Year Six

Note: I first heard 'The Pink' in reference to Lana Lang from Smallville, but it seemed appropriate so I'm borrowing it from wherever it originally came from.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

"I think centaurs are my new favorite magical creatures," Severus announced as he strode into Albus's office.

Albus, who had been pretending to work on paperwork but was really examining his recently deadened hand, looked up at the Potion's Professor. "I assume there is some context I'm missing out on?"

"Despite your promises, you did little to nothing last year to rid me of The Pink. The centaurs, on the other hand, did something – I'm not quite sure what nor am I sure that I even want to know – to her and now she is gone," Severus explained patiently.

"The Pink?" Albus blinked. "Do you mean Professor Umbridge?"

Severus snorted. "Please, Headmaster. That woman may be many things, but a Professor is not one of them."

"Then whatever was I paying her for?" Albus asked dryly.

"That's a good question. I mean, all she did was force the students to read the textbook," Severus pointed out. He cocked his head, thinking. "Actually, I'm fairly certain Lockhart did the same thing, but at least he read out loud and acted things out with Potter, which was sure to cause some emotional scarring. And you never did end up paying him, did you, once he lost his memory?"

Albus pointedly avoided Severus's gaze. "You never let anyone take out their wand either."

Severus rolled his eyes. "Because I teach Potions. I have enough near-fatal incidents without the aid of wands. The minute one of those dunderheads – particularly in my Gryffindor Slytherin classes – becomes armed, those near fatalities I always gripe about will almost certain become actual fatalities."

"Perhaps you're right; a wand really has no place in a Potions Classroom," Albus agreed, completely disregarding the last part of Severus's statement. Surely if the situation was that bad, someone would have said something by now. Well, someone who wasn't blinded by anti-Slytherin sentiments.

"And as for your allegations that I was ignoring your pleas to rid you of Dolores Umbridge, I must remind you that I was rather busy last year," Albus reminded Severus. "Dark Lords to watch out for, prophecies to protect, fugitives to keep alive, wizards to persuade, Harry and my credibility to uphold…" Albus counted off.

"And let me be the first to tell you that you failed spectacularly at three of them," Severus said matter-of-factly.

"It's hardly my fault Sirius wouldn't just stay put," Albus argued. "I mean, he may have been a little sick of being under house arrest, but I told him that we had everything under control."

"Headmaster, have you ever met Black?" Severus asked rhetorically. "His precious godson by the unholy union of Lily and that wanker Potter was in danger. Again. Because of his own stupidity, arrogance, and refusal to go to adults when he had problems. Again."

"Severus, really, it isn't quite so bad as all that," Albus protested.

"In fact, I believe that I said something similar about Potter needing to turn to adults right after that whole fiasco with the Philosopher's Stone," Severus continued. "You said he'd eventually figure that out, but it looks like he never did. He got a man killed, Headmaster." As an afterthought, he added, "Even if it was only Black. I noticed they pardoned him posthumously."

Albus shrugged. "They had to do something to help spin the negative PR. And the prophecy was protected; Voldemort still has no idea what it says."

"But it's been destroyed. Four fifth years and two fourth years were attempting to keep it from at lest half a dozen Death Eaters and it's only a bloody miracle that kept the prophesy from falling into their hands," Severus said, allowing a trace of frustration to creep into his voice.

"Call it whatever you will, the fact remains that it was perhaps for the best that the prophesy was destroyed as now Voldemort will never be able to gain access to it as Harry and I are the only ones who know the entirety of it," Albus said sagely.

"You do realize that Potter has got to be the worst Occlumens in the school and any half-trained Legilimens could pull that information out of his mind and go running straight to the Dark Lord? If nothing else, you know Draco Malfoy has been recently initiated, all too stupid and enthusiastic to realize what he's getting himself into, and spends quite a bit of time around Potter already?" Severus reminded him.

"So keep them apart," Albus suggested.

Severus took a deep breath before replying. "That's like trying to keep the Marauders away from me: it's just not going to happen."

"And Harry and my credibility are doing just fine," Albus said loudly, dutifully ignoring the beginning of yet another lecture about his tendency to favor Gryffindors. So he had a little residual House Pride. Was that really such a bad thing?

"After the Dark Lord was stupid enough to come to the Ministry personally in the middle of an attack that was sure to have triggered some sort of alarms," Severus replied. "I just don't understand why he would do that. I mean, if he was willing to come personally, he should have waited until all of excitement about the battle died down or, alternatively, just entered the Ministry and stole the prophecy without all of the drama? And what was to prevent a Death Eater from coming in and removing the prophecy without picking it up? He could have knocked it off the shelf. Or if that wouldn't work, he could have broken it. Since all those involved at the Ministry Battle would appear to be just as sane as they were when they went in – which, admittedly, isn't necessarily saying a whole lot – that's proof that someone could do that without going insane. Since prophecies state their contents aloud after being broken, there was nothing stopping anyone from coming in, breaking it, and then recording the prophesy. Even if he couldn't remember it word for word, the Dark Lord could have simply used legilimency to get the information," Severus ranted.

"That's…quite a speech," Albus managed to say. "I would not presume to understand what Voldemort is thinking, but I can hazard a guess that perhaps he did not put as much thought in alternative methods of obtaining the prophecy as you did."

"Which, in of itself, is very sad considering I just came up with those now," Severus muttered.

"You always were very creative," Albus told him. "Now, not that I don't enjoy verbal sparring with you, but I do have a war to coordinate and not quite a year in which to plan out Voldemort's destruction."

"Why can't you have his destruction take place now so you can be around to see if anything goes wrong – and it will if Potter or Lupin are involved – and compensate accordingly?" Severus asked petulantly.

"Harry's not nearly ready," Albus responded gravely.

Severus rolled his eyes. "Well, if Potter's not ready, then by all means take another year or two, never mind all those silly little people DYING all over the place."

"Severus, please," Albus said firmly.

Severus sighed heavily. "I'm here to apply for the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor."

"Severus…" Albus began softly.

"You've found Slughorn, haven't you?" Severus cut him off harshly.

Albus nodded. "I'll going to go see him tomorrow. Are you really certain that you can beat this curse?"

"Under the circumstances, probably not," Severus confessed.

"Circumstances?" Albus repeated.

"Once I kill you, there will be no going back."

"You don't know that it will come to that," Albus tried to reassure him.

"Yes I do," Severus countered. "You're right; it's either me or Draco and Draco is only a child. I'll do what I have to do."

"I did tell you that I sometimes think we sort to soon, didn't I?" Albus asked.

"Don't insult me by comparing me to a Gryffindor," Severus bit out.

"Very well," Albus bowed his head. "What are your qualifications for teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts?"

"I've been a spy for nearly half of my life and involved in the war even before that. I've watched out for Potter and kept him safe from the Dark Lord and yet he still thinks I'm loyal. I'm watched amateurs come and go and have forgotten more than most of them have ever known about the Dark Arts. I'm willing to sacrifice everything to bring an end to this war." The declaration was quiet, but passionate.

"After fifteen years, Severus, I think you've more than earned it. Congratulations."

Note: The end of the chapter wasn't really very amusing, but to be fair, they were talking about setting Snape up to be one of the most hated men in the country after being forced to kill Dumbledore.

And while I understand that Dumbledore would have had a great deal of difficulty doing Harry's job in Book 7 (though he still could, technically), Dumbledore never actually tells Snape much about his plan, so naturally he would have no idea why it couldn't be done.

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