Chapter 1 : Task One Challenge: Potion Master
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Several years it had been since he sat last on the chair in front of the Headmaster’s desk, it felt more like a different life altogether. A different lifetime he so desperately wanted back, had failed to correct his past mistakes and now in search of something better. Of a life where he could silently fade away, reminisce memories of his childhood where everything was all right, where she hasn’t perishes yet and where he hadn’t destroyed all that was good.
Glancing around he saw the portraits of past Headmasters and Headmistresses looking back at him, a Probity-Probe was propped up against on of the bookcases as if it had been used recently, books he could not place or not read for they were written in foreign languages filled hundreds of cases, a Foe-Glass was hanging next to a cabinet filled with phials and other odd ends. This room had indeed not changed much since his days as a student, the Headmaster in his chair sitting in front of him even less so.
It had however not been so long ago he had last seen Dumbledore, he didn’t like thinking about it for it gave way to fear and sorrow clawing at his heart. Almost like a fire licking away at everything burnable, a fire existing to be as destructible as possible. Happy to be a practiced Occlumency Severus cleared his mind before looking Albus Dumbledore in the eye.
‘Why have you returned here Severus? You requested this meeting and have not said anything since you sat down in that chair.’
Dumbledore looked over his moon-shaped glasses, strict and with a sad smile gracing his lips. Severus knew he had to start speaking soon or Dumbledore would start speaking about the terrible events of two Halloween past. However much time passed Severus thought he might never be able to think about Halloween like he did when he was a student here at Hogwarts. Nothing would ever be the same again on that day; nothing was ever the same after Avada Kedavra was used to end a life.
‘I would very much like to apply for the Potion-Master position that has freed up.’
After Severus had regained his calm not even his voice gave way when speaking, he had been stoic in his answer and prided himself in accomplishing something not even his former master The Dark Lord had been able to do. Close his mind, thoughts and emotions to the most powerful wizard in the world.
‘Ah, yes. You were quiet the prodigy in Slughorn’s class, together with a certain …’
‘So can I start or do I need to demonstrate how qualified I am for this teaching position?’
Severus knew Dumbledore would try to bring her up, it would do no good and it would only serve to agitate him. He was sure he would not be able to control the anger, anguish and guilt if Dumbledore would utter her name. He had been able to concentrate on his studies the last year since that last day of her life. Almost being able to fool him self as to think he could forget about her all together, he had thrown himself into becoming a Potion Master so as to be something. Maybe his decisions were all influenced by her subconsciously, had she not said he could be something, which he was better than he thought he was, he could be someone.
The pain of losing her was still fresh, only weeks ago he had begged Dumbledore to hide Lily, Potter and their baby, now he was sitting under the apple tree where they would sit as kids and talk about magic, Hogwarts and receiving their letter. Lily kept saying she wouldn’t get hers although I could read her lies better than anyone else, I knew she was looking forward to it. Her sister only made her excitement die whenever she sneered about how freakish magic was. We both knew better.
Severus cloaks and robes were already wet and his hair stuck to his face in wet, think strands but he did not care. He could care less about weather or being dry at the moment, a flower lay in the palm of his hand and it wilted and then again generated to life. Putting magic in a dead flower and bringing it back to life had been Lily’s thing, she had used it to bewilder her sister and to prove him that she did indeed was a witch. He had known before that, with her he had been able to almost feel the magic that she possessed and had some control over.
Once she had even used Accio without realising, we had been near the river that ran behind Spinner’s End and some boys had just kicked their ball in the water. Disappointed and annoyed the children has run towards the houses lining the water and disappeared now that they did not have anything to keep them busy. Lily almost looked sad when she saw the ball going up with the current of the water, then she squinted her eyes as if she could will the ball to get out of the water. Sure enough we could both see the ball move against current towards the bank of the river and before I could even say anything Lily had run down and gotten the ball out of the water.
Vanishing the flower Severus got up and walked towards his childhood home, now he lived there alone and he preferred it that way. Spinner’s End had only become more dreary and isolated since the war had ended, or maybe his life just reflected how he felt inside.
Inside odds and ends cluttered the hallway; not paying any attention to it Severus walked through towards a door under the staircase and descended into the cellar. A cauldron stood ready for it’s potioneer to start another days work, his potion book propped against an old bottle had so many additions to it that it was almost impossible to read any of it. In the soft candle light Severus had to lean in so close his hooked nose almost touched the paper to see which potion he would be practicing today. Veritasum was something they had learned about in school but had not practiced before in class, so for the first time Severus read the ingredient list and then assembled what he would need.
Halfway through the potion the cellar was filled with smoke and a nasty odour, Vanishing the useless concoction Severus than searched for the ingredients so he could begin a Sleeping Draught. He had not been sleeping at all since Halloween and it had now been two weeks, the only way to find some rest and not be plagued by nightmares and waking up sweaty and more tired than before he went to bed was a spoonful of Sleeping Draught.
Those days when everyone was still celebrating the defeat of Voldemort and praising the Boy-Who-Lived, Severus brew potions and studied to become a Potion Master. He knew he would not be able to take the exams soon, he may not be in Azkaban but not everyone was so sure of his innocence as Dumbledore was. Dumbledore however knew more; he knew everything and that meant he knew too much.
‘Is it true, did I read right that you discovered that dragon blood can be used as an oven cleaner? Some might think you are becoming senile Albus.’
‘Severus, is this how you are going to convince me to take you on as Hogwarts newest and youngest might I add Potion Professor? I think flattery would get you much further, but to answer your question, yes. Dragon blood is extremely useful as an oven cleaner however I would try every other option first; it is not wise to spill blood of such magical creatures. Did nothing else of the other 11 uses seem more useful to you?
Dumbledore seemed amused and again an all-knowing twinkle was present in his eyes that I would rather not have seen at this moment. He had known I was away in my thoughts again and that I had asked two questions, I however had not forgotten that he had not wanted me to prove if I indeed was capable of becoming a Professor here.
‘It is true than, you are able to speak with the Merpeople in the Black Lake by drinking some dragon blood 3 hours prior to the conversation. You let your students speculate on this for years and never did you divulge your secret, Albus how Slytherin of you.’
‘Very observant Severus, I have known 7 magical properties of dragon blood for quiet some time. This particular one I discovered only two years before you started your first year at Hogwarts.
‘Now Albus, you yourself denied knowing why this phenomenon occurres when mixing the two. How should I, as a twenty-two year old know the answer?
‘Severus, my boy; keeping these magical properties for myself is for several reasons not only a bad idea but also not helpful to our magical community. I hope you will one day understand that not everything powerful and useful will always be misused by those seeking power and destruction.’
Severus could not believe he has just said this but looking Albus in the eye he knew the older man had not taken it the wrong way. A smile graced his features and he seemed very amused by his former students attitude towards him.
Severus sat back in his chair and mulled over their conversation on the magical properties of dragon blood, several of which he had found ridiculous or even down right laughable when he had first read the article Dumbledore had sent him. He however could not disagree that the man in front of him was an extraordinary and intelligent wizard. It was time to ask him again for the Potion Professor opening, if he would not get an answer now he would have to find another way to start earning money.
‘Albus, for what I requested this meeting. Did you already fill the position of Potion Professor? I hope you will consider this as my official application for the position.’
‘Severus, the position has already been filled. You can decide whether you start after Christmas holidays or if you want to start next school year. However we would gladly have you here as soon as possible. What do you say?’
Later when Severus was again standing in the cellar squinting at his potion book under soft candle night he could not believe how easily he had obtained that position, he had not even needed to show how advanced he was and that he really could take the Potion Master examination in July. Dumbledore had waved away any of his concerns and only when Severus had returned home had he known why Dumbledore was so eager for him to live in the castle. The Daily Prophet had once again written about Death Eaters who had been captured and sent to Azkaban and again his name was met with a question mark.