Characters: Severus, Daphne, and other Slytherins
Word Count: 3479
Summary: Severus is troubled by a Slytherin essay.
Disclaimer: This work of fan fiction is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made from (and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by) the posting of this fan work.
Author's Note: This fic follows A Thoroughly Inappropriate Thought. Thank you, arynwy and shiv5468, for beta'ing.
Potter's first Occlumency lesson did not go well. That was all Severus allowed himself to think about it as he saw students in his office the next evening. Unfortunately, his relative peace was disturbed when, while discussing future career options with Theodore Nott, an argument arose just outside of his door.
In response to the raised voices, Nott said, "That'll be Parkinson and Greengrass, sir."
Without a word, Severus strode to the door and quietly opened it; neither girl noticed him—but Bulstrode, who was hanging about at the end of the corridor did and slid quickly away.
"You will stay away from him!"
"I'll do whatever I bloody well please, you silly idiot—but I've told you: your precious parvenu's of—"
"How dare you call Draco that! The Malfoys—"
"Didn't exist in England before the Ministry was founded and no doubt bought their way into it. My family helped establish the Wizards' Council."
Parkinson clenched her fists. "You . . . you encourage him, Greengrass. You know you do!"
Daphne looked Parkinson up and down and said, with far more acidity than Severus could have imagined, "Perhaps a push-up brassiere?"
"Enough! Five points from Slytherin, each of you!"
"Professor Snape, I—"
"Do shut up, Parkinson."
"Good evening, Professor Snape," Daphne said, as if nothing untoward had just occurred.
"It would be a better evening if the two of you would leave off sniping at each other. What is the meaning of this?"
"Malfoy's asked me to walk into Hogsmeade with him on Valentine's Day, sir."
"So far in advance?" Severus asked, before he could stop himself.
"As is customary, sir."
"Slut," murmured Parkinson.
"That will be ten points from Slytherin to you," Severus told Parkinson, "and if you've no business with me, I suggest that you return to the common room before I take any more."
Parkinson's "Yes, sir" was lost in a burst of noisy tears as she fled.
Severus turned to Daphne. "You're early. You'll have to wait." With that—and making an effort not to slam his door—he returned to the now-sniggering Nott.
"Have you something to say, Mr Nott?"
"I would have asked Greengrass myself, sir, but I couldn't say when my family arrived on old Albion's shores."
Severus snorted and steered the conversation back to its original subject: Nott's ridiculous desire to become a breeder of Aethonons.
Daphne's appointment had to do with revisions to an extra credit essay that she had written. Severus took it from her to read without inviting her to sit down.
History of Magic
Extra Credit Essay
16 January 1996
From the Division of Guild Regulation to the Division of Magical Education: A Brief Overview of Wizarding Educational Regulation and Reform
By Daphne Greengrass
From the incomplete historical record that exists with regard to the Wizards’ Council, which governed wizarding Britain until the founding of the Ministry of Magic in 1589—
When apparently the Malfoys bought their way into it, thought Severus with grim amusement, before turning his attention back to the essay.
—we know that English magical Guilds were required to follow certain "just maxims" in the training and treatment of their apprentices. These maxims were apparently not supported by the first Ministers for Magic because it took the death of a Spellcraftres' Guild apprentice in 1597 and the resultant scandal to move then Minister for Magic August Throckmorton to establish the Division of Guild Regulation. Under the aegis of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, the DoGR instituted the Committee on Guild Standards, which set the standards by which the Guilds could operate. To ensure compliance, each Guild Head was responsible for answering to a Guild Governor (a member of the CoGS who was tasked with monitoring a particular Guild). The DoGR also established the Guild Examinations Authority, and members of that body tested all apprentices to ensure that they’d been properly educated by their Guilds and could, upon leaving them, reasonably be called masters of their crafts.
Two years after the establishment of the DoGR in 1599, a Half-blood student called Emma Wentwater was expelled from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for "a display of rank disobedience to the Charms master." Wentwater, a Third Year and "not strong in her magic," was put out of Hogwarts during the night of a severe winter storm and almost died of exposure because her parents were not contacted with regard to her expulsion until the following morning. Upon discovering their daughter's condition, the Wentwaters reported Emma's treatment to the DoMLE as malicious retribution by Professor Handel, the Charms master, for Emma's having rejected his "inappropriate advances."
Severus shifted uneasily in his chair at that and stopped himself from glancing at Daphne, who was, he was certain, trying to tell him to bugger the fuck off in the nicest possible manner. Fuck. Malfoy's a parvenu, and I'm just a pervert. Lovely. Fine.
They failed to prove their charge that a "most foul act of attempted murder" had taken place, however, for none of the eyewitnesses to Handel's behaviour towards Emma would come forward to support it. Further, as the family was neither a pure-blood nor a wealthy one, they were unable to interest the DoMLE in investigating the situation—but some five years later in 1604 when the parents of Beatrice Yaxley levelled the same charge at Handel, he was removed from his position at once.
Of course he was.
Pertinent factors in his swift banishment from the school were that the Yaxley family, while not a wealthy one, was a pure-blood one, and several of its members held high positions in the MoM.
And how surprising to discover that members of both sides of your family were well placed, thought Severus, surreptitiously glancing at Daphne. Funny, she doesn't look disgusted. I expect it's her breeding.
Thoroughly mortified, he read on.
After Handel's banishment, a deputation of parents approached Headmaster Ambrose Swott to demand that a code of conduct be written for Hogwarts' staff, as well as that the school's curriculum be revised to reflect "the moderne age." Swott did not deign to receive them, and as a result of his insult, the wealthier parents of the deputation removed their children and financial support from the school. Shortly afterwards, Swott formed the Board of Governors, ostensibly to oversee the staff's proper behaviour and thus quell any scandal, but in fact to establish a more permanent means of financial support for the school as Swott did not give the BoG any actual authority over Hogwarts or its staff. Infuriated by Swott's actions and financially unable to abandon the school, the remaining parents of the deputation reported Hogwarts as "the worst and moste rapacious of Guilds" to the DoGR. They demanded that "correction" be given to Swott, and also that the school be placed under a Guild Governor's jurisdiction. The DoGR declined to entertain these demands because, by their definition, Hogwarts was not a Guild. They did, however, recommend that the MoM issue grants to Hogwarts to make up for its loss of student fees, and several members of the CoGS supported, in private correspondence (that was later published)—
"I believe that one," Severus said, failing to keep the sarcasm from his tone, "may assume that the private correspondence of the members of the Committee on Guild Standards was later published. Your phrase indicating as much is unnecessary."
"Yes, sir," Daphne said primly, while he found his place again.
—and open letters to the Daily Prophet, the concerned parents' demands for improving the school's curriculum and the treatment their children received at the hands of its staff. The MoM at last issued grants to Hogwarts in 1624, but nothing was done with regard to the school's curriculum and staff abuses for several decades.
For all the bloody good it did, considering Umbridge.
It wasn't until 1702 that Hogwarts saw reform under the guidance of Headmaster Everard Prince—
"Everard Prince?" Severus asked, looking up at Daphne in surprise. "I was under the impression that Professor Everard's surname was lost to history—something to do with a records fire?"
"Not everyone knows even that much, sir, but Headmaster Prince was in correspondence with one of my ancestors. Father showed me the letters once. During the period of educational reform, the Headmaster consulted with several governmental officials. He was quite well connected, it seems."
"I see," Severus replied, gratified to discover that he might have at least one distinguished ancestor, himself, not that Daphne would know it. "Do sit, Greengrass."
—(known to everyone as "Professor Everard," so great was his popularity) and Minister for Magic Evangeline Orpington. Consulting with Orpington, who was making related changes to the DoMLE, Prince altered Hogwarts' by-laws to give the BoG the authority to appoint and remove the school's Head, an authority that had previously rested with the outgoing Head (or Deputy Head when something untoward occurred to the Head before he or she could appoint a successor. Interestingly, history shows that whenever the choice of Head has fallen to a Deputy Head of Hogwarts, the Deputy Head in question has always appointed him- or herself to the Headship).
Severus snorted. How surprising.
This authority allowed the BoG to "take notice of and interest in" the school's curriculum and staff comportment, which meant that should any deficiencies or abuses be found, the BoG could pressure Hogwarts' Head into correcting them under threat of removal—but that was as far as their influence extended as given by Everard, who noted at the time, "Hogwarts is almost an entity unto itself and will do as it will—regardless of our intentions—so great is the magic it has taken into its stones."
Severus again paused in his reading to reflect sourly upon Prince's romantic personification of the school. His mother had never shown the slightest inclination to romanticise anything. So it's not a familial trait, then.
Orpington, for her part of the educational reforms, established, under the aegis of the DoMLE, the Division of Magical Education, the Committee on Magical Educational Standards (with which the BoG liaises), and the Wizarding Examinations Authority. The DoME regulates and accredits all magical institutions of learning in wizarding Britain with the exception of Hogwarts, which retains its independence in most respects. By law, Hogwarts' educational standards must meet those set by the CoMES and allow the WEA to administer the Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations and Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests to its students, but its Head, unless the BoG removes him or her, retains ultimate authority over the school, its staff, and its students.
"Is there a problem, sir?" Daphne asked.
"No," Severus replied, "but I've not quite finished."
Historically, the influence that the BoG has exerted upon Hogwarts has always been tempered by the strength of will and magic of its Head; consequently, very little substantive change to the running of the school has been prompted by the BoG.
Thank Merlin for that.
To become a Guild Governor or a member of the BoG, the would-be Governor must be a "citizen in good standing" within the wizarding world, a resident of wizarding Britain, and, traditionally though not by law, wealthy and of pure blood. Guild Governors are appointed by the MfM, and the DoME's Secretary appoints members to the BoG. The DoMLE vets every potential Governor and holds the power to remove those Governors who fall into "bad standing."
Severus stiffened as it occurred to him why Daphne had requested that he review this particular essay. Reading on, his suspicion was confirmed.
To date, the DoMLE has exercised this power only once by approving the removal of Lucius Malfoy from Hogwarts' BoG in 1993 for his having "allegedly made threats against Governors' families." The allegations against Former Governor Malfoy were never proven, and he was not arrested, but Secretary Edward Dash of the DoME noted in a public statement at the time "that not even the appearance of impropriety, arising as it might have done from a misunderstanding, can be allowed to go unchecked." This attitude is a thoroughly appropriate one for a body tasked with overseeing wizarding Britain's Guilds and other institutions of magical education, and since having been given the responsibility to monitor the process of educational reform, the DoMLE has done much to improve the lots in life of countless apprentices and students—who are, as Hogwarts' current Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, has said, "safer in their Guild and school houses now than perhaps even in their homes" since the establishment of the DoME.
Fuck you, Albus. Severus took a breath, released it, and then turned his full attention to Daphne. "You're concerned about mentioning 'Former Governor Malfoy', I take it?"
"Because his son has issued you a customarily timed invitation to Hogsmeade?"
"Of course not, sir."
Severus raised an eyebrow.
"Professor, I'm not interested in . . . in the Malfoy family, but one does have to be . . . careful of late not to give offence. One wouldn't want to be misunderstood . . . in the current political climate, would one?"
Holding Daphne's gaze, the temptation to employ Legilimency upon her was great, but Severus didn't do it. "No, one wouldn't want to be misunderstood or to give offence," he replied carefully, wondering just what, precisely, Daphne wanted him to understand. "You are, of course, merely relaying the facts here," he continued, returning the essay to her, "and there is nothing to misunderstand in that."
"Particularly as I took pains to mention that the allegations didn't result in his arrest, sir?"
"Just so, but I wouldn't show your essay to anyone other than Professor Binns."
"I won't, but . . . is it sound, sir? The essay, I mean?"
"It lacks documentation," Severus replied, feeling a twinge of guilt in the face of Daphne's need for reassurance. You are so young. I have no busi—
"—have my citations prepared. I just never add them until the final draft—to save parchment, of course."
"How very responsible of you, Greengrass."
Daphne squared her shoulders, and Severus immediately regretted his sarcasm. There had been nothing improper in her behaviour towards him since she'd left the Hospital Wing; she hadn't even asked what he had done, or was planning to do, with regard to her mother.
She trusts you, and all you can worry about is what she— "I would be interested to see your documents pertaining to the case of Emma Wentwater."
"Would you, sir?"
Severus' heart began to beat a bit faster as he replied, "Indeed. I was unaware that such an unfortunate incident had taken place here, and professorial misconduct is thoroughly inappropriate at any time."
It was a weak excuse to steer the conversation in the way it needed to go, and an even weaker attempt at an apology for his behaviour, but it was the best that he could do.
"I agree, sir, but I'm not aware of any recent professorial misconduct at Hogwarts—she's not a real professor, is she?"
"Greengrass. Do take care."
Daphne nodded. "Yes, sir. I understand. I don't like it, but I understand." She rose.
"Exceptionally clear writing. You should earn your extra credit."
"Thank you, sir. I try my best."
"Try a bit harder not to draw Parkinson's attention to you."
"But sir, it's not my fault if Malfoy—"
"I'm sure that you'll think of something."
"Yes, sir." Daphne turned to leave.
But Severus didn't want her to go. "If it helps, you might try explaining to Malfoy that you wouldn't feel right walking into Hogsmeade with him because it would hurt your little sister's feelings."
Pivoting, Daphne smiled at him. "Sir, that's brilliant! There's nothing he could say to that."
Don't count on it. Just stay away from him. "And Greengrass?"
"I've taken the liberty of writing to your mother. Perhaps you'd care to review a copy of the letter?"
"Oh." Daphne bit her lip.
Please stop doing that, Severus thought, retrieving the copy in question from his desk and passing it to her.
Watching her face as she read it was almost like reading the letter again, she was so expressive; he felt he knew exactly which phrases provoked each of her responses.
Professor Severus Snape
Head of Slytherin House
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
9 January 1996
Mrs Diana Yaxley Greengrass
Biddestone, Wiltshire, England
I write to congratulate you on your supplemental education of Daphne with regard to deleterious substances. While she has absorbed something of your lessons, I must urge you to leave such matters to me and caution you against taking up the similar instruction of Astoria. Your daughters are generous and have a tendency to share their gifts, and I suspect that the contents of your extracurricular care packages would not meet with the approval of their friends' parents. That said, you have my promise that your girls will leave school with a thorough understanding of a wide variety of serviceable poisons and their judicious, untraceable application.
As well, please accept my belated condolences on the loss of your husband. I never understood why you married a Hufflepuff but expect that you feel Roger's loss keenly. How fortunate, then, that you have the managing of his great estate to distract you from your grief. Still, I know how trying the task must be for you, which is why I was gratified to learn that Daphne, upon reaching her majority, will receive control of her father's legacy. In so doing, she will relieve you of at least one of the burdens you carry, leaving you free to live your life without having to interfere, any more than any natural mother might wish to do, in your daughters' lives.
I also write to inform you that Daphne has accepted, upon my recommendation, Madam Pomfrey's offer to study the Healing arts with her over the summer and won't, therefore, be returning home. Your pride in Daphne's dutiful application to her studies after her recent bouts of illness this term will, I trust, mitigate your understandable disappointment at being deprived of her company. Daphne's disappointment to be without her family will, I know, be forgotten when she sees her little sister return, safe and well, to Hogwarts.
Know that you are, Diana, ever in my thoughts.
With utter sincerity,
Daphne looked up at him and whispered, "Thank you, sir. This is . . . more than I expected," and then without further preamble she unsheathed her wand and set the copy alight.
"Strictly speaking, that was my copy."
"Yes. I'm sorry, but—"
"There's no reason to apologise. I was planning to destroy it, myself."
"What is it that you want in return for your assistance?"
Trust you to ask the pertinent question. "Why should I want anything for it? I am your Head of House."
"You're more than—that is to say, writing that letter was more an act of . . . of friendship than it was one by my Head of House."
Again, Severus' pulse rate increased, and he didn't need to tell himself to go carefully. "I trust that you know I'm not the modern equivalent of the disgraced Professor Handel."
"I do know that, sir. I trust you completely."
You shouldn't. Even I don't trust myself completely, thought Severus, unable to look away from Daphne's warm wide brown eyes.
In that moment, he knew: he could make Daphne love him, and she had, without even trying, made him begin to fall in love with her.
I'm worse than Handel. I have to stop this now.
"I know it's not my place to say so, but I am a Slytherin, and I can see how things are ch—"
"—anging, so if there's ever anything I can do to help you—because I know how hard all this must be for you—"
"Are you speaking of the 'political climate'?"
Daphne hesitated before answering, but only just. "Yes. And if there's anything that I can ever do to help you, please ask?"
Severus couldn't think of a reply. Generous, indeed.
"It wouldn't be an imposition, anything you might ask."
If she had said "sir," Severus might have believed her assertion that she was talking about politics, but as it was . . . . Severus made a decision; it was perhaps unwise, but dissembling with this particular pretty young woman would be more dangerous than safe.
"Daphne," he said, swallowing, "you are . . . I appreciate . . . if things were different, I would—"
She rose and dropped her hands to her sides. "So would I, Severus."
He half-rose from his chair and only stopped himself by clenching its arms. Don't, he told himself, closing his eyes. "Don't."
"I won't," said Daphne. "I do understand. It would be thoroughly inappropriate."
Severus' eyes flew open as he fell heavily back into his chair. Oh, fuck. I said that aloud. His voice was painfully hoarse when he spoke again. "Yes, it would be."
Daphne backed slowly towards the door. "Perhaps one day it won't be . . . sir."