Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing, make no money from anything, and am writing this purely for personal enjoyment.
Chapter 4: And So Begins Training
Breakfast went well, both of us eating a reasonable amount, and we arrived at the institute without complications. After we had been signed in and scanned for disallowed objects, we made our way to the office of Mr. Potter’s advisor.
“Ahh, Mr. Potter. And this is?”
“Severus Snape. My… bodyguard.”
“Please to meet you, Mr. Snape. Will you be taking any of the courses with Mr. Potter?”
I looked at Mr. Potter, who shrugged.
“If it doesn’t interfere with my duties, I would like to, yes.”
“Well, then. Let’s see what we can arrange. Now, Mr. Potter, what type of courses are you looking for?”
“I need to improve my battle skills, so let’s see what’s available for DADA and duelling. And I’d like a physical course of some description. I’m already pretty good on a broom, but I’d like to be a lot more dexterous on the ground.”
“Hmm, that’s quite a wide field, really. We’ll have to be selective.”
He brought out pages of lists, and we started working our way through them.
“Basic Jinxes and Hexes: Your Friends Won’t Know What Hit ‘Em?” I asked, in a completely serious tone.
“Thank you, Severus, but I think we can go with something a little more advanced. 143 Ways to Skin a Cat, by Canus Violentus,” he read in retaliation. “Please tell me he’s being metaphorical.”
We all shuddered. “I wouldn’t count on it.”
“Here’s one by Lockhart…” I announced helpfully. I’d forgotten how much fun this could be.
“Apparently, he’s much better…”
Before I could tease him any further, the advisor spoke up.
“How about this one – the Interrelation of All Disciplines in Defence, by Jovis Follis.”
We all paused.
“That one has definite possibilities. Put it on the list.”
By the end of the morning, even I had to admit we had pretty good set of courses. ‘Wandless Combat’ as Mr. Potter’s physical option, ‘Impenetrable Wall: Beyond Just a Shield Charm’, ‘Increasing the Power of your Casts’, and of course, ‘The Interrelation of All Disciplines in Defence’.
The last was the only one that ran that day. ‘Impenetrable Wall’ and ‘Casts’ hadn’t started yet, and ‘Wandless Combat’ only ran three times a week for beginners. We made our way to the lecture hall. The lecturer bounded over to us, shaking our hands and gushing sickeningly over Potter. Eventually we escaped to our seats.
“Today, we’ll be covering the use of potions. You may not know this, but we have a very talented Potions brewer in our very midst – Mr. Snape!”
Every person turned around and looked at me. I scowled, keeping as much of my face as humanly possible hidden behind my hair. The lecture Mr. Follis gave was both simple and simplistic – if you had an entire potions store on hand as he seemed to think you would, you wouldn’t be in an emergency defence situation. I was growing increasingly irritated, cursing my inability to simply walk out. But the crowning moment of stupidity happened towards the end of the lecture.
“And you can then take Calming Potion, and At Speed Potion, which is restricted but you can usually get a supply…”
“Take them at the same time?” I asked in complete disbelief.
“Why yes, Mr. Snape. Why not?”
“Because if you want to commit suicide, there are far less painful ways available.”
“Oh, is it dangerous to mix them?”
‘Oh, is it dangerous to mix them?’ And they let this fool teach?
“Yes, you incompetent, irresponsible, ham-fisted excuse for a…”
“Severus, that’s enough!”
That was an order. I fought the oath in an attempt to continue, but it was useless. I was eventually forced to stop trying to speak in order to breathe again.
“Apologise to the man.”
“My apologies, Mr. Follis.” My tone remained neutral, even as my nails clawed grooves into my thighs.
“Oh, that’s all right. It’s nice to see some-one enthusiastic about their art for a change!”
The blithering idiot was practically bouncing in mindless cheer.
“All right, class, you can then take Calming Potion or At Speed Potion, but not both, …”
I fumed silently for the rest of the lecture. Mr. Potter had decided it necessary to put a restraining hand on my arm. I glared at it, wishing that the rumours about my abilities to burn holes were actually true. As we walked out of the lecture, I turned to Mr. Potter, but he spoke immediately.
“Not now. Wait until we get home.”
We made our way back to the apartment in tense silence. As soon as we crossed the threshold, I spoke up.
“That, Mr. Potter, was completely unnecessary. That fool should be sent to Azkaban for teaching that load of nonsense; a few harsh words from me were hardly an overreaction. Or does your cute and fuzzy little Gryffindor soul compel you to jump in and save even the guilty? Besides, my actions were not affecting you in any way, so how I chose to react was none of your business. I really had more respect for you, Mr. Potter, than to think you would enforce your will in such a brutal and gratuitous manner…”
I paused to take a breath.
“Are you quite done?”
“You scolded me like an errant child. In public!”
“Severus, no-one could hear me. Only you and I know that your actions weren’t of your own free will.”
Thinking back on it, he was right – he had been speaking in an undertone directly in my ear. But still…
“But you had no reason to…”
“Go and make supper, Severus. We will continue this conversation later.”
I made supper angrily, not taking my usual satisfaction from it. I couldn’t bring myself to ruin it on purpose, but I was sorely tempted to. If not to simply add some untraceable poisons.
Mr. Potter was, irritatingly, noticeably calmer by the time he came through. I joined him at the table under duress, but didn’t bother to serve myself. He ate in merciful silence, pausing only during his third helping.
“Wow, I hadn’t realise I was this hungry!”
“Perhaps you should eat lunch in the future.”
It was hard to maintain rage for long, but I was still by no means ready to concede defeat. But Mr. Potter didn’t seem upset by my tone.
“What, didn’t I have lunch today?”
“No, Mr. Potter, you didn’t.”
“Ah. We make quite a pair, then. You remember the meals and I eat them.”
At last he finished his meal and stood up. Time for the rest of the ‘conversation’. I couldn’t believe, after all this time and all that had happened between us, that I still felt like a kid dragged before his Head of House – equal parts resentment and trepidation.
“Severus, you knew this was going to be hard when Dumbledore first got you into this situation – it shouldn’t have surprised you now. I appreciate that we are both going to have problems with this as time goes on. But hear me, Severus – whatever your personal views, while you are in my service, you will be pleasant.”
I made a non-committal noise. ’Service’, of course, was the key word – I could not in good faith deny him. But I wasn’t sure I could obey him. And I certainly didn’t want to.
“Severus. Do you understand me?”
“I’ve never been much good at that,” I muttered at last, embarrassed.
“Getting people to like me.”
“Oh, Severus.” He stood in silence for a while. “I just want you to make the effort. Go get some sleep.”
He walked out without wishing me goodnight.
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