Chapter 1: A(nother) New Beginning

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 47

May 3, 2005: The Charm'd Pot, Edinburgh

"Surely, Minerva, there is a better alternative to your staff shortage than bringing me back into the Hogwarts fold. I sincerely doubt that anyone wants to see me flapping through the halls again."

Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, straightened in her seat and considered her drink for a moment. She was not fooled by the bored cadence of Severus Snape's objection. Nearly anyone else would have taken his drawled response as a rejection of her offer, but Minerva knew her old friend and sometimes-adversary better than that. She could spot the slight telltale lift of the left corner of his mouth. If he'd decided to reject her offer outright, he would've said so. 

"Nonsense, Severus. It's been seven years since the Battle of Hogwarts. You're a national hero now and there are no students left in the school who ever witnessed your former, erh, teaching style. You're a school legend, to be sure, but you can disprove their assumptions when you return and teach as yourself, not Snape-the-spy," she responded in her no-nonsense Scottish brogue.

He sneered and sipped at his glass of Ogden's before replying. "Flattery will get you nowhere, Minerva. I'm tired. I've been tired for what feels like three decades. Between Dumbledore, the Order, and the last few years of travel, I feel like I'm about to as ancient as Merlin himself. Not to mention, I'm hardly up on the latest advances in potion making. For heaven's sake, woman, there must be someone else to replace Slughorn!"

The older witch sighed with exasperation. "if you'd actually repsonded to my first four owls instead of forcing me to floo you, you'd know that Horace isn't going anywhere. He's far too happy collecting students and rolling about the castle like an overgrown walrus. I'm not asking you to return as Potions Master, you stubborn man! I want you to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. We've no one qualified to fill the post and the rest of the staff is stretched too thin as it is. You're the foremost expert in the Dark Arts and the defense against them. I would be a fool to ask anyone else now that you're back in Britain." She raised an eyebrow at the grumpy man.

"I don't doubt your enthusiasm, inerva. I've been 'back in Britain' approximately 30 hours. You certainly didn't waste any time launching owls my way."

"Hogwarts needs you," she huffed a bit desperately. "I know you're tired, but you're forty-four, not four-hundred. It's a good age for a third career. Please don't make me beg."

Sevreus considered the headmistress speculatively. It was true, he wasn't quite as tired as he'd implied and the prospect of returning to the comforts and routine of his former home were...appealing. After nearly seven years--the first of which had been spent in slow and painful recovery from multiple magical snake bites from Nagini--thoughts of Hogwarts had an almost nostalgic sheen to them. He schooled his face so it didn't reflect any of the very real temptation to accept the offer outright.

"If I accepted your offer, and I'm not saying I will, I would want a few guarantees. I'd like to have my choice of rooms within the castle; I find I'm tired of being a dungeon-dweller and I have no desire to have my classroom attached to my private rooms again. I'd also like a small space, preferably within my quarters, to use as a potions and defense lab so that I can continue my personal research. And I would like--no, I would demand--the freedom to design my own curriculum. I won't use that standard ministry syllabus. You know it's rubbish as well as I do."

His terse demands were greeted with an indulgent smile. "I think I could accomodate you on all counts there. You never saw the updates to the castle after the battle. We added in several suites of rooms during the repairs, so you can have your pick of any of the vacant ones. I can offer you total freedom in your curriculum so long as your students can pass their O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s. And as long as they aren't put in harm's way unnecessarily, of course. Oh, and I'll even sweeten the deal." She paused dramatically. "The Ministry has approved a susbstantial raise over your former salary should I secure your appointment. The position includes a separate fund for training materials, your continued field research, which you can use on potions ingredients if you desire, and the development of interdisciplinary lessons with the other professors at the school. The Ministry--and I really should be saying Kingsley here as he's the one who spearheaded your recruitment--wants no more unprepared young adults in Magical Britain should another threat come to our shores. We want you to redesign the curriculum. Heaven knows it needs it!"

Severus' eyes caught the erstwhile Transfiguration professor's at the mention of a new threat. He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "Is there something here that I don't know? Why wait seven year to revamp the defense courses?"

"The Minister isn't exactly sitting on his backside, Severus. He has completely overhauled the Ministry in the past seven years; D.A.D.A. education is simply next on the list for overhaul. I suspect he may have also been waiting for you to return from your travels...though Kingsley hasn't confided as much in me, of course. In our conversations, he's spoken about a desire to change not jsut the governing process of Magical Britain, but reshaping how we think about the Dark and the Light. I think he's ashamed that Magical Britain was saved only by the bravery of outlaws and teenagers. Teenagers trained by teenagers, even."

"It is shameful! Shamefult hat we weren't prepared because the Ministry chose to hide its head in the proverbial sand. It left only a handful of us to fight, with the children bearing the brunt of the casualties. Voldemort should never have been able to reach the castle because the rest of the bloody country should have been standing in his way!" He slapped his hand on the table, rattling the charmed ice in his glass.

"We are not in disagreement," she said with a snap. "There were too many young lives lost, my friend, and the Minister will not have it happen again. This generation will graduate prepared to protect themselves, but you and I know that it's about more than training, Severus. They need the will to stand for what is right and the courage to carry on against the odds. They need to understand the risks and temptations of the Dark and still choose the Light in the end. And they need to hear it from someone who did every day for nearly two decades."

Severus sneered at his friend. "So I am to be both Defense professor and resident philosopher? Shall I show them my mark? The scars on my neck? Warn them of all that can befall them if another civil war were to befall us? Whatever raise you offer me won't be enough if you want to exhibit me as some bloody romantic hero."

Severus, I don't want you to pretend to be anything you're not, though you are a heroic legend whether or not you like it. I want you to speak to the students about the reality of all you faced and prepare them to be vigilant. I want you to show them that even human frailty can become a powerful weapon in its own right."

Severus considered his former colleague for a moment as they lapsed into silence. While he didn't relish the idea of returning to Hogwarts as some sort of hero-turned-instructor, he did relish the idea of shaping a new generation of students to lead Magical Britain. In a way, a return to Hogwarts would allow him to reclaim the parts of himself that he hadn't managed to heal during his travels in the past six years. I can finally teach as myself, not under the cover of the evil potions master. Slowly, Severus shook his head and sighed. "Fine. Minerva, if you think Hogwarts can survive my return, who am I to protest?"

~~~~~~

Green flames flared and died, signaling Severus' return to his house in Spinner's End. The small town in The Midlands offered nothing if not obscurity, and Severus breathed a sigh of relief as he removed his boots and placed his frock coat on the hook by the door. He flicked his wand toward the fire to ward against further disturbances for the night and banished the soot from his clothing before letting out a sigh of frustration. Trunks and boxes still filled his living room, waiting to be unpacked from his travels. I suppose I'll need to choose what will stay here and what will go with me to Hogwarts in August. So much for that grand household reorganization I'd planned. Rather than face the task immediately, he made his way up the stairs to his bedroom, not bothering with the lights as he went. 

Complete freedomover the curriculum, Severus mused as he made his way into the bathrrom to run a bath, tossing a handful of charmed bath salts under the spigot to mix with the hot water. And the responsibility for inspiring...what? Patriotism? Not quite that. Bravery and steadfastness, I suppose. How very Gryffindor. He chuckled as he removed the wand holster on his arm and elastic from his hair before shedding his clothing in preparation for a good soak.

Severus paused at the mirror as he made his way toward the slowly filling tub. He tilted his head and studied his reflection as it studied him back. If I'm not Snape-the-spy anymore, then I certainly shouldn't look like Snape-the-spy. I'm not going to be the bloody bat of the dungeons. Yes. Time for a change. He removed a pair of scissors from the medicine cabinet and studied the long wisps of lank hair on his shoulder. He drew a deep breath.  I certainly don't need this to hide behind anymore. No time like the present! With a quick move, he sliced through the long locks and dropped them in the sink. He leaned in to grimace at himself in the mirror.

Well, fuck. Now I look like a damned page boy.

He moved the scissors back toward his head and began snipping a bit more judiciously. His grimace lifted a bit as the face-framing locks rose above his ears. A bit more hacking removed the hair from his neck, but he still thought it generally looked like a Death Eater had attacked his head with Sectumspempra. Perhaps I should have waited until morning and simply gone to a barber. He made a mental note to take care of that in the morning, resigned to spending one more night with terrible hair.

With a sigh, he waved his hand and banished the stringy mess in his sink and let his thoughts wander as he made his way back to the tub. A new wardrobe is probably in order before I return to Hogwarts/ Unrelieved black isn't a necessity anymore and my things are decidedly travel-worn. He added a trip to his tailor to the rapidly expanding to-do list in his head. Yes. A proper haircut, some new clothes, and a trip to Flourish and Blotts to start looking at textbooks. Might as well get started on that curriculum now. It will be nice to be back among the civilized, he mused as he sank into the bath water.

The bath had been a necessity installed during his recovery seven years ago, when his recovering muscles had needed heat after his daily sessions with the thera-witch and when the small muggle bath had proved inadequate for his lanky frame. Now his soak tub was an indulgence--one he had missed during his time on the continent. He grimaced with the realization that a private bath of this type and size would be a rare occurence once he began teaching again. Perhaps one of those new suites will have better bathing accomodations than my old quarters, or something I can transform to suit my needs. 

Leaning back, he rested his head against the edge of the bath and allowed his body to relax into the gently scented water. He had mixed the scent himself after suffering through the eucalyptus and camphor scented stuff available at the ocal apothecary during his recovery. His well-honed olfacory senses had rejected the overly medicinal smell, so he had brewed his own mixture with aconite and arnica for his muscle pain, scenting it with mahogany, amber, and whiskey extracts. Eventually he had ended up brewing all of his toiletries with the same scent profile; while he wasn't a perfumer per se, he did enjoy using his skills to develop his own signature scent. After years of smelling like (and often being covered with) some of the fouler potions ingredients, smelling good was a novel experience. 

He washed himself slowly as he sat in the tub, concentrating more on physical relaxation than the actual act of cleansing. He couldn't help but ponder what the following fall would hold for him and started making a mental list of things to accomplish in the three months before returning to the castle. Obviously, I'll need to sort my acquisitions from the continent and decide what will come with me to the school. I'll need to prepare a syllabus and lesson plans... figure out what "interdisciplinary" projects can take place between various courses. Hmm...I'll definitely team up with Potions and Muggle Studies--I wonder who took those over?--Charms and Transfiguration as well. Maybe there's a way to combine all the courses together in a field trip? Survival training? That bears further thought. Heaven help me, I'm actually excited about this!

In a deliberate attempt to prepare for sleep, Severus shelved his swirling thoughts for the fall. He inhaled deeply and began the process of intentionally relaxing his muscles and moving into a meditative state. Starting with his toes, he deliberately clenched his muscles tightly and concentrated on completely releasing them bit by bit. It took nearly ten minutes to work his way from toes to neck, and at the end he sank lower into the tub to allow the heat to permeate his loosened limbs. He visualized a white wall as a focus for his energies and studiously thought of nothing until the water began to cool.

Later he slid between the cool cotton sheets of his bed, reveling in the crisp cotton bedding and the cool spring breeze coming in through the open window. He fell asleepw ith thoughts of his first home--the site of so many triumphs and failures--in his head and a slight smile on his lips.


Submitted: March 25, 2021

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