Albus Dumbedore stood, invisible, in a corner of the potions classroom. It was time to see if Severus’ behavior could change. After the students came in, Severus came striding through the door.
“Since someone,” and here Severus sent a look at Harry, “decided to complain about their treatment, we will be doing things slightly differently today. Your instructions are on the board.”
Albus frowned. Horace Slughorn, Severus’ teacher, had always explained about the potion and why the ingredients acted the way they did when they came together. As had Albus’ own potions teacher when he was a student here.
Severus walked around the room, keeping a close eye on the ingredients going into the cauldrons. He kept three students from making mistakes, and even punished one of his Slytherins for attempting to throw something into a Gryffindor’s cauldron.
There was no screaming at his students, or insulting them, and apart from a few glares at Harry, he had left the boy alone. Even if Albus hadn’t known that this was different from his usual behavior, the surprise on all the students’ faces would have been enough to tell him.
A few minutes before the end of class, Albus snuck outside the classroom, and turned himself visible.
“Are we sure he’s not sick?” Ron said, once Snape dismissed the class. “That was creepy.” Harry and Hermione both nodded in agreement. They exited the classroom to see Dumbledore waiting outside.
“Hello, Headmaster,” Hermione said cheerfully.
“Hello, Ms. Granger, Mr. Weasley. I was wondering if I might borrow Mr. Potter until your transfiguration class later on this afternoon.”
“Of course Professor,” Harry said.
“Shall we proceed to my office? And don’t worry, your friend isn’t in any trouble,” Dumbledore told Ron and Hermione with a wink, before ushering Harry away.
“Now, what’s all this about the polyjuice potion?”
“We, uh, thought, that is Hermione, Ron, and I, thought Draco Malfoy might be the Heir of Slytherin and were going to get him to tell us if he was or not.”
"Draco Malfoy...you thought...Draco Malfoy?" Dumbledore covered his mouth with both hands as if he were trying to keep something in. Then he let out a half-strangled snort before bursting into laughter. "Draco Malfoy, the Heir of Slytherin!" He laughed harder. Having seen how easily the blonde boy had been dealt with by the Headmaster, Harry had to agree that the thought of him being the Heir was ridiculous now. He began laughing as well.
After they calmed down, Dumbledore asked, “You were going to do this using polyjuice? How did you know about it? No, never mind, Ms. Granger obviously. But, where did you find a recipe for it?”
“It was in one of the books in the restricted section. Lockhart will sign anything if you hold it in front of him for long enough. Anyway, once the potion was finished, we were going to be Crabbe, Goyle, and whichever girl Hermione could get a hair from.”
“And how soon would it be completed?”
“Around Christmas, Hermione said. She won’t be in any trouble will she?”
“It is a restricted potion for a reason, but such a feat at a young age. If she succeeds in properly creating the potion, we will sell it to Slug & Jiggers, and she and Hogwarts will split the money. It was, after all, Hogwarts ingredients that went into the potion. If she fails, however, I will be forced to give her detention.”
“Oh,” Harry said, dejected.
“Let’s not worry about it,” Dumbledore said. “Ms. Granger is quite capable of succeeding. I may even assign her to the hospital wing to help Madam Pomfrey brew healing potions. Severus has been busy preparing to make the mandrake draught.”
Harry nodded, and then changed the subject, “Professor, if Malfoy isn’t the Heir of Slytherin, who is?”
“A young man who attended school here some fifty years ago. The Chamber of Secrets opened then too. The man grew up to be someone you are very familiar with – Lord Voldemort.”
“Voldemort went to school here?”
“Oh yes, although he was known as Tom Riddle back then. I myself was a transfiguration teacher at the time. And then, shortly after I became headmaster, Tom returned, and tried to apply for the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
“But you said no, right?”
“I did. That is why, I believe, the position was cursed. Tom didn’t like other people getting to have things he was refused. Now, let’s get you to Transfiguration, shall we?”
In the hallway outside the transfiguration classroom, Dumbledore and Harry came upon a grim sight. Justin Fitch-Fletchley was petrified like the Filch’s cat, and Colin Creevey. Nearly Headless Nick floated nearby, frozen in place, and looked as if he was made of smoke.
The previous Transfiguration period let out, and other students soon filled the hall.
“Aha! Caught red handed, are you Potter!?” Ernie exclaimed.
“I just got here,” Harry said.
“A likely story! Justin was a muggleborn, as you know very well.”
“A very likely story indeed Mr. Macmillan,” Dumbledore said. “One I can verify as the truth, seeing as young Harry has been with me since his morning class ended. I can assure all of you, that Harry Potter is not the Heir of Slytherin. The Potters, as well as the Longbottoms, and the Weasleys, are, in fact, well known as the descendants of Godric Gryffindor.”
Harry, and most of the other students in the hall, looked surprised at this. “Really?” Harry asked.
“Of course,” Dumbledore said. “Just as the Smiths are known as Helga’s descendants, and the Moons and Lovegoods are known as Rowena’s descendents.” Zacharias Smith looked very smug.
“What about the Heir of Slytherin then?” Ernie asked.
“There is no current Heir of Slytherin attending Hogwarts. And the last one, well, he tried to kill young Harry as a baby, leaving him with that scar.” The students gasped, and Harry rubbed his bangs down to cover his scar. “Now, off to class with you. I shall take young Justin and Mr. de Mimsy Porpington to the hospital wing.”
Dumbledore conjured a large fan and a stretcher. When he had Justin on the stretcher, and the stretcher floating behind him, he used the fan to gently begin directing Nearly Headless Nick towards the hospital wing.
Transfiguration passed much quicker, now that most of his classmates didn’t think he was the Heir of Slytherin. The only reason he had been accused of being the Heir in the first place is because Ron had blurted out that he was a parseltongue in surprise, when Harry had told him and Hermione about speaking to the snake at the zoo, after Hermione found some information on Salazar Slytherin in the library.
Dumbledore’s little speech would make the rounds and the next two days passed quietly. The day after that, was the end of term, and those who were going home for Christmas were gathering in the Entrance Hall, waiting for the carriages. Most of the students staying, including Ron and Hermione, were in the Great Hall for lunch.
Harry, who had gone back to the Gryffindor dorm rooms for a book, was alone when Snape found him in the corridor.
“Potter!” he snarled. “Did you think I’d just let you get away with it!? I’ve been at this school for over a decade! But poor Prince Potter gets his feelings hurt and complains to Dumbledore! Were you hoping to get my fired, you arrogant little toerag!?”
Harry didn’t say anything, and Snape grabbed him by the shoulders and began to shake him. “Well, you little shit!? Say something!”
“SEVERUS SNAPE! UNHAND THAT CHILD!” Dumbledore roared.
Snape paled, letting go of Harry instantly. “Headmaster, I-”
“Will be silent or so help me Severus, I’ll put you in Azkaban myself! Leave! Go to my office at once, and wait for me there! And Merlin have mercy on you if you’re not there when I arrive!”
Snape stalked down the hall and turned towards the Headmaster’s office. Dumbledore turned to Harry, “Harry my boy, are you alright?”
“I-I think so,” Harry said. Dumbledore nodded.
“I want you to see Madam Pomfrey regardless,” he said. “Is that okay? I’ll take you there myself.”
“You don’t have to sir.”
“Oh, but I do. If Severus did any damage at all, he may be charged with a crime.”
“I’m not sure I want him charged,” Harry said. “Keeping him away from me would be fine.”
“Still, you may change your mind later. And I wish to see that you are unharmed before I confront him over his behavior again.” Harry nodded, and allowed Dumbledore to lead him to the Hospital Wing.
“What in Merlin’s name where you thinking Severus!?” Dumbledore demanded. Harry had come away with nothing more than hand-shaped bruises on his shoulders, but Poppy was keeping him in the hospital wing until Snape was gone.
“Oh, please,” Snape sneered. “If anyone else had complained, you would have ignored it. You have before. But poor, precious, Prince Potter complains and-”
“And it was my mistake not to listen to those complaints. My mistake to think you could change your behavior. My mistake to ever think a Death Eater was capable of being around children.”
Snape stared at him in shock.
“I have no choice but to fire you now. And listen well, Severus Snape, because even if you weren’t on probation, I would have fired you for grabbing a student and shaking them like that – any student, not just Harry Potter! You have until the end of the day to pack your things and be gone from my school.”
Snape sneered, and whirled around to leave.
“And Severus?” Snape paused. “If you ever touch or speak to any child, student of Hogwarts or not, in such a way ever again, you will find out why Voldemort feared me, is that clear?”
“Crystal,” Snape said. He left, slamming the door behind him. Dumbledore sighed, putting his head in one hand, and reaching for the firewhiskey with the other. “I wonder if I could get Horace to return.”
Special Evening Edition
Snape Fired From Hogwarts!
Dumbledore Creates Hogwarts Renewal Program
Four days ago, this paper published an article about the Hogwarts Dueling Club. If you recall from the article, Potions Master and Professor Severus Snape was placed on probation. Earlier this afternoon, Snape shattered that probation to pieces.
He accosted a student in one of Hogwarts’ many, many hallways, and began to scream at them, while shaking them. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore was informed by the portraits and the house-elves and rushed to the student’s rescue.
Dumbledore, in a letter to this very paper, explained, “Due to his many years of service, I gave Severus Snape a second chance by placing him on probation. This was a mistake. While he behaved earlier in the morning during a class that the student he accosted was in, he was merely waiting for a chance to get that student alone.
“Hogwarts will never accept a teacher that would harm students in any manner, physically or emotionally, and today, Snape did both, leaving me with no other choice than to fire him. Depending on the wishes of the student in question, charges may be filed at a later date.”
At the Headmaster’s request, we have left out the name of the student for their privacy.
Dumbledore’s letter also stated, “With one of our teachers having proved themselves to be unfit to be around children, I have made the decision to inspect all the classes we currently provide. I will be firing any unfit teachers, and searching for replacements for them. Since the fall term has ended, I will be enacting this Hogwarts Renewal Program, when school resumes in January.
“It is my deepest desire to insure that Hogwarts is indeed the best magic school in the world, as we the staff of Hogwarts, and our students, have claimed many times.”
We, at the Daily Prophet, wish Headmaster Dumbledore luck in his endeavor, and hope that the new standards he is placing on the teachers remain in place for many years.
-Jacintha McKinnon, Daily Prophet