Severus took a deep breath, steeling his nerves, and stepped into the classroom. This time as a teacher instead of a student.
There was silence among the sea of vaguely familiar faces. He looked at each one of them. This was the seventh year N.E.W.T level class. They were only two years younger than Severus himself was. The two Slytherins he recognized immediately: Armand Pucey and Eglantine Sinistra. He had tutored them for the O.W.L.s his seventh year. They had already pulled out their materials, knowing instinctively, after living in the same House with him for several years, what he expected.
He couldn’t put a name to the faces of any of the others. He recognized one or two; the Gryffindor boy, especially, stood out. He had worshiped the ground Potter had walked on. Thought he was fucking hilarious. The boy was smirking at him. He leaned over to whisper into the ear of his partner. Severus could just barely make out the words “lake,” and “pants.” A ripple of laughter floated up from the students nearest him.
Severus pressed his mouth into a thin line and barked out the name of the potion they would be making.
“I need something to take to him,” Severus begged him. “He’s not pleased with my lack of progress.”
Dumbledore shook his head and looked so sorry. Severus wanted to claw that sympathetic look off of his face. It was the same look he gave Severus after Black tried feeding him to a werewolf his fifth year, right before he forced Severus into swearing to keep quiet about it. As if he hadn’t almost died. “We can’t afford to lose any ground. I’m sorry, Severus. Voldemort will be angry, but he won’t kill you. He needs you.”
No, the Dark Lord wouldn’t kill him, but Severus wished he would. He panted against the flagstone of Lucius Malfoy’s cellar. A spider crawled between the grout and Severus tried to focus his vision on it, but it was blurry. The spider faded in-and-out of focus. Sometimes it looked much bigger than it was supposed to. Sometimes there were two of them, walking in tandem, mirror images of each other. Sometimes he couldn’t see it at all, his eyes rolled up in the back of his head while his body convulsed under the strain of Cruciatus.
He felt a large, bony hand grip his hair and yank his head back. There was the feather-light touch of the Dark Lord’s lips moving against his ear. “Why should I spare such a useless spy?”
“My Lord,” Severus stuttered, leaning into that mouth, folding his body against the hard planes of the man that knelt above him. Anything, anything to make the pain stop. “I’m sorry. He doesn’t trust me yet. You know he favors his Gryffindors. To him, I’m just another snake.”
The Dark Lord pressed a kiss against the back of his neck and Severus let himself relax just a little. Only then did the Dark Lord rip the rug from beneath his feet. “More excuses, Severus?” The hand in his hair tightened and suddenly he was being thrown face-first into the floor again and again until he heard something in his nose crunch.
He’d gone to Poppy to help fix his nose, but there was nothing to be done about the after-effects of Cruciatus except time and rest. Luckily, he only had the third year Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw class this afternoon; there was little house rivalry between them, and with a few years under their belt they were less likely to bother him with inane questions and yet the course work was still easy enough that Severus could have done it in his sleep. After the last student had scurried out of the classroom, Severus let himself sink into his chair, sighing as his muscles still twitched with phantom pain.
He heard the door open again, and he cracked one eye to see who it was. It was that boy, that seventh year Gryffindor boy. He opened both eyes and glared. What was his name-what was his name– Danny, no Dave. Dave Hurst. Self-appointed leader of Potter’s little fanclub. And didn’t he just look like Potter? Severus sneered. Dave’s brown hair was too straight to give it that ‘I’ve never seen a hairbrush in my life’ look that Potter had always favored, but he walked like him, he smirked like him, and Severus couldn’t help the shiver of revulsion.
“I’m not available to talk now,” Severus said. “My office hours are posted on the door.”
“Do I really need to make an appointment, Snivellous?”
Severus’s youth put him at a distinct disadvantage compared to his colleagues. The younger years all scoffed when they saw this nineteen-year-old boy stride to the front of the class, or, worse, thought he was a comrade-in-arms, a playmate instead of their teacher. How quickly he put an end to that notion. But then there were the older students. Not too many fifth years, they’d only been first years when Severus graduated, but some of the sixth years and almost all of the seventh years remembered him as he was when he was a student.
Severus leveled a glare and hoped it was enough. He wasn’t sure if he could stand again now that he was sitting down. “Twenty points from Gryffindor,” he snapped, pleased to hear that his voice was steady. “You will address me as Professor–”
“You know,” Hurst said, leaning forward until their noses were almost touching, his arms braced against the arms of Severus’s chair, bracketing his body. “I still remember the way you looked when James flipped you in the air and stripped you naked. I saw everything. He left nothing hidden. And then he dropped you in the lake, and you were dripping wet, crying, trying to pull your robe back on.”
He plucked at a loose thread near his thighs, and Severus grasped his arm with one hand while trying to reach for his wand with the other.
Hurst pulled himself from his grip and seized both his hands in one, meaty fist, forcing them against his chest to keep them still. He was looming over Severus, his body shoving itself between his knees. Severus was tall, but thin– Hurst was a beater for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He was large, and strong, and learned at the feet of James Potter. His other hand, his free hand, flattened his palm and pressed it against his thigh, pulling at his threadbare robes. “I can’t believe you’re still wearing these same old rags, Professor, ” Hurst mocked. “Have you got anything on under it, or just your pants again? When you bent over to help O’Sullivan, were you hoping one of us would flip over this thin scrap of cloth and pull down your pants again? You were practically begging for it, barely clothed, sticking your arse out for the taking.”
His hand was no longer on his thigh, but had moved upward. He was groping him, trying to stroke him into getting hard, and Severus would have laughed if he wasn’t so terrified. There was no way he was going to be able to get it up after being tortured within an inch of his life.
“Is it true what they say?” Hurst asked, finally giving up on his cock and pushing up at his robe. “That the Death Eaters put a paperbag over your ugly face and pass you around like a party favor? That’s what Armand Pucey was saying, and he should know. He’s a disgusting little snake just like you. Has he taken the Dark Mark? Did he get a go at you too?”
Severus twisted and cursed, finally wrenching his hands free and scrambling for his wand. Hurst backed up, holding up his hands with his palms out in a show of surrender as Severus leveled his wand with one shaking hand.
“Come on, Professor,” Hurst chided in a voice that sounded exactly like James Potter’s. “You’re the adult here. I’m just a poor student. What would people say if they found out you tried to seduce me?”
Severus dropped in the chair in front of Dumbledore’s desk. “I need a raise,” Severus said.
Dumbledore looked up at him from his reports, confusion marring his face. “Severus, I–”
“No,” Severus interrupted. “Listen. I need a raise. I need money for new clothes. I need to look like a professor, or the students won’t respect me.”
The Headmaster thought it over, glancing at him from head to foot. “You’re right,” he said. “We’ll have to order you some new things. I can contact my tailor! How do you feel about robin’s egg blue?”
“My clothes will be black.”
“Really, Severus, you’re not going to a funeral–”
“They’ll be black,” he insisted. “You’re not going to make me look like some knock-off Merlin from a third-rate Muggle amusement park.”