Author's Note: This is only my second Harry Potter fic so please bear with me.
Professor Severus Snape watched second year Griffyndor Nigel Wolpert take what looked to be a Galleon from his pocket and look at it.
The boy jumped and stared at him with something akin to terror and horror. He held out his hand, and Nigel reluctantly put the coin into his palm. He looked at it and realized that it was fake. The serial numbers had been replaced by today's date and the time ten minutes after dinner.
"Stay after class, Mr. Wolpert."
"Yes, sir," he said softly.
After class, once all the other students were gone, Snape turned to the Griffyndor.
"Just what is this exactly, Mr. Wolpert?"
"A coin, sir."
The potions master gave him a scowl that made the boy cringe slightly.
"Do not mock me, boy. What is it for?" he growled.
"It's to tell us when the next meeting is."
That was something, not much, but still something.
"Meeting? What meeting?"
Nigel swallowed nervously but bravely met the professor's eyes. Snape saw determination and loyalty in the blue eyes that stared into his own black ones.
"The next meeting of Dumbledore's Army."
It took all his willpower not to let his mouth drop in shock.
"It's not really an army, sir, it's a group of us learning Defense Against Dark Arts spells since Professor Umbridge isn't really teaching us anything."
Snape was well aware of Dolores Umbridge's 'teaching' method, or rather her lack of one.
"And who is teaching this group?"
The boy shifted uncomfortably, and the potions master made up his mind.
"Mister Wolpert, I will not punish you or any of the other students or tell anyone about your group, but you must tell me who is teaching you."
"Harry, sir. Harry Potter."
He stared at Nigel.
"Yes, sir. He's the best of us at Defense and is a good teacher. Even Neville can disarm, stupefy, and other stuff."
If Potter could teach Neville Longbottom then he must be a decent teacher.
"All right then, Mr. Wolpert, you may go, but I would like you to take me to this meeting tonight. I would like to see this for myself."
Nigel hesitated then nodded, seeing no way of getting out of doing so.
The students stared in shock and a little horror as Snape entered the Room of Requirement with Nigel.
"Nigel, how could you tell a teacher?" Ron cried.
"He had no choice, Mr. Weasley. I saw his Galleon during class and questioned him afterwards."
Harry stepped forward.
"So we're caught. Run on and tell Umbridge," he spat rather bitterly.
"I am not going to tell Umbridge, Mr. Potter. I'm not going to tell anyone."
The students stared at him as if he had grown another head. Surely the meanest teacher in the school would relish getting them all in trouble.
"I will not tell because I agree with your choice to do this. Because of the return of You-Know-Who, it is now more important than ever that you know this. Furthermore, you are taking a stand, however small or secretive it may be, against Umbridge's tyrannical hold on our school and in calling this 'Dumbledore's Army' are showing your loyalty to the true Headmaster."
Many of the students were nodding in agreement, including the trio.
"However, though I've heard that Mr. Potter knows quite a lot and is in fact a competent teacher, there are things you must know that he cannot teach you as he does not know them himself."
"What are you getting at, Professor?" Harry asked.
Snape looked at him.
"Allow me to help teach this group, allow me to help you."
Everyone was again staring at him.
"A common enemy can unite even the bitterest of foes. I have knowledge and experience far beyond you, Mr. Potter."
"All right. Hermione."
Hermione made another fake Galleon and handed it to Snape, who put it in his robe pocket.
"I do have one condition, though."
"That you discuss possible dates, times, and lessons with me before actually making a decision."
The boy thought for a moment then nodded.
He held out his hand.
Snape grasped his hand, and they shook.
He almost smiled.
"Very well,... Harry. Now, what was your plan for today?"
"The Patronus Charm."
Snape nodded, and the students all moved off, spreading out around the room.
"Remember, the Patronus Charm will only work if you're focusing fully on your happiest memory and will only last as long as you focus," Harry said.
"They are the only defense against Dementors and Lethifolds but can be used to lead the way to something, someone, or someplace if the caster already knows the location, and defend you from some dangers. A corporeal Patronus takes the form of an animal that reflects on the personality of its caster but can change if the caster go through an emotional disturbance," Snape added.
Everyone took out their wands.
"Expecto Patronum!" Harry cried.
The stag burst from his wand and galloped around the room, weaving around the others before disappearing. Soon the room was filled with the voices of everyone saying 'Expecto Patronum' as they tried to cast the spell. It wasn't long before some began producing Patronuses.
Ginny's was a horse, Hermoine an otter, Ron a Jack Russell Terrier, Cho a swan, Seanmus a fox, and Luna a hare.
"What about you, Professor?" Cho asked a little nervously.
Several of the others voice their agreement, so Snape took out his wand.
A doe burst from his wand and galloped about the room much like the stag had then disappeared. Everyone gaped at him.
"Uh, all right, that's it for today. Go on," Harry said.
Once it was just him, Ron, and Hermione left with Snape, he turned to the potions master.
"Why is your Patronus a doe? I would have thought it would be something more... mean."
Snape sighed softly, knowing that the boy had a right to know the truth.
"Your mother's Patronus was a doe."
The trio blinked in surprise.
"Because of my love for her, my Patronus became the same as hers after she died. As your hold part of your father with your stag I hold part of Lily with my doe."
They left the Room of Requirement, stopping at the stairs where they would part ways; Harry, Ron, and Hermione to the Griffyndor Tower and Snape to the dungeons.
"You two go on ahead, I'll be there in a minute," Harry said.
Ron and Hermione reluctantly went on, and Harry looked at the potions master.
"What is it, Potter?" Snape asked, keeping his voice and tone snarky in case someone overheard or came by.
"I'm sorry for how my dad, Sirius, Remus, and Wormtail treated you."
The man blinked, obviously not expecting that.
"It was wrong of them, and I'm sorry."
He sneered at the boy.
"I don't want your pity."
Green eyes met black ones.
"It's not pity, sir. It's sympathy. It's sympathy because I know what that feels like. All my life my uncle, aunt, cousin, and his friends hurt me, physically and emotionally, calling me a freak and waste of space, hating me simply existing."
Snape found himself softening.
"I may look like my dad, but I am not him. I will never treat anyone like that, no matter how much they may seem to deserve it."
He was right. He wasn't James.
"I know what it's like, Professor. I know what it's like to be alone, unloved, bullied, and rejected. I know what it's like to be seen as a freak, as-"
"An abomination," Snape murmured, finishing the sentence as well as repeating his father's words.
Harry nodded, his eyes sympathetic and compassionate.
"I know what it's like to be hated for simply existing. I know how angry it makes you feel to have to live like that, but you don't have to let the anger consume you."
He took a small step towards the professor.
"I see you for what you really are, sir."
He raised an eyebrow as if to say 'oh?'.
"You're a man who's alone and broken, feeling unworthy of anyone's trust or friendship, unworthy of kindness or respect, but most of all, you feel unworthy of love."
The boy was insightful if nothing else.
"You're someone in need of a true friend."
Harry suddenly smiled at him and stepped closer, holding out his hand.
"I'll be your friend, Professor."
Snape stared at him in shock. Even after how bad he treated the boy for the past few years, Harry was still willing to be his friend? He looked at the offered hand then at the smiling, gentle face.
"It's all right, sir," Harry said, his green eyes shining with compassion.
The potions master slowly clasped his hand. The Griffyndor grinned broadly, and slowly, even so slowly, Snape smiled back. They stood there for a few moments, gripping the other's hand, smiling at each other, until Harry finally let go.
"Go on, now, Potter. It's almost curfew."
He turned and started up the stairs.
The boy looked back at the teacher.
"When we're alone... you may call me... Severus."
He smiled and nodded.
Severus smiled back.
The new friends parted ways.
"What was that all about, mate?" Ron asked as he, Harry, and Hermione say in front of the fireplace in the Griffyndor common room.
"I told him that I understood how he feels, how he grew up, and that he needed a friend."
Ron and Hermione looked at each other then back at their friend.
"And what did Professor Snape say?"
"Well, nothing really. He just listened."
They moved closer to him.
"So about him needin' a friend, did you offer to be his friend?"
He smiled and nodded.
"Are you completely barmy? Snape's a greasy git! Just because he'll be helping with D.A. doesn't mean he's suddenly gonna change and be nice or anything," Ron exclaimed.
"For once, I agree with Ron. I highly doubt anything is going to change between any of us and Professor Snape outside of D.A.."
Harry looked at them.
"I didn't say he was going to change or that I expect him to change, because I don't. He needed a friend, and I understand what he's been through and how he feels so I decided that I'd be his friend."
"But what about Dumbledore?"
"I don't know if he and Dumbledore are friends or not, but even so, he needs a true friend, a friend who won't expect anything from him in return, and that's exactly what I'm going to try to be."
Ron and Hermione shared another look then sighed.
"All right, then. It's your choice."
Weeks later, they were caught in the middle of a meeting by Umbridge.
"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" she asked smugly.
Snape and Harry were taken to Dumbledore's office, along with the parchment with the member's names on it.
"Explain this!" Umbridge said to them, shaking the parchment.
Dumbledore and everyone else in the office, including the Minister, looked at them expectantly.
"It's my fault, Headmaster. I organized this group since the students aren't learning anything useful in the actual Defense Against Dark Arts class."
Harry stared in shock. Snape was taking the blame for him!
"How could they not be learning anything useful, Snape? They study their books quite hard," Fudge said.
The potions master glared at him.
"Memorizing and learning spells are two different things. The only way to effectively learn a spell is by doing it."
"Severus is right. It is even more important that the students be able to cast these spells now that Voldemort is back," Dumbledore said.
Fudge shot to his feet.
"He is not back!"
Snape scowled, yanked up his left sleeve, and shoved his left forearm into Fudge's line of view, revealing the Dark Mark.
"Here is proof that he is back, Minister! With his destruction the first time, the Dark Mark faded, but now it is back. He is back," he growled.
Fudge turned pale, his eyes widened in terror, and he trembled slightly.
"No," he breathed.
"Yes, and he will not stay dormant forever. Soon or later he will make his first strike. The more you deny that he is back the more ill-prepared you make our world."
The minister slowly sat back down.
"There will be another war, Minister, but this time there will be no reflected curse to stop him. Many who fought in the first war will either be too old, unable, or unwilling to fight him a second time. As much as I hate to say it, these students, or at least the older ones, are our best hope, but if they are to stand any chance against his forces, they must know how to defend themselves. Reading and memorizing won't effectively prepare them, they must practice. If things continue as they are, when he does attack we won't be stand a chance. One side will truly lose this coming war, and if things stay this way, he will be the victor."
Snape had spoken in a calm, even voice, but everyone could tell he fully believed in what he said.
Fudge sighed and rested his forehead in one of his hands.
"All right. They will go back to learning Defense Against Dark Arts as they did before."
Harry smiled, and Snape allowed himself a tiny smile as well.
"Thank you, Cornelius," Dumbledore said.
The next morning, there was a change at the Head Table.
"Good morning, students. I would like to announce that Madam Umbridge will no longer be teaching here."
A cheer rose from all the Houses.
"An old colleague of mine has returned to the Hogwarts staff, Professor Horace Slughorn, who will be taking back his position as Potions Master, and Professor Snape will not be teaching Defense Against Dark Arts."
The students clapped, but not even the Slytherins reacted as happily to Snape's new post as the students of Dumbledore's Army.
"Now, before we eat, it has come to my attention that Professor Snape would like to say a few things."
Snape rose and made his way around the table to the Headmaster.
"Thank you, Headmaster. During Madam Umbridge's time here, a group of students took matters into their own hands and formed a group to learn Defense spells. They were taught by Harry Potter and called themselves 'Dumbledore's Army'. Several weeks ago, I was made aware of the group's existence and began teaching it alongside Mr. Potter. I would like to announce that, even though Defense class will be returning to normal, D.A. will still be held."
The members cheered.
"There is a parchment outside my office for anyone who would like to join. All you have to do is write you name on the parchment, and I will handle the rest. Finally, D.A., would you come join me please?"
Dumbledore's Army joined him up front, and they all faced the Headmaster, who had returned to his seat.
"A gift to you, Headmaster," Snape said.
"We are D.A., Dumbledore's Army, though small and few are we. We stand for justice, we are loyal to only he. Powerful and wise, gentle and kind, reasons we love him. Death Eaters, giant, werewolves, all Dark creature for him we'd fight. The greatest wizard of our time, our lives for you we'd give. We are D.A., Dumbledore's Army. We are Dumbledore's Army!" they chanted.
Everyone clapped, and Dumbledore looked touched.
Every member's Patronus appeared and raced around the Head Table. Then, Snape threw what appeared to be a coin into the air. All the Patronuses flew up and merged around the coin. There was a blinding flash of light, then the coin, which was now larger, fell back into Snape's hand. He handed it to Dumbledore, who realized it had been turned into a medallion. It read, 'Beloved Leader'. He smiled.
Everyone sat back down, and the feast began.
As Harry ate he had the feeling that he was being watched. Looking up, he locked gazes with Snape. The professor smiled and winked. He smiled back and returned to his meal.
With Snape teaching DADA and Dumbledore's Army still being held and now open to the rest of the school, perhaps they would be prepared for the fight ahead.
End Note: Please review. Snape may be a little out of character, but oh well.