This is a more introspective, serious piece I have done on Snape than usual, but this part of the book has always interested me. Therefore, I write about it.

Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock

Bitter Vindication

He sat there, just as discontent as he had been since late the previous evening. No matter what Dumbledore said about learning to let things go, he wouldn't forgive Black; not this time. That crazed idiot had humiliated him for the last time. An Order of Merlin had been within his grasp, he had nearly been able to put Lily's betrayer finally to soulless rest, and he had faced down his greatest fear to do so.

His greatest fear was currently resting in the Hospital Wing, comfortable, probably snug in his bed with the thoughts that his murdering best friend was safe again. Well, Severus Snape would not stand for it. He would have his revenge.

So he waited in silence, waited for the perfect opportunity; and it came in the form of the eldest Weasley currently attending the school. As the model, nosy Head Boy, the spectacled boy had come up to the Head Table to ask for clarification on the altered schedule for the day. Minerva of course went over everything in proper detail, but Severus smoothly injected with his own extra detail.

"No Defense today either, Weasley. Professor Lupin is not feeling up to the task today and requires the time off." He was aware of the surprised stares and his sudden show of consideration, but the shoe hadn't dropped yet. He continued in a perfectly calm, nonchalant tone, "He's still recovering from the transformation; the night after the moon is always the worst, naturally."

"Severus!" His fellow professor gasped, but she was far too late. Weasley wasn't slow on the uptake it seemed; his eyes looked ready to smash through his lenses they were that large and wide. He managed to keep the victorious sneer on his face as he turned to his colleague questioningly, pretending to be unaware of his slip. He knew, however, that in his quiet voice that still managed to carry, that the students sitting in the few seats closest to the table had heard and stopped eating in shock.

"Yes?" He asked as whispers, gasps, exclamations, and both loud, yet hushed conversation made the way down all four House tables.

Minerva was trapped, and she knew it. Her overreaction had been all the confirmation needed to further fuel the rumor mill. All she could do now was open and close her mouth in a rather amusing resemblance to a fish. He thought of telling her, but decided against it seeing the anger slowly overtaking her features. He faked a look of horror in the Gryffindor boy's direction, making it appear he had just realized his mistake.

He affected a stern voice, "Not a word, Weasley," and swept from the Great Hall, containing his gleeful cackles. Weasley was sure to spill this exciting gossip before breakfast was over. Black's accomplice, at least, would be punished, even if the law wouldn't do so for him.

OoO

He felt it best to stay away from any other staff members for the rest of the day, so that things would play out without confrontation. He was a little surprised that the Headmaster had not sought him out, but he supposed the older wizard was attempting damage control. Not that it would work.

Severus decided it was safe for him to reappear the next day, and it certainly was satisfying to hear the continued whispers and discussion. More than the usual amount of owls arrived that day, and he idly wondered how many Howlers would be waiting for his employer in the Headmaster's office.

It seemed he was destined to see for himself, however, as Dumbledore met his eyes down the table as he stood, indicating that he was to follow. Neither man spoke as they ascended stair after stair all the way to the office where Dumbledore motioned for him to sit, and he felt slightly wary as he did so. It felt oddly like he was a school boy about to be reprimanded again.

He was prepared, though. Severus knew that he would have to explain himself to the other, but also knew that he was likely to only receive a few stern words. Dumbledore was infinitely forgiving.

But before the Headmaster could say even a word, green flames sprang to life in the fireplace. Sighing in slight exasperation, the old man turned to address the witch whose head was currently taking residence in the flames. Severus could not place a name, but he recognized her as someone within the Ministry at least; she had no doubt used her higher position to secure a conversation with the busy Hogwarts Head.

"Dumbledore! I can't believe you! Letting a werewolf—that creature!—teach at Hogwarts? My daughter had him a whole year and—"

"Now, now, Madam, I assure you that our Defense professor—"

"And Defense Against the Dark Arts! Ha! Really, Headmaster, I've heard you're having trouble finding staff, but him teach that subject! He is the Dark Arts! I've half a mind to demonstrate Defense properly for your students by driving such an evil from the castle!"

Though he couldn't see what expression was occupying the older wizard's face, Severus could tell Dumbledore did not think very highly of the woman at this moment.

"That certainly won't be necessary. You see, Professor Lupin resigned early this morning. Therefore, Madam, you have no reason to be upset."

This piece of news slammed Severus into the opposite wall. Resigned? He wasn't the only one who felt the wind had been taken from the sails.

"Oh. Er—well—as he should have! He should be ashamed!" She seemed far less certain of herself, now that she had no reason to complain.

"Is that all?"

"Erm, yes. I'll let you get back to work then, Headmaster."

"Thank you, good day."

With that the flames died and Dumbledore turned to face him again. The Headmaster studied him, seeming inclined to allow him to begin. And yet, Severus could not find the words. He was quite lost in thoughts and memory.

OoO

Severus sat uncomfortably at the edge of his new bed, what was to become his school-term quarters. Though in familiar shades of green and of suitable size and function, he did not feel at ease in this room. He honestly could not see what the point was of him being here. He had promised to protect Lily's son; how was this part of the plan?

In these times when his thoughts plagued him and tortured him with the guilt and shame of his past actions, Severus always found himself at the Headmaster's office. Albus Dumbledore was really the only person in the world right now who could ever understand him. He was the only one who knew of his true motivations, his dedication to the Light Side. And so he would let himself be distracted by the older man's babble and sometimes interesting but ultimately pointless facts and tidbits of trivia.

As he approached the familiar door, he realized it was slightly ajar. Perhaps the Headmaster had forgotten to close it in his haste to prepare for Professor Slughorn's departure. It was odd to think that the old Potions Master would no longer be at the school, and that he would be his replacement. Still, Severus decided to enter, mostly because he could hear a shouting from somewhere in the room, and his curiosity was peaked.

He realized that the voice was coming from Dumbledore's fireplace, where he was trying to converse with someone. Trying being the key word as the other man simply seemed to be shouting over him.

"I don't care that he's been found innocent, or that you back him, Dumbledore! I don't want a Death Eater scum to be teaching my children!"

"I assure you, sir, Professor Snape is a highly capable, highly intelligent young man. Your children and any others will most certainly find him up to the task of teaching the difficult art of P—"

"It doesn't matter how difficult the subject is, find a different teacher! I swear, Dumbledore, if he stays, I will pull my children out of Hogwarts and find a better, safer school for them."

"Many parents have been nervous, but I'm sure if you gave it a chance—"

"No; either he goes, or my children do! And they won't return to your school, until that- that monsteris in a cell in Azkaban where he belongs!" The argument was over, the aged Headmaster turning away from the dying embers in defeat just in time to see his new Potions Master run from his office, trying and failing miserably to keep the shock and hurt from his face.

OoO

"Well, Severus?" Dumbledore finally asked, snapping the other from his painful reverie. "Are you happy now? You finally have what you've wanted. Remus is known by the wizarding community at large as a werewolf. Does this satisfy you?"

He swallowed, but didn't quite respond to the question. "Why did he resign?"

"He learned of the situation and announced it immediately. He predicted just as I—just as you—how volatile the reaction would be. Parents are very protective, sometimes irrationally so. It seems that he knows this lesson well, and has learned from experience."

"Well he—he helped Black! He deserves to go to jail, much less lose his job!" He refused to be made the wrong one in this situation, and did not see why he should be. But Dumbledore merely sighed, and removed his glasses tiredly.

"Severus. Sirius is innocent. Peter Pettigrew is alive and well as he can be under the circumstances. Harry and his friends did not lie."

This revelation felt like a harsh slap. He had been wrong? Lily's true betrayer…had not been punished?

And Lupin had been trying to punish Pettigrew. Severus himself had foiled or impeded that attempt, and now had taken his job away from him.

"What will happen?"

"To Remus? I expect hard times are waiting for him when he leaves these gates. The only place he can hope to find a job will be in the Muggle world, and it will be part-time at best. You were quite clever; playing on people's fears and prejudices, one's that you yourself still hold."

OoO

He made his way up the stairs with the others and in to the dark, and entirely too narrow hallway. Instantly the noise volume dropped to whispers as they all passed curtained portraits, no one wanting to endure that headache this evening. Before he had got halfway down the hall, Molly Weasley's hushed voice called to him.

"Severus! You're more than welcome to stay for dinner. Mad-Eye, Tonks, and Remus have all already agreed." The woman smiled welcomingly at him, despite all the horrible things her children had no doubt said of him.

But his gaze fell instead on the younger of the men who had scars across his face. While Alastor Moody seemed like a well-worn wood doll, Remus Lupin appeared like an old, fragile cloth torn in pieces and shoddily sewn together again in a half-hearted attempt to fix it. His former colleague did not meet his eyes; instead he turned to talk to the pink-haired witch who happened to be near him.

"No. No thank you, Molly," he replied curtly, and walked briskly from the house to the agreed upon Apparation point.

It wouldn't do for a human monster like him to dine with a kind-hearted beast like Remus Lupin.

So how was it? I had a few concepts and ideas floating around as I wrote, so I'm not sure how well it flows, but I'm keeping it. Please let me know what you think. Thank you for reading, and please review!