Re: Snape's Point of View 2: Post-HBP PTSS version.
I was doing some thinking about the timeline of OotP/HBP, and for no particular reason, this POV came into being. I thought I would share it here.
The characters and places of the Potterverse are the creations of the talented J. K. Rowling. No profit is being made from this story, this is just for the amusement of myself and anyone reading it. As this story includes an actual scene from the books, the dialogue in that scene is purely Rowling's.
The dungeon Potions laboratory was chilly and damp despite the warm June day outside, and lit only by magical light from torches hung in the age-tarnished metal brackets set in regular intervals on the walls. Severus Snape, standing over a bubbling cauldron of bright-red potion, squinted at his own miniscule handwriting on a parchment unrolled to his right. Was that digit a five or a six? He straightened, rubbing the bridge of his hooked nose. Six, obviously. With the ingredients he had already added, an odd number of stirs made no sense. Picking up his wand, he was about to begin the next step in the process when there was an urgent knock on the door.
Snape swore under his breath. With OWL and NEWT exams in process, his teaching load was somewhat lighter than usual. Obviously, it was too much to expect to have an afternoon to himself, though…
“Come in!” he said clearly.
The heavy oak door opened to reveal Draco Malfoy, fifth year prefect of Slytherin House. The last time Malfoy had come in on his private time had involved a half-dead student stuck in a toilet, Snape recalled, a matter that left the current Headmistress out of her depth. It was not very clear to Snape what, if anything, the woman was qualified to handle. This matter seemed likely to be of a similarly serious nature, for Draco’s usually perfectly groomed blond hair was slightly askew, his face flushed, and he was breathing heavily, as if he had come in a hurry.
“Ah, Draco,” Snape said smoothly. “Do come in. I have just been working out some details in a potion I plan to present in my NEWT class.”
Draco glanced over at the cauldron with some interest, and then regretfully back at Snape.
“Professor Snape, sir,” he said, a bit breathlessly, “Professor Umbridge has asked to see you in her office.”
Snape inwardly cursed the new Headmistress. He had better things to do with his time than endeavor (or seem to endeavor) to meet her whims. Unfortunately, he could not ignore the woman. He moved back towards the cauldron to bank the flames. Umbridge would have an emergency at such a touchy stage in the process…
“Sir…” Draco trailed off. “She says it is urgent,” he added.
“Very well, Draco, I am coming,” Snape said. “I am sure the Headmistress can spare the time I need to make sure the building does not burn down while I deal with the newest crisis.”
Draco grinned, acknowledging Snape’s wit, and waited for his Head of House to set things to right on the workbench and leave.
“So, Draco,” Snape asked as they walked towards Umbridge’s office, “what is the nature of today’s emergency?”
“It’s Potter, sir,” Draco said, a satisfied smirk on his face as he contemplated the trouble Potter in which Potter had apparently landed himself.
“Potter,” Snape repeated dismissively. His stomach twisted, whether from worry for the boy, or loathing, he could not have said himself. “What has the Boy Who Lived gotten up to now?”
“Professor Umbridge caught him trespassing in her office,” Draco said gleefully. “Apparently he was trying to speak with someone using her Floo. She thinks it might be Dumbledore!”
Snape resisted the urge to correct Draco’s failure to use the Headmaster’s proper title. Dumbledore was, for the moment, a fugitive from justice. A state of affairs from which the Dark Lord and his supporters, Snape himself included, should be expected to take no little satisfaction.
“And you just happened to be nearby?” Snape asked.
He listened distractedly to Draco’s boastful account of the Inquisitorial Squad’s role in the capture not only of Potter, but also of his little gang of Gryffindors, his accomplices in the break-in. What they thought they were playing at, he could not fathom. If this really was an attempt to contact Dumbledore, Snape was going to wring Potter’s neck himself rather than leaving that pleasure to Umbridge. Potter ought to have contacted him if there was a serious reason to contact Dumbledore. He could contact Dumbledore with no risk of exposing Dumbledore’s location, and no risk of expulsion for Potter.
“Well done, Draco,” Snape commented as Draco ceased his explanations.
Malfoy smiled and opened the door to Umbridge’s office. Snape followed him in, taking the scene in rapidly.
“You wanted to see me, Headmistress?” said Snape, keeping his face black and his stance casual in a display his complete indifference to the situation.
“Ah, Professor Snape,” said Umbridge, standing up with a broad, insincere smile. “Yes, I would like another bottle of Veritaserum, as quick as you can, please.”
That was certainly not going to happen, Snape decided instantly.
“You took my last bottle to interrogate Potter,” he said, looking at her with mock concern. “Surely you did not use it all? I told you that three drops would be sufficient.”
The stupid woman had the grace to look embarrassed.
“You can make some more, can’t you?” she said, her voice suddenly sweet and girlish.
If she proceeded to bat her eyelashes at him, he might just do something he would later regret.
“Certainly,” said Snape with a smirk. “It takes a full moon-cycle to mature, so I should have it ready for you in around a month.”
“A month?” Umbridge exclaimed, dropping her pretense at sweetness in her anger. “A month? But I need it this evening, Snape! I have just found Potter using my fire to communicate with a person or persons unknown!”
“Really?” said Snape, looking over at Harry with some interest. Would the idiot boy realize he was addressing the question to him?
“Well, it doesn’t surprise me,” he continued, his eyes still on Potter. “Potter has never shown much inclination to follow school rules.”
Potter met his gaze unflinchingly, his face commendably blank. A highly unlikely scenario swam into view in his mind as Snape employed his Legilimency. He saw Sirius Black, in the Hall of Prophecy, under torture by the Dark Lord. How Potter thought this might occur without notice in a place as busy as the Ministry, on a workday afternoon, Snape could not quite understand.
“I wish to interrogate him!” repeated Umbridge angrily, and Snape looked back at her now openly furious face. Hopefully, Potter would realize his looking away meant the message was received. “I wish you to provide me with a potion that will force him to tell me the truth!”
“I have already told you,” said Snape smoothly, “that I have no further stocks of Veritaserum. Unless you wish to poison Potter -and I assure you I would have the greatest sympathy with you if you did - I cannot help you. The only trouble is that most venoms act too fast to give the victim much time for truth-telling.”
Snape looked back at Potter, who was staring at him intently. Apparently still hoping to communicate, alas. Well, Umbridge would at least serve to prevent him from doing anything rash.
“You are on probation!” shrieked Professor Umbridge, and Snape looked back at her, his eyebrows raised. “You are being deliberately unhelpful! I expected better, Lucius Malfoy always speaks most highly of you! Now get out of my office!”
Probation, with a week of term left. Now there was a threat to conjure with, Snape thought to himself. He gave her an ironic bow and turned to leave.
“He’s got Padfoot!” Potter shouted. “He’s got Padfoot at the place where it’s hidden!”
Snape stopped, with his hand on the door handle. Blast the boy; surely, it was clear that he could not acknowledge any of his attempts at communication openly?
“Padfoot?” cried Professor Umbridge, looking eagerly from Harry to Snape. “What is Padfoot? Where what is hidden? What does he mean, Snape?”
Snape looked back at Potter.
“I have no idea,” said Snape coldly. “Potter, when I want nonsense shouted at me I shall give you a Babbling Beverage. And Crabbe, loosen your hold a little. If Longbottom suffocates it will mean a lot of tedious paperwork and I am afraid I shall have to mention it on your reference if ever you apply for a job.”
He closed the door behind him with a snap before Potter could start naming names or Umbridge could fire him and swept away down the corridor towards the Entrance Hall. Umbridge and the Inquisitorial Squad had Potter well in hand, but just in case there was something to the vision Potter had shown him, Snape had to investigate. He needed to reach a location where he could send and receive a Patrons message. The vicinity of Hagrid’s hut would do; he could wait in the outskirts of the Forest for a reply. As Umbridge and the others all believed him to be out of Veritaserum, he could claim he was collecting ingredients for a fresh batch, if asked later. Neither the first, nor, he was sure, the last time he would be missing supper over one of Potter’s boneheaded escapades.
As he passed beyond the hut where he could not be seen from the castle, Snape sent forth his Patronus with a short message, “Please confirm that Black is present and safe at 12 GP.”
The silvery shape sped off towards the south, and Snape headed into the Forest, in the direction of a particular glade where magical plants he would need to harvest were he actually to make Veritaserum thrived. As he walked, he summoned a container in which to carry them back.
The shadows in the forest were lengthening when the silvery shape of Black’s Patronus came speeding back. No need to even hear the message, then, he would hardly send it if in the company of the Dark Lord. However, he did listen to it, just in case. “What do you think, Snivellus?” it replied.
Yes, it had been too good to be true… Snape spun on his heel and headed back for the castle. As he walked in, he looked in on the Great Hall, empty and pristine after the evening meal. Opening the door beside the large marble staircase, he descended into the dungeons and headed for the laboratory. Umbridge would doubtless be keeping Potter in detention into the wee hours of the night, after the interview he had granted the Quibbler describing the Dark Lord’s return the woman positively foamed at the mouth about him. Which meant Potter, anyway, would not be disturbing his researches further.
With some satisfaction, Snape rekindled the flame under the potion he had left when Draco had fetched him. Since he did have the necessary ingredients, he also started a second cauldron heating, in which to begin the long process of brewing Veritaserum, and a kettle of water. He could have some tea with biscuits from a tin he kept on hand for times when he was too deeply involved in work to break for a proper meal.
The new shortcut he was trying, Snape realized some time later, was not working out as he had imagined. The potion had changed consistency on him unexpectedly. Lost in thought, he wandered over to the shelf where he kept his favorite references. He ran a long, slender finger over their spines until he saw the one he wanted. Lifting it off the shelf, he sat down on a stool beside the workbench and started leafing through it, looking for the article he remembered. He had scribbled a page of notes, when he heard a tentative knock on the door. Checking his watch, he saw it was past 10 pm.
He set his book down and walked over. Opening the door, he beheld the snub-nosed face of Pansy Parkinson, the fifth year Slytherin prefect. She had no business out of the dorm this far past curfew. The slightly fearful, slightly worried look on that face suggested she was well aware of this, and of the unpleasant consequences that might follow.
“Professor Snape?” she began hesitantly.
“Yes, Miss Parkinson?” Snape inquired quietly, raising an eyebrow. “What is it that you are doing here at this hour?”
“Sir? I was worried about Draco,” she said shyly.
“How so?” Snape asked somewhat sharply. Draco had been with Umbridge. What was there to worry about?
“He and some others are missing,” she said in a tremulous voice. “Nott and Blaise are down in the Common Room, but Draco, along with Crabbe and Goyle haven’t been seen since before supper. Neither has Millicent,” Miss Parkinson explained.
“I see. You were right to come to me, Miss Parkinson,” Snape replied smoothly. What the devil was the woman thinking, keeping his students so late? Keeping Potter in detention after finding him in her office, he could see, but the others? He returned to the workbench and turned down the flames on the Veritaserum.
“So, you’ll look for them?” Pansy asked.
“Miss Parkinson, I know where they may be found,” Snape told her.
“I suggest you return to the dormitory. They should be back shortly,” he added as he swept past her into the corridor.
For a moment she looked like she might argue the point, but she thought better of it.
“Yes, Professor Snape,” she agreed. He watched for a moment as she headed off towards the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room, then left for Umbridge’s office.
Once there, he knocked briskly on the door
“Come in!” he heard.
None of the voices on the other side of the door sounded at all like the girlish tones of the High Inquisitor. Puzzled, Snape grabbed the handle and realized that the door was locked. His instincts told him that something was wrong. Drawing his wand, he blew the door open, not wishing to deal with the variety of security spells Umbridge had doubtless placed on her office. If she was indeed inside, he might regret his haste, but he would have bet that neither she, nor Potter, were there any longer.
Inside, in various states of hexedness and disrepair, were the members of the Inquisitorial Squad. With a quick Finite Incantatem, he banished most of the spells, other than the trademark hex of Miss Weasley, to which Malfoy has fallen victim. A second wave of his wand eliminated that problem as well. Goyle, he saw, was lying motionless on the floor behind Umbridge’s desk. Snape dropped to his knees beside him.
“What happened to him?” he asked, looking up at Draco.
“Longbottom’s Impediment Jinx threw him against the wall, and one of those big plates landed on his head,” Draco explained.
Snape regarded the heavy shards of the plate, decorated with a maudlin depiction of a wide-eyed kitten, with disfavor. Reassured that it was safe to move the boy, he cast a quick Rennervate to bring him to. The falling plate had left a gash on his forehead, he saw. He might be dizzy for a while.
“Crabbe!” Snape ordered. “Take Goyle to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey should have a look at his head.” Though privately Snape doubted any damage could penetrate that thick skull…
Crabbe helped his friend up as Snape rose to his feet. He saw that Draco had retrieved everyone’s wands while he had tended to Goyle, and gave Crabbe and Goyle theirs before they left. Snape ran a critical eye over the rest, before deciding they all looked well enough.
“Alright, back to the dormitory, the rest of you,” Snape ordered. “Miss Bulstrode, if you would, let Miss Parkinson know that Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle have been found as well. Draco, stay for a moment.”
Draco’s fair skin flushed, with embarrassment at the predicament in which Snape had found him, Snape presumed.
“So, Draco, what happened here after I left?” Snape asked. “Where are Umbridge and the other students?”
“Professor Umbridge was angry. She threatened Potter,” he said.
“Threatened?” Snape asked quietly.
“With the Cruciatus Curse,” Draco said. Snape did not care for the slightly regretful look Draco gave him as he named the curse, though it did reassure him that the threat had not been carried out. He very much doubted Malfoy would speak so casually of it, had he actually seen it done.
“And?” Snape prompted.
“Granger begged her not to.” Draco recounted. “She confessed that Potter and the others had been trying to contact Dumbledore, to let him know they were done making some sort of weapon for him.”
“I see,” Snape said neutrally. There was assuredly no such weapon at Hogwarts. Miss Granger, it seemed, had employed her talent for prevarication. Not that Professor Umbridge was a particularly difficult mark.
“Then Professor Umbridge made her and Potter go and show her the weapon,” Draco said, “and ordered us to stay here and guard the others.”
“And where did Miss Granger lead Professor Umbridge?” Snape asked.
“I saw them walking towards the Forest,” Draco said.
“And shortly thereafter the other four disarmed you all and followed?” Snape guessed.
Draco nodded, his head hanging.
“Thank you, Draco. That will be all. Miss Parkinson is waiting for you in the Common Room, I feel sure,” Snape said, heading out the door.
“Sir, will you be going after them?” Draco asked, falling into step beside him.
“I am certainly not going to permit six students to wander about in the Forbidden Forest at night,” Snape retorted.
“They must have attacked Professor Umbridge, sir,” Draco said carefully.
“I have drawn the same conclusion, Draco,” Snape agreed. They had reached the Entrance Hall. Answering the unspoken concern implicit in Draco’s remark, he stopped, drew himself up to his full height and added quietly, “I am not Professor Umbridge.”
Draco swallowed, but essayed one more question.
“Sir, I did some thinking while-you know,” he began.
“Yes?” Snape said sharply, impatient to leave. It was now completely clear to him that his first priority must be to alert the Order to the possibility that Harry had left for the Ministry. Clearly, the Dark Lord had made his move to lure Potter to the Hall of Prophecy tonight. If the Order appeared there, it would badly dent, if not blow, his cover as a spy. If Potter was there right now, it was a necessary risk.
“About what Potter shouted at you, just as you left the office,” Draco added.
“Indeed?” Snape said neutrally. He would have greatly preferred that Draco not figure out the clue, but since he was bringing it up, perhaps Snape could try to turn it to his advantage.
“Padfoot. That’s the Grim. A large black dog,” Draco said meaningfully.
“Clever, Draco,” Snape said, interrupting before Draco could complete his thought. “Very clever.”
“I, on the other hand, have no idea what Potter was babbling about,” Snape continued. His voice dripped with sarcasm as he added, with a meaningful look at Draco, “As I shall most regretfully explain to Dumbledore, in the unlikely event the question ever arises.”
Malfoy gave him a long look, and nodded his head in satisfaction.
“Back to the dormitory, then, Draco,” Snape said briskly.
“Yes, sir,” Draco said. “Good night, Professor.”
“Good night, Draco,” Snape said, heading out of the castle.
As soon as he was outside, he again sent his Patronus message to 12 Grimmauld Place, warning them of the possibility that Potter was already on his way to the Ministry on a misguided rescue mission. He, on the other hand, was off to the Forest to look for Potter and his gang. They had neutralized Umbridge, he felt sure, but the Forest contained other dangers.
The Sorting Hat says I belong in Slytherin.
“Death is the only pure, beautiful conclusion of a great passion.”-D. H. Lawrence
All was well.