AN: This was written for Slytherin66 for well ... because he asked. *nods* And because I had a moment... and because he is well... himself. Perfect reason in my book. I must thank YenGirl for handling all the clean up on this one and insisiting little things be included - i's dotted, t's crossed, all the p's and q's noted. Now, go enjoy!
"It'll be perfect, Rubeus." Severus leant over the table, drink in one hand and the other slapping on the table, barely missing the plate of toast between them. "It's harmless. More harmless than the spells in my lab. None of their warning spells will be set off, so they won't worry."
Rubeus chuckled, his eyes bright in the morning light streaming through the window. The warmth in the hut belied the crisp October wind whistling down the chimney. It was the chill and the warmth that begun the conversation that led to the idea. He was all for it since he hadn't noticed any disturbances in the paths that stretched out before him, not that he normally would with Severus, but it made him feel better thinking that. "What about Pomfrey's? Don' yeh need ter sit in yer chair?"
Severus shook his head. "Only every two days, and I can stop by late at night and sit in it briefly." He took a swig of his drink before plunking the mug onto the table. "It'll only be for a day – just Halloween."
"But yeh've got classes then. How am I suppose' ter teach yer classes, Severus?"
"I'll make it a work day – you'll need to do nothing more than babysit them. No brewing, no prepping. Just ingredient researching and how they are supposed to work in the potion they'll brew on the first."
Rubeus sighed lightly and then smiled. "Don' go gettin' hurt in the Forest."
"I'll do my best not to. I'll also take care of the pumpkins."
Severus' rare grin made Rubeus happy to have agreed, his friend deserved a bit of revenge after the events of two weeks ago.
Silence fell across the entire Great Hall as the door boomed open, admitting Hagrid, or at least everyone believed it was Hagrid. It looked exactly like him, except he was wearing Professor Snape's clothes and strode through the room just like the Potions Professor did, his robe billowing out behind him. A black glare swept the students and the professors alike before the half-giant took Snape's usual seat. A tap of a wand had the place setting change size to fit his now larger hands, and then he began eating, the food now bearing the brunt of his displeasure.
Filius leant close enough to whisper, "Severus? What happened?"
The glare softened to just hard rocks as the black eyes turned towards the Charms Professor. "When I find out, I will be exacting my revenge."
Patting the man's arm, much like he would Hagrid's, Filius turned back to his breakfast when Severus jerked his arm away – just as he knew the man would do. The silence that had descended broke as speculation ran riot, not only at the student tables but at the High Table as well.
As the Potions Professor stood up, the room once again fell silent. Another glare raked the students. "Do not think this will cause me to cancel my classes." With that, he swept out of the room and headed for the dungeon.
The door closed behind Rubeus and a small sigh of relief slipped past his lips. Here he could relax, even if it was only for a moment. He knew that following Severus' plan would be difficult and he had almost slipped up when he whispered to Flitwick. It was truly hard to mimic Severus' speech patterns, especially his precise pronunciation.
Shaking his head, Rubeus started to amble towards the dungeon. He took five steps before realizing his mistake. He growled lightly under his breath and strode the rest of the way to his classroom.
He was glad he had caught his mistake when he spotted Dumbledore waiting on him.
Albus left the Great Hall not long after Severus did and took a shortcut to meet him at his classroom door. Looking up at the man – he was used to looking down at him just a bit - Albus felt a tinge of regret run through him. He had once again failed the man – this time it wasn't exploding potions, it was some sort of hex or curse, or perhaps it was a potion, and he hadn't been able to stop it. "You have no idea what could have caused this, my boy?"
The shaggy head gave a quick negative shake and then the man turned to open his door, irritation clear in every moment. "If you don't then I need to get m - my class started, sir. I'll look into it after they're done."
Albus followed him into the room, hoping to find out as much as he could. If he just had a bit of information he would have a lead to research. "Did you wake up like this? Or did it happen sometime last night?" He swept another look of Severus, a suspicion rooting itself in his mind. "You haven't seen Poppy, have you?"
"This morning, just after I woke up, I found myself looking like this. I haven't seen Pomfrey yet, I had to get my clothes to fit and then I came to breakfast. Now, my class is coming, Headmaster. I need to teach them before they become worse dunderheads than they already are."
"You should have seen Poppy first thing, Severus." Albus allowed the scowling Potions Master to shoo him out the door before heading up to the Infirmary. Poppy needed to know that something was happening.
Poppy sank into her chair, her eyes wide with surprise. "How is the real Hagrid? Is he showing an averse effect to his double walking about?"
"I don't know," Albus blinked before turning towards her office door. He was upset that he hadn't even thought that far – he was still processing the fact that Severus looked like the groundskeeper. "I haven't seen him this morning. I'll go check now."
Worry began to build once more as he headed for Hagrid's hut. In the gardens was a diminutive figure wearing what resembled a smaller version of Hagrid's coat.
The figure turned and he was face to face with Severus dressed as Hagrid. The half-giant's usual benign expression looked strange on the man's thin face.
"Good mornin', Professor Dumbledore." The groundskeeper turned back to the pumpkins, a look of uncertainty filling his face. "I don' know how I'm goin' ter get these up ter the castle." He tried to pick one up, not succeeding in lifting it even an inch from the ground. "This body can' carry it. I migh've ter levitate them inter a cart down here and get someone to get them out fer me. Or make a ramp."
"Do you know what happened, my dear boy?" Albus, lifted his wand preparing to run a diagnostic spell.
The man's currently straight hair shook gently side to side, swaying with the force of Hagrid's head shake. "It happen' righ' after I woke up. I figured I'd worry abou' it later, the pumpkins need to get up ter the castle and be made into pies or jack-o'-lanterns."
He tramped over to the cart, pushing it over to the pumpkin he had tried to lift. "I think a ramp."
"Let me see if I can identify anything, Hagrid." Albus gestured for the changed half-giant to stand still. "I'll let Poppy know what I find and maybe between the two of us, we can figure out what happened to you and Severus."
The groundskeeper stopped and blinked at him. "Snape is affected as well?"
Albus nodded. "He looks like you." Holding his wand between them, he gave a gentle smile. "This won't hurt."
A few spells later, he was none the wiser, except that it wasn't anything very dark. A quick flick of his wand had Hagrid's clothes resized once again for his smaller frame. "Let me levitate those pumpkins for you, my boy."
A swish and a flick later, the pumpkins filled the cart. Another flick and the cart was rolling up the hill towards the castle. Hagrid and he walked beside it, both lost in their own thoughts. Albus levitated the pumpkins out of the cart and turned to Hagrid. "Don't worry about the forest today, my boy. Just stay home and take it easy."
"There's nothin' in there that'd hurt me, Headmaster. I'll take Fang, meh crossbow, and be careful as normal." With a cheery grin and a wave, Hagrid left with the cart following him.
Albus turned back and frowned when he saw the mound of pumpkins awaiting his next spell. He didn't see Hagrid glancing over his shoulder or the sly smirk that appeared on his face.
Severus nodded in satisfaction as he walked away from the castle. He had purposely blotted out his accent when he began attending Hogwarts. It had taken a concerted effort, but he was so successful that it was now second nature to him. Trying to speak like Rubeus was taxing. He was constantly having to remember which words to slur, but Albus was fooled.
He stored the cart away before heading for the Forest with the crossbow Rubeus had made him and Fang at his side. Once he crossed the treeline, he let the cheery expression fade. He had to have his full attention on his surroundings so he didn't have any to spare on acting.
In the Great Hall that evening, the entire castle was buzzing as the Halloween Feast began. Sitting at the High Table was a scowling half-giant in black robes and a smiling man dressed in a brown coat and trousers.
Severus knew his smile was because he had the pleasure of seeing Albus and Poppy scouring for an answer as to what happened, and the rest of the staff walking on eggshells around Rubeus. Every time he came up to the castle – he knew he couldn't hide in the Forest all day – he made sure to be near where his friend was. The staffs' uncertainty of how to deal with him was also enjoyable. He never noticed how much they avoided his friend or treated him like a simpleton. A glance at Rubeus had his smile increasing. The scowl that so many people had never seen was prominently displayed.
As dinner continued, he watched Albus signal Rubeus to meet up with him after dinner. The signal was supposed to be for him, and he doubted his friend would recognise it. "Dumbledore wants to see you – or rather us – after dinner tonight. Was that tap of his fingers for you?"
"Yes, it was. The head nod was fer yeh?" Rubeus tipped his head down so that they would not be heard by the other professors.
"Yes." Severus paused before asking, "What's yer signal back? Mine is a tap of meh index finger against the side of my plate. The one nearest him." He knew his accent was jumbled up, but it was fine since only Hagrid could hear him.
Rubeus tapped his finger while answering. "I smile at him and nod – not so secretive, but then again..." He stopped when Severus did exactly that.
"Then again, they don't think yeh have a devious bone in your body, so they would never expect you to be covert in your returned message."
Both of them returned to their dinner. It was as they were making their way up to Albus' office that Severus pulled them into an obscure alcove.
"Shall we change back now? Watch the confusion on their faces? We'd have to change clothes here and then continue on."
Rubeus grinned and started undoing the buttons. "If we do it fast enough we can burst in and exclaim about how we changed back in the hall."
A quick flick of Severus' wand had the end of the alcove sealed and in less than two minutes they had resized and switched clothes. Unsealing the alcove, they rushed towards Albus' office to make up for the lost time.
Severus flung the door open first and rushed in, his scowl affixed, but he made sure just the right amount of surprise was behind it. He could hear Rubeus coming in behind him.
Blue eyes bright with worry skipped between the two of them. Rubeus spoke up before Albus could.
"We've flipped back, Headmaster! Jus' now, in the hall on the way here. Jus' the opposite of what happened this mornin'."
Severus let his words rush out just after Rubeus'. "We were fortunate to have a bit of warning so we could resize our clothes – if not, I would have been tripping on them."
Relief was evident on Albus' face as a small smile curled his lips. "I am glad to hear that, my boys. I think you should let Poppy look you over to find out if anything she can."
Fighting his smile, Severus put up his normal resistance while Rubeus headed for the door. Eventually, they both ended up at the Infirmary where Poppy found nothing.
Rubeus plunked two mugs on the table, almost sloshing the bitters in them. Severus placed two plates down, one at each of their places and they both settled down to enjoy their evening snack. Neither had enjoyed the pumpkin and sugar laden feast served in the Great Hall.
"See, no one was any the wiser, and only Albus was worried." Severus settled back into his chair, a smile of satisfaction on his face. "I successfully pulled off pretending I was you, and you acted enough like me that even my students were fooled."
The concerned look Rubeus shot Severus had him holding his hand up to stop the words coming. "Yes, they always dance around me like that – I'm mean, I'm nasty, and I don't care what is happening to anyone. It's the role I play. It's you I worry about. Do they honestly think you are that much of an imbecile?"
Rubeus nodded. "It is known I didn' finish school, and well … I play to it. Yeh know that."
Severus sighed and dug into the scrambled eggs. "I know better."
"And I know better about yeh too." Rubeus joined him in eating.
Severus scowled at him, but couldn't help the warm feeling inside. Yes, Rubeus knew the real him and liked him anyway. The others might worry about his health and if he was successful in his endeavours, but Rubeus worried about more than that. Just as Severus himself worried about the half-giant. It was what friends did.