A/N: A few lines of dialogue and description are borrowed directly from POA: ‘The Boggart In The Wardrobe’. The entire Potterverse is the property of JK Rowling. No money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
I Regret This Already
Severus Snape stalked through the corridors in what appeared to be a bad mood, but was in fact simply his default ‘do not address, impede, or otherwise disturb me in any way’ face. Nevertheless, it did not brighten his day, as he pushed open the door and entered the staff room, to find Lupin already sitting drinking tea alone in there. It was only the first week of term, and already Snape was beginning to dread bumping into the werewolf around every corner and behind every door. For a moment, he entertained the thought of quietly shutting the door again and slipping away unnoticed, but in that instant Lupin had looked up and seen him hovering in the doorway. Damn and blast.
“Good morning, Severus,” Lupin said pleasantly, as though he were delighted to see his childhood enemy interrupting his tea break. “Would you like some tea?”
Snape scowled at him. “No, I wouldn’t.” He cast his mind around for an excuse to leave without seeming stupid. Not that he didn’t usually relish the opportunity for interaction with other people, or anything, but he had nothing to say to the latest idiot to beat him to the Defence Against The Dark Arts job and he didn’t think he wanted to hear anything Professor Lupin wanted to say to him either. “I merely came in to get my cloak,” he said, looking down his hooked nose at Lupin.
Lupin shrugged and picked up a copy of August’s Transfiguration Today, which had been left on the coffee table. Feeling a mixture of smug and relieved, Snape made towards the old oak wardrobe in which the teachers kept their travelling cloaks and outdoor robes. He didn’t really need to go out, though; besides, those things were patrolling the boundaries. Would it be too ridiculous if he retreated to his rooms, just to hide from Lupin? Maybe he –
His train of thought was interrupted by an odd noise behind him, while at the same moment Lupin called out, “Snape, no!”
Snape looked over his right shoulder at the sound just as his left hand touched the handle on the wardrobe door. He barely had time to register that Lupin had jumped out of his seat, one arm outstretched in warning and the magazine dropped on the floor, just before the expression on Lupin’s face slid smoothly from urgency through shock and into horror as his eyes moved from Snape’s face to the space behind him. At the same time, a terrible howl came from said space and Snape whirled around, disregarding Lupin, wrenching his wrist in his hurry to pull out his wand.
He forgot to breathe. A werewolf, a huge, snarling beast with gigantic, razor sharp teeth and claws to match was emerging from the wardrobe, foaming at the mouth and making an alarmingly aggressive noise. He stumbled backwards, panicking, and shouted, “Stupefy!” with as much force as he could muster. A powerful jet of red light shot from his wand and crashed into the wardrobe, causing it to wobble and creak – but the wolf was so close, and so large: how could he possibly have missed, there was no way that the spell could have gone through –
“Snape –” cried Lupin again, and he was suddenly by his side. Snape didn’t look at him; fixated on the werewolf, he raised his wand to try again. “It’s a Boggart, it’s not really –”
But the realisation was already dawning on Snape; how could he have been so stupid to think that there was a werewolf inside a cupboard, for Merlin’s sake? How utterly ridiculous! And speaking of which, werewolves might terrify the living daylights (and the sense, apparently) out of him, but a Boggart was something he was confident he could deal with.
But Lupin had seized his arm, shouting, “Wait!”; Snape’s spell missed completely, soared upwards and shattered the light fitting.
“Bloody hell, Lupin!” Snape roared as the Boggart-werewolf did likewise, spit flying from its mouth as it shook its massive head. Lupin was trying to drag Snape backwards, but Snape fought him, convinced that he was out of his mind.
“My – my Boggart,” panted Lupin as the two men struggled, knocking over a table and sending the lamp and chess set on it flying. “For class –”
“What?” shouted Snape, stunned. There was a resounding crack, and the werewolf was suddenly gone, replaced by a replica of the moon hanging unsupported in mid-air. It was oddly silent without the snarling and teeth-snapping. “And get off me!” Lupin released him, and he backed off, completely dumbfounded, his eyes flicking between Lupin and the now-benign creature. He watched in astonishment as Lupin grabbed the Boggart and physically forced it back into the wardrobe. Having accomplished that, Lupin turned round to face him as the wardrobe doors banged loudly.
“Your Boggart,” Snape said through clenched teeth.
“Let me explain,” began Lupin, but Snape was in no mood to listen. His dislike of Lupin was growing exponentially by the second.
“And I thought Lockhart was incompetent,” he spat derisively. He could feel the colour rising in his face; why did it have to be Lupin, of all people, who’d witnessed his worst, most embarrassing, fear? He turned away to cover his reaction and surveyed the damage they’d done to the room. In less than a minute it had gone from vaguely untidy to looking as though a herd of rampaging Erumpets had thundered through.
“I had no idea your Boggart took the form of a werewolf,” said Lupin quietly from behind him.
Snape snorted. He found that difficult to believe, somehow. He’d better start with the glass from the smashed light, or he’d cut himself to ribbons on it trying to clear up the rest. He squatted down and waved his wand over the glass. “Reparo.”
“What?” snapped Snape without looking around. “Go on, then, gloat about it, you always thought it was hilarious, didn’t you?”
“I did not,” the other man replied hotly, and there was such vehemence in his voice that Snape was compelled to twist his shoulders and look up at him. His face was set into hard lines.
Snape made a noise of disbelief anyway. “Spare me. You and Black and Potter, thick as thieves –”
“Don’t you dare,” Lupin snapped at him, and he stopped mid-tirade, surprised. “Don’t talk to me about Sirius! You – you have no idea, you understand nothing–”
Snape stood up slowly, feeling a fine layer of powdered glass crunching beneath his feet. “I know that Sirius, and you and Potter, tried to kill me,” Snape replied softly, and he was shaking now not out of fear, but anger. “He didn’t think twice about murdering Pettigrew, did he, the traitorous little –”
Lupin made a sudden movement and Snape found himself nose to nose with the genuine werewolf that occasionally tormented him in his nightmares. “You’re a fine one to talk about traitors, Snape,” he said icily.
Unable to think of a retort which was neither hypocritical nor childish just then, Snape turned away huffily and bent to pick up the overturned table. To hell with Lupin. He didn’t need to justify himself to anybody; he’d paid dearly, many times over for his mistakes a long time ago.
He heard Lupin sigh, and looked up to see him gathering the disgruntled chessmen that were scattered around the floor. Lupin set the pieces on the table and saw that he was staring.
“I didn’t know. I swear, I never wanted to hurt anyone. Do you really think that I’d’ve risked everything – my place at Hogwarts, my friends, my freedom – just to get one up on you?”
Snape set his face into an impassive mask. “I don’t believe you. Live with it.”
“You do,” said Lupin accusingly. “You just want a reason to hate me. Goodness knows I’ve enough to hate you.” Snape squinted at him, but he waved away Snape’s objection. “Sirius betrayed all of us. He would have made me a murderer, he sold James and Lily to Voldemort –” Snape flinched and his stomach gave a horrible lurch. “And you know what he did to Peter.” He fussed with the chess pieces on the table for a moment, and then Summoned the lamp.
Snape considered the truth of these statements for a moment. “That night,” he said, and from the look on Lupin’s face he could tell that he knew which night he meant. “Did Potter know?”
Lupin looked doubtful. “He always denied it.” He held up the lampshade, which was now crumpled with a small rip in the top, and looked at Snape expectantly. Snape tapped it with his wand and the shade smoothed itself out and knitted together. “My best friend, Severus, my –” It looked as though he caught himself just in time and changed whatever he was going to say. Snape let it go unremarked upon. “He did worse to me than to you, if you’ll believe that,” he continued stiffly. “He always said that it was a joke, that he never meant for you to get hurt, just scared, but now, knowing what we do …” Lupin trailed off, and his tone and expression were full of remorse.
“Why are you telling me this?” asked Snape, almost lost for words at all these unexpected revelations.
It was Lupin’s turn to look sceptical. “Haven’t you always wanted to know?” He sounded bitter. Snape gave no answer. “I won’t apologise for your Boggart,” he continued. “That isn’t my fault.” He gave a small smile. “Although I’m sorry I didn’t mention there was one in the wardrobe.”
He held out a hand towards Snape, who eyed it with suspicion. “You shouldn’t have stood by and watched all those times,” he said.
Lupin’s expression grew irritated. “No, I shouldn’t have,” he said impatiently, withdrawing his hand and making as if to leave.
Snape suddenly (and for the first time so far as he remembered) felt as though Lupin were more the victim than he. “Lupin – wait,” he said, and he grudgingly extended his own hand. Lupin, looking surprised, took it, and they shook hands briefly. There was a rather awkward silence. “You should inform the Headmaster about the Boggart,” said Snape uncomfortably.
Lupin nodded. “I’ll do that.” He looked away, and Snape took that as a sign to make a hasty retreat to the dungeons.
By the time he’d reached his office, he was regretting his actions. Had he really just offered an olive branch to the tame monster who’d once almost torn him into little pieces and eaten him? The smug, sanctimonious prefect who’d feigned blindness and deafness while his friends made Snape’s life miserable? The underqualified perpetual-victim who’d been given the job for which Snape applied and was rejected every year?
Entering the office, Snape slammed the door behind him with rather more force than was necessary and tossed his cloak at the uncomfortable chair usually reserved for the unlucky students who found themselves hauled in front of him. He caught sight of himself in the mirror over the mantelpiece and made a face of disgust at himself. “That pretentious, self-righteous twat manipulated me,” he told his reflection sourly.
The Severus in the mirror stared back at him, looking distinctly unimpressed. “Well go back on whatever you said or did, then,” he said blandly. “And your hair needs washing.”
His reflection ducked out of the frame as Snape seized a piece of chalk from the top of a cabinet and chucked it at him.
Remus was furious. How dare Snape bully Neville like that! The git obviously hadn’t changed a jot. He raised his eyebrows and affected mild surprise, and said something in support of the hapless Longbottom. Perhaps Snape realised that he couldn’t wind Lupin up, at least not in front of a whole class, for he stalked away in what looked like it might become a full-blown tantrum. Remus tried very hard to maintain a passive expression.
“Now then,” he said, leading the group towards the Boggart, which chose that moment to give a particularly violent protest at its imprisonment inside the wardrobe. Several people flinched away, looking nervous. Neville had somehow jumped the farthest of all. He tried to sound reassuring. “Nothing to worry about. There’s a Boggart in there.”
Neville, poor child, looked terrified, and continued to do so all the while that Remus was explaining what exactly a Boggart was and what it did. Well, he had promised Snape that Neville would not be a failure in this class, and Longbottom was a Gryffindor, after all. And Remus wouldn’t let anyone get hurt. “Right, Neville,” he addressed the boy, who promptly went pink and looked even more horrified. “First things first: what would you say is the thing that frightens you most in the world?”
Professor Snape … made to look comical … Remus suppressed a mischievous grin. Snape was going to pay for his spite. Remus would make him a laughing stock.
A/N: Thanks for reading! If you’ve got a minute, comments and/or criticisms are always much appreciated :-)