Tangled Up in Green
by Charis

Disclaimer: Nothing here belongs to me, except the story itself. Characters are property of J. K. Rowling.

Author's Note: A silly little Severus Snape / Minerva McGonagall cookie that's actually somewhat shippy. Involves laughter, green yarn, and late nights -- both on my part and the characters', albeit that my yarn was more of a dusty lavender. Never read fics and wind up yarn at the same time. It's silly, it's at least half out-of-character, and I really don't care. Written purely for entertainment, and to try to get the image out of my head.

A Muggle author had once said something about fog padding on "little cat feet"; she was as silent as the fog as she moved through the corridors, winding her way lower into the school. Having narrowly avoided an altercation with Mrs Norris some floors up (the school, it appeared, could not support two alpha females, even if they were cats), she had considered briefly changing back, but that would have made her far more obtrusive. Even if most of the students knew what her animagus form was, it was easier to hide when one trod on little cat feet.

The door to the dungeons had been left cracked open. She eased around it, shuddering as the cold stone pressed into her side; she'd never understand why he kept it so chill down here. He was at his desk, as usual, doubtless poring over student's essays, and gave no indication of having noticed her arrival.

Had cats been equipped to grin, as Lewis Carroll had once suggested, she would have. As it was, she moved stealthily in the shadows of shelf and desk, sneaking closer to the desk. A little surprise would do him some good.

She squirmed out from under the students' workbenches, and as she approached his desk, caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Feline instincts froze her: she crouched, poised, ready to move at the first signs of danger.

Another look: no, it wasn't dangerous. Something brightly coloured, a green brighter than the Slytherin colours.

Minerva McGonagall had always prided herself on her iron control. For an animagus, that was doubly important, to keep from becoming too much like the animal one emulated. As she studied her quarry, however, tail lashing back and forth, she felt some of that hard-won control give way to instinct.

The cat-brain took over. Muscles tensed, bunched.

She pounced.

It was, she discovered when she landed, a ball of green wool yarn, and while her human brain acknowledged this, the cat was only too happy to bat at it, tangling further and further into a web of emerald strands. She had not fought her inner feline for control in years -- not since shortly after she'd mastered the transfiguration for the first time. This was ridiculous.

A sound from nearby; she froze at it, not caring how foolish she looked at the moment, a grey tabby amid a chaos of green tangles. Severus had put down his pen and was watching her, and she realised the sound had come from him -- and that, for the first time in months, he was laughing. The grim expression was gone, his face relaxed and open as he watched her, leaning back in his chair and striving to contain his mirth.

It was worth it, looking like an utter fool, just to see him like that. She squirmed, trying to eel her way out of the enveloping threads, and found herself well and truly caught. Transfiguring back would have been painful, and so she settled for giving him her best feline glare -- the one that said, "I am Cat, and I am Great and Powerful, and you WILL do as I command!" He mastered his amusement, came from behind the desk to untangle her. Chuckles still escaped, however, and when he freed her at last, and she returned to her human form, he burst out laughing again.

"What," she demanded, not quite as irate as she sounded, "is so funny?"

Amid what had become almost helpless giggles, he managed, "You -- your face -- Merlin's bones, Minerva, I don't think I've ever seen you be so un-serious!"

Strictly true. She shook her head; as hair tumbled down from the pins, she gave up and took down her bun, still fixing him with that same look. When his amusement finally subsided, she said, "I'm glad one of us found this amusing."

"You didn't?"

"I --" Had she? Lack of control aside, it had been rather entertaining. She suspected it would have been more so had she not been the one getting tangled up. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of an answer, though.

"You did that on purpose."

He ignored her, leaning over and picking up the mass of yarn, now twisted and snarled. He eyed first it, then her, with a speculative expression.

"Does it work out of cat form?"

She lunged for him.