Don't Patronize Me
Pansy's comment about Marybeth
inspired Snape to pay a visit to his house that evening. He found his
students clustered around Crabbe and Goyle, presumably enjoying a much
exaggerated account of the day's adventures. "Well?" he demanded as they
fell into line before him. "Don't just stand there gawking. Give me an
account of yourselves!"
Malfoy raised his hand
with a sly grin. "Would you like us to remind you of our names first?" he
"I'm flunking Divination,"
Tracey Davis called impishly. Crabbe pulled his hand inside his sleeve
and added, "I lost a limb in Care of Magical Creatures."
Then Warrington jumped
into the fray with, "I've got this strange rash all over my..."
"That's enough!" Snape
barked, thoroughly amused. He jerked his head in the direction of their
furniture and they followed him to their sofas and chairs.
"How else have you been
improving your time this term?" Snape asked his students when they were
all comfortably settled.
"We've been planning our
school!" Violet responded happily.
Millicent took a deep
breath. "The Severus Snape School for Salazar's Orphans," she announced.
"The Snape School, for short."
"Good heavens!" Snape
exclaimed. He folded his arms across his chest and inquired, "When do you
intend to embark on this endeavor?"
"Right after Hogwarts,"
Millicent explained. "Sooner," she added menacingly, "if we hear one darn
word from the other houses about the Parkinsons."
Snape fended off that
topic with another question. "Am I to be headmaster?" he wondered.
"And patron," Malfoy
"What does that mean?"
"You have to invent
potions we can sell for a lot of money to pay for the place," Crabbe told
him. Snape pressed his lips together to stifle a smile as Malfoy added,
"We'll supplement that
income with our crime fighting spoils, of course."
"Oh!" Snape nodded,
suddenly understanding. "It's to be a school for aurors!"
"No, sir," Malfoy
corrected him, "for fighting muggle villains."
"Muggles?" Snape wondered
if he'd heard right. "You want to help muggles?"
"No," Malfoy repeated
patiently, "I want to fight muggle villains."
"Because there's money in
it and I enjoy feeling superior."
Snape had to chuckle. "I
see," he nodded with a rueful smile. "And where will you build this fine
Goyle glanced at Crabbe.
"We were just suggesting the country estate of a certain senile old
Slytherin," he replied. With a cryptic smile, Millicent added, " We like
Snape wondered how serious
they were. "Don't you imagine," he asked them delicately, "that the
Ministry might have some objections to this endeavor?"
"Shielding our activities
from the Ministry will be part of the job," Malfoy acknowledged.
Oh, my, Snape
"What do you think, sir?"
Millicent asked. "I'm under the impression that you rather sympathize
with do-gooders who choose to live... separate lives."
Snape stared at her,
dumbfounded by his students' ability to put him on the spot. Then, to his
great relief, Dumbledore appeared in their fireplace and he was reprieved
by a summons to the headmaster's office.
"Thank you both for
coming," said Dumbledore politely as Snape and Lupin stood side by side
before him. "Remus, you're looking wonderfully well!"
Lupin just beamed.
turned to him and hesitated. "Perhaps an occasional nap?" he suggested
gently. Snape gazed sourly back at him and made no response.
"As a rule," Dumbledore began
again, "I try not to interfere in the curriculum of my instructors. But
I'd like to suggest that, given the dementors' return to Voldemort's
service, it would be extremely valuable if every student from, say, third
year and above could conjure a patronus."
Bubotuber pus on a
biscuit! Snape thought.
"I feel this is an
excellent time to pursue such a goal" the headmaster continued, "now that
we have two fine defense instructors at our disposal."
Dumbledore reveled in his
own brilliance. He knew neither man standing before him would want to
blink in the other's presence.
said Lupin with only a slight stutter.
"Excellent idea," Snape
"Professor Lupin has three
more weeks of classes before the next full moon," Dumbledore concluded.
"Do you think, gentlemen, that this could be accomplished in a month?"
How he admired their self-control;
neither of them gulped! "You will, of course, have the assistance of the
students who are already capable of producing a corporal patronus."
The silence that followed
was so long, Dumbledore was on the verge of explaining that it was not a
rhetorical question when Lupin finally spoke up.
"A month sounds
reasonable," he nodded.
"I will tell you precisely
what will happen," he lectured Dobby as they huddled together in the
warming shack on their next tour of guard duty. "Remus Lupin, assisted by
his precious Harry Potter, will spend all three weeks teaching only the
best and the brightest..." Snape popped open a bottle of butterbeer.
I'll be left with the dregs," he finished morosely.
"Harry Potter would be
happy to assist Professor Snape, sir," Dobby suggested. "Not that
Professor Snape will need it."
Snape smiled bitterly and
took a warming sip of beer. "I never thought I'd be glad of those last
few months with the Death Eaters," he confessed.
They fell silent a while,
lost in the unpleasant thoughts that comment inspired, until Dobby
whispered, "Winky won't clean in Slytherin House anymore. Miss Montague's
"I know," Snape nodded.
"They're heart-stopping." He decided it was time to change the subject.
"Tell me about the sock again," he suggested, grabbing Dobby's hand and
sprinkling some white powder on it from a shaker that stood between them.
So Dobby launched into his favorite story, the one about Tom Riddle's
diary and the slimy piece of Gryffindor foot-warming apparel. Snape
particularly enjoyed his description of the look on Lucius' face.
When he'd finished his
tale, Dobby held up his hand before him, smiling a bit at the powder on
it, and murmured shyly, "Dobby is most grateful for all that Professor
Snape does for Harry Potter, sir."
self-preservation, elf, I assure you," Snape snorted.
"Dobby knows, sir," the
tiny creature said quietly, "but Dobby doesn't believe that."
Snape turned curiously to
him. "What do you know?" he demanded.
"Professor Dumbledore made
Dobby a member of the Order," the elf said proudly, "the night he put
Dobby in charge of house elf guard duty."
"Does that mean... do you
know..." Snape hesitated, then continued tentatively, "Dobby, there was a
reason I could never again..."
"Dobby was most grateful
for the one time, sir," the elf replied. "Professor Snape gave Dobby...
Imagine that, Snape
thought. He raised his bottle of butterbeer and toasted, "Hope."
"Hope," Dobby echoed,
licking from his hand the anti-elfin-inebriation powder Snape had made
before helping himself to a large swig from his own bottle.
In Defense class on the
4th Monday in February, Snape lined up the sixth years and commanded them
to produce their patronuses. He separated the 75% who were successful
from the 25% who were not and was just about to speak when Hermione
Granger thrust her grubby little hand into the air.
"Please, sir," she asked
politely when called upon, "may we see yours?"
Snape actually reddened a
bit. "Absolutely not!" he snapped, and Harry Potter let loose a tiny
doubtful snort which he immediately regretted.
"Just for that, Mr.
Potter," Snape murmured silkily, "you may spend the next two days
polishing up the efforts of your more accomplished schoolmates. I'm sure
Miss Granger will be happy to fetch your assignments for you. You may
begin with your fellow sixth years." And with that he herded the
remaining students out of the Great Hall, pausing at the door to add, "I'd
work hard if I were you."
He escorted the
patronus-free students, including Crabbe and Goyle, down to the dungeon
and into his office. He lined them up across the room, then retrieved his
cane from the corner and gave it a vicious swish through the air before
placing it carefully on his desk. "There will be no smirks, no titters,
no laughter of any kind in this class," he warned them. "If any of what
follows brings a snicker to your lips, I strongly recommend a quick glance
in this direction."
The threat hardly seemed
necessary to the sad sacks who stood before him. Theirs was a long
history of landing miserably at the bottom of the academic heap. Patronus
training had yielded nothing but a new low in morale.
"I see before me," Snape
observed frankly, "the wretched of this institution. Your
transfigurations rarely hold, your charms often sputter pointlessly, your
potions seldom set, and now, when we need you desperately, you fail to
produce a patronus." The students stared at their shoes, a familiar hot
ball churning in their stomachs. "However," Snape went on, "I can assure
you..." He paused, maintaining his silence for so long that eventually
every student looked up at him. "That is about to change."
The students glanced
curiously at one another as Snape began to pace back and forth before
them. "There is nothing wrong with your technique," he told them, not
bothering to mention that Lupin had instructed them rather well. "The
fault lies with your happy thoughts." He paused to mutter over his
shoulder, "You have none." Then he began to pace again, elaborating more
loudly, "As the academic underachievers of this institution, you know few
felicitous moments, and no amount of quidditch-playing, mischief-making,
or general camaraderie can compensate for the lack of self-respect that
accompanies academic inadequacy."
He paused next to his desk
and began speaking more earnestly to them. "Happy thoughts are vital to
the production of a patronus," he explained, "because they contain energy.
They spring from the joy/love family of emotions, and no set of human
feelings are more potent, not even anger or hatred.. save one."
He lifted one leg to sit
on the corner of his desk, folding his arms across his chest. When he
spoke again, there was a pointed slyness to his tone. "This set of
feelings is, in fact, even more productive than joy, and as luck would
have it, people of pubescent age are particularly well-endowed with the
thoughts they inspire. For the sake of discretion, we are going to call
these musings... He paused and looked them over carefully before
delicately, "warm thoughts."
Crabbe and Goyle pressed
their lips tightly together and bit down hard, casting one desperate
glance after another at the cane on Snape's desk.
On Wednesday morning, the
segregated sixth year students met outside Snape's office and then marched
resolutely behind him back into the Great Hall.
"Well, Potter?" Snape
called silkily. "Have you been polishing your peers' patroni?"
"Yes, Professor," Harry
lied. He'd worked a bit with the younger students but found the efforts
of the fifth, sixth and seventh years more than adequate.
"Line up, then," Snape
called almost sweetly, taking care to place his underdogs at the top of
the queue and Harry Potter at the bottom of it. "Whenever you're ready,
Goyle," he said with a nod.
"EXPECTO PATRONUM!" Goyle
called confidently, an odd little leer playing about his lips, and a
bright shiny giraffe burst forth and cantered gracefully around the room.
As student after student stepped up to perform, it soon became clear that
each of Snape's underdogs could produce a larger, brighter, shinier,
sharper patronus more quickly than any student in the room, save Harry
"What's the trick?" Harry
demanded, completely forgetting his manners. On either side of him,
Malfoy and Millicent scowled with annoyance, so vexed at being
outperformed by Crabbe and Goyle that they completely forgot how
desperately they'd wanted to see Snape show up Lupin.
By lunchtime, vivid
accounts of the stellar efforts of the underdogs in all three morning
classes had reached Dumbledore's ears. He called Snape to his office that
"I can't tell you, Headmaster,"
Snape explained demurely when Dumbledore demanded to know his technique.
"You see, having a secret that enables them to outperform the more
accomplished students is one of the reasons these children can finally
produce a patronus. I admit I learned this technique from the Death
Eaters but I assure you, there is no dark magic involved."
Beyond that, the only clue
Dumbledore and the rest of the school ever received as to the origins of
the late-bloomers' patroni was the shiny green buttons the underdogs wore
for the rest of the term. They proudly proclaimed, "Think warm thoughts!"
On Thursday evening, an
exhausted Snape made his way down to the dungeon after dinner to find
Violet waiting for him outside his office. "I want to learn how to make a
patronus!" she pleaded.
"No," Snape growled.
"You're too young. It would require far too much effort to teach a 2nd
Violet hung her head but refused
to give up. "I would never presume to argue with you, sir," she murmured
deferentially. "But..." She sneaked what she hoped was an endearing peek
at him from beneath her lashes and added insistently, "I'm good at magic!
I can do a Severus Twist! I can brew as many potions as Malfoy could at
my age and..."
"Child!" Snape exploded, "Can't
Violet fell back a step, startled
by Snape's loss of control. Then she clenched her little fists tightly at
her side and stared solidly back at him. Something about the certitude in
her eyes made Snape snort, giving Violet fresh hope.
"How about this, sir?" she
suggested cautiously. "If I can guess the form of your patronus in one
guess, will you give me just one lesson? If I'm not good enough at the
end of it, you don't have to teach me anymore."
Snape sighed with exhaustion.
It will take less energy to listen to her than to cane her, he
thought. "Have a go," he muttered wearily.
"Is it a deer?"
Snape's weariness disappeared in a
heartbeat. Before Violet knew what he was about, he snatched her furiously
beneath the arms and heaved her across his hip, holding her there with one
arm while he flailed at her backside with the palm of his hand.
Violet, well-protected by her robe
and several layers of warm winter clothing, threw her arms wide with
triumph and shouted, "Whoo hoo!" She laughed and clapped with delight at
her success as she waited patiently for a vigorous but harmless spanking
to end. When his fury finally abated, Snape set her down with a thump and
"How did you know?"
"It was obvious, sir!"
Violet grinned. "It was the only thing you absolutely wouldn't want to
mention!" She jerked her thumb in the direction of the common room and
added, "Malfoy's running a pool, five sickles a guess, and none of those
morons have it right."
She clamped a hand over
her mouth, horrified to have called the Slytherins morons in front of
Snape, but he had more pressing concerns at the moment.
"What are they guessing?"
Violet ticked them off on
her finger tips. "Jackal... hyena... mule..."
"Mule!" Snape objected.
"I think that was
Professor McGonagall," Violet nodded. "Millicent's was really clever!
She guessed a dove!" She looked to Snape for a reaction and, receiving
none, began to explain. "You know... wise as a serpent, gentle as a..."
"Yes, yes, I get the
reference," Snape snarled. He escorted her into his office and gave her
an hour of his time, at the end of which she inquired eagerly as to
whether or not more lessons would be forthcoming.
"If you say yes, I promise
not to tell anyone what your patronus is," she smiled sweetly. Snape
could only stare in disbelief. Violet clasped her hands behind her back,
adding innocently, "Discretion wasn't part of the deal, sir."
In the end, he let Crabbe
and Goyle teach her.
An Obedient House