The Sugar Quill
Author: Scriptum Veneficae  Story: Shadow of the past  Chapter: Chapter One
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Chapter One

Shadow Of The Past: A fan fiction by Scriptum Veneficae

Note: Thanks to B. Bennett, one heck of a beta-reader!!!!

Disclaimer: All places and characters belong to J.K. Rowling with the exception of Gwendolyn Silver, Miriam Morrison and Simeon Sinet who are mine. 

 

Chapter One

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” sighed Gwendolyn Silver, peering over her knee at her friend Miriam Morrison, who was making an extraordinarily bad chess move.

 

“Shut your damn mouth and let me play my own game!” Miriam ran her hand through her unusually disheveled brown hair.

 

“All right, but don’t say I didn’t tell you not to. Queen to E4, Checkmate.”

 

“AH! I hate you! Okay, that’s it; I’m not playing this stupid game with you anymore! Now get out of my house!”

 

“I would if I had anywhere to go, my dear.”

   

 Gwen had been living with her friend since the terrible events of that past May. She enjoyed the companionship that living with Miriam gave her; she found it hard to be alone after what had happened. Miriam with her odd and sometimes slovenly housekeeping habits kept her busy enough, which gave her less time to dwell on all she had lost and her guilt.     

     

Miriam adopted a smug look as she flung a large letter at Gwen’s head.

 

“What’s this?” Gwen asked, rubbing the spot where the letter had hit her.

 

“I don’t know, I don’t read your mail! But I’ve got a clairvoyant reading that it’s your ticket off my living room sofa.”

 

“Miriam, you failed divination.”

 

“Shut up. Read.”

 

“Well, I know you already did.” Gwen stared at the heavy parchment. It was addressed in purple ink to:

 

Ms. Gwendolyn Silver

The Sofa

Flat 2b

Washington D.C.

United States of America

 

She opened it up, now profoundly curious. The letter read:

           

Dear Ms. Silver,

                        I received your resume,

 

Gwen looked up at her friend,

           

“What resume?”

     

     Miriam looked innocently around the room. Gwen read on.

            and I am greatly impressed by your previous job holdings. As you may know, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is currently in need of a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. We would be very pleased if you decided to accept this offer to join our staff. The school year begins on September 1st and teachers are required to arrive two weeks in advance. We await your owl with your resolution.

                        All Regards,

                                    Albus Dumbledore

                                    Headmaster

 

“MIRIAM! What did you do?”

 

“Close friends though we are, I wanted you off my couch!”

 

“For all that is sacred, you could have asked, instead of sending off some forged resume to Britain’s school of witchcraft and wizardry!”

 

“You would have said no and given me half a million reasons why I need you here; are you going to say no now?” she inquired with a scheming smile curling around her mouth.

 

“Thanks to you it sounds like on good conscience I can’t. It seems like they need someone -and fast.”

 

“So accept the job. Lord knows you want to and besides, you need it.”

 

“But Miriam, there are reasons I swore I’d never go back to Britain. You know what they are. I’d rather not bring up memories like that.”

 

“You need to just get over what happened over there. It’s time to move on; think of this as the first of twelve steps. Staying away from England isn’t going to bring Colin back, and I doubt there are any more Death Eaters wandering around freely, especially the one from twenty years ago. He’s probably dead and even if he’s not it is a rather large island.”

 

“True… I know I sound paranoid but I’ve heard strange things happen to people who hold that position.”

 

“Yeah, like what?” Miriam scowled.

 

“Death, like death!” Gwen shot back. “Frankly my life is cursed enough as it is, I don’t need a cursed job to go with it!”

           

“Chicken.”

           

“Shut up.”

           

“Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk.”

           

“Miriam, what are you, two? Anyway, what am I going to teach these kids? How to make complete and utter messes of their lives? I seem to be profoundly successful at that!”

           

“Look,” Miriam said with unusual seriousness, “You made a mistake and unfortunately it took its pound of flesh. But you can’t just sit on your ass on my couch letting your skills rot away. Come on, change your life while you still can.”

           

“Are you finished?”

           

“For now, yes.”

           

“Seriously Miriam, what am I going to teach them, you know I’ve never taught anything in my life?”

           

“Don’t pretend you didn’t know what you were doing out there, because you and I both know you did.”

           

“Sure I did, and that’s why I ended up with a limp, a rather large unattractive scar on my left leg, and a notice on my desk when I returned from the hospital telling me to pack up my stuff because I couldn’t be of any use anymore.”

           

“Oh here we go, the never-ending speech of self-doubt.”

           

“Hey, you know what? I’m allowed a little self-doubt! When you’re fired because of something you can’t control you’ll understand how it feels to be worthless!”

           

“For the ten millionth time you are not worthless, especially not to these kids! If they even remember one thing from your lesson, that thing they learned from ‘the worthless witch’ could be the skill that saves one of their lives someday.”

     

 That comment hit Gwen hard and Miriam knew it. One of the first things an Auror was supposed to learn to accept was that innocents died because they didn’t know how to defend themselves. Acceptance of death had never come easily to Gwen. So many times after her missions, she had gone over in her head what those involved could have done to prevent a tragedy from happening; could she really teach someone something so important as that?  She turned all of it over in her head a few minutes and finally came to a decision.

           

“All right, fine what have I got to lose?”

           

“Absolutely nothing,” Miriam beamed, “and you know what, I’m not losing a friend I’m regaining a couch!”

     

Gwen gazed up from packing her decrepit oak trunk; the sun was baking all signs of life outside on the busy streets. She turned away from the window to the mirror that faced her. Always small and frail in appearance, she never looked like one would expect an Auror to. For a woman of great strength, being barely over five feet tall had never been a physical problem, but had been constant cause of emotional perturbation. After thirty-four years, age was finally beginning show in her face as her freckles were starting to fade and the pale skin around her eyes had already begun to wrinkle. Her long, usually pinned up, curls which fell passed her waist, though mostly as red as they had ever been, were beginning to gray prematurely at her temples. She had been told that her dark blue eyes along with her long sharp nose gave her an air of intelligence. Though she wasn’t sure intelligent was really a word that described her at all, at least lately it didn’t seem to. Suddenly, Miriam burst into the living room drawing Gwen’s attention from the mirror and knocking her back to her packing,

           

“Stop looking at yourself and be grateful that I did your laundry. Here,” she said, tossing a bundle of what looked to be clean robes at Gwen’s feet. “I don’t know why, but it’s kind of sad you’re leaving.” Miriam sighed. “I think I’m actually going to miss you getting up at the crack of dawn every morning and making breakfast; now I remember why I let you stay here- I can’t cook and you can. Maybe I don’t want you to leave?”

           

“You know what, Miriam? I think I’m going to miss you too,” Gwen laughed. “Who knows if I’ll find someone as insane as I am over there?” 

           

“Somehow I think I should be insulted.”

*******************

      In response to her acceptance letter, Dumbledore had told her that a carriage would be waiting by the local apparation point. It was raining when she arrived in the village of Hogsmeade.

           

“Typical,” she sighed. “I just remembered how much I hate Scottish weather.” A horseless carriage awaited her; a voice notified her that her trunk would somehow end up in her rooms.

           

“Yes, well, I hope I somehow end up in my rooms too,” she muttered to herself. After a rickety ride to the castle, she stepped out, looking up at the stone monolith that greeted her.

    

     As she entered a front hallway, a woman came to meet her. She had a distinctly a regal bearing, which was supported by the emerald robes she was sporting. She looked as if she was a queen and was to be crossed.

           

“You must be Gwendolyn Silver. I am Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of this school. Welcome. Follow me.”

         Gwen said nothing, but only because she was not given a chance. She followed the woman up the granite steps, wondering what Miriam had gotten her into.

           

“These will be your chambers,” McGonagall said, opening an old fashioned oak door. “We are attempting to, er, clean your classroom. There was a slight incident with two of our students celebrating the end of the last term; it’s rather a large problem for the caretaker at the moment. For the life of him, he can’t figure out how the sewage keeps running into the room when it is nowhere near a toilet. But it will be completely cleaned and sterilized before anyone sets foot in there, I can assure you of that!”

 

The woman swept out slamming the door behind her, leaving Gwen alone and confused in a room with high ceilings and cold stone floors. Almost every wall was covered by bookshelves, save one that held a small window. Thankfully the desk had been placed under the window, so when she worked she would not feel like she was in a prison. At the opposite side of the chamber, there was a fireplace, which opened in to the next room. Two blue armchairs sat in front of it. An arched doorway opened into the other room, a bedroom. The furniture, made of dark wood, was practical; a bed with a heavy quilt of varying blue squares upon it, a bedside table, a vanity, and a dresser.

           

“Well, I’m stuck here now, aren’t I?” she mumbled to herself as she flopped on the bed, resolving to kill Miriam the first chance she got.

**********************

     Gwen stood apprehensively outside the gleaming oak door, considering the large griffin shaped knocker. She was not a timid person by nature. Quite the opposite; she was often accused of being too bold. Usually she was not ill at ease around people no matter what their status, but this was a different matter altogether; this was Albus Dumbledore, The Great Man. She mustered her courage and intent on presenting herself as a competent and hard-working individual, knocked firmly on the door.

           

“Come in,” called a jovial sounding voice from inside the room.

    

       She opened the door and stepped inside the large circular room. Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, stood with his back to her, rifling through a bookshelf. “I seem to be misplacing more and more as I get older,” he smiled as he turned.

     

       She found that he was just as impressive as legend held him to be, though the legends she had heard never spoke of the kind nature surrounded him. “You must be Gwendolyn Silver- please sit down.” She took a chair as he sat down at his desk and began reading a paper that lay in front of him. “So, ‘Gwendolyn Silver’, would that be Gwen?”

 

     She nodded; her voice seemed to be stuck in a very odd part of her throat.

 

“From one defense department to another, eh? It says here you were an Auror?”

           

“Yes,” she squeaked.

           

“No need to be nervous, my dear; I assure you of that. How many years were you an Auror?”

           

“Sixteen, this year would have been seventeen.”

           

“Sixteen? Your resume says you are thirty-four years of age.”

           

“Yes, sir, thirty-four this July.”

           

“Which would mean you started at the American Ministry when you were but seventeen?”

           

“Yes, sir; I started the summer of my graduation from school.” She looked him in the eye and smiled, “yes sir I did graduate; second in my class from The Salem Academy of Witchcraft, they have records to prove it I’m sure.”

           

“Of the fact that you graduated and with honors, I had no doubt,” he laughed. “A difficult job for one so young, and a dangerous time to start a profession such as that.”

           

“The Ministry needed Aurors and I wanted to help.”

           

“Indeed,” he sighed. “This is not your first visit to our shores, I understand.”

           

“No, sir; my department deployed me here when I first started to be trained and of some use.”

           

“Straight into the lion’s den,” he sighed again.

           

“Yes, sir.”   

           

“Well my dear, by your resume and meeting you in person you seem more than qualified.”

           

“Thank you, sir.”

           

“Albus please,” he smiled as he shook her hand. “Don’t be afraid to let that lovely smile out every once and awhile. It is not a sign of weakness, I promise you Professor.”

           

“Yes, sir…Albus,” she smiled and turned to leave.

           

“Gwendolyn Silver, hmm, your name sounds oddly familiar to me.”

           

“No reason you should have heard it.”

           

“I’m sure, good day Professor Silver.”

    

     The first time anyone had ever called her Professor Silver. Somehow it sounded right, and good in her ears.

    

     The next few weeks were a flurry of preparing lesson plans, avoiding other teachers, and commiserating her fate. The dreaded September 1st came only too soon; she would have to be on her best behavior on view of students and teachers. Though she had no idea what the “Welcome Feast” was like, the thought of hundreds of people staring at her was not a welcoming one.

    

    She sat down at the teacher’s table; there were no students yet in the hall. Gwen looked across from her analyzing each of her new colleges; a familiar sallow face stood out among the rest. What were the chances that, in all of Great Britain, he would be here? Miriam, as she often was, had been wrong. Gwen could not believe it, how could he be here? The fact that he was not in Azakaban was shocking enough. She stared, gaping when his head turned and his eyes met hers. Though he seemed to have recognized her, his face was empty of any expression that she could clearly distinguish.

   

     Her heart began beating rapidly, and the air suddenly felt thick and stale. She quickly looked away. She could not avoid him forever, but couldn’t she try? Thankfully, children began to file in and provided her with something else to think about. The students sat down at the four long tables, anticipating the beginning of the feast.

 

   Everyone sat idly for a while, students and teachers jabbering away. Gwen decided that it would be best to just keep silent for the moment. Suddenly the large doors at the end of the hall swung open, and about forty or so small figures trickled in. They lined up in front of the teacher’s table, where a decrepit black hat sagged on a short stool. McGonagall coolly informed the new students how they would be divided up into houses. Gwen found the description of the “Sorting Ceremony” to be a very interesting way of completing the task and watched with curiosity to see just what would happen when the hat and the new students would be put together. McGonagall began to read off of a list, 

           

“Adams, Jeffery,” was the first name to be read; a nervous blond boy walked up and sat down, and the hat was placed on his head.

 

 After a few seconds the hat called out “Hufflepuff!” and the boy joined a table of cheering students. The sorting continued alphabetically with “Albert, Mona,” who became a Ravenclaw, “Blake, Rosemary,” another Hufflepuff, all the way to “Hawkins, Timothy,” a Slytherin. The next name was called, “Jones, Robert.” No one stepped forward. Again McGonagall called out “Jones, Robert.” Nothing.

           

“Would Robert Jones kindly come and be sorted so that we may continue!” McGonagall shouted. Suddenly the doors of the hall opened again and a small boy ran up to the line of children waiting to be sorted.

           

“Sorry,” he panted, “I got lost!”

           

“In the entry hall?” inquired McGonagall raising an eyebrow.

           

“Yeah,” he answered as if it were the most natural thing in the world.  Jones, Robert then sat down to be sorted. “Gryffindor!” the hat called out. 

     

       Even though most of the teachers probably would have given the kid a detention, Gwen could not but smile at what had happened. Looking out at the ocean of chattering students that she was to teach, she could only imagine what an interesting year she was going to have. 

*******************

      The sorting ended and Harry, Ron, and Hermione waited eagerly for the feast to begin.

 

“You know I think the sorting gets longer and longer every year,” said Ron. “Let’s get on with it, I’m starving!”

 

As with the start of every term, Professor Dumbledore stood to welcome the students back to Hogwarts.

           

“Welcome,” he began, “to a new term at Hogwarts. Before we begin the feast I must make the usual start of the term announcements. As always students are reminded that the forest is strictly off limits to everyone, as is the village of Hogsmeade to anyone under their third year. Furthermore I must introduce to you two new members of our staff; first is Simeon Sinet.” He gestured to a good-looking young man with light, intelligent eyes at the far end of the table. “I’m sure many of you remember him as a Ravenclaw only last year, he has returned as a teachers’ aid. Second is our new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher, Professor Silver, who has just arrived from The United States, I am sure you will all make her as welcome as possible,” he smiled, peering over his half-moon glasses. “With all of that out of the way, let the feast begin!” He clapped his hands and the plates filled.

           

“Finally, about time!” Ron put a large portion of potato on his plate.

           

“What?” asked Harry, “no frightening, cryptic announcements this year? That’s a first, especially after last year. I was sure that something horrible would have happened over the summer that had to be announced”

           

“You would think but it doesn’t seem like it,” said Hermione as Ron shook his head, “but isn’t it interesting? This is the first time we’ve ever had a woman as our Defense against the Dark Arts professor.  It will be fascinating to get a feminine point of view on the subject for a change.”

           

“What do you mean for a change, what did you call Lockhart’s point of view?” said Ron; Hermione gave him a deadly stare. “What? Don’t tell me you still feel bad about his memory?”

           

“No, but does a woman’s point of view automatically mean it’s a stupid one, Ron?”

           

“No, Hermione, that’s not what I meant, it was just a joke!”

           

“Fine,” she turned her head away from Ron,  “it’s not just a woman’s point of view but an American woman’s point of view. You know, I wonder if she was an Auror like last year’s teacher was supposed to be. What about you Harry? Harry?”

   

       But Harry wasn’t listening; he was too busy watching the teacher’s table. The new teacher Professor Silver looked for some reason as if she wanted only to escape. Then Harry noticed that Severus Snape, the Potions Master, was staring at her; not with anger but with the loathing he held for a select few including himself and Remus Lupin. But Snape had known Lupin before he had taken his position at Hogwarts, and had a horrible grudge against him. Why was Snape looking at this woman with the contempt he usually reserved for whom he had an incredible hatred? Snape continued to study her; she was doing her best to avoid his gaze. Harry pointed this out to Ron and Hermione.

           

“Oh, that poor woman,” said Hermione. “She looks like she just wants to hide.”

    ************************* 

        After the feast ended Gwen tried to travel back unnoticed to her rooms. She walked sluggishly along the dark corridor practically falling asleep, when a tall, black, figure swept in front of her.

           

“Gwendolyn Silver,” Snape said, oil dripping from each syllable he uttered.

           

“Severus Snape,” she answered, defiantly staring up at him.

           

“I thought it was you, but of course how could I forget.”

           

“Really? I forgot all about you.”  

 

“Well really,” he snarled, his lip curled in insult, “who could forget the great Gwendolyn Silver, though what a very embarrassing end to a promising career.”

 

“I could easily say the same about you.”

 

“Let me see, how did the story go?” He paused, his thin mouth twisting into the ugliest smile she had ever seen. “Ah yes, that’s right, I seem to remember something about a Druid leader you failed to protect; frightfully messy business. Then I believe the American Ministry let you go. They don’t like women with weaknesses on their force in America, eh Silver?”

 

“Not especially observant, are you Snape? I was injured…”

 

“Really?” he cut her off, “I heard you went quite mad.”

 

“Then you were misinformed,” she said shortly, trying to pass him.

 

“Was I?” he said stepping in front of her again. “All the same, I don’t think you’re going to be able to handle this job; it being so reminiscent of your former one. Especially not with the look of fear behind your eyes I see now.” 

 

“I suppose you never were a very good judge of people. I am not afraid of this nor am I afraid of you, which I am quite aware you are trying to make me. Now get out of my way.”

 

“I will be keeping my eye on you, Silver; we can’t have a lunatic running around Hogwarts. Can we?” he leered at her.

 

“No, I’m sure one is quite sufficient,” she said as she pushed past him, she could feel his eyes burning into her as she limped quickly back to her rooms.

**********************   

    Snape slammed the door of his room, where he poured himself a glass of brandy before throwing himself into a chair. Damn that Silver woman! Had she come here to embarrass him again, just as she had seventeen years ago? He could just see her skulking around, waiting for him to make some sort of wrong move, watching him. If that was what she expected, she would be sorely disappointed, his life was not like that anymore. Oh no, he had “reformed,” and it was something that had almost gotten him killed numerous times. Even now it was still threatening him with death. Especially now.  That Silver had made a fine mess of his life. But it did seem that he had indirectly gotten revenge, he had noticed her slight limp. He also had noticed that her body did not seem to be used to the awkwardness with which she moved. He remembered how years ago she had taken each careful step with a sharp gracefulness. He smiled; she would never move like that again. He mused on the memory a moment, remembering the steps she had taken against him.

    

    That bloody woman, she had not aged a day save for the few lines around her eyes. Other than that she was still the same arrogant seventeen-year-old girl. Snape drained his glass and set it down harshly on the table. She was beautiful even still; he had never forgotten her beauty. Something after so many years had forced him to remember how that lovely Auror had charmed him; and he cursed her for the power she now still held. For years she had haunted his dreams, each dream beginning and ending in pleasure. Her face, her strength, even her scent had appeared more times then he liked. In his nightmares still he would have no peace from her. She would seem to delight in weaving in and out of crying, bleeding, and dying figures, like a phantom of his agony; getting so close he could almost touch her and melting away as his fingers reached for her face. What made him remember? Was it a curse? If so, it was one he could not shake for all his trying. But no matter he had to get some sleep before tomorrow and the first classes of the term.

*************************

       Harry, Hermione, and Ron were not looking forward to another year of potions with their most hated professor, Snape. Harry was all ready to start taking insults, Hermione to be ignored whenever she had an answer, and Ron to start pounding his head on the desk when the first insanely long essay was assigned.

     

      Snape seemed to be waiting for something as he kept looking at his watch, raising an eyebrow, and sighing. Perhaps sighing would not be the word to describe the sound that he made, it was more a phlegm filled growl then a sigh.

 

“Very well,” he finally snarled, closing his watch and jamming it in his pocked with a sneer, “since punctuality is not important to whoever this mystery guest is, we are going to start without him. Everyone, quills out; now!”

       

     At the harsh tone everyone scrambled to grab his or her writing materials. Suddenly the door swung open, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher entered the room. “Sorry I’m late, class!” she apologized cheerfully in her very obvious American accent, “I got lost. Did you know your school is very confusing?” She stopped, looked around, and mouthed something that looked considerably like “damn.” As Snape looked up from his desk, Professor Silver’s eyes widened as if she was not exactly happy that she was standing in the same room as him.  Snape stared at her. Never had Harry seen such an expression of hatred on Snape’s face, not even when the expression was directed towards him. 

 

“I refuse to work with this woman!” Snape suddenly growled in his normally hushed voice.

           

            “And I refuse to work with this… creature,” she stuttered.

   

       The Gryffindor side of the room erupted in quiet snickers, the Slytherin half on other hand looked not only taken aback by the comment but also very upset that the head of their house had just been insulted, to his face, in his class, by another teacher. 

           

“For the time being both of you will just have to make do;” Professor McGonagall said as she stepped into the room. “Professor Dumbledore must have made some sort of mistake. I’m sure it will be corrected as soon as possible, or as soon as Mr. Filch has finished fixing the Weasly twins’ little going-away present in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom” -she shot an annoyed look at Ron.

 

“What did they do?” whispered to Ron Harry

 

“No clue, but they said it was an expression of what they felt Defense Against the Dark Arts really is, whatever that means. I think I saw a toilet seat hanging on the door though.” 

 

“It must have been something really destructive if they had to close off the room,” said Hermione.

The new teacher turned to Professor McGonagall, “How is this going to work? Now, I know I’m new to all this, but it seems to me that…”

           

“It is quite unorthodox, but…”

 

“I am not teaching with this woman!” reiterated Snape.

           

“Dumbledore’s orders,” she said shortly. “You will both make do. I’m sure,” she turned briskly and left the room.

 

“Okay,” said the new teacher, unsure of what would happen next. All this must have been rather intimidating, she was walking in on a class that had already begun and Snape was glowering at her. Snape sank into his chair with his usual scowl on his face as she limped to the front of the room.

 

“Right, well then,” she began, “as you might know my name’s Gwendolyn Silver, but I guess I would be Professor Silver to you. But you know since I’m new here and not used to this whole professor thing you can call me just plain Silver since I know you all will anyway, I’m used to it, been called it for years. Oh, and just on that note let me say this, if you call me just “professor” I most likely will not answer, just warning you. I’m not being rude, I don’t hate you; I just probably won’t process it.”

 

“Oh God,” said Snape under his breath, though Professor Silver still heard him and looked over.

 

“Alright… moving on, as you also may have heard I’m the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and even though I’m a little set in my ways, I’m actually really new to teaching. I previously worked for the American Ministry of Magic, and if you think just because I’m new to this you can get away with more stuff than you would with your other teachers you’re dead wrong. So I don’t think that throwing that spit fire ball at me is such a good idea, little blond boy in the front row,”

 

Malfoy looked as if he could have had a heart attack, he never got caught doing anything in Snape’s class let alone called on it. “I was a student once too, you know. Anyway, I do try to be as observant as it is possible for me to be at all times; and that includes not only what I see but also what I hear,” at this she raised her voice, “So you two boys in the back, I’m very flattered that you think I’m pretty, but please no talking when other people are, thank you.” All this she said fast, yet clearly, so that Dean and Seamus could hear her all the way in the back.

 

“You think she’s crazy?” Harry whispered to Ron.

           

“No doubt about it, but if she keeps telling Malfoy off, who cares!”

********************  

     Teaching was an entirely new experience for Gwen. Potions was a class that she had nearly failed; besides she was supposed to be teaching young people about the dark variety. How was she supposed to teach a class she had only basic skills for; especially with that man breathing down the back of her neck?  She wasn’t going to be frightened by him; that’s exactly what he wanted and she knew it. After introducing herself, she felt a little better; humor always seemed to calm her.

           

“Well,” Snape drawled, “the lecture was to be on ‘Illegal Potions’ but I rather think they meant the class is to be on ‘Dark Potions,’ which presents no problem for me, you Silver?”

           

“Oh I bet it doesn’t,” Gwen said under her breath. “No, no problems for me either.”

 

“Well, then, we should start with simple things, for those of us who only have the rudimentary skills,” he said, with a meaningful look at Gwen. After this cutting remark, Gwen’s face began to flush.

 

“I don’t believe that will be necessary, these are all 5th years, are they not? Right then, what is the potion we will be teaching today, I don’t think I was all that late.”

 

“Why don’t you take roll, Professor, while I find the necessary ingredients,” he sneered, his last comment having been brushed off by her cheerful nature.  After roll had been called, with a more jovial tone ever used in that classroom, Snape began to explain the potion that they would be making today. “One of the main components that we will be using in this strength regaining potion is the water from the top of a kappa’s head. As it contains all the strength of this Mongolian Water Demon…”

 

“Japanese,” she corrected.

 

“What?”

 

“The kappa, it’s native to Japan; I know, I’ve been attacked by one there, they’re viscous.” A cold glare made its way across the desk she had been sitting at. She fought it bravely with a small smile.

     

      By the end of class, two cauldrons had been melted, but she had the love of the red, and the malicious spite of the green. The minute hand finally reached its destination, and class was dismissed. A black shape swept by her as she stood up to put her things in order,

 

“Not bad, for a Yank who lies about her age to deliberately put herself in danger.”

 

“Not bad for a coward too afraid to die alone,” she said in a low, indifferent tone as a bushy head of hair scurried out of the room. Snape took a step closer, trying to use his height to intimidate her.

 

“You may have gained the esteem of a few of our more reckless students, which does not in the least surprise me; but how would they feel if they knew the blood that lay on the hands of their St. George was not only of past dragons and ones they hope you will slay for them…”

 

“Namely, you,” she interjected.

 

“…But of a more innocent shade?”

 

“I didn’t kill him, I was too late to save him, but I didn’t kill him!”

 

“So you said,” he sneered, “but you as good as did.”

 

“That may be true and it’s my cross to bear, but I have no reason to hide it; if anyone has any sins to hide it’s you.”

 

“With your sin so fresh, I doubt it. But for now Silver, do not forget who the real teacher is.”

 

“Oh no, I wouldn’t dare to forget that, though I doubt the students ever knew there was a real teacher in this classroom,” she rumbled with bitterness, her temper flaring. She struggled to keep herself from punching him or running to the door. She wasn’t sure which emotion had more control of her at the moment, anger or fear. Though she didn’t like to admit it to herself, she guessed fear. The man could hardly be stable, which was evident by the unnatural way his lip and hands were twitching. “Look,” she continued, “we’re both adults, what ever happened when we were young I’m sure doesn’t matter now.”

 

“Oh, but it does, more then you know, and I should be very surprised if you are still here by the end of the term.”

 

“Is that a threat?”

 

“You may regard it as a warning, Silver, one I think you should heed.”

  

     She mentally counted to ten, stopped herself from answering, and turned away from him; she wasn’t going to argue with him, dangerous as he was. If he wanted to quarrel it wouldn’t be with her, he could brawl with his demons if he wanted to fight; and that would probably do more good.

*************************

“Come sit and have a cup of tea, dear,” Minerva McGonagall smiled at Gwen as she entered the staff room.

     

      Despite Gwen’s first impression of Minerva, she found her to be quite genial and convivial. Most of the staff was such as well. The only person who did not seem to welcome a short tempered American was, of course, Severus Snape, though Gwen herself was not too keen on working with him either.

 

“Yes, do come and talk with us,” beamed Viola Sprout holding a gleaming white teacup in soil covered hands, “we’ve hardly had a chance to get to know you, the way you like to hide yourself away. My, my I don’t know who is more the recluse you or Severus.”

 

“Oh Viola,” scolded Estella Sinistra, “you don’t want to go insulting her before she has a chance to see were harmless, merely mad that’s all.”

 

“Well now that I’ve been threatened with the prospect of turning out like Severus Snape, charming man that he is, I will stay thank you.” 

 

“Lovely,” chimed in tiny Filius Flitwick, “I was just telling the girls here a highly amusing joke about a giant and a rat that…”

 

“Not to be rude but we’ve all heard that one Filius. Gwen, we’ve heard precious little about you, you were an Auror in The United States I understand?” asked Minerva.

 

“Yes, little good that I could do in that house of lunatics and paper pushers,” she said sarcastically. 

 

“Assistant Head of the Defense Office can do much good indeed!” Estella exclaimed, “I have a friend who worked under you in America, Marjorie Williams perhaps you knew her, you did excellent work from what I hear.”

 

“I knew Marjorie, nice girl, lots of promise if she can just get over her shyness. Among the many things I’ll miss about that job what I’ll miss most is the people; I made so many good friends.”

 

“Hopefully you will be able to do the same here,” smiled Viola.

 

“I have no doubt that I will.”

 

“I’ve been hearing that people in The United States have finally come to their senses and are putting together decent Quidditch teams,” commented Constance Hooch.

 

“Well, I admit I haven’t been keeping up with sports as much as I’d like…”

 

“Oh I bet you keep up with that American game…what’s it called…Quodpot?”

 

“Quodpot! Ha,” laughed Gwen, “a game for adolescent boys with nothing better to do then blow themselves up! No, no I don’t really follow much of anything and when I do, it’s usually muggle sports. Even then I prefer to play then watch, or at least I did.”

 

“Really? What sort of sports did you play then? Around here one would never know there were any other game then Quidditch,” piped in Filius.

 

“Oh a large variety of things, I played a lot of Field Hockey in school; really I would play any contact sport, tomboy that I was…am I suppose. Of course that led to the time I invested in the Martial Arts, invaluable skill. But of course, when I was young I’d play anything any group of neighborhood boys said I couldn’t, baseball, football…American that is, truly anything I was challenged to play.” 

 

“Not surprising that an Auror should be very athletic, Constance,” Minerva smiled at Constance’s taken aback look. “In fact I did hear something once of Alastor Moody being a fine Quidditch player in his youth.”

 

“Ah Alastor Moody,” sighed Gwen a maudlin look in her eyes, “I’m sure he was, I had the distinct pleasure of working with him. I was quite young at the time of course. All he’d seen he still had a sense of humor, in fact he was hilarious, practical joker extraordinaire; I hear he’s gotten pretty paranoid in his old age.”

 

“As well he should be!” Viola exclaimed.

 

“Yes well,” Gwen said, a bit confused at the outburst, “that’s usually what happens to the best; one day they could stare down a dragon the next they won’t go into their offices because the same dragon is waiting under their desks to pounce on them.” Gwen looked down at the floor, “That’s how a lot of them get killed, so worried about what isn’t really there, they don’t see what is. But there I go; if there’s one thing I’m accused of most often it’s putting a large wet blanket over a conversation.”     

 

“You sound like you know from personal experience,” said Constance icily.

 

“You can’t work in a government office like I did a not have personal experience with it.” Gwen stared back at the frosty glare from across the table, she was getting the definite impression Snape was not alone in his dislike for her. “It’s very hard to watch someone you respect very much just mentally waste away, it has nothing to do with their strength of character mind you. It happened to the strongest Auror I ever knew, he was terrific at his job until one day for some reason he just couldn’t do it anymore. Unfortunately, that led him to leave behind a wife and three children.”

 

“Oh how very sad,” said Estella “he was a good friend no doubt.”

 

“Yes, yes he was, but we all know what we’re getting into from the start, we all know of the risk.”

 

“You may know of the risk, but do those who you supposedly guard? What of that Druid that was entrusted to your protection, did he know…”

 

“Constance that is enough!” snapped Minerva.

   

     If it had been any other time they were speaking of when she had been accused of not doing her duty, she would have been on her feet bellowing her case. But this was the one incident in her past where she felt she was lacking in evidence to support her. Her glass that night may have been drugged but she ignored the one phrase that Alastor Moody had burned into her mind, “Constant vigilance.”

           

“No Minerva, fair, very… fair,” she whispered her face growing hot.

           

“Quite fair indeed!” Constance retorted rising from her seat, “we’ve had many Defense teachers not worth their salt and up ‘til now I’ve held my tongue and let Severus Snape do the protesting. But now it is different. Now it matters whether or not these children know how to defend themselves and it matters whether or not the Defense teacher can do what her title commands and defend this castle and its inhabitance. I doubt very much that some lame slip of a girl who couldn’t defend one man from two can do that.”

    

    Gwen, now trying to hold back her completely provoked temper, got to her feet.

           

“Let me try and make this completely clear,” she stated calmly her face turning very red, “I am no girl; I have, in the course of my previous career, traveled around this Earth enough times to witness things that I hope the children who live under this roof never have to see. From those experiences I can assure you it has always mattered whether or not children can defend themselves. I intend to teach them as much as it is possible for them to learn so perhaps they won’t have to see the things I did. And as for protecting the castle, I also give surety that I would rather have my soul sucked from me by a Dementor then let what happened to that Druid, as you so belittlingly call him, happen to any of these children. Rather a cripple be your Defense teacher then some madman that sees the shadows of dark wizards behind every pillar and gargoyle but couldn’t see the real thing if it was standing two feet in front of him.”

 

“We shall see,” Constance said as she went to the door, “but I have a class to teach, so if you will excuse me; good day Minerva, Filius, Viola, Estella,” she slammed the door behind her.

 

“Oh dear,” said Viola.

 

“Oh dear indeed,” Filius repeated with a smile, “Going and making enemies already I see, tut- tut Professor bad form. But she makes a good point; I also have a class to teach. Good day all! Especially you dear Gwen Silver.” 

 

“I must be off to the greenhouses as well, can’t imagine what that Devil’s Snare is up to,” said Viola.

 

“And I should get back to my star charts,” said Estella as she; Filius, and Viola left the room.

 

“You mustn’t worry about Constance Hooch, we’re all a bit on edge, but she especially. After all, she lost so much during the reign of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” comforted Minerva. Gwen nodded, a bit confused about why the two events would be connected, except perhaps Constance disliked anyone connected with Aurors.

           

“We all lost someone; some of us lost ourselves for awhile,” Gwen changed the subject away from herself, “which reminds me, I need to ask you something Minerva and I need you to answer me truthfully. If you can’t tell me what I want to know, please don’t lie.”

           

“Why Ms. Silver I would never…”

           

“You don’t know what I’m going to ask, I don’t want false information floating around my already befuddled brain just so a secret can be protected. If it is important that I don’t know I will not pursue it further.”

           

“Well, go ahead and ask what you are sure I cannot tell you.”

           

“How is it that Severus Snape is here, why is he here?”

           

“For the same reason we all are here, to teach…oh you mean, oh dear…you knew him?”

           

“I met him, once, long ago. It was not a pleasant meeting if you understand me correctly.”

           

“I do indeed. You are right, I cannot tell you; that is for Severus and Severus alone to disclose about himself. But I can assure you, beyond any doubt, he is completely trustworthy.”

           

“But I just can’t help…”

           

“Albus trusts him and so do I; he has proven to be a man of honor.”

           

“I know if Albus didn’t trust him he wouldn’t be here, but that doesn’t help me get over my feeling of…ridiculous…I’m sorry Minerva, the wanderings of a mind that has sailed far to many leagues through shark infested waters. I suppose I’m not completely immune to Auror’s Paranoia.”

           

“Quite alright, do you play chess Gwen?”

           

“Oh, yes, a little.”

 

“Well then,” she said as a set up board appeared on the table, “let’s have a little friendly game, shall we?”       

 

//
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