rabbit and Jinx have read Book 6.

If you have not read Book 6, turn back NOW.


rabbit: "...so."

Jinx: "mmhm..."

rabbit: "...well..."

Jinx: "Look at the darling boys. Aren't they just so precious? They actually think that just because one's in Azkaban and the other's on his way back to Hell, that somehow they might escape the Ongoing Mayhem With Ovine Misadventures..."

rabbit: "Yeah, but James and Sirius got themselves Dead and it didn't save them..."

Both: "MWAH-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!"

Interregnum (SSG 2.999999...)

A very tall and precarious stack of books drifted through the doorway marked Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here, and wavered painstakingly across the candlelit dormitory room.

The tomes' jagged shadow fell across the letter Lucius Malfoy was writing to Father and he looked up crossly at his fellow Prefect as Severus Snape came staggering along behind the bookstack. The struggling swot had another bushel 's-worth of texts clutched in his arms, his wand clenched in his teeth, and what looked like a Flaming Finch clinging onto the shoulderstrap of one of several overcrammed bookbags.

When the roving reference section had been crammed precariously into the storage space (formerly the bed of one unbearably chatty little Hugh Fortinbras, who had lasted just one term rooming with Malfoy and Minions before judiciously fleeing for his life), the aspiring alchemist collapsed gratefully onto his own bed, panting as if he'd just run from Marathon.

Lucius carried on with his epistle. When he had finished, and signed it with a flourish, he sealed it thrice with bloodred wax impressed with the Sigil Malfoy.

"Gavin," he said, upholding the letter.

Goyle bumbled over to stand waiting expectantly, like a faithful and deeply inbred hound.

Lucius enunciated clearly, "Take this to the Owlery and send it to Malfoy Manor. Vic," he clipped, "go with him and make sure he doesn't lose his way."

Crabbe obediently joined his fellow lump and together they set off upon their errand. Lucius was unfortunately reminded of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Still, they were Upright and Obeying Orders, which was far more than could be said for Snape: the gangly Prefect was outsprawled across his bed, chest heaving as he gasped for air, crickety limbs at all angles, and yards and yards of black schoolcloak overflowing onto the floor.

"Welcome back," Lucius said drily. "And whose hallucinatory fever-dream will we be inhabiting this time?"

There was quite a long pause, during which there was a small conflagration amidst the folds of Sev's extensively fireproofed cloak. Soon after, what might actually be a Combustible Canary struggled free of the swaddling cloth, and perched itself chirruping upon Snape's shoulder.

Malfoy waited for Some Plausible Explanation.

Snape continued panting for some time, and eventually covered his face with his hands, which traditionally meant that he was just about ready to tear his hair out by the roots but naturally couldn't bring himself to touch all that greasy mess.

The burning bird hopped onto his hands, but Sev seemed to take no notice of this; presumably his hands were so blistered and wealed from hours spent in the Student Potions Laboratory that the creature's fiery footprints were merely insult added to injury.

The bird preened itself a bit, and then as if struck by a sudden thought, it dipped its head down and commenced cheeping softly, almost as if it were whispering some secret through Snape's fingers.

At last, the slightly singed swot sat up. The bird, now burning brightly, fluttered up onto his shoulder again. Snape looked at Malfoy, and sighed resignedly, "Welcome to my nightmare."

"You're quite sure," Lucius pressed. "Only if it's my Grand Delusion, I'd like to make certain that things go rather better for me overall."

"Ohh, no, this one's all mine," spat Snape. "All this is undoubtedly the result of a mercy dash from the dungeons to the top of the Astronomy Tower, followed by some full mettle Alchemy, after which ensued a lively race down to the Main Gates, interrupted by a spot of trouble during which I was mauled by an enraged hippogriff, before I managed to disapparate to the Orkneys." He looked cross and exhausted, as if he were about to launch yet another epic tantrum. "Really, it's been a very full evening," he sulked, and determinedly keeled over again.

The bright little bird hopped onto his chest and started to sing, cheerfully.

When it finally paused to draw breath, Lucius inquired lightly, "And... where does the Blazing Budgerigar fit into all of this?"

"It followed me home and I think I have to keep it," sighed Snape. "And now if you'll excuse me, Luke, I'd like to have some Ophelian hysterics, just for a little while."

Malfoy blinked at him.

And then hastily gathered up some spellbooks, with the breezy proclamation, "I'll just go and visit Narcissa for awhile— "

Snape started That Unbecoming Laughter which sounded unmistakably like The Hinges Tearing Loose For Good And All. Lucius, realizing that no one would notice or care, actually fled the room.

That Unhappy Laughter rang around him as he hastened down the spiraling stairs towards the Slytherin Common Room, and he thought with a shiver that it was going to be A Very Long School Year...