look, y'all, listen, it's, i really,
snape with a litter of corgi puppies following him everywhere while he's his usual grumpy self CAN WE?
SNAPE TRYING TO DEDUCT POINTS FROM GRYFFINDOR AND THE PACK OF CORGI PUPPIES WHINING AT HIM FOR IT
Severus Snape had made a crucial mistake two weeks ago. He'd been standing in Albus Dumbledore's office, staring at a hooped golden object that whirred on a shelf behind Dumbledore's head, and wondering what exactly its purpose was. As a result, he'd been distracted when the headmaster said, "Severus, may I suggest an addition to your classroom in the new year?"
It had been the end of summer, and Snape—mostly because of guilt, having secretly shredded one of Albus's favorite scarves for an experimental scarf-related potion—wanted to show some gesture of goodwill, so he'd said, instinctively, "Yes." Like an idiot. This was why gestures of goodwill were ill-advised in absolutely every situation.
The second the affirmative issued from his lips, Snape regretted it. There was no way to anticipate what he'd just agreed to. Expectations were always a thorny issue with Albus. "An addition to the classroom"—would the old man suggest one of those cauldrons made entirely out of dragonglass, cured in vats of Veela spit for sixty years? Albus had been talking about those for months.
Or would he suggest a new lighting system? Six students had tottered to the infirmary this past spring, moaning that the flickering torches in the dungeons had given them eye strain. Honestly. Eye strain. Sometimes Severus thought that the staff should close down Hogwarts now, shut the doors, drop the wards, abandon the Founders' project while they were still ahead, instead of encouraging these whinging little crybabies to spout their opinions as if they mattered.
But that was not the problem at hand anymore. That was all two weeks ago, and now he had to deal with the consequences.
The answer to any open-ended question from Albus Dumbledore is no, Snape thought, teeth gritted tight, sweeping loose corgi fur into the flame beneath his cauldron, which flared an indignant sort of purple.
That was the last of the mess. He propped the broom up inside the store cupboard and shut the door just as the students began to file in, his first class of the year: O.W.L.-level fifth-years. Severus returned to his cauldron and clutched his wand in his pocket, straining a breath through his generous nostrils. The black curtain in the corner shifted, moved by a curious nose. He heard panting, snuck his wand into his sleeve, and cast a quick Silencing Charm on the thick black velvet.
Had they noticed? No. Of course not. They were too fixated on their own chatter. Quidditch teams and gossip.
Three students took their usual adjacent tables: fifteen-year-old Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter. Weasley's robes hung absurdly above his ankles; from the looks of it, he'd grown about three feet over the summer. Granger was speaking, her eyebrows halfway up her forehead, chin tilted, the perfect picture of sanctimonious correction. And Potter was … Potter. It was a waste of time to hate fifteen-year-olds. Severus knew this. But for Merlin's sake, did they have to make it so easy?
In strolled the other half of the double Potions class. There was Draco Malfoy, still trying desperately to perfect his father's malevolent cool and ending up somewhere in the arena of self-satisfied eight-year-old. Crabbe and Goyle lumbered behind, doing something that looked like they were measuring each other's thumbs? Best not to question it.
Potter's eyes played over the curtained corner, a horrible gleam of curiosity in his horribly familiar green eyes. Severus panicked, drew his wand, and flicked it. The classroom door slammed shut with a bang, and the fifth-years' attention riveted on him. The last Slytherins slunk to the nearest tables, looking put off that he'd interrupted their leisurely entrance.
"Settle down," Snape said coldly, letting his eyes rest on a sniggering Seamus Finnigan and a restless Dean Thomas. The smiles died on their faces. Always satisfying to see. Snape had it on good intelligence that Minerva McGonagall still prepared her steely look in the mirror every so often, which just went to show that old-fashioned malice was more effective than sternness. Pretending you were on the students' side was the single surest way to undermine yourself.
Well. One of the surest ways. His eyes flicked over to the velvet curtain. He thought he saw a glimpse of puppy ear, and a horrible warm shock ran down his spine.
No. Nothing. He'd put the creatures behind puppy gates nearly as tall as he was. What he'd thought was a fuzzy ear was a trick of the firelight from the torches, perhaps. Maybe he should have the damn things replaced.
Snape let his lip curl. An easy reflex to summon, looking out at them all. "Before we begin today's lesson," he said, "I think it appropriate to remind you that next June you will be sitting a important examination, during which you will prove how much you have learned about the composition and use of magical potions. Moronic though some of this class undoubtedly are, I expect you to—"
No. Eyes were straying to the curtain. Neville Longbottom's, now, his forehead creased in overfamiliar bafflement, and Pansy Parkinson, whose eyes glittered, her head cocked.
Snape couldn't risk looking over there to see what the damned dogs were doing. Instead, he gave his robes a showy sweep of the floor as he began to pace, drawing their attention again like a poor showman desperately trying to hold the stage. "I expect you to scrape an 'Acceptable' in your O.W.L., or suffer my … displeasure."
He aimed this directly at Neville. But the boy didn't even seem to hear.
This was serious. Snape couldn't resist looking at the curtain now.
It was moving visibly. Prodded by half a dozen invisible puppy noses, cold and eager, through the gaps of the gates. Without knowledge of what was behind, it looked almost menacing.
"P-Professor," said Malfoy uneasily. His table was the closest to the curtain, and he looked ready to sweep up his solid-gold cauldron and scurry to the back of the classroom. "What. What is that."
"That," Snape said loudly, "is a highly venomous species of … of giraffe. Miniature giraffe. The shadow giraffe of. Sri Lanka."
It took all his effort not to wince, grimace, or punch himself in the face. A giraffe? The least venomous-sounding creature in the entire animal kingdom?
Snape couldn't stop himself from looking at Granger, the only one in this room who must know for certain that the Shadow Giraffe of Sri Lanka was about as real as the Giant Squid. What he saw in her expression baffled him. Granger didn't look in the least skeptical—the girl looked horrified. Is the Shadow Giraffe an actual giraffe? he thought for one ridiculous moment.
But no, Snape realized with a rush of relief as pure as a particularly potent Cheering Charm. Granger was slipping textbooks from her straining bag as surreptitiously as possible. The girl was worried that she'd forgotten something. She'd probably assumed that hoof of Shadow Giraffe was an ingredient for some potion she hadn't studied for. He nearly laughed aloud.
When she caught him looking at her, she let out a little 'eep' noise and dropped her textbook to the dungeon floor with an amusingly loud SLAP.
Emboldened, Snape looked back at the forty increasingly worried expressions around the dungeon. "The Shadow Giraffe feeds on Venomous Tentacula," he went on in his most terrifying half-whisper, "and is loyal only to its own hunger … its own ravenous, insatiable hunger. I advise keeping your distance at all costs, if you value your miserable lives."
I am brilliant, he thought.
"After this year, of course, many of you will cease studying with me," he went on, feeling smug. "I take only the very best into my N.E.W.T. Potions class, which means that some of us will certainly be saying good-bye."
He let his eyes rest on Potter, who glared back, lip curled, as if wanting nothing more than to emulate one of his father's childish pranks. Snape let his hatred pour through the air a moment before continuing.
"But we have another year to go before that happy moment of farewell," said Snape softly, "so whether you are intending to attempt N.E.W.T. or not, I advise all of you to concentrate your efforts upon maintaining the high-pass level I have come to expect from my O.W.L. students."
He approached the blackboard. "Today we will be mixing a potion that often comes up at Ordinary Wizarding Level: the Draught of Peace, a potion to calm anxiety and soothe agitation. Be warned: If you are too heavy-handed with the ingredients you will put the drinker into a heavy and sometimes irreversible sleep, so you will need to pay close attention to what you are doing." On Potter's left, Hermione sat up a little straighter, her expression one of the utmost attentiveness. Snape pursed his lips. The girl was painful to watch sometimes.
"The ingredients and method" — Snape flicked his wand — "are on the blackboard" — (they appeared there) — "you will find everything you need" — he flicked his wand again — "in the store cupboard" — (the door of the said cupboard sprang open) — "you have an hour and a half… . Start."
Granger practically flew for the supplies; she had barely scanned the directions, but returned, of course, with all the proper ingredients. Longbottom was fumbling around in the store cupboard when a hideous squeal came from the back of the dungeon. "Eugh!" Pansy Parkinson shrieked, stumbling back from her table, robes clutched up around her ankle. Caked around the heel of her shoe was, unmistakably—
Snape hadn't believed in God in roughly a decade, but now he wished he did, simply so that he could curse said God to oblivion.
"Calm yourself," Snape hissed, sweeping toward the back of the dungeon. "Tergeo."
The corgi feces disappeared from Pansy's foot, and from the floor. Her nose was wrinkled so aggressively that it looked like it might peel away from her face altogether. Her hand was clasped hard around Blaise Zabini's arm.
"I'm losing circulation," he told her.
"Shut it, Zabini," Parkinson snapped, yanking her hand back.
The Gryffindor half of the room was tittering. Open glee lay on all their faces.
"Do you all have something to say?" Snape said to the Gryffindors, measuring out his words with poisonous precision. "Finnigan? Something to contribute?"
Snape's eyes narrowed on Potter, Weasley, and Granger. He shouldn't indulge himself. He knew he shouldn't.
But he never had been able to resist temptation.
"How about you?" Snape swept over to the three of them. "Has something amused you?"
Granger's mirth had died. "N-no, Professor, we just—what exactly happened?"
He stabbed a lance of a glare into the girl. "Certain remedial students over the summer were careless with their ingredients," he growled. "If you continue to be equally careless with your idiotic questions, perhaps I'll have you join them next summer."
Granger flinched as if he'd struck her. At once he felt a distinct twinge of guilt. It was never even fun to needle the girl; he always forgot that until he did it. She cared too much about his opinion. He'd never been used to that.
Then Potter said hotly, "So, Professor, was the summer class for the students to learn Potions, or for you to learn how to teach?"
Hooting erupted around the class. Snape threw a wild glance back. Even some of the Slytherins were obviously restraining grins. Traitors.
He whirled around and bore down on the insolent Gryffindors. "Detention. And twenty points from—"
"You miserable old warlock!" Weasley howled. "You're the one who called the best student in the school an idiot, you can't punish Harry for that!"
Snape's mouth was open now. Weasley's freckled cheeks were beet red, but the boy stared mulishly back, utterly unafraid.
"Fifty," Snape corrected, "points from Gryffind—"
And then he heard it.
The Silencing Charm had worn off.
The whining was keen and plaintive. Then the yapping began. Bright, cheerful, unmistakably adorable.
When Snape revolved on his heel, horror growing in him like a strangling vine, Neville Longbottom—who had propped his broom against a wall to clear space in the store cupboard—took a clumsy step back from his fevered gaze. The boy stepped, of course, directly into the broom. As if in slow-motion, it toppled backward. The handle sank into the velvety cloth, pulled at the sticking charms Snape had used to secure them in place.
For a moment Severus thought it might hold. Then Longbottom snatched for the broom, fumbled for it, and tripped over his feet, sending himself crashing back into the curtain.
Uproar. Lavender Brown screamed. A Slytherin boy yelled, "The Shadow Giraffe!" and Snape had the distinct feeling of having toppled headfirst into a nightmare inspired by one of Gilderoy Lockhart's memoirs.
At last the sticking charms gave way. Neville Longbottom crashed through a wooden puppy gate. Out swarmed six ecstatic balls of fluff, delighted by their freedom, pink tongues flapping from their smiling mouths.
"No," Snape roared, wand out, but what could he do? He couldn't curse the infernal things. And now they were bouncing around his dungeon, dappled white and brown, licking at students' hands. Delight had spread across the faces of the entire class. There had never been so many smiles at one time in this dungeon. He had worked so hard to keep it that way.
"The Shadow Giraffe?" gasped Harry Potter, through such violent laughter he looked like he might asphyxiate.
Severus couldn't even reply.
Then they were coming toward him. The puppies. Piling toward him, having grown used to him in the two weeks prior. They leapt up around his shins. "Away!" he hissed at them. "Get off me! Off!" One was licking his shoes. One tugged at his robes with her little teeth. A few just stared at him adoringly.
"What is this?" Draco said, aghast.
"Nothing," Snape all but yelled at him. He scooped the corgis up. He could only manage three. They were growing quickly. Was he feeding them too much? Their coats looked healthy. That had to be good. Right? The one trying the hardest to squirm out of his arms had a splotch right on the tip of her snowy nose. Her triangular ears were perked. He hadn't meant to mentally call her Anastasia, it was just that she looked like an Anastasia, and—
"THIS IS ANASTASIA AND THAT IS GERARD AND," he yelled, and fled the classroom, the three remaining corgis bouncing and bobbing and darting at his heels, tiny tails wagging like cheerful little flags, oversized ears turning this way and that, and students spilled out into the hallways to stare as Severus Snape, Potions Master of seventeen years, fearsome and hated and revered, was licked all over his face by animals whose unconditional love was too much even for him to dispel, as much as he might try.
this was originally posted on tumblr after a conversation with the delightful diarycrux, who shares my enthusiasm for forcing severus snape to encounter soft fluffy creatures. u can find it there if you'd like to share it there, my url is batmansymbol :)
for the record, i retyped bits of the snape dialogue from the actual first O.W.L. potions class in order of the phoenix, so if it looks familiar. that's why.