Year Two

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Albus winced slightly as Severus stormed into his office, robes billowing behind him, and slammed the door behind him. Severus always did know how to make an entrance. No doubt he was here to complain about Albus's last choice as Defense Professor. He always did, though admittedly Quirrell was slightly more offensive than his predecessor, poor Professor Brown, whose mother had passed away so unexpectedly and forced her to leave as she had to take up her duties as head of her family.

"I get that you don't want me within ten feet of that position, Headmaster, but really? You would hire the Dark Lord himself over me? Really?"

Albus didn't think he had ever seen Severus so upset, not even when young Sirius Black attempted to feed him to Remus Lupin during the full moon. He really should have known Black would end up dark after that little incident (the boy had only been sixteen, for Merlin's sake!) but his tendency to see the best of people had clouded his vision in regards to Harry's errant and apparently murderous godfather. Speaking of, Remus would make an excellent candidate for DADA teacher if one overlooked his unfortunate lycanthropy. Perhaps he should send out feelers for next year? Lord knows it would probably take a year to convince him. And possibly longer to convince Severus to brew Wolfsbane potions for one of his schoolboy tormentors and yet another person Albus had given the Defense position to instead of Severus.

And if the Potions Professor was mad now, Albus didn't even want to think about his reaction upon learning who Albus was planning to hire this year.

"Well?" Albus was surprised to find that Severus had still been ranting and was now expecting an answer.

"I did not realize that Voldemort was-"

"On the back of Quirrell's head?" Severus finished, sneering slightly. He usually managed to control himself better in Albus's presence, but this whole situation was proving to be a bit much for him.

"Well, no," Albus admitted. "I wasn't expecting Voldemort to be so bold, so desperate as to sneak into Hogwarts under my very nose. Even at the height of his power, he never dared, so why now?"

"It's exactly because he's so desperate. He's been out of a body for the last ten years and now he's suddenly handed this gloriously placed idiot, a teacher at your school, who just happens to stumble across him the year you hide the Philosopher's Stone at Hogwarts. Placing Dark-Lord bait in a school full of children is a truly reckless and horrible thing to do, by the way," Severus said, looking meaningfully at him.

Albus sighed. "Yes, yes, you've told me this many times before."

"And I was right, wasn't I? I knew that a student…I knew that POTTER wouldn't be able to resist," Severus said triumphantly.

"To be fair, it wasn't rampant curiosity, it was his desire to protect the Stone from Quirrell," Albus was quick to defend his favorite student.

Severus actually rolled his eyes at the Headmaster. "And how do you think he found out about it in the first place? Rampant curiosity. And if that boy wasn't so arrogant, he would have realized that first years are not supposed to go chasing after Dark Lords or possessed professors, they are supposed to tell responsible adults and make them listen. For that matter, they are supposed to have enough faith in the greatest wizard of our time to trust that the Stone would not be so shoddily guarded that by bypassing some rudimentary obstacles, a thief could get their hands on it. The Stone would have been in less danger if Potter could have left well enough alone," Severus said bitterly.

Severus and Harry had not exactly hit it off over the course of the year, but at least Harry didn't feel the need to complain about Severus every time he turned around. Or, at least not to Albus.

"Yes, yes," Albus waved Severus's concerns away. "However, you have to remember he is still only a child and has much to learn about our world. Given time, I'm sure he'll learn to trust and seek out responsible adults when he needs to instead of charging in foolhardily and getting someone killed."

Severus snorted in a way that showed that he seriously doubted that.

"But that's not why you're here, is it? You've come to apply for the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor for the," Albus checked his notes. "Eleventh time, correct?"

"Indeed," Severus sobered instantly.

"Harry will only be a second year next year and so he will still need five more years of protection that you will not be able to give him if you are unceremoniously cast from the castle as per the DADA curse," Albus said calmly.

Severus twitched. "I've already told you how you can get around the curse but I see that once again you refuse to listen to anyone who isn't in their triple digits. And is there any reason you're refusing to give me this job that doesn't involve Harry Potter?"

Albus chose to ignore the first part of Severus's statement for two reasons: He had to quickly come up with another reason he wouldn't give Severus the job and the man also happened to be right. "Of course there is!" he exclaimed, sounding shocked.

Severus raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Such as?"

"…I need to protect you from the Dark Lord and his followers. Now that you've turned-"

"The Dark Lord is in Albania and I'm fairly certain he has bigger things to worry about than me. Additionally, half of Britain is already convinced that I still support the Dark Lord, so I think I'm safe now, eleven years after the Dark Lord's fall," Severus remarked dryly.

"You can never be too careful," Albus said cheerfully.

"Yes, Albus, yes you can," Severus disagreed. "You've been at least six years too careful, if you ask me."

"And while the magical populace has come to accept a rather substandard and uneven education in Defense Against the Dark Arts due to curses beyond our control, Potions Masters of your caliber are few and far between. I will not sacrifice the Potions education of any Hogwarts student by providing them with a less than ideal learning environment and instructor," Albus declared nobly.

"Would 'a teacher who deeply loathes children' and 'having Gryffindors and Slytherins in the same class who attempt to murder each other by sabotaging the other House's cauldrons' count as a less than ideal learning environment?" Severus asked innocently.

"In any case, who would I hire?" Albus asked rhetorically, certain that Severus was exaggerating. Honestly, the man was brilliant but always had such a flair for the dramatic.

Severus started coughing something that sounded strangely like 'Horace Slughorn.'

"There is Horace, of course, but he's retired he enjoys that far too much to be persuaded back easily," Albus said sighing. "No, there really is no one who can replace you. You're just too valuable to lose right now."

"While I would normally be flattered," Severus said wryly. "I can't help but think that you're just making excuses."

"Severus, please, think of the curse," Albus entreated.

"Why haven't you gotten around to removing that curse yet?" Severus continued. "I mean, you're the most powerful wizard alive and the curse has been along for how long now? Over thirty years, at least."

"NEXT!" Albus called out quickly.

Swaggering in, a confident grin firmly in place, came Gilderoy Lockhart.

"You have got to be kidding me," Severus said incredulously. He rubbed his eyes. Lockhart was still standing there. "Gilderoy Lockhart? Honestly? First the Dark Lord and now this? Do you hate me, Albus? Is that it?"

"I see you've heard of me," Lockhart beamed. "Of course you have, I'm quite famous you know. Not to mention popular with the ladies." The applicant actually WINKED at them. Albus was beginning to get a really bad feeling about this. "You know," Lockhart continued, eyeing Severus critically. "I could recommend a brand of shampoo for you. Or ten. In fact, if you wait right here, I can go get some right now-"

"That's quite alright," Severus said, struggling to contain himself and heading for the door. "I'll just be going. If I don't show up for dinner, know that I've finally taken Madame Maxine up on her offer to teach Defense Against Dark Arts at Beauxbatons."

Sighing slightly at Severus's theatrics, Albus turned his attention back towards the blonde man in front of him who's greatest achievement to date – as he delighted in reminding everyone – was winning Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award. Still, he couldn't possibly be any worse than a professor who was secretly possessed by Voldemort and more concerned with killing Harry Potter, killing unicorns, and stealing the Philosopher's Stone than teaching and so Albus was willing to give him a shot. Besides, he was the only one who had applied. Thank goodness Charity Burbage had been satisfied with her position and he wouldn't have to go hunting for a new Muggle Studies professor as well. Although strangely, he never had any shortage of Muggleborn applicants eager to open students eyes to the Muggle World.

"Strange fellow," Lockhart remarked casually. "Rather surly. And once I finish that line of hair-care products I'm working on, I'll make sure to give him a lifetime supply. Seriously, that much greasiness…" he trailed off, sounding pained.

"Yes, well, Severus spends a lot of time around potions fumes and that really isn't conducive to hair like yours," Albus replied, wondering why in the world they were talking about Severus's hair at a staffing interview. It really was quite bizarre, but at least Lockhart hadn't started in on his hair and how he should get a haircut, which Minerva occasionally nagged him about. "What are your qualifications for teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts?"

"I was hoping you would ask me that," Lockhart said. "I've taken on banshees, ghouls, hags, trolls, vampires, werewolves, and yeti. I've managed to become incredibly rich and famous, but I think I've still kept my head on the ground. Basically, I'm just an ordinary – if incredibly handsome and talented – man and I think I can really reach these kids. Besides, I need time to write my newest book, Dealing With Dragons, and this will give me an excellent opportunity to sit down and write it out."

"Teaching at Hogwarts is a full-time responsibility," Albus told him seriously. "In addition to teaching classes, filling in for sick or incapacitated faculty, grading copious amounts of homework and class work, patrolling the halls, and handling the occasional detention, you never know what life will throw your way and so you must always be prepared for anything."

Lockhart nodded. "I understand that, but surely nine months is enough time for me to write one little book, particularly if I use a Quick-Quotes Quill."

"Those are illegal," Albus said sternly, ever the head of the Wizengamot.

"Only for interviews," Lockhart waved his concerns off. "Now, not to be rude, but could we please hurry this up? I've got a hair appointment in fifteen minutes."

"Of course. Now, while I'm not quite satisfied you fully understand what a huge time commitment this post is, I'm sure you'll learn in time. Welcome aboard, Gilderoy."

Lockhart looked mildly surprised that Albus had been considering NOT giving him the job and a little offended.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go talk my Potions Professor out of defecting to France," Albus said, walking his newest professor to the door.

Lockhart shuddered. "By all means. Oh, and give him my card, will you? Seriously, it's only a prototype right now, but it will do wonders for him, I'm sure."

Making a mental note to never, ever bring up Lockhart's obvious and somewhat disturbing desire to give his new colleague a makeover, he went off to find the man. At this rate he was beginning to think it would just be easier to risk the curse and simply hire Severus.

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