same time, curiously, the anticipation he felt at turning corners while patrolling the corridors and when entering the Great Hall, the dread that she might be there, the dread of having aroused her displeasure, gave him a jolt of unmistakable excitement, too. He wanted and did not want to meet her, kept imagining the precise moment when he would run into her, when her eyes would glare accusingly into his, lips narrowed to a thin white line, until the heat of the shame and the reproach in her eyes would become so bad that he would have to look away, look at the floor, at the laces of her boots, of which the right one was almost always slightly more worn than the left one, at the hem of her robes, at anything but at her face. Even in its absence he felt that look scorching through him, the sight of him sitting there, burning away her respect for him when she realized what he was, what he had always been.

Living in the castle, preparing his lessons, and even teaching made him feel pointedly uncomfortable the week after the incident. Any minute he felt someone would come into the classroom and drag him out, having been exposed for his nature. It made him irritable, and when a young Ravenclaw proved the Sorting Hat could well make mistakes by dropping his wand into a bubbling cauldron and setting the liquid in it on fire, he lost his temper. He hissed at the boy, took points, and gave everybody extra work – a reaction he regretted later on, as the boy had been rather young, and as the three tearstained extra inches of essay he had to slog through to get to the end of his working day were rather dull.

Minerva would not approve of this kind of reaction, either, never had.
"A teacher endeavors not to frighten his students, Severus," she had reprimanded him after his first week. "Of course young first years are easily impressed and are sometimes hard to put at ease, but you should always maintain an even temper and a tolerance for some mistakes, especially from young students. And now write this again, you cannot tell this to a second year."

She had overseen his first steps, sternly looking over essays he graded and comments he wrote under his students' essays, offering help and corrections, sometimes even vanishing them entirely if she felt he had gone too far. She had not trusted him.

"Don't believe that Albus' need for a spy is enough in the way of credentials needed for this profession," she said pointedly after he had been introduced at a staff meeting, both lagging behind – him waiting for Albus, her finishing the minutes. "You will need to make a lot more of an effort than you are making now to become a teacher, Mr. Snape. Severus."

The witch seemed to follow his every move with a red inked quill, drawing his attention to everything he needed to do differently, needed to stop, or needed to start. She had taken to leaving notes on his plate at lunch if she wanted to see him, and he dreaded the little white pieces of parchment.

You cannot make personal remarks on a student's blood status. See me.

A student's shortcomings when it comes to her handwriting is not enough grounds to fail her essay entirely. As you should know from experience. Please use this clarity spell and have another look at her work.

Using students' pets in class is encouraged to motivate students; using them to demonstrate a deadly poison, however, is not. Please write the young lady in question a letter of apology and refund her for her beloved pet toad.

When he had first taken a fumbling, drunken lunge at her one Christmas she had pushed him back, sat him down on a chair, flicked her wand to snuff out the candles and used the same clipped tones to explain to him what he needed to do if he wanted to sleep with her in the warm darkness of her living room. He could practically hear the red ink as she guided his actions.

No, you do not ever rip my clothing, that is stuff from cheap romance novels and I'd be very much obliged if you repaired it right away – thank you very much indeed.

Ouch! You will not bite my neck unprovoked this early on, it hurts.

Get up, this is highly uncomfortable, the floor is rather cold.

Keep going. Steady. Don't you dare stop!

That was then, after several drunken- and then sober kisses around Christmas, and then during the year, and heated discussions and tangled sheets in her quarters after quidditch games and then nights spent. Now, his embarrassing secret discovered, he was here, again, in this freezing corridor, dreading her very sight. He stopped when he realized where his night-time patrol had taken him. A week after the incident, he felt as apprehensive as ever. Around every corner, she might be waiting, glaring at him, ready to throw him out, eyes filled with disgust.

It was as though she was permanently standing behind him, looking over his shoulder, scolding and reprimanding his behavior during that feverish week. Her presence in his brain had started to unsettle him, especially when he noticed the heat of his shame quietly sneaking around and filling him with a sharp tinge of desire he was hesitant to acknowledge as such. And yet, his reaction to the thought of finally being caught by her was unmistakable, and he hated himself for it.

His quiet steps led him down corridors and up stairs, his dark eyes firmly fixed on the furthest wall, staunchly avoiding the gently snoring portraits as he made his way through the sleeping castle. A distant rattle indicated house elves making their daily cleaning rounds, or possibly Peeves filling the suits of armour on the stairs with marbles. He ignored the noises and felt his steps slow down as he climbed the last stair.

He was so close to her quarters now that he could almost feel her scorn through the walls. How could he be her colleague, feeling like a student himself? How could he, still needing this kind of punishment, stand up in his classroom day after day, educating students? His face twitched into an expression of loathing at the thought of himself and he dragged his feet up the last remaining steps and entered the first door on the left.