Picture This

OzRatbag2

Rating:                        G

DISCLAIMER:          This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

The plot is mine, the characters aren't, but I hope you enjoy what the rabid little plot bunny left for me. This isn't betaed, so if there are any glaring mistakes – blame the bloody bunny!

The Muggle rhyme alluded to begins – "Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly"… I can't remember the rest, but if you know it, I'd be interested to read the rest of the rhyme!

Sometimes there are just days when you know that no matter what you try to achieve, staying in bed is certainly the better option. Today…no scratch that, this week was one of those times. On the prowl, stalking and deducting points, classes of stupid children hell bent on proving that adage that it might be fun to play with danger – without actually trying. Well, they could blow themselves to Hades, but he wasn't going along for the ride. There were others baying for blood and for a student to perform the deed so ignobly was not on his current list of priorities.

Dumbledore, in his current mood was also a loose cannon. Flippant, jovial and impossible to read, avoid or hide away from that knowing gaze. Just exactly where this latest idea had come from was Circe's guess, but if at all possible one he would take great delight in hiding from, should the eventuality occur. Standing around while some pompous overbearing 'arty farty' wizard pretending to be a Muggle expounded on the virtues of lighting being subtle…chiaro scuro and the like, just made him wish his evil persona would take over temporarily and grant him the lack of conscience to send the pathetic excuse for a wizard to dine with Charon. But he couldn't do it. It had crossed his mind in one of those brief moments when the quirk of a lip could not be determined to be in humour or predation, but a side look from Albus had said more than mere words and Albus didn't deserve to clean up after him any more than he had already.

Already. Such a little use for a word that could mean anything…and so it came to pass that immediately inside the Great Hall, in all his sneering glory stood life-size portraits of Albus York Dumbledore, Severus Justinian Snape, Hermione Theodora Granger and Draco Icarus Malfoy. Severus in the triptych, flanked by Granger and Malfoy, whilst Dumbledore, ever omniscient was above the trio overseeing the antics below. Who would have thought that he could sneer and terrorise from two places at once. More often than not he remained the referee between the snarling voices on either side of him. The stupid little wizard who had immortalised his features didn't even see fit to include his wand, perhaps knowing that if he had, the paintings of the now Head Boy and Head Girl would have been frying in their frames. Albus had magically tied the paintings to the wall and warded them so that the real Severus could not remove himself from the artistic fate he had incurred. Whatever Albus had done to the portraits to ensure their safety on the wall, also imbued them with a certain amount of sentient thought. Time, ever fluid was the one thing that escaped his painted self.

All seemed a continual repeat of the same timeframe, without boredom except for the pathetic and whiny insinuations of Draco and the constant, infuriating, but oddly refreshing questions Granger asked of him. It was not lost on Snape that Malfoy had initials that whilst momentarily humourous, were entirely apt. The Granger girl also took great delight in goading Draco with the thought that whatever else it parents had done to him – and the list was long, bloodied and the impetus for Draco to betray Voldemort – his initials were entirely appropriate and a spark of divine inspiration on behalf of his psychotic parents. Draco, slow witted in comparison to Granger could only tout Mudblood, Muggle and other childish taunts that were laughable given her place beside Severus as the Slayer of Voldemort.

Voldemort. A name to conjure nightmares of previous misdeeds and cause a somewhat cathartic introspection.

His entrapment and subsequent demise was due to an extraordinarily Slytherin streak that Granger had mastered once. Once was of course all that was needed and in a brilliant stroke of foresight, Voldemort found himself trapped like an insect under amber, although it was a Muggle rhyme that proved the impetus for the actions. Draco's betrayal, Granger's Transfiguration skills and Snape's power had formed a triumvirate that saw the most potent threat to Wizarding peace become a tasty snack for Aragog. Whilst Malfoy and Granger were of an age to enjoy the attentions of the Wizarding populace, with the fame of portraits, offers of employment and other assorted possibilities, Severus was tired of the constant subterfuge, toadying and political manoeuvring. All thought Snape to be as two dimensional as his portrait, but this was never true and at odds times his portrait would cease to snarl and sneer, only to look reflective, weary and timeworn. Students out after curfew who saw this change were ridiculed and offered the glasses of their classmates so they could better see their error. Some students swore that they had seen the feared Severus Snape turn in his chair away from the well known prop of the Potions Master's class desk to mumble and catalogue the ingredients behind him, whilst Hermione Granger always looked like she was studying for the next assignment, test or question that just needed to be asked. Draco's portrait garnered the most attention at one stage after the rumour chased through the girls' dormitories that if one was lucky you could see the Head Boy fiddling with the front of his robes.

With no ability to discern time, or the lack thereof, Severus was surprised one day to find himself viewing a different scene. Was it illusion or delusion? It was impossible to tell how or indeed when he had been moved. The where was easier to answer. He had been returned to the Dungeon rooms, his prison and haven for so many years. Had his real self prompted the move and if so, why did his rooms seem to have more warmth than he ever thought possible? There was even a large vase of lilies and irises on his oak desk, a scarf thrown haphazardly over his leather Chesterfield sofa and although a sense of scent was beyond him, he felt sure he could smell a trace of perfume ingrained in the very fibre of the sitting room. All these questions left him feeling at a loss for an explanation. He had no idea of how to ask for the information he needed. He felt like the first year he had once been, left stranded alone on the Hogwarts Express – dumped by the mother who blamed him for damaging her figure and the father who verbally and physically expounded the superiority of remaining always aloof, calm and controlled. Lost and alone – never did he think that his two-dimensional self would miss the snarling arguments of Granger and Malfoy. Even Dumbledore's prosaic and often unrelated musings were a panacea of sorts, a foil to hide his insecurities behind. The sneer replaced by a frown – inanimate and obviously unwanted in his previous place of honour.

His self-flagellation continued until he heard his real voice coupled with another that seemed familiar, warm and loved. Now where had that thought come from? He was the greasy git, the torturer who seemed most at home with his various macabre specimens floating in jars behind his back. Certainly not the object of like let alone love. Who had seen past the mask of self-loathing to his real core? Even he wasn't exactly sure of who he really was, portrait or real, animate or inanimate. So many questions – he'd obviously been next to Granger for too long and picked up her unsavoury need to know the answer to everything. The door to his personal chambers had opened, yet that was no help, hidden as he was behind the door. Hidden away and forgotten…

"Now close your eyes my love. I have a surprise for you."

"Is all of this really necessary? What could have possibly changed since your visit to Madam Pomfrey?"

"This has nothing to do with the twins, Severus. This is something I did to make you feel happier."

"I have you by my side, Hermione. Nothing could make me happier than that."

~ Happy…twins…great Merlin – Hermione Granger and I are an 'item'. If I ever get the chance to see Albus' portrait, I'm going to hex him into oblivion. Even without a wand I'm sure I could work myself into enough of a lather to make his bunions worse. ~

"And with you by my side, Severus I feel as though I am the most cherished person in the world. But humour me. Close your eyes and all will be revealed."

"For you my beloved – anything."

~ Aloof, calm and controlled. I am aloof, calm and controlled. His father's mantra had never seemed more surreal. He didn't feel aloof, he certainly wasn't calm and he was sure that his father hadn't meant controlled panic. He was getting too old to be constantly wrong footed and if Granger had moved him and made him feel this way, he'd make her wish she'd left him in The Great Hall. Two figures moved into his line of sight. His real self, with a floral scarf covering his eyes and arms of Granger helping to guide him to where she wanted him to go. ~

"Can I take the blindfold off now, Hermione?"

"Yes."

Real Severus faced portrait Severus in what Hermione would have loved to have called a Kodak moment, if only to have a photograph that registered the shock apparent on her Severus' face.

"Hermione, why did you feel the need to move this to our chambers?"

"Well, I did it mainly because I know you've always hated that portrait. I've listened to you rail against the artist for the last ten years and in-between cursing the artist you've also cursed Albus for placing you in a perpetual moment of anger…"

"Well, he painted me with…"

"Without your wand – I know, my love, I know. Strangely enough, I was starting to get sick of hearing the same thing every time we entered the Great Hall together. So I asked Albus if I could move you to our quarters and I've asked the artist to rectify that omission."

"You did that for me?"

"Yes, oddly enough I did. The fact that shortly we'll have sleepless nights and nappies to change meant that if I could give myself some respite from this one nagging concern, all would appear normal to the naked eye. I also thought your portrait was starting to look lonely, but as you and Albus keep telling me it's just my hormones playing havoc with my brains, I wanted him to see that the black cloud does become a rainbow eventually."

"Ah, Gryffindor sentimentality is it?"

"I'll see your Gryffindor sentimentality and raise you a week on the sofa alone."

Severus quirked an eyebrow at Hermione, turned slowly, encircled her with one arm as the other caressed her rounded stomach and kissed his beloved wife. Hermione pulled away briefly to whisper in Severus' ear; "Happy Anniversary, Severus… and many more to come."

Finis

This was originally posted to FF.Net and Whispers in late November 2002 under a different name. It's still me, but the change in tag is a long convoluted story.