What Is This Thing Called Love?

Chapter One: The New Year

Severus is reinstated as Headmaster, and calls his first staff meeting.

(i)This chapter is in response to the September 2009's OWL theme on 'Teachers'.

(ii) The characters and world of Harry Potter belong to J.K. Rowling. I make no money from this.

(iii) And last, but by no means least, a big thank you to my lovely beta, Chelsea.

Severus Snape was furious. And no, before you impertinently ask, it wasn't because it was a bright sunny afternoon in July. For those previously unaware of this fact, let me enlighten you that summer was one of Severus' favourite times of the year. No annoying students and hardly any foolish staff members asking him ridiculous questions. No, summer and July were usually good times for Severus. However, this summer, the summer in which he had been reinstated as Headmaster of Hogwarts following the demise of the Dark Lord, when he had thought his troubles were over, some fool in the Ministry had decided that an educational reform was required. Severus did not particularly disagree with the need for reform; in fact, if the Ministry were not trying to interfere and suggest curriculum change, he would have instituted it himself, but what annoyed him and drove him to his current black mood, was being told to do it.

So Severus did the only thing possible: he objected. And being the Slytherin he was, he made use of the school's influential Board of Governors to back him up. Thankfully, Lucius Malfoy had managed to evade prosecution yet again. His argument that he had not participated in any form in the final battle, coupled with Narcissa's testimony that she had lied to the Dark Lord to help save Potter, were enough to allow them to carry on with business as usual.

Three days later, enough fear and pressure had been placed upon the Ministry that the smart arse, who had thought of enforcing an educational decree, was reshuffled into another department, and Severus was allowed to carry on according to his own devices. The fact that Dumbledore's portrait in the Ministry had vouched for Severus, and had insisted most politely that the Ministry had no cause to poke their noses into Hogwarts, helped tremendously. Being assisted by the dead old fart did not please Severus, but he was enough of a Slytherin to use all the aid he could get. Dire warnings and remarks about Umbridge and her time at Hogwarts in the now monthly Order meetings, where Severus was treated like a strange and curious butterfly, had the Potter brat speaking out publicly in The Daily Prophet supporting the current headmaster's decision to avoid Ministry meddling.

So, Severus sat at his desk, toying with the idea of updating and modernizing Hogwarts curriculum. Finally, coming to a decision, Severus called McGonagall, Sprout, Flitwick and Slughorn, the Heads of the four Houses, to a meeting the following afternoon.

Minerva was the first to arrive. On seeing Severus seated not behind the headmaster's large desk, but instead on one of the armchairs cosily arranged around the low coffee table, she smiled sheepishly at him. Severus smirked inwardly. Minerva had yet to get over the manner in which Dumbledore had tricked them all, and her guilt and remorse at her previous year's vindictive behaviour now made Minerva Severus' strongest ally. "Good afternoon, Severus," she said tentatively.

Severus nodded in greeting. "I won't start to explain why I've called this first staff meeting earlier than usual because there's no point repeating myself," said Severus briskly. Then pointing to the silver tea service, he asked, "Tea?"

As Minerva helped herself to tea, Filius Flitwick and Pomona Sprout arrived together. They too greeted Severus with bashful smiles.

Severus sighed. The two months since the final battle had done much to see him now hailed as a hero and dashing spy for the Order, but his staff who had been on holiday had still not come to terms with their previous treatment of him. This was going to be tedious, realised Severus, for even though he did enjoy watching them squirm, it would not lend itself to the smooth running of the school. "Have some tea, and we will begin once Horace turns up."

Not long after, Horace Slughorn arrived. He was panting, as if the mere act of walking was now starting to take its toll on the wizard. "Sorry I'm late," he said, when he had had time to get back his breath. Taking the cup of tea handed to him by Sprout, he sat himself down on the comfortable armchair left waiting for him.

"Right then," began Severus. "Since you all know how much I despise foolish time-wasting on pleasantries, let me get to the point directly. First, will you all kindly get over the fact that you all acted like idiots last year. You were meant to believe that I was a loyal Death Eater. If I hadn't been able to deceive you, then I wouldn't have stood much chance before the Dark Lord. This is a new year and a new beginning. Give me you bloody apologies so that I can accept them and we can move forward."

At this, there was a bark of laughter from Minerva. Pomona, too, twittered, and Filius chuckled. Horace who was the only one in the room, who had treated Severus with respect, smirked at the returning headmaster.

Standing up, Minerva walked up to Severus and gave him an awkward hug. Severus was not one for physical affection, but this he accepted. He even stood to hug Minerva back which caused her to break into tears and mumble into his shoulder about how sorry she was.

"There, there," said Severus, patting her back. "The war is over, and all is forgiven." When Minerva finally released him, Pomona came over and shook his hand. "We're pleased to have you back, Headmaster," she said. "This year, you'll see first-hand the loyalty of the badgers."

"I'm pleased to be here and I look forward to all the houses working together. There is much change ahead and I am eager to begin," replied Severus sincerely.

Filius wiped his eyes. "My dear boy, I am so sorry. I'm so glad you have given us a chance to apologise."

Severus nodded. He, too, was feeling unexpectedly touched by his colleagues' honest remorse.

"Now that that is over, let us go about the planning for next year." Severus, rather uncomfortable with his emotional display, was keen to move on. "Even before the Ministry attempted to meddle with the Hogwarts curriculum, I thought that it was time we made some categorical changes. Most of you have heard or know of the discussions I've had over the years with Dumbledore about the need to teach the students not only DADA, but also a more in-depth understanding of the Dark Arts, so that they may know the pitfalls in using such magic. The battle has made this understanding more vital than ever before. Many of our returning seventh years and sixth years have cast what were—due to their intent—Dark or at least Deeply Grey curses and hexes. This will have tainted their magic, changed their auras. We need to address this, especially in the NEWT-level classes."

Severus paused. "Well, speak up. Tell me what you think."

Minerva looked apprehensive, but finally nodded. "I agree, Severus. I know Harry and Mr. Longbottom have both used curses that, though relatively Light, have resulted in death. Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley have attested to killing parts of Voldemort's soul, and that's just what I know of some of my returning Gryffindors. There will be much need of your proposed reforms."

Once Minerva agreed, the others were quick to show their support.

"Right then," said Severus. "Now that we know we want to alter the curriculum with an introduction into the Dark Arts, specifically with how that relates to a change in magic and the control of magic, we get into the trickier waters of staffing."

This comment was followed by a general air of amusement. Filling the DADA position had been for many years the year's biggest discussion.

Finally, it was Minerva who spoke. "I've been thinking; perhaps the junior years, especially the first to third years, could be taught by a combination of Mr. Potter and Miss Granger."

Severus was about to reject this plan, when Minerva raised her hand. "Please bear with me, Severus," she said. "Their DA produced and trained almost all of the children who fought in the last battle. Mr. Potter is, from all accounts, a good practical teacher, and Miss Granger is excellent in theory. If we can get them to do the junior years, then you can handle the Dart Arts part of the curriculum for the fifth- and seventh-year classes. This way, we only need to bring in someone part-time to teach the fourth- and sixth-years and fill in the gaps that remain in lesson construction, if you are unable to handle all of the fifth- and seventh-year syllabus. I know William Weasley is keen to spend more time with his family, especially now that his wife is with child, and he may be willing to step in."

"Hmm…" said Severus, thoughtfully. "Although I dislike the idea of Potter and Miss Granger on staff, the idea of Mr. Weasley coming in has merit. Let us put the idea before them and see if it is doable. Any comments or issues on this course of action?"

When the others did nothing more than show their agreement, Filius more gushingly than was required on Miss Granger's excellence in theory, Severus moved on to the next issue.

"Horace, I know you've been wanting to retire. Do you think you can go on for another year, or should we start looking for a replacement?"

A.N./ Love it or hate it, please to let me know what you think.