One of the essays, a particularly nasty one about shrinking potions, was for Harry's least favorite teacher, Professor Snape, who would be delighted to have an excuse to give Harry detention for a month.
"Look at Snape!" Ron hissed in Harry’s ear.
Professor Snape, the Potions master, was staring along the staff table at Professor Lupin. It was common knowledge that Snape wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, but even Harry, who hated Snape, was startled at the expression twisting his thin, sallow face. It was beyond anger: it was loathing. Harry knew that expression only too well; it was the look Snape wore every time he set eyes on Harry.
The Boggart in the Wardrobe
"Settle down, settle down," said Professor Snape idly.
Harry and Ron scowled at each other; Snape wouldn’t have said "settle down" if they’d walked in late, he’d have given them detention. But Malfoy had always been able to get away with anything in
Snape’s classes; Snape was head of Slytherin House, and generally favored his own students above all others.
They were making a new potion today, a Shrinking Solution. Malfoy set up his cauldron right next to Harry and Ron, so that they were preparing their ingredients on the same table.
"Sir," Malfoy called, "sir, I’ll need help cutting up these daisy roots, because of my arm__"
"Weasley, cut up Malfoy’s roots for him, said Snape without looking up.
Ron went brick red.
"There’s nothing wrong with your arm," he hissed at Malfoy.
Malfoy smirked across the table.
"Weasley, you head Professor Snape; cut up those roots."
Ron seized his knife, pulled Malfoy’s roots toward him, and began to chop them roughly, so that they were all different sizes.
"Professor," drawled Malfoy. "Weasley’s mutilating my roots, sir."
Snape approached their table, stared down his hooked nose at the roots, then gave Ron an unpleasant smile from beneath his long, greasy black hair.
"Change roots with Malfoy, Weasley."
Ron had spent the last quarter of an hour carefully shredding his own roots into exactly equal pieces.
"Now," said Snape in his most dangerous voice.
Ron shoved his own beautifully cut roots across the table at Malfoy, then took up the knife again.
"And, sir, I’ll need this shrivelfig skinned," said Malfoy, his voice full of malicious laughter.
"Potter, you can skin Malfoy’s shrivelfig," said Snape, giving Harry the look of loathing he always reserved just for him.
A few cauldrons away, Neville was in trouble. Neville regularly went to pieces in Potions lessons; it was his worst subject, and his great fear of Professor Snape made things ten times worse. His potion, which was supposed to be a bright, acid green, had turned__
"Orange, Longbottom," said Snape, ladling some up and allowing it to splash back into the cauldron, so that everyone could see. "Orange. Tell me boy, does anything penetrate that thick skull of
yours? Didn’t you hear me say, quite clearly, that only one rat spleen was needed? Didn’t I state plainly that a dash of leech juice would suffice? What do I have to do to make you understand, Longbottom?"
Neville was pink and trembling. He looked as though he was on the verge of tears.
"Please, sir," said Hermione, "please, I could help Neville put it right__"
"I don’t remember asking you to show off, Miss Granger," said Snape coldly, and Hermione went as pink as Neville. "Longbottom, at the end of this lesson we will feed a few drops of this potion to your toad and see what happens. Perhaps that will encourage you to do it properly."
Snape moved away, leaving Neville breathless with fear.
Crabbe and Goyle laughed openly, watching Neville sweat as he stirred his potion feverishly. Hermione was muttering instructions to him out of the corner of her mouth, so that Snape wouldn’t see.
The end of the lesson in sight, Snape strode over to Neville, who was cowering by his cauldron.
"Everyone gather ‘round," said Snape, his black eyes glittering, "and watch what happens to Longbottom’s toad. If he has managed to produce a Shrinking Solution, it will shrink to a tadpole. If, as I don’t doubt, he has done it wrong, his toad is likely to be poisoned."
The Gryffindors watched fearfully. The Slytherins looked excited. Snape picked up Trevor the toad in his left hand and dipped a small spoon into Neville’s potion, which was now green. He trickled a few drops down Trevor’s throat.
There was a moment of hushed silence, in which Trevor gulped; then there was a small pop, and Trevor the tadpole was wriggling in Snape’s palm.
The Gryffindors burst into applause. Snape, looking sour, pulled a small bottle from the pocket of his robe, poured a few drops on top of Trevor, and he reappeared suddenly, fully grown.
"Five points from Gryffindor," said Snape, which wiped the smiles from every face. "I told you not to help him, Miss Granger. Class dismissed."
Harry, Ron, and Hermione climbed the steps to the entrance hall. Harry was still thinking about what Malfoy had said, while Ron was seething about Snape.
"Five points from Gryffindor because the potion was all right!
The staffroom, a long, paneled room full of old, mismatched chairs, was empty except for one teacher. Professor Snape was sitting in a low armchair, and he looked around as the class filed in. His eyes were glittering and there was a nasty sneer playing around his mouth. As professor Lupin came in and made to close the door behind him, Snape said, "Leave it open, Lupin. I’d rather not witness this."
He got to his feet and strode past the class, his black robes billowing behind him. At the doorway he turned on his heel and said, "Possible no one’s warned you, Lupin, but this class contains Neville Longbottom. I would advise you not to entrust him with anything difficult. Not unless Miss Granger is hissing instructions in his ear.
Neville went scarlet. Harry glared at Snape; it was bad enough that he bullied Neville in his own classes, let alone doing it in front of other teachers.
Professor Lupin had raised his eyebrows.
"I was hoping that Neville would assist me with the first stage of the operation," he said, "and I am sure he will perform it admirably."
Neville’s face went, if possible, even redder. Snape’s lip curled, but he left, shutting the door with a snap.
"Right, Neville," said Professor Lupin. "First things first: what would you say is the thing that frightens you most in the world?’
Neville’s lips moved, but no noise came out.
"Didn’t catch that, Neville, sorry," said Professor Lupin cheerfully.
Neville looked around rather wildly, as though begging someone
to help him, then said, in barely more than a whisper, "Professor Snape."
Nearly everyone laughed, Even Neville grinned apologetically. Professor Lupin, however, looked thoughtful.
Professor Snape…hmmm...Neville, I believe you live with your grandmother?"
"When the Boggart bursts out of this wardrobe, Neville, and sees you, it will assume the form of Professor Snape," said Lupin. "And you will raise your wand ___thus___and cry ‘Riddikulus’___and concentrate hard on your grandmother’s clothes. If all goes well, Professor Boggart Snape will be forced into the vulture-topped hat, and that green dress, with that big red handbag".
A jet of sparks shot from the end of Professor Lupin’s wand and hit the doorknob. The wardrobe burst open. Hook-nosed and menacing, Professor Snape stepped out, his eyes flashing at Neville.
Neville backed away, his wand up, mouthing wordlessly. Snape was bearing down upon him, reaching inside his robes.
"R___r___riddikulus!" squeaked Neville.
There was a noise like a whip crack. Snape stumbled; he was wearing a long, lace-trimmed dress and a towering hat topped with a moth-eaten vulture, and he was swinging a hug crimson handbag..
There was a roar of laughter; the Boggart paused, confused, and Professor Lupin shouted, "Parvati! Forward!"
Parvati walked forward, her face set. Snape rounded on her. There was another crack, and where he had stood was a blood-stained, bandaged mummy…
"Forward, Neville, and finish him off!" said Lupin as the Boggart landed on the floor as a cockroach. Crack! Snape was back. This time Neville charged forward looking determined.
"Riddikulus!" he shouted, and they had a split second’s view of Snape in his lacy dress before Neville let out a great "Ha" of laughter, and the Boggart exploded, burst into tiny wisps of smoke, and was gone.
Flight of the Fat Lady
Worst of all was Potions. Snape was in a particularly vindictive mood these days, and no one was in any doubt why. The story of the boggart assuming Snape's shape, and the way that Neville had dressed it in his grandmother's clothes, had traveled through the school like wildfire. Snape didn't seem to find it funny. His eyes flashed menacingly at the very mention of Professor Lupin's name, and he was bullying Neville worse than ever.
The door opened, and in came Snape. He was carrying a goblet, which was smoking faintly, and stopped at the sight of Harry, his black eyes narrowing.
"Ah, Severus," said Lupin, smiling. "Thanks very much. Could you leave it here on the desk for me?"
Snape set down the smoking goblet, his eyes wandering between Harry and Lupin.
"I was just showing Harry my grindylow," said Lupin pleasantly, pointing at the tank.
"Fascinating," said Snape, without looking at it. "You should drink that directly, Lupin."
"Yes, yes, I will," said Lupin.
"I made an entire cauldronful," Snape continued. "If you need more."
"I should probably take some again tomorrow. Thanks very much, Severus."
"Not at all," said Snape, but there was a look in his eye Harry didn’t like. He backed out of the room, unsmiling and watchful.
Harry looked curiously at the goblet. Lupin smiled.
"Professor Snape has very kindly concocted a potion for me," he
said. "I have never been much of a potion-brewer and this one is particularly complex." He picked up the goblet and sniffed it. "Pity sugar makes it useless," he added, taking a sip and shuddering.
"Why__?" Harry began. Lupin looked at him and answered the unfinished question.
"I’ve been feeling a bit off-color," he said. "This potion is the only thing that helps. I am very lucky to be working alongside Professor Snape; there aren’t many wizards who are up to making it."
Professor Lupin took another sip and Harry had a crazy urge to knock the goblet out of his hands.
"Professor Snape’s very interested in the Dark Arts," he blurted out.
"Really?" said Lupin, looking only mildly interested as he took another gulp of potion.
"Some people reckon__" Harry hesitated, then plunged recklessly on, "some people reckon he’d do anything to get the Defense Against the Dark Arts job."
Lupin drained the goblet and pulled a face.
"Disgusting," he said. "Well, Harry, I’d better get back to work. I’ll see you at the feast later."
They hurried through the portrait hole and into the crowd, still discussing Snape.
"But if he __ you know" __ Hermione dropped her voice, glancing nervously around __ "if he was trying to __ to poison Lupin __ he wouldn’t have done it in front of Harry."
"Yeah, maybe," said Harry as they reached the entrance hall and
crossed the Great Hall.
Harry moved his eyes along the table, to the place where Snape sat. Was he imagining it, or were Snape’s eyes flickering toward Lupin more often than was natural?
Dumbledore took one quick look at the ruined painting and turned, his eyes somber, to see Professors McGonagall, Lupin, and Snape hurrying toward him.
Harry heard the door of the hall creak open again, and more footsteps.
"Headmaster?" It was Snape. Harry kept quite still, listening hard. "The whole of the third floor has been searched. "He’s not there. And Filch has done the dungeons; nothing there either."
"What about the Astronomy tower? Professor Trelawney’s room? The Owlery?"
"Very well, Severus. I didn’t really expect Black to linger."
"Have you any theory as to how he got in, Professor?" asked Snape.
Harry raised his head very slightly off his arms to free his other ear.
"Many, Severus, each of them as unlikely as the next."
Harry opened his eyes a fraction and squinted up to where they stood; Dumbledore’s back was to him, but he could see Percy’s face, rapt with attention, and Snape’s profile, which looked angry.
"You remember the conversation we had, Headmaster, just
before __ ah __ the start of term?" said Snape, who was barely opening his lips as though trying to block Percy out of the conversation.
"I do, Severus," said Dumbledore, and there was something like warning in his voice.
"It seems __ almost impossible __ that Black could have entered the school without inside help. I did express my concerns when you appointed __"
"I do not believe a single person inside this castle would have helped Black enter it," said Dumbledore, and his tone made it so clear that the subject was closed that Snape didn’t reply. "I must go down to the dementors," said Dumbledore. "I said I would inform them when our search was complete."
Dumbledore left the hall, walking quickly and quietly. Snape stood for a moment, watching the headmaster and with an expression of deep resentment on his face; then he too left.
But it wasn’t Professor Lupin who looked up at him from the teacher’s desk; it was Snape.
"This lesson began ten minutes ago, Potter, so I think we’ll make it ten points from Gryffindor. Sit down."
But Harry didn’t move.
"Where’s Professor Lupin?" he said.
"He says he is feeling too ill to teach today," said Snape with a twisted smile. "I believe I told you to sit down?"
"What’s wrong with him?"
Snape’s black eyes glittered.
"Nothing life-threatening," he said, looking as though he wished it were. "Five more points from Gryffindor, and if I have to ask you to sit down again, it will be fifty."
Harry walked slowly to his seat and sat down. Snape looked around at the class.
"As I was saying before Potter interrupted, Professor Lupin has not left any record of the topics you have covered so far __"
"Please, sir, we’ve done boggarts, Red Caps, kappas, and grindylows," said Hermione quickly, "and we’re just about to start __"
"Be quiet," said Snape coldly. "I did not ask for information. I was merely commenting on Professor Lupin’s lack of organization."
"He’s the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we’ve ever had," said Dean Thomas boldly, and there was a murmur of agree-
ment from the rest of the class. Snape looked more menacing than ever.
"You are easily satisfied. Lupin is hardly overtaxing you __ I would expect first years to be able to deal with Red Caps and grindylows. Today we shall discuss __"
Harry watched him flick through the textbook, to the very back chapter, which he must know they hadn’t covered.
"__ werewolves," said Snape.
"But, sir," said Hermione, seemingly unable to restrain herself, "we’re not supposed to do werewolves yet, we’re due to start hinkypunks __"
"Miss Granger," said Snape in a voice of deadly calm, "I was under the impression that I am teaching this lesson, not you. And I am telling you all to turn to page 394." He glanced around again. "All of you! Now!"
With many bitter sidelong looks and some sullen muttering, the class opened their books.
"Which of you can tell me how we distinguish between the werewolf and the true wolf?" said Snape.
Everyone sat in motionless silence; everyone except Hermione, whose hand, as it so often did, had shot straight into the air.
"Anyone?" Snape said, ignoring Hermione. His twisted smile was back. "Are you telling me that Professor Lupin hasn’t even taught you the basic distinction between __"
"We told you," said Parvati suddenly, "we haven’t got as far as werewolves yet, we’re still on __"
"Silence!" snarled Snape. "Well, well, well, I never thought I’d meet a their-year class who wouldn’t even recognize a werewolf
when they saw one. I shall make a point of informing Professor Dumbledore how very behind you all are…"
"Please, sir" said Hermione, whose hand was still in the air, "the werewolf differs from the true wolf in several small ways. The snout of the werewolf __"
"That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger," said Snape coolly. "Five more points from Gryffindor being an insufferable know-it-all."
Hermione went very red, put down her hand, and stared at the floor with her eyes full of tears. It was a mark of how much the class loathed Snape that they were all glaring at him, because every one of them had called Hermione a know-it-all at least once, and Ron, who told Hermione she was a know-it-all at least twice a week, said loudly, "You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don’t want to be told?"
The class knew instantly he’d gone too far. Snape advanced on Ron slowly, and the room held its breath.
"Detention, Weasley," Snape said silkily, his face very close to Ron’s. "And if I every hear you criticize the way I teach a class again, you will be very sorry indeed."
No one made a sound throughout the rest of the lesson. They sat and made notes on werewolves from the textbook, while Snape prowled up and down the rows of desks, examining the work they had been doing with Professor Lupin.
"Very poorly explained…That is incorrect, the kappa is more commonly found in Mongolia…Professor Lupin gave this eight out of ten? I wouldn’t have given it three…"
When the bell rang at last, Snape held them back.
"You will each write an essay, to be handed in to me, on the ways you recognize and kill werewolves. I want two rolls of parchment on the subject, and I want them by Monday morning. It is time somebody took this class in hand. Weasley, stay behind, we need to arrange your detention."
Harry and Hermione left the room with the rest of the class, who waited until they were well out of earshot, then burst into a furious tirade about Snape.
"Snape’s never been like this with any of our other Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, even if he did want the job," Harry said to Hermione. "Why’s he got it in for Lupin? D’you think this is all because of the Boggart?"
"I don’t know," said Hermione pensively. "But I really hope Professor Lupin gets better soon…"
Ron caught up with them five minutes later, in a towering rage.
"D’you know what that __" (He called Snape something that made Hermione say "Ron!) "__ is making me do? I’ve got to scrub out the bedpans in the hospital wing. Without magic!" He was breathing deeply, his fists clenched. "Why couldn’t Black have hidden in Snape’s office, eh? He could have finished him off for us!
The Marauder's Map
Malfoy spent much of their next Potions class doing dementor imitations across the dungeon; Ron finally cracked and flung a large, slippery crocodile heart at Malfoy, which hit him in the face and caused Snape to take fifty points from Gryffindor.
"If Snape’s teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts again, I’m skiving off," said Ron as he headed toward Lupin’s classroom after lunch. "Check who’s in there, Hermione."
…nevertheless, he smiled at the class as they took their seats, and they burst at once into an explosion of complaints about Snape’s behavior while Lupin had been ill.
"It’s not fair, he was only filling in, why should he give us homework?"
"We don’t know anything about werewolves __"
"__ two rolls of parchment!"
"Did you tell Professor Snape we haven’t covered them yet?" Lupin asked, frowning slightly.
The babble broke out again.
"Yes, but he said we were really behind __"
"__ he wouldn’t listen __"
"__ two rolls of parchment!"
Professor Lupin smiled at the look of indignation on every face. "Don’t worry. I’ll speak to Professor Snape. You don’t have to do the essay."
"Oh no," said Hermione, looking very disappointed. "I've already finished it!"
Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, Sprout, and Flitwick were there, along with Filch, the caretaker…
"Crackers!" said Dumbledore enthusiastically, offering the end of a large silver noisemaker to Snape, who took it reluctantly and tugged. With a band like a gunshot, the cracker flew apart to reveal a large, pointed witch’s hat topped with a stuffed vulture.
Harry, remembering the boggart, caught Ron’s eye and they both grinned; Snape’s mouth thinned and he pushed the hat toward Dumbledore, who swapped it for his wizard’s hat at once.
And he did indeed draw a chair in midair with his wand, which revolved for a few seconds before falling with a thud between Professors Snape and McGonagall.
"I doubt," said Dumbledore, in a cheerful but slightly raised voice, which put an end to Professor McGonagall and Professor Trelawney’s conversation, "that Professor Lupin is in any immediate danger. Severus, you’ve made the potion for him again?"
"Yes, Headmaster," said Snape.
"How’s she doing it?" Ron muttered to Harry one evening as Harry sat finishing a nasty essay on Undetectable Poisons for Snape.
Harry didn’t have time to fathom the mystery of Hermione’s impossible schedule at the moment; he really needed to get on with Snape’s essay.
And Potter __ do try and win, won’t you? Or we’ll be out of the running for the eighth year in a row, as Professor Snape was kind enough to remind me only last night…"
It was Snape. Neville took a quick step behind Harry.
"And what are you two doing here?" said Snape, coming to a halt and looking from one to the other. "An odd place to meet __"
To Harry’s immense disquiet, Snape’s black eyes flicked to the doorways on either side of them, and then to the one-eyed witch.
"We’re not __ meeting here," said Harry. "We just __ met here."
"Indeed?" said Snape. "You have a habit of turning up in unexpected places, Potter, and you are very rarely there for no good reason…I suggest the pair of you return to Gryffindor Tower, where you belong."
Harry and Neville set off without another word. As they turned the corner, Harry looked back. Snape was running one of his hands over the one-eyed witch’s head, examining it closely.
Harry scanned the map carefully and saw, with a leap of relief, that the tiny dot labeled Severus Snape was now back in it’s office.
...and just as Harry jumped out from behind the statue, he heard quick footsteps approaching.
It was Snape. He approached Harry at a swift walk, his black robes swishing, then stopped in front of him.
"So," he said.
There was a look of suppressed triumph about him. Harry tried to look innocent, all too aware of his sweaty face and his muddy hands, which he quickly hid in his pockets.
"Come with me, Potter," said Snape.
Harry followed him downstairs, trying to wipe his hands clean on the inside of his robes without Snape noticing. They walked down the stairs to the dungeons and then into Snape’s office.
Harry had been in here only once before, and he had been in very serious trouble then too. Snape had acquired a few more slimy horrible things in jars since last time, all standing on shelves behind his desk, glinting in the firelight and adding to the threatening atmosphere.
"Sit," said Snape.
Harry sat. Snape, however, remained standing.
"Mr. Malfoy has just been to see me with a strange story, Potter," said Snape.
Harry didn’t say anything.
"He tells me that he was up by the Shrieking Shack when he ran into Weasley __ apparently alone."
Still, Harry didn’t speak.
"Mr. Malfoy states that he was standing talking to Weasley, when a large amount of mud hit him in the back of the head. How do you think that could have happened?"
Harry tried to look mildly surprised.
"I don’t know, Professor."
Snape’s eyes were boring into Harry’s. It was exactly like trying to stare down a hippogriff. Harry tried hard not to blink.
"Mr. Malfoy then saw an extraordinary apparition. Can you imagine what it might have been, Potter?"
"No," said Harry, now trying to sound innocently curious.
"It was your head, Potter Floating in midair."
There was a long silence.
"Maybe he’d better go to Madam Pomfrey," said Harry. "If he’s seeing things like __"
"What would your head have been doing in Hogsmeade, Potter?" said Snape softly. "Your head is not allowed in Hogsmeade. No part of your body has permission to be in Hogsmeade."
"I know that," said Harry, striving to keep his face free of guilt or fear. "It sounds like Malfoy’s having halluncin __"
"Malfoy is not have hallucinations," snarled Snape, and he bent down, a hand on each arm of Harry’s chair, so that their faces were a foot apart. "If your head was in Hogsmeade, so was the rest of you."
"I’ve been up in Gryffindor tower, " said Harry. "Like you told __"
"Can anyone confirm that?"
Harry didn’t say anything. Snape’s thin mouth curled into a horrible smile.
"So," he said straightening up again. "Everyone from the Minister of Magic downward has been trying to keep famous Harry Potter safe from Sirius Black. But famous Harry Potter is a law unto himself. Let the ordinary people worry about his safety! Famous Harry Potter goes where he wants to, with no thought for the consequences."
Harry stayed silent. Snape was trying to provoke him into telling the truth. He wasn’t going to do it. Snape had no proof __ yet.
"How extraordinarily like your father you are, Potter," Snape said suddenly, his eyes glinting. "He too was exceedingly arrogant. A small amount of talent on the Quidditch field made him think he was a cut above the rest of us too. Strutting around the place with his friends and admires…The resemblance between you is uncanny."
"My dad didn’t strut," said Harry, before he could stop himself. "And neither do I."
"Your father didn’t set much store by rules either," Snape went on, pressing his advantage, his thin face full of malice. "Rules were for lesser mortals, not Quidditch Cup-winners. His head was so swollen __"
Harry was suddenly on his feet. Rage such as he had not felt since his last night in Privet Drive was coursing through him. He didn’t care that Snape’s face had gone rigid, the black eyes flashing dangerously.
"What did you say to me, Potter?"
I told you to shut up about my dad! Harry yelled. "I know the truth, all right? He saved your life! Dumbledore told me! You wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for my dad!"
Snape’s sallow skin had gone the color of sour milk.
"And did the headmaster tell you the circumstances in which your father saved my life?" he whispered. "Or did he consider the details too unpleasant for precious Potter’s delicate ears?"
Harry bit his lip. He didn’t know what had happened and didn’t want to admit it __ but Snape seemed to have guessed the truth.
"I would hate for you to run away with a false idea of your father, Potter," he said, a terrible grin twisting his face. "Have you been imagining some act of glorious heroism? Then let me correct you __ your saintly father and his friends played a highly amusing joke on me that would have resulted in my death if your father hadn’t got cold feet at the last moment. There was nothing brave about what he did. He was saving his own skin as much as mine. Had their joke succeeded, he would have been expelled from Hogwarts."
Snape’s uneven, yellowish teeth were bared.
"Turn out your pockets, Potter!" he spat suddenly.
Harry didn’t move. There was a pounding in his ears.
"Turn out your pockets, or we go straight to the headmaster! Pull them out, Potter!"
Cold with dread, Harry slowly pulled out the bag of Zonko’s tricks and the Marauder’s Map.
Snape picked up the Zonko’s bag.
"Ron gave them to me," said Harry, praying he’d get a chance to
tip Ron off before Snape saw him. "He __ brought them back from Hogsmeade last time __"
"Indeed? And you’ve been carrying them around ever since? How very touching...and what is this?"
Snape had picked up the map. Harry tried with all his might to keep his face impassive.
"Spare bit of parchment," he said with a shrug.
Snape turned it over, his eyes on Harry.
"Surely you don’t need such a very old piece of parchment?" he said. "Why don’t I just __ throw this away?"
His hand moved toward the fire.
"No!" Harry said quickly.
"So!" said Snape, his long nostrils quivering. "Is this another treasured gift from Mr. Weasley? Or is it __ something else? A letter, perhaps written in invisible ink? Or __ instructions to get into Hogsmeade without passing the dementors?"
Harry blinked. Snape’s eyes gleamed.
"Let me see, let me see..," he muttered, taking out his wand and smoothing the map out on his desk. "Reveal your secret!" he said, touching the wand to the parchment.
Nothing happened. Harry clenched his hands to stop them from shaking. "Show yourself!" Snape said, tapping the map sharply.
It stayed blank. Harry was taking deep, calming breaths.
"Professor Severus Snape, master of this school, commands you to yield the information you conceal!" Snape said, hitting the map with his wand.
As though an invisible hand were writing upon it, words appeared on the smooth surface of the map.
"Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business."
Snape froze. Harry stared, dumbstruck, at the message. But the map didn’t stop there. More writing was appearing beneath the first.
"Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git."
It would have been very funny if the situation hadn’t been so serious. And there was more…
"Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor."
Harry closed his eyes in horror. When he’d opened them, the map had had it’s last word.
"Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball."
Harry waited for the blow to fall.
"So…," said Snape softly. "We’ll see about this…"
He strode across to his fire, seized a fistful of glittering powder from a jar on the fireplace, and threw it into the flames.
"Lupin!" Snape called into the fire. "I want a word!"
Utterly bewildered, Harry stared at the fire. A large shape had appeared in it, revolving very fast. Seconds later, Professor Lupin was clambering out of the fireplace, brushing ash off his shabby robes.
"You called, Severus?" said Lupin mildly.
"I certainly did," said Snape, his face contorted with fury as he strode back to his desk. "I have just asked Potter to empty his pockets. He was carrying this."
Snape pointed at the parchment, on which the words of Messrs.
Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs were still shining. An odd, closed expression appeared on Lupin’s face.
"Well?" said Snape.
Lupin continued to stare at the map. Harry had the impression that Lupin was doing some very quick thinking.
"Well?" said Snape again. "This parchment is plainly full of Dark Magic. This is supposed to be your area of expertise, Lupin. Where do you imagine Potter got such a thing?"
Lupin looked up and, by the merest half-glance in Harry’s direction, warned him not to interrupt.
"Full of Dark Magic?" he repeated mildly. "Do you really think so, Severus? It looks to me as though it is merely a piece of parchment that insults anybody who reads it. Childish, but surely not dangerous? I imagine Harry got it from a joke shop __"
"Indeed?" said Snape. His jaw had gone rigid with anger. "You think a joke shop could supply him with such a thing? You don’t think it more likely that he got it directly from the manufacturers?"
Harry didn’t understand what Snape was talking about. Nor, apparently, did Lupin.
"You mean, by Mr. Wormtail or one of these people?" he said. "Harry, do you know any of these men?"
"No," said Harry quickly.
"You see, Severus?" said Lupin, turning back to Snape. "It looks like a Zonko product to me __"
Right on cue, Ron came bursting into the office. He was completely out of breath, and stopped just short of Snape’s desk, clutching the stitch in his chest and trying to speak.
"I __ gave __ Harry __ that __ stuff," he choked. "Bought __ it…in Zonko’s…ages __ ago…"
"Well!" said Lupin, clapping his hands together and looking around cheerfully. "That seems to clear that up! Severus, I’ll take this back, shall I?" He folded the map and tucked it inside his robes. "Harry, Ron, come with me, I need a word about my vampire essay __ excuse us, Severus __"
Harry didn’t dare look at Snape as they left his office.
"Why did Snape think I’d got if from the manufacturers?"
"Because...," Lupin hesitated, "because these mapmakers would have wanted to lure you out of school. They'd think it extremely entertaining."
"Do you know them?" said Harry, impresed.
"We've met," he said shortly. He was looking at Harry more seriously than ever before.
He walked away, leaving Harry feeling worse by far than he had at any point in Snape’s office.
The Quidditch Final
Behind the Slytherin goal posts, however, two hundred people were wearing green; the silver serpent of Slytherin glittered on their flags, and Professor Snape sat in the very front row, wearing green like everyone else, and a very grim smile.
Professor Trelawney's Prediction
They had Potions that afternoon, which was an unqualified disaster. Try as Harry might, he couldn’t get his Confusing Concoction to thicken, and Snape, standing watch with an air of vindictive pleasure, scribbled something that looked suspiciously like a zero onto his notes before moving away.
"…if Snape sees me anywhere near there again, I’m in serious trouble," he finished.
Cat, Rat and Dog
Lupin stopped dead. Then, with an obvious effort, he turned to Hermione and said, "How long have you known?"
"Ages," Hermione whispered. "since I did Professor Snape’s essay…"
"He’ll be delighted, said Lupin coolly. "He assigned that essay hoping someone would realize what my symptoms meant…
Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
"The potion that Professor Snape has been making for me is a very recent discovery.
…so, in a way, Snape’s been right about me all along."
"Snape?" said Black harshly, taking his eyes off Scabbers for the first time in minutes and looking up at Lupin. "what’s Snape got to do with it?"
"He’s here, Sirius," said Lupin heavily. "He’s teaching here as well." He looked up at Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
"Professor Snape was at school with us. He fought very hard against my appointment to the Defense Against the Dark Arts job. He has been telling Dumbledore all year that I am not to be trusted. He has his reasons…you see, Sirius here played a trick on him which nearly killed him, a trick which involved me __"
Black made a derisive noise.
"It served him right," he sneered. "Sneaking around, trying to find out what we were up to…hoping he could get us expelled…"
"Severus was very interested in where I went every month." Lupin told Harry, Ron, and Hermione. "We were in the same year, you know, and we __ er __ didn’t like each other very much. He especially disliked James. Jealous, I think, of James’s talent on the Quidditch field…anyway Snape had seen me crossing the grounds with Madam Pomfrey one evening as she led me toward the Whomping Willow to transform. Sirius thought it would be __ er __ amusing, to tell Snape all he had to do was prod the knot on the tree trunk with a long stick, and he’d be able to get in after me. Well, of course, Snape tried it __ but your father, who’d heard what Sirius had done, went after Snape and pulled him back, at great risk to his life…Snape glimpsed me, though, at the end of the tunnel. He was forbidden by Dumbledore to tell anybody, but from that time on he knew what I was…"
"So that’s why Snape doesn’t like you," said Harry slowly, "because he thought you were in on the joke?"
"That’s right," sneered a cold voice from the wall behind Lupin.
Severus Snape was pulling off the Invisibility Cloak, his wand pointing directly at Lupin.
The Servant of Lord Voldemort
Hermione screamed. Black leapt to his feet. Harry felt as though he'd received a huge electric shock.
"I found this at the base of the Whomping Willow," said Snape, throwing the cloak aside, careful to keep his wand pointing directly at Lupin’s chest. "Very useful, Potter, I thank you…"
Snape was slightly breathless, but his face was full of suppressed triumph. "You’re wondering, perhaps, how I knew you were here?" he said, his eye glittering. "I’ve just been to your office, Lupin. You forgot to take your potion tonight, so I took a gobletful along. And very lucky I did…lucky for me, I mean. Lying on your desk was a certain map. One glance at it told me all I needed to know. I saw you running along this passageway and out of sight."
"Severus __" Lupin began, but Snape overrode him.
"I’ve told the headmaster again and again that you’re helping your old friend black into the castle, Lupin, and here’s the proof.
Not even I dreamed you would have the nerve to use this old place as your hideout __"
"Severus, you’re making a mistake," said Lupin urgently. "You haven’t heard everything __ I can explain __ Sirius is not here to kill Harry __"
"Two more for Azkaban tonight," said Snape, his eyes now gleaming fanatically. "I shall be interested to see how Dumbledore takes this…He was quite convinced you were harmless, you know, Lupin…a tame werewolf __"
"You fool," said Lupin softly. "Is a schoolboy grudge worth putting an innocent man back inside Azkaban?"
BANG! Thin, snakelike cords burst from the end of Snape’s wand and twisted themselves around Lupin’s mouth, wrists, and ankles; he overbalanced and fell to the floor, unable to move. With a roar of rage, Black started toward Snape, but Snape pointed his wand straight between Black’s eyes.
"Give me a reason," he whispered. "Give me a reason to do it, and I swear I will."
Black stopped dead. It would have been impossible to say which face showed more hatred.
Harry stood there, paralyzed, not knowing what to do or whom to believe. He glanced around at Ron and Hermione. Ron looked just as confused as he did, still fighting to keep hold on the struggling Scabbers. Hermione, however, took an uncertain step toward Snape and said, in a very breathless voice, "Professor Snape __ it __ it wouldn’t hurt to hear what they’ve got to say, w __ would it?"
"Miss Granger, you are already facing suspension from this school," Snape spat. "You, Potter, and Weasley are out-of-bounds,
in the company of a convicted murderer and a werewolf. For once in your life, hold your tongue."
"But if __ if there was a mistake __"
"KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL!" Snape shouted, looking suddenly quite deranged. "DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON"T UNDERSTAND!" A few sparks shot out of the end of his wand, which was still pointed at Black’s face. Hermione feel silent.
"Vengeance is very sweet," Snape breathed at Black. "How I hoped I would be the one to catch you…"
"The joke’s on you again, Severus," Black snarled. "As long as this boy brings his rat up to the castle" __ he jerked his head at Ron __ "I’ll come quietly…"
"Up to the castle?" said Snape silkily. "I don’t think we need to go that far. All I have to do is call the dementors once we get out of the Willow. They’ll be very pleased to see you, Black…pleased enough to give you a little kiss, I daresay…"
What little color there was in Black’s face left it.
"You __ you’ve got to hear me out," he croaked. "The rat __ look at the rat __"
But there was a mad glint in Snape’s eyes that Harry had never seen before. He seemed beyond reason.
"Come on, all of you," he said. He clicked his fingers, and the ends of the cords that bound Lupin flew to his hands. "I’ll drag the werewolf. Perhaps the dementors will have a kiss for him too __"
Before he knew what he was doing, Harry had crossed the room in three strides and blocked the door.
"Get out of the way, Potter, you’re in enough trouble already," snarled Snape. "If I hadn’t been here to save your skin __"
"Professor Lupin could have killed me about a hundred times this year," Harry said. "I’ve been alone with him loads of times, having defense lessons against the dementors. If he was helping Black, why didn’t he just finish me off then?"
"Don’t ask me to fathom the way a werewolf’s mind works," hissed Snape. "Get out of the way, Potter."
"YOU’RE PATHETIC!" Harry yelled. "JUST BECAUSE THEY MADE A FOOL OF
YOU AT SCHOOL YOU WON’T EVEN LISTEN __"
"SILENCE!" I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO LIKE THAT!" Snape shrieked, looking madder than ever. "Like father, like son, Potter! I have just saved your neck; you should be thanking me on bended knee! You would have been well served if he’d killed you! You’d have died like your father, too arrogant to believe you might be mistaken in Black __ now get out of the way, or I will make you. GET OUT OF THE WAY, POTTER!"
Harry made up his mind in a split second. Before Snape could take even one step toward him, he had raised his wand.
"Expelliarmus! He yelled __ except that his wasn’t the only voice that shouted. There was a blast that made the door rattle on its hinges; Snape was lifted off his feet and slammed into the wall, then slid down it to the floor, a trickle of blood oozing from under his hair. He had been knocked out.
Harry looked around. Both Ron and Hermione had tried to disarm Snape at exactly the same moment. Snape’s wand soared in a high arc and landed on the bed next to Crookshanks.
"You shouldn’t have done that," said Black, looking at Harry. "You should have left him to me…"
Harry avoided Black’s eyes. He wasn’t sure, even now, that he’d done the right thing.
"We attacked a teacher…We attacked a teacher…," Hermione whimpered, staring at the lifeless Snape with frightened eyes. "Oh, we’re going to be in so much trouble __"
"Then I should’ve let Snape take you!" Harry shouted.
Black had already retrieved Snape’s wand from the bed.
"What about Professor Snape?" said Hermione in a small voice, looking down at Snape’s prone figure.
"There’s nothing seriously wrong with him," said Lupin, bending over Snape and checking his pulse. "You were just a little __ overenthusiastic. Still out cold. Er __ perhaps it will be best if we don’t revive him until we’re safely back in the castle. We can take him like this…"
He muttered, "Mobilicorpus." As though invisible strings were tied to Snape’s wrists, neck, and knees, he was pulled into a standing position, head still lolling unpleasantly, like a grotesque puppet. He hung a few inches about the ground, his limp feet dangling. Lupin picked up the Invisibility Cloak and tucked it safely into his pocket.
The Dementor's Kiss
Next came Professor Snape, drifting creepily along, his toes hitting each stair as they descended, helped up by his own wand, which was being pointed at him by Sirius.
Black turned right around to look at him; Snape’s head was scraping the ceiling but black didn’t seem to care.
Black saw Snape up through the hole, then stood back for Harry and Hermione to pass. At last, all of them were out.
Silently they tramped through the grounds, the castle lights growing slowly larger. Snape was still drifting weirdly ahead of Black, his chin bumping on his chest. And then __
A cloud shifted. There were suddenly dim shadows on the ground. Their party was bathed in moonlight.
Snape collided with Lupin, Pettigrew, and Ron, who had stopped abruptly.
Harry looked desperately around. Black and Lupin both gone…they had no one but Snape for company, still hanging, unconscious, in midair.
Shocking business…shocking…miracle none of them died…never heard the like…by thunder, it was lucky you were there, Snape…"
"Thank you, Minister."
"Order of Merlin, Second Class, I’d say. First Class, if I can wangle it!"
"Thank you very much indeed, Minister."
"Nasty cut you’ve got there…Black’s work, I suppose?"
"As a matter of fact, it was Potter, Weasley, and Granger, Minister…"
"Black had bewitched them, I saw it immediately. A Confundus Charm, to judge by their behavior. They seemed to think there was a possibility he was innocent. They weren’t responsible for their actions. On the other hand, their interference might have permitted
Black to escape…They obviously thought they were going to catch Black single-handed. They’ve got away with a great deal before now…I’m afraid it’s given them a rather high opinion of themselves…and of course Potter has always been allowed an extraordinary amount of license by the headmaster __"
"Ah, well, Snape…Harry Potter, you know…we’ve all got a bit of a blind spot where he’s concerned."
"And yet __ is it good for him to be given so much special treatment? Personally, I try and treat him like any other student. And any other student would be suspended __ at the very least __ for leading his friends into such danger. Consider, Minister __ against all school rules __ after all the precautions put in place for his protection __ out-of-bounds, at night, consorting with a werewolf and a murderer __ and I have reason to believe he has been visiting Hogsmeade illegally too __"
"Well, well…we shall see, Snape, we shall see…The boy has undoubtedly been foolish…"
"What amazes me most is the behavior of the dementors…you’ve really no idea what made them retreat, Snape?"
"No, Minister…by the time I had come round they were heading back to their positions at the entrances…"
"Extraordinary. And yet Black, and Harry, and the girl __"
"All unconscious by the time I reached them. I bound and
gagged Black, naturally, conjured stretchers, and brought them all straight back to the castle."
It was ajar, and the voices of Cornelius Fudge and Snape were coming through it from the corridor outside.
Cornelius Fudge and Snape had entered the ward.
"You see, Minister?" said Snape. "Confunded, both of them…Black’s done a very good job on them…"
"I suppose he’s told you the same fairy tale he’s planted in Potter’s mind?" spat Snape. "Something about a rat, and Pettigrew being alive __"
"That, indeed, is Black’s story," said Dumbledore, surveying Snape closely through his half-moon spectacles.
"And does my evidence count for nothing?" snarled Snape. "Peter Pettigrew was not in the Shrieking Shack, nor did I see any sign of him on the grounds."
"That was because you were knocked out, Professor!" said Hermione earnestly. "You didn’t arrive in time to hear __"
"Miss Granger, HOLD YOUR TONGUE!"
"Now, Snape," said Fudge, startled, "the young lady is disturbed in her mind, we must make allowances __"
"I would like to speak to Harry and Hermione alone," said Dumbledore abruptly. "Cornelius, Severus, Poppy __ please leave us."
He crossed to the door and held it open for Snape, but Snape hadn’t moved.
"You surely don’t believe a word of Black’s story?" Snape whispered, his eyes fixed on Dumbledore’s face.
"I wish to speak to Harry and Hermione alone," Dumbledore repeated.
Snape took a step toward Dumbledore.
"Sirius Black showed he was capable of murder at the age of sixteen," he breathed. "You haven’t forgotten that, Headmaster? You haven’t forgotten that he once tried to kill me?"
"My memory is as good as it ever was, Severus," said Dumbledore quietly.
Snape turned on his heel and marched through the door Fudge was still holding.
"Listen to me, Harry. It is too late, you understand me? You must see that Professor Snape’s version of events is far more convincing that yours."
"He hates Sirius," Hermione said desperately. "All because of some stupid trick Sirius played on him __"
"If I just dashed out now and grabbed it, Snape’d never be able to get it and __"
Barely two minutes later, the castle doors flew open yet again, and Snape came charging out of the, running toward the Willow.
Harry’s fists clenched as they watched Snape skid to a halt next to the tree, looking around. He grabbed the cloak and held it up.
"Get your filthy hands off it," Harry snarled under his breath.
Snape seized the branch Lupin had used to freeze the tree, prodded the knot, and vanished from view as he put on the cloak.
then came Hermione…then the unconscious Snape, drifting weirdly upward.
"I don’t know __ Harry, look at Snape!"
Together they peered around the bush at the other bank. Snape had regained consciousness. He was conjuring stretchers and lifting the limp forms of Harry, Hermione, and Black onto them. A fourth stretcher, no doubt bearing Ron, was already floating at his side. Then, wand held out in front of him, he moved them away toward the castle.
Owl Post Again
They flattened themselves against the wall and listened. It sounded like Fudge and Snape. They were walking quickly along the corridor at the foot of the staircase.
"…only hope Dumbledore’s not going to make difficulties," Snape was saying. "The Kiss will be performed immediately?"
"As soon as Macnair returns with the dementors. This whole Black affair has been highly embarrassing. I can’t tell you how
much I’m looking forward to informing the Daily Prophet that we’ve got him at last…I daresay they’ll want to interview you, Snape…and once young Harry’s back in his right mind, I expect he’ll want to tell the Prophet exactly how you saved him…"
Harry clenched his teeth. He caught a glimpse of Snape’s smirk as he and Fudge passed Harry and Hermione’s hiding place. Their footsteps died away.
"He must have Disapparated, Severus. We should have left somebody in the room with him. When this gets out __"
"HE DIDN’T DISAPPARATE!" Snape roared, now very close at hand. "YOU CAN’T APPARATE OR DISAPPARATE INSIDE THIS CASTLE! THIS __ HAS __ SOMETHING __ TO __ DO __ WITH __ POTTER!"
"Severus __ be reasonable __ Harry has been locked up __"
The door of the hospital wing burst open.
Fudge, Snape, and Dumbledore came striding into the ward. Dumbledore alone looked calm. Indeed, he looked as though he was quite enjoying himself. Fudge appeared angry. But Snape was beside himself.
"OUT WITH IT, POTTER!" he bellowed. "WHAT DID YOU DO?"
"Professor Snape!" shrieked Madam Pomfrey. "Control yourself!"
"See here, Snape, be reasonable," said Fudge. This doors’s been locked, we just saw __"
"THEY HELPED HIM ESCAPE, I KNOW IT!" Snape howled, pointing at Harry and Hermione. His face was twisted; spit was flying from his mouth.
"Calm down, man!" Fudge barked. "You’re talking nonsense!"
"YOU DON’T KNOW POTTER!" shrieked Snape. "HE DID IT, I KNOW HE DID IT __"
"That will do, Severus," said Dumbledore quietly. "Think about what you are saying. This door has been locked since I left the ward ten minutes ago. Madam Pomfrey, have these students left their beds?"
Madam Pomfrey, bristling. "I would have heard them!"
"Well, there you have it, Severus," said Dumbledore calmly. "Unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I’m afraid I don’t see any point in troubling them further."
Snape stood there, seething, staring from Fudge, who looked thoroughly shocked at his behavior, to Dumbledore, whose eyes were twinkling behind his glasses. Snape whirled about, robes swishing behind him, and stormed out of the ward.
"Fellow seems quite unbalanced," said Fudge, staring after him. "I’d watch out for him if I were you, Dumbledore."
"Oh, he’s not unbalanced," said Dumbledore quietly. "He’s just suffered a severe disappointment."
"He’s not the only one!" puffed Fudge.
"Blimey, haven’ yeh heard?" said Hagrid, his smile fading a little. He lowered his voice, even though there was nobody in sight. "Er __ Snape told all the Slytherins this mornin’…Thought everyone’d know by now…Professor Lupin’s a werewolf, see. An’ he was loose on the grounds las’ night…He’s packing’ now, o’ course."
"No. Professor Dumbledore managed to convince Fudge that I was trying to save your lives." He sighed. "That was the final straw for Severus. I think the loss of the Order of Merlin hit him hard. So he __ er __ accidentally let slip that I am a werewolf this morning at breakfast."
The exam results came out on the last day of term. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had passed every subject. Harry was amazed that he had got through Potions. He had a shrewd suspicion that Dumbledore might have stepped in to stop Snape failing him on purpose. Snape’s behavior toward Harry over the past week had been quite alarming. Harry wouldn’t have thought it possible that Snape’s dislike for him could increase, but it certainly had. A muscle
twitched unpleasantly at the corner of Snape’s thin mouth every time he looked at Harry, and he was constantly flexing his fingers, as though itching to place them around Harry’s throat.