With thanks to Carrie for holding my hand and laughing in the right places, and to Jo, Sherry, Liz and Kathy for all the encouragement. It wouldn’t have been written without you!
The door to the Hogwarts staff room flew open and a furious figure with hair of pink feathers strode in. The door slammed behind him and the entire room went silent, watching as he snatched a cup from the table and filled it with steaming black coffee. He took a long sip and then turned, glowering at the rest of the room, daring them to comment on his unusual appearance.
“Canary Cream, Severus?” Minerva McGonagall extended a silvery tray heaped with biscuits in his direction. Her lips twitched when she saw the livid expression on his face.
“Ha! Ha!” he retorted bitterly, and took another drink from his cup.
“Oh, don’t be such an old grouch,” a silvery-bearded Persephone Sprout chuckled from the chair nearest the window. “You’ve had worse things than this happen to you. Remember the time when Fred and George Weasley enchanted that cauldron to vomit all over you every time you went near it? It took you a full fortnight to work out how to get rid of that charm.”
Snape grunted and sank into an ancient leather armchair by the fire. A couple of tiny pink feathers broke loose and drifted slowly downwards.
“How long before this wears off?” he grumbled. “This morning’s lessons have been a complete waste of time. The Hufflepuff O.W.L. class thought it was hilarious.”
“I can’t imagine it’ll be much longer; Potter’s only a first year,” Minerva said bracingly. She chuckled suddenly, “Although I could quite get used to this new look. The leathers alone would cause quite a stir at the next Wizengamot gathering.”
Before anyone had a chance to respond, the door swung open again, and a whistled rendition of ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ wafted through the air. Remus Lupin crossed the threshold and struck a pose, his golden lamé evening gown swishing seductively around his ankles. He grinned at the rest of the staff.
“The heels are killing me,” he confessed, hobbling slightly over to the table to get his own coffee. “I can’t believe witches actually voluntarily wear these things. Still,” he glanced down at his chest, “it could have been worse; at least she didn’t think to give me breasts.”
Minerva McGonagall choked on her tea and sent it spraying everywhere.
“Oh, it’s all very well for you to laugh,” Snape turned on her. “You didn’t get lumbered with this progeny of Potter’s in your house. I swear she’s been in detention every night since she got here.”
“I think it’s only fair that you get your turn,” Minerva smiled sweetly back at her colleague. “Not only did I suffer the joys of Fred and George Weasley, but I also had her grandfather and Sirius Black to contend with when they were here. And that’s not to mention her parents’ propensity for getting themselves into dangerous situations. I think I deserve some time off after all that.”
“Hope Potter seems to have her entire family’s trouble making instincts concentrated in one small person,” Severus grumbled. “At least you had a milder form spread across a few decades.”
Remus raised his eyebrows. “She’s not a bad kid,” he commented. “To be honest, I’ve never seen her behaving like this at home.”
“Oh yes, at home,” Severus snorted derisively. “Spoiled rotten, I’m sure. The joys of having teenage parents.”
“Not really. She’s been very sheltered from the outside world, but given what Harry and Ginny have been through, I can’t say I blame them for that.” Remus collapsed into a chair and gave a great sigh of relief. He leaned forwards and began rubbing his ankles to get the circulation flowing again. “If I had to put money on why Hope’s behaving like this, I’d say it’s because she’s unhappy.”
“Being placed in Slytherin must have been a shock for the poor girl,” Professor McGonagall murmured, arching an eyebrow at the others behind Snape’s back.
“More like a shock for Slytherin,” Snape groaned. “I’m going to be grey or bald before I’m done with her! She’s only finished her first week and I’m tearing my hair out already.”
“Don’t get your feathers ruffled,” Professor Sprout chuckled.
Snape shot her a withering glare. “Potter’s got another six years to go at this school, presuming I resist the urge to murder her outright this year.”
“Perhaps you should talk to her, Severus?” Minerva’s voice quavered on the brink of laughter. “Try and be a sympathetic head of house and get her to tell you what’s bothering her.”
“Sympathetic?” Snape practically howled in outrage. “Sympathetic? The bloody child’s a menace. In a week she’s managed to break about fifty school rules and turn the staff into extras from a pantomime in the process. You’re a hell-raising hooligan, Lupin’s next port of call is the Miss Witch beauty pageant, Persephone looks like she’s auditioning for a part as one of the seven dwarfs and I’ve been turned into a cross-dressing flamingo. You want me to be sympathetic?”
The assembled teachers burst out laughing, their hysteria worsening as Hagrid passed beneath their window on his way back down to his cabin, singing softly to himself.
“Don’t worry. About a thing. ‘Cos every little thing gonna be all right”
“It’s clever, you’ve got to give her that!” Minerva McGonagall chuckled, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Not many first years would be able to pull this off.”
“There’s talent there, all right,” Snape said gloomily, “but you try and make her use it in class. I was expecting trouble when I found out she was sharing a dormitory with Rachel McNair, but nothing as bad as this. Even detentions aren’t a deterrent. She’s very obliging and quiet during them, and then she goes out and does something worse. It’s as if she doesn’t care.”
“Maybe she doesn’t,” Remus said quietly. All heads turned to stare at him, suddenly serious now. “Hope asked Minerva about a re-sorting, and I’m sure she’d have been expecting to be in Gryffindor. If you ask me, she’s decided that she’d rather not be here at all than to be stuck in Slytherin.”
“Marvellous. Simply marvellous!” The sarcasm dripped off Snape’s tongue. “She wants to be expelled. As if having the fiend from hell in my house wasn’t enough, she’s only going to get worse. What’s she going to do next? Turn all the house elves into can-can dancers?”
“She could always use a good switching spell and change the common rooms around,” Persephone Sprout suggested cheerfully, and twirled her lengthy beard with her fingers. “That way she could be in Gryffindor without any of the hassles. If the mountain won’t go to Mohammed, then…”
“Then Mohammed will be put in detention until there’s an anti-switching spell on the Slytherin common room,” Snape said brusquely.
“Spoil sport,” Remus Lupin was heard to mutter under his breath.
A rumble of thunder seemed to be coming nearer, and as the staff room door opened again, a very bedraggled Sybill Trelawney squelched in with the rain cloud still hanging heavily above her head. She poured herself a cup of tea and perched on one of the upright chairs at the table, letting the drizzle puddle around her feet.
“Any signs of things brightening up?” Remus asked.
“I’m afraid not, dear boy,” the Divination teacher said with a heavy sigh. “It looks as if this inclement weather may be continuing for some time.”
At these words the cloud’s greyness seemed to evaporate, and it shrank back quickly into full fluffy whiteness. There was a distant sound of bird song and the glow of soft sunshine radiated down on the dripping form of Sybill Trelawney. She looked a little startled, but proceeded to drink her tea.
When she’d finished, she turned her cup upside down and rotated it several times upon the saucer. Snape gave an audible groan.
“You’re not in your classroom now, Sybill.”
She took no notice, but peered at the clumps of tea leaves within her white porcelain cup. Her eyes widened, magnified to the size of dinner plates by her huge spectacles, she gasped aloud in horror and her hand fluttered dramatically up to her throat.
“So how’s the Quidditch season coming along?” Remus interjected. “Got your team sorted out yet, Minerva? Severus how about you?”
“A terrible fate is about to befall someone in this room,” Sybill said in a hushed whisper.
“Oh dear!” Professor McGonagall said, sounding quite delighted by the concept.
“The fates are nothing to be trifled with,” Professor Trelawney’s awed voice now showed traces of irritation. “You should not be so disbelieving.” Professor Trelawney revolved the tea cup again in her hands, peering intently at it and went back to her mistiest of voices. “Severus, my dear, you must beware a form of darkness that has never before been seen. It forms a shroud around you, luring you to your doom.
“There’s a surprise,” Snape drawled.
Sybill Trelawney looked up at him sharply. “This is something to be feared. A terrible event looms in your future?”
“Hope Potter?” Remus suggested to muffled laughter from the other staff.
“The things you fear will worsen in time…”
“Worse?” Snape spluttered. “How can it get any worse?”
“Think about her family background,” Professor McGonagall said, and her lips pursed themselves together. “Her mother was pregnant during her sixth year. Just imagine in a few years hence…” Minerva’s voice drifted off and Snape turned a sickly shade of pale, “… you could talk to her all about the practical application of method.”
“Sex education; vitally important,” Remus agreed, nodding his head solemnly.
Severus stared at the two of them with undisguised horror, and several pink feathers moulted from just above his forehead. Minerva rocked back and forth in her chair, barely able to control her mirth.
“Can you imagine Severus teaching that?” she chuckled helplessly. “Take one male and one female, add precisely twelve kisses and remove clothing. Leave ingredients to simmer for fifteen minutes, agitating every now and then…”
Snape smiled wryly.
“I’m sure your Gryffindor first years have their own variety of idiocy, like they always do. I’d give it until the end of the week before I catch some of them out of bed being all brave and noble in some corridor or other.”
“Without question,” Minerva agreed, “although you do appear to be winning hands down on this particular competition, especially with Hope Potter on your side. I wonder if it’s possible for Slytherin to end up with minus figures in the house points.”
“I’m sure we’ve enough talent even to withstand what a liability like Potter can do,” Severus said, with a casual shrug of his hands. “What I don’t understand, is what did I do to deserve having her as one of my problems? Why didn’t I get a nice, easy, pliable child to deal with; the offspring of the Dark Lord would have been a picnic in the park by comparison. Potter’s father was arrogant enough, her grandfather was worse…” He paused and put his head in his hands and groaned. “How old does that make me feel? I was at school with her grandfather!”
“Believe me, it’s worse when you’ve taught her grandfather,” Minerva smiled, tossing her shining mane of hair back over her leather-clad shoulder. “And, as you well know, this is nothing compared with what James and Sirius used to do.”
Remus chuckled, long and low in his throat. “No, I remember a time when they charmed every suit of armour in the castle to make amorous advances on the Slytherins. You got quite friendly with that one on the fourth floor, didn’t you, Severus?”
The Potions Master glared venomously at him. “She’s not there yet, but give her time. I’m going to have to talk to the Headmaster about her, I suppose.”
“Might be worth owling her parents first,” Professor McGonagall suggested. “From what I know of their family, she’s very close to her father. He might be able to suggest something.”
Remus’ eyes clouded over. “Be careful there, Severus,” he warned. “Ginny’s not having the easiest of pregnancies. Try and get hold of Harry directly if you’re going to contact home.”
Snape nodded curtly, but before he had a chance to reply, there was a frantic hammering at the door.
Professor Sprout levered herself out of her chair and wandered across to see what the disturbance was. A frantic Gryffindor student was battering hard on the door to gain attention, panic written across her face.
“P-Professor,” the tall blonde girl stuttered. “Is Professor McGonagall there? Oh! You’ve got to come quickly.”
“Whatever is it?” Professor Sprout cried in surprise. The other staff got to their feet, Lupin wobbling slightly as he balanced precariously on his stiletto heels.
“I was…” the girl began.
“Which of you lot did it?” a furious roar came down the corridor and the Slytherin head boy bounded into sight. “You’ve got a bloody nerve…”
“That’s enough!” Snape growled and the boy fell silent at once, glowering at his Gryffindor counterpart. “What happened, Forth?”
“They’ve been into out common room and nicked all the furniture, Sir!”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It was you stealing ours,” the girl retorted.
“Or a good switching spell?” Lupin suggested, a small smile tugging at his lips.
“Potter!” Snape breathed furiously under his breath.
The staff hurried to the door as one to deal with the chaos that was now erupting into the corridors from the two houses. Shrieks, and yells and explosions rocked the school.
“Just one thing, Severus,” Minerva said. She caught hold of the silken sleeve of Snape’s negligee and drew him to one side before they left. “Can I borrow your nightie next Thursday?”
Snape paused, and stared searchingly at his colleague. His usually stern face twitched into a grin. “Only if I can have your leathers.”