Titles Are for Wimps
by American Hermione
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All right, here's challenge 27. You asked for it! It's really long- sorry- I guess my fluffy pink plot bunnies sort of ran away with me... or bit my throat... or something.
Severus Snape was, he thought, appropriately apprehensive at the prospect of meeting the new DADA teacher this year.
Yesterday, he had met the new teacher of Muggle Studies, and had been overwhelmingly underwhelmed. The man, a Professor Bunt, had quoted Gilderoy Lockhart's books the whole time- Lockhart seemed to be his idol- and Lockhart didn't even have to do with Muggle Studies! Snape ended up forcing the man out of his office to shut him up, pouring himself a generous glass of anti-migraine potion, and downing it in one long gulp.
A hand knocked at his door.
"Come in..." he growled, hoping against all hope that this teacher was better than the last one.
A woman in dark blue robes opened the door, came in, and began introducing herself immediately.
"Bagman. Allie R. Bagman, no relation to Ludo..." the woman was saying. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Professor..." She paused and extended her hand.
"Snape." Severus took in her appearance as she firmly shook his hand. She was quite short, maybe a little over 5 feet, and had shoulder-length brown hair and bright hazel eyes. She seemed too young to him- too inexperienced- to be teaching at Hogwarts, though she was, in fact, only two years shy of his own age. He put on his customary glaring snarl for her.
"Well, Professor Snape," she said, seemingly unfazed. "I'm the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. You teach Potions, correct?"
Snape didn't say a word, just slightly inclined his head and kept staring.
"Well- it's been- nice meeting you..." Allie was beginning to feel uncomfortable- Snape could tell. He was quite used to making people uncomfortable.
"Goodbye... til tomorrow, then?" she said, weakly smiled, and exited his office.
Snape smiled. He would have no more trouble from Professor Bagman.
Or would he?
-one month later-
They were going over Boggarts again. 'One more lesson on these and I swear, I'm going to crack...' thought Allie, glancing at the sea of blank faces in front of her. The Hufflepuffs in particular simply seemed unable to grasp HOW to repel a Boggart, and she had been forced to extend the lesson 5 days, to a total of 2 weeks on the subject.
"All right, when I call your name, please step forward and proceed to vanquish the Boggart." Allie wished in vain for a back massage and a VERY hot cup of tea. She sighed at the parchment in her hands.
The girl stepped forward, pale and trembling. Her hands shook as she grasped her wand. "Pro-Professor-" she whispered.
"You can do it, Lily." Allie said in her most reassuring voice. "You're a smart girl."
Lily took a deep breath, and quickly faced the Boggart, which turned into a very large, very fierce-looking dog.
Lily opened her mouth, then closed it again very quickly to stifle her scream. Pointing one shaking hand at the Boggart, she shouted:
The dog whimpered, shrank, and became a very fluffy pink bunny.
Professor Bagman sighed, and grinned at Lily. 'Finally,' she thought, 'FINALLY we can start on something else...'
"Impressive, Miss Young. And Miss Bagman," growled a mellifluous voice from the back of the room.
Bagman instinctively whirled around.
"Professor Snape!" she said confusedly, peering at him. "How may I help you?"
"I am simply here to... observe."
"Oh." she said, after a short pause. "Well- all right." She saw several of the Hufflepuffs quaking in their seats. They stared at her wide-eyed, and their faces all too clearly read "HELP!".
A few more of her students attempted to dispel their Boggart, but, under the Potions master's critical eye, they all blanched, stumbled, and ultimately failed. Allie knew exactly what was happening, and it angered her immensely. What right did he have to barge into her classroom like that, and distract her students?
"Professor Snape?" she said suddenly, turning from a girl who was battling the shape of an enormous inflatable life jacket.
"What is it Mi- Professor Bagman?" One black eyebrow rose in scorn.
Allie took a deep breath. "Professor, these children seem to be having a bit of trouble-"
"No doubt this is a reflection on your teaching skills, Professor Bagman," Snape drawled.
Allie's hands clenched tight under the sleeves of her robes; the class fell completely silent.
"If so-" she said quietly, trying to clear all anger from her expression. "If so- then... perhaps they would benefit from- a demonstration?"
"And would YOU be doing the honors, Professor?" Snape glared at her, and it was clear to Allie that he thought her one of the lowest life forms on the planet.
But she flatly refused to take the bait.
"No, Professor Snape," she said. "In fact, I was hoping that YOU would."
The Hufflepuffs gasped at their teacher's bravery. All eyes fell to Snape, who had gone ever paler than usual. Allie believed, for a split-second, she had seen a brief flicker of fear on his face. Then his mask returned, and he shook his head to clear it.
"It is not my job to teach YOUR class, Miss Bagman-" he said coolly. He stared intently at her for a moment, and then whispered, "Though I daresay I would do a much better job."
In a flurry of black robes, he was halfway out the door when Allie hissed,
"Then why don't you have my job, Snape?"
His back stiffened; he turned and flashed a look of hatred.
"Good day, Professor," he snapped, and left the room.
At dinner, Allie felt ready to scream. On one side of her sat Professor Bunt. He had dyed blond hair, lavender robes, and an extremely annoying tendency to quote Gilderoy Lockhart.
"And Lockhart knew Hebrew as well!" Bunt was saying. "Quite the scholar. Why, I remember one passage in 'Gadding With Ghouls' that brought tears to my eyes..."
"And what was THAT, Professor?" said Allie through tightly clenched teeth.
"He said, 'Ani rotzah leeroat Uranus'. Isn't that lovely?"
Allie choked, and hoped that this man didn't realize what he had just said.
"Quite." she said.
Snape, who was sitting on her opposite side, discreetly coughed into his napkin. He obviously DID know Hebrew.
"So, Bunt," Snape said, leaning slightly over Allie to address him, "Lockhart wanted to see Uranus, did he?"
Allie flinched away from Snape and blushed despite herself. Bunt tried to laugh, but obviously was humiliated.
"Um, yes... quite-" he stammered, until Allie interrupted him.
"Professor Bunt, please don't pay attention to Professor Snape- he's not in a very good mood today."
Snape turned to her with a snarl; Bunt weakly smiled at her and returned to his pasty.
"Pray tell how you judged my mood, Miss Bagman," Snape hissed.
"Professor Bagman, if you please, and it was quite obvious from your little performance in my classroom this morning."
He laughed, a short, sharp laugh that echoed through the Great Hall.
"There's nothing funny about it. You were distracting my students, Professor."
"I was simply doing my job."
"Is observing other teachers in your job description? It certainly wasn't in MINE-"
"Professor Bagman, I consider it my personal duty to check up on the progress of new teachers at this school."
"Were you worried that I wouldn't be up to the task?"
He looked her over, and turned back to his plate.
"You are- very young." he said, and took a bite of chicken.
"Young?" she choked. "Professor, when I arrived at this school, I was told by someone that you were the youngest teacher here- at 36 years old. Is that correct?"
Snape glared. "It is."
"Then I am only two years younger than you."
"Chronologically, you may be." He paused then, and sneered. "But as far as maturity goes..."
Allie bristled. Her hazel eyes flashed.
"I don't need this, Professor Snape!" She abruptly stood.
"Oh, are you finished eating?" Snape said, pointedly glancing at her half-eaten meal.
"I am now, you-"
"I suggest you leave before you say something you regret." Snape said coolly.
"Oh, I could say many things about you, Professor," said Allie in an equally cold tone, "but I assure you I would not regret saying a single one."
With that, she swept out of the hall- and the dark eyes of Severus Snape followed her.
Allie stalked into her room, slammed the door, cast a quick silence charm, and screamed every insult she could think of at Severus Snape. The man was intolerable! Who did he think he was, frightening her class- frightening... frightening her? What?
'You are a complete idiot!' she told herself. 'The answer's been right there the whole time- the whole time- and you didn't see it-'
She moved to unlock a nearby cupboard, turned her back, and summoned a Boggart. It floated out, shifted- she turned. It had assumed the sneering form of Severus Snape.
She stifled her gasp and raised her wand. 'This isn't so bad,' she thought.
But then the Boggart began to draw closer. And closer...
Towering over her, leaning towards her, its face inches from hers- its breath stirred her hair and she nearly screamed-
'STOP IT, ALLIE!' screeched her mind.
She gathered all of her strength, pointed her wand at the target, and shouted,
And the Boggart was thrown back, crumpling against the wall.
Allie gasped and looked from her wand to the Boggart and back again. That wasn't the normal result of that spell...
The form straightened up quickly; Allie instinctively backed away.
"Dear God, woman! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" shouted Severus Snape, his face livid.
"You're- you're not...?" stammered Allie.
"NOT a Boggart, Professor." Severus glared at her, then, to her surprise, he smirked.
"Professor Bagman- do you mean to tell me that it made sense that I was your Boggart?"
Allie stood firm, but a blush climbed up her cheeks. "I- I-"
Snape saw her fear- he came closer.
"Do I frighten you so much?" he whispered, bending to put his face near hers. He put a finger under her chin, lifted her face to him. He could feel her pulse beating under the skin- rapidly- like a cornered animal's...
"Am I really..." he whispered, leaning towards her ear, "your worst fear?"
She tried to back away, but found he had her cornered.
"A Professor of the Dark Arts-" Snape breathed, "who can't even deal with a fellow teacher-"
Abruptly, he shook his head and turned. And Allie was ready. In a moment she had him pinned to the floor, the tip of her wand pressing slightly into his neck.
"Never insult my teaching, Snape. I know precisely what I am doing." She leaned down to stare him full in the face. "And," she hissed, "I will never let my fear affect my job."
Snape was no longer under a pretense. Allie clearly saw some fear in his eyes, though he remained irate.
"Miss- Miss Bagman-"
"PROFESSOR!" she hissed, digging the wand more deeply into his throat.
"Professor... Bagman-" he choked. "Please-"
He looked her in the eyes- humiliated, and furious about it.
"Please- let me go."
"Why should I, Snape?"
He stammered, glared: could provide no reason.
Then Allie felt a sudden stab of pity for the man beneath her. With a sound of disgust she stood; he rose to his feet; she raised her wand protectively.
He was quivering with anger. Allie had never seen such rage in a person.
"Get out." she said shakily.
His eyes were so full of hatred they hurt to look at. Allie flinched from his gaze.
He didn't say a word- simply let out one long, hissing breath- then left.
Allie leaned against the wall, sunk to the floor, conjured herself a very hot, very strong cup of Earl Grey, and sipped it slowly.
-three weeks later-
"Is this seat taken?"
Without waiting for an answer, Allie Bagman slid into the seat next to Severus Snape.
"You-" hissed Snape.
"Quiet. Look at Bunt."
Snape glanced at him. "What about him?"
Allie sighed. "He's wearing sunglasses!"
"Oh, is that what those are?" He sounded totally unconcerned.
"Professor, Muggles do not wear sunglasses inside movie theaters! He could give us away!"
"Well, my dear, so could Dumbledore..."
Professor Dumbledore was currently engrossed in the previews, his feet propped onto the front-row seats. He was wearing a very ill-fitting green suit.
"Well- fine." She sat back in her seat.
"Would you mind moving, now that you've shared your little paranoid thought?"
"I would mind. I'm quite comfortable where I am."
"I am asking you to move, Professor."
"And I will not. I've decided we need to apologize to each other for that incident a few weeks ago. You can't avoid me forever, you know."
Snape blanched. He had been going out of his way to stay away from Allie lately. Apparently, it had been noticeable.
"Professor-" Snape began.
He was interrupted by the start of the movie, so loud many of the students screamed.
"Everything is all right, children!" came Dumbledore's voice from the front of the theater. Several Muggle patrons glanced at him, confused.
"Dear God!" Allie said. "By the time this field trip is over we're going to have to Obliviate every Muggle in the theater..."
"It doesn't help that our Professor of Muggle Studies has no idea what he's about." Snape said, glancing at Bunt.
"True." said Allie, noticing that Snape was finally making voluntary conversation with her.
"In fact, I think-" Snape began.
"Excuse me!" came a voice from behind them.
They turned, and were confronted by the harsh face of a Muggle woman with dyed blond hair.
"Could you please quiet down? I am TRYING to watch this movie."
"And I am trying to carry on a conversation." Snape snapped.
"Oh, how touching." she snapped back. "You and your little girlfriend there can just leave the theater and talk."
Allie blushed. "We're not-"
"Come on, Allie," said Snape, grabbing her arm and standing up to lead her out of the theater.
"What are you doing?" Allie hissed.
They were just outside of the theater, in a dark hallway.
"First, let me say I am sorry for what happened." Snape said.
"Well- so am I." stammered Allie. "But why did you pull me out of the theater?"
"Listen carefully, and don't ask questions." Snape said.
Allie was past confused.
"First, you must know something about me- that no one else knows except Dumbledore." He stopped, hesitated, then pulled up one of his sleeves.
Allie gasped. On his white forearm stood the stark brand of a Death Eater. And it was glowing.
"You-" Allie began to scream, but Snape quickly covered her mouth with his hand.
"Listen-to-me!" he hissed into her ear. "I am a spy."
She fiercely tried to wriggle out of his grip.
"No- not for Voldemort! For Dumbledore, you idiot!"
Allie stopped struggling, her eyes wide.
"Yes. A double agent. Now be quiet." He clutched his forearm. "When- when it glows- that means that there's danger of some sort- very close by. Another Death Eater, or even Voldemort himself."
"But- but why? Why here?"
"Your guess is as good as mine." He shook his head. "I need your help- you are very skilled at defense techniques- and we need to be prepared for something to happen-"
"Wait-" Snape could see Allie thinking- her eyes grew wide and frightened. "Perhaps we're more vulnerable here- more vulnerable away from Hogwarts..."
Snape's mark had started burning brightly. Allie and Snape looked at each other in horror.
And suddenly, from inside the theater, there came a bloodcurdling, collective scream.
To be continued... *cackles*