LbN: Written for the Teachers' Lounge Iron Chef challenge. Secret Ingredient was Severus Snape.
Albus Severus Potter, or Asp if you were a friend, shot a warning glare at the giggling first years. He didn't know how he got himself into these things. The Wheezes hadn't even been his! James "The Second Coming of Harry" Potter had, of course, gotten off easy. One stinking night of detention. Probably doing something fun, like helping Hagrid. Professor Cadwallader apparently hadn't gotten the daily memo that it was okay to like Slytherins now, and had assigned Albus two weeks of tutoring first years, and an essay on his, Albus', namesake. He had a feeling Cadwallader meant Dumbledore, but damned if he was going to add to the library of worship that man already had.
He was trying to knock the essay out now, but it was proving difficult. His first years didn't want to study. He looked down at the one sentence he'd written:
Severus Snape, former Headmaster of Hogwarts, was a complicated man.
"All of the Quidditch posters are finally up in the trophy room," one of the Ravenclaw boys whispered. Did they really think Albus was deaf?
"Ooooh! Have you seen Teddy Lupin's picture?" a Gryffindor girl said. "He's so cute!"
"I heard he used to change his hair to match the team they were playing," a Hufflepuff boy said.
"Yeah, it was something about being a mark of respect," the first boy said.
"I heard he's the only Beater in Hogwarts history to make it through his entire career without a broken bone."
Albus made a mental note to check with both Teddy and Uncle George on that.
"I heard he's an Animagus. A falcon."
"I heard he's half werewolf."
"How can you even be half werewolf?"
"He doesn't change completely during full moons.
"Enough!" he snapped. "You lot are supposed to be working. I can't concentrate when you're talking." He went back to his paper. Nothing brilliant was springing to his mind. He had all of the facts, but putting them together was the problem.
"I heard he got Victoire pregnant her seventh year. That's why she had to leave."
"She was on an exchange program to France, for Merlin's sake!" Albus said. "No one got anyone pregnant. I swear, the things you lot will believe. It's…." He stopped. A bit of an idea began to shimmer on the edge of his mind. He smirked at them, and put down his quill. "Since you are determined not to work today," he said. "I wonder if you could help me with something."
Six eager faces stared back at him. All of them were nodding vigorously.
He hoped he hadn't been this ridiculous as a firstie. "I want to know all the stories you've heard about Headmaster Snape."
It was like a dam had burst. The first years recounted rumors with utter delight. From heroic to gruesome, they told him every wild story they'd ever heard about the former Headmaster. He had to make them queue after a while to keep them from talking over each other. His idea was turning into a proper plan now. He just had to pull it off.
"Coming with us, Asp?" Gorrin Zabini asked.
"I'll meet you at the Three Broomsticks later. Have to go give my paper to Cadwallader." With a nod to his friends, he ran up the stairs to the Muggle Studies professor's office. "Professor?" he called, knocking.
"Enter, Potter. You have your work, I presume."
"Yes, sir." He pushed the sheet of parchment across Cadwallader's desk. "I'll just be—"
"Stay," the professor said. He was one of those old, crotchety men who liked to read the students' work aloud. He said that it was so that he could hear it better in his head, but Albus suspected he really just liked making the students squirm. "You may take a seat."
Albus hopped onto one of the desks as the older wizard read his paper. He'd ended up interviewing about a dozen more people for rumors. This was either the best idea for a paper he'd ever had, or the dumbest.
"Severus Snape was a complicated man," he began. "Hmmph, that's an understatement…."
In his short lifetime, he became not only the Half-Blood Prince, but the Man of a Million Rumors. In the time since his death, the Wizarding world has learned of his heroic, if complicated, life. However, like any famous individual, details surrounding his exploits have been…blurred. Though books on his life have been written, nowhere is there a compendium of the rumors that have sprung up about this mysterious man. Here, I will attempt to describe the rumors and their origins, as well as find an answer to them.
"A rumor isn't a question, Potter," Cadwallader paused to say. "It doesn't need an answer."
That wasn't exactly what Albus had meant, but he stayed quiet as his teacher continued to read.
"I heard he could turn into a bat."—Gryffindor, First Year
This is entirely untrue. Though he mastered a type of Apparation that has been equated to flying (see below), he never once turned into a bat. This rumor comes from the large capes he was known to wear. These gave him the appearance of a winged creature.
"I heard he could fly. Just like You-Know-Who."—Ravenclaw, First Year
Both sides of the war, the Death Eaters and Dumbledore's Army, mastered what is known as Transference Apparation. This is only good over short distances, say about seven blocks or less. It also gives you the appearance of a cloud of smoke. The Death Eaters preferred black smoke, while the Aurors and Dumbledore's Army used white. All so cliché.
"I heard he killed his mum in his third year."—Hufflepuff, Second Year
No. Mrs. Snape died of a heart attack during Professor Snape's third year. He had nothing to do with it.
"I heard he was a spy for our side during the war."—Hufflepuff, First Year.
This is true. Corroborated by the written accounts of the late Albus Dumbledore, as well as testimonies from Harry Potter.
"I heard he used to torture Gryffindors for fun."—Slytherin, First Year
Torture did occur at Hogwarts during the final year of the war. However, it was perpetrated by Amycus and Alecto Carrow—two Death Eaters who were stationed in the castle. Professor Snape, then Headmaster, did not stop it as a practice, because it would have given him away. There were specific cases where he was able to intervene. For more information on these instances, I recommend Professor Longbottom's memoir, The Vanishing School.
"I heard he never washed his hair."—Hufflepuff, Third Year
Really? Does anybody seriously believe this? Since this is an academic essay, I shall refrain from calling all who believe this rumor a bunch of idiotic meatheads. However, I want to. There is no indication that Professor Snape neglected any of the basics of hygiene. The former headmaster's portrait wished me to include the fact that stress makes one's hair more oily than natural.
"I heard he was deathly afraid of…." Various students
There are many variations of this rumor, ranging from a fear of Bowtruckles to a fear of unicorns. I have no idea where this came from, and quite frankly I think people were playing silly buggers with me.
"I heard he was really sorted into Gryffindor, but the Sorting Hat yelled Slytherin because he begged it to."—James Potter, sixth year
May I say, on behalf of all Slytherins, back off! Can't we have just one without you lot trying to claim him? This rumor comes from the fact that Gryffindor got greedy after the war, and wanted all the heroes to themselves. Let's get one thing sorted right now: Professor Snape was a sneak. Yes, he was brave, but it was the Slytherin sort. The sort that doesn't care if anyone sees. We'll never know if the Hat considered other options (it refused to divulge that information), but the former Headmaster was, indeed, a Slytherin.
Cadwallader set the paper back on the desk and scowled at it for a long moment. Finally he looked up at Albus. "Well played, Potter. Full marks."
It took every bit of will power to keep the grin off his face. He slung his bag over his shoulder and hopped off the desk. "Thanks, Professor."
"I must confess I expected something on Headmaster Dumbledore."
"I thought this would be a more challenging endeavor." At this, he really did start grinning.
"A little on the frivolous side, don't you think?"
"I'm simply defending his honor, and clearing up some misconceptions. I left out the bit about the affair with Sirius Black. And the one about his secret love child with Bellatrix Lestrange."
"I'm grateful. I'm also adding another week of tutoring."
Albus' mouth dropped open. "But…why?"
"You're supposed to be helping the younger students with their work, not running the Hogwarts Prophet's gossip column." He excused Albus with a wave of his hand.
Albus was pretty sure he saw his professor smirk as well. With a scowl, he left the office. At least he'd made top marks.