Title: Academic Jeopardy
Author: Persephone Yavanna the Entwife
Pairing/Characters: Severus, Mr. Crabbe and Mr. Goyle
Rating: G for gen (in other words, completely work-safe!)
Disclaimer: JK Rowling and assorted others have rights to create derivative works within the Potterverse, but I am not one of those licensees, unfortunately. Rather not be sued for playing with the characters, though . . . not making a profit here, just exploring the characters and situations created by the esteemed Ms. Rowling.
Summary: Death Eater parent-teacher conferences
Author Notes: First time writing fanfiction, Potterverse or otherwise. This is the second of the stand-alone vignettes from my NaNoWriMo 2006 project to be "published" on LiveJournal.
Severus was not looking forward to this. Not in the least.
He’d had to inform two of his Death Eater colleagues that their sons were not doing well in their classes and in fact might end up failing one or more of their O.W.L. exams.
As Head of House, it was his duty to do so -- a duty he disliked intensely.
After owling the students’ parents, he awaited the coming parent-teacher conferences with dread.
He was sure the students in question were too.
The fire in his fireplace flared and Vincent Crabbe’s father stepped out of the flames, followed shortly thereafter by the elder Goyle.
“Welcome, gentlemen. I must confess I’m a bit surprised to see you both here at the same time. I had thought you might want to discuss the . . . situation . . . with me separately,” Severus said as he rose to greet the two men.
Mr. Goyle shook his hand, as did Mr. Crabbe, then both men sat in the chairs in front of Snape’s desk.
“Well,” Mr. Goyle began, “we were talking -– after getting your owls, a course –- and we was thinking that maybe it were best to see you tagether, seeing as our two lads is seemingly in the same boat. And being as they is very close in all they does.”
Mr. Crabbe nodded his agreement with the statement and continued, “Just like their fathers, they is -– two peas in a pod.”
“Yep, two peas we is, ain’t that right,” Mr. Goyle said with a smile. “So’s we was thinking that since our boys is in this same sitch’ation –- tagether-like -- that wot helps one would likely help t’other, too. Ain’t that right?”
To which question the elder Crabbe nodded and continued, “That you is, mate, that you is.”
“Now, Perfessor Snape, we knows you is doing yer best by our lads. We knows better than anyone our boys ain’t exactly Ravenclaws under the skin, ain’t that right, Crabbe?”
“Right you is, right you is,” the elder Crabbe replied.
“And we also sees that of all their grades, their best ones is in Potions,” said Mr. Goyle.
“I’d like for you both to know that your two boys earned those grades -– they deserved them for their hard work,” Severus said.
“Right you is, Perfessor, right you is,” Crabbe said with a chuckle. “Yer doing right by our lads, we knows that.”
“Yes, we knows that,” Goyle echoed. “And we also knows that there is limits to what you can do with our Vin and Greg -– none knows that better than ourselves.”
“They has their talents -– but book-learning ain’t one of them,” Crabbe said.
“Well, I have had Draco Malfoy tutoring them more this year than in the past, but with their grades this year, especially in Defense against the Dark Arts, I’m not sure that will be enough,” Severus said to the two men.
“Pardon our asking, Perfessor, but why is our boys having so much trouble with Defense this year? They was always able to get through before . . . “ asked Crabbe.
“Mayhap just getting through, but they gots through,” Goyle added.
Snape leaned back in his chair, steepling his hands in front of him. “How to put this . . .” he began. “In prior years more of the curriculum was practical –- doing things. Creating a potion, transfiguring a pincushion, things of that nature. Those things your boys can do, and quite well I might add, once they’ve gotten their heads around certain things.”
“So wot’s changed then?” asked Goyle, looking puzzled.
“For most of the classes, not that much. But there has been a significant change in how Defense Against the Dark Arts is being taught this year. We have a Ministry official in the position now,” Severus said, his voice dripping with disdain, “and she has seen fit to turn the class from a pragmatic, deed-based course into a reading and writing class. And therein lies the problem.”
The faces of both Crabbe and Goyle fell.
“We knows our lads ain’t the best at reading,” Goyle said.
“Nor at the writing,” Crabbe added.
“Yes, I know. That has always been their weak point, since they started here at Hogwarts. Draco and I have done what we could, but Vincent and Gregory will have to work much harder now than they have in the past.”
“Oh, we knows you and young Master Malfoy has been doing yer best for our boys,” Crabbe said.
“None knows that better than us,” Goyle says.
“The reading and the writing –- well, our lads have never been all that keen on that, have they now?” said Crabbe.
“No, that’s the truth -– never been keen on’t,” Goyle added.
“Well, unfortunately for Vincent and Gregory, those skills are vital now, particularly with Professor Umbridge in charge of Defense classes,” Snape said with a sigh.
“Wot do you suggest we do, Perfessor?” asked Goyle.
Snape rested his fingers against his lips for a moment before replying. What to say, what to say . . .
“Well, first off, I think both boys will need more tutoring than in years past. Draco can only do so much, since he has to do his own work for classes . . .”
“Oh, a course -– we understands that!” exclaimed Crabbe. “We knows he’s doing his best, he is -– the Malfoys has always been good to our families, ain’t that right?”
“Yes, right you is there, mate, right you is,” answered Goyle with a nod. “None better -– they takes good care of us, they does. Father and son, good care.”
“I can give them some additional tutoring myself, especially in Defense, but due to my other classes, I’m not sure I’ll be able to give them as much tutoring as they will need,” Severus said, frowning.
“Oh, we’d be more than pleased if you’d take them in hand in Defense, Perfessor!” Crabbe exclaimed with delight.
“Oh, yeah! That’d be a right treat, to have you teaching them Defense,” added Goyle, a smile breaking out on his face for the first time since he’d arrived.
Snape smiled at their enthusiastic response. “Thank you, gentlemen, for your vote of confidence in my abilities. One I wished the Headmaster shared . . .”
“That Dumbledore, he’s a fool not to have you teaching that class,” Crabbe said with some heat.
“A right fool,” echoed Goyle.
“Thank you for your kind words,” said Severus with a smile. “But we still have to see what we can do about getting your sons more tutoring. I’d thought of approaching old Nott’s son, Theodore. What say you to that idea?”
“Wot, young Ted?” asked Crabbe.
“The same,” replied Snape, as he watched their reaction.
“Now, Perfessor,” said Goyle, “I thinks that might be an idea -– a right good one. Think on’t now -– young Nott’s never really spent much time with our lads, not from wot I remember my Greg saying.”
“My Vin never says much about young Ted neither,” said Crabbe. “Most of the time he’s on about Greg or Draco -– I hardly ever hears about Ted.”
“Ain’t that the truth?” added Goyle. “And that’s not a good thing, ain’t that right? Not with old Nott working with us and all.”
“No, it ain’t -– we’s on good terms with old Nott and our boys should be with his lad too, don’cha think?” said Crabbe.
“Yep, right you is there, mate –- we gets on right well with Nott. I sees no reason why our lads shouldn’t get on with young Ted –- he’s a good boy, from wot I sees of him, ain’t that right?” Goyle said.
“A course you is right, none righter,” replied Crabbe.
“We is just a bit surprised-like that our boys ain’t been closer with young Ted, heretofore and such-like. We been thinking that all was right as rain there, and mayhap it ain’t,” said Goyle.
“Yep, bit of a surprise, that,” added Crabbe.
“Well, I have noticed that young Nott is not the most social of lads,” said Snape, resting his hands in his lap as he looked from one man to the other. “He’s always been a bit of a loner. I’ve always put it down to being a bit shy, personally. He keeps to himself most of the time.”
“Oh, that’s not good,” said Goyle.
“No, it ain’t,” added Crabbe. “Our boys should make more of an effort then, shouldn’t they then -– make young Ted feel more a part of the group.”
“Right you is, right you is. I think I’ll be having a chat with my Greg about that,” said Goyle.
“And I’ll be having one with my Vin,” added Crabbe. “Vin’s a great one for talking, ain’t that right?”
“Yes you is –- he’s a right gabber, that one is. Just like my Greg –- never get a word in edgewise with that lad,” Goyle said fondly.
Like father, like son, thought Snape, for both of them. He’d always enjoyed the verbal ping-pong match that occurred whenever the elder Crabbe and Goyle were around. As a teacher, he wasn’t usually privy to their sons’ conversations with their peers, but from what he’d observed, both seemed to be chips off the old blocks. Gregarious to a fault were the elder Crabbe and Goyle and so were their sons -– just what young Nott needed to bring him out of his shell. Draco had tried, but with limited success, and young Theodore had gotten more and more withdrawn as this year had progressed, no doubt because of his father’s health. Being the child of an elderly widower couldn’t be easy, thought Severus. He’d hoped young Nott would make friends more easily than he had, but the boy was a quiet lad. Much like myself in some ways, he thought. Perhaps this nudge to the younger Crabbe and Goyle might help Theodore . . .
“So I take it you approve of my plan?” asked Severus.
“A course we does! Ain’t that right?” exclaimed Goyle.
“Right!” agreed Crabbe.
“It’s a brilliant plan -– our lads gets to know young Ted better, Teddy gets to know our Vin and Greg better, and the Perfessor and young Malfoy gets a bit of a rest. Brilliant, I says, brilliant!” said Goyle with enthusiasm.
“Brilliant!” echoed Crabbe.
“Good, then we are agreed,” said Snape. “I shall speak to young Master Nott and we can set up a tutoring schedule.”
“And I’ll speak to my Greg,” said Goyle.
“And I’ll have a little chat with my Vin,” said Crabbe.
“I’ll make sure he tries real hard to chat up young Ted -– the lad needs friends, wot with his da being as old as he is,” said Goyle.
“Yeah,” said Crabbe,”that must be hard on’im -– lad like that needs friends his own age. I’m just sorry we didn’t knows to speak to our lads about that afore.”
“Being shy in’t easy on a lad, not easy,” said Goyle with a shake of his head. “Don’t know what I would a done without my boy here,” he said with a nod of his head in Crabbe’s direction.
“Same here, same here,” Crabbe said. “But we’ll make sure our lads give it a right good try with young Ted, now won’t we?”
“Yep, we will,” Goyle said with a nod. “A right good try.”
“Excellent,” said Snape. “I’m sure young Nott will do a good job tutoring your sons. His grades are excellent.”
“Glad to hear you say that, Perfessor, right glad,” said Crabbe. “But I still feel unquiet-like about that Defense class, being as you says it’s all reading and writing.”
“And us knowing that is not wot one might say is our lads’ strong points,” added Goyle. “Do you thinks you’ll be able to get them to pass their O.W.L. exams?”
Snape sat back. He’d been afraid of this question . . .
“Well,” he started, “I’ll admit it is not going to be easy to get them to pass, but we can all do our best. The good news is that part of the test is the practical -– I’ll certainly be able to help them there, never fear.”
Both Crabbe and Goyle smiled at that.
“However,” continued Snape, “the bad news is that the test also has a written portion -– a timed written portion.”
He saw their faces fall.
“For each of the subjects.”
He hadn’t thought the two men in front of him could look more morose than they had before, but he was wrong.
“They is going to be sent down, then, ain’t they, Perfessor?” said Goyle in a quiet voice.
“Not necessarily,” said Snape, wanting to give the fathers some hope, even if it were just a small one.
“Oh?” asked Crabbe, perking up a bit.
“If Vincent and Gregory manage to pass enough of their exams -– even if it is just barely pass -– they will be allowed to continue here at Hogwarts. While it is possible they might have to repeat a year, or at least sit some of the exams again, the Headmaster tends to be reluctant to expel students for poor academic performance.” He saw Crabbe and Goyle relax somewhat at hearing that.
“The key here is that they must make a decided effort,” Snape said emphatically. “I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of their passing a sufficient number of exams to have me be able to justify their continued presence in this school.”
“We understands you, Perfessor,” said Goyle.
“Yes, we does,” added Crabbe with a nod. “We’ll make sure we gets that through our lads’ heads.”
“Good –- see that you do,” Snape said. “They have to give me something to work with, here. I’m sure I can get them to pass Potions -– the other subjects will be decidedly harder, though.”
The two men nodded in unison.
“The timed written part,” Crabbe whispered.
“Yeah,” said Goyle with a shake of his head. “That’s going to be the killer for our boys, it is.”
“I’m afraid I can’t disagree with you there,” said Severus. “That will be their main challenge.”
“Will you be able to help them there, Perfessor?” asked Goyle.
“I’ll do what I can, but I can’t make you any promises. Your sons simply take longer to do certain things than other students do,” Severus said with a sigh.
“We knows, Perfessor, we knows,” said Crabbe. “Reading and writing was never their strong points, was they now?”
“No, they never was, never,” said Goyle, shaking his head and looking down.
“Good enough with their wands, though,” said Crabbe with a bit of paternal pride.
“True enough, that,” said Goyle, with a small smile. “Just not with their quills . . . “
“You certainly won’t hear me disagreeing with you, gentlemen,” Snape said. “But unfortunately the Ministry is the one administering the tests, not I. Had I a choice, I’d have Vincent and Gregory take practical and verbal exams, not written. But the choice is not mine, and so we must do our best to help our boys pass.”
“We is sure you’ll be doing everything on your end, Perfessor,” said Crabbe. “We knows you is doing yer best for our lads, none better.”
“We’ll just chat with our lads and make sure they knows wot’s at stake here. I’m sure they’ll want to please their das,” Goyle added. Crabbe nodded in silent agreement.
Severus had no doubt the younger Crabbe and Goyle would do everything possible to pass. He simply hoped their efforts would be enough.