I confess, I was more than a little nervous about giving Ashlar the medication that Snape had prepared for him, but everyone around me swore that the Potions Master knew what he was doing and that my horse would only benefit from the capsules.
Much of Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning was spent making the horse walk. Holding his lead rope firmly I led him several times around the school grounds. At first he protested but as the medication worked through his system the effects of the flavored beans began to wear off. His eyes became brighter and he was looking more alert by late Sunday afternoon.
Returning the horse to the paddock, I watched him carefully as he lowered his head towards the pile of hay that was stacked in the corner. He seemed perfectly fine. As I began to walk back towards the castle I told myself firmly to make a point of thanking Snape as soon as possible.
On Sunday night, I had my chance shortly after dinner. As I was getting up from the table at the end of the meal, Snape's black robed frame caught my eye as he made his way silently across the Great Hall and headed towards the exit. Wanting to thank him and perhaps offer an olive branch, I quickly walked after him.
"Professor Snape." I called, trying very hard to keep my voice from sounding sharp.
The pale, black haired man stopped and looked back at me but said nothing. His expression was his usual cold stare that stated clearly that he didn't feel I was worth bothering with. Nonetheless, I smiled as I approached.
"I just wanted to thank you again, Professor Snape. My horse recovered much faster than I expected him to." When he still said nothing, I continued, "I sincerely appreciate that you helped him."
"Not at all." he whispered in a quiet, icy voice.
Starting to become uncomfortable under his sharp glare I said softly, "Perhaps we can put our differences behind us."
He still said nothing and I was starting to get angry. What did this man want from me?
Placing my hands behind my back I said, "I'm sorry for disturbing you, Professor Snape."
With a slight nod, he turned away and said , "Have a good evening, Professor Archer."
At the end of the following school day was the weekly staff meeting in the faculty room. Leaving immediately after the dismissal bell, I was able to get there before the rest of the staff and thus had a chance to speak with my grandfather alone. He gave me a warm smile as I came through the door and headed for my usual chair.
"Good afternoon, Gwen. Is the day going well for you?" he asked as he poured himself a cup of tea from the refreshment table.
"It couldn't be better." I smiled. "How is the search for a new Muggle Studies teacher coming?"
With a sigh he answered, "This may take a little longer that we expected. It would take a very special Muggle to leave the life they have always known and learn to adjust in a world of magic."
Frowning slightly I said, "So you're still wanting to hire a Muggle for this position?"
Nodding he said, "I believe in the end it will be well worth the the trouble. Now then," he smiled, "was...everything alright after supper?"
Raising an eyebrow I asked, "Are you referring to when I followed Professor Snape out of the Great Hall?"
His blue eyes twinkling, my grandfather answered, "Well there has been so much tension between the two of you I simply wanted to make sure everything was alright."
Shrugging, I said, "As far I know they are. I wanted to thank him for helping Ashlar get well."
"And?" he asked curiously.
"And......I said I was sorry for bothering him and that what he did meant a lot to me." I answered as I studied my grandfather's reaction.
"And then?" he asked again as he sipped his tea.
Crossing my arms I said, "And then we fell into each others arms and made mad passionate love on the floor of the Entrance Hall. The students were certainly surprised."
Coughing, my grandfather quickly lowered his cup. After a few moments the cough turned into a laugh.
"I'm sorry." I smiled. "He just glared at me. That's all Professor Snape ever does."
Clearing his throat, Dumbledore chuckled, "Well if you didn't get into another one of your arguments I would say that is an improvement."
At that moment the rest of the staff began to file into the room. Feeling generous, I smiled at Professor Snape as he came through the door. His eyebrows drew together as though he suspected that I was actually up to something and he had better keep an eye on me. Without a word he went to the back of the room.
"Fine, be that way." I muttered as I sank into a chair. "No one can say I didn't try."
I immediately put Snape's rudeness out of my mind and focused my attention on the meeting. The biggest news that week was that they were continuing to look over candidates to teach the Muggle Studies course and Minerva would be going to interview them some time in the next two weeks. I had expected another outburst from Lucius, but he remained strangely quiet, although he blatently sneered every time he heard the word "Muggle".
As I listened to the discussion, I began to wonder what sort of person the new Muggle Studies teacher would be. Dumebledore was right, most of the staff was older than I was with the exception of Lockhart and Snape. Realizing that I had no one to relate to, I found myself hoping that the new teacher would also be a thirty-something female.
Wednesday morning was one of those days when you wish you could just pull the bed-covers up over your head and continue to sleep. As we entered the second half of September, the weather saw fit to remind us that summer was indeed over and the crisp days of autumn were swiftly approaching.
After a night of fretful dreams, I awoke to the sound of thunder and a heavy rainfall outside the castle. The sky was a dreary, cloudy gray and black storm clouds could be seen hovering the distance. It was obvious that the storm was not going to clear up anytime soon. Oh well, at least this was not a week that I planned on taking my students outdoors, I reminded myself.
Skipping breakfast, I walked alone to the staff room for a quiet cup of tea and a pastry before heading to my morning class. Images from my dream continued to dance before my minds eye...the screaming, the flashes of light...the dark hooded figures. Would these memories ever stop haunting me?
My Wednesday classes consisted of fourth year students so the lesson was slightly more advanced than the ones I had taught the previous two days. While I had them continue to work in black and white mediums, we covered creating the appearance of textures are well as the illusion of a light source in a finished drawing.
By late afternoon I began to have a mild headache, which always happened after a night of reliving the death of my parents. Making sure that my students were at work on their assignments, I decided to take a quick walk to the hospital wing to see if Madam Pomfrey could give me something to make the dull pain subside.
In the corridors, I noticed the red headed Weasley twins closely examining a suit of armor and laughing softly. They each had their wands out and looked like they were trying to place a small, round object inside the helm.
Attempting to keep the amusement out of my voice, I asked, "Do I even want to know what the two of you are up to?"
Their expressions alone were enough to make me laugh as they abruptly turned around and put their hands behind their backs.
"Good afternoon, Professor Archer!" beamed the twin that I believed was George as both boys made a dramatic bow.
Trying very hard not to smile, I said, "You two wouldn't happen to know why the armor around the school has suddenly began uttering such...shall we say...colorful...language?"
"Couldn't tell you." Fred replied with a bright smile.
"You can't tell me." I said as I crossed my arms in a vain effort to look stern, all the while trying to keep from laughing. "You can't tell me as in you don't know or you can't tell me because that would mean the two of you would have to be disciplined?"
"The lady is on to us." said George solemnly to his brother.
"Exactly what was it that you were attempting to place inside the helm?" I asked curiously.
At that point in the term I had not been a teacher for very long and had a tendency to still identify with the students. As the twins explained how they had enchanted the suits of armor using what appeared to be nothing more than colorful rubber balls, I couldn't help but laugh. Even when the armor suddenly payed a crude compliment to the upper portion of my anatomy, it didn't occur to me to behave like a teacher and give the twins the punishment that they deserved.
We were abruptly startled by a now familiar icy voice, "Sneaking around the corridors when you should be in class?"
As usual, there was Professor Snape scowling at us as he stalked down the corridor. Why was that man always on the second floor?
"It's alright, Professor Snape." I said, trying very hard to sound friendly.
"You gave them permission to tamper with school property?" he asked coldly.
"Of course I didn't." I answered indignantly.
Turning his eyes towards the twins, the Potions Master said softly, "Twenty points from Gryffindor as well as detention tomorrow evening."
Scowling I said, "I was taking care of this, Professor Snape."
"Were you?" he asked his gaze returned to me. "It looked very much to me like you were in fact encouraging them. I would have thought since you joined the staff that you had given up your tiresome school-girl antics."
"Oh, you do remember me!" I exclaimed sarcastically as I clasped my hands in mock rapture. Still feeling hurt over his lack of response over my attempt to make peace between us, I stepped closer to the Potions Master and glared into his eyes. "Listen, I realize that they should be in class and I was in fact going to send them where they are supposed to be but they aren't hurting anything. Don't you think point deductions and detention is rather harsh?"
Scowling at me, Snape replied coldly, "I suppose since there has always been a separate set of guidelines for Dumbledore's Darling, you forget how the commoners live and the rules that we need to follow." Pointing at the twins he added, "These two have been sneaking around the castle and breaking rules since they day they arrived."
"I guess that means your way of dealing with them isn't working." I retorted.
Behind me, I was aware of one of the twins fighting to keep from laughing.
Snape's black eyes widened slightly and his lip curled as he glared at me angrily.
"And exactly what would you do, Professor Archer?" he hissed. "Simply send them to their room without dessert?"
"Well, I would try to communicate instead of just scowling at them!" I replied as I assumed our typical toe to toe battle stance. "Really, Professor Snape, would it hurt you to smile?"
As we continued to glare at each other I was slightly aware that the dismissal bell had rung and the corridor was filling with students who were on their way to their common rooms. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the children who walked by turning their heads to watch us with great interest as "The Potions Master and the Anti-Snape" had yet another one of their battles.
"Smile?" he said sarcastically.
"Yes, Professor Snape, a smile." I repeated. Leaning forward I said with my voice rising, "For the past few days I have tried....I have been polite to you. I offered my apologies for what happened last week and I made a point to thank you for helping my horse!"
Snape's expression faltered slightly as he took a step backward while I continued to advance towards him.
"Yet," I exclaimed. "you continue to scowl, glare and glower at me! What it is you want! Please tell me, Professor Snape!" Once again I seized the front of his robes. "What do you want from me?"
So intent was I in dragging an answer out of Snape, that I never heard my grandfather approach. I nearly jumped several feet off the floor when he suddenly put his hand on my shoulder.
In a soft but firm voice he said, "I believe the three of us need to have another talk in my office tomorrow after the conclusion of classes."
Suddenly aware of the many eyes on us, I wanted nothing more than go outside and hide somewhere in the Forbidden Forest. Why was I letting the Potions Master infuriate me so?
Releasing Snape's robes, I stepped back away from him and lowered my eyes. Turning towards Dumbledore I said softly, "Yes, Grandfather.
There was no getting out of it and I realized that I did in fact deserve whatever was coming.
Snape's eyes passed over me angrily but his tone was soft and respectful as he said, "Of course, Headmaster."
I knew Dumbledore was disappointed in me and he didn't bother to hide it as he gazed at me one more time before making his way up the staircase. For a moment more, Snape and I continued to glare into each others eyes before finally turning around and walking away in opposite directions.
As I prepared to face the following day, I was filled with embarrassment and remorse. No matter how many times I replayed the event in my mind, I came to the same conclusion; this argument was entirely my fault. Much as I hated to admit it, Snape was right. I should not have been standing there laughing with the Weasley twins. As a teacher I should have taken away House points and saw to it that they returned to their classroom.
Throughout the day it was difficult for me to keep my mind on the lessons. As the hours slid by, I prepared myself for once again having to face Snape and would more than likely be reprimanded by my grandfather in-front of him.
With a sigh, I turned to the homework that was on my desk that needed to be graded and told myself firmly that I was not going to last very long in this position if these outbursts continued. Headmaster's granddaughter or not, I had to obey the rules and maintain professional behavior no matter what might occur.
To add insult to injury, I overheard Draco Malfoy whispering to his Slytherin friends that I was probably going to be sacked before the week was over. Truthfully I didn't think I was in that much trouble but I was probably approaching that line. Neville began to look particularly concerned when the rumor of my impending termination reached his ears.
When the final dismissal bell rang, I placed my hands palms down on my desk and took a few deep breaths as the students left the room. After a moment by myself, I forced myself to lock up my classroom and go up the stairs to the gargoyle statue that guarded the secret doorway to my grandfather's office.
Like the rest of the faculty, I knew the password. As the door opened, I thought I had never before felt such dread when going to see my grandfather. I was hoping that I would be able to get there before Snape and thus have a chance to speak with Dumbledore alone.
"Good afternoon, Gwen." my grandfather greeted me when I came into the room.
"It was my fault." I said, seeing no reason for small talk. "It was entirely my fault. Not Professor Snape's."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Exactly what brought on the conflict this time?"
Sitting in one of the chairs in-front of his desk I answered, "I caught the Weasley twins cutting class and attempting to enchant one of the suits of armor in the second floor corridor and instead of being a teacher and disciplining them, I behaved like one of their school mates." After a pause I added lamely, "I thought what they were doing was funny."
With a slight smile, Dumbledore replied, "Truthfully, I find their antics amusing as well but what does that have to do with your argument with.....oh good afternoon, Severus."
Clenching the arms of the chair, I forced myself to look at the Potions Master as he glared at me with those pitch black eyes. He didn't say a word as he took the other chair that my grandfather had placed in-front of his desk.
"You were saying, Gwen?" said Dumbledore as he turned his eyes towards me.
"I know I should have immediately taken House points away," I continued. "and that's what Professor Snape pointed out."
"I also believed they should have been given detention." Snape added coldly.
"Which I felt was rather harsh." I replied.
With a smile, Dumbledore said, "When dealing with students such as the Weasley twins, I'm afraid the deduction of House points without detention doesn't do a lot of good....as you well remember, Gwen."
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Snape glance at me snidely. Yes when I was a student I had been in detention a few times but I wasn't all that bad.
"I'm still not clear how this escalated into another argument." said Dumbledore after a pause.
I waited a moment for Snape to speak and when he didn't, I said, "I...got defensive when Professor Snape pointed out that I was acting more like a friend than a teacher." With a deep breath I added, "He was right and I was wrong."
Again out of the corner of my eye I was aware of Snape glancing at me but I resisted making eye contact. After yet another pause my grandfather said softly, "Is there anything you wish to say about this, Severus?"
In his usual soft, snide tone Snape replied, "Only that if Professor Archer hopes to ever be taken seriously by the students she would be wise to take what those of us who have been teaching here for years say under advisement."
As far as I was concerned my students did take me seriously but I was not about to contradict Snape and once again find myself caught up in an argument. In fact, as I sat there I decided that it would be best to just stay as far away from the Potions Master as I possibly could from now on.
From behind his desk, my grandfather said solemnly, "I hope that we have seen the last of these...incidents...that involve the two of you. Gwen, I am inclined to agree with Severus that as you go through your first year of teaching to listen to what he and the other professors say. We all want you to succeed."
I wouldn't bet on that, I thought to myself. It was obvious that Snape wanted me thrown out of Hogwarts the moment I set foot in the castle.
"And, Severus," my grandfather continued, "perhaps you could be a little less...abrupt....when giving your advice."
Snape said nothing as the corners of his mouth twitched. He was probably not expecting my grandfather to criticize him after all the times the Headmaster had taken his side so far.
"Now, I want to the two of you to shake hands and then go about your evening." said Dumbledore.
Surely he wasn't serious. Shake hands with this silent, glaring man?
"Yes, I'm serious." my grandfather smiled. "Shake hands."
Rising to our feet, Snape and I glowered at each other for a moment, then the Potions Master extended his pale, long fingered hand. Forcing myself to smile, I was aware of how cold his touch was as I placed my hand in his own. Of course he spent his days down in the dungeon so yes, he would feel cold.
The awkward part was leaving the office and walking down that spiral staircase together. Neither of us said a word but we continued to glace at each other from time to time. As we reached the landing I was beginning to seriously question why I allowed this man to upset me.
As we went our separate ways I realized that I was spending far too much time dwelling on the scowling Potions Master. Surely there were other more pleasant things to think about.
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