A/N: My eternal love and gratitude go out to everyone who reviewed and was so absolutely wonderful about this fic-- I'm sorry it took so long to get out, this chapter was beastly indeed. I'm going to aim for updates once a week, probably on weekends-- I'm at college now, so I don't have an excess amount of time. . . but once a week's not too shabby, especially for me.
I must throw out another word of thanks for my beta, She's A Star. This fic would be so so utterly dead without her. And she contributed the absolutely wonderful last line for this chapter. So go-- read her stuff! *pushes* After this, naturally.
Chapter 2: The First Morning of the Rest of Your Life
Looks like Harry Potter, the best captain the Gryffindor Quidditch team has seen in decades, is on the trail of the Snitch!
Harry guided his Firebolt into a reckless drive, the wind plunging through his hair and whistling through his glasses. The grass swept by in a blur of green, and he stretched out his hand to grasp the flitting golden ball. When his fingers closed around the Snitch, he heard a great roar throughout the stadium. Ron, Hermione, and Ginny were running down to meet him on the landing, and he couldn't help but see that if Ginny kept in his direction, she would stumble, and he would have to catch her in his arms. . . suddenly, Ron and Hermione seemed to fade back into the mass of screaming Gryffindors, and Ginny's smile just kept shining steadily at him as she tumbled, heading for his arms--
But he couldn't catch her-- Snape's hand had closed on the back of his neck, and he was dragging Harry up the stairs to his bedroom of 4 Privet Drive. He tried to shout that they couldn't stay here pretending to be Muggles, and that it was only half past eight, but Amalthea just looked over a pile of books at him, shrugging her shoulders. . .
You didn't know the charm to clean your spectacles, did you? she asked sadly, pointing her wand at his filthy glasses. How can I help you if you can't even learn that?
He began to shout the spell, but the bedroom door swung shut behind him, leaving him to face a suddenly beruffled and pink bed, complete with a dummy and teddy bear on the nightstand next to the pram.
And as it might be expected, Harry sat bolt upright in his bed, shivering in spite of the warm summer morning. For a moment he just sat there, pondering the surreality of Snape, Quidditch, Ginny falling, and his impossibly pink bedroom.
This was just ridiculous.
Letting out a frustrated sigh, Harry fumbled for his glasses and swung his feet out of bed. He'd been having these dreams ever since that fateful day in the infirmary, and they'd just been getting more and more over the top. Although, the strangest one yet had been the extraordinarily bizarre dream-- nightmare, he corrected himself-- in which Snape did a lot of heavy breathing and proclaimed that he was Harry's father. And instead of screaming at that idea, as was only right and proper, Harry had stared into the mirror, horrorstruck by the way his nose was expanding into a direct copy of Snape's.
Hermione had said flatly when he'd checked his nose for the fifteenth time. You are being utterly and completely absurd.
I'm not absurd, Harry had protested hotly, running his fingers over his offending facial feature all the while. Was that a bump? His nose was swelling. Had to be. Maybe he'd better stop examining it. Was it true that you could bring down the size of your nose with a poultice of lavender and bobotuber pus diluted with hazel water? Or was that the recipe for warts on your left thumb? He tried to picture himself asking Snape for the exact ingredient list.
Hey, Professor Snape, I had a dream last night that you were my dad and that my nose practically exploded, and there's this bump, you see-- and by the way, you hated my mum as much as my dad, right? Right?
Yes, you are, Hermione had continued grimly, looking down at him. Stop fingering your nose-- it looks fine. That bump you are attempting to wear down is miniscule and has been there since I've known you. Your nose is-- Harry, stop that.
Stop what? he had asked innocently, easing his hand up to his mouth to cover a false yawn.
Harry, I mean it. Touch your nose again, and I'll hex it so it does look like Snape's.
Harry had immediately sat on his hands.
Thank you, Hermione then said calmly, settling herself down in a squashy armchair across from him. Now. Harry. There are two ways you can handle this situation.
Yeah, murder and--
You can either be childish, Hermione had continued sternly. And fight with Professor Snape all summer. When you return, you'll probably have destroyed any chance you had of proving yourself. Or, on the other hand, you could choose to be mature. And perhaps--perhaps you'll make Potions a bit easier on yourself.
Harry muttered to himself, remembering Hermione's long and detailed lecture. Maturity. Will prove self to be valuable, contributing student. Will resist temptation to pour cauldron on Snape's head. Will not refer to him as greasy git in front of Amalthea.
He paused in the middle of pulling of his best Muggle shirt over his head-- which, unfortunately, was still three times too large for him. Dudley's hand me downs might be in fairly decent condition, but his cousin just seemed to keep. . . swelling. Harry might have filled out decently during his past five years at Hogwarts, but he was still-- and probably would always be-- skinny.
Will not refer to him as a greasy git, he instructed himself. he amended with a sigh. He'd had the luxury of staying out of Snape's way during the past week or so, but today was the dreaded day of Shopping. In Muggle London.
Of all the places, why London? There were evidently some god of the universe that had it in for Harry. Quite simply, no other explanation existed.
Stop complaining, Potter, he told himself silently. This won't be nearly as bad as you're making it out to be. Sighing, he tugged a comb through his hair, making no difference whatsoever, and squared his shoulders. Shopping. In Muggle London.
You said that already, dear, his mirror offered cheerfully. And your hair's not that terrible today.
Harry's only response was to growl and march out of the room. He was about to make his way down to the common room when he caught two rather familiar voices arguing below. Carefully easing himself round the turn, he sank back into the shadowed bend and listened.
Severus, you simply cannot go out like that!
Tell me, Amalthea, Snape drawled, obviously irritated with Amalthea's insistence upon something, which made Harry hide a grin. At least Snape wouldn't be getting his way the whole time. Where you, in your constant perusal of the, here he injected a dry cough into his speech. Night sky, did you discover this rather stunning knowledge of Muggle fashion? Indeed, the last I was aware, you weren't even acquainted with the most basic of Muggle attitudes. Why Albus chose you to accompany on the mission, I'll never know. Except that the Headmaster does seem quite determined to make my life as difficult as possible, and operating with Potter in lieu of a-- shall we say competent?-- partner would do quite the trick.
There's no need to be insulting, Severus, Amalthea's voice returned coldly, and Harry leaned forward, waiting for her to give it to Snape. Although I ought to know that's a rather integral part of your character, shouldn't I? Still, I should think that somewhere along the line, you would have learned courtesy to a professional colleague--
I assure you, Professor Sinistra, that you have all my admiration and respect, Snape said coolly, sarcasm fairly coming off of the words in handfuls. Harry pursed his lips and shook his head. If that wasn't throwing the gauntlet down, he didn't know what was. Though, all things considered, this probably was Snape's idea of being polite. Stupid git, he reflected privately. Downstairs, he heard Amalthea sigh deeply.
she said flatly, obviously relinquishing the fight while she was still able. If you are suffering under the misapprehension that I am pleased at all by this turn of events, let me enlighten you. Harry raised his eyebrows, impressed in spite of himself. On his privately named Snape Sarcasm Scale, Amalthea wasn't scoring badly at all. Downstairs, he heard Snape settle into an armchair as Amalthea continued.
I don't enjoy social interaction any more than you do, I don't have any particular affection for either your presence or that of Harry's-- I don't dislike either of you, but we share no especial friendship. My summers are usually spent at the Astronomy retreats, and I was not at all pleased to hear I would have to give up my position on several research projects in order to play your spouse in the Muggle world because a group of agents aren't keeping in close enough contact with Hogwarts to please Albus. Her voice had gone frigid during the speech. I am not enjoying this anymore than you are, Severus, yet I have garnered the civility to be polite to you, and to form some kind of tentative friendship with Harry-- I have not spent every other moment complaining about basic facts. Could you possibly-- the last word infused with a great deal of withering sarcasm indeed-- endeavor to possibly act with a semblance of maturity?
Snape, Harry noted with detached interest, had gone silent during Amalthea's tirade. Silent enough that for a few moments after she finished speaking, the common room was absolutely thick with silence. Then--
Very well, he heard Snape say reluctantly. Harry's eyes widened. Was Snape agreeing? Deferring to somebody else? I concur.
Well. Perhaps Voldemort could be defeated after all.
Thank you, Amalthea replied, rather too cheerfully. Now, you cannot venture out into the Muggle world in those robes. And your hair has to go. Harry smiled slightly as he heard Snape clear his throat in shock.
Not all of it, he heard Amalthea explain with patience that sounded considerably strained. Muggle men usually do not have long hair, Severus, and they certainly do not in the neighborhood where we will be living.
That is no excuse--
That is every excuse. We are making an attempt to not attract attention, rather than the opposite. That, by the by, is the reason that Harry is accompanying us, not because Albus feels a lack of confidence on my part.
Snape replied, his voice turning surly once more. And I assume you wish to do something with it now? And do you know, perhaps, when Potter is going to grant us with his presence, or will we have to wait for the pint-sized celebrity to waltz down at tea?
I'm sure he'll be down shortly, Amalthea said curtly. Harry took that as his cue to count thirty before descending. But that is irrelevant to the point.
Which is. . .?
Severus. You can't wear that, Amalthea said slowly and patiently. Don't you own any Muggle clothing?
Why would I own any Muggle clothing?
Harry entered the common room in time to see Amalthea settle herself in an armchair across from Snape, pinching the bridge of her nose and sighing.
Um, hello, Harry offered, taking a third seat and watching Snape out of the corner of his eye. Snape jerked his head in Harry's direction and Amalthea smiled wanly at her lap.
she said, waving a hand languidly at Snape. Talk to him. Please. Snape choked and Harry swallowed, hard.
About what? Harry asked carefully. Amalthea obviously didn't know much about his relationship with Snape; namely, that Snape would rather drink a beaker of Skele Grow than listen to Harry tell him what to do. He didn't bother to look at Snape, able to summon the terse look of frustration his professor doubtlessly wore without seeing it.
Amalthea said glumly, finally looking up at him. At which point she gave a little start of surprise, eyeing his shirt and admittedly baggy jeans. Are, uh, all your clothes that . . . oversized?
They were my cousin's, Harry explained, shifting a little in his seat. Well, this was embarrassing. It was one thing to wear Dudley's hand-me-downs when it was just the Dursleys, but completely another to have to face Snape's sneer every day in them.
Oh, well. Amalthea seemed to consider this. Would you mind loaning one to Severus? Snape gave a horrified cough. Amalthea shot him an irritated look. It looks as if they'd fit him-- is your cousin tall enough?
Er, yeah, Harry said, mentally picturing Dudley and Snape side by side. The image was horrifying, to say the least. But Dudley had grown vertically as well as horizontally in the past years-- all that protein, Aunt Petunia had cooed, serving Dudley a steak and eggs while fixing Harry with a glare and Brussel Sprouts.
Harry's hate of the vegetables, he reminded himself, was something that Snape definitely shouldn't be informed of.
Eloquent, Potter, Snape sneered, something that earned him a sharp glance from Amalthea.
Will you go outfit him in a shirt? That'll do until we go out. I'll ring for breakfast in the meantime. We'll have to get you some things, too, she murmured, casting a doubtful eye at his jeans.
Harry said nervously. Up this way, Professor.
Without bothering to see if Snape would follow, Harry trudged back up to his room. His mindset brightened considerably at the thought of giving Snape one of Dudley's uglier shirts. The bright orange, he decided, hiding an evil grin worthy of the Weasley twins as Snape swept into his room.
Don't dawdle, Potter, Snape snapped, looking down his nose at the pile of Quidditch magazines under Harry's pillow. Don't imagine I take any joy from being in your illustrious presence.
No, sir, Harry said innocently, handing over the shirt. It was a lovely shade of devastatingly brilliant orange, he decided. . . it went so well with the nauseated look that crossed Snape's face.
Snape sputtered, holding out the garment as if it was dripping with a Love Potion. Harry smiled, mock-innocently, and backed towards the door.
It's what Muggles wear, Professor, he said politely, and then exited the room at maximum velocity.
On his way down the stairs, Harry felt a surge of unexpected delight. He'd have to ensure that Snape was . . . advised. . . into wearing the very best of Muggle fashions. Of course, he reminded himself sternly as he greeted Amalthea with a smile, he'd have to be discreet. His Potions professor might not be able to take points, but there were certainly other ways to make Harry's life miserable. After all, what could give Snape more pleasure than grounding him?