Chapter 10 : Brittany's Grudge
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Scout had grown bored after about fifteen minutes and flopped down on Drake’s bed to take a short nap. He could hear Severus fine even dozing, his ears were super sharp, and he knew the boy wouldn’t leave the portrait hole without him.
The four-year-old was growing a little weary, but he was determined to find the magic potion. He left the boys’ side of the dorm and headed to the right of the archway. “That’s the girls’ country. We don’t go in there,” he remembered Drake telling him last week.
But he had to, because the potion might be in there. Cautiously, he crept into the girls’ dorm. Apart from the frilly green bed hangings and the many pairs of shoes and skirts thrown all over, it looked nearly the same as the boys’ room. Except there were more desks and two mirrors and shelves over each of the beds. Some of the shelves had books on them, but most of them had assortments of little boxes and bottles and containers. The child looked at the assortment of bottles and things in dismay. Why did the girls have so many things all over? What were they all for?
He dragged a chair over to the closest shelf and climbed on it. Then he began opening all of the little boxes and bottles. He soon discovered most of the things inside were jewelry or different kinds of cream or powder, perfume, and something his mother had called make-up. “Why do girls need all this junk?” he wondered aloud. “Boys don’t.”
He climbed down and pulled the chair over to the next shelf and checked it out. This one had more books on it than boxes and he was done with it fairly shortly. But there was still more to go. Patiently he went through each shelf, wishing he were taller so he didn’t have to keep climbing up and down on the chair. It was a real pain in the behind being small! I wish I was taller, then I wouldn’t need this bloody chair. Finally he came to a shelf that was a bit longer than all the others. It also contained more than the usual amount of bottles of perfume, make-up, and expensive jars of skin cream, hair products and the like. That was because the shelf belonged to Brittany Marsh, Hogwarts’ resident glamour queen.
Severus didn’t know that, of course. All he knew was that it was going to take practically forever to search this whole shelf. “Bloody hell!” he muttered, glad no one could hear him.
But after looking through a dozen bottles and containers, he moved a large vial of hairspray and there, sitting against the wall, was a small crystal vial of sparkly peach potion.
Severus’s eyes widened.
The magic potion.
His hand closed over the delicate bottle.
“I found it!” he cried in delight.
“Hey! What are you doing in here, you little brat?”
Severus spun around so fast he knocked some of the other bottles off the shelf. They fell onto the floor with a crash.
“Now see what you’ve done!” cried Brittany, gaping in astonishment at the sight of her former professor rummaging through her private stock of beauty products. “You destructive little snot! Those cost me fifty Galleons!”
“It was an accident,” Severus tried to explain.
But Brittany wasn’t having any of it. She hated people touching her things and especially little children. She advanced on the child, her eyes flashing. “Accident my arse! Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to touch other people’s things?”
Snape looked up at her nervously. He had the feeling he was in trouble. “I was looking for the magic potion. And I found it.”
Brittany gasped in horror. She had forgotten she had hidden the Aging Potion there. It had been a temporary hiding place, she hadn’t planned to keep it for very long, just long enough to blackmail Arista.
Brittany was almost failing Potions this year and she needed to maintain a decent average or else she wouldn’t be able to play Quidditch. That was one of Slytherin House rules, all Quidditch players had to maintain at least a C average or else they were kicked off the team. A month ago, Professor Snape had called her on the carpet and told her point blank that unless she brought up her grades she was off the team.
“But sir! You can’t!” she had cried. “I’m the best Beater Slytherin has! We won the last three games because of me! We’ll lose the season if I don’t play.”
“Then I suggest you put your nose in your books and study, Miss Marsh, because if you fail another potions exam you can watch the rest of the season from the stands.” He’d sneered. “You know the rules and I won’t bend them for anyone, not even you. Now quit whining and start studying. Dismissed.”
She stomped off, mentally calling him every bad word she knew.
He’d called after her, “Sulking and stamping your feet like a baby won’t help you, young lady. Lose the attitude or I’ll make you wish you had.”
“Yes, sir,” she’d muttered sullenly, wishing she could tell him to go to hell. Bloody perfectionist strict bastard! No other House had to maintain academic standards in order to play Quidditch. Only Slytherins, because Snape was their bloody Head of House and he insisted upon it.
Neville’s potions accident had seemed like a Godsend to the spoiled girl, who didn’t see why she had to get good marks in potions or anything else. She was a Quidditch player and that plus her popularity and her father’s money was all she needed. School was a waste of time, good for only one thing, meeting boys and making friends with the other social elite in the wizarding world.
The past three weeks had been a joke, the substitute for potions had barely made them brew anything and she had managed to sweet talk the silly man into giving her perfect marks in all the labs, he was impressed with her background and her beauty.
Even so, she knew that wouldn’t save her once Professor Snape was back in charge. Her background and looks had never mattered a Knut to him. She knew that he didn’t like her and the feeling was mutual. So when she’d overheard the conversation between Daddy’s Pet Arista and her little reject friends at lunch yesterday, she’d gotten the brilliant idea to sneak into the potions lab and steal their precious Aging Potion. It offered her a bargaining chip of unparalleled power. Arista would do anything to restore her arrogant twit of a father. Even help her arch enemy pass potions by giving her all the answers to every exam.
And now here was this—this brat of a Potions Master conspiring to ruin all of her plans.
She saw red. “Give me that!” She grabbed the child by the shoulder and tried to snatch the bottle out of his hand.
“No! It’s mine! It’s for Arista!”
“Give it back, you little sneak!” she screeched, shaking him.
Severus’s head was jerked back and forth, but he held onto the bottle stubbornly. “You can’t have it. Arista needs it, it’s her magic potion.”
“Is not!” She tried again to pry it from his grip.
“Is too! Get off me!”
“Sniveling brat! It’s mine!”
“Liar! You stole it!”
She grabbed Severus’s wrist, twisting it hard. It hurt but he didn’t let go. He glared up at her angrily, tears glinting in his eyes. To his horror, he felt the bottle start to slip from his grasp. So he did the only thing he could think of to make the nasty girl let go of his wrist.
He reached up with his other hand and yanked a fistful of her long blond hair.
“Yeeow!” Brittany yowled. She released his wrist, and he caught the bottle just before it fell. Then he went to jump down from the chair and run away.
But Brittany wasn’t a star Beater for nothing and she had quick reflexes. She also was spitting mad. “Little rat bastard!” she howled, and then she backhanded Severus across the face, knocking him off the chair.
He landed on the floor with a thud, cradling the potion so it didn’t break. His face hurt terribly, but he refused to cry. He knew better than to cry in front a bully like this. That was what they wanted. Instead he glared up at her, blinking back tears, and slowly climbed to his feet, the potion bottle still clutched in his hands.
For one instant they remained frozen, the defiant child and the furious teenager, whose hand was lifted for another smack.
Until there came a snarl from behind her.
Brittany screamed as sharp teeth sank into her behind and something smashed into the back of her knees, knocking her face first on the ground.
It was Scout, who had woken up to hear Severus yelling and come to see what was the matter, only to find an unknown girl attacking his charge. Magehounds were very protective of children and Scout was no exception.
He had seen Brittany knock his little master flying and that was a biting offense according to his training. Only an alpha had the right to discipline a pup, and never like that.
“Aaah!” Brittany was screaming and wriggling on the floor. “Bloody beast! Get it off me! Help!”
Scout nipped her again and she shrieked, certain she was being eaten alive by whatever had invaded the Slytherin dorm. Hot breath curled down the back of her neck and she could hear it growling and panting. She sobbed in terror.
Scout ignored her panicked screeching, continuing to hold her on the floor, pinning her expertly with all four feet and the full weight of his ninety-five pounds. Thus had he been taught to restrain criminals until a Hunter came to apprehend them.
“Help! Get it OFF! Jim! Draco! Pansy!”
Brittany’s screams could be heard all the way down the corridor, where Neville and Drake were now searching for the missing Snape.
“What the bloody hell?” Drake looked at Neville. They drew their wands and Drake spoke the word to the Slytherin portrait hole.
They burst into the girls’ dorm to see an astonishing sight. Brittany Marsh, Queen of Quidditch and queen bee, pinned on the floor, her robes askew, her hair straggling all over, screaming bloody murder while a snarling magehound stood on top of her.
A few feet away stood little Severus, staring at the girl with something resembling hatred, a huge hand print covering his face, holding the missing Aging Potion.
The two boys remained for a moment with their mouths open, until Drake caught sight of poor Severus’s face and shouted, “Marsh, you bloody bitch! You hit Professor Snape! What the hell’s wrong with you?”
Brittany spoke through a curtain of hair. “Don’t just stand there, Lockwood, get this rabid beast off of me! I can’t reach my wand and it bit me!”
“Good for you, Scout!” Drake praised.
Neville knelt beside Severus. “Are you okay?” He was horrified at the way the child’s face was starting to darken and swell.
Severus nodded, wincing. “Uh huh. She wanted Arista’s magic potion, but I wouldn’t give it to her. Then she hit me, the bloody thief.”
Just then Arista burst into the room, followed by Dumbledore. The Headmaster had come down to the infirmary to question Arista about the progress she had made with the Aging Potion and Arista had told him of the potion’s theft. She had felt Severus’s silent cry of pain when Brittany had struck him through her empathic blood link and had immediately bolted out of the room.
“Something’s wrong with Dad!” she yelled to Dumbledore, who raced after her.
She followed her father’s empathic signature to the dungeons and into the portrait hole, which Dumbledore knew the password to. Arista assessed the scene rapidly, her eyes taking in the dog, the Slytherin on the floor, and her father, who had a bruise across his face the likes of which she’d never seen.
“Oh my God, who did this to you?” she cried, reaching out to Severus.
“She did,” answered Snape. “She wanted the magic potion.” He opened his hands and showed Arista the missing potion.
“Would somebody mind getting this bloody dog off me?” screeched Brittany.
Dumbledore came and stood gazing down at the disheveled girl and the angry dog. “Arista, if you please, tell Scout to move off of Miss Marsh.”
Arista longed to tell the dog to bite the spoiled girl instead, but she could not disobey her Headmaster. “Scout, release!”
Reluctantly, the dog obeyed, stepping off the prostrate witch. But he remained alert, watching the girl closely.
Dumbledore gave her a hand up from the floor, looking at her with concern and disapproval. “Would you like to explain what happened here, Miss Marsh?”
Brittany shoved her hair out of her eyes and sniffed. She was a mess, her face red and blotchy, her eyeliner running down her face in black streaks. “Isn’t it obvious, sir? I found that little brat—”she pointed to Snape, who was in Arista’s arms. “—going through my things. He took something and wouldn’t give it back. I tried to get it and he fell and then that—that rabid beast of a magehound bit me and knocked me down! It’s a menace and ought to be destroyed!” She rubbed her bottom, wincing.
“That little brat is your professor, Brittany,” Dumbledore reproved. “You will address him as such.”
“He’s a thief too!”
That was too much for Severus. “Am not! You are! You took Arista’s magic potion. I found it, right there behind that bottle of red stuff,” he pointed to the shelf above Brittany’s bed.
Dumbledore frowned. “Is that so, Miss Marsh? Did you take the Aging Potion?”
Brittany bit her lip and glanced away. “It was a mistake . . .I went to get a bottle of Sleeping Draft from the potions lab and picked this up by mistake. I was going to return it.”
“She’s lying, Professor,” Arista put in. “I can feel it.”
“Stay out of my head, you bloody snoop!” Brittany snarled, glaring in hatred at the other girl.
“Then tell the truth, why don’t you, you coward! How dare you hit a defenseless child?” Arista felt her hand curl into a fist. “I ought to knock your damn teeth down your throat, Marsh!”
“Ladies, please!” Dumbledore stepped between them. “Let us settle this without further bloodshed, if you please.” He turned to Brittany. “Miss Marsh, striking a professor is a serious offense, for whatever reason.”
“B-But sir, he’s not my teacher now, he’s nothing but a little sneaking snot!”
Dumbledore’s eyes narrowed. “That does not excuse your actions, Miss Marsh. Harming a child is against Hogwarts code of conduct. As is stealing school property.”
“What school property?”
“The Aging Potion Arista made for her father is considered school property. As such, your mistaken borrowing of it is also a grave breach of school rules. I fear I have no choice but to punish you as would your Head of House, acting in his absence.”
“What? But Professor—he had no right to come search through my private things! And what about that bloody dog, going around and biting people for no reason . . .!”
“No reason!” Arista shouted, gesturing angrily to Severus. “He bit you because you nearly knocked his master into next week, you spoiled selfish harpy! If it were me, I’d have bitten you three times as bad.”
“Yeah!” added Snape.
“Severus, please hush,” the elder wizard ordered softly. “Let me handle this, child. Brittany, a magehound will never bite unless provoked, that is a fact, according to the AMA. I would say, given the circumstances, Scout had plenty of provocation. That being so, you cannot bring charges against him, since he was only protecting his master from a threat. I will send you to Poppy later so she can heal you. However, this still leaves the matter of your behavior to deal with. Since Professor Snape is currently unable to carry out his own punishments, I will do so.”
“But you’re the Headmaster!”
“I can still give out detentions, young lady,” Dumbledore said sternly. “Miss Marsh, you are now banned from Quidditch for the rest of the season. In addition to that, you will write a three-foot essay apologizing to Professor Snape for striking him and taking a potion from his personal stores. You will turn it in to him when he has been restored to his proper age. Last but not least, I shall be sending a letter home informing your parents of your shameful conduct. Hopefully this shall convince you to modify your behavior in the future, young lady.”
Brittany was gaping at him in shock. “Sir, you can’t make me . . .he’ll kill me if he finds out . . .”
“Oh, I highly doubt that, Miss Marsh. Professor Snape will not harm you, though he may add detentions of his choosing to what I have given you.” The old wizard fixed her with a sharp glare worthy of his Potions Master. “You should be thankful, Miss Marsh, that you did not attend Hogwarts in my day. For in my day, were a student to strike a professor, she would have received a paddling.” The girl gasped. “However, that is not school policy any more, so you may be grateful for small mercies. Now, I think you have a class you need to go to. You may see me in my office at seven o’clock to begin writing your essay, and I will examine it before I allow you to turn it in. Dismissed.”
Brittany turned and flounced out, her face blazing. “I hate you!” Drake heard her mutter as she went by.
“Oh, Miss Marsh?” called Dumbledore. “You might want Poppy to take a look at those bites. Dog bites will fester if untreated.”
“Yes, sir,” came the sulky response.
Drake, Neville, and Arista exchanged glances of unmitigated glee at seeing their rival dressed down so thoroughly.
“Guess you told her, sir,” Neville whistled.
Dumbledore laughed. “I would say so, Neville.” He turned to look at Severus. “Are you all right, my boy?”
“Yeah. It’s not that bad.”
“It should never have happened. Not here,” Dumbledore said sharply. “Forgive me, child. I should have protected you better.”
“It’s okay. Arista can fix it,” Severus reassured him.
And she did, touching his face lightly with a finger and summoning up her healing gift. The bruise and swelling vanished as if it had never been.
“See?” he told the Headmaster. “No worries. I’m better.”
“Oh, Severus!” Dumbledore smiled, then he reached out and hugged the child to him, as he had longed to do years ago, when he had first learned of the abuse the boy had suffered at the hands of his father. He had not dared then, for the proud youngster would have never permitted it, but the four-year-old had no such reservations, and melted into the older wizard’s embrace.
Holding young Severus eased some of the guilt Dumbledore felt at not being able to comfort the Potions Master the first time around. Snape simply allowed himself to be held, knowing that he was safe with this man, who would protect him as his father never had. He put his head on Dumbledore’s shoulder and closed his eyes. In five seconds he was fast asleep.
The old wizard smiled. “I shall be happy to have my Potions Master back, but I will miss the innocent child he is now,” he admitted softly to the other students. They all nodded in silent understanding. Then they followed the Headmaster back to Snape’s quarters so he could put the exhausted child down for a nap.
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