Author's Notes: This story is rated PG I guess. No harm is meant, and J.K Rowling deserves much praise for what she has created; I only needed to borrow it for a moment. Many thanks to elynross for doing the beta for me.
By Rachael Sabotini
Clouds painted the early night sky in watercolor shades, the full moon dimmed by a wash of white. Severus Snape stood looking out the window of his room, welcoming the night. It was quiet for once, no students running through the halls screaming to one another, no mysterious sounds as they tried to jinx each other. His lips curled into a tight smile; he would miss his peace.
"Congratulations, Professor Snape! A long time coming, eh?" Tiny Professor Flitwick poked his head just inside the door, his high, chirping voice an instant irritant.
"Yes." Severus said carefully. "Quite." A quick wave of a hand, murmured thanks, and the formalities were acknowledged; peace was restored as he helped Flitwick back into the hall. He locked the door, securing his inner sanctum from the bustle of last minute preparations.
Silence, comforting silence. He leaned back against the door, but it wasn't enough. He crossed the room and closed the curtains against the moonlight creeping in through the windows. At last. Silence and dark and peace. His own little tomb.
He eased into his chair, pulling his robe in around him. How little Flitwick knew. His mind was tiny, like his body; he actually believed Snape was happy to have the new position. It was to have been his triumph.
Everyone thought he craved it, craved teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. He almost laughed at the thought. The sense of something roiling up within him was powerful, but Snape was more powerful still. He squashed it before a sound could come out; it felt too much like hysteria.
No, he craved no teaching position. He craved using them again.
And he would be using them again. For Dumbledore.
After dinner, Professor Trelawny had attempted to speak to him, and he had waved her off just as he had Flitwick. There was no need for him to speak to her; he knew what she would say. "I am afraid," she would whisper in that damnable voice she affected, "that I see dark omens around this." Her voice would catch and her eyes go wide, as if she was staring at the future. "I see--" And then she would pause dramatically, as if she were going to collapse of the vapors, "I see -- your death!"
His lips curled in a sardonic smile. Pity he had not stopped to talk to her; the old fool would have been right again. But he couldn't maintain his amusement. Trelawny was too simple a target; she had no spark of wit about her to pique his interest.
When Dumbledore had called him into his office, telling him that at last, he had the position, they both knew why. It wasn't because Dumbledore couldn't find another applicant; surprisingly, there were still idiots in the world that desired a position as a Hogwarts teacher badly enough to take the Dark Arts position. No, this was -- a farewell. A last kindness. Neither of them expected Severus to last through the year, not with taking up his role as a Death Eater once again.
He pulled back the sleeve on his robe and stared down at the Dark Mark, tracing its silvered edges with his fingers. It never would go away. He would be dead before the Mark vanished -- and that would be soon enough.
He shoved the robe back into place, then flicked his wand, lighting a candle. Enough.
He opened his lesson plan and started to work, revising what he'd written. It was inevitable that at some point, he would fail; he could not maintain his image as a Death Eater forever, not and keep himself sane. Eventually, he would be discovered, and he would be made an example; he didn't need to be Trelawny to see that. At some point -- long before the Dark Lord fell -- he would die.
But if he worked hard before then, some might live. They would be his legacy.
In the meantime, there were students to teach and conspiracies to join; he couldn't waste time talking to people. He set quill to parchment with a will, changing a year's worth of lessons with quick and fluid motions. Tomorrow, the students would arrive, and they had to be prepared. If he was going to make sure that they learned everything about the Dark Arts that was possible in the time he had left, he would have to work them fast and hard.
His students would expect it.
Whatever the cost, he'd make damn sure that before he went, every last student of his would be able to stand up to Voldemort and give a good fight. He would make sure they were prepared, that they could tough it out; even Longbottom and Potter.
His eyes narrowed. Particularly Harry Potter.
He pushed himself back from the desk. Potter would be the one that needed the most attention; he'd need extra work, have to meet higher standards than the others. There was no room for error here; not if the boy who lived was to grow to a man. He would have to be harder on Potter than he was on anyone else. Harry would be hit harder and more often; he would have to learn to stand alone, not to rely on his friends.
Severus would make certain of that.
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