Severus Snape is a bad teacher. McGonagall takes notice. Severus needs to be punished.
The second greatest day in Harry Potter’s young life was the day that Professor McGonagall, having a free period, did something she had never done before, and took a stroll through the dungeons of Hogwarts.
She had never done so before for several reasons.
The first was because of Snape. They did not get along well. She may have been The Deputy Headmistress, but the Headmaster had an unwavering fondness for the Potions Master.
Even though she worked for him longer.
She suspected a deeper friendship, or perhaps something even deeper, before she violently rejected those thoughts.
She shuddered, and not because of the dark and dreary dungeon.
The second reason was because it was, well, dark and dreary. As she padded down the hallways, half-glancing at the dusty portraits and experimentally sniffing the dingy air, she wondered when the last time this part of the castle was cleaned. Filch had chosen to live down here when he started working at Hogwarts. Shouldn’t he have at least tried to tidy up?
It would be another thing she would bring up with Albus. And he surely wouldn’t do a thing about it.
And that lead to the third reason – Albus. For the past several years, during her free periods, she had tea and lemon drops with Albus. They were the highlight of her day, really. Her conversations with him were … interesting, to say the least. Being a century and a half young, he says, he had a lot of stories to tell, most of them interesting, the rest absolutely fascinating. She had to wonder if most of them were true, but she was sure that he was no Lockhart. She had tales to regale as well, but he could have written a children’s book… with some of the stories.
There wasn’t a teacher around to reprimand him with some of the stories he told, and he abused that fact brilliantly. As stern as she was, she couldn’t give her boss a detention. And even she didn’t know what house he came from – can’t take points.
But back to the matter at hand.
The fourth and final reason was pretty clear-cut – There was no one down here that she wanted to talk to. There was absolutely nothing that was in the dungeons, other than Snape’s classroom, Filch’s room, and, of course, the Slytherin Common Room.
She had never strolled the halls before, but she had gone to the Slytherin Common Room, to punish students who either didn’t show up to detention or were accused of something that happened earlier in the day.
That happened often.
Before she took the time to ponder more, and maybe even bring up questions that Dumbledore would not like answered, she heard yelling. It was out of the normal hearing range, but her animagus abilities allowed her sensitive ears to catch the whole conversation.
“Longbottom, you dunderhead, you added monkswood too soon! You were to wait four and a quarter minutes, you were thirty seconds premature! Forty points from Gryffindor!” A pause. “You’re supposed to turn counter-clockwise, you incompetent fool! Thirty points from Gryffindor!” Another pause. By this time, she was already beside the doorway. “Weasley, you utter imbecile! Why didn’t you bother to warn Mr. Longbottom before he foolishly added monkswood? Don’t you Gryffindors look out for your own, never mind the fact that he’s yourpartner! Thirty Points from Gryffindor.” Another pause. “…Acceptable, Potter, Granger. Three points to Gryffindor. Right color, texture, thickness and smell. Next time, Mr. Potter, I suggest you not let Miss Granger do your assignments for you.”
“Professor, he did just as much work as I did. I prepared the ingredients and he brewed.”
“Impossible. This potion is near flawless, A Potter couldn’t have possibly brewed a potion of this caliber. Minus twenty points for lying to a professor.”
“But sir – ”
“Do you need a detention, Miss Granger? Talking back to a teacher is a serious offense. I would have figured a know-it-all like you would know – ”
“Snape! Enough!” McGonagall had finally made herself known. She stalked into the room, her eyes locked to Snape’s surprised face.
Harry clenched his fist at Snape, for what he said to Hermione. Had McGonagall not stepped in the room, he was sure he would have gotten a detention in a few seconds.
Or expelled. Depends on how fast Snape could draw his wand.
Which he happened to notice was on Snape’s desk.
Yes, definitely expelled.
“Yes, Minerva?” Snape replied, the first time she had heard him in a civil tone since she had entered the dungeons.
Snape was quiet for a moment. “Which part?”
Minerva’s more feline side growled at his cheekiness. “Everything.”
Snape pointed towards the board. “I wrote simple instructions down and expected everyone to follow them to the letter. I didn’t think that your cubs couldn’t follow the simplest of directions.”
She glanced at the board and did a double-take. Thirty-Seven Steps? In a row? He expected them to do thirty-seven steps of brewing a potion in two hours? From a glance, she knew that to do all of it in that short a time, there was absolutely no room for error, and even that was pushing it.
“Severus, this is a two-hour class! How can they do thirty-seven steps of brewing a potion in that amount of time! Did they start last week? Are they finishing next week?”
Severus almost snorted. “Of course not! When the time comes for them to get their Potions O.W.L., I doubt they’d have an overnight assignment.”
“Professor, you’re missing the point – wait, you wrote the instructions on the board? And that’s it?”
Snape gave an exasperated sigh. “Yes, Minerva, now if you’ll excuse – ”
“So I assume you taught them how to chop the necessary ingredients, and what color the potion should be at a certain moment, and what the end result should be?”
This time, the professor really did snort, though quietly. But Minerva clearly heard it. “If they’ve done it right, I don’t need to explain anything. They’ll see for themselves.”
Minerva couldn’t believe her ears. They’ll teach themselves? Then why the hell was he on a payroll?
“Professor Snape,” She ground out after collecting her thoughts, “none of your answers thus far have been close to satisfactory, so I will ask you this final question before I make any decisions.”
Snape arched an eyebrow at the last part. “Yes?”
Harry had focused his magic into his fingertips and wordlessly pointed at the wand on Snape’s desk. If he had done it right, the wand should be stuck to the desk.
Well, not stuck. ‘Infused’ would be a better word. He had not done a sticking charm, he transfigured the wand and the entire table into a metal wand and table. No noticeable difference, but if Snape wanted to pick up his wand, he would run into some… difficulty.
Hermione turned to him, noticing the hand movement, with a questioning look. He grinned mischievously, and winked. He turned back to McGonagall.
“What are your teaching methods?”
“Excuse me?” Snape looked genuinely confused.
Minerva’s inner feline growled again. “What are your teaching methods? How do you teach a student what they need to know in order to do an assignment, or knowing something about a specific ingredient?”
Snape answered immediately. “Students must always come prepared to class. That means that they must read their textbooks in their own time as I tell them to brew a potion from the chapter they were supposed to read. If they have questions, then they obviously did not read the chapter. They will get a ‘T’ as their grade and no chance to make it up. Everything that they could want to know the answer to is in either their textbook or in one of the many books in the library. I do not need to stop class just because some dunderhead wants to know what something does.” For a moment, he looked pointedly at Granger when he said this. She had asked a question in the last class, asking why potions are so dangerously affected by clockwise turns versus counter-clockwise turns.
Twenty points were removed from Gryffindor for ‘not knowing enough, know-it-all.’
She looked downcast at being singled out, and she saw Harry’s finger twitch again towards Snape’s desk.
Before she could quietly ask him what he was doing, Professor McGonagall spoke.
“Professor Snape, that is NOT a way to teach a class! You do NOT teach your students through a book alone, you do NOT ignore questions from students, you do NOT insult ANY student’s intelligence, and you do NOT single out a student or insult her for BEING A STUDENT!”
Snape felt the need to defend himself. Unfortunately for him, he had no positive way to do that. So he fell back to his default argument – telling people to mind their own business. “Minerva, there is more than one way of teaching, and I do not teach the conventional way. If your cubs do not catch up, then I am afraid that most of them will have to repeat their year.”
Minerva said nothing. She was staring at Harry and Hermione’s cauldron. It was an orange and thick-looking concoction. She looked at the rest of her cubs’ cauldrons, as they were all on the same side of the classroom. She did have a Mastery-worthy knowledge of Potions, and saw that most of them were almost there. The tag-team of Neville and Ron were nowhere close.
She looked on the other side, and she was sure she had no idea what she was looking at.
Every single potion was a different color. A different texture. One was brown, one was pink. One was completely black. One had somehow managed to get every single discernable color into a pot. Later, in a pensieve, and about an hour of counting, she would have a number. Two hundred and fifty-six.
She finally looked at Snape. “And I suppose you have answers for why you were harshly insulting students before I came in here? And why you had so much venom when you were saying Mr. Potter’s name? And giving a student a nickname that she clearly doesn’t like? And let’s not forget that you took away a hundred and twenty points from Gryffindor and addedthree points in the past four minutes?”
She said it with a calm that she did not have. She was known for her professionalism, and she wasn’t going to let Snape have the satisfaction of seeing her snap.
It would be the last thing he would see for days.
In that moment, Severus had forgotten that he was conversing with a fellow professor. He was a teacher known for his sarcasm and snappy insults. To students only. In a clear lapse of judgment, and a simple reminder to himself that she was in his dungeon, his classroom, he sneered.
“I thought you said you weren’t going to ask any more questions.”
All of the students immediately looked towards McGonagall, as if she were going to say something witty and profound. They had never seen two competent teachers fight before.
She didn’t disappoint.
“Professor Snape, due to your complete disregard for Hogwarts school protocol, and your blatant abuse of authority, I hereby place you on probation.”
Snape’s face drained what little color was left. “You can’t do that,” He muttered, still trying to keep a calm demeanor. This was hisdungeon!
“Yes. I. Can,” She said in a no-nonsense fashion, laced with an underlying tone that no one could mistake as a challenge. Not even Snape could retort, so she continued. “From here on, all that you do with house points will be documented and reviewed before they are set in action, all of your homework assignments will be tested for age approval, and all of your classes and detentions will be closely monitored.”
Snape could say nothing, he was worried screaming at the top of his lungs at his senior would only make things worse. He could have the problem fixed with Dumbledore. Maybe even get her fired.
He sneered again.
McGonagall struck swiftly. “If the headmaster reverses your probation, then I may decide to take this claim to the Board of Directors. You may do well to remember that I am your senior, Professor,” She admonished.
He jaw tightened. “I am not one of your students, Minerva,” He ground out.
Her lips curled into a smile he had plastered on his face less than a minute ago. “Speaking back to your betters, Snape? That will be fifty points from Slytherin.”
That seemed to make the entire class even more silent. That is, until Hermione chuckled.
The Deputy Headmistress arched her eyebrow and gave an actual smile. “Yes, Miss Granger?”
Hermione shook her head, but the look from the Professor said that she might as well tell the class. “No one has taken house points from a professor in centuries, and a head of house in over a thousand years! Incidentally, those professors just happened to be on probation. I suppose those two are related?”
Minerva nodded. “That is correct, Miss Granger. Twenty Points.” She turned to the class as a whole, blatantly ignoring Snape. “When a professor is put on probation, he has little more power than a prefect. The only difference is he can teach a class. The professor will be placed into their former house back when they were a student, which is, in Severus’s case, Slytherin. Since a professor should know better than to break the rules, there is a fifty-point minimum take, and a twenty-five maximum give.” She finally turned to Snape, whose anger was almost palpable. “If he raises five hundred points for his house, then he is under consideration for his probation to be lifted. However, if he somehow manages to get one thousand points taken from Slytherin, he shall be…to be put in a more fitting term…expelled.”
Malfoy was the first to break the silence. “You can’t do that!” he yelled.
McGonagall merely arched an eyebrow. She was silent for a few seconds. Harry and Hermione could practically see the wheels turning in her head.
“Mr. Malfoy,” she said slowly, “you don’t seem to have any faith in your head of house. Am I to assume that you don’t believe he has a chance of raising enough points?”
Draco shook his head vehemently. “He shouldn’t be raising or losing any points! He’s a professor! And you’re just going to make excuses for taking points, we know you hate him!”
It took a few seconds for everyone in the classroom to absorb this information. The Slytherin students’ faces became glum, and the Gryffindors all smiled.
Prof. McGonagall, however, had a look of concern of her face, followed by a look of shock. “Mr. Malfoy! What in the world makes you think that I would abuse this only because of my own selfish reasons? What professor, or any adult with power, would do such a despicable thing?”
Half of Gryffindor laughed, and the Deputy Headmistress was honestly surprised at the reaction. She looked at them all – some of them were clutching their stomachs with laughter. She had hit the nail on the head.
Draco tried to stutter out an answer, and desperately looked towards Snape, who had retreated into his mindscape to calm his raging emotions. Something he didn’t have to do since the Dark Lord’s reign.
Minerva continued. “I’m surprised you could accuse me of such a heinous act, Draco. I was teaching at this school when your father was here.” She paused. “If I truly wanted to vent my personal feelings on any matter, I would not need any power to do so. If I had any personal vendetta towards you, for instance, I would reveal that Lucius tried to bribe the Sorting Hat with money to be put in Hufflepuff.”
The whole class was silent. The Gryffindors just found something else to smile about.
“That’s not true!” Draco yelled, bursting out of his seat, the chair pushing a foot backwards.
“Oh, but it is, Mr. Malfoy,” she claimed, in no hint an amused tone whatsoever. The spark in her eyes, however, told a different story. “Apparently, there was a cute prefect in the house that he just needed to get to know. He haggled with the hat on a price for a full fifteen minutes, promising the Malfoy Estate, the Malfoy family’s loyalty, and fourteen million galleons. When the hat was silent, the young lord thought he won until the hat revealed that he was… a hat. So he immediately placed Lucius in Slytherin. His reasons were, and I quote, ‘There is a fine line between cleverness and ambitiousness. In one swift move, the young Malfoy has gone to great lengths to thicken the line brilliantly. That is, in its own way, both clever and ambitious.’”
Most of the students in the class snorted, even some Slytherins, while Draco was red-faced. Snape returned from his mindscape to glare at his students. There was no better technique to arousing his consciousness than the sound of Gryffindors having fun in his domain. “Get back to work!” he barked, and the students slowly returned to checking on their cauldron.
“Temper, Professor,” McGonagall admonished. “I shudder to think that this could be your best behaviour.”
Severus clenched his teeth. “Minerva, could we please deal with this later? I’m in the middle of my class.” Anyone not paying attention would have yelled that someone was putting Snape under the Cruciatis, with the pained look on his face.
“Yes, I’m very aware that your… teaching methods requires everyone’s full attention.” Minerva tuned away. “That will change in the weeks to come.” She walked towards the door.
Snape would have let out a sigh of relief. Finally, he was in control now, for the moment.
If he had not just retreated inside of his mind a minute earlier, he would have screamed in a bout of rage and fury, and wrapped his fingers around Potter’s scrawny little neck.
“Yes, Mr. Potter?”
“Who was the prefect? The one Lucius liked so much?”
Minerva stopped at the doorway. She spared one glance at Draco, who was glaring daggers at her. Then she left, but not before giving a name.
It took a full twenty-five seconds for Ron to recognize the full name, but by then the class was laughing uproariously.
“YOUR DAD WAS IN LOVE WITH MY MUM?”
Professor McGonagall just got a tale to compete with Albus’s stories.
After she visited the Board of Governors, of course.
Rarely see any stories I like reading that has Snape in the title. *Looks back at the title* So, anyone else thinking about McGonagall spanking Snape? … You haven’t? Thought it would’ve crossed your mind once or twice.
I may write a sequel to this, in Harry’s POV, so I can find out what the hell Harry is doing to that table in the side-plot – This was one of those cleaned up one-shots written a while back. I really need to make more time for writing. I had to “adjust” to having a PS3 in my home, and, well, Arkham Freaking City. So, I’m sorry for ignoring the Potter Universe.