Author’s Note: I do not own,
pretend to own or ever dream of owning anything in connection with the Harry Potter universe, that is the intellectual brainchild of J.K. Rowling,
whom I thank for her wonderful books.
The only characters that I have created are Aliena and her children,
whom JKR can have if she wants.
Thank you to all who have helped me with this fic,
with an extra thanks to my beta reader, Chary.
Severus Snape scowled at the blonde-haired girl in the front row of his
classroom. Cecilia Darcy
winced under his glare and
he thought he saw tears beginning to well up in her blue
eyes. A glance at her cauldron revealed
that her sleeping potion was currently a sleeping poison. He briefly indulged himself considering all
the things he could say to the girl. If
she had been nearly any other Gryffindor, he could have held her potion up to
ridicule, or even test it on an animal to remind them of the dangers of
improper potion brewing.
But instead he bit
his tongue and settled for using a sarcastic and condescending tone. “Miss
Darcy, I trust that you are aware
that your potion is supposed to be a light pink color
instead of that revolting brown?”
The girl nodded slowly.
And Gryffindors were supposedly known for their bravery. “Well?”
“Yes, sir.” Tears were in imminent danger of spilling out
of her eyes. Severus
glared at the girl for a moment longer.
“It is still salvageable. You
added too much wormwood and not enough milk thistle. After you add more milk thistle make certain
you add more water or this mess will be even worse.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Freshwater, not saltwater. Get back to work.” He stalked off to the next table and mentally
cursed Cecilia’s mother for her
interference in his classroom.
It had begun when the oldest of the four Darcy
children arrived at Hogwarts six years earlier.
Darcy’s incompetence caused his
first potion to explode, sending Darcy,
his lab partner and the two students sitting in front
of them to the hospital wing. Severus remembered raging over the boy’s foolishness and
inability to follow simple directions while Darcy
attempted to argue that it had not been his fault.
Severus had not
given that incident much thought until a few days later when an owl arrived for
him at breakfast. It delivered a cordial
note from Mrs. William Darcy
requesting that he meet with her for lunch in Hogsmeade,
with the addition that it would be nice to reminisce about their days in school
He had ached to send the owl back to its owner with a blistering
refusal, but it was not wise to ignore a summons from Aliena Malfoy
When he arrived at The Three Broomsticks, a grinning Rosmerta
immediately ushered him to a private booth where Aliena was reading Arithmancy Monthly.
She looked up when he was about to sit down and put away her book
after carefully marking her place with an embroidered bookmark. “Severus,
thank you for coming. Please sit
He sat on the opposite side of the table. “Good day, Mrs.
Darcy. I trust you are well?”
“Very well, thank you. It is
so good to see you after all these years.
Really, I don’t believe we’ve spoken to each other at all since
You-Know-Who’s downfall, nearly nine years ago.” Her voice was cheerful and pleasant, as if
she were speaking with a very good friend whom she was delighted to see.
He wished she would get to the point. “We have not had anything to discuss since
could have reminisced about old times.
Our families were, for want of a better word, friends. I remember how you used to follow
after Nero and Lucius
when you were a boy. My brother and
cousin were your heroes. They even
arranged for your initiation into that revolting little club they belonged to.” Aliena glanced at his left forearm. “And the two of us knew each other during
“You were a fourth year Gryffindor when I entered Hogwarts,
we hardly spent any time together.”
“No, we did not. But it is
amazing how much we know about each other despite that.”
Severus had heard
rumours that Aliena
kept a virtual stockpile of evidence that could destroy the good reputations
enjoyed by many old Slytherin families.
He had always been grateful for whatever reasons kept her from sharing
her information with the rest of the world.
“And we did interact. Maybe
not as much as you would have liked, but much more than normal for a Slytherin
boy and a Gryffindor girl three years his senior,” she pointed out in her
irksomely cheerful tone.
Severus was getting
tired of the game; she would not come to the point unless he brought it up
himself. “I assume we are here to
discuss your son. Shall I give him your
“I would prefer you never told him, or any of his fellow students of
any house or year, about this conversation.”
He resisted the urge to ask her why she had even bothered coming if
that was the case. “Your son’s performance in Potions has been abysmal. He shows little aptitude for the subject but
with increased diligence he may prove capable of earning a tolerable grade.”
“You know that after three weeks in class? How do you decide? Is it based on how your students respond to
bullying tactics, your opinion of their parents or simply which house they are
in?” Aliena responded in the slightly
detached manner that Snape recalled from his youth.
“His performance on their first practical assignment was
appalling. I expected more from him.”
“I see. If what I have heard
of your teaching methods is true, your interpersonal skills have actually
decreased over the years.” Aliena’s tone became slightly incredulous.
“He must learn to show greater respect to his professors. The lack of attention he paid to the potion’s
instructions showed his complete derision for the art of potion-brewing.”
“If I remember correctly, when we were in school, we did not brew
that potion until the end of second year.”
“I expect more out of my students than that. If I were to go easy on them they would
quickly become bored and when students are bored, they only cause trouble.”
“So you expect that the entire class is as advanced as you were, and
then bully them when they can’t meet your demands? Someone as obsessed with respect as
you are should know that fear and respect are two very different things. The way you treated my son was entirely
unwarranted. There is a difference
between reasonably high expectations and unreasonably high demands.”
“If the students would simply apply themselves to the art of potion
making they would be able to meet my demands.
They would also be able to deal with their problems without hiding
behind their mothers.”
Aliena shot him a disgusted look.
“One day you will learn that everything is not about you. When that happens
you might make some friends and you will finally understand that every mistake
in Potions class is not a calculated insult against you. I had hoped that we could have a simple
discussion where this would not be necessary.”
She paused briefly and pulled out a bundle of envelopes bound with a
green and silver ribbon. “I believe you
will recognize these.”
Snape picked up the packet and recognized his own handwriting. Miss
Malfoy Manor. “You only kept three
of them?” he asked in as disinterested a tone as possible, hoping she could not
discern how horrified he was.
“The rest are at home. My
mother put rather strong Preservation Charms on all of them and I would not
want anything unfortunate to happen if they fell into the wrong hands.”
Aliena’s tone was just as disinterested as his had been, as if they were having
a particularly dull conversation about the weather.
Snape remembered the letters.
He had written things in them that he now hoped no one else would ever
see. “And now you are using our
correspondence as blackmail.”
Aliena raised an eyebrow.
“Correspondence would indicate that I replied to your epistles. We both know I never did. My children will be attending Hogwarts for
the next fifteen years. You will behave
reasonably towards them and I will ensure that they do not happen upon any of
these. If you think you have problems
with respect now, imagine what will happen when the school discovers how you
spent your summer holidays. It is the discretion of others that makes living in a
community as small as ours bearable. You
would have been wiser to chase after a girl your own age, as I suggested to you
Snape remembered the conversation.
At the beginning of his second year Aliena had sat him down and told him
that while she was flattered he cared enough to write her twice a week all
summer, she did not think they were ‘right for one another.’ She had then told him he should give more
thought to the girls in his own year.
‘Several of them are quite pretty, Lily Evans
in Gryffindor will be absolutely beautiful when she grows up and she has an
absolutely adorable personality, from what I’ve seen.’ Her meaning had been perfectly clear; a Snape
was so far below a Malfoy that he might as well be a Mudblood. Then there had been the humiliating
experience where Evans had tried to ‘save’ him from
Potter, assuming he needed her protection.
Really, Gryffindor girls were even more trouble than their male
He was brought back from his reverie by the
realization that Aliena was watching him.
“Do you enjoy leading me into humiliation?” he hissed.
“No, I do not. But I will not allow you to bully my children. As long as you leave them alone, the letters
will remain where they are and my children will not be told
“That is blackmail.”
“Would you prefer it if I had no incentives to not
share them with my children, or my cousin? Or to not leave them in a place where they
might be found?”
“You and Lucius Malfoy
have not held a civil conversation with one another in over a decade.”
“Perhaps it is time that we mended the rift. He would treasure anything that would give
him power over a Hogwarts professor. Even one from a family that our ancestors worked so hard to
Severus decided he
was finished with the conversation. “If
you wish me to coddle your children, I understand. Your relationship with your cousin is none of
my concern. Now, Mrs. Darcy,
I must return to the castle to teach my next class. I am certain you have plans for whatever it
is that bored, idle women with large dowries and wealthy husbands do with their
time.” He had then stalked back to the
school to terrorize a class of Hufflepuff and
Gryffindor sixth years.
Now six years later, Severus
was still afraid of the humiliation those letters might bring him. Some of them contained things about his
family that he would rather die, or at least be civil to the four Darcy children, than have his students discover. He knew that as a twelve year old, his
declarations of love ranged from awkward to farcical. And if the students
ever discovered that he had written such nonsense….
He shook his head and stalked back to Cecilia Darcy’s
table. The tears had stopped and her
potion was perfect.