From a castle in Scotland, one bleak winter's day, Comes a story so odd that, yes, doubt it you may. In the year ninety-three, this tale happened at Yule, And it happened within Hogwarts Wizardry School.
For the wizards of Hogwarts loved all of the things That were merry and bright and that Christmastime brings. And Christmas at Hogwarts brought feasting and drinking, It brought toad choirs croaking and fairy lights winking,
And a towering Christmas tree in the Great Hall And (once in a blue moon) it brought a Yule Ball. So, the wizards of Hogwarts loved Christmas a lot. But the Snape, who lived down in the dungeons, did not.
No one knew why the Snape hated Christmas so much, Some said facing a werewolf had scarred him a touch, Some said serving Lord Thingy had made him a prat, But most said it was due to a vulture-topped hat.
For the Snape was an uppity, huffity sort, And the Snape could not stand to be made into sport. But when Longbottom dressed the Snape's likeness in drag, Then the Snape was joke fodder to every young wag.
And on Christmas Day, sitting down thirteen at table, Dumbledore (teasing the Snape) was quite able To fix the cracker nearest where the Snape sat, So that out, with a bang, popped a vulture-topped hat.
Oh the shame of the hat! How could the Snape bear it? He just pushed it away and let Dumbledore wear it. But when dinner was over the Snape slunk away, And he vowed that the wizards of Hogwarts would pay.
In his dungeon a cauldron he lit with a spark, And he filled it with newts' blood and green willow bark. Next he stirred it first widdershins, then east to west, Then the Snape added flavouring (he liked Bovril best).
He tested the brew on his own chintz settee, He beamed when it shrank to the size of a pea. Said the Snape, "I will not be the butt of their ruses, I shall strike while they take their postprandial snoozes."
Like an overgrown bat, he swooped out from his lair, And he stealthily stole up the Gryffindor stair. Sir Cadogan admitted him into the room, But search as he may, he could not find the broom.
For young Potter had received a Firebolt that morning, That the Snape planned to pocket and take, without warning. But the broom was elusive, it could not be found. So the Snape shrank some jumpers left lying around.
And the Snape continued making many things little, A large Christmas cake and a box of nut brittle, Some Gobstones, a chess set, the blazing Yule log, Till the place was as cold and as drab as a bog.
But the Snape's heart still hurt and his mind was still vexing, So he went to the bedrooms to try out some hexing. He touched Weasley's freckles and turned them to boils, And he shaped Potter's hair into viperous coils.
While Hermione slept soundly he cast a quick curse That made her teeth grow and her horrid hair worse. "Nothing permanent, mind you," the Snape muttered sadly, For he lacked the bravado to harm them too badly.
"They might laugh at the Snape while he's wearing a frock, Will they laugh when I leave them not even a sock?" Asked the Snape, "Will they laugh, when they wake so disfigured?" That wicked Snape smirked and he viciously sniggered.
He stuffed all the miniscule gifts in his hanky, Then loped back downstairs on his legs thin and lanky. And he said, (in a manner that showed he lacked shame) "If they ask, I'll say Sirius Black was to blame."
At the foot of the stairs crouched the caretaker's cat. Next to it, an old man in a vulture-topped hat. "Not asleep, Severus?" asked a voice old and kind, But the old man's good manners concealed a sharp mind.
"Potter's got a new broom?" the Snape started to say. "Filius and Minerva took it away," Dumbledore interrupted. He eyed the Snape keenly. "Did you, too, need to see it?" he went on, serenely.
"The broom could be hexed, the Dark Arts may be working, And Lupin's not well, so his job he'll be shirking. I could help," said the Snape. He dismissively waved, (But the Defence Against the Dark Arts post, he craved.)
"Filius will make sure that there's no hanky-panky," Said the old man, then asked, "May I borrow your hanky?" The Snape was inscrutable, po-faced and still, Yet his shrivelled heart bore the old man great ill will.
"You may not!" the Snape, with indignation, replied, But Dumbledore asked softly, "Why have you lied? And why have you stolen? There's more shame in that, Than foolishly wearing a vulture-topped hat."
"Christmas is cold," the Snape said. "Not just snows - It is cold to all those whom life deals with harsh blows. And your roistering loud and your rollicking rude, Merely deepens the chill of my grim solitude."
Dumbledore's eyes shone. He did not look old. "Then, good man, it is time to come in from the cold. I've some whisky to share. Let us sit down as friends. But first, go back upstairs and make your amends."
For Dumbledore's sake, the Snape seemed to be humble. He trudged up the tower with a gripe and a grumble. He replaced every gift and undid every jinx, Even fixing the fangs of that know-it-all minx.
And he grew the Yule log, till it once more burned hearty, Then he Floo'd to the Staff Room, where all at the party Were playing charades - he beat Sprout and Flitwick. But, on leaving, he gave Mrs Norris a kick.
For the Snape's still the Snape. He does not change a bit. Even when he's a hero he acts like a git. But we rally to Snape, 'tho he's wretched and wrong. "Merry Christmas, Sweet Snape," sings the whole PhoenixSong.
[Author's note: The influences on this little story are glaringly obvious. However, for the sake of completeness, I would like to thank JK Rowling for creating all the characters and settings that I have borrowed. I would like to acknowledge the influence of Dr Seuss on my title, rhythm and rhyme. And, I should also credit Alfonso Cuaron for the image of 'toad choirs croaking' - because I certainly don't remember such a choir being in any of the Harry Potter books.
Thank you to Elanor Gamgee for beta-reading.
As I decorate my Christmas tree (with glass baubles in the shape of Dobby's head) I wish all at PhoenixSong a very, very Harry Christmas.]