rabbit: Oh, looky, all the Halloween things are out in the stores now. Shall we give them a Trick, or a Treat?

Jinx: "Or?"

AN: Spoilers for book six.

(If ewe are confused start with SSG #1 "Stuck" and proceed from there…)

SSG 3.0

You know what they say about Fifth Year...

It's No Picnic

Dawn gilded the churning surface of the lake and the lashing tentacles of the Giant Squid as it briskly swam 50 laps to start the day; the exuberant young sun playfully crowned the venerable crenellations of Hogwarts with shining diadems and draped the knurled towers in cloth o' gold.

The last tower to see the light was Slytherin Tower, a small but clever piece of work which was overshadowed nearly to the point of vanishment amongst its bolder, grander fellows. Only its top three floors and bristling sea-urchin's cap showed aboveground; Slytherin had crafted the tower in support of the school, whilst all the while insisting vehemently that one shouldn't build anything from which one wouldn't survive the fall.

Within what was arguably the ground floor of the Slytherin Dormitory, deep inside a dusty-curtained bed crammed nearly full of even-dustier books so that scarcely any room remained for its sleeping occupant, the Blazing Budgerigar uplifted its head and made a joyful noise unto everything within a 4.3-mile radius.

Severus Snape jolted awake and frantically aimed hushing swats at the burning bird, which only added Grace notes to its song as it trillingly eluded his hands and spiraled sparkling out through the narrow crawlspace which presented the only way out of this private collection.

Snape watched it go and presumed, when total mayhem did not commence, that the bird had not awakened his roommates.

Of course, Crabbe and Goyle wouldn't wake up for anything less than breakfast... and Lucius Malfoy, putting a rash abundance of faith in his shiny new Prefect's badge, had soundproofed his black velvet bedcurtains.

Severus retrieved his own Prefect's badge from beneath his pillow, and pinned it to his pyjama shirt for safekeeping as he sorted through the books strewn all about him, selecting those texts which would be most useful for perusal in the Great Hall before and during breakfast.

Clutching a half-dozen tomes, he ottered 'round with the dexterity of a hopeless swot, so that he could use the crawlway to get out of bed.

A blonde girl in a blue bathrobe graced with a Prefect's badge was huddled trembling atop the rumpled quilts. Her hair was wet and she seemed strangely luminous, like an Angel tumbled to Earth. She met Snape's eyes and what had been silent weeping turned into a squall.

Snape froze.

There was Absolutely No Explanation Whatsoever for this situation. Narcissa Beauregard (née Black, she had dropped the name after her wretched cousin had had the Bad Luck to be Sorted into Gryffindor and the Worse Form to gleefully embrace his fate) should have been in the Girls' Dormitory. Or in the Common Room. Or Anywhere Else on Earth but Here.

She looked at Snape and wept even more violently, which was astonishing.

He wished she would stop.

It was very unfair of her to turn up in his bed and just sit there crying, while he couldn't move or breathe or think of anything that wouldn't get him slapped halfway to next Christmas.

Which was nothing compared to what Lucius would do if he found his Fiancée in another Wizard's bed.

All the blood surged back into Sev's heart, restarting it with an alarming heave that made him gasp and now Narcissa was looking at him and he wondered how she could cry like that and still look so pretty and he realized in a panic that she was Waiting for Me to Say Something.

He tried four times before he could squeak, "Alright, Narcissa?"

She sniffled protractedly, and flung herself prone, clutching at his pyjama sleeves and emitting a most alarming caterwaul.

Sev thanked God sincerely for Lucius's soundproofed bedcurtains. And then he realized that sooner or later, Malfoy would arise to begin his day, and leave that silent sanctuary --

Snape dropped the books he'd been clutching, and reached down and caught her wrists and shook Narcissa, a little, because he couldn't think what else to do, and hissed, "Sssssh!"

His effect was similar to that a garter snake might have in warning off a cloudburst. She wailed louder and wetter.

Sev ootched himself into the far corner of the bed and hid behind a very thick book which he opened and tried to read.

After he'd read the same paragraph six times without understanding it, he wondered how he could see to read since the Blazing Budgerigar had gone and he hadn't dared take up his wand. (Which was wise, as a simple Lumos spell would probably have resulted in a conflagration given his present state of mind.) He blinked in the whitegolden light and very nervously concluded that Narcissa was glowing.

He hoped this didn't mean she was pregnant.

He hoped she wasn't going to blame it on him.

She turned her sparkling blue gaze on him and sniffled solicitously, "All right, Sev?"

Maybe she was Answering the Moon's Call. From his admittedly limited study of that subject, and those subjected to it, he had deduced that Witches apparently just lost their minds by the light of the waxing Moon, and wandered around crying a lot and eating half their bodyweight in chocolate --

Sev dropped the book and scrabbled at the wall of tomes behind his pillow, yanking loose a small box ornamented with fussy little flowers. He heaved this towards Narcissa, and as it landed atop the quilts the lid popped off, revealing several chocolates nestled in frilly cups amidst a great many empty wrappers.

All of them were coconut but Narcissa didn't seem to mind. She fell upon them like a vixen emptying a nest of fieldmice.

Sev was very, very afraid.

He sneaked his wand out from beneath his pillow, and clung onto it with both hands white-knuckled.

The sounds of Devouring sent shivers down his spine (and elsewhere) but at least this was better than the operatic crying.

He wondered if garlic or silver or salt or pepper would help.

The last chocolate vanished and Narcissa sat back with a long sigh, and used her wand to pin up her damp hair in a fetching twist, and produced a daintily-embroidered handkerchief with which she erased the tearstains and chocolate smears from her radiant visage.

Sev wished to God she'd either Leave Right Now or Come Over Here.

Instead, she said with an importunate pout, "Lucius doesn't listen to me."

Sev wondered why she was dragging Lucius into this.

With a sigh which could have commenced a film noir she went on: "Ever since he became a Prefect," which was all of a week ago, "he doesn't seem to hear a word I say to him! He's all, oh, I dunno, Drunk With Power, or something!"

The pretty blonde Witch was talking about being drunk. The pretty blonde Witch was talking to him. The pretty blonde Witch was in his bed

Like claws on a chalkboard came her accusing query: "Are you listening to me!"

Sev stared at her, heart hammering against his ribs. He had been listening, yes, but she looked furious.

... in the sense of the original Furies, who had talons in which to hold their grudges tightly.

After a very long and perilous pause at the edge of his life, Snape offered in desperate apology, "I'm sorry, I just woke up and I haven't had my coffee."

She folded her arms and Waited.

Sev nervously rummaged in the wall of books behind his pillow, hauled open a hidden panel and reached into the nook beyond with shaking hands to set the coffee a-brewing in its bijou cauldron.

He made enough for two. The warm, cozy scent cast him into an intriguing reverie involving himself and Narcissa hidden away in a lavish flat in Paris overlooking the Tour Eiffel, which they had failed to notice for three days altogether --

"Sev!" Something smacked him upside the head. He thought it might be the lettuce from the sack of groceries the House Elves had just brought from the market square.

Narcissa said razor-sharply, "The coffee's ready."

Sev hastily unstuck the Advanced Potion-Making textbook from his hair, and stashed it beneath his pillow. He poured the coffee into the mug Siouxsie Sinistra had given him yesterday, which supposedly reminded her of him: it was black, illustrated with an anxious but fluffy white rabbit above the inscription, Doomed Bunny.

He added a generous dollop of créme de menthe and a half-cup helping of sugared cocoa powder to the mixture, stirred it widdershins with a silver spoon and passed it quickly to Narcissa, nervously avoiding her claws. He poured black coffee into his old, cracked, even blacker mug which as it heated evidenced the words: I am the Dark Lord and you will do nothing without my influence.

Sev laced his drink liberally with blackstrap molasses, stirred it briskly deosil with a length of dried sunflower stalk, and promptly gulped down half the brew at a go.

"So," demanded Narcissa, as she finished draining her mug with one long greedy draught, "what are you going to do about it?"

"Uh?" choked Sev.

"About Lucius," she stressed through bared white teeth. To make him listen to me."

Snape had no idea. He clutched his half-empty mug to his chest, as if it might shield him somehow from her wrath.

Narcissa challenged, "There must be some kind of potion."

After a prolonged pause, Snape stammered nervously, "L-love potions d-don't work like that." He blushed puce and muttered, "Actuallytheydon'tworkatallthewayyou'dthink."

She stared at him with her bright blue eyes for a long minute and then charged him, "Well, Brew something."

She seemed to be Waiting for some response to this and so he squeaked at last: "--what?"

"You're the Resident Swot," she snipped. "Make yourself useful. Brew something that will make Lucius listen to me."

Some primal instinct of self-preservation stifled the "but" before he could lend it voice.

She purred, "Come on, Sev, do it for me... or I'll stay in here 'til Lucius wakes up, and when he sees me leaving your bed, he'll hex you into next year," she threatened, "where you will arrive without a single O.W.L. to your credit."

With his grades flashing before his eyes, Snape nodded frantically, spilling coffee onto the quilts as he yelped urgently, "Yes! Alright! I mean I'll do whatever you want, just please Go!"

"Alright," she breathed, and handed back her empty coffee mug. A tiny blue spark leapt from her hand to his, shocking him only a little less than her minxish wink as she said clearly, "Remember you promised!" She knelt before the crawlspace and vanished like a princess imprisoned by Chung Ling Soo.

In the cloying silence left in her stead, Sev tried to remember how to breathe, and struggled desperately not to dwell upon the fact that he'd just begged the only girl ever to grace his bed to leave.

It really was too much to face before having finished the First Cup of the Day and careless of his racing heart, he drank the rest of his coffee in one great glug.

It helped, just a little.

As he poured rather a lot of rum into his Second Cup of the Day, he couldn't help wondering agitatedly just what he'd gotten himself into This Time...