Butt of the Problem – a Harry Potter fan fiction
(Contains spoilers for third and fourth books!)
By Annie S.
Something's not right... thought the Hogwarts Potions Master uneasily, not right at all... Severus Snape struggled to bring his head back through the fireplace and into his office, but somehow he couldn't. It was stuck inside the fireplace of Luella Bagthrop, Headmistress of Salem Academy of Magic in Salem, Massachusetts. The Headmistress gazed at him with a raised eyebrow.
"Severus? Are you okay?" Severus grunted as he struggled to remove his head.
"No... I can't seem to... get through..."
"I don't know... I'm not a bloody magician," he responded derisively. Professor Bagthrop sighed and rolled her eyes. The middle-aged, New England-born witch adjusted her oval glasses and leaned forward to the flames, which grazed Snape's head, but didn't burn him. She fidgeted with the opening where Severus's head came through the back of the fireplace, but it was closed tightly around his neck. He scowled darkly at her slightly amused face as she stood up to study him.
"Well, Sev, that fireplace has closed right up. How did you do that?" He stared at her incredulously.
"What do you mean, 'how did I do that'? I didn't do anything! This is your fire!" She stood back to view his lonely head glaring at her.
"Well, Severus, I can't see how anything could have gone wrong. This spell is too simple to make a mistake on; are you sure you threw the right powder into the fire?"
"Are you suggesting I don't know how to perform a simple floo spell? I took the powder from my private stores; there's no way I could have mistaken it." Professor Bagthrop nodded silently, turning away as if to hide a grin. "Luella, you think this is funny, don't you?" The Headmistress turned around wearing a straight face.
"Of course not, Severus, but the thing is, I can't do anything from here to help you. I have absolutely no way of figuring out what's wrong from here; that's up to your, um, end." She turned away again as Severus blushed—from his end all anyone would be able to see was his undignified headless body kneeling in front of a fireplace. "If you'd like, I can contact Professor Dumbledore from another fireplace..." said the Headmistress, looking at the Potions Master almost seriously again. Severus weighed his choices. If anyone had to come across his body in a fireplace, Dumbledore would probably be the least embarrassing one.
"All right," he said, "but make sure no one else comes in here." he added, nervously looking around the large room, bright with early-afternoon sunlight. Professor Bagthrop turned and hurried quickly towards the door, unable to hide a few giggles. Severus glared after her but looked around the room again nervously after she had gone.
Severus Snape's office was one of the last places on Earth Harry Potter wanted to be. He had only been in there twice, and neither had been a very pleasant experience. But fate just seemed to be calling the fifteen-year-old, newly-appointed member of the Order of the Phoenix. He walked uncertainly from the Transfiguration classroom where the current meeting was being held to check on his Potions professor, since he had been conversing with the Headmistress of the magic school in Salem, and hadn't been seen for forty-five minutes. Suspecting something might have gone wrong, Headmaster Dumbledore had sent Harry to the dungeons. Why Harry, out of all the other members (including Remus Lupin and a newly-freed Sirius Black) had been chosen, he couldn't guess. Harry seemed like Snape's least favorite person in the world, save maybe Voldemort and Gilderoy Lockhart. But whatever the reason, Harry strode down the halls to his Potions classroom.
The last thing he ever expected to see he saw as soon as he walked cautiously into Snape's office, after knocking and getting no response. The body of the Potions Master was kneeling in front of the fireplace, the arms braced against the framework, trying to push the body away from the fire, which it obviously couldn't. Harry stared dumbly at this incredible scene in front of him before a thought came into his head. It wasn't like Harry to think thoughts like this, but considering the circumstances, it just had to be. He ran as fast as he could towards Gryffindor Tower.
Snape's stuck in a fireplace, he thought, I wonder how many people would ever pay to see this?
Snape, trying to hide his discomfort, glared at the dumbfounded student standing in front of him.
"Well, what do you want?" he demanded as though there wasn't anything wrong.
"Um, well, I came to see the Headmistress… do you know where she is?" he asked, trying to sound casual, but looking at Snape as if he had three heads.
"I would say she went to the nearest fireplace," Snape said grumpily, "Or, at least I hope she did... I wonder what I'll do if she can't find Dumbledore..." he muttered to himself nervously, forgetting the boy was there. As soon as he realized he was still staring at him open-mouthed, he put on his most frightening glower. "Well, go find her! See what's taking so long!"
"Y-es Sir," the boy said, stumbling on his robes as he turned around and ran towards the door. Severus rolled his eyes as he watched him run out of the room.
Incompetent students. You find them everywhere.
Harry felt almost like a general, leading an army of Gryffindor students down to the dungeons to view a once-in-a-lifetime scene. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred, George, Lavender, Parvati, Dean, Seamus, and Lee didn't even make up half of the group he had recruited from the Gryffindor common room. As they walked, they picked up some more students from other houses who were out in the halls for evening activities. Their number had reached almost fifty when they got down to the dungeons.
When they crowded into the Potion Master's office, they witnessed the same scene Harry had, only now Snape's body was struggling more strongly than it had been before. No one said a word once they were all in the room. It seemed a sight no words could describe; something they would never again have the opportunity to see. Certainly no one would ever look at Severus Snape the same again. The silence was broken after a few minutes by Hermione.
"Don't you think we should... I don't know... try to help him?"
"Are you mad, Hermione?" sputtered Ron, "I never want this image taken from my brain! This is Heaven on so many levels!"
"What, Snape's arse?" Seamus sniggered under his breath, but loud enough for Ron to hear.
"No, I mean, look! This is Snape! He's stuck in a fireplace! His arse is hanging out of the wall! It would be so easy just to give him a kick right in the..." he moved toward Snape's struggling body until Hermione quickly grabbed him and pulled him back.
"No, Ron! Leave him where he is!"
"Yeah, let's just savor the moment!" said a boy from Ravenclaw, who looked quite gleeful. Actually, everyone in the room looked gleeful. Even the few Slytherins couldn't help grinning at the sight of their Head of House struggling in the fireplace.
No one saw Fred and George Weasley grin and wink at each other.
"Severus, Albus isn't in his office, and neither is Minerva," said Professor Bagthrop with a shrug, "I don't know who else I could contact... do you know anyone?" Snape thought carefully for a moment, and then shook his head.
"No," he said wearily, "not anyone I'd like to talk to like this... wait, of course they're not in their offices—I just came from a meeting—they're in the Transfiguration classroom. But that doesn't have a fireplace..."
"Know anyone who does?" Snape thought again.
"No." He sighed heavily.
"Looks like we're just going to have to wait for someone to discover you, then," said Professor Bagthrop, sitting down in her chair behind her desk and motioning for the student (who had been hovering behind her) to sit as well. She picked up a teacup that was on her desk.
"Like some tea, Sev?"
Snape sent her a trademark glare.
"You know, this reminds me of a Winnie the Pooh story," mused a Hufflepuff girl, "Pooh got stuck in Rabbit's door, and he had to wait for weeks and weeks until he was thin enough to get out..."
"Well, we can't wait till he gets thin," remarked a boy next to her, "he's already as skinny as a post, and he's stuck by his neck, not his stomach."
"We could grease him up or something, maybe his head would slide out then," said someone else nearby.
"No, his jaw needs to be broken for him to get his head out,"
"Well, we can't break it from here!"
The opening of the office door interrupted them, and Sirius Black strode in.
"What's going on, why's everyone—" he forgot what he was going to say when he was greeted by the sight of Snape's behind sticking out of the fireplace. His face gained a look of utter disbelief, and his hands dropped to his sides unconsciously. He moved slowly towards the fireplace, not blinking once. His mouth opened wide, along with his eyes, and he let out a blissful laugh. "Moony!" he called, not looking away from the hearth, "Moony, come here! Come see this!" Remus Lupin came running in and gave a start when he saw Snape's lower body. His mouth opened as wide as Sirius's had, and he turned away, covering his mouth with a hand, but unable to hide the delight in his eyes. He recovered quickly, though, and turned to speak to the students.
"All right, everyone. Professor Dumbledore is coming soon, and I don't think he'll approve of so many people invading Professor Snape's, erm, privacy." He glanced at Snape's struggling behind before continuing. "All of you go back to your common rooms, except for you, Harry. And you two." He added, motioning toward the Weasley twins, who responded with wide-eyed looks of the innocent.
"Us?" asked Fred dramatically, "Why us?"
"What did we do?" added George, as the throngs of students sadly made their way out of the office.
"I'm not blaming anyone, I just want to be sure," said Lupin, "you two have been known to be involved with incidents like this in the past."
"I can't believe it," said Sirius excitedly, as if no one else was there, "I wish we'd though of this, eh Moony?" he turned to the Weasley twins. "I offer my profuse congratulations to both of you," he said to Fred and George, shaking their hands, as they stared back at him with awe.
"Sirius, please," said Remus, "you're not helping." As he finished his sentence, the office door opened and Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Hooch, and Pomfrey stepped into the room. Dumbledore gave one look at Snape and shook his head.
"You boys should know better by now," he said to Fred and George, not asking anything else of them. He walked to a bowl of powder sitting on a table nearby and stirred his finger in it. "Yes... you should really know better by now." McGonagall walked toward the fireplace.
"Albus... can you... dislodge him?" she asked, unable to hide a very slight smile.
"Yes, Minerva, I believe I can," he said. He held the bowl in front of him and swept his hand over it. He then took a pinch and tossed it into the fire.
Just as Severus was beginning to think that he might never be able to view the rest of his body again, the pressure of the back of the fireplace around his neck disappeared. He breathed in quickly; the sound alerted Professor Bagthrop, and she turned to look at him.
"I think I'm okay..." he said uncertainly, as if not daring to believe it, "I think someone's fixed the fireplace in my office."
"Well, that's good news; I was wondering if I'd have to call up a house elf to mouth-feed you supper," the Headmistress said with a sigh. Severus gazed up at her.
"Well, goodbye, Sev. I hope to see you sometime soon. Maybe next time you should Apparate, though." This earned her another glare, but his look softened after a few moments at the sight of her good-natured smile. He nodded.
Severus slowly pulled his head back through the fireplace, and sat down hard on the floor of his office, massaging his sore neck. He sat there for a few moments before he noticed that there were people in the room looking at him. He stood up quickly and looked at Dumbledore, immediately knowing it was he who had freed him.
"Dumbledore... thank you." he said stiffly. Dumbledore just smiled and nodded. Snape strode out of the room quickly, not even noticing the other people in his office. Dumbledore turned to the twins and Harry after Snape had closed the door behind him.
"So... regarding punishment for the three of you..."
"For the three of us?" Harry asked in disbelief, "What did I do?" Dumbledore looked at him with an all-knowing smile.
"Did you not just lead a small group of students down here?" he asked, still smiling. Harry stared at him silently, his mouth slightly open. Dumbledore nodded and went on. "I believe detention, of Professor Snape's choosing." The three boys groaned. "And I would suggest that the two of you return to you dormitory," he added, looking at the twins, "and you, Harry, return to the meeting. We still have Professor Bagthrop's information to discuss." He strode out of the room, followed by the other teachers. Harry looked at the twins, and they shrugged.
Well, detention with the Weasley twins, Harry thought as he walked out of the office, following Fred and George, this should be interesting...