Hagrid was the first to arrive, locking his eyes on the Potions Master as soon as he stepped through the doors, but he did nothing untoward or aggressive. He also did not offer a word of greeting, which suited Snape quite nicely. They appraised one another silently across the long table. Hagrid was well into his hundreds and it showed, but even though he'd long exceeded the typical lifespan of giants, the wizard blood in his veins had aged him well. He still looked as though he could crack Snape's spine with but a casual flick of his wrist.
Others whom Snape had never met filed into the Great Hall and eyed him with varying degrees of curiosity and contempt. Some of the younger ones even gave him stilted smiles, which he interpreted as pure bravado. Not afraid of me, then? You will be all too soon, you whelps, he thought. He gave each new arrival the same disinterested glance, then returned to his face-off with Hagrid.
Potter came in a step behind McGonagall, undoubtedly begging her right up to the last second to reconsider her decision. Snape raised an eyebrow as he registered that time had not been as kind to Potter as it had to Hagrid. He had more gray hair than Snape, and one of his eyes bore a stellate fracture in its center, black spokes radiating through the green. Snape had met the witch who had given Potter that wound; she'd been lauded as a hero in Azkaban, right up until the day she was murdered by some rival for her position in the pecking order. Potter took the seat directly to Snape's right, even though there were still a few other chairs available.
McGonagall began with introductions as the last of the staff arrived. "You remember Hagrid, who teaches Care of Magical Creatures and serves as Head of Gryffindor House. And of course Potter, our Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor and Head of Slytherin." Having already received the shock of that revelation, Snape showed no reaction to the announcement, certain that Potter was eying him in anticipation.
McGonagall was moving on to the Astronomy professor when the doors to the Great Hall fell shut with a rather loud clunk. The straggler earned the elevation of both Snape's eyebrows, as she was quite possibly the most odd-looking witch Snape had ever seen. It wasn't so much that she was missing her right arm; amputations were fairly common after the Great War. It was the fact that it looked as though the arm and part of her shoulder and torso had been bitten clean off by an enormous, round mouth. In addition, whip-like blue scars extended from the empty shoulder of her robe to her throat and the right side of her face. They were unlike anything he'd ever seen, and when she took the remaining seat, directly to his left, he noticed that they were moving, slowly writhing below her skin like so many snakes.
Of all the faculty at Hogwarts, she was the only one who did not give Snape so much as a glance. He had no sense that she was deliberately avoiding his gaze, but that she simply wasn't curious or interested in the slightest.
Well, neither was he. He noted only that her name was Pendragon and she taught Charms. Later, when he grew bored with McGonagall's tiresome prattle, he found it rather convenient to prop up his head upon his left arm, for, unlike Potter, Pendragon could not attempt to bump his elbow from the table.
When the teaching schedules were finally settled and the meeting closed, she was on her feet and stomping coldly out of the Hall before he'd even pushed his chair back. Snape watched her for a few seconds out of sheer surprise at having been upstaged. With a sidelong glance to his right, he noticed that Potter followed her with his gaze all the way to the doors. "A bit late for you to rescue that one, Potter," he noted.
Though Snape expected a scathing reply, or perhaps even a hex, Potter only said, very quietly, "I know."
The students arrived that evening, herded in like so many unruly cattle by Hagrid. The Sorting ritual was in many ways the same as always, yet not quite so. It galled Snape more than he cared to admit to see Potter smile and applaud for the students Sorted into Slytherin. It was also downright disconcerting to realize that the fearful and loathsome glances from the children were not, for the first time in Snape's memory, directed at him, but at the woman on his left.
Interesting, Madam Pendragon. Perhaps you are a contender for that coveted title of the most despised professor at Hogwarts? No sooner had he thought of it than he scoffed internally, lifting one edge of his upper lip in a faint sneer. We shall see, young lady, we shall see. Potter may have stripped me of my House, but you'll be hard pressed to keep up with me.