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Snape Didn't Die by OliveOil_Med

Format: Novella
Chapters: 7
Word Count: 39,006
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Humor
Characters: Snape, OC
Pairings:

First Published: 10/03/2009
Last Chapter: 06/21/2011
Last Updated: 06/21/2011

Summary:


Snape didn't die, he simply joined the Witness Relocation Program. A funny slogan for an avatar, but what if some crazed author somewhere decided to write the story behind it?

But between scantily-clad Ministry agents, seeing-eye elves, and an all-witch school and all the drama that goes along with it, he is beginning to wonder how much worse the alternative really be?

Lionel


Chapter 1: Chapter 1 The Best Laid Plans
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Chapter One
The Best Laid Plans


Harry rose from his spot on the ground, taking with him Lily’s eyes that Severus had so wished to be the last thing he would see before he departed from this world. He wanted to beg Harry to stay with him just a moment longer, just until he slipped from this world for good, but his throat had been ripped away and his voice along with it.

Severus watched from behind still, glassy eyes as his three former students left his presence for the last time. Convinced that he was dead, they had left him without saying a word or bothering to shut the door behind them. The room was quiet, silent to the bone, and he was completely alone.

The heavy metallic smell of blood became overpowering, and the vivid red color took over his vision. The deprivation of his human senses forced him to turn to his own thoughts, the last place he wanted to find himself. Was this really where it all had lead to? All the loss of human life just so Potter could be offered up as some sort of sacrificial lamb to Lord Voldemort? And who was to say it would even work? Even the best laid plans could have their flaws. Even the great Albus Dumbledore was capable of being wrong. Had Lily’s death been worth it all?

Would she be the one to greet him when he finally crossed over, whenever that would be?

Severus breathed in deep and sighed, despite the sharp pain it caused him. He closed his eyes and waited for the darkness, or the light, or whatever it would be to take him away.


 

 









“CLEAR!”

With a sudden jolt, Severus felt every muscle in his body begin to convulse, a sensation similar to being stabbed with thousands of needles felt over his entire body. This was what happened when a person died? He had never heard this near-death experience told before. Once the initial blow subsided, Severus swore under his breath, an action that brought an even worse pain to his throat.

“Okay, he’s back,” the same voice informed. “You can start driving.”

The ground under him shifted and Severus felt himself begin to move. The sudden jerking motion caused him to groan, leading to more doubts about what happened to those who crossed over to the other side. Even after the needle-like pain had faded away, a sharp pain still existed in his throat, refusing to subside. When he reached his hand up to touch it, he felt a thick gauze wrapped around his neck, nearly soaked through with dried blood. Then another hand reached for his to pull it away from the wound, and brought it to rest back at his side.

Finally, Severus opened his eyes and found himself looking up into a human face. Slowly things began to shift further back into focus, and the face above him became more defined in shape.

The soft features of a young man stared back down at him, a concerned look pressed onto his face. Chestnut-colored hair fell messily over his eyes, standing out in icy-colored contrast against the tanned coloring of his skin. He seemed almost familiar somehow, but he was most definitely not Lily.

He tried to clear the jumbled thoughts, and for a moment felt completely lost. Of all the stories he had been told about near-death experiences, what was happening now did resemble a single one of them. He felt almost cheated.

“Professor Snape?” the young man asked, making sure to enunciate his words very clearly. “My name is Elliot Rogers. I’m an Auror-in-training. Do you know where you are?”

It took a few more moments of though, but it finally dawned on Severus where he recognized this Rogers-character from.

Elliot Rogers? Severus thought to himself. That jelly-spined little Ravenclaw who could be frozen with fear with a mere glare? How on earth did he manage to become an Auror-in-training?

He vaguely remembered Elliot as a student: small and squeamish, always looking as though he was trying to hide inside his own robes. Severus did recall that he was also one of the few who had dared to brave his N.E.W.T. level Potions class. Though Severus usually prided himself on his excellent memory of his students, the outstanding and the mediocre, he couldn’t quite recall what kind of student Elliot Rogers had been. Most likely nothing that was worth remembering anyway.

What was becoming very clear to Severus was that he was still alive. Through some kind of miracle or sick joke, he had survived a planned attempt on his life, and now lay flat on his back, very much still a part of this world.

“Mr. Rogers…” Severus gasped, despite that piercing pain it caused in his throat. “From Ravenclaw…”

“Oh, so you do remember me!” The young man seemed to almost laugh, despite what Severus felt was a highly inappropriate time to do so. “I wondered if you would. And I wouldn’t try to talk anymore until we get a Healer to look at that wound.

“Here,” Elliot said, and handed him a notepad and a pen, “you can use this to communicate. Now, do you know where you are?”

Severus winced as he turned his head to survey his surroundings. From what he could tell, he and Mr. Rogers were the only passengers. Had he not felt the movement of the engine starting, he may not have known they were in a vehicle at all. Lined up like a hospital ward was bed after bed, though each was dust-covered from disuse. There was only one logical answer to the question: the Knight Bus.

What he didn’t know was how this was possible. The Knight Bus driver had been arrested, the transportation had been out of service for more than a year, the numerous trouble in the world far outweighing the need to hire a new driver; and yet, here they were, speeding through the streets of London. The kid behind the wheel, swerving and flashing hand gestures at the passing cars, barely seemed old enough to drive at all. Yet there was no mistaking where he was, especially when the drive decided on an impulsive left turn, sending all the beds crashing sideways into one another.

The Knight Bus, Severus wrote in his small precise handwriting once he recovered from the sudden jolt.

“Good,” Elliot breathed a sigh of relief. “When you went into the Shrieking Shack and got away from me, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure you were going to make it.”

But I died, Severus wrote on a fresh sheet of paper. I felt myself going.

“Yeah, and you had me really worried when I finally found you,” Elliot agreed before reaching into his coat pocket and pulling out an empty vial. “Thank Merlin for this little beauty here! Who would have known that whole ‘stopper in death’ speech on our first day of Potions could actually be useful in real life?”

Severus clenched his jaw as Elliot laughed at his own joke. This new, more arrogant attitude did not suit Mr. Rogers at all. At least not in a way that was to his liking. He preferred the little boy who would quake at the sound of his voice. Oh, if a viper had not just ripped his throat out, the tongue-lashing he would have given him.

His thought process was soon interrupted again, however, by another sudden jolt caused by the slamming breaks. And in accordance with the laws of physics, the beds all jerked forward, not as quick to stop as the vehicle that carried them. Elliot actually toppled of the edge of the bed, onto the floor, to which Severus rolled his eyes.

“End of the line!” the strange driver called out. “Everybody off!”

“Everybody, that’s us, Professor.” Elliot jumped to his feet, shaking the dirt off his robes as the doors opened. “Can you stand up?”

Nodding, though the action caused even more pain, Severus pushed himself up off the bed and tried to force himself to stand. He struggled with every shuffling step, even with nearly all his weight supported across Elliot’s shoulders. Nevertheless, very slowly, the two men did climb off the bus into the fog-thick night. Across the streets and sidewalks, Elliot led Severus to the only lit structure on the street: a brick building with “Robin Arms” written across the doorway in neon lights.

“I’m afraid we’ll be slumming it in a Muggle hotel tonight. We'd be idiots to go anywhere you might be seen by someone who could possibly report you to You-Know-Who.”

Quite certain he would not be able to write and continue to stand at the same time, Severus mouthed the question Healer? How would he be able to be a Healer if they couldn’t be exposed to any other wizards? Mr. Rogers certainly hadn’t seemed to think his little plan through very well.

“We aren’t going to be able to go to St. Mungo’s, Professor,” Elliot explained, as though Severus were daft for not having figured this out for himself. “Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there are people out there who want you dead.”

Severus found this statement entirely unnecessary, and not in the least bit humorous. People had been wanting him dead his entire life; he didn’t need his former student joking about it.

“Consider yourself lucky, Professor,” Elliot went on to say, opening the hotel doors ahead of him. “You’re probably going to be getting your first house call since the nineteen fifties.”


 

 









“I hope you know how fortunate you are, Professor Snape,” the Healer lectured as she applied new bandages to Severus’ wound. “Surviving a wound like this—we should be crying over your grave right now.”

There had never been a time in Severus’ life when he had longed for his voice as much as he did right now. He didn’t know how much more of this condescending talk from people he could remember as eleven-year-olds he could take. Judith Logan: yet another old student of his, a Gryffindor, was now also holding his life in her hands as she examined every little puncture Severus had for signs of an injury that could result in his death.

Either way, he doubted anyone would cry over his grave, least of all this arrogant little Gryffindor.

Judith had also been former student of his N.E.W.T. Potions class, but at lot more cocky than even the newly arrogant Elliot could have ever hoped to have been. Time certainly didn’t seem to do much to change that attitude either. The way she spoke in that condescending manner as she gave him instructions was the exact tone she had used to talk back to him whenever he had criticized her in class.

“Alright,” she said, finally satisfied that Severus wouldn’t drop dead the moment she left, “you’re going to need to keep that wound covered for at least a week, and change the dressing every day. That pain you have when you try to speak should be gone now, but I would still hold off on any heavy conversations for at least a few days. Use that notepad for the rest of the night, just to be safe.

“Follow my instructions,” she finished her little speech, packing up her medical satchel, “and you should heal up nicely. I’m sure that Mr. Rogers will be more than happy to help you.”

Severus shot them an irritated glance. Did they really think that he needed instruction on how to take care of his injuries? Elliot shifted slightly where he stood, revealing a small trace of the more timid student that he remembered. Judith, however, simply snorted at the glare and rolled her eyes.

“Relax, Elliot,” she directed at her former classmate, not even granting Severus eye contact as she spoke. “We aren’t students anymore, and he’s not our Potions professor. He has no authority over us.”

Clearly uncomfortable with having the conversation in such close proximity to their former teacher, Elliot gestured for Judith to join him in the darkened entryway of the hotel room. Even in the shadows and with their hushed voices, Severus was able to gain a vague idea to the tone of their conversation. Elliot stood alert, occasionally shifting his gaze back to Severus, as though he were afraid they would suddenly be ambushed, either by Death Eaters who had followed them, or by Severus himself.

Judith, on the other hand, seemed more annoyed than anything else; she had been pulled out of bed in the middle of the night to make a house call from who knew how far away. It was also abundantly clear that any past respect or fear she had held for her former professor was long since gone.

The two seemed comfortable speaking with on another, though; the way Elliot touched her on her shoulder, and the way they stood so close together as they spoke. They had to be more than just casual friends for Judith to risk her life to run out in the middle of the night to treat a man whom the Dark Lord desired dead. Both of them had been in the same year together, though he couldn’t quite remember if they had been friends. As well as Severus could remember a student’s academic achievements, he had never been the type of professor who took a vested interest in the personal lives of his students.

With a quick hug around Elliot’s neck, Judith departed out the door. Severus heard her footsteps move swiftly, as though she could not leave the building fast enough. Elliot listened to the footsteps for a few moments until they faded out of range.

“Okay, Professor,” he sighed and turned back to Severus, attempting to shirk his once jovial attitude now that his former classmate had left. “I imagine you have a lot of questions right now.

“Well, the plan was originally that I was supposed to infiltrate the school disguised as a student, which I did. And then I was supposed to have the Carrows see me do something worthy of being sent to the Headmaster’s office, and believe me, I had something good in mind.”

The presumptuous declaration grated on Severus’ nerves. He’d seen his share of pranks played within the corridors of Hogwarts, and he doubted that this unimaginative excuse of a Ravenclaw would have thought of anything that extraordinary. Not to mention that the Carrows had started taking the discipline of students into their own hands, rather then let him have much of the fun. It would have to needed been a very major breach against Hogwarts statutes for the case to be taken to him.

“Once I got to you office, I was to lock the Carrows out, and create a very loud, but not visible, scene. Then I was supposed to ‘kill’ you, transport you off school grounds, and make it look like the work of a rogue rebel.

“Of course, as you probably already know, before I could put it all into action, you had already left for the Shrieking Shack. When I found this out, I ran about as fast as I could. Whose brilliant idea was it to keep people from Apparating on school grounds anyway?

I’m sorry my school had to enforce basic safety measures and inconvenience you! Severus thought to himself. If he remembered correctly, the evening had not been exactly pleasant for him either.

“And by the time I got there, you were pretty much hanging on by a thread. When I saw all that blood on the floor, you not breathing, and that creepy dead-fish eyes look on your face, I thought you were a goner. But then I remembered the Blood Halting Potion I had with me. Did I mention that you really need to keep giving that ‘death-stopper’ lecture for the rest of your teaching career?”

Once again, Elliot chuckled at his own rhetoric. Severus did not return the smile. He didn’t find this funny at all.

“Once the blood flow stopped,” Elliot continued, clearly not shaken by any of Severus’ nonverbal, but imposing tactics, “I was able to Apparate to the Knight Bus stop. After I got you on the bus, I was able to perform a Revival charm, and that’s about when you woke up.”

And what is all this? What is happening to me? he scrawled quickly. He wanted answers, not a bedtime story praising this overgrown prat’s wondrous rescue of him.

“For now, Professor Snape, it’s easier for everyone to just continue to believe you are dead,” Elliot explained to him. “The planning for this operation began months ago. We had to pull a lot of strings, but we were able to get you into the Ministry’s Witness Relocation Program. A lot of the spots in the program have been going to Muggleborns lately, so that they may flee the country. But in recognition of your past services which apparently I am not entrusted to hear the full details of, you have earned a spot in the program.”

If he’d been able, Severus would have sat up with a jolt. The Witness Relocation Program? Were they expecting Voldemort to win the war after all? Or was it that no matter the outcome of the war, there would be people after him? He’d been more than convincing in his role as Death Eater. He’d killed Albus Dumbledore, after all. Not to mention the cruelties heaped on the students of Hogwarts during his short tenure as Headmaster, despite all the abuses his post had allowed him to prevent. He doubted it really mattered what side he was on. He’d made enemies on both. Never one to be forgiving of the past actions of others, Severus did not expect others to forgive him for his.

“The only catch is that you have to leave tomorrow morning,” Elliot confessed. “We need to get you out of here as soon as possible.

“Please understand, Professor. What would you be facing by not leaving?” Elliot appealed to his former professor. “Even if You-Know-Who is defeated, any of his followers would more than likely shoot you on sight, regardless of the outcome of the war. And with all these crimes on your record, how much more merciful do you believe his opposition will be on you? What will either side do when they find out that you escaped him?

“It’s not like you’re going to be doing this alone, Professor,” Elliot told his former teacher, speaking cautiously as though trying to sympathize with Severus was more dangerous than laughing at him. “There are agents here, agents where you’re going; there’s going to be a whole system of support to help with the transition. And once you’re established in your new identity, even though those around you won’t know the whole truth, they’ll still be able to help you in any way you need.”

Severus sat silent, he face seemingly devoid of any expression. He had never been used to people wanting to help him. A lifetime of needing to rely on himself had made him reluctant to accept help from anyone. And many times, when help had been offered to him, it would always be little more than an attempt to use him, or would come back to bite him in some other way.

“I’m going to sleep,” Elliot stated nonchalantly as he curled up on the sofa, clearly wanting more than anything for the conversation to end. “Night, Professor.”

With a wave of his wand, the electric lights in the room extinguished and Elliot fell asleep almost instantly.

Severus, however, stayed awake, not moving from his spot on the edge of the bed. All that had occurred tonight was happening all so fast. The Ministry’s Witness Relocation Program, the possibility of Britain being ruled by Lord Voldemort, and now he truly would be running away from it all. He spent the next many hours staring at the ceiling, sleeping continuing to evade him.

He was thankful, though, that Potter could not be around to see this; to gain proof that Severus really was running away, that he was a coward.
 


Chapter 2: Chapter 2 Seedy City Streets
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Chapter 2
Seedy City Streets


Severus allowed the water in the bathroom sink to run as he held the cold, damp cloth against his face. He was far past the point of caring if he disrupted Elliot’s sleep. Severus had been lying awake, staring at the ceiling for several hours. When he literally felt himself going mad, he opted to kill time by wandering the room, and eventually, the rest of the hotel. Severus had only just come back from his explorations now.

The building was so still, it felt almost dead. No one was awake, save for a few bleary-eyed employees and guilty-looking men leaving their rooms. So Severus simply wandered the halls, aimless and without direction. He even unlocked the doors to the pool and sat for nearly an hour, just watching the water and breathing in the heavy scent of chlorine. The sound of the lapping water stirred by the pool filter was relaxing, meditative. If he could bring himself far enough away from it all, he could almost swear he was sitting by the shores of Black Lake.

Exhausted, Severus reached for the tap, shutting of the running water. He held the cloth to his face a moment longer, trying to take the persistent ache away from his head, before he finally set it on the counter. Maybe now he could finally get some sleep.

But as soon as he opened the door, a human figure standing mere inches away from his face forced him to jump back, nearly falling to the floor. Severus was certain he felt three years shaved off his life expectancy.

“Morning, Professor!” Elliot chirped as though he had been awake for hours. “Coffee?” He held out the steaming Styrofoam cup to his former teacher.

“It’s three in the morning!” Severus hissed. His voice was hoarse, but it was there without pain, which was all he really cared about right now.

“Well, it’s six at night in New York City, which gives exactly two hours to get everything you need from London before you leave the country for good.”

Severus blinked back the sudden feeling of surprise. They were leaving now? And for where? Until that moment, the idea of leaving had seemed more like an abstract concept than an actual plan. Now, it was suddenly becoming very, very real.

“You said we weren’t leaving until morning!”

Elliot shrugged his shoulders. “Three o’clock is in the morning.”

Severus grumbled under his breath, but eventually took the coffee cup from Elliot when it became obvious he wasn’t going to be deterred. He suddenly recalled what Judith had said the night before: that Severus was no longer she or Elliot’s teacher, so they had no reason to be intimidated by him. This was becoming more and more apparent in the confident way Elliot held himself and even in his seemingly oblivious attitude towards Severus’ annoyance.

Since Severus had brought nothing with him, this meant there was nothing to pack, which made for a very sudden exit from the hotel room, making it no different from anything else that had happened that night. They wandered through hallways and staircases, ignored by the motionless night employees who may not have even noticed if the hotel had been struck by lightning and set on fire. As unnoticed as they had arrived, so had they left, without even allowing the front desk to know of their departure.


 

 











“Once we get there, you will be passed of to your handler: a specially appointed agent who will be overseeing your case while you’re in the program. They will provide you with a new name, a new identity, and help you get settled into the country.”

Elliot spoke to Severus while pretending to read a Muggle newspaper, as though it would make the three other customers in the convenience store believe that they didn’t know each other. Although Severus didn’t know exactly who they were creating this ruse for. The store was empty, save for the two of them and the cashier who seemed more interested in the fuzzy black-and-white television he had hiding behind a magazine rack.

“Country?” Severus whispered, as though he were asking the box of pre-cooked rice on the shelf in front of him rather than the young man skimming over the sports section.

“As soon as you get everything you need here,” Elliot told him, flipping the page to the business section, “we’ll Apparate to New York City, you’ll be passed on to your handler, and that’s the last we’ll see of each other.”

“A new country?” Severus rasped, abandoning all unnecessary attempts at undercover as he grabbed Elliot’s shoulder. He could hardly believe his former student had waited until now to tell him this.

But still, just had Severus had been seeing more and more of in the past few hours, Elliot remained completely calm in the face of his teacher’s anger. Shifting his gaze back towards the cashier, making sure they were still being ignored, Elliot folded his newspaper under his arm and stared Severus directly in the eyes as he answered.

“Professor, everyone in Britain, Ireland, and Scotland attends Hogwarts,” he explained calmly. “If you know anywhere in those three countries where you could hide where absolutely no one would recognize you as the ‘late’ Professor Severus Snape, I would love to hear about it.”

Severus felt his mind go through about a dozen snide responses he could have countered with, but instead chose to bit back his tongue.

“Don’t worry: your handler knows who you are, and they will be the one to approach you at the meeting place. For security reasons, I know nothing about the agent appointed to you other then than they more than likely breathe and have toes.”

“Splendid,” Severus replied in a drawling tone.

As soon as they were done speaking, Elliot opened his paper once again and went right back to pretending the two men didn’t know each other. Severus turned towards the counter, rolling his eyes, and dumped the collection of over-priced ‘essentials’ onto the surface. Absent-mindedly, and with one eye remaining on the television screen, the cashier scanned the items over a ruby light and then held his hand out for payment. Out of habit, Severus found himself searching for coins before he remembered the paper money that Elliot had given him on the street. Without even needing to watch what his hands were doing, the cashier took his money, typed in the code for the register, and was able to count out exact change, placing it all neatly in Severus’ hand.

And then, as though none of it had even happened, the cashier turned full attention back to the television just in time for a startled woman on the screen to turn around and scream in the face of a stranger shrouded in shadow.

With an excessively loud snap, Elliot shut the newspaper once again. Without a signal or even a sideways glance, he pushed his way out the door, the annoying electronic chimes signally his exit. Given no lead for anything else to do, Severus followed him out. Finding himself in a more distracted mood than he had ever found himself in before, he didn’t even notice when Elliot stopped moving ahead of him, nearly causing Severus to nearly run into the Junior Auror.

“Grab jacket,” Elliot suddenly ordered, holding out his sleeve to Severus. But while he said this, he kept his eyes forward, avoiding eye contact, as though he and the professor weren’t even speaking to one another.

Out of reflex, Severus glanced around for any eyes that might have had the opportunity to see them performing magic. But the flickering street lights portrayed empty pavement and sidewalks devoid of human life.

“I can Apparate myself, Mr. Rogers,” Severus informed the young man.

“Do know where we’re going?” Elliot asked his former teacher, with a cynically raised eyebrow. It was now abundantly clear that Elliot no longer had any feelings of fear towards his former teacher. “Because if you do, then yes, you can Apparate there yourself.”

Severus clenched his teeth, his jaw becoming stiff with having done it so often in the past two days. He distained the lack of power and control he now had over even the most minor detail of his own life was quickly becoming more than this man could take.

“Grab jacket,” Elliot order once again, holding his sleeve even closer to the professor.

Severus huffed under his breath, but finally submitted to the order of his student, grabbing the right sleeve of his jacket. And without a word of warning Elliot’s jacket seemed to burst in a flash of magical energy and transported the two of them, without bothering to double check for sneaking Muggles. But before Severus could reprimand the young Auror, or even before his eyes could become aware of the change in scenery, Severus found himself in the cab of an old, rather dirty and dusty car. Elliot, not nearly as bewildered, for he was the one in control of the movement, relaxed his back and shoulders as he reached down to adjust the car seat.

“Buckle up for safety, Professor,” he told Severus as he reached across to fasten his own seatbelt.

“And what do you know about driving a car?” Severus buckled the seatbelt as he was told, following orders from Elliot having become a bit of a reflex.

“Enough.”

Without skipping a beat, Elliot stepped on the gas and floored the accelerator. The car raced forward, pinning Severus against the back of his seat. Although the scenery raced across the windows before most eyes would have been able to register the images, Severus found himself glancing to the side, trying to gain some perspective of where he was. Along the seedy city streets, the few scattered bodies paced along the sidewalks; some conversing with one another, others waiting alone, and a very small amount sprawled on the pavement, talking to themselves. Upstanding citizens all, Severus found himself thinking to himself as a sneer passed over his lips.

Still not bothering to warn his former professor of his abrupt actions, Elliot slammed on the brakes, sending both men hurtling forward, Severus feeling the seatbelt cut sharply across his middle.

“Wow!” Elliot breathed a sigh of relief as he glanced down at his watch, his idle hand shifting the car into park. “Just barely made it before I told your handler I would have you here.

“Lucky me,” Elliot continued, unlatching his seatbelt, allowing it to snap over his shoulder. “Apparently, the agent in charge of your case is one of those types who does not play well with others.”

Elliot did not make eye contact, so Severus allowed his eyes to drift out the window, searching for some more occupying use of his time. Unfortunately for him, the only sight within his line of vision was a crowd of…working ladies, clustering around the same streetlight. A few walked up towards approaching cars, the drivers hidden in shadow. All the other women all seemed too–for lack of a more sensitive word–hideous, misshapen, and old to appeal to anyone for even the cheapest price. They seemed to know that, for even though they were dressed very much the part of their profession, the did nothing to attract the passing cars. They smoked, gossiped, or simply stared of into space, a gaze seeming to portray they were not currently ones of this world.

“It shouldn’t be more than a few moments before your handler comes for you,” Elliot informed his former teacher, even though Severus did not even move to look the young Auror directly in the eyes. “I got you here just in time, but still, I don’t want to be around when that handler of yours shows up, just in case they still has anything they wants to take out on me.

“Good luck, Professor Snape,” Elliot wished to Severus with a tone of finality to his words.

Suddenly, a moment later, a loud snap preceded a strong rush of air circling the inside of the car. Once Severus’ eyes finally ceased watering, he was able to see that Elliot was gone, Apparated out of sight without so much as a word of warning.

“Mr. Rogers,” Severus hissed into the backseat of the empty car, as though Elliot were simply hiding somewhere, playing some elaborate prank. “Mr. Rogers, get back here this instant!”

A sharp knock at the window distracted Severus from calling out for Elliot. Waiting beside the car, hugging her trench coat around her shoulders, was a young woman surveying the interior of the car. Her eyes were heavily lined with black make-up and her lips were painted bright red. This, along with her short skirt and her reviling blouse, left no doubt in Severus’ mind as to what she was doing on that street corner so late at night.

“Hey, baby.” She smiled coyly at him, trailing a finger across the window. “You lonely tonight?”

She raised one eyebrow and flashed her shiny white teeth, contrasting heavily against her dark red lips. Manicured nails traced back and forth against the bottom of the outside window as she waited for an answer from Severus.

“No,” Severus stated coldly, hoping that it would be enough to drive the…‘working’ girl away. “Certainly not enough to require company from someone of your stature!”

The young woman cocked her head to the side, seeming both confused and amused at the same time. She gave a snorting laugh at Severus’ expression as she shook her head, her blonde hair flipping from side to side.

“What, blondes?” she asked. “Alright, I understand. What were you looking for: a Puerto Rican, an Asian, a fat chick—”

Severus held up his hand to stop her.

“I don’t mean any offence,” Severus tried again, not out of desire to spare he feeling, but just to see if he could make her go away. “I’m sure you are very…talented at…what it is you do, and that there would be many, many –”

“Severus Snape?” she asked in an even tone.

The coy, flirtatious look had all but vanished from the young woman’s face, replaced by a serious, almost business-like expression. Her posture became straight and her fingers now tapped against the car door in an impatient manner.

“How about letting me in?” She signaled to the door handle with her eyes. “I’ve been on my feet since eight, and these heels are gonna make me a cripple.”

Why,” he spoke slowly, “would I do-”

“I’m your handler,” the girl explained. “It’s my job to make sure your cover doesn’t get blown till…well, pretty much till one of us dies.

“Now if you’ll just let me in the car…” she reminded him.

The scantly-dressed stranger tapped her foot shortly against the street before finally coming to the realization the Severus would not be the type to welcome her with open arms. From one of the deep pockets of her trench coat, she extracted a wand: thin and wrapped in silk cord. With a slight tap against the car door, the locks popped up and the girl pulled the door open and let herself in, making herself comfortable against the driver’s seat.

“Thank you,” she replied to a statement not said, reaching for the ignition out of reflex, but stopping when she found nothing there. Elliot must have taken the key with him when he Apparated out of the car. “I’m guessing you don’t drive. Just give me one second.”

Handful by handful, various pieces of junk were piled onto the dashboard: an empty pack of chewing gum; a purple cigarette lighter; a few silvery coins, both Muggle and magical; a pen cap; and few scraps of crumpled paper covered with notes.

While she searched, Severus watched the young woman hands disappear and reappear with knuckles white around some new handful of trash. The more he observed her, the more he began to wonder how he ever could have believe that the young agent was a…what she was disguised to be. Her hair was clean and styled and her makeup appeared extremely soft compared to the gaudy dime store makeup the other woman slathered on their faces like circus clowns. Her blouse hardly seemed like one that would belong to a professional, but it appeared fine quality and fairly new. The length of her skirt…forced Severus to shift his attention away almost the moment he looked at her. The areas of skin around he plastic bands of her high heels were red and inflamed, leaving no doubt to her story that she had been on her feet all night.

Finally, she pulled out a set of keys on a ring. She pushed them into the ignition and flashed Severus with a triumphant smile. Pleased with her small victory, she immediately reached for the radio and began flipping through the Muggle stations, stopping when she found a station blasting loud rock and roll and turning the excessive volume up even louder.

“You don’t happen to have a name, by any chance, do you, miss?” Severus found himself shouting in an attempt to be heard over the blaring ‘music’, if that term could be applied liberally.

“Shoshana St. James,” she answered, lowering the volume for benefit of her own voice. “Try saying that three times fast.”

Suddenly, demonstrating no better drive skills than Elliot had, Shoshana slammed her foot against the accelerator, the tires screeching as she raced down the yellow tinted streets, none of the residents of the sidewalk even bothering to look up. As though this were the kind of thing that was a daily occurrence on these particular streets in New York City.

“Consider yourself lucky that you did get me, though” Shoshana rambled on. “I’m probably one of the only ones who have been in the Department of Magic’s—that’s what it’s called in this country, by the way, not the Ministry—Witness Relocation program from the time my career started. We have dozens of agents who have had to be reassigned to this unit just to accommodate them all.”

“So why do I not have one of them,” Severus asked snidely as Shoshana made a sharp turn, causing Severus to smash into the side window.

“Because this kind of meeting place isn’t the kind of place you can stand around in wearing a business suit or a robe without being unnoticed,” Shoshana replied as though it were the most obvious answer in the world. “And besides, I’m the only one who can fit into the hooker disguise.”

“How fortunate for me,” Severus muttered in a facetious tone, earning yet another laugh from Shoshana as she sped into a parking space and slammed on the brakes.

“Thirsty?” the young woman asked him abruptly as her seatbelt clicked and snapped over her near-bare shoulder.












Later that night, Severus found himself in the bar of yet another hotel: a smoky room decorated in burgundy leather resting under the surface of the city, with occasional sets of shoes walking passed the small, high-resting windows. The room was sparsely dotted with lonely business travelers, stumbling men who slurred their speech and spilled their drinks on themselves, and scantly clad women that hardly made Shoshana stand out.

Severus stirred the ice in his scotch but did not drink it. He had never actually planned on drinking it when he ordered the drink from the bartender. But Shoshana’s attitude as they entered the bar insisted that the world would be full of people just looking for holes in he cover she had created, and that anonymity would become as vital as oxygen in the next few months. And certainly no one came into a bar and sat their with nothing to drink.

Shoshana remained empty-handed, because, much to Severus’ annoyance, she was apparently still six months too young to order alcohol. Instead, she occupied her time by throwing an official looking file onto the surface of the table, opening it, and beginning to take out various pieces of paper. “Alright, let me give you a basic overview of the program and all that will be expected from you.”

“You are so insistent on secrecy,” Severus commented, keeping his voice low, “and yet you choose to discuss all these things in such a public place as a pub?”

“Relax. No one’s going to come over here, Professor,” Shoshana replied, snapping her compact mirror shut. “You’re having a drink with a hooker; they all think you’re a pervert.”

Severus sneered at the girl, but like Elliot, with a lack of authority, it accomplished nothing.

Nonchalontly, Shoshana tapped a cigarette out of a pack in her coat pocket. How much could she possibly be carrying with her? Severus though to himself as she tried to light the tobacco on a candle resting on the center of the table. When the low flame failed to yield any results, she pulled the purple cigarette lighter from her purse and used that. She noticed Severus’ expression, but misread the reason behind it.

“I know, I know they’re bad for me,” she confessed as she exhaled a cloud of the wispy smoke. “But on this job, there have just been so many times I would say to myself, ‘I wish I smoked, ‘cause this would be the perfect time for a cigarette’, and I just ended up picking up the habit.

“Plus, with so many clients who have been in jail,” Shoshana reminisced, “cigarettes are a form of currency, so you can get pretty much anything you want, ‘long as you ask for it.”

As almost an afterthought, Shoshana offered the pack to Severus, who turned her down. Shrugging, the young agent used the bright purple Muggle lighter to relight the end of her cigarette, which had gone cool during her explanation, taking a deep drag and then blowing a long stream of smoke above her head.

“Anyway,” she said, taking a breath of fresh air before she continued, “it’s all pretty cut and dry. No phone calls back to England, no letters, no travel there for at least ten years, no contact with anyone from your old life whatsoever.”

Shoshana tapped her cigarette against the ashtray, cinders falling softly into the dirty, yellowed glass

“Yes, just like in the movies,” she remarked, bringing the cigarette back to her lips.

Shoshana took a few deep puffs of her cigarette, as though giving Severus a few moments to reflect on what she just said. In truth, she was just wasting her time. This whole thing had been happening so fast for Severus, that he still had a hard time actualizing what had happened, let alone consider what it all meant. He put his hand to his forehead in an effort to end the dull ache spreading over his brain.

“Do you have any family?” Shoshana asked him. “Parents, a wife, kids? It’s still pretty early in the program, so it wouldn’t be too late to include them too.”

It had been ages since Severus had even considered his family. His father had died while he was away during his sixth year at Hogwarts, his mother following not five years after that. He had been an only child, which had left the Snape household always with an empty, lonely feel, although Severus was quite sure no one else deserved to suffer a childhood in that place. In his younger, more idealist days, he had always though that he and Lily would go somewhere far away together and become family to one another.

The only problem with idealism was that it was something easily shattered.

“No, no one.”

“Good,” Shoshana answered quickly before she stopped to realize what her words must have sounded like. “Oh, I don’t mean good as in ‘you don’t have any family’. I mean that you won’t have anyone that will need to be included in the program. Not that I’m lazy or anything! It’s just that, so it’s really very good that you don’t have any…”

Shoshana stopped attempting to redeem herself and took another long drag of her cigarette as though an attempt to relax.

“Wow, there really is no way of sidestepping all that, is there?”

Shoshana took another puff of smoke and watched the smoke rise up to the ceiling. She held herself much like a person waiting for a storm to settle, waiting for any signs that her words which had stirred the waters had finally calmed down.

“Oh, my God,” Shoshana remarked as she glanced at her watch; Severus found himself nearly reprimanding her for her language once again. “It’s really getting late. I suppose you’ll want to call it a night.”

Shoshana gathered all her things into her purse, including Severus’ empty glass, and pushed herself out of her booth. She waited for Severus to follow her, not caring about the other bar patrons staring at them or the thoughts that must have been circling about the two of them. And it didn’t stop at the bar doors. At the front desk, in the lift, and all the way down the hallway, people would turn their heads and whisper, making very sure to point as they passed.

“Here we are,” Shoshana spoke with a sweeping gesture towards the door. “Room 673.”

The young agent swiped the card key, met with a green light and an electronic chime. The lock clicked open and Shoshana opened the door a crack for the professor.

“Home, sweet home,” she remarked, “at the for the next few weeks.”

“Splendid,” Severus answered beginning to open the door further. He stopped when he notice Shoshana was not leaving, She stood very relaxed against the off-white walls, leaning with her shoulder and one heeled foot shuffling back and forth.

“Is there something else?”

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” she asked in that same fake-coyness she had used on the street, unable to stifle a giggle as she did so.

It took a short moment for Severus to realize what was happening: Shoshana was toying with him. For all the disguises and covers she had put forth, much to his humiliation, she had been enjoying watching him squirm. She was like a small child who would rip the wings off a fairy, someone who enjoyed watching the embarrassment of others for her own amusment.

Severus glared at his new handler. “That is not funny!”

Shoshana, who seemed about as unfazed as Elliot had been by Severus’ seething gazes, burst out in another snorting laugh.

“Good night, Severus.” She snickered under her breath as she walked back down the hallway towards the elevator, her hips swinging with her steps. At that last observation, Severus shook his head violently as he tried to convince himself that he did not just notice the young woman’s hips, and slammed the door shut behind him.


Chapter 3: Chapter 3 Breaking Glass in an Apothecary
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Chapter 3
Breaking Glass in an Apothecary


Severus glanced down at his watch and frowned. It was only five minutes until Shoshana said she would meet him at the coffee shop café, not far from the hotel he had been staying at for the past two weeks. He stirred his tea and hoped whatever Miss St. James had planned did not involve a walking tour of the city. He had gone through enough trouble to get it, having to talk to the cashier who had know idea of how to brew a tea. The employee had then gone to talk to the assistant manager who had to call the owner, who was on vacation in South Beach, for instructions on how to brew a simple cup of tea, and Severus had every intention of enjoying his prize!

Only standing in the way of that plan was a sickly little boy with a dripping nose sitting at the table directly in front of him. Years ago, Severus found nothing more disgusting than a small child with a cold. Once he became a professor, however, he learned that his students attracted germs like a lit lantern attracted moths. Even now, the sniffing sounds and soggy coughs still made him cringe, but he gotten to the point where he could cope. But this was not natural. Mucus was dripping from the little brat’s nose like a faucet.

To make matters worse, he was staring at Severus as though he were the most interesting person in the world. Yellowed crust was lined like makeup along his eyes, which were red and puffy. His breathing was loud enough that Severus wondered how the entire café could not have been disturbed by it, soggy and gulping, almost like a fish pulled from the water.

And still he kept staring…and staring, and staring, and staring—

What do you want?” Severus snapped just a little too loudly, for everyone sitting outside the café was now staring at him.

It certainly didn’t help that the snot-nosed little boy suddenly burst into tears. This was what finally caused his mother to abandon her phone call and actually observe her surroundings and discover that her screaming child and the man that the entire coffee shop was now glaring daggers at were somehow connected. Coolly, she snapped her cell phone shut, strolled around the table, picked up her bawling little brat and moved towards the door leading to the inside portion of the café, all the while gracing Severus with an icy stare that could have frozen running water. She didn’t say a word until she got to the door and nearly ran into a young woman cradling her plastic coffee cup.

“MOVE!” she screeched, startling the girl so horribly she nearly toppled over on her high heeled shoes. At first, the younger woman at the door seemed confused, but when she pushed a few strands of blonde hair out of her eyes, understanding finally dawned.

“Nice to see you’re making friends,” she remarked as she took a seat across from Severus.

Shoshana St. James reclined in her chair and sipped casually at her drink, which, in Severus’ opinion, looked more like an ice cream sundae than a cup of coffee. It was topped with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry. In addition, it was also drizzled with chocolate syrup. Ice cold, water drops were condensing and falling on the side of the cup. Severus was trying as hard as he could to focus on Shoshana’s drink because it meant he wouldn’t be focusing on her wardrobe choice: an extremely short sundress that would also lead people to have certain guesses as to her occupation.

“Was that really necessary?” he finally asked, gesturing towards her outfit while keeping his eyes on the surface of the table.

Shoshana smiled a smirking smile of hers, wrinkling her nose as she did so. “Well, Severus, I can’t have the entire world knowing you’re a war criminal—” that last comment was what it finally took for Severus to look her in the eyes. “—and that I’m the sole person responsible for making sure no one finds out. I have to maintain my cover, and there’s always a chance we’ll run into someone who has already seen us together and would find it odd if they saw me in a suit. We have zero wiggle room for any possibility of drawing unwanted attention.”

Severus was not convinced by Shoshana’s reasoning. “You enjoy torturing me like this, don’t you?”

Shoshana didn’t even attempt to cover the snicker in her voice as she spoke. “Does it show?”

Severus tried to remain stone-faced as he indulged Shoshana in her little laughing fit, his fingers twitching as he fought the urge to smack her across the face. But finally, Shoshana was able to become at least somewhat serious and tell Severus the reason behind her request to meet him.

“Anyway, last night I got an owl from the Department of Magic.” She pulled a large yellow envelope out of her shoulder bag. “They finally processed your information into the Witness Relocation Program and sent me most of your official documents. It certainly took them long enough.”

She opened the envelope and handed it to Severus. The wait really hadn’t been as much of a bother to him as it was to the anxious Shoshana. After having his throat ripped out by a demon snake and coming within an inch of his own mortality, he didn’t trust himself to take part in human interaction. But now at least enough time had passed so that Severus felt more or less back to his old self. He could speak freely and without pain now, and his neck was no longer bound in bandages, though he did have a quite visible scar that could be seen from thirty feet away.

“We’re going to have to figure out the rest of your story ourselves, but they have a pretty good start.”

“They have me as being ten years older than I really am,” Severus noted.

“Well, the story they came up with for the scar,” Shoshana ran her hand across her throat to illustrate, “is that you were wounded in Vietnam.”

“Vietnam?” he repeated, his tone heavy with skepticism. “And you’ve already read all this?”

“Read it, but remember, didn’t write it.” Shoshana leaned back in her chair and took a long, leisurely sip of her icy coffee. “Look it over, take it in. You’ll have to know it a hell of a lot better than I do.”

Severus nearly reprimanded Shoshana for her language out of pure habit before he had to remind himself that Shoshana was not his student and he was not her teacher—nor anyone else’s, for that matter.

But Shoshana didn’t seem to notice Severus’ growing irritation. She was staring up at the café canopy, absent-mindedly stirring her coffee with a straw. It was an expression of one who had drifted off into their own little world, and one Severus never would have allowed before.

Since Shoshana didn’t appear to be engaged in the conversation anymore, Severus decided to occupy his time by read the history of his ‘life.’

His father had been a Muggle whose work had taken their family all over the world, also leading to Severus being educated in magic at home (his mother had been a witch). The basic structure of the story led Severus to wonder if the American Ministry had known anything about his family before writing this profile. And just like Shoshana said, he had apparently served a tour in Vietnam, although specific details were absent; it was known throughout the wizarding world though that American wizards had a notorious reputation for being completely unable to stay out of Muggle affairs ever since the Revolutionary War. The information went on to say that he had spent the last twenty years living in England, but again, there were no details other than that.

“We’ll also have to establish a resume for you,” Shoshana rejoined the physical world. “Not identical to the real life you’ve lead until this point, but relevant to your job experience so you’ll have some idea of what you’re doing. What kind of work did you do before?” She went back to stirring with her straw and jiggling her foot. “I was a Potions professor for fifteen years.”

As soon as Severus told her, Shoshana burst into laugher as though it were the funniest thing she had ever heard. When she saw Severus was not joining in, she forced herself to stop.

“Really?” Shoshana seemed shocked at the answer. “You were a teacher? As in working with kids?”

“Yes,” Severus answered. “Why do you find that so impossible to believe?”

“No reason.” Shoshana shrugged off her previous surprise, but still seemed slightly on edge. “Alright, a teaching job might be slightly hard to come by, especially if we can’t mention your previous experience. But I might be able to pull a few of my connections with the Department of Magic to see what I can do.”

And with that, Muggle pen in hand, Shoshana took the file back and began scribbling notations in the margins.

“We could probably say that while in England, you worked as an independent researcher in the Potions field; possibly doing occasional work for the Department of Education...”

Shoshana’s voice trailed off as her eyes slowly shifted up to meet Severus’, a look of deep concern and worry plastered heavily over her expression as she chewed on her bottom lip.

“You’re sure you want to teach?” she asked again, her uncertainty more apparent in her voice this time.

“I’m not trained to do anything else,” Severus told her plainly. “If I take up another job that you write an astonishing resume for and I have no idea what I am doing, it might draw some unwanted attention, don’t you think?”

Shoshana pursed her lips together and cast her eyes down at the table surface. Severus had seen this same expression on his students all too many times, usually when they had been proven wrong and they knew it.

“Teacher it is,” she said, going back to her scribbles.

Once he looked away, Severus was certain he heard Shoshana mutter something under her breath which sounded much like, “I weep for the generation.”








While Shoshana conquered ‘the seventh layer of burocratic hell,’ as she had put it, Severus had been allowed away from his babysitter long enough to browse through the wizarding community’s shopping area. Unlike in London, there was no exact set street hidden away somewhere for the wizarding population to set up shop, but there was a strange sort of shopping district. Shoshana had tried to explain how it worked, but she was doing so while at the same time shuffling through a great deal of new paperwork from the Department of Magic.

“The place you’ll need to start is Bernie’s 24-Hour Waffle Hut,” she said as she led him down the street, supposedly to where he could enter the shopping district. “It’s sort of like a hub for the city’s wizards.”

Severus wrinkled his nose. “A waffle restaurant?”

But Shoshana nodded as though she had heard none of the sarcasm in his voice. “It has the cover of a restaurant, and it even serves Muggles, but all the employees there are really liaisons for the Department of Magic. Once you get there, all you have to do is ask one of the workers for help on how to get to Hieging Place, the wizard market in New York City. “Just make sure to be discreet about it,” she warned him very adamantly. And that was when Shoshana raced off into a crowd of sharp-dressed businessmen, leaving Severus where he stood, exactly where he needed to be.

It didn’t seem different from any other store on the street, with nothing particular to stop the casual passerby from looking over it. There was even a bright neon sign advertising the fact that they were open all day, every day. The windows were dirty and grimy, and exactly three feet from the front door, the sidewalk was completely covered with soggy cigarette ends.

As much as the outside of the restaurant made him cringe, the inside was that much worse. Parents screamed at their whining brats from the booths, and from the kitchen, shouts were heard in every language but English. The floors were sticky and the entire place reeked of syrup.

Once you get there, all you have to do is ask one of the workers for help on how to get to Hieging Place.

The restaurant floor was wild and hectic as a beehive. A few women ran around in uniforms and aprons whom Severus assumed to be employees, but none of them were able to stay in one place long enough for him to get their attention. A few younger teenagers rushed back and forth to customers sitting at a long counter in front of the kitchen window, looking somewhat less busy that the rest of the employees.

One of them would be just as good as anyone else.

“Welcome to Bernie’s,” one of the girls said, handing him a plastic-covered menu. “Is there anything you’re especially hungry for today?”

Severus couldn’t help but glance along the counter at what the other restaurant patrons were having: mushy plates of half-cooked dough and coffee that cream and sugar could not be stirred into. He stifled a bit of a shudder.

“No,” he answered, pushing her hand away. “Thank you.” That was certainly difficult to say.

The girl appeared to be puzzled as she held the rejected menu against her chest, but still seemed to be trying her best to speak in a voice of syrupy politeness. “Okay, then what can I do for you?”

“I…” he began, not sure what exactly he was supposed to do. “I need to go somewhere.”

The girl nodded, but didn’t really seem to see any hidden meaning in Severus’ words. He tried harder.

“I was told by a friend that you could point me in the direction I need to go.”

The girl still remained as sweetly dim as ever. “The subway stairs are three blocks down, sir.”

“No,” Severus answered again, trying his best to keep his annoyance in check so as not to make a scene. “No, I was definitely told I could get where I wanted to go from here. My friend was very sure.”

Still nothing.

“It’s a way that is not taken by everyone,” he led further. “It caters to a very select clientele.”

The girl still kept her same smile, but was definitely quite confused, as was Severus. He wished could have just flat out screamed that he was trying to get to Hieging Place, but the surrounding masses of people kept that impulse in check.

“There is nothing that keeps Bernie’s hidden from Muggles,” Shoshana had told him earlier. “No charms, no nothing. Their money is just as green as anyone else’s, after all. So when you are in there, make sure you are discrete.”

Although, now Severus was beginning to have some serious doubts about this system he had been old was in place. If there really were a secret entrance to some hidden market in the city, surely anyone who had worked here for more than a week would have noticed something by now. He now was beginning to doubt that there even was such an entrance in this place. He wouldn’t be shocked to find out Shoshana had left him here to chase his tale so she could do her work in piece. Secret code, his—

“Oh, I see,” the counter girl replied finally. The expression on her face did not appear to be that much different from the one she sported when confused. “You can come with me, please.”

The counter girl rushed to an empty section of the counter, and lifted the planked surface upward and invited him through with a sweeping gesture.

“Here,” she said plainly.

The kitchen was about as un-magical a place as could possibly be. It was crowded, noisy, dirty, and completely filled with Muggle cooking machines. The cooks more or less ignored the two people there who didn’t belong and continued working their ways through the order slips being stacked higher and higher at the kitchen window.

“There you go.”

The girl made a large sweeping motion, fishing with a ‘tah-dah’ sort of gesture to the object she had led him back to: it was an oven. It was a very old oven, even by wizards standards, crusty from years of waffle batter and other kitchen greases. It was nothing short of disgusting, and, like everything else he had seen in this place, hardly magical appearing in the least.

The girl pouted her lips and began to tap her foot. “Well, do you want to go to Hieging Place or don’t you?”

“And how exactly am I supposed to get there?” Severus asked her. Once he finished, he realized he was still speaking in the tone of a schoolteacher, a speech habit he could not seem to shake himself of.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” she apologized once she realized her mistake. “So many different accents in this place, it’s hard to tell who’s from the city and whose not.”

Interesting, Severus mused to himself. Now tell me how the hell this thing is supposed to work.

“Want to know a secret?” she leaned in. “The oven’s not an oven. This is a waffle restaurant. What do we need an oven for?”

“You don’t say,” Severus drawled.

The girl bent down on her knees to open the wide oven door. “To get to Hieging Place, what you need to do is crawl through the oven; there’s like a tunnel, and it leads it to a door in the lobby of the New York City branch of Gringotts Bank.”

This girl may not have been bright, but at least now he knew Shoshsana wasn’t a liar.

“And don’t worry about the grime. It’s not real, just a little extra effect for Muggles who come back here to complain about the food.”

I supposes actually serving something edible is out of the question, Severus though to himself as he kicked at the side of the oven, examining it more closely.

“Don’t worry,” the counter girl insisted. “I’ll keep a lookout, and so will the cooks.”

But finally, against his better judgment, Severus knelt down to the ground and crawled into the oven.

Despite the fact that the interior appeared blackened and grungy, the surface felt completely smooth against his hands and knees. The oven door was soon slammed shut behind him, leaving him completely blind. In this small, cramped space, there was nowhere to go but forward. In the back of his mind, however, he could not block out the fear that this might also be some sort of trick, and he would soon feel the heat turned on and be cooked alive like the witches in certain Muggle fairytales.

Even though there was no one in the cramped, dark space to see him, Severus still felt ridiculous, crawling through the small tunnel like a child. It had always been nothing less than amazement the wizard-kind had such an ability to find the most inconvenient and embarrassing ways of blending into Muggle society. He was nearly convinced that they were doing it on purpose.

In the midst of these thoughts, Severus hit his head rather hard against a wall, with no paths branching off to the left or right. There was no where further to go, and Severus doubted there was enough room for him to turn around, even if he wanted to. Thin streams of light shown through a square-shaped crack along the wall in front of him; it just had to be some kind of door. This was supposedly the way into Gringotts; the bank was wise not to want the stench of the waffle restaurant floating through into the lobby.

The way ahead was blocked, but loosely so. Severus shoved with his shoulder once again; the wall seemed to budge more, be it still remained pitch black. With one last push, with more strength behind it than was probably necessary…

He fell forward into a bright light, falling very hard against a stone surface that did not seem to welcome him. Rolling to his side, he groaned loudly, being past the point of pain that would cause him to care if he was heard or seen.

“Would you mind getting up, sir?” a voice above him asked.

Yes, Severus did indeed mind! He was certain he could feel several ribs currently puncturing holes in his lungs!

“Sir, please, you’re scuffing the wax.”

Finally, though, Severus was able to gather enough motivation to open his eyes and look the speaker directly in the face. It was a goblin, dressed in the same black suit and miniature shoes the bankers in London wore. Around the rest of the lobby, people stared at the show, but then looked away whenever Severus met their gaze. A few small children were laughing at him, and their mothers shushing them angrily.

“Are you going to get up or not?” the little creature asked heatedly once again.

The bank employee tapped his foot impatiently as Severus pushed himself to his feet, as though Severus’ injuries were an inconvenience to his day.

“I hate that God-forsaken Bernie’s!” the goblin grumbled as he turned on his polished black shoes. “People falling through the walls at all hours. This entire city is a cesspool!”

The tiny creature walked away, still grumbling on to himself, and rejoined the rest of the bank that had been going on as work as usual. And now that there was nothing more to see, even the bank’s customers went back to going about their business.

At different stalls, more formally dressed goblins counted gold coins, worked on account books with abacuses, and handled bored-looking lines of witches and wizards. Out of reflex, Severus almost took a place in the back of one of the lines before he could even wonder if it was possible to access his old account. He didn’t imagine the accounts of dead men stayed open for very long. Had getting his life savings been one of the little ‘arrangements’ that Shoshana had taken care of, or had it been something that had slipped her mind completely?

He would have to ask Shoshana once she came to find him, but until then, he would have to live the life of a man of modest means.

With no more use for the building, Severus made his way to the main door of Gringots to see what the rest of this ‘Hieging Place’ had to offer.

Outside, the sun was shining much brighter than it had been when Severus walked into Bernie’s, and he has to shield his eyes as he adapted to the new surrounding.

In many ways, there was nothing particularly exciting about Hieging Place, at least from the perspective of a wizard who had already seen so many places like this before. It was a tightly packed little area, like most small shopping districts tended to be, closed off in a perfect square with no visible way of getting back to Muggle New York City. Tall brick buildings rested wedged beside one another and small paved stones covered the streets in a manner almost never seen in modern cities. Small patches of grass and trees popped up from the street every now and again.

As far as people went, they were closed-packed, mixed in diversity, and above all, very loud with people shouting at one another, not all of them in English.

“The price per ounce is non-negotiable! I—”

“They pushed the new Hailbob model back another week? Those sons of—”

Lo siento, no lo puedo!

There seemed to be a fair mix of people in tradition robes, and those who opted for Muggle clothing (though this seemed to be more the younger people). A robe shop stood just off to the side, and for a time, Severus watched the repeated scenes of women pointing out displayed clothing to their children, who would, in turn, wrinkle their noses in disgust. And sometimes the other way around, with a child seeing some new, modern fashion that would put their mothers into a state of shock. Alleyways tucked in the corners of the square seemed to be home to various venders and their carts. Just outside one of these corners stood a newsstand, a small boy shouting the morning’s headlines at the people who passed him by.

Then, the familiar smell of combined ingredients caused Severus to turn and peer inside one of the shops: it was an Apothecary. Through the streaked, grimy windows, he shuddered at the high prices of nearly everything on display.

Why not? Severus then thought to himself as he let himself in. It’s not as though I have any money to pay for it anyway.

The inside was relatively dim, to keep the light from spoiling the relatively sensitive ingredients. Phials and beakers lined the walls of shelves, in a vast number of colors. A fair many patches were stained on the wood floor from neglected spills. It was more or less no different than any other Apothecary he had ever visited in his life.

“Hello,” a sudden and sharp voice snuck up on him from the side.

A small, white-haired man rushed over to him quickly, despite his hunched back. “Welcome to Double Toil Trouble Apothecary. Is there anything specific you’re looking for today, or would you prefer to browse?” He appeared very eager to sell something, anything.

“No,” Severus answered him. “No, I’ll be alright just to look around.”

The little man groaned in disappointment, almost like a puppy, but lucky for Severus, the old shop owner forgot all about him as soon as another group of shoppers made their way through the door.

And so Severus began wandering around the store, occasionally stopping at a barrel or a glass phial. In truth, he was actually quite happy he didn’t have any money. Much of the merchandise was poor quality: herbs wilted and shriveled, animal parts looking as though they had come from the most neglected and malnourished creatures on the face of the Earth. Back at Hogwarts, had Severus come across ingredients in such a state, he would have thrown them out. He was certainly hoping he would not have to resort to such poor quality ingredients now that he had relocated.

A crowd of shoppers made their way across the store floor along with Severus. And best of all, they were all too caught up in their own lives and business to pay him any mind. Even better, the white-haired owner of the shop was now completely occupied with helping a woman asking the difference between Merrow and Siren scales in terms of their properties.

Suddenly, Severus was pushed out of the way by the storefront door swinging open, sending him crashing into one of the display shelves.

“Sorry,” an adolescent voice cracked in apology as he tried to speak over a storm of jabbering voices that accompanied him.

A red-haired boy, old enough to have been an N.E.W.T. student at Hogwarts stood in his line of vision, but he wasn’t the source of all the racket that followed him in. In each hand, a miniature being, a boy and a girl, squirmed and struggled. Each of them appeared no happier to be in the Apothecary than Severus was to see them there.

“One second, ma’am.” The old shop owner held out his hands as he backed away from woman he was helping and moved back towards the door. “I really should take care of this right here.”

Severus nodded; he could understand. Small children anywhere near anything made of glass was a disaster waiting to happen. He didn’t need the fifteen years of teaching experience to know that!

The older gentleman made his way over to the boy, making sure to keep a fair amount of distance between himself and the screaming brats in the middle. “Can I help you, young man?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I need the Potions’ supply list for Hardscrabble Creek C.A.T. classes.”

“The school kits are stored in the back. Give me one moment.”

The old shop owner took off at that surprisingly fast speed to rush behind the curtained-off storeroom. Bored, the two smaller children began to swing on the boy’s arms, while his eyes wander around the shop, though he remained close to the door for a quick exit. Eventually, the boy’s eyes met with Severus. “Hi, how are you?” he said to the former Potions professor.

“Don’t talk to strangers, Carter!” the little girl scolded him, pushing a few strands of black hair out of her eyes. “You’ll get kidnapped and sent to Thailand!”

The older boy groaned and rolled his eyes. It didn’t seem that he cared much for his traveling companions either.

“I want Pop Crackers!” the little boy whined, evidently feeling that the shop was becoming too quiet.

“NO!” the older boy answered a little bit louder than was probably necessary. “You’re just going to feed them to the pigeons so you can watch them explode again!”

“It was funny…” the little boy defended himself in a quiet mutter.

The two little brat remained quiet for a few seonds, but it didn't take very long before the little boy's complaints started up again.

“Can we go yet?”

“Yeah,” the girl pouted. “I gots a schedule to keep!”

“You’re seven!” the red-haired boy snapped back at her. “You can’t even tell time yet!”

Sticking out her lower lip, the little girl turned away, making it clear she had no more answers for this argument.

“Hey, Hardscabble Creek boy!” the store owner yelled from the storage room. “Your school supplies are up too high for me to see. Can you come back and help me?”

The boy clenched his teeth, making it quite clear that he very much did not want to go in back and help, for it would expose his two little monsters to enough breakable materials to put him into a debt he would owe twenty years after he died. On the other hand, he could go into the backroom by himself and leave them out in the store completely unsupervised. Finally, he settled on the lesser of two evils.

“Alright,” the boy answered before yanking the two figures around so they could face him, “you two behave yourselves. I am not even remotely close to kidding.”

The two children nodded in unison. It was obvious that there was no sincerity to the reply, however, evident in the very wide grins that spread over their faces as soon as the older boy disappeared behind the curtain as well.

The little boy reached up and grabbed a small phial of Flobberworm mucus, turning it round and round in his hand.

“You!” Severus took it upon himself to snap at the boy. “Put that down! It’s not a toy.”

The boy responded by throwing the phial up into the air and catching it with exaggerated gestures to show that it could indeed be a toy.

“If you break that, you’ll get into a lot of trouble.”

The little boy look up at him with one brown eye and one blue, each one filled with defiance to prove that he knew exactly what he was doing. But this also caused him to pay less attention to what his hands were doing, and the phial slipped right through his fingers. And when it finally shattered and spilled across the floor, the boy actually had to nerve to look up at Severus and go, “Oops.”

A few of the customers saw this, but no one bothered to call for the shop owner. This was the exact reason behind so many migraines he had had during his years as a teacher. No one did anything to instill any sense of discipline in these children while they were young, so by the time they were finally old enough to start school, it was too late for anything to really be done about their behavior.

“Why, you little—”

Severus didn’t really didn’t have a plan about what he was going to do from there, but that worry was soon taken out of his hands. It was at that moment that he felt a very sharp push against his side, sending him stumbling against on of the wall shelves. Severus cringed, but relaxed when he didn’t hear the sound of anything breaking. Somehow, he had even managed to grab hold off the little boy’s jacket on his way down. It wasn’t a very high fall for the child, though he still lay limp on the floor, pretending to be far more hurt than he actually was.

Still standing straight, with feet planted firmly, was the little girl.

“You just pushed me!” Severus exclaimed, more shocked than anything else.

“You started it,” she argued. Dangling from her fingers was a money bag: dark material, worn and plain. Something that seemed very odd for a small girl to have, but perfectly in place in the coat pocket of a middle-aged school teacher.

“Did you just steal that from my pocket?” Severus snapped at her.

“I dunno,” she answered, swinging the bag from side to side. There was no money in it, but that was hardly the point.

Severus moved himself back up to his feet—the boy still laying limp like a rag doll, his legs dangling as Severus attempted to yank him to his feet—and he made a move to snatch at her wrist as well. The girl looked up at him with an evil-looking little smirk that appeared too old on such a small child. He grabbed hold of the child’s clenched fist only to instantly feel as though his eardrums would burst.

“I NEED AN ADULT! I NEED AN ADULT!”

As soon as Severus touched her, the girl screamed bloody murder for the whole store to hear as though she were being burned with a hot iron. It was more than enough to make Severus the center of attention. And with the older boy watching the two youngsters out of sight, there was no one to stop the display.

She had to stop to take a much-needed gulp of air, giving her enough time to shoot a look over to the boy. The younger boy took a hint from his friend and decided to join in.

“MOMME-EEEEEE!” he screeched. “I WANT MY MOMME-EEEEEE!”

Some of the woman inside began shouting out names and clinging tight to several of the students with their supply lists. It took only a matter of moments for the customers within the Apothecary to form themselves into tight clusters, each group staring at Severus the way a herd of animals might regale a predator. And still, both of the little brats screamed and carried on as though they were about to be led to their deaths. Severus found himself quite surprised with the display of the children beside him and that nobody around him was doing anything to help.

After some time, though, the curtain on the storeroom flew open and the redheaded boy raced out, clutching a case that must have contained his Potions supplies for school.

"Oh, my God!” he exclaimed, setting his Potions kit on the counter. “Nate, Lorelei, what the hell did you two do?”

He stormed over and took both of the brats, who had now become dead silent, from Severus’ grip.

“Those two are yours?” one of the women exclaimed, as she held tight to her own two school-aged children.

“Allegedly,” the older boy replied.

“You left those children alone?” the mother exclaimed, shocked. “Do you know how close they just came to being kidnapped? There are dangerous people in this city!”

Severus couldn’t help but be a bit insulted at being compared to a child abductor.

“No, no, he’s not,” the red-haired boy tried to convince the panicking customers as the old shop keeper followed out after him. “My brother and his friend are just budding criminals.”

The chaos was then interrupted by the shop door swinging open once again, along with the overhead bell clanging loudly.

“Miss, you can’t run in here! You’ll break something!” the little shop owner shouted over the sound of heeled shoes tapping against the wood floor.

Severus groaned and thought to himself, Oh, this can only be one person! Especially given his luck for the day.

Just as Severus had predicted, it was Shoshana. She was still wearing the same outfit she had been wearing that morning, causing men to turn their heads and their wives to slap them straight again.

Shoshana raced towards him, stumbling on her high wedged shoes. “Professor, I have wonderful news!”

“Excellent,” he grumbled. “Why don’t you share with us?”

Shoshana’s eyes moved around the store as though she were finally just noticing all the people that were watching them. “Well,” she answered him slowly, “maybe it would be better if I told you somewhere more private.”

Shoshana tugged at the hem of her dress, as though she were one to actually care about modesty. And there were all those same looks combined of intrigue and disgust he had seen when Shoshana had showed up at the coffee shop in that same outfit. He had had enough of Shoshana using her little ‘disguise’ to torment him.

“Whatever it is, just say it!”

And so, Shoshana shrugged her shoulders and simply came out with it: “Cyrus Dumort is dead.”

And all the previous looks of judgment about what Shoshana’s relationship with him disappeared, replaced with some now very terrified looks that all wondered why it was such great news that this Cyrus Dumort was no longer among the living. Even the two little monsters were struck stiff, both of them fearing what kind of person they had decided to torment today.

“Oh, don’t worry,” she told all the watching customers. “It’s not like I killed him, and he most certainly didn’t hire me to kill him.”

Now, even the red-haired boy who went to this Hardscrabble Creek, who had been the only one to have any form of confidence that Severus was not some sort of child-snatching maniac, was beginning to sidestep away nervously. His eyes were wide and he had gone absolutely pure white.

“Kids, we’re leaving,” the older boy ushered the two children towards the door. “Move! Now!”

The children did not object in the least to being taken out of the Apothecary. In fact, they seemed to be the ones leading the way. Through the window, he could see the three of them still running out across the square-shaped market.

Even after the redheaded boy and his two little monsters were gone, the surrounding customers continued to stare. Shoshana observed the scene with an amused smile, clearly wondering to herself what could have possibly happened for her to walk into this sort of situation.

“So, did you find everything you were looking for?” Shoshana asked him, as though trying to sound pleasant.

Fed up with the entire scenerio, Severus grabbed Shoshana by her arm and dragged her out the shop door. As he did this, he was able to recognize that he was still acting like a teacher, but he had gone beyond the point of caring by now.

Outside of the Apothecary, life had moved on and people were once again too caught up in their own business to care about Severus or the scantily-clad young woman who accompanied him, giving him far more latitude in his response.

“What was that?” he demanded, able to raise his voice now that they were in a place where no one had any idea what they were talking about. “Did you leave me alone just so you could go off and find new ways to embarrass me?”

“I…” she began, though still somewhat shaken, “may have found you a teaching job.”

He did let go of her wrist, waiting to hear what she had managed to do with her afternoon.

“Professor Dumort,” Shoshana elaborated, “was hired last spring to be a Potions teacher at the Salem Witches Institute, but he passed away three nights ago. Luckily for me, I picked up a copy of the Boston Gallows Gazette and read his obituary. If we hurry, we might be able to snatch up the position before everyone else decides the student body has had enough time to grieve.”

She said this in a mocking, sarcastic manner. Shoshana did not appear to be one of those people who carried a special place in their hearts for teachers.

“It’s in Boston,” Shoshana elaborated, sounding somewhat distracted as she spoke. “The Salem Witches Institute, that is. I actually went to school there myself, so I can assure you that it has a wonderful program. At least it did when I graduated. It is an all-girls’ school, though,” she confessed. “I’m not sure if that’s going to be an issue.”

Another woman with three nearly teenage children, two boys and a girl, walk out of the Apothocary. They had clearly been witnesses to the little fiasco inside, judging from the evil eye the mother graced Severus with for as long as she could, pushing her all her children ahead in front of her.

“Or is it just all children that you can’t stand?” Shoshana finished.

Severus could not ignore the very strong urge he was getting to smack Shoshana over the back of her head, but his actions had certainly made enough trouble for himself for one day.

“Sure can’t talk you into an Apothecist career?” she suggested one last time. “Everybody needs Potion ingredients. Very little to do with actual people.”

Severus glared down at the government agent who had been a constant thorn in his side. All he cared about at this moment in time was to get to a point where he could get settled and needed absolutely nothing from Shoshana St. James.

Finally, Shoshana relented. “I’ll send the owl to Salem. With any luck, everyone else will be too afraid to take it. They’ve had a lot of trouble finding a replacement so far.”

“Why?” Severus asked, even though he could feel a growing dread towards hearing the answer.

“No one likes Potions, or Potions professors, as a general rule. And most of the replacements the school has tried to hire so far either didn’t know how to teach the subject, or couldn’t handle the girls, or the other professors thought they were a moron.” Shoshana stopped for a moment to consider what she was saying and who she was talking to.

“On second thought,” she said, “I think this job will be perfect for you.”

Chapter 4: Chapter 4 That Freaky Girls’ School
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Chapter 4
That Freaky Girls’ School


Severus took a deep breath of air—because now that he was finally out of the toxic surround that was New York City, he could.

The tiny town not far from Boston—Salem, Massachusetts—was a highly crowded placed, filled with people, cramped houses, people, streets upon streets, and more people still. It was a ridiculous place to have a school for witches, but Shoshana insisted this was where the Salem Witches Institute was. The school had been at the same address for more than two hundred years and the Board of Directors were dead set against moving it somewhere more secluded. And so Salem remained one of the rare magic schools that existed in plain sight of Muggles. Severus wondered to himself how the school even managed to avoid gathering the attention of the local Muggle population without having to call the Muggle Worthy Excuse wizards once a week.

Although that might have been a less common occurrence than he’d originally thought, for he couldn’t see anything on the street that even resembled anything magical. All the houses were more or less identical: constructed from brick with black iron fences closing off green, manicured lawns from the rest of the world. All very Muggle and all very quiet and empty. The streets signs all told him he was in exactly the right place, but there were absolutely no other clues.

Up ahead, a group of boys took turns riding their bikes over a homemade plywood ramp. It was only a matter of time before it snapped beneath one of them and they broke their necks. Severus chuckled to himself at the thought of what might ensue once that happened and they boys were all running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Severus cleared his throat in an effort to get their attention, but the boys went on with their bicycle stunts, taking a ridiculous amount of time to hurt themselves. “Excuse me,” he finally said.

“What do you want, Frenchie?” a somewhat chubby boy on a green bike asked him.

Severus raised an eyebrow and wrinkled his nose at the adolescent’s ignorance when it came those of foreign cultures. “I’m not French,” he lectured them. “But maybe you can make up for that lapse of intelligence by answering a question for me.”

The boys ignore their makeshift ramp long enough to pay attention to the conversation.

“I’m looking for the Salem Institute…for girls. I was told it was located on this street, but I’m having trouble finding it. Can you tell me if I am anywhere near?”

One of the dimwitted boys, a taller blond boy, seemed to have somewhat of an idea of what Severus was talking about. “You mean that freaky girls’ school that Old Lady Parris runs?”

It was horribly vague, possibly meaning pretty much anything, but it was the first promising assurance he was in the right place that he had had all morning. But that one all-too-familiar adjective troubled him a bit. “What exactly did you mean when you said ‘freaky’ girls’’ school?”

The boys all groaned simultaneously, as though this were a story they had all heard a thousand times before. How much did they know exactly?

“Those girls are all weirdos,” the chubby boy explained. “They don’t listen to music, they don’t watch TV, they don’t read the newspaper or know anything everyone else knows about what’s going on in the country. It’s like they’re all still Puritans!”

“Are there even Puritans around anymore?” asked the smallest of the boys, who couldn’t have even been eleven yet. The others all shrugged, showing that none of them knew for sure.

“I’ve actually known five different families that have tried to get their daughters in there; none of them got in,” said a dark-haired boy with two scabby knees who had obviously felt the less desirable effects of their current activity. “It’s not the kind of place you can buy your way into, so you know something is wrong from just that.”

“It’s a miracle they even have any students at all. From what I’ve heard, the people do everything possible to keep people out. First they’re just a school for anyone who can afford the price tag,” the blond boy began listing off. “Then it’s a school for geniuses; then you have to play concert piano, speak twelve foreign languages, and have the power to see through walls.”

He turned up to Severus with an expression of deep befuddlement. “I mean, do teenagers like that even exist?”

No, they do not, Severus thought to himself. I’m not so fortunate that there be such dedicated students. Of course, in the puny minds of these boys, magic and witches probably didn’t exist either. He was finally able to understand how the school had managed to exist in the middle of a city for so long.

“Not from the stories my older brother tells me,” the chubby boy said suggestively. “If you know what I mean.”

From the expressions on the rest of the boys’ expression, it was clear that some of the boys knew exactly what he meant, while others had no idea.

“But, yeah, the Salem Institute is right over there.” The blond boy pointed a bit further down the pavement to one of the identical brick house. “There will be a sign out front the lets you know when you’re there.”

A sign! The school actually announced their presence to the world? He could understand different adaptations various schools had in order to exist in the world, but there was a such thing as being within reason!

“Thank you,” Severus replied, although it was an effort to express courtesy to these little hooligans. The boys shrugged off the response as Severus continued his way down the sidewalk.

Behind him, the sound of a crash and a combination of pained cries and other sounds of distressed preteen boys. Severus couldn’t help but smirk a bit and the wonders of how the universe at least balanced out the small things.

Just as the boys had said, there was a sign on fence announcing to the world what this place was. ‘Salem Institute for Young Ladies’ was written in bold, inky script over aged white paint. Although, someone had taken a red marker to cross out the word 'Ladies' and wrote in 'Witches'. Severus eyes the vandalism, not sure if it had been done by more of the towns lovely Muggle locals or if one of his future student's idea of a joke. He shook his head.

Aside from that, however, there was nothing seemingly special or unusual about it, not even an extra set of locks on the front gate. Nothing Severus recognized as being a part of the wizarding world. Perhaps the school had so heavily perfected the art of blending in, they felt cocky enough to allow their Muggle neighbors to know exactly where and what they were.

The sound of metal scraping against earth brought Severus back to the here and now. On just the other side of the cast iron fence, a hunched figure in a wide-brimmed hat knelt in a patch of plowed earth, digging around in the bare earth. Everywhere on either side were fall-stage shrubs and a few late blooms.

The figure looked up to wipe the sweat from her brow, enough so that Severus could see her face. She was an old woman with deep wrinkles and a few wispy strands of white hair peeking out from under her hat. She was in every way, shape, and form the portrait of the old Muggle gardener. It was almost humorous. It was then he remembered the boys from before mentioning an ‘Old Lady Parris’ who ran the Salem Institute. Could this be the same woman? Surely the headmistress of a school had to have more dignity than to reduce herself to this!

She remained so completely absorbed in the plot of earth, oblivious to the rest of the world around her.

“Excuse me. Maybe you can help me.”

The old woman looked up, seeming somewhat annoyed to be distracted from her gardening. Her clothes were grubby, cheap, and covered with dirt and plant matter, making her appear more like some recluse hedge witch than a school employee (and it was a rather stiff and dignified school from what he had heard thus far). The only indication that she really was a witch was that the woman was really obscenely old, even by wizarding standards.

“I’m looking for the…Salem Institute,” Severus said, choosing his words carefully just in case this woman did not have any knowledge of the wizarding world. “This is the address I was given, but I’m not sure I’m in the right place.”

The old woman, groaning and rubbing her knees in the manner of someone who suffered from horrid arthritis. “You must be the teacher we are expecting to start new this year. Richard Cameron?”

Severus didn’t respond at first, before the short moment of instinct faded and he realized the woman was talking about him. He had momentarily forgotten the name Shoshana had given to him to use while he resided in the United States. He had already practiced introducing himself as such, but it was still something he had yet to get used to. After all, he had been Severus Snape for nearly forty years. Granted, he could also imagined the scandal if a murdered Death Eater suddenly resurfaced alive and as a teacher in another country. Also, Shoshana had joked that if Severus’ identity was discovered in the United States, the next place he would be sent to was Botswana. And honestly, he couldn’t be completely sure that the girl was joking.

“It’s very nice to meet you.” The old woman removed one of her gardening gloves so that she could shake his hand from her kneeling position, looking over his shoulder at something that held her distracted attention.

“I’m sure those lovely boys you spoke to down the street had a few different names for me,” she finally explained. “Never let them onto the school grounds.”

“You run the Salem Institute?” Severus asked, gesturing back towards the group of boys he had just spoken to. “They called you…Old Lady Parris.”

Surprisingly, the woman laughed at the somewhat insulting nickname.

“Yes, there have been many Old Lady Parris-es over the years,” she admitted. “I, however, also go by Dean Temperance Crackstone.”

And with as much dignity as a person kneeling in muck and dirt could manage, the newly christened Dean Crackstone pushed herself to her feet. “But I suppose you’ve had enough of this hot sun for one morning. I know I most certainly have. Why don’t we go inside?

“Just one moment,” she said, making her way to the black iron gate, focusing her attention on the lock. The wand was built in the same style he had seen on Shoshana’s, bound in silk cord.

“Sometimes I wonder why I bother with it,” she confessed, slipping the wand back into her pocket. “It’s not as though a healthy teenage boy would be incapable of jumping the gate. But at the very least, I can assure the parents of my pupils that the local boys won’t get much further.”

She had to be referring to the actual charms and other guard that kept the true nature of the school out of the prying eyes of the neighbors. What those could possibly be, however, were hardly obvious, as Severus found himself becoming slightly more aware of the steps he took. It all appeared very unassuming to Severus, and he was a wizard who actually had some idea of what to look for. He wondered what safeguards actually were in place to keep the Muggle population outside the school walls.

“You can go on ahead of me,” she told him, gesturing up the small set of stairs. “My arthritis has been especially bad lately, and the potion I took with breakfast is just beginning to wear off.”

Dean Crackstone rubbed at her knees to illustrate this further. “I must say, you started up just in time.”

Rolling his eyes, Severus was suddenly thankfully to be facing away from his soon-to-be employer. So he would be expected to be the residential all-purpose potion brewer here as well. At Hogwarts, he thought it was just an isolated incident stemming from Madam Pomphery own profoundly poor brewing abilities (but Merlin help him if he ever brought it up to her). Thoughts racing, Severus pulled one of the massive front doors open before he could imply anything that could come back to bite him later.

Severus peered inside the house, only to find that there was nothing remotely magical about the house on the inside either. The air was heavy with dust, and moldy doilies covered the ancient tables scattered across the entryway, topped with gaudy knick-knacks. It could have been a house belonging to any lonely old lady, but it was easy to see that no children had lived there, and very likely never had. There was no possibility that this was a school.

“No, no, no! You close that door!” Dean Crackstone squawked. “You honestly think there would be a witches school in the middle of the city and safeguards wouldn’t be taken to make sure every meddling kid in Boston that comes sniffing around wouldn’t find something they’re not supposed to? Especially those neighborhood boys with things other than exploration on their minds!”

Severus was beginning to notice a pattern in his new employers obsessive attitude when it came to keep any and all boys far away from the grounds. He almost smiled at the visual line of Muggles of all sorts waltzing into the school, but at least all the teenage boys were stopped at the gate.

“Here, let me.” She pulled him away and then turned to meet him. “Now, you need to pay attention. You have to get this exactly or you won’t be let in.”

The woman banged the door knocker, rang the doorbell in a fast series of three and raced to reach for the doorknob while the song still played. “The left door. That’s important.”

Wonderful! Now he would be able to spend the rest of his years playing patty cake with the entrance.

She pulled the door open, barely a crack, and stood so the view would be blocked from the street. “Go on in.”

Startled by the frail woman’s shockingly loud voice, Severus rushed inside and heard the door latch shut behind him. Severus was completely shocked. The room where he stood now, in no way, shape, or form resembled the one he had seen before. It was a large, airy entryway with high windows. Oil paintings against the far wall offered slight movement. And there was also the occasional high-pitched cackle that only a teenage girl could be capable of.

Dean Crackstone followed in after him, standing as straight as she could probably manage. “There’s a Velius Charm cast over the school: a small space hiding a much vaster area from within. Possibly the only architectural structure of its kind in the world,” she rattled on proudly. “Our founder bought the house nearly three hundred years ago and started constructing the school from the inside out. Eventually, we were even able to add an exterior to the house and have added quite an expansive garden.”

Severus allowed himself to be led further into the Salem Witches Institute, wondering exactly how much of the school’s history he would have to listen to in order to be passable the next time he was quizzed. It wasn’t a very long history, because Dean Crackstone had finished sometime while Severus was still in his own thoughts.

“Would you like to take the elevator?” she asked. “The Potions lab is on the third floor, and….” She gestured down towards her knees once again, reminding him that she was still considered ‘Old Lady Parris.’

The school elevator hardly seemed like a reliable source of transport: a black steel cage hanging from a matching chain. Severus wasn’t sure he would trust it to carry a box of feathers, let alone two fully-grown adults. Also, there didn’t appear to be any way to tell the machine what floor once wished to go too. Yet somehow, before he realized what was happening, he found the barred doors shutting in front of him and Dean Crackstone, the floor beneath them jerking sharply as the chain yanked them upward.

“Lovely invention, isn’t it?” she remarked as the steel cage moved up. “I would never be able to leave the first floor if it weren’t for this contraption. Muggle ingenuity does not get nearly the credit it deserves.”

He felt like reminding this woman that he had seen an elevator before—in the British Ministry of Magic, in fact—but the logical part of his brain told him was probably better not to start off that foot with his new boss. Just then, the elevator came to a painfully sharp halt the threw Severus to floor. Yet somehow, the decrepit headmistress whose bones had to be half-dust was still standing.

“End of the line, Professor Cameron,” she said from up above him, snickering slightly. “Everybody off.” At the very least, Dean Crackstone was gracious enough not to watch as Severus pulled himself back up to his feet.

Kerosene lamps lining the walls flickered and glowed dimly, though Severus could see no flame. There were no numbers beside the doors, no windows viewing inside, or anything else Severus could see that would help him find his classroom or any other classroom. Not even the paintings were a bit of help. They were all oil canvas of scenes of Puritan America with the figures painted within able to follow them from one painting to another. A few children in black suits had been following them ever since they had gotten to the third floor, pointing and whispering to one another.

Breaking the constant Puritan theme, two girls dressed in Muggle clothing raced around the corner of the hallway, nearly crashing into Severus and Dean Crackstone as they did so. Neither of them stopped to apologize and continued down the hall at their fast clip.

“Emma, Raquel, walk!” Dean Crackstone lectured the two girls as they rounded the corner.

From the sound of the pace, neither of girls slowed themselves down. With no teachers in sight, what reason did they have to?

“Well, we have orientation for our incoming first years, but the older students will just be on their own until classes start. You actually might see a few of them running around the school today. Although I have a feeling the professors may put off coming in for as long as they can.” Dean Crackstone began counting under her breath, her crooked index finger trailing along the hall. “I certainly hope to see a better work ethic from you, Professor. When I first started teaching here, such a lack of commitment to one’s work would have never been tolerated.”

And when was that, exactly? After all he had seen and heard from his new employer, he was beginning to wonder if Temperance Crackstone really was old enough to be a Puritan as the boys outside had said. And then he fought not to snicker at the thought.

“And here we are!” Dean Crackstone suddenly stopped at one classroom door. “Be it ever so humble.”

With a quick flick of her wand, the locks on the classroom door clicked open and Dean Crackstone ushered him inside.

The Potions lab at Salem was certainly a far cry from the one Severus left. The walls were lined with the same tall windows he had seen throughout the school, with thick velvet curtains for potions that needed to be brewed out of sunlight. It was certainly a nice enough classroom, though a bit too cluttered for Severus’ liking. On the walls were faded, cracking pieces of parchment covered in notes and detailed drawings of plants and animal diagrams. Handmade crafts, mostly just dried herbs hanging from strings, even dangled from the ceiling. It was a fire hazard waiting to happen, in Severus’ opinion. It was not as though he had kept his classroom walls at Hogwarts bare because he wanted to create a miserable environment for his students, despite the fact that nearly twenty years worth of the British population might say to the contrary.

Out the window, he saw the expansive gardens that Dean Crackstone was speaking of. They stretched on for acres, and could only be physically possible through magic, judging from the small lawn he had seen on the outside of the school. Looking up, he could see at least three more stories above the window, and to his left and right, there were expansive stone walls that did not match the red brick he had seen before. Dean Crackstone had certainly been serious when she had said the school had been built from the inside out.

Dean Crackstone remained in the doorway, but began pointing all over the room. “There’s a schedule of your classes, you have copies of your students’ textbooks in the storage cupboard; you may want to give them a quick read-through if you find the time. You should probably also go through the store of ingredients to make sure everything is still in a suitable state,” she listed off. “Frankly, not all of our past substitutes knew quite what they were doing. You’ll find the door back behind the desk. At any rate, I’ll leave you to do whatever it is you need to do to be ready for the first day of school tomorrow. Class begins at eight o’clock sharp. If you need assistance with anything, you can just track down one of the school elves. Have a productive afternoon.”

It was such an abrupt end to the conversation, Severus turned around to stop her from leaving just for the sake of it, but the doorway was already empty and Dean Crackstone had vanished. How was it even possible for the ancient old bat to move that fast? But with her gone, there was nothing to do but set to work on his new work environment.

As he worked his way through the room, he would occasionally hear more of the school’s students race past the door, also paying no attention to the ‘No Running’ rule. He was certain a few of the more curious student took a little more time at the open door, stopping to peek at the new Potions Master like some new animal exhibit at the zoo. Severus did his best to ignore them. He removed from the classroom everything containing mold: ingredients and the classroom decorations both, although all the mobiles went as well. Expecting a fair amount of explosions and eruptions, it was only common sense to remove anything that could potentially collect and eventually drip dangerous potions.

He never thought he would have to go through this again. When he had taken over as Potions Master after that old fool, Slughorn, finally retired, he had had to go through more or less the exact same process. The evidence of all the tricks students had used to avoid doing their schoolwork littered all through the classroom here, just as they had been at Hogwarts. And just like at Hogwarts, Severus was perfectly intent on removing every single one of them, giving the room a bare slate. Something of a ‘Welcome Back’ surprise he had for his students. To think that nearly twenty years ago, he was starting a brand new teaching job, the Dark Lord’s reign was over, and he was living his life under a completely assumed identity.

He stopped examining the room to express a frustrated groan when he noted all the similarities between where he was now and where he had started his adult life.

He knew Shoshana would find it hilarious.
 


Chapter 5: Chapter 5 Severus’ Fi(Wo)rst Day
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Chapter 5
Severus’ Fi(Wo)rst Day


By ten minutes to nine, Severus, now dubbed Professor Richard Cameron, had placed the last touches on his lesson plan for second-year Potions. The teachers’ lounge at the Salem Witches Institute proved to be an excellent place to work; no one was there. He wondered if it would last once the school term started officially.

To be fair, though, he was not completely alone. The school’s elves were rushing in and out, round and about, offering coffee, pastries, ink, foot rubs, and everything else under the sun. These elves had clothes of their own, but they were hardly outfits that Severus believed allowed them even a shred of dignity. As though it were Halloween or one of the other dress-up holidays, the elves were parading around in children’s costumes. Severus had seen elves dressed as cowboys, ballerinas, and a dozen other ridiculous things. The elf who had offered to rub his feet had been dressed as a bumblebee.

Even though the teacher’s lounge was deserted at present, he had seen house-elves running amuck ever since he had arrived here. Though once he left the teachers’ longue, the halls were completely devoid of the little creatures, and a check survey back in the lounge proved to be unsuccessful as well. It was something that Severus considered fairly odd, considering how difficult it would have been to miss a gaggle of two-foot trick-or-treating school servants.

Unlike the day before, when the witches of Salem appeared to be doing everything they could to keep from being seen, the students of the school were out running around in full view, no longer hiding behind doors and corners. Their arms were all loaded down with books, and they were all dressed alike in what had to be their school uniforms: black pinafore-style dresses, and a few in black and burgundy robes, despite the late-summer heat. But today, not one of them made an attempt to be sneaky or discreet about pointing out the new teacher. They would speak to one another in hushed whispers, but any giggle they did was right out in the open; why exactly, Severus had no idea. Of course, as soon as Severus tried to confront any of them, they would run away shrieking, although he found it impossible to tell whether or not they were shy or just playing some sort of game. He could clearly remember his early days of teaching and the time-honored tradition of tormenting the newest members of the staff.

After wandering back and forth through the maze-like hallways, Severus finally thought to ask directions from the figures in the paintings. The children purposefully pointed him in the wrong direction again and again, but eventually, a Mohawk hunting party sitting around a fire directed him towards the elevator he had taken the day before. Once his back was turned, though, he could hear them whispering to one another in their native language, and he also heard some very distinct snickers, though he wasn’t sure what a group of men in loincloths could possibly find so humorous about Severus.

Sitting in the elevator already was a girl wearing the school’s uniform, likely a fourth-year. At her side was house-elf wearing a miniature version of the black pinafore-style dress the girls wore beneath their school robes. The student’s head was bobbing gently from side to side, her ears covered by what appeared to be black earmuffs, but eventually, Severus recognized them as ‘headphones,’ a Muggle device for listening to music.

“What floor do you need to go to?” Severus asked as the black-iron doors slammed shut behind him.

The girl didn’t answer Severus or take off her headphones. She didn’t even seem to acknowledge his presence; just continued to stare off into space, twirling a strand of brown hair in her fingers. Severus could hear the music playing faintly in her Muggle device as he leaned in closer. He wondered to himself whether the girl was a Muggle-born who had refused to give up one of her favorite Muggle toys, or a witch from a wizarding family who had simply acquired a taste for Muggle entertainment.

Finally, Severus just gave up on trying to get the girl’s attention, though he silently vowed to make the girl sorry one he had her in class. It was at that point when it occurred to Severus that he did not even know how to select a floor for himself.

“Um, third floor?” he said aloud, not sure if he really did have to actually say it, or if the machine knew on its own somehow.

“Excuse me?” he called over to the girl. “Do you know how exactly you get this contraption to work?”

The girl was looking directly at Severus, but she just continued to bob her head from side to side as though she were still alone, offering no indication that she was going to offer the Potions professor any assistance whatsoever.

“Miss!” he said more loudly, standing right in front of here, so that she would have no excuse to ignore him. And yet, she still managed to.

In the end, it didn’t matter, though. The black-iron doors slammed shut suddenly behind them and started carrying them up through the school floors. And if Severus though he had been on display for his new students before, he was only more so now as the girls could have the benefit of staring at him from behind the doors of an iron cage. And through it all, his young travel companion remained quite content to pretend her new teacher was not even there.

The elevator reached the third floor with a sudden jerking stop. The girl and the house-elf stumbled slightly as the floor shook, but quickly steadied themselves, neither of them seeming to care whether or not Severus was alright. Before stepping out onto the floor, Severus readjusted his satchel and made his way to the house-elf standing at the girl’s side.

“You come with me,” he said, giving the creature a tiny push on its back. “There is going to be plenty to do getting ready for the day.”

The house-elf seemed resistant to the idea of leaving the elevator at first, so Severus pushed harder, knowing he was not going to resort to kicking the elf along as he had witness many other wizards do. Eventually, the elf obeyed, its eyes widening in an expression of rather horrified shock. Severus didn’t even know it was possible for a house-elf to look as though their eyes were widened. All the same, once they stepped out of the elevator and the iron doors slammed shut, the creature did nothing to resist being led away, so whatever Severus had done that was somehow an offence to house-elves, he really couldn’t have cared less.

Rounding the corner, Severus nearly crashed into the school’s elderly, puritanical headmistress, nearly making a monumental faux pas only one hour into his new career.

“Oh, Richard!” the old woman exclaimed, holding her hand to her throat. “You caught me by surprise there!”

“Dean Crackstone,” Severus greeted the woman, “good morning.”

For a short moment in time, Severus was afraid that the woman was going to have a heart attack right there, and he would forever be known as the teacher who killed the headmistress on his first day. But luckily for him, the old woman recovered from the shock, though her shaking hand still remained on her chest. There were witches and wizards who wore their advanced years as though they were lighter than air. Dean Temperance Crackstone was clearly not one of these people.

“Are you excited to start your first day of classes?” she asked him breathily. “I believe you have second-years and C.A.T.s today.”

Severus was a bit confused. “Cats?” He knew it couldn’t have been what he was imagining in his head. Then again, this was a school of all-witches.

“It stands for ‘Certified Advanced Training’. It’s more or less meant to prepare students to go directly into the job market, and they will be your most advanced class,” the headmistress explained. “It’s the sixth and seventh-years combined, though I don’t believe your class is especially large, so you won’t have to worry about that.”

Severus’ fought as hard as he could to suppress a grimace in front of his new employer. Normally, his N.E.W.T. students were the one class that he did not feel himself die inside whenever he had to walk through the classroom door, though he could not help but be a bit apprehensive about his new advanced C.A.T. students. At Hogwarts, he had supreme dictation over who would be worthy of studying Potions at the most advanced level, and if all went well, he might be able to have some say in who would be taking his C.A.T. class next year. But for the next nine months…who knew what sort of dunderheads he would be forced into a room with several hours out of the week.

It was at that point that Dean Crackstone noted that Severus was not alone that morning.

“Oh, I see you were able to find one of our school elves to help you with you work,” the old woman remarked in a sugary tone, waving down towards the tiny creature. “Which one do you have?”

But before Severus could offer any sort of answer, he found himself interrupted by a rather loud, shouting—and swearing—distraction. A man raced around the corner, holding the same girl from the elevator by the crook of her arm. Severus also couldn’t stop himself from noticing that the girl’s light-colored eyes weren’t really focused on anything in particular, and she did seem to be breathing quite harder than seemed warranted.

Upon setting her sights on the two of them, Dean Crackstone’s face took on a very panicked expression. “Professor Jecco, what happened to Anna?”

“I don’t know,” he said, gasping for breath and his free hand clutching at his side. “When I got in the elevator, Sheriri was just gone and Anna had no idea…”

The man’s voice trailed off when he finally noticed the house-elf standing beside Severus. And upon glancing back at the house-elf, the headmistress finally did seem to recognize it.

“Never mind, Professor,” she said as the man in front of her breathed a sigh of relief. “We have Sheriri right here.”

“Missie Anna Miss, here Sheriri is!” The elf threw herself towards the girl, Anna, and took her waiting hand. But just as with Severus in the elevator, Anna didn’t look down to make eye contact with elf, nor with any of the teachers in the hall.

“This is Professor Jecco. He is our Defensive Magic teacher here at Salem,” the headmistress introduced the man before shifting her attention to the girl beside him. “And this is Anna Morrison; she’s in her fourth-year.”

Dean Crackstone cleared her throat, as though she were having trouble forming her next words. “Anna is blind, and Sheriri, you see, is her Seeing-eye Elf.”

It was at that moment that Severus felt a very large lump shoot up from his stomach all the way up to the top of his throat, a small twinge of guilt combined with an overwhelming sense of embarrassment. Everything else he had nearly done before—nearly killing the headmistress, nearly being fooled into thinking he was expected to teach potion-making to cats—this was unbelievably worse on a completely different. Stealing from a blind child, and her Seeing-eye Elf, no less, Severus wasn’t sure is he could have committed a more damning act for his first day if he tried. He also couldn’t help but feel like he had been caught in a classic case of entrapment. How in Merlin’s name was he supposed to know that this Anna Morrison was blind when she had been standing there, ignoring him, and looking so…normal!

For the first time in years, Severus found himself wishing that some force coming from anywhere would strike him dead right on the spot.

“You stole a blind kid’s Seeing-eye Elf?” the professor who had been leading Anna Morrison remarked, an expression of disgust and general shock upon his face. “Where’d you dig up this one, Temperance?”

“That’s enough, Professor Jecco!” the headmistress lectured, shooting the teacher a deathly glare. She didn’t bother to soften her expression for Anna’s sake, because, well, what would have been the point? “Well, Anna, now that you have your elf back, I assume there is nothing else keeping you from your classes.”

“Yes, Dean Crackstone,” the girl replied, whatever fear Professor Jecco had said he had seen seeming to have dissolved.

“This way, Miss Anna,” Sheriri, the Seeing-eye Elf, squeaked as she led Anna Morrison down the corridor. “Practical Integration is Anna’s first class. Miss Anna’s summer homework finished? Professor Leigh said…”

Eventually, the Seeing-eye Elf’s voice faded away as the two figures disappeared into the further reaches of the school. Dean Crackstone then turned back to speak with Professor Jecco.

“And Professor Jecco, I believe you have class as well,” she said to the teacher. “I suggest you hurry to your classroom before all your students begin running wild.”

The younger man nodded curtly to the headmistress. “Goodbye, Dean Crackstone,” he said, shooting another disgusted glare at Severus before finally walking away.

“You’ll have to excuse Professor Jecco,” Dean Crackstone apologized as soon as the Defensive Magic teacher was out of earshot. “He’s the advisor for Anna’s class, and has been since their first year. So you can understand how he’s a bit protective of them.”

Dean Crackstone began to stroll down the corridor, but she continued to speak, so Severus assumed he was supposed to follow her. “At Salem, teachers are assigned a class to serve as advisor to, and they keep that role for the whole seven years the girls attend school here. You’ll be given a class of first-years next year. No excuses.”

Despite the fact that all the doors along the corridor appeared to be exactly alike, Dean Crackstone had no problem finding the Potions classroom. She walked right up to one of the doors and opened it to reveal the same freshly cleaned and slightly less cluttered classroom that Severus had spent the better part of yesterday preparing for his new students.

“You second-year class will probably be your most difficult,” the headmistress told him as she invited herself into the Potions lab. “We went through about twelve different substitutes last year, all with different teaching styles and class expectations. What will be important now is giving the girls a stable learning environment.”

Severus nodded as he examined the classroom. He didn’t quite trust it to be exactly the way he had left it. If these girls had any sense of tradition in terms of how to greet a new teacher, there would likely be one or two little surprises waiting for him. Hopefully he would have the chance to sniff most of them out before his first students arrived.

“Well then,” the headmistress finished, clapping her hands together, “I suppose then I should be leaving you to prepare for your students. They should begin arriving any minute now.”

The woman was nearly out the door when she suddenly stopped, holding her hand against the doorframe, and then looking back over her shoulder.

“And a bit of advice for the future,” Dean Crackstone offered to Severus. “Don’t steal from blind children anymore. It gives people a bad first impression of you.”

It took everything Severus had to keep from screaming, “I DIDN’T KNOW SHE WAS BLIND!”, but the thought of teaching Potions classes in Botswana kept his tongue in check. And so, he set about preparing for his day’s lessons without the aid of the school elves.

And just as Dean Crackstone had told him, Severus was only allowed a few moments alone before the first of his new students had arrived. A young girl, a second-year, with her hair tied in a thick braid, took a seat at one of the tables. She had a cauldron, a kit of ingredients, as well as the class textbook, but she set all of them on the floor. Instead, the object that became the center of her attention was a ratty, crinkled paperback whose front cover illustration detailed three winged horses racing in circles around the scenery. All the same, she certainly seemed harmless enough.

Slowly, Severus made his way over to the girl’s table and cleared his throat when she didn’t look up from her paperback. Startled, the book dropped sharp down towards the surface of the table, balanced partially on the corner.

Severus made his way silently to the side of her table. “Hello,” he said to her.

The girl looked up at him, almost appearing annoyed that she had been interrupted. “Hi.”

She went right back to reading her book, as though she believed the conversation was over, but Severus wasn’t about to play games. At Hogwarts, he had made it quite clear that the moment his students stepped into his classroom, they were expected to devote their entire attention to the study of Potions, and it was a rule he intended to make here at Salem as well. And this little girl’s recreation reading did not fall into this category.

Severus crossed his arms over his chest. “What’s your name?”

“Amanda,” she answered plainly.

“Amanda what?” Severus was not about to be on such familiar terms with his students.

“Amanda Green.” The girl said this last part as though she had the right to feel annoyed at being interrupted.

Severus peered down at the cover of her book. “This does not look like it has anything to do with the subject of Potions,” he said, pointing to the racing horses on the cover.

The girl shrugged her shoulders. “Class hasn’t started yet,” she explained.

“Then why are you here?”

“Where else would I go?”

Severus was soon interrupted by a loud crashing sound. He turned just in time to see another girl crotched down to scoop up her dropped satchel, clutching it tightly against her chest so it would not be dropped again. The anxiety over the dropped bag, however, was exactly where any nervous feelings she might have had ended.

The girl wandered through the door, but she herself was far too old to be a second-year. She wore black robes that were clearly too big for her small frame, the material nearly covered her shoes. Her black hair was long and wild, and it was a continual effort to keep it out of her copper-toned face. She wandered about the classroom for a bit, but as soon as her eyes fell on Severus, that was right where they stayed, almost in the way a child watches a strange animal from a safe distance.

“Can I help you?” he finally asked her when it appeared she was going to do nothing to initiate a conversation herself.

The girl looked around the room, thoughtfully tapping her index finger against the side of her chin. “Doubtful, but I’ll ask anyway,” she remarked in a snarky manner detailing no respect. “You’re the new Potions professor, aren’t you?”

Severus decided to leave Amanda Green for the time being. This had far greater potential to turn against him than a child leisure reading in class.

“How long are you planning on sticking around?” she asked.

“Excuse me?” he responded, extremely affronted.

“Well, we went through about twelve different substitutes for the class year,” the girl made her point clearer. “One only stayed for a day. Are you planning on being with us for the whole year, or should we start planning your farewell party now?”

Even he knew it would be a terrible idea to eviscerate a child in front of his students on the first day of class. A month from now, maybe, but not today.

“Can you tell me who you are?”

“Maria Bluebell,” she answered for him.

“Well, Maria,” he said, mocking the casual attitude students seemed to have about being called by their first names, “I would think an older student would be showing a good example to the younger students in terms of what is acceptable behavior.”

But Severus was not finished yet. “An excellent place to start, I think, would be going on to your first class.” Severus smirked down at her. “Unless you happen to be the oldest second-year who ever lived.”

Amanda Green watched the two of them, chewing on the tail of her braid. Her prized paperback had been pushed off to the side in favor of what would likely prove to be a much more entertaining show.

Finally, the girl ventured forward so that she and the Potions professor could have a proper conversation. “Fair enough,” she answered thoughtfully. “I suppose I could do that.”

“Wonderful,” Severus drawled, mostly just eager to get the girl out of the classroom. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Actually, there is something you could do for me.”

Severus looked up expectantly, waiting to see exactly how much audacity this girl had. “And what might that be?”

The girl, Miss Bluebell, did her best to make the most of her less-than-average height, in an effort to show some sort of dominance in the conversation.

“When we’re in front of our students, I would appreciate it if you address me as Professor Bluebell,” she told him, a confident smirk appearing on her face. “I’m the Shamanism teacher here at Salem, and I also happen to be the adviser for the second year class.”

With her arms crossed over her chest, the newly christened—in Severus’ mind, at least—Professor Bluebell leaned in and whispered her next words. “I’ll bet you feel like an ass now, don’t you?”

In the course of the conversation, five more girls had entered the classroom and were watching the exchange between the two teachers, a few of them snickering from behind their clasped hands.

“Alright…” Severus began carefully, “Professor Bluebell. What might you be doing here?”

“Just making sure my students have a good first day with their new Potions Master,” she said, moving casually along the wall of the classroom. “Surely a man committed to the education of the young would not object to a fellow teacher showing concern for her students.”

By the time Professor Bluebell had finished speaking, the classroom was more or less full. That must have been all of the school’s second-years, because the young teacher moved to the front of the room to address them.

“Girls, this is Professor Cameron. He will hopefully be your permanent Potions professor.”

The girls greeted him with a simultaneous mix of ‘hello’s, ‘good morning’s, and indistinguishable grunts. Severus, however, could not help but be monumentally offended by the presumptuous nature of the young woman who believed she superseded him in terms of authority. If all the teachers at this school behaved like this, it was no wonder that the Potions professors never lasted.

Severus intended to put a stop to that right now. “Well, as your Professor Bluebell has already told you, I am Professor Cameron, and I will be your permanent Potions instructor, so I suggest you behave accordingly instead of just assuming you are all biding your time.”

Even Professor Bluebell seemed slightly taken aback by the strong words. Severus could not help but smirk slightly. So far, so good.

“From what your headmistress has told me, referring the education you received for your first year of Potions as sub-par would be a stretch.” He spoke sharply, in a way that was certain to get all of their attention. “I intend to rectify that. I don’t care if you dislike the process; I don’t even care if you come to hate me more than you have hated any other teacher in your lives. You will all become competent potion-brewers, and you will not make me embarrassed to call you my students.”

Suddenly, however, there was a discrepancy in the mood of the room: a small giggle that stood out so greatly, it might as well have intensified by several different charms. It took mere seconds for him to zero in on the source: a small Spanish girl sitting beside Amanda Green. Miss Green, however, had noticed the Potions professor narrowing in on them, and did her best to appear stone-faced, as though she had had nothing to do with the sudden sound.

“What is your name, miss?”

The girl looked up at him, beginning to squirm slightly in her seat. “Kim,” she answered.

“Well, Kim,” Severus began snidely, “you appear to be the class’ best example of how poorly educated you have all been in the subject of Potions. You, however, especially stand out because it would seem you are quite content to remain so completely ignorant. And if that is indeed true, you might as well pack up your books and leave this class so neither of us will be wasting our time. In fact, you might as well go straight to your room and pack up your trunk, because students with such attitudes as yours are not fit to call yourselves witches. I’m sure you could find someone willing to snap your wand in half for you on your way home.”

The girl began to sniffle and whimper, her eyes filling with water. Severus, however, was not moved. He had seen this pitiful tactic used many times in his teaching career, although it was a rare few who were actually brave enough to trying it on the infamous Head of Slytherin House. It was clear that he was going to have to establish his reputation her quickly, so future episodes such as this would be prevented.

“And I am hardly the type to be manipulated by such cheap tactics,” Severus told her plainly, without showing a shred of the pity she might have been trying to get. “So if you want to cry, go right ahead. Just know it will get you nothing from me.”

So Kim took Severus up on his invitation and proceeded to burst into tears, but not in the manner Severus had expected. It wasn’t the ordinary sort of crying where a girl might sniffle and rest her head against the table so no one could see. This was very open, very loud, and more reminiscent of a cat being gutted by a fishing knife. And every single girl in the classroom was staring at her, including Professor Bluebell, who appeared to find the situation quite amusing, as though she were happy to see even the smallest failure on Severus’ part.

“Alright, that is enough,” Severus said, hoping the girl would realize how she was embarrassing herself.

But Severus might as well have said nothing for all the good it did. If anything, the sobs got even louder, and snot began to bubble out her nose. And she did absolutely nothing to conceal her condition. Amanda Green, who was sitting beside Kim, attempted to console her, but the moment her hand touched Kim’s shoulder, the sobbing girl shrieked as though she had been burned with a torch. Miss Green flinched away with both hands raised as though she had encountered a poisonous snake, and then looked up at Severus, waiting for him to do something about the situation he had created.

This was getting serious. “I mean it!” he snapped.

This did absolutely nothing to help the dilemma. The girl kicked away from the table, her chair sent flying as she stumbled to her feet, and out of the classroom, still blubbering like a baby.

“Nice, Professor Cameron,” Professor Bluebell commented as her student ran passed her and slammed the door. “Maybe if you go up front and strangle a kitten, you can make the rest of the girls cry.”

The Shamanism teacher strolled casually up to Kim’s now empty chair and looked down at Amanda Green. “Amanda, go after Kim, will you?” she asked of the still-bewildered student. “See if you can get her to calm down.”

The girl with the thick braid slowing pushed herself away from her table, moving steadily faster as she got closer to the door, as if she saw herself as escaping as well. Professor Bluebell then made her way over to Severus and all previous attitudes of amusement seeming to have gone straight out the window.

“I think an early end to class would be appropriate, considering,” she went on to say. “Girls, you’re free to leave.”

But Severus wasn’t about to give in so easily. “Professor Bluebell, I am the teacher of this class, and I hardly think it will be beneficial to our students if they do not even attend class!”

Professor Bluebell, however, did not appear intent on relenting her position. “Girls, I have seniority as a teacher, and I am also your class advisor. And I say Potions class is done for the day.”

The young woman didn’t once look back at her students while she said this, but the second-years all rushed to gather up their cauldrons, books, and bags, as though they were trying to get out of the room before Severus could tell them to remain in their seats. A small gaggle of girls lingered in the doorway, as though waiting to see the show, but as soon as Professor Bluebell spun back to face Severus’ direction, they all bolted as though running from a live fuse. Clearly, whatever show they were expecting to see was not worth it.

Even from her lower height, Professor Bluebell still manage to come off as immensely superior as she spoke. “Well, at the very least, you will most definitely be one of the more ‘interesting’ Potions professors we have had. Possible the most damaging to out girls’ psyches, but interesting.”

Then turning on her heels, the young teacher made her way for the door, effectively ending the conversation and not offering Severus a chance for rebuttal.

Severus took it anyway. “What? No final words?” he called out, hoping she might stop long enough to listen.

Professor Bluebell thought for a moment, then shook her head. “No. I’m not quite sure that there’s anything to be said that hasn’t already been made abundantly clear.”

And with that, the younger—but senior—professor slammed the door shut behind her, causing a few glass beakers to rattle as she did so.








Severus was allowed one free period of class before his next group of students would arrive, and he was most thankful to have it. He could not recall a class in his entire career that had ended so badly. Yes, students had begun crying in his classes before, there had been many unwise attempts at pranks on him as a new teacher, and even the rare occasion of a student walking out of class (only to be met with harsh punishment, of course). But never had another professor taken it upon themselves to make his job miserable, actually condoning students to behave in such unacceptable manners, even if it was just by doing nothing at all.

It would take nothing less than a miracle for the second-years to respect him now, especially if Professor Bluebell continued to accompany her students to class. He might, in fact, be better off just waiting out the remaining five years before these girls would graduate rather than try to work, what with them with the influence that Professor Maria Bluebell had over them. Dedicated teacher or not, she seemed like the type that was hardly above using her students as a means of revenge.

A sudden knock at the classroom door brought Severus out of his thoughts. He momentarily considered ignoring it. If it was so important, they would just come into the room and tell him directly. That soon proved to be quite faulty reasoning, as the knocking continued at a steady and annoying pace. It was at this moment that Severus wondered if he was being met with his first prank as a new teacher.

Well, whoever it was, they had chosen a very bad time to try and do so. Any other time, he would have just told the culprit, not very kindly, to go away. But this poor unfortunate soul was going to have the misfortune of having Severus’ bad temper taken out completely on them, Severus thought to himself as he made his way to the door, throwing it open and cause it to crash against the wall.

“What now?” he screeched out into the hallway.

Severus found himself met with a startled audience, but none that had ever seen him before and none of them ran away in the manner of someone who was playing a prank. The person who Severus came face to face with an older black gentleman whose hair and beard were sprinkled with patches of white.

“You must be Professor Cameron,” the old man greeted him. “I’m Professor Redding; I teach Wandwork.

“Professor Bluebell told me about you,” he explained. “She hates you.”

Oh, Severus could only imagine what sorts of little stories were being spread around the staff room courtesy of Professor Maria Bluebell.

“Well, I’m here to escort your C.A.T. students on their first day of having a new Potions instructor,” he said to Severus. “Unfortunately, I do not share Professor Bluebell’s luck of having no classes to teach this afternoon, and I will have to leave shortly.”

Yes, how unfortunate, Severus thought to himself as he glanced out into the hallway for himself.

Two girls in the school’s black robes and pinafore-style dresses stood in the hallway, an odd combination of apprehension and boredom on their faces. Both held book bags and Potion kits in their hands, but the second appeared far too young to be taking the equivalent of N.E.W.T. classes.

“This is the whole class?” Severus asked perplexed, searching the corridor for any other girls that might have been hiding. “Are all the C.A.T. classes this small?”

It wasn’t as though Severus had been expecting a full house, even with the combined two years of students. Because of his high terms of acceptance, his N.E.W.T. classes had always been small. But he had never had a year where his class was limited to two students.

“Nope. Just yours,” the Wandwork teacher confessed. “Potions has never been a terribly popular class here.”

Severus sighed inwardly as he look down at his only two advanced students. The class was not going to get any more popular with the display that had just occurred in his last class.

“Anyway, Kit Benedicte.” Professor Redding pointed to the taller girl before acknowledging the younger. “Salome Amsel.”

The two girls looked up to meet their teacher’s gaze for just a moment before simultaneously turning their eyes down towards the floor as though they were afraid they might be turned to stone if they dare look longer.

Before leaving, Professor Redding told Severus, “Try not to scar them for life.”

The Wandwork professor left the hall, his C.A.T. student looking after him, becoming more apprehensive at the notion of being left along with the new infamous teacher. When their advisor was finally gone, both their gazes drifted back to their Potions professor.

“Inside,” Severus instructed, “both of you.”

The girls both obeyed promptly, rushing inside, chasing at one another’s heels. So far, so good. No one was crying, at least.

Without needing to be told to do so, they went to the center seats at the very front of the classroom. Their eyes followed Severus as he joined them in the classroom, bringing his fingers down to drum on the surface of his desk while he considered his next move.

It was at that exact moment when Severus realized the unusual position he was currently in. He had never thought about it this up until this point, but his binding promise to Albus Dumbledore had really done a lot to protect him in previous years. With a new school and a new employer, however, there was no telling to what lengths certain aspects of his behavior would be allowed.

If two classes left his lesson in wild tears, who knew what repercussions there could be.

“Hello, ladies,” Severus kept his tone as even-sounding as was humanly possible. “My name is Professor Cameron, and I am going be the school’s Potions professor for the rest of the year, and hopefully for many years after you are both gone.”

The girls nodded softly, but had no spectacular reaction to the introduction. No snickering, no devious or pitying looks. No signs that the class needed to be brought to an end.

“Now, which of you can tell what is expected of a C.A.T. Potions student?”

The older girl, a large amount of heavy-looking black hair framing her face, glanced up thoughtfully and finally raised her hand.

“Yes… Kit Benedicte,” Severus said, pausing for a moment as he tried to recall the girl’s name.

“Isn’t that your job?” she asked in a very blunt manner.

Automatically, the younger girl, Salome Amsel, scooted her chair away, as though she feared whatever retribution her partner might be in for.

Exhibiting a self-control that he didn’t even know he possessed, Severus said absolutely nothing. Had it been a Hogwarts student who had chosen to mouth off in such a disrespectful manner, Severus was quite certain he would have verbally slapped them across the face before sentencing them to detentions of polishing the classroom tables with one-inch paintbrushes every night until the end of the school year. But he continued to remind himself that he was quite possibly already on very thin ice in terms of his behavior towards the students at this school. Besides, there were likely going to be many opportunities to pay her back in the remaining school year.

“Well, Miss Benedicte,” Severus said smoothly, trying his best to keep his temper in check, “I am not a native of this country, and I am afraid I am unfamiliar with you C.A.T. system. I am not sure if you will have an examination at the end of the year, or what is expected of you upon graduation. I was hoping you might be able to enlighten me.”

“Oh,” the girl breathed. But she did not offer any further explanations for him.

Severus was just about to take his first opportunity for establishing respect among his students the way he had at Hogwarts when he was interrupted by a new voice.

“There are no big tests except for our end-of-the-year final,” the younger girl, Salome Amsel, said at almost a whisper. “We graduate based on our grades.”

“Hmm?” Severus said, trying to get the girl to elaborate.

Salome kept her eyes cast downwards towards the surface of the table, intent on not making any sort of eye contact.

“Our fifth-years grades and our scores on our R.A.V.E.N. exams determine what C.A.T. classes we’ll be able to take, but the C.A.T. courses themselves are supposed to have us ready to work in their field the moment we graduate.”

Severus turned his gaze to Miss Benedicte, hoping she would take it as a clue for what was considered an acceptable manner in which to address a teacher, but she just exhaled deeply while twisting a strand of hair in her fingers.

“I have already been told by your headmistress that the purpose of this class is to prepare you to go straight into the working world as soon as you graduate,” Severus began the lesson’s lecture, even though he had nothing truly rehearsed.

“Since you are supposedly the school’s most advanced students in terms of Potions skills, I will be gracious enough to assume you are not in need of someone to hold your hand. That being said, we will simply be getting straight to work on brewing.”

Severus moved to the copy of Doubly Bubbling: An Advanced Approach to Potion-making and flipped to the marked page. “Turn your books to page seventy-three, where you will find the brewing instructions for the Fire Protection Potion,” he told the girls sitting in the front row. “This is the potion you we be completing for the day’s lesson.”

Even after Severus had finished speaking, the two girls stared ahead blankly as though they were waiting for further instructions.

“I trust you are not in need of some ceremonial beginning before you start on you schoolwork,” he said in much the manner of the old self that he was used to, feeling almost nostalgic as he did so. “You may begin now.”

On those instructions, the girls set straight to work wordlessly. Miss Benedicte began setting up her cauldron and her burner, along with her other potion-making tools, while Miss Amsel moved towards the storage cupboard to collect the necessary ingredients. At the very least, these girls appeared to have a somewhat competent knowledge of the art of potion-making.

At Hogwarts, he would have spent a great deal of necessary time standing over his students’ shoulders making sure what they were brewing could not become potentially volatile enough to destroy the entire school. However, with only one pair of students brewing, Severus found himself in the unusual position of being able to relax. He tried to sit in his chair at the desk, but the simple act felt so completely unnatural to him. He found himself beginning to stare at his minuscule class, looking for even the smallest error he could pounce on.

He did not have to wait long to be given such an opportunity. From his desk, he saw Kit Benedicte was chopping the root at a rapid pace, almost like a chef working through the middle of the dinner rush. Such careless, potentially maiming, actions, might have been acceptable from a professional food server, but certainly not from a child working under such dangerous circumstances.

Severus rose to his feet and made his way to the students’ work station. Technically, there was nothing in the recipe that gave explicit instructions for how fast the roots were to be chopped, but at the very least, what Miss Benedicte was doing was incredibly dangerous. Besides, proper safety while brewing was something that should have been covered in the first year, and the girl was embarrassing herself by ignoring these safety precautions. Not to mention the world of trouble Severus would be in if any bloodshed should occur in his class.

“Miss Benedicte,” he said, grabbing at her wrist to stop her, “despite the rumors, it is not, in fact, a badge of honor for a potion-maker to be missing any of their fingers.”

But Kit Benedicte did not appear to have any sort of reaction to being told the danger of her actions. She mostly appeared to be shocked, almost disturbed, at the fact a teacher was touching her.

“Do not handle your knife in such a reckless manner!” Severus made his point very clear for her. “It is a trip to the Hospital Wing waiting to happen!”

Instead of any verbal response, however, Kit Benedicte snatched her hand away as though she had been burned, the knife falling to the surface of the table. As she cradled her ‘injured’ wrist, she regaled Professor Snape with a scathing stare, chewing on the inside of her cheek as though the action were the only thing biting back any sort of comment.

“You look as though you have something to say, Miss Benedicte,” he remarked smoothly, almost challengingly. “And I certainly wouldn’t want to be the sort of teacher who hinders his students’ freedom of expression, so why don’t you come right out and say whatever it is you’re thinking.”

Kit Benedict’s eyes went wide, but she remained silent. It appeared that for all her deathly looks, she had no real words to match them, just as Severus has suspected. He had been hoping such a demonstration would be enough to significantly change the girl’s attitude in class.

However, the C.A.T. student must have taken the stance that actions could speak louder than words, for she gather up her books into her book bag and stood, moving in swift strides to walk out of the class.

“Miss Benedict!” Severus shouted before she could reach the door. “You may not leave the class until you turn in the day’s work!”

Slowly, with a venomous glare on her face, Kit Benedicte turned on her heels to meet eyes with her professor. It was clear that she was debating disobeying Severus and leaving the class anyway. Miss Benedicte stormed over to the work table, Miss Amsel bolting out of the way, giving her classmate plenty of room for whatever it was she was planning to do. In one sweeping motion, using that same knife, Miss Benedicte dumped the last of the remaining ingredients into the cauldron, giving it three sharp stirs before snatching it off the burner and storming off to Severus’ desk.

“Here,” she snapped, dropping the cauldron on the desktop, “one D+!”

Severus was not familiar with this term for grading, but he could tell from the disgusting mess still bubbling in the cauldron, that it could hardly have meant a satisfactory job.

Her assignment ‘complete,’ Miss Benedict turned once again to leave the classroom, throwing the door open violently for the second time that day, and in a way that was certain to leave a very notable dent in the plaster of the wall. Salome Amsel was left along at the Potions table, shifting uncomfortably in her seat.

“Um, Professor…” Salome muttered, fiddling with the buttons on her dress. “There’s…sort of a rule that says if half the class is missing the teachers can’t give the day’s lesson—”

“Out!” Severus shouted at her.

With one sweeping gesture, Salome dumped her books and papers into her empty cauldron and took up her book bag with the other hand, racing out the door like an Olympic sprinter. And it was with that that Severus’ first day of classes at the Salem Witches Institute came to an end.

Severus made his way to his desk and sank down into his chair. Kit Benedicte’s cauldron was still left behind, bubbling its noxious contents on surface of the desk. Of course the potion was completely useless. The rushed and sloppy manner in which it was finished, it was a complete mess! Although, Miss Benedicte’s intent was clearing not to produce a fine work in potion-making, but only to spite her new teacher.

Severus sank down into desk chair and let his forehead drop to the surface. Two classes; he had only had to handle two measly classes, and for a first-day-of-class introduction…and he had managed to fail so monumentally that it wasn’t even funny. It was just a matter of whether it was Maria Bluebell or Kit Benedicte who went running to Dean Temperance Crackstone first, and how long it would take for him to be fired.

With his head in his hands, Severus did his very best to recall a day that had ended worse for him in terms of teaching. He couldn’t.


Chapter 6: Chapter 6 It Begins
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Chapter 6
It Begins


“Kit Benedicte!” Salome Amsel called out into the stables, watching for any signs of movement. “Kit, you come out right now! We need to talk!”

The stables held silent, save for the few whinnies of the winged horses in their stalls and Salome’s gasps for breath from running all the way across the grounds: down the lawn, through the stonewall gardens, and finally to the stables. Despite the quiet and the stillness within, Salome knew that Kit was here. There was nowhere else the seventeen-year-old could hide, and it was impossible to Apparate on school grounds. The seventh-year was just making a point to be silent so she wouldn’t have to come out and face her Potions partner about the display that had just happened in class.

Salome shielded her arm over her eyes from the pieces of hay fell like spaghetti-like snow.

“Kit!” she shouted, beginning to peek into the horse stalls. “Kit, come out right now! You’re acting like a five-year-old!”

Salome moved cautiously, knowing it would be just like Kit to sneak up on her and grab her by the shoulders, screaming bloody murder. The girl had an odd idea of how friends behaved towards one another.

Even though Kit was two years older than her, there were many occasions when Salome felt like she was the more mature of them. Ever since the day they had met, whenever Salome found herself in any sort of predicament, it could somehow, someway be connected back to Kit. A more logical person might have begged the question as to why Salome even associated with the girl, given this track record.

“Kit, don’t you dare jump out at me and say ‘Boo!’” Salome shouted out, spinning around, trying to catch the older girl in the act. “We both agreed we were getting too old for that!”

“I know that.”

The voice that spoke from only a few inches away caused Salome to shriek and jump, even though the word ‘boo’ was never spoken. And once Salome turned around, there stood Kit Benedicte, complete unfazed by the episode just now, as well as what had happened in Potions class just moments before.

“What’s up with you, Sweet Pea?” Kit asked, as though she were confused by the whole confrontation and the tone it was taking. “You came storming in here looking like someone stuck a wasp’s nest to the bottom of your seat.”

Salome grumbled under her breath as she moved to steady her position and did her best to look outraged, but Kit just gave a snort.

Salome had always known that she was something of a goody-goody, but no one could make her feel that way better than Kit Benedicte could. Salome knew that she herself had no ability to such mind-boggling disrespect to a teacher and then walk away as though nothing happened. And yet here Kit was, waltzing around the campus with a conscious as clear as crystal.

“What on Earth could you have possibly been thinking?” Salome stormed forward so she was standing nearly nose-to-nose with Kit. In her most confident voice possible, she continued, “You have one opportunity to make a first impression with this new teacher, and…that is what you choose to do? Not only that, but you choose to take me down with you?”

Kit was small for her age, but sadly, Salome was even more so, so Kit was still able to look down at her in any conversation, even when Salome was standing on her tiptoes.

In fact, all these words did was made Kit laugh even harder. “He’s not going to dock points from you,” she managed to say within the giggling fit. “Chances are he’ll probably think it was one freak incident of insanity on my part and’ll just forget the whole thing ever happened. And if he doesn’t, I’ll just play up the crazy for a few weeks until he decides that my actions should not affect your report card.”

Kit wandered about the stable floor, around bales of hay and tack equipment, twirling the sash from her school robes about her shoulders in a dreamy and almost jubilant manner. It was clear that there was absolutely no point in trying to make Kit feel guilty about what she had done.

Salome huffed under her breath. By all logic, she shouldn’t have been in this situation, because she shouldn’t have even been in C.A.T. classes. Salome was in her sixth-year, even though she was only fifteen years old. She had been identified as ‘gifted’ and ‘precocious’ a mere six weeks into her first year, and as soon as Christmas break was over, she was skipped into the second year.

But it was also because of this that she had met Kit. She saw very little of the girls her own age during the school day, and most of the older girls—either because of contempt, jealousy, or just plain disinterest—distanced themselves from the younger girl in their class, no matter how minor an age difference it really was. But eventually, she met Kit Benedicte, who was not quite so preoccupied with grades…at least not enough to be threatened by the younger student.

And while Salome might have been considered as ‘straight-laced’ as they came, she was far too invested in her studies and herself to go tattling to the teachers about anything Kit did in her spare time, namely her unauthorized ventures into the Muggle town of Salem. In an odd sort of way, it was the lack of investment in one another’s interests that proved to give the girls their unusual sort of friendship.

The fact that Salome found herself so often caught up in any trouble Kit might have found herself in was just an unfortunate side-effect, such as today’s incident in Potions.

When Kit finally noticed the serious, stern look on her friend’s face, she stopped her prancing and rushed back to Salome’s side.

“Oh, lighten up!” Kit tried with a light tone, reaching out to ruffle Salome’s hair with both hands. “I know you laughed. Once you were out of Fresh Meat’s sight and earshot, you laughed.”

Salome stiffened; she most certainly had not laughed! Not when she hadn’t been convinced she would make it out of that classroom alive!

But finally Kit seemed to understand just how inappropriate her behavior was, her voice took on a more even tone. “Anyway, he’s not going to be here for much long. I might only have one year left at this place, but I’m sure as hell not going to spend it kissing ass!”

Salome’s face contorted into shock at the sound of the swear, and once again, Kit burst out laughing at the expression. “Good God, Sweet Pea, you’re worse than Catholic guilt!” she teased. “Not to mention if we show perfect behavior during the first class, then that’s exactly what he’s going to expect for the rest of the year. And he’s not going to get it from anyone else, so wouldn’t it have been crueler to lie to him?”

Chewing on her bottom lip, Salome did her very best to come up with some clever sort of retort but came up blank.

“I wouldn’t worry about any of it, though,” Kit went on. “This whole school’s going to be doing their part to see that Professor Cameron…well, you’ll see.”

Salome’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What are you getting at?” This was starting to sound like something that would see to it her children and grandchildren would grow up in detention at the Salem Institute for Young Witches.

Kit shook her head up at the rafters. “Salome, if this guy is ever going to be the sort of teacher that anyone will ever learn anything from, you gotta train him to follow the unwritten rules of Salem,” she explained. “Teacher or student, you start here at the lowest of the low, and have to work your way up. Really, that attitude of his is only going to make it worse for him. A little humility will be good for him, and not just as a teacher.”

Salome’s eyes went wide. “Train him? He’s not a dog!”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Kit assured her. “It’s a perfectly natural part of getting a new teacher. Especially when you’ve never spent any time around kids, which I guarantee you, this guy hasn’t. I heard from Cyrille that she saw one of the second-years bolting out of his classroom like he’d shot her owl!”

Salome shifted uncomfortably in her shoes. Even if the second-year didn’t have a name in this story, she still couldn’t help but feel bad for the girl, being made to cry in front of her entire class. That was when Salome first began to notice that characteristic pull over to the ‘Dark Side’ that always preceded her getting in trouble right alongside Kit. If she had any sense, she would have cut and run right there.

They were interrupted by a pair of fourth-year girls in riding robes leading two of the school’s winged horses out into the ring. “Hey, guys!” Kit called over to them. “You heard about the new Potions professor?”

The girl leading a chestnut-colored Aethonan spoke up first. “The guy wearing all black who looks like he wants to eat your soul?” Kit nodded and Salome’s jaw dropped at the blunt description. “Yeah, I saw him when I was with Raquel yesterday. Let’s just say I can’t wait for class tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I heard he stole Anna Morrison’s Seeing-Eye Elf,” snapped the other girl. “His ass is grass!” In a sporadic action, the taller girl smacked her riding crop against the one of the stable beams, causing her horse to buck at the sharp noise.

Kit turned to face Salome as the two riders left the stable. “You see?” she pointed out. “Cameron’s going to get what he deserves with or without us. Or do you still think you can change the minds of the entire student body?”

Salome began to fidget as she felt herself being pulled deeper and deeper into a situation that seemed like it could only end painfully. But it did seem like it would be an…engaging, and even amusing pastime in a school with no boys and where a person would live a near Puritanical existence if they followed every school rule. First, Kit had caught the urge, now it was beginning to spread to Salome, and the two fourth-years already seemed heavily infected by the notion.

It has to be contagious….


 

 







Severus rushed to pick up the still-burning cigarette butt off the floor while Shoshana crumpled against the couch cushions, crippled by a violent fit of laughter. Quickly tossing the burning stick into a cup of tea, he turned back in complete seriousness to face the agent who could not have been acting less professional.

When Shoshana had arrived at Severus’ flat (unannounced, of course) and sat down on the couch to light a cigarette, she’d promised that she would be able to maintain a professional disposition if Severus agreed to tell her how his first day of teaching went. Severus had not even told her everything when she finally could not hold in her laughter and her cigarette launched out of her mouth like a harpoon.

Now that his flat was no longer in danger of burning to the ground, he felt like he could address what he felt was a completely inappropriate reaction on Shoshana’s part.

“It’s not funny!” he growled.

“Yes, it is!” Shoshana was barely able to squeak.

The girl reached into her bag for another cigarette, which Severus might have scolded her for, seeing she had nearly burned the building down with the last one. But she was still shaking so hard that he doubted she would even be able to manage the dexterity to light it. As an afterthought, he wondered just how quickly the couch could burst into flames.

“You just don’t think so because you’re the one it happened to,” she said, finally giving up and setting the pack on the coffee table.

Severus briefly considered that he shouldn’t be so rattled about the girl creating such a mess in a flat that was barely his, but yet another of his more recent gifts from the Witness Protection Program. It was a Muggle building, but Severus had no plans of becoming friendly with his neighbors, no matter who they were, so it hardly mattered. It was rather small, but Shoshana informed him until the American government could get a hold of his finances and sell his old home at Spinners End, it would just have to do. Not that Severus hadn’t gone without money before.

“Okay, okay!” The girl settleed back against the couch cushions, clutching at her aching sides. “Let’s make a list. In the course of one day, you stole a Seeing-Eye Elf from a blind kid, made a twelve-year-old cry in front of twenty of her closest friends, and caused half of your C.A.T. class to walk out in the middle of the lesson.”

“There are only two students in C.A.T. Potions!” Severus exclaimed. “I can hardly have a proper lesson with only one child in the classroom!”

Shoshana just continued to laugh and snicker, though at least she had the decency to cover her mouth while she did so. “Let me ask this, at least. Were you actually trying to start the school year as horribly as you possibly could?”

Severus groaned, knowing know that his handler was not going to offer him any sort of pity. “As though the first day of teaching school wasn’t bad enough the first time!” Severus couldn’t help but shudder as he thought back to those dark days.

“Yeah, I’m not quite sure how you’re going to top all this,” Shoshana finally seemed to collect herself, “but I’m sure you’re going to find a way to do it somehow. You just seem like that kind of guy.”

Severus groaned and sunk back into his armchair. “I think you all would have been better off leaving me to bleed on that floor!”

By now, Shoshana’s laughter had stopped completely and she was finally able to attempt solemnity. “Oh, c’mon, you don’t mean that! Look, I remember how brutal kids can be to the new teacher, trying to see just how much they can get away with. Oh, the stories I could tell you…but I don’t think they would help in making you feel better.”

Finally, the girl’s gaining a little perspective, Severus thought as he sneered to himself.

Shoshana moved to his side. “Look, I know it was a really crappy day, but at least it’s over now, and you can start tomorrow fresh. Just take a deep breath—” Shoshana illustrated by inhaling deeply, “—and remind yourself…it’s only going to get worse now that they’ve tasted blood.”

That was not what he had been expecting to hear. Staring up at her, agape, Severus just had to ask, “How is that supposed to help with anything?”

Shoshana shrugged and reached once again for her unlit cigarette. “It doesn’t, but we both know we’d be kidding ourselves if I said anything different.”

Severus continued to scowl. “You are a horrible, horrible friend!” he growled.

The young Ministry agent looked back over her shoulder and, the first time, Severus saw the girl genuinely shocked. “When did we become friends?”

Chuckling at the irony of it all, Severus came as close to a smile as was possible for him. “Shoshana, right now, you are probably the closest thing I have to a friend right now. And that, in itself, is extremely sad.”


 

 







Severus tried to follow Shoshana’s advice and start his next day with a clean slate. This advice seemed to work surprisingly well until Severus was suddenly reminded that his first class of the day would be the Salem fourth-years. And he was reminded of this by one girl standing among a group of four waiting to be let into the classroom, a girl who was staring off into space, focusing on nothing in particular, with a house-elf in a matching dress standing at her side.

Pressing on ahead and hoping Anna Morrison was the forgiving sort, he made his way to the entrance of the classroom. “Good morning, ladies,” he greeted his strange students who seemed just a little afraid of him before turning to the one he already knew. “Miss Morrison.”

The girl turned her head in the direction of the voice, but she didn’t make eye contact. She smiled as she spoke. “Morning, Professor Cameron.”

For a fleeting moment, Severus wondered how a blind girl would even learn how to smile. The house-elf, while still holding Anna’s hand, crossed her arms in front of herself and gave a humph in the manner of someone extremely offended. Severus tried to greet the creature with as much civility as he knew how to treat a house-elf with. “Good morning, Sheriri.”

“Go to hell!” the elf squeaked at him.

The other girls around the door snickered at the profanity, and even Anna Morrison couldn’t help but giggle slightly at her Seeing-eye Elf’s outburst.

“I’m sorry,” she finally apologized in that way of hers that didn’t involve looking people in the eyes. “But when Sheriri and I first started working together, it took forever to get her to outgrow her old head-bowing, whatever-you-say house-elf mannerisms. A Seeing-Eye Elf needs to be bold so they can give orders to their human and keep them out of danger.”

Anna adjusted her shoulder bag as the girls behind her shifted uncomfortably. “And I’m not about to start encouraging her to do any different now.”

Severus suddenly began to cough in a way that even sounded uncomfortable. “Right, then,” he said, wanting to put a quick end this conversation. “Let’s get to class.”

When he opened the door, however, he was greeted with a rather surprising sight. Severus, who had thought that Anna and the three other girls outside were just early birds, entered the room to find it filled with what had to be the entire fourth-year class, and Severus didn’t even have to look at the guilty expressions on their faces to see what they had been up to.

The walls of the classroom were no longer bare. None of the old, mold-laced drawings had been tacked up, but they were all drawings of the same purpose, dozens upon dozens of them. It must have taken several nights’ work to produce such quantities. Mobiles and models even dangled from the ceiling.

Severus wasn’t quite sure if the girls had meant this to be some sort of prank; as though the sight of anything colorful that could lift people’s spirits would cause him great offence. He even began to wonder if the three girls outside were meant to stand guard. Severus couldn’t help but snicker at the idea of a blind girl being assigned the job of lookout. He knew that that was incredibly inappropriate to think, but he doubted there were any Legimenses in the class to hear him.

“Good morning, ladies,” he began with the rehearsed speech he had prepared for the first day of each of his classes. “My name is Professor Cameron, and I will be your new permanent Potions instructor.”

As Severus spoke, he began to notice that the girls in his class seemed to be looking at him rather expectantly, their eyes shifting from the decorations to him and back again. It was as though they honestly thought this was some sort of clever prank that he would blow his top at the moment he saw.

Best to do away with that illusion!

“I suppose you all thought I took away the classroom decorations just to be mean, and by putting new ones back up, you’re somehow getting revenge.” He began to pace lazily through the aisles. “Well, I’m not exactly certain what you think all this is going to accomplish. Believe it or not, I am not the evil British Potions professor that flees from bright colors the way a vampire flees from sunlight.”

Severus returned to the blackboard, taking up a piece of chalk. “As nothing proves to be a fire hazard, you can decorate the classroom however you want. It’s your school, after all.”

Severus scanned the room for disappointed faces, but found himself feeling disappointment with the lack of response. Now he would have to think up some other way to show that he wielded the power in this classroom. As it was, it certainly wasn’t going to be spread by word of mouth.

“Now, let’s move on to the lesson for today.” He turned to add further notes to the writing already on the chalkboard. “According to your headmistress, the third-years left last year with the study of Sleeping Draughts, so we will be starting your fourth year by seeing just how much you have retained since your summer vacation.”

From behind him, Severus thought he heard a few groans and smiled to himself at the progress being made.

“On the board, you see the instructions for the brewing of Dozing Draft, a very mild Sleeping Draught which you should have already learned to make last year. Your textbooks should also be able to supply you with supplementary information for the brewing process.” Severus tilted his head towards the large storage cupboard against the wall. “Ingredients are in the storage cupboards. Anyone who did not bring their cauldron and tools to class will be out of luck and earn a zero for the day. You are more than halfway through your education, and you should know by now what is expected of you when you come to class.”

A few of the girls began to squirm uncomfortably in their seats. He was making progress. Severus moved away from the board to stand before his class once again. “And if for any reason, you find yourself without your supplies, let today be a learning experience for you.

“You will be working pairs. When you hear your name, go find your partner and get to work.”

He supposed giving the girls partners for their brewing made his speech about class supplies rather redundant, but he admitted to himself it was more for the purpose of seeing to it the fourth-years did not believe this was a class they would simply be able to ‘scoot through’.

Severus picked up a piece of parchment from his desk and began reading off the pairs of names. “Tulla Martelli and Morgan Kerner, Sarah Dowling and Graciela Nieves, Kirsten Hall and Tess Womack, Andrea Beaulieu and Sonja Nicolic, Mai Vu and Erin Marsh….”

Gradually, the girls began finding their partners and moving to their tables, most of them keeping a cautious eye on their new teacher. Severus couldn’t help but relish the taste of fear once again. How he had missed it! “…Jane Iwamoto and Chelsea Barnett, Laurel Anderson and Bonnie Acosta, Daisy Calton and Corona Sousa, Michelle Lowe and Vivien Finn, Caitlin Grove and Heidi Lofton….”

Finally, there was only one pair of students left. “Jennifer McFadden and…Anna Morrison.”

Anna Morrison was still in her seat, fumbling with the various tools while she stared straight ahead. Her partner set the ingredients out, one by one. He wondered just how much individual attention the girl would need to get through the lesson. He had never had a student with such a…profound disability as Miss Morrison.

But Miss McFadden didn’t seem at all horrified at the prospect of working with the girl, and Anna wouldn’t have been allowed into fourth-year Potions if she was completely unprepared for the subject, so Severus decided that, for now, he would just let things progress. He was actually a little surprised himself for obsessing so much over one student and feeling so uncomfortable. It had to be leftover guilt from stealing the girl’s Seeing-Eye Elf…which he was still trying to figure out how exactly happened.

“Miss Nieves, even out that measuring spoon! You easily have three times too much powdered Mooncalf hoof…” Severus began making his rounds around the classroom. “Miss Finn, the instructions say ‘simmer’, not ‘start a forest fire’. Turn down that flame…Miss Calton, magazines do not belong in the classroom, so now it’s mine ‘til Monday….”

But every time he passed by Anna Morrison’s table, he found his words continually getting caught in his throat. There were plenty of things he could have commented on; her lavender had not been ground fine enough, her melted butterscotch was too runny, she hadn’t even started on slicing her fairy wings. But while these things might have taken points off her final score, there was nothing that would have caused the cauldron to start spewing noxious gas, so he just continued moving past her again and again.

You know you would never let her off so easily if she could see, a voice rang in Severus’ head, and that only made the knot in Severus’ stomach tie even tighter.

Shut up! Severus growled to himself, even though arguing with himself made him feel even more awkward.

“Missy Anna, smaller,” he suddenly heard a squeaky voice. “Much better!”

Severus turned around to see the girl’s elf pushing the mortar and pestle back into her hands, prompting her to start grinding again. Jennifer McFadden continued her work beside her as though there was nothing unusual about what was going, certainly a lot more relax about her blind partner than Severus was.

How did an elf learn so much about potions anyway? Severus had to wonder.

“Sheriri, are these the wings?” Miss Morrison asked, holding up a slab of dried and flattened leeches.

“No, Missy Anna Miss.” The Seeing-Eye Elf reached for the wings. “Here the wings are!”

Severus had to admit that his heart started racing when the girl reached for the knife, but, eyes forward, she sliced the wings into strips with a practiced hand, Sheriri the elf watching the knife like a hawk. Again, Miss McFadden was working at a relaxed pace, not a worry in her head.

“Miss Morrison,” Severus finally spoke up, “slice the strips diagonally, not vertically.”

“Alright.” The girl shifted the wing and continued slicing. No crying, and the girl didn’t shatter into pieces or burst into flames.

Feeling a bit more confident, Severus turned his attentions to the elf. “Sheriri, you help Miss Morrison with all her classes like this?”

“It’s Sheriri’s job to help Missy Anna Miss with everything Miss Anna might need.” The Seeing-Eye Elf didn’t take her eyes off Miss Morrison’s knife. “Sheriri has been doing this for many years, and Sheriri will for many more.”

Nodding, Severus couldn’t help but ask, “Then why didn’t you ‘help Miss Anna’ yesterday in the elevator when I was trying to get her attention?”

The little house-elf looked up at the Potion’s Master with a look of defiance that seemed almost impossible to be on the face of one of these creatures. “Sheriri doesn’t work for Potions Teacher Number Seventeen!”

Severus was taken slightly aback by the shouting elf. “Miss Morrison, turn down that flame while you’re at it!” he quipped before sweeping away. No insult for the elf, as he had never been in the position of needing to insult a house-elf. He still wasn’t quite sure whether he was any more comfortable working with the blind student than he was before.

But he was able to now comment on Miss Morrison’s work as he commented on the on the brewing of the other students.

“Miss Iwamoto,” he said to the Asian girl at the next table over, “you do realize that the instructions call for slicing the wings, not mutilating them?”

But instead of doing anything to fix this, the girl just looked up at him, disgusted. “I’m Miss Barnett!” she said before pointing to the black girl who was her partner. “She’s Miss Iwamoto!”

Severus’ stared at the girls. It was just barely possible that they might have been telling the truth, but the more likely answer kept surfacing in his mind. “Is this some sort of joke?” he asking in a tone that left no room for joking. “To see just how much you can get away with on the first day?”

But the petite girl before him stood her ground. “You do know how racist that sounds, right?”

He had gotten this far into the class period without making an ass of himself. He was not about to have the forth-years go running off to the first teacher they could find to tell that their Potions Master was a racist as well. So if her partner wanted to be ‘Miss Iwamoto’ for the rest of the year, by all means, he saw no reason not to let her.

“Time’s up!” Snape snapped above the volume of the collective class. “Whether you’re finished or not, bottle a sample of what you have brewed with your names attached, then bring them up to my desk for grading.”

A quick glance around the room revealed some groups who might have been less than ready to turn over what they had produced especially as a lot of girls seemed to be taking their sweet time bringing their potion samples to the desk.

“Homework for next class is to have read pages sixty-seven through one hundred and four in your textbooks, as well as sixteen inches of parchment on how your potion brewing abilities have regressed over the summer and what you plan to do to fix that.” Severus began collecting his class notes off his desk. “Everybody, dismissed!”

Even after their potions had been turned in, the girls were slow in gathering up their things, but Severus supposed they were old enough not to need him to hold their hands, so he took the liberty of leaving.

In retrospect, especially given what he had seen from the fourth-years at the beginning of class, this probably wasn’t the best decision.

When he returned to his classroom, Severus saw the first-years already gathered outside the door, a collection of pigtails, messy ribbons, and obscenely-colored book bags. But the chatter gradually came to an end once they noticed the approaching adult.

“Hello, ladies,” he greeted the new students, once again, with his rehearsed speech. “My name is Professor Cameron and I am the school’s Potion Master. I am actually rather looking forward to this class because I will be able to start from scratch withal of you and not have to undo years of bad habits left on you by…other instructors.”

A few of the girls waved and muttered hellos, while everyone else stared off in to space, still not having shaken the dreamy state summer tended to put students in. Then again, there was something to be said about that blissful state of ignorance before a child learned fear.

But Severus couldn’t say that he was actually trying to strike any sort of fear into his students at the particular moment. As they followed him into the room, Severus decided that there would be a whole school year for that.

“Everyone please take your seats,” he said in a somewhat distracted way as he remove his satchel from him shoulder.

There was a quiet murmur among the class, before one little girl in braids finally got up the nerves to ask, “How?”

Severus searched through his branch, trying to think of a snarky remark for the little brat, when he heard the sound of his satchel drop to the floor, right at his feet. Looking around the room, none of the tables or stools were there for the students, at least until he started to venture his eyes up towards the ceiling. There they were: the desk, the stools, everything necessary for conducting a Potions lesson, along with the supply cupboards. All of it had been stuck there as though this was exactly where it was supposed to be.

“Is this a test?” another little girl asked in a tone that had yet to fear the wrath of Severus Snape.

“Oh, bloody hell!” Severus muttered to himself.

He should never have mentioned anything about ‘decorating the ceiling’ to the fourth-years. And he certainly shouldn’t have given them the opportunity to attempt something else that would truly annoy him. As he stood there, he found himself trying to figure out whether this little stunt had been provoked by the decorations, his remarks to Miss Iwamoto, or maybe even Sheriri had encouraged the students to give it a try.

Severus extracted his wand from his pocket and tried casting a nonverbal summoning charm. Nothing. All the furniture remained stuck.

Accio storage cupboard!” he then tried. Still nothing. He had to wonder what kind of education these students were getting: his American fourth-years were easily a year behind his British students one, and yet they could levitate a classroom full of heavy furniture and perform a Sticking Charm strong enough to actually hold them to the ceiling.

“Professor, I don’t think this is working,” came yet another little voice.

Damn, damn, damn! Severus thought to himself. There were at least several dozen different charms the girls could have used to do this, and they all had their own counter-spells. And, as much as it might have hurt Severus’ ego to admit, he didn’t even know most of them. He didn’t even want to think about how long it would take to look up and try all of them.

Of course, now he had the problem of teaching his class without any of the furniture or equipment.

“Everyone…” The fourth-years had left the entire supply of burners on their tables, which were now also dangling from the ceiling. “…we will…” The ingredients were even stuck to the shelves in the storage cupboards. “Oh, all of you just go!”

Upon hearing this, the first-years were so excited to be getting out of class that absolutely no one was frightened his yelling. In fact, they were fighting and climbing all over one another to get out of the classroom.

Once they were all gone, having no desk and no chair to sit at, Severus left the room as well and made his way to the teacher’s longue. He knew that the headmistress most likely wouldn’t hold him responsible for something the students had done, but he still knew that this little stunt was a reflection of him as a teacher, especially since the girls even thought they could get away with it.

Severus grumbled to himself, knowing that his students at Hogwarts would never have been so stupid as to think they could pull off something like this. Of course, there he had had the not-quite-rumors of being a former Death Eater to ensure that.

Here at Salem…he wasn’t quite sure what he had to work with, and it certainly wasn’t going to get his classroom down off the ceiling!
 


Chapter 7: Chapter 7 An Effective Guide to Professor Training
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Chapter 7
An Effective Guide to Professor Training



The rest of the week followed much the same way. It was more than three days before the furniture finally became unstuck from the ceiling, and, of course, the headmistress determined that the best course of action would be to cancel all Potions lessons until the Potions classroom could be put back in order. It was an incredible inconvenience and showed, in Severus’ opinion, a great lack of respect the headmistress must have held for the subject of Potions. But at least he held the miniscule hope that the stunt with the classroom furniture was as clever as the Salem students got. That once they saw he wasn’t going toflee, they would just give up and let him teach.

Severus was very wrong.

On one particular Thursday afternoon, Severus was in his office working out next week’s lesson plan for the fourth years, an especially brutal one to pay those little blighters back for what they had done to the Potions classroom. And he wasn’t about to let Anna Morrison off easy either, blind or not (in fact, it would have been wrong of him not to treat her just like any other student).

Suddenly, a series of sharp raps at the door broke his concentration. “Yes, what is it?” he called.

When he looked up, he found himself caught even more off guard by the person who opened the door. It was Kim Rosales, the second year he had made cry on his very first day of teaching. What the bloody hell was she doing here…and without reinforcements?

The girl was looking down and wringing her hand nervously, as though even she weren’t sure what she was doing there. “Miss Rosales, is there something I can help you with?” Severus finally asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence.

Kim Rosales eventually made her way in, shuffling her feet, her eyes darting left and right behind her dark brown fringe. She stopped just short of the desk, but said nothing aside from the deep breaths that made her sound just on the verge of hyperventilating.

“Miss Rosales, are you going to tell me what it is you want, or can I go back to work?” Severus did his best to keep his voice calm and even, less the second year dissolve into a sobbing puddle in the middle of his floor.

Suddenly, as though just making up her mind about what she wanted to do, she snatched the lesson plan out from under Severus’ quill, upsetting the ink bottle and causing the quill to leave a large black stain on the surface of the desk. Severus tried to grab his wand, but the girl had already bolted out the door. “Miss Rosales!” he shouted after her, which accomplished all of nothing.

“Miss Rosales, I’m not chasing you!”

That was, however, exactly what Severus ended up doing.

The second year wasn’t so fast that Severus couldn’t easily keep up with her, yet all the yelling and the threats weren’t doing a thing to make her halt, and none of the girls they passed it the hallway did anything but stop and stare.

“Oh, my God! Kim Rosales is gonna die!”

A lot of girls recoiled against the wall in fear, but others raised their fists and cheered the second year on. “Run, Kim, run!”

Numerous different spells ran through Severus’ mind that could have easily accomplished this, but he found himself hesitating. What did the Salem Institute have to say about teachers using magic on their students? Then again, knowing Miss Rosales could be reduced to tears by a few harsh words, a Body Bind Curse might push the girl into a stress-induced seizure.

Kim’s laces had come undone and she was nearly tripping every fifth step, but she still remained just ahead of Severus, her long hair flying out like a tail that he couldn’t even grab. He felt his chest tightening and his breathing become more labored. As though he needed a reminder that he was getting too old for this!

Kim Rosales tripped once again over her own feet as she spun around the corner and Severus was almost caught her, but the girl managed to pick herself up and race through a swinging door before he got the chance. And when he saw just where it was the second year had chosen to hide, he found himself not quite so eager to hunt her down as he had been before: it was the girls’ washroom.

“You honestly think that this is going to stop me?” Severus shouted through the door, though he did feel a great deal of hesitation as he said this. The students who had been walking through the hallway had all stopped in their tracks, staring at him, waiting to see what he was going to do. He could faintly hear whispers of ‘He’s not really going to do, is it?’ ‘He just might.’ ‘He can’t be that stupid!’

He considered asking one of the passing girls to go in after Miss Rosales, but that plan came to an end as soon as he took a quarter turn to his left and every student in the hall took a collective step backwards, as though getting ready to flee. Once it was clear that no would be offering any help in apprehending the insane little second year, his stomach began to knot.

But just then, he heard a high-pitched, taunting giggle, which he knew was aimed directly at him and his hesitance to chase after his student. He reached for the door handle and threw it open with surprising force.

He had no chance to confront the source of the giggle, however. An instant later, he was hit by a great stream of water with the force of a fire hose that could have broken bones. It was at least enough to knock him off his feet and slam him against the opposite wall. In fact, Severus was convinced he heard something crack as he hit the wall, feeling his brain bounce around inside his skull as his head smacked against the plaster.

Through the rushing water, he could still here the sound of the students screaming…or it could have been hysterical laughter. It was rather hard to tell, being surrounded by the rushing water and the facing of his own mortality.

Severus worried briefly about the possibility of a concussion, but it seemed secondary to the very real prospect that he was drowning. He had survived a lifetime of spying and the Dark Lord’s attempt on his life only to be killed by as schoolgirl prank?

Eventually, though, the water began to slow, Severus dropped to the floor, the water having pinned him off his feet. And when he finally did look up, his the very faintest outline his body had made in the wall…and a much more profound one where his skull had been.

As Severus began gulping down as much air as he could, he couldn’t believe that none of the girls were moving to help him. In fact, the entire corridor erupted into cackling laughter.

He couldn’t believe it! The little brats had all known this was going to happen! The bathroom must have been cast with some sort of protection charm to keep male teachers (or boys who had somehow found their way into the school) from going inside, just short of drowning anyone who opened the door. That was the reason why Miss Rosales had snatched his grade book in the first place, though he would be damned if the girl had thought the plan up on her own!

Once Severus finally did manage to stand to his feet, the chill of the water finally setting in, he felt yet another one of his senses being completely overwhelmed: smell. He absolutely reeked of the most horrendous smelling flowery perfume, and it was completely drenched in his robes and his skin, almost as though he had been blasted with more perfume than water.

It was at that point that the girls all covering their noses and gagging violently. Some of them even took off running when he got too close to them.

He immediately tried a cleansing spell on his robes, only to find it had no effect. The school had probably taken that into account when they created the protection charm, add something to help them remember not to try it again.

How the bloody hell did the witches of Salem keep coming up with spells he had no idea how to undo?

As the cackling young witches gripped at the sides, Severus seethed to himself. Don’t react, that’s exactly what they want. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

All he could do at that point was retreat to his office in disgrace, and see if his own personal collection of books—which Shoshana had just delivered from his home on Spinners End a few days ago—had anything else to offer on how to rid himself of this stench. But even there he wasn’t safe. Girls would continually walk past his door, most likely to see if the hall gossip was true, holding their noses as they passed. The humiliation dragged on and on and on; especially when Professor Bluebell came into his office and remarked at the top of her lungs, “Good God in heaven! Did a hive of fairies fly in here and die?”

And as hard as it might have been believe at the time, though, that little stunt had been one of the tamer ones. One series of especially bad little stunts came two days later.

Severus couldn’t be quite sure which of the little brats had done it. It could have been those blonde twins who had said hello to him on the stairs. It could have been that fifth year, Chandrika Lahiri, who stopped him to ask if there was anything she needed to have read or written before their first class. It could have been that group of second years he had viciously rebuked for playing keep-away with Amanda Green’s History of Magic notebook. Maybe it had even been Amanda Green herself.

But Severus hadn’t noticed anything was wrong until he reached the Defensive Magic classroom. Professor Jecco had asked Severus to go through the stores from the previous year and bring him any leftover Polyjuice Potion that there was; he needed it for his C.A.T. class so he could teach the girls the Deceinon Charm, which would apparently, for a brief moment, reveal the true face of anyone trying to hide their identity through glamours or Polyjuice.

“That you, Professor Cameron? C’mon in!”

Severus rolled his eyes, but opened the door, biting down on his tongue, lest he get in even deeper water with his new colleagues.

But before he was able to say anything, a girl in the back row with color-streaked hair and too many piercings looked up, her jaw immediately dropping…and then the girl seated next her…and then the girls seated on either side of them.

It didn’t take very long before the entire class was staring at him with eyes as wide as they possibly could. And when Professor Jecco finally turned to look over his shoulder, the chalk screeched as it trailed off from the letter T. Severus glowered at the lot of them. What the bloody hell is so wrong?

Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw his reflection, and the blood completely drained from his face. His robes, which had been black when he had put them on this morning, were now at least seven different shades of the most horrendous cotton candy pink imaginable, complete with enough lace to supply every robe shop in Britain.

As Severus stood horror-struck, a few of the braver girls began to snicker, breaking the deadly silence. “Hey! Girls!” Jecco ordered. “This sort of situation does not call for giggling!”

Just as Severus began to feel he at least had the support of the staff, the scruffy professor moved on to say, “It calls for pointing and loud laughter. Please begin.”

And so they did! The sudden noise bounced painfully against the walls, to the point where Severus could feel the sound vibrations against his skin.

As he turned to leave, he saw Kit Benedict, who had absolutely no decorum when it came to laughing, pointing directly at him and throwing her head back in an almost shriek. Salome Amsel was hiding her mouth behind her hand, laughter coming out in painful-looking bursts, as though she were convinced doing so would either lead to horrible guilt for mocking her teacher or her untimely death at the hands of said teacher.

Even after he’d slammed the door shut, he could still hear the mocking laughter through the oak door…and even from down the hallway. The day just refused to die!

On his way back to his office on the third floor corridor, the hall carpet yanked out from under his feet as soon as he stepped on it, with Severus falling flat on his back, his skull clunking against the hardwood floor. And as soon as he was finally able to stand to his feet, he was greeted with the sounds of war whoops. Almost afraid to see what the source was, Severus slowly turned around to see that painting of that bloody Mohawk hunting party…who were shooting arrows into his chest and his forehead!

And this was not just in the illusion of the painting. Actual—albeit tiny—arrows were shooting from the painting and piercing his face, and then his hands as he moved to protect himself.

“BLOODY GOD DAMN HELL!”

Severus flinched away, holding his arms up to protect himself, but it did almost nothing to help. Arrows upon arrows, more than seemed physically possible for the amount of Indians in the hunting party, were shooting through the hair in one big, splintering mass of pain and confusion…but mostly pain.

How the bloody hell was something like this even possible, even with the use of magic? Why would someone cast that sort of spell? Why would someone even invent a spell like that? What made anyone think these bloody Indians wouldn’t fire on another student or on Dean Crackstone? There were getting to be too many migraine-inducing questions in just one minute. Or maybe that was just more of those splintery arrows shooting at his temples.

The hunters in the painting shouted, banging their fists against the painting and whooped in a language that wasn’t English, waving their weapons at Severus he lowered his arms.

“Yes, I’m sure you’re all very proud of yourselves!” he spat. “You’re warriors taking your marching orders from schoolgirls!”

The Mohawks’ faces were beginning to tint red in fury, and Severus couldn’t help but feel rather pleased.

Then came the tiny tomahawks…

Severus was finally done with indulging these brats and their little games. “Finite incantatem!”

At once, the weapons stopped flying from painting, with the Mohawks shouting even louder, banging their fists against the painting now that their weapons had no effect. Out of the corner of his eye, Severus could see several more failed spells destroyed: a fake wall fell to the floor, a chandelier dropped from the ceiling, live trout slithered out from under the hallway rug, and every door in the corridor threw itself open as though they had been waiting to do the exact same thing in somebody’s face. Severus smirked to himself. Absolutely no creativity; to be all undone in one spell.

“Pathetic!” Severus snorted, before he was drawn back the constant splintery pain all across his face. He tried to pull the arrows out like splinters, but found that quite impossible, due to the tiny stone arrowheads holding them in place.

This would not be a pleasant story to tell at the inevitable visit to the Healer’s office later tonight.

Finally, Severus stormed to his office, picking the tomahawks out of his forehead like splinters. He was ready to just forgetting about any sort of lesson planning and just Floo home. Of course, when he got there, some particularly sadistic little brat had bricked up the fireplace…all the way through.

In a sudden fit of frustration, he kicked at the brick blockade, adding three broken toes to the tally of the day’s injuries.

“HELLBOUND LITTLE BRATS!”

And this had only been the first week of school! Severus hoped to God that American teenagers shared the same miniscule attention spans and limited devotion that his British students had, and that it would only be a matter of days before they got bored or gave up.












For days, Salome had been dreading their next session of Potions with Professor Cameron. It had been put off for several days, something about the classroom being ‘unusable’. She didn’t even want to think about what that meant. It had been no secret that the Salem students had been giving the new teacher a ‘difficult time’.

And Kit especially had been enjoying it all a lot more than she should have.

Kit also made sure that the other C.A.T. students who didn’t take Potions were very aware that they had a greater advantage in their little venture since Professor Cameron didn’t know their faces. What all she had actually done herself, she was not telling Salome, and Salome had a feeling she didn’t even want to know.

As she turned the corner toward the Potions classroom, she felt a small twinge of panic when she saw Kit was already waiting outside, a smirking smile on her face as though she had already done something to feel guilty about.

And Salome was not about to be taken by surprise. “Alright, Kit, what did you do?”

Kit’s eyes shifted. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Kit was terrible at lying when she was in trouble, not that she seemed to be trying very hard today.

“There’s something waiting for us in the classroom! I know there is!” Salome pointed an accusing finger in Kit’s face. “And I want to know what it is before I end up having it blow up in my face too!”

Not knowing what possessed her, she grabbed at the collar of Kit’s robes. “I MEAN IT!”

But Kit’s eyes were focused on something just to her friend’s side. “Hello, Professor Cameron,” she greeted over Salome’s head. “How are you today?”

At first, Salome wondered if Kit was just trying to frighten her, but then she felt a shadow creep over her. Salome also turned to face her teacher, doing her very best to keep her own face straight, no matter what might have been waiting for her. Say nothing of the fact that she looked like she was about to strangle her Potions partner.

“Hello, Miss Benedicte, Miss Amsel,” he greeted them; Salome immediately let go of Kit’s robes when Professor Cameron gave her an odd look. “I trust we will not find the need to run out of class today, will we?”

The corner of Kit’s mouth twitched as though she were itching to say something, but somehow she remained silent. Turning on her heels, she entered the classroom first, Salome following close behind. Professor Cameron shut the door behind them, setting his satchel and his books on his desk. There were already several jars of ingredients waiting on a table off to the side, none of which Salome could piece together for a potion.

“After what was produced in our last class,” he said, his tone grim as he took a seat at his desk, “I really should be making you redo the assignment at half credit.”

Salome squirmed in her seat, and even Kit seemed a little edgy at finally hearing the consequences of her actions.

“However,” the man continued, “I do believe that progressing your education takes priority over petty slights. Not to mention, Miss Benedicte, how unfair it would be for Miss Amsel to have to suffer just because you can’t refrain from childish temper tantrums.

“So instead,” he said with a smirk on his face, “we will be brewing Contemnite.”

Salome swore she could feel her jaw drop at the announcement, and one glance to the side reveal Kit, eyes gone wide with horror.

“Even if you already have some idea of what the potion is, I’ll explain it in further detail.” Professor Cameron began to stride in front of the classroom. “Contemnite was created roughly one hundred years after the invention of Amortentia. Its creator, Anacleto Instigatorio, believed that the only way to counter the effects of such of a powerful love potion was to instill opposite feelings in the same person. It has never been known if was the case though, because formula was stolen and used for more sinister purposes.

“It is actually believed that a supply of Contemnite leaked into the local water supply near the Convent of La Santa Cruz is what fueled the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition, but there is no concrete evidence of this.”

On paper, the potion might not have seemed like such a bad assignment, but Salome and Kit, as C.A.T. students, knew better. Far too much so.

“As the school’s most advanced students, I’m sure you already know that during the brewing process, the brew emits a horrible odor once followed by adding in the Glumbumble fluid.” Professor Cameron was clearly enjoying this much more than he should have, eyes glittering and a smirk on his face. “However, let me warn you; it is important to only add one drop. If any more is added, the noxious gas’ smell will be immensely worse. Not to mention that the potion will be useless and you will fail.”

The smirk turned into a very distinct smile as Professor Cameron watched his students writhe in horror. Yes, he was most definitely enjoying this.

“Normally, potion-makers will drab a touch of Scent Abolishing Salve under their nostrils to counteract the horrible smell. Unfortunately, I have recently been so plagued with…unforeseeable incidents that preparing a batch for you just completely slipped my mind.”

I’ll bet it slipped your mind! Salome thought. In spite of the fact that Salome hadn’t actually done anything to than man, she was being punished too?

“So, unfortunately, you will have to go without.”

It wasn’t until Professor Cameron actually started leaving that real panic was heard in Kit’s voice. “Wait! Where ya going?”

Their teacher turned around to face them. “No Scent Abolishing Salve for you means none for me either, and I have no desire to punish myself in that fashion,” he explained in a reasonable tone. “Besides, you’re both mature young ladies. I think I can trust you not to cheat or burn down the classroom.”

He turned to leave again. “You have one hour to brew. If there is an emergency, I will be in my office. That’s also where you can bring you samples when you’re done.”

Once the door was roughly slammed behind them it became incredibly clear that the two girls were on their own with a table full of ingredients and no way around it.

The beginning of the brewing was actually pretty uneventful. Kit started the fire beneath the cauldron and Salome mixed the Flubberworm mucus and powered saffron base. Salome cut her finger while slicing the pine root, and Kit squeezed a handkerchief over it while she took over the cutting (somehow with one hand).

It stayed that way until they first dropped the frozen Ashwinder eggs into the boiling fluxweed. In spite of the fear of what might happen, Salome moved to add the one drop of Glumbumble fluid, hearing an audible gulp from Kit, Salome trying to stand as far away from the cauldron as possible, the dropped in the very tips of her fingers.

Not that it ended up making much of a difference. Sickly green-yellow smoke began spewing from the rim, soon filling the entire room. Even after it all thinned out to the point where the girls could see, the horrendous new smell stayed just as strong. Salome could even taste it. She didn’t understand how they could have made it smelled any worse.

“Ah! Everything burns!” Kit was breathing through the damp sleeve of her robes, but apparently, it did nothing, her eyes were watering as though she had just watched someone die. “My skin can feel it!”

It was without a doubt the most miserable hour of Salome’s life. The smell was so bad that it physically hurt all five of her senses, even sight and hearing: the fumes burned her eyes long after they’d physically disappeared, and the scorching stuff seemed to have buried itself in her ear canals as well.

Eventually, though, they did finish the potion, but all the pain and suffering lingered, even as the girls made their way to their teacher’s office.

That could have been the reason behind Kit’s throwing open the door in a less than dignified manner and hissing a few words under her breath that Salome was very thankful the teacher didn’t hear.

Professor Cameron was at his desk, marking over some papers, but seemed to look considerably happier when he saw the girls enter his office. “How did it go, ladies?”

His nose wrinkled at the smell, but he still seemed to be taking a great deal of pleasure from their misery.

“Christ on a cracker!” Kit gasped as she slammed the glass phial on the desktop. “It’s like someone stuffed a dead skunk with Indian food and then set it on fire!”

Professor Cameron took the phial. “Just remember next time to breathe through your mouths, and you shouldn’t have so many problems with the tearing.”

Kit clenched her jaw and showed a lot of teeth, but didn’t say anything.

“I’ll have your grades ready by our next class,” he said, setting their potion off to the side, “so you’re free to leave.”

By now, Kit’s left eye was doing a funny little twitch, so Salome took it upon herself to lead her friend out of the office. But she wasn’t fast enough.

“And Miss Benedicte,” the teacher spoke up just before they left, “you came make up for the class time you missed after you walked out last time in detention. Tomorrow night. Wear clothes you’ll be able to work in.”

Salome looked to her Potions partner, convinced she was going to throw some sort of epic fit. Kit bit down on her bottom lip, as though trying to hold back some sort of backtalk. But eventually, she just nodded and started moving forward on her own, leaving Salome behind.

Salome stood dumbfounded in the doorway, looking briefly over her shoulder to see her unimpressed professor, before running after her. Even after they left the office, Salome kept repeatedly looking over her shoulder, expecting to see the door dissolved in flames.

But nothing…

“Alright, I’m confused,” Salome finally relented. “Wasn’t it you who was telling me in the stables how we need to ‘train’ this new professor to know that we’re the ones in charge around here?”

Kit nodded and adjusted her book bag on her shoulder. “Sounds like something I would say.”

“And yet, we just went through an entire class where you did absolutely nothing to the man. I mean, even I saw at least three perfect opportunities to pull something, but you do nothing.”

“Alright, I’m following you so far.”

Salome gaped at her, and the lack of response, only one word on her mind. “Why?”

Kit smiled and shook her head. “Sweet Pea, do you honestly expect me to pull off anything good while I’m actually in the room? I might as well walk down to Dean Crackstone’s office and ask her to expel me right now.

“Besides, anything you do in the heat of the moment will only end in disaster,” she went on to say, “The secret to any good stunt is a calm mind and careful planning…making sure there is no evidence, working in groups so the blame can’t be placed on any one person.”

“But he still knows you probably had something to do with everything!” Salome argued. “No matter how many people are in on it, he still knows you were one of them!”

“But the point is he can’t prove it!” Kit reminded her. “That’s the important thing!”

Before Salome had a chance to respond any further, a sharp scream she couldn’t believe came from a man reverberated from Professor Cameron’s office. She turned around just in time to see at least three dozen squirrel-like Flitterbicks racing out of the man’s office, clustering around the two girls’ ankles.

Even though all the rodents brushing against her legs was very unnerving, she did her best to look exasperated. “What?” Kit shrugged. “He’s already given me detention. In for a penny, in for a pound.”

Suddenly, Kit became very serious; not an easy accomplishment when you were constantly watching for a Flitterbick to crawl up your skirt. “And you better be in for it too!”








Ugh! Why, Salome, why?

Salome’s legs and her backside were starting to fall asleep from her perch on an alcove in the third-floor corridor, just at the beginning of the hallway leading to the potions classroom. And why was she doing this as opposed to…anything else? That could be blamed on Kit. She could still feel the very distinct binocular-shaped bruise on her chest from Kit thrusting the object at her.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Salome had gaped when the idea was first put forward.

But Kit just kept looking at her with a stone-cold seriousness. “When have I ever kidded about anything important?”

The things that Kit considered to be ‘important’ were often debatable, but at the moment, Salome had more important things to worry about.

“It’s not even like you’re really breaking any school rules,” Kit went on to say. “There’s nothing on the books about it being against the rules to watch people through binoculars as long as they’re not naked.

“And yes, that goes for teachers too,” Kit made sure to add before Salome could pipe up.

And that was exactly what Salome had somehow been talked into. Kit, her roommates, Becca Fitzpatrick and Cyrille Lemieux, as well as three other seventh years who didn’t have to face their Potions instructor in the classroom, hid behind the closed doors of the Potions lab, setting to work on something no doubt diabolical. And it was Salome who had been talked into being the lookout, though she still wasn’t quite sure how.

From her perch, Salome could see anyone coming or going, and with her binoculars, she could see the large entry hall that all the other floors opened to.

And she actually did see Professor Cameron in the entryway. He was tapping his fingers, agitated, against the staircase banister, while Professor Bluebell stood on the step above him, lecturing him about something. Professor Bluebell wasn’t the easiest person in the world to get along with, and Salome had never had the right ‘temperament’ for Shamanism, much the same way she didn’t have the right temperament for Divination, Quidditch, or chasing after the town’s Muggle boys.

At least her mother would say these things if Salome ever told her what happened at Salem whenever she found herself held under Kit Benedicte’s spell, and if Salome weren’t so sure that just hearing about these things would kill her.

However, when Salome went back to spying through her binoculars, her heart shot into her throat: Professor Cameron had disappeared from where she had last seen him. Frantic searching showed him neither on the staircase, at the front doors, or on any of the other floors that she could see.

Salome threw herself of the ledge so fast, it was a miracle she landed on her feet. Panic, panic!

This was bad! Usually when you couldn’t see someone, it was because they were just waiting to pounce on you from the one direction you weren’t looking.

Which was proven very true when Salome ran right into her teacher’s side, the solid force almost causing her to fall backwards.

“Miss Amsel,” he said in a very venomous tone, “do you care to tell me why you are running around with a pair of binoculars?”

The man had a sort of glare that almost seemed to force the truth from people’s lips (which probably was a strength in being a teacher), but still, Salome tried to resist. “I’m bird-watching.”

“Indoors?”

“Birds sneak in all the time!” Salome took off flying on the story. “That’s why I need to watch them! They make a real mess and we need to get them out of the school before they start building nests and laying eggs.”

The man stared down at Salome, almost as though he were actually considering what she was saying, but then all hope was dashed. “You girls really do have absolutely no respect for me,” he spat, “if you think I would believe such a bare-faced lie!”

Salome’s insides clenched as she did her best not to show any fear, but it wasn’t easy.

Suddenly, a hallway door was thrown open and a small but imposing figure moved stiffly out of the shadows.

It was Jenna Webber. She was a first year, and Salome was pretty sure they were either fifth or sixth cousins. Who even knew anymore? As she stepped further out into the light, she could see Jenna holding a croquet mallet. Why would she be carrying around a croquet mallet?

And why was she covered in blood?

Bright crimson streaks ran all across her face and neck, stains lacing the sleeves of her blouse, drip lines tracing down her legs. Even her socks were tinted red. The ribbons at the ends of her braids were tied in droopy knots, also tinted with the color of blood, strands of dark blond hair coming loose, and dead eyes like a shark.

“Miss Webber, what on Earth happened to you?” the Potions Master shouted in a tone that was probably as close to ‘concerned’ as it was ever going to get.

Jenna kept her eyes cast downward, just barely making contact. “Zombie kill Cameron….”

“Excuse me?”

But Jenna just kept moving forward, muttering to herself, knees locked as though they were tied to braces.

“Miss Webber, will you please stop this nonsense and just tell me what ha—”

He was interrupted when the croquet mallet swung against his hip with a loud CRACK.

Salome was so dumbfounded by what she just saw that she barely registered her teacher’s screams of pain as he crumpled to the ground, and completely at a loss of what to do as Jenna raised the mallet again and again, her expression devoid of life or emotion.

From the ground, Professor Cameron seemed conflicted. He could have easily raised his wand between blows and blasted the first year down the hallway, but the question had to be could he? Armed or not, she was still only eleven years old, and the disparity between the two would be immense. No matter who ended up victor, it was certain there would be blood.

Salome took off running, and had barely reached the intersecting hallways when she felt herself yanked by the arm and nearly slammed into the wall. Kit’s large, celery-green eyes met with hers. “Really? Five minutes? You were just trying to get caught out of spite, weren’t you?”

But Salome was still too frantic to be insulted. “Kit, w-we have to do something! Jenna Webber is going after Professor Cameron with a mallet—”

“And if he can’t handle himself against an eleven-year-old, he has no business being a teacher here!”

The answer came to her almost instantly, but it still took her several minutes to actually say it. “You made her do this?”

Kit smiled and shrugged her shoulders in a fake sheepish manner.

Why would you make her do this?” she had to ask. “And why is she covered in blood?”

“Don’t worry, it’s not human,” Kit assured her. “Professor Espinoza keeps a stash of pig’s blood to lure Redcaps into traps.”

Salome’s hands went into the air. “This is extreme, even for you, Kit! Why does Jenna need to be covered in blood and pretending to be a zombie? It seems a little overkill just to get the man to quit!”

“No, she’s really a zombie.”

“WHAT?”

Despite what Kit’s Muggle ‘movies’ might have led people to believe, ‘zombies’ were not corpses brought back to life, the way many Muggle-borns confused for Inferi. Zombies were very much alive, but they were under the influence of a potion called Machemorvie which rendered them completely unable to ignore any order their ‘master’ gave them.

“You actually made Jenna a zombie?”

“Well, not me; Cyrille did that.” Kit explained. “I don’t even take Voodoo.”

She peered around the corner, trying to get a glimpse of what was going on. “You have to admit, though, this was good! Almost no way to trace it back, and Jenna won’t even get in trouble, because she was a victim too!”

From the hallway, there was the distinct sound of crunching and splattering, accompanied by plenty of yelling and swearing.

Salome slumped weakly again the wall. My Potions partner is completely insane! And my cousin’s going to kill my teacher!

With that, she sunk to the floor sick, with no choice but to listen to the grotesque violence from down the hall; screams, cracks, bloodshed and all.


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