Harry Potter Fanfiction

By: Tanith

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Draught of Truth - G - Spoilers for OotP - A missing scene from Book Five. Umbridge makes a demand of Hogwarts' resident Potions Master in the aftermath of Dumbledore's departure. Snape responds in a typically Slytherin manner.

Waiting - G - Spoilers for CoS (movie) - Ron's thoughts while waiting for Harry to return from the Chamber of Secrets.

Hormones and Potions - PG - No Spoilers - AU 5th Year. Harry decides that the only thing worse than being in Potions class is being a teenager in Potions class. Warning - hint of HP/SS

Righteous Indignation - G - Spoilers for CoS - Snape's thoughts on Lockhart, right before the dueling session.

The Art of Potions - G - No Spoilers - Character sketch. A teenage Severus Snape reflects on his potions.

Kings and Pawns - G - Slight spoiler for OotP - Snape's thoughts the evening that Harry violates his pensieve in Book 5.

Temporary Setbacks - G - Spoilers for OotP - A look at a Death-eater meeting after the events in Order of the Phoenix.

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Draught of Truth


Severus Snape, Potions Master of Hogwarts, fumed incredulously at the false saccharine smile of the woman before him, which was to say his death-glare was set somewhere between Longbottom-Blowing-Up-The-Class-Again and Working-With-That-Murderous-Mutt-Who-Should-Be-In-Azkaban.

'Professor' Umbridge, the latest candidate of the short-lived DADA position at Hogwarts - and Severus prayed to Merlin that she would soon follow the way of her predecessors, painfully if at all possible, for the woman was even more intolerable than Lockhart - merely giggled at the dour Potions Master in that nerve-grating high-pitched voice of hers.

"Now, now, Professor Snape," cooed the woman who Severus had privately labeled as 'The Ministry Lapdog', "you know the Potter boy and his attention-seeking and mendacious tendencies. Now that Dumbledore's gone, we can't have the staff continuing to tolerate his lies as the former Headmaster did. A dose of veritaserum would put a stop to his fibs and make him veracious."

Severus sneered again at her specious cajoling. Did the woman truly believe that the staff believed the sugarcoated poison that she had been spouting all year? Severus would be willing to wager that not even the most ingenuous and naïve Gryffindor trusted the witch… well, one of the duller Hufflepuffs maybe. But it seemed that the woman actually thought herself wonderfully ingenious in her propaganda-mongering and subtle-as-an-elephant machinations (not to mention how his more precocious Slytherins have been using her agenda for their own purposes). Sometimes Severus wondered if he'd chosen correctly to defect from the Dark Lord if it meant saving people like Fudge and his witless cronies.

"You should know better than I, Professor Umbridge, that veritaserum is a highly controlled substance by the Ministry. Even licensed Potion Masters are proscribed from brewing it without the proper paperwork." Severus had raised his usual biting tone a few notches, with a small hint of disdain thrown in - not that the woman would notice, of course, only Albus and Minerva ever noticed the nuances of his repertoire of verbal expressions. "Not to mention which," he continued sharply, "it's illegal to use the potion on a child, and Mr. Potter has not yet turned sixteen."

He didn't mention that he had a small vial of veritaserum already brewed and bottled illegally anyways. But that was for the Order of the Phoenix, and he'd never stoop to actually using it on a student, no matter what he had said to threaten a certain Boy-Who-Lived.

Umbridge cleared her throat in that annoying way of hers. "Oh you won't need to worry about that, Professor," she informed him. "Minister Fudge hasn't left Hogwarts yet. I'm sure he can clear up any difficulties regarding Ministry permits." She paused for another irritating giggle, her face taking on a look of fanatic zeal. "As for the using it on Mr. Potter… The Minister thinks that we can be a bit iconoclastic in this particular case - and perhaps even permanently. Times are changing, Professor, and I'm afraid that some traditions and Old Rules simply must go in the face of Progress."

Her eyes turned back to him, no longer glazed with fervor. Severus easily caught and recognized the glint behind that blankly fatuous mask - he'd seen it before many times from his fellow Slytherins, from the Dark Lord, and oddly enough, also from Dumbledore. It was a watchful expectancy, a trap that lay in waiting, a test to see where his loyalties lay. Severus had been a Slytherin and a spy for too long to be caught by such a pathetically amateur snare. He knew that his position as Head of House to the children of the politically powerful, as well as his cultivated disdain of Harry Potter, kept him in a far safer position than most of the other staff members.

"It will take me a full day to brew the veritaserum," he informed the woman coldly. Then he rose from his seat behind his desk, his dignity and cloak wrapped tightly around him, and swept from his office before the infernal woman could say anything else to darken his day. Out of the corner of his eyes, he noted a flash of striated grey markings disappearing around the end of the corridor, and idly wondered if McGonagall had been planning to drop by and informing him of what exactly happened in the Headmaster's office earlier that day.

The path that led to Severus Snape's private chambers and workroom was as tortuous as the serpents that Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin was so fond of. Rounding another curving corridor, Severus reflected on the conversation he had just left behind.

Normally, he would be the first to agree to any form of punishment or control applied to Harry Potter, Dumbledore's "Golden Boy" and the refractory Gryffindor who thought rules were for everyone else but himself. Unfortunately, the boy knew far too much to be allowed to take a truth potion in front of the Umbridge woman. And now, if the rumors were true, Albus could no longer serve as a buffer - ineffective though he had been, Severus thought darkly - between the Ministry's demands and the school.

Slamming and warding the door behind him, Severus took himself into his workroom, gathering up various Potions equipment and ingredients. A few changes to the process here and there under his expert hands, and he would have the world's most ineffective Truth Potion ready in the morning.

Now if only the boy wouldn't be stupid enough to say the wrong things on his own.

Waiting


For the third time in forever, Ron cursed Harry's intransigence in insisting that he stay behind to baby-sit the amnesiac Gilderoy Lockhart at the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. Just like the two previous times, though, he immediately felt guilty for reproaching his friend. He decided to curse Salazar Slytherin instead for whatever recondite motives the Founder had in building a secret chamber under Hogwarts and keeping a bloody basilisk of all things there.

And now whoever had awakened the basilisk has Ginny, his baby sister. Meanwhile, one of his best friends lay petrified in the infirmary and the other one was off to confront whoever's behind everything. Ron had to remind himself that Harry Potter hadn't earned the approbation of the wizarding world for nothing - and last year had proved that Harry's knack at defying dark wizards worked just as well now as when he was a baby. Or so Ron hoped. Desperately.

He still wished that he didn't have to stay behind with Lockhart though. Although the man was easier to bear since his amnesia replaced his typical bombastic boasting with an out-of-character diffidence, and stopped his displays of not-so-charming facial plasticity. But his garrulous chattering hadn't changed, and it was setting Ron's teeth on edge. His hands twitched on the wands he was holding as he resisted casting a Silence Charm on the man.

Not that he should be casting anything at all, if possible. Using someone else's wand to do magic can be a tricky thing, as Lockhart's current condition showed. His own wand had been broken since the beginning of the school year, and thus was even less trustworthy.

Ron sighed. A broken wand was normally seen as a sign of opprobrium among wizards, usually associated with expulsion or indictment. It was a sign of his family's indigence that his parents couldn't afford to replace it until next year. The same thing applied to just about everything he owned, really. Ron and his siblings had lived with the bitterness of want for too long to still be wasting energy cursing Fate for it.

And speaking of siblings… a loud yell brought Ron whirling around, his eyes scanning through the gloom, past the uneven stony ground littered with a diffuse layer of rocks to lock onto the most welcome sight of his life.

"Ginny! Harry!" Laughter mingled with relief bubbled up within him. Things were going to come out all right, he decided.

Hormones and Potions


Harry absentmindedly divided up the inchoate base mixture for the day's lesson into commensurate amounts between his and Ron's cauldrons. Ron had insisted that he do most of the pouring and mixing, not wanting to get any spills onto the new robes that Fred and George had bought him over the summer with the money Harry had given them last year from the Triwizard Tournament. Penury had kept Ron in old hand-me-downs for most of his life, and he was almost paranoid when it came to his new robes.

Inwards, though, Harry wasn't paying all that much attention to his potion. He was berating himself for the umpteenth time for his unnatural eagerness for Potions class. Not even Hermione or the Slytherins had arrived with the alacrity that he had for the last few months, and that was worrying indeed. More worrying was his newfound tendency to follow the tall looming form of his Potions professor all through class upon the edge of his peripheral vision, his heart inexplicably jumping with every snap of the long black cloak.

It was true that four years of being targeted by the world's most powerful Dark wizard and his lackeys had left Harry rather disingenuous despite his youth when it came to the conflict between Dark and Light. He had a grudging respect for Professor Snape's own peculiar brand of probity in his service to the Light as a spy in Voldemort's inner ranks. But that didn't mean the mutual antagonism between them was any lessened, especially in class. And it certainly didn't mean that he actually liked the sharp-tongued and House-biased git. Of course not.

As if his thoughts had called it forth, the familiar scathing drawl suddenly roused Harry's attention abruptly out of his contemplation. "Mister Potter!" The low rolling hiss seemed to reverberate through Harry's bones and set his blood tingling. He could feel Snape's black-robed figure looming menacingly behind him. "I see that you are incapable of following the simple directions that a first year could understand. And you, Mr. Weasley, are no better! The amount of base in your cauldrons will dilute the potion to less than half the desired efficacy, as your textbooks clearly indicate…"

Harry tuned out the diatribe after the first sentence, letting that striking voice wash over him. That was getting to be a worrisome habit as well - he usually ended up muttering a few inane excuses and apologies after the voice finally stopped, and then Snape would narrow his eyes suspiciously at his uncharacteristically tractable nemesis, before storming off in a flutter of ebony.

This time, though, Snape's harangue was suddenly interrupted by the exigency of Neville's cauldron exploding for the third time that month. As Harry stumbled out into the corridor with the rest of his class to escape the expanding cloud of acrid purple smoke, his emotions still in a welter from the abrupt departure of Snape's sheer presence, he decided aggrievedly that perhaps the only thing worse in being the famous 'Boy-Who-Lived' was in being a confused teenager.

Righteous Indignation


A sable-clad storm cloud swept down the tortuous hallways of Hogwarts, scattering aside plethora of students disingenuous enough to recognize the imminent loss of house points at the slightest excuse. To say that Severus Snape was livid was a vast amelioration of the state of utter seething antagonism and hatred that simmered within the Potions professor.

It was the ultimate effrontery that Dumbledore had moments ago, in that irksome phlegmatic way of his, admonished him for his righteous aspersions of the bombastic moron that was Gilderoy Lockhart. Never mind that the oblivious fool - Lockhart, that is, not Dumbledore - had the school's entire female population obsequiously propitiating to his every insistence, disrupting the studies of even mildly promising scholars like some of his sixth and seventh year Slytherin girls (and the likes of Granger, if he had to admit it). Never mind the fact that the only talent 'Gildy' had commensurate to his narcissistic boasts was his diffuse and equally egotistical prose. For Merlin's sake! Even the perfidious coward Quirrel had at least a microscopic measure of probity in comparison when it came to professionalism in their field of instruction.

Checking his wand and pulling a mask of ice over his temper, the Potions master stormed towards his next class. Dueling. If Dumbledore insisted on keeping that insufferably vacuous peacock, then Severus would make it his fervent duty to ensure the fool's life be a living hell.

The Art of Potions


Slowly, almost reverently, Severus ran his fingers down the finely striated surface of the black unicorn horn. The glossy ingredient felt like molten pearls in his hand, and he was almost sorry to grind it up for his potion. But his love of potion-making, as always, won out over his wonder, and as he watched the ebony horn slowly become a bowl of much less refractory sable dust, Severus let himself relax and his mind wander.

The room he had hid himself in was in a little-known and rarely-visited corner of Hogwarts. The silence of the corridors outside had become oddly loud to him, inured as he was to the noisy bustling of the students and the fatuous shenanigans of several banes of his existence.

But it was the winter holiday break now, and few students remained in the school - including himself. He would not have missed this chance under the threat of torture or penury. Well, he qualified mentally, perhaps under the threat of Cruciatus by someone powerful enough to truly hurt. According to Lucius, he had met someone that powerful, some dark wizard or dark lord or other. Severus wouldn't have cared but for the fact that now Lucius wouldn't be quiet about the topic, despite his unenthusiastically laconic responses and several polite requests to shut up.

Taking a deep breath, Severus pushed all thoughts of Lucius and his dark lord out of his mind. Nothing was going to spoil the welcome quietude of the room. No bombastic Gryffindors throwing stereotypical taunts. No classmates wanting him to help them in the exigency of blowing up their cauldron. No hypocritical professors and headmaster to whom a student could do no wrong unless they were in Slytherin. No parental figures who would rather insist that he practice the Unforgivables instead of indulging in his precious potions.

None of them understood, not even the Potions professor currently at Hogwarts. None of them truly understood the meticulous art that was Potions-making. None of them understood his love for the careful preparation of ingredients over the soothing bubbling of a cauldron. None of them would probably even understand why he'd gone to such lengths just so he could brew this potion under the light of a barely occluded moon. To be sure, the Darkling Grace Potion didn't seem to have any practical merits. But to Severus, it was the exquisitely intricate and tortuously difficult process of making the potion that truly mattered.

Assiduously stirring the viscous solution before him, Severus allowed a small smile to grace his usually austere features. It was a smile that he shared with no one but his precious potions and in his dreams. Not that anyone understood those either. Severus simply would never be happy as a mere connoisseur of Potions; he wanted to be a Master in the art. And should the Fates be willing, he hoped that his dream would one day become truth.

Kings and Pawns


What was Dumbledore thinking?!

My hands are even paler than normal as they grip the edge of the balcony railing. I stand atop the highest vantage point of the Astronomy tower, hoping that the cool rarefied air whipping across my face would serve to blunt the welter of rage and humiliation that simmered within me, threatening to break through the austere mask I had kept throughout the tedium of dinner.

I should have known. I should have insisted. It was far too much to ask that the damned boy would curtail his usual intransigence in the face of far more important matters such as life and death - that he would know his place and concentrate on studying than to deliberately and totally antagonize the fool sent to teach him.

A bitter laugh spills from my throat.

Oh yes. The fool sent to teach him. And I was a fool to agree to this - to think that two decades of bottled-up hatred and four years of resentment could be attenuated with a paltry handful of private teaching sessions. Or was it Dumbledore who was more the fool to believe that merely "getting to know the boy" would somehow desiccate the sea of bitterness that lay between Potter and I?

My eyes drift down from the rising moon to the lights of Gryffindor tower that lay across the castle.

Did they really think that I couldn't separate the boy from his father? One Potter from another? Did they really think that I am prodigal in my castigations and spite because I see him as James?

A snort drags itself out of my throat and I can feel my face molding into my customary sneer.

Had they but asked, I would have averred that I had never mistaken Potter for his father. How could I, when confronted with his ungainly diffidence in his first year?

Oh, I knew there was much of James in the boy as well. I'm hardly blind, after all. But those flaws I hated for the flaws they were - the desultory recklessness, the blind naiveté, and the conceited impertinence - not for the fact that they were bestowed on him by James' nature rather than nurture. More, I despised him for the things that were all his own - for the approbation lauded on him for doing nothing but simply existing, for the excuses made for him by everyone around me to cosset him from himself and reality, and for his stubborn blindness to the fact that his staunchest supporters were in reality his puppet-masters.

My eyes drop to my fingers, which are still gripping the railing as if in a death-hold. They are pallid, and stained with the potions I work with everyday… with blood both past and present.

I wonder if Potter sees the similarities between his life and mine from his illicit peek into my pensieve? I wonder if he sees past the superficial parallels of our less-than-stellar childhood? I wonder if he sees that we are alike in that we are both tractable chess pieces, both molded by the grandmasters of this decades-old war?

But therein lies the difference, doesn't it? When all is said and done, he is the King that is protected by all, the piece that is last to be toppled. And me? I am but a pawn that is played by both sides, expendable from the first.

Temporary Setbacks


"The current views of the Ministry are but a temporary setback, my Lord. If you would but allow me some time to convince Fudge-"

"Crucio!" A bright flash of the Unforgivable halted the flow of words from the hapless Death-eater, instantly turning the officious pleading into tortured screams. The raw power of Voldemort's frustrations added to the efficacy of the curse, much to the consternations of the Dark Lord's audience. It seemed that Lord Voldemort was not in a good mood that night.

Even as the young man lay twitching on the ground from the aftermath of the Cruciatus, Voldemort had already turned his attention onwards. His mad glowing eyes swept across the assembled host of Death-eaters that remained un-incarcerated since the Ministry's public admission of the Dark Lord's return. The assembled Death-eaters reflexively genuflected - or perhaps cowered - in obsequious deference.

The next victim of his attentions did not fare much better than the first. There was little the man could say to ameliorate the fact that the Dark Lord's emissary to the Vampires had been returned a desiccated corpse. The fear lay on everyone's minds that Dumbledore had gotten to them first, though none dared voice the suggestion to the seething Dark Lord.

As well, the reports from the Giants and Werewolves were mixed. While initially both groups seemed amenable to the attempts to foment their separation from the intolerant society that chained them with regulations and humiliations. But now that the Ministry was actively working against Voldemort, they had once again returned to the position of neutrality, wary of being caught on the losing side of the upcoming war.

And the Centaurs… they had vocally and actively repudiated any and all connection to wizards categorically. There was no point in asking them to choose a side.

Only Wormtail, it seemed, had any welcome news to the increasingly impatient Dark Lord. In his garrulous squeaking, he reported that the Demetors of Azkaban, at least, were prepared to throw their lot behind Voldemorts forces. Hopefully, that alliance would also lead to the escape of many of his high-ranking Death-eaters.

Of course, whether said escapees would escape the wrath of their lord for their failure at appropriating the Prophecy from the Department of Mysteries and their defeat by Potter and a bunch of school children… that was anyone's guess.

It was perhaps a relief to his servants when the meeting finally ended and the Dark Lord apparated away with an angry CRACK. No words were exchanged among his erstwhile audience as they straightened back up from their parting bows. No solicitous aid was given to their fellow Death-eaters as the ones felled by the Cruciatus were perfunctorily pulled to their feet and given pain-reduction potions to quell the wobbling plasticity of their pain-wracked limbs.

Then, one by one, they each apparated away, returning to whatever lives they lived in the daytime, leaving nothing behind but an abandoned clearing marred here and there by spots of blood and vomit, and a cold bright moon that bore silent witness to it all.