Assistant for the Defense
winter classes began, Dumbledore called the staff together in his office.
"I want to thank
you for your extraordinary efforts on behalf of this school and its
students," Dumbledore praised. "My gratitude knows no bounds."
He better mean
me, Snape thought. After all, Flying Defense lessons had proven
extremely popular with the staff as well as the students. Not that Snape
had minded; he'd derived a certain amount of pleasure from making the
Gryffindors run around and around the quidditch pitch as their teachers
and peers fired on them from above.
"I especially want
to thank you," Dumbledore continued, "for a lovely Christmas holiday." He
beamed at them for a moment and then sobered, glancing at a copy of the
Daily Prophet on his desk.
"I fear the time
has come for increased security measures," he told them gravely. The
staff were hardly surprised; there had been a suspicious incident at one
of their homes over the holidays. Snape imagined Dumbledore might
eventually require all of them to reside at the castle full time.
"Beginning immediately," he told them, "no student will be permitted
outside the castle without adult supervision. This includes quidditch
practice, and I would ask the heads of house to please share the burden of
supervising this activity with Madam Hooch."
leaned over to McGonagall. "Combined practices, half the effort," he
"All staff who
reside at the castle are restricted to campus and are required to check
with myself or Professor McGonagall before leaving the castle," Dumbledore
went on. "Beginning immediately, the house elves and staff will patrol
the grounds and guard the entrance in shifts from 10pm to 6am."
"There will be
absolutely NO visitors without my prior approval and the castle's floo
system will be shut down except for in-house travel. The fireplace in my
office will be the only one connected to the outside."
"Uh, Headmaster..." Snape
"No, Severus!" Dumbledore
told him firmly.
Snape turned away with a
frustrated scowl only to find Minerva smirking at him. He held her gaze
for several seconds and then gave her a thorough going-over, from head to
toe and back again. Minerva blushed a nice shade of Gryffindor scarlet
before turning her attention back to Dumbledore, only to find Snape
smirking at her every time she dared to glance in his direction. The
moment the meeting was over, she grabbed Snape's arm and pulled him aside
as the other teachers filed out the door.
"What do you have to say
for yourself?" she demanded in a furious whisper.
Snape gave her a wink.
"You'd be my first choice," he replied. To his delight, she blushed
again, and he reveled in folding his black-robed arms across his chest and
watching her storm towards the door. Then a gentle voice said,
"Severus, may I have a
The smile on Snape's lips
died a quick death. "Certainly, Headmaster," he replied, and took the
seat Dumbledore offered across from his desk as the headmaster called to
McGonagall, "Minerva, I'll need a word with you when I'm done." She
nodded and left to wait in the hall. After she'd gone, Dumbledore spoke
"I have decided to fill
the Defense position for the remainder of the school year," he told Snape.
The potions master tensed
at the prickly subject but said nothing.
"Remus Lupin has agreed to
return and Severus, I know this is asking a great deal, but I'd like you
to assist him."
Snape didn't move. Not
even an eyelash flickered. His elbows, resting on the arms of his chair,
suddenly ached, as if his blood had turned to poison and was scourging him
as it tore through his joints. It made its way back to his heart and that
began to ache, too.
"He will teach for 3 weeks
each month and you will teach the remaining week," Dumbledore explained.
"You will need to devise a lesson plan together accordingly. I feel we
should attempt to make up for lost time, now that we're able, so we will
combine all four houses into one class per year and hold lessons in the
Great Hall. I would like each class to meet 4 times a week."
Snape thought to himself. You have to respond to him.
"What about potions?"
he asked falteringly and despised himself for stuttering.
"Potions will be suspended
for one week each month. Please alter your lesson plans accordingly."
Snape's jaw twitched. He
implored, "I want you to know how much it means to me that I can rely on
Snape rose. "Will that be
all, Headmaster?" he asked.
"If you could please send
Minerva in, I'll ask her to rearrange the schedule."
Snape nodded and left.
When Minerva saw his face, her eyes grew wide, but Snape just jerked his
head towards the office and then swept away down the hall.
He allowed himself 15
minutes to compose himself before telling the Slytherins. He didn't want
them to hear it second hand the way Harry Potter used to hear things from
Malfoy. As his students queued up before him, Violet grabbed a spot near
the top of her line. When she heard the news, her reaction exploded from
her mouth before she could stop it.
"WHY THE HECK DOESN'T HE
JUST GIVE YOU THE POSITION!?" she shouted.
Only she didn't say
'heck,' and the Slytherins' fury at this latest slight was momentarily
slackened by their shock at Violet's response. No Slytherin had
ever said the 'F' word for Snape to hear.
Everybody stared at her
and Violet looked uncertainly back and forth from Snape to the other
students. Then she shrugged.
"I honestly don't know
what I feel at this moment," she confessed. Snape raised an eyebrow at
"Then let's see if we
can't summon a little remorse," he suggested dryly. He touched the tip of
his wand to Violet's lips and she grimaced hugely as a bitter taste
flooded her mouth. Crabbe grinned knowingly at her and called, "What do
you have to say for yourself, Violet?"
"Shut up!" Violet snapped
back. Then she gasped. Two shiny clear bubbles had popped out of her
mouth when she spoke and now floated down the aisle between the two lines.
Violet clapped her hands over her mouth and laughed with delight at the
Slytherin version of having one's mouth washed out with soap. Then she
pulled them away and called, "What was I thinking?" Pop, pop, pop, pop,
out came four more bubbles. The younger Slytherins giggled hysterically
but Malfoy just rolled his eyes and stuck his hand in the air.
"What about potions
classes?" he asked indignantly when Snape acknowledged him.
"You will have potions
three weeks each month," Snape explained. Malfoy had the good sense to
swear under his breath before asking furiously, "Why does Professor Lupin
need a whole week off? The moon's only full one night. Dumbledore should
cancel Defense class for one day, not Potions for an entire week."
"Yeah!" said several
Slytherins indignantly, including Violet, who nearly collapsed with
giggles at emitting the biggest bubble yet. Snape ignored her.
"It is the headmaster's
prerogative to make decisions concerning staffing and scheduling.
For an hour after Snape
departed, Violet entertained Marybeth and the first years with her new
twist on the bubble head concept. But then one of the younger students
nodded at a clutch of older snakes heatedly discussing Lupin's return and
asked, "Why is it such a big deal anyway?"
Violet tried to do justice
to the story Millicent had shared with her last winter, but it just wasn't
possible to convey the proper sentiment with bubbles accentuating every
word. Finally she gave up and approached Crabbe.
"Try swearing now," he
suggested, and she shook her head in frustration.
"What the hell for?" she
demanded, and then exploded with giggles when the third bubble came out
blue. After she'd sobered again, she asked him how to make it stop.
"Go to Snape and repent,"
he told her.
Crabbe shrugged. "I got
two," he admitted. "They were pretty half-hearted."
"What word did you say?"
Violet wondered. Crabbe refused to tell her. "They weren't that
half-hearted!" he noted ruefully.
So Violet made her way to
Snape's office, giggling all the way as she sang, "Tiiiiiiiiny bubbles..."
But when she tried to express her remorse to her housemaster, the bubbles
mocked her every word and Snape chuckled behind closed lips. "I would
appreciate it, sir," Violet sniffed, "if you would enable me to apologize
Snape performed a quick
"finite incantatem" and Violet snorted with indignation. "Is that all it
took?" she fumed. Snape nodded. "So any of the Slytherins could have
"Could have?" her head of
house asked. "Or would have?"
"I see your point," she
admitted as she sat down. She took a deep breath and said earnestly, "I'm
very, very, very sorry for the unspeakably rude word I said in front of
you. And I want you to know that..." She paused and searched for the
words. "I really, really enjoyed your Flying Defense lessons."
Snape stared thoughtfully
at the child. Secretly, he was glad her little outburst in the common
room had deflected attention from his own agonized state. "Three hundred
lines," he decided. "'I must not use rude words.' You may go."
"Thank you, sir," she
replied. She rose and crossed his office to leave but paused at the door
to give him what she hoped was an encouraging smile.
Lupin arrived the day
before classes began and Snape met with him after dinner. As he entered
Lupin's office and looked the thin, shabby man over, it occurred to him
that no amount of chubby Molly Weasley's cooking seemed capable of
fattening him up.
"I know," Lupin nodded at
the look on Snape's face. Then he smiled warmly. "Hello, Severus."
"Lupin," Snape replied.
"Please have a seat,"
Lupin invited after an awkward pause, and as Snape sat down, he continued
very politely, "Thank you for coming, and next time we could meet in your
office if you prefer."
Snape made no response.
Lupin took a deep breath and plunged in.
"Well, the enlarged
classes present a challenge, but I have some ideas and I'm very eager to
He waited. Again, Snape
made no response, but this time Lupin stood his ground and remained silent
until Snape spoke.
"It's your class, Lupin,"
he said evenly, his voice flat, his eyes dead. "I have been asked to
assist. You may set your lesson plan and I will teach whatever you
wish during your absences."
Lupin nodded slightly,
them assured Snape, "If you change your mind, I'll be very happy to..."
paused and shrugged. "I'll be very happy," he finished simply.
He took another deep
breath and began to speak much faster than usual while he shuffled some
papers on his desk. "Most of the course should be practical, I think, but
I believe it's extremely important..."
His eyes filled with pain
at these last words and his voice failed him. "Extremely important," he
whispered to himself. He cleared his throat harshly, put the papers down,
folded his hands on top of his desk, and began again. "I believe it's
vital, at this point in wizarding history..." He looked up at Snape with
those calm, kind eyes. "... that we have a lecture on why people become
Death Eaters, delivered to a combined session of the oldest three classes.
I was hoping you could deliver it, perhaps the last day of instruction
before the Easter holidays?"
The two men stared at each
other across the desk for a very long time. Eventually, Lupin found
himself praying silently in his head, never taking his eyes off Snape's
face. Finally the potions master murmured, "As you wish, Lupin," and rose
to sweep from the room without another word. But Lupin stopped him at the
door. "Severus?" he called hopefully.
Snape refused to turn
around and merely looked back over his shoulder at Lupin. The scrawny,
ragged werewolf appealed to him with an almost desperate earnestness.
"I'll give you half my pay
this term if you'll call me Remus."
Snape just stared at the
man. After a few moments, he replied, "I never invited you to call me
Severus." Then he departed, shutting the door loudly behind him, leaving
Remus Lupin to stare at the hands still folded on his desk.
Dumbledore again. Snape
scowled and looked up grudgingly from the plate of eggs he had been
staring at ever since sitting down. It was the first morning of classes
and he had no wish to interact with Lupin or any of his fellow teachers
beyond what was absolutely necessary.
Dumbledore and the rest of the staff staring openly at him. The
headmaster nodded slightly in the direction of the four student tables and
Snape looked out to discover that the Slytherin table was completely
empty. For several seconds he could only stare. Then he turned to
Dumbledore and said helplessly, "They were at inspection."
At that moment,
Madam Pomfrey burst into the hall. She stood just inside the door with
her hands on her hips and when she spotted Snape, she called tersely, "A
word, Professor?" He climbed down from the head table and strode
menacingly up the aisle but she would not be intimidated. Instead, she
turned smartly on her heel and marched out of the room, leaving Snape no
choice but to follow her. She proceeded quickly to the hospital wing and
banged open the door.
colds," she announced. "Fifty-two raging head colds."
He peered over her
shoulder at the two rows of cots. They were actually a rather charming
sight, his 52 Slytherins packed two and three to a bed. They hadn't
bothered with anything from Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes. Millicent simply
let loose with one of her pathetic fake sneezes at regular intervals.
Snape took Madam Pomfrey
by the arm and led her a safe distance from the door. "Can't you threaten
to spank them or something?" she hissed furiously under her breath. "We
have a standing agreement," Snape replied. He left her by the far wall
and then folded his arms across his chest as he crossed slowly to her
desk, lifting one leg to perch comfortably on the edge of it.
"I could thank
you," he began smoothly, "for this dubious demonstration of support." His
eyes flickered at the cot where Violet and Marybeth lay snuggling up to
Goyle and Violet gulped. "Or I could remind you of the big picture," he
continued, "Voldemort and Dumbledore, Lupin and defense classes..."
He flicked an
imaginary piece of lint from his robe and finished in the same bored tone
of voice. "But I think, instead, I'll simply count to three." He looked
up at them with a diabolical little smile that disappeared in a heartbeat
as he roared, "ONE!"
The Slytherins flew out of bed and
raced from the room as fast as they could go.
breakfast because of their little demonstration and when the Slytherin
sixth years sauntered casually into Defense class, the Ravenclaws,
Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors were already presented and seated. The Great
Hall was filled with individual desks rather reminiscent of OWL exams and
the head table platform held a larger desk for the teacher.
The statement made by
their mealtime absence was not appreciated by their fellow students who
watched with baleful expressions as they took their seats. Any verbal
expression of hostility, however, was prevented by the immediate arrival
of Professor Lupin who chose to overlook the Slytherins' earlier conduct
and greeted them all pleasantly from behind the teacher's desk. His
salutation was cut short by an immediate burst of welcoming applause from
the Gryffindors who were joined enthusiastically by several Ravenclaws and
"Thank you," Lupin
beamed. "Thank you very much. I cannot tell you how pleased I am to be
with you again."
The remark made Malfoy
snort and Lupin turned his mild gaze upon the blonde youngster. "Was
there something you wished to add, Mr. Malfoy?" he asked politely.
Draco's first instinct was
to hold his tongue as Snape had taught him. But when he noticed several
Gryffindors glaring indignantly at him, he changed his mind. "Yes,
Professor," he replied with equal civility. "I was wondering why you're
pleased to be back in service to those who didn't have the decency to
appreciate you the first time. Or was it only Slytherins and their
parents who complained?"
Several of the
other students looked a bit sheepish at this. The Slytherins kept their
eyes firmly on Lupin as he thought it over. "No, Mr. Malfoy," he finally
he admitted. "It was not." He walked around to the side of his desk and
pressed his fingertips on its hard, smooth surface. After more
consideration, he added, "I'm not going to answer your question, Mr.
Malfoy. But I'm going to suggest that you give it a great deal of
thought. I think it's very important for you to have a thorough
understanding of the ramifications of injustice and pardon."
Malfoy replied in a much cooler tone, "I think about ramifications all the
They stared each other
down for several seconds. Then Lupin clapped his hands together and
rubbed them vigorously. "Good!" he declared. "Now let's see where you're
He paired the students up
for some practice drills and was delighted with their level of expertise.
The Slytherins, who'd been studying with Snape, could not imagine how the
students from the other houses had become so accomplished. "Excellent,
just excellent," Lupin beamed, and Malfoy could have smacked the silly
smile his praise inspired right off Potter's face.
"I will tell you straight
out," Lupin lectured after they'd returned to their seats, "that we are
going to work tirelessly on combat skills. Keep in mind that battle
consists of far more than wand to wand conflict." He strolled among them,
looking each of them in the eye as he passed. "Battles," he explained,
"are fought on the field, in the air, within the body and through the
mind. Therefore, my demands are going to be relentless." He returned to
the front of the hall and turned to face them. "I hope you're up for it,"
Malfoy shook his head at
the teacher's frail form and anemic complexion. Look who's
talking, he thought to himself.
An Obedient House