A/N Thought I'd send this to chew on now we're all getting hyped up for GoF. g> Anyhow...Welcome to the Headmaster Snape series; a direct spinoff of the Jennifer Craw series (starts with Phoenix Wand, or check author info.) This is a short story series that will come out in spurts as my time permits or I get stuck on my original fic work, and will all be mystery-comedy. The stories will not necessarily be in chronological order and may jump different timespans in Snape's latter career.

You might not get all the jokes if you haven't read the JC series, but you can get by with this; it's about twenty-five years since Voldemort's death, Snape has worked his way into decent favor, and has settled down into a satisfactory career and home life including a somewhat dotty but charming wife and five (sometimes at odds with each other) adult kids, only one of which, miraculously enough, hates him. For the JC series loyals, happy holidays with this first installment, and I'll see you all at 11:49 on Thursday for the American premier (as I'm sure you all are going g>) JCWriter

Headmaster Snape and the Case of the Silenced Siren

I

Aurelius Snape was in anything but a good mood. In fact, he was quite furious as he trudged through the mud in the pouring rain pelting down upon the Dark Forest. At some distance behind him, the tall lanky figure of Andrew Snape followed, unusually sullen as he pulled the hood of his Hogwarts cloak over his head, keeping a safe distance from his brother.

"I don't know what I was thinking trusting you with this!" Aurelius snapped after he had calmed down enough to speak. "After everything I went through to capture her, you turned a simple prisoner transfer into an absolute fiasco! You had better hope nothing happens to the herd because of this, or brother or not, I shall strangle you!"

"Pali isn't likely to let the herd get anywhere near a creature like that," Andrew said evenly. "And all the centaurs are looking for her now as well…"

"They shouldn't have been put in this position in the first place!" Aurelius growled. "Grandfather is really going to be livid…and it's going to be me he'll blame, because I should have known that you wouldn't be able to handle any creature that looked even remotely female!"

"I simply gave her a glass of water…" Andrew murmured.

"To a siren who gains power from it!" Aurelius snapped.

"It was already raining." Andrew pointed out.

"Yes, and you delivered the catalyst!" Aurelius shouted back, sloshing across the brook.

"Perhaps Father will have some ideas on how to find her before we have to tell our grandfather?" Andrew suggested hopefully. "Or perhaps Mother, considering…"

"Right. Andrew, do you really want to be the one to tell mother we accidentally let loose a Siren in the Dark Forest in Father's hearing range?" Aurelius said.

"Good point," Andrew said somberly. "Perhaps she's still abroad. It is summer, after all."

It had been five years since Severus Snape had begun to add his subtle personal touches to the Headmaster's Study. It had been two since Caprica Dusthorn finally fell asleep and was banished once more to the Trophy Room, the grueling "break-in" period finished and the painting of the First Headmaster satisfied that Severus was comfortable in his new role. Not that it had been anything but easy going, especially with a full slew of troublesome Weasley students to keep things "interesting" and the constant interruptions of Minister Draco Malfoy and his father-in-law, Thomas Craw from Law Enforcement, asking him for advice or occasionally his intervention on one thing or the other. But that particular summer had been unusually quiet, which suited Snape very well. Many hours were spent on research that he only seemed to be able to get done during the summer months, but now it was getting late and the sound of the lulling rain made him uninterested in continuing such pursuits. Instead, he put his books away and turned off his beakers in favor of his favorite book, settling into his chair with the Hound of the Baskervilles in hand.

But it wasn't long before the loud, screeching call of his Stymphalian rang through the once silent room, making many of the paintings of Headmasters on the wall stir in their sleep. The quill by Severus' appointment book was moving. Descartes didn't always react when the quill moved; it seemed to move all the time. But somehow the iron crane instinctively seemed to know when it was writing something down important or if it was the typical, "Tea with Chairman Shea on Tuesday" sort of entry. Sighing at the inconvenience, Severus hushed the bird silent and peered over at the open appointment book, frowning.

Now, what were those two coming up to bother him about? From the urgency, Severus suspected that it was hardly a social call…not to mention it was odd to see them together at all.

Aurelius was almost always working; driven as he was by his work as an Auror, often plagued by the idea of any quarry he was assigned to running free. And Andrew was…well, known to go out of his way to be unproductive during his summers away from Hogwarts. The fact that he was not entertaining one girlfriend or another at that time of the evening was enough to give pause. In so many ways, the two were polar opposites; in looks, personality and social habits. Curiosity got the better of Severus, and he reached under the desk, pulling a secret knob that he had only learned was there from Dumbledore after receiving the job; it would help speed up their ascent up the fifteen floors to his office. Then he took up his book again as if completely disinterested in anything else, not even bothering to look up as the doors opened and the two of them strode in.

"Father…"

"One moment, Aurelius, I'm in the middle of a paragraph," Severus said evenly.

"I'm sure you have that book memorized by now," Aurelius said impatiently. "There's something you ought to know…something Andrew wants to tell you about." Andrew did a double take.

"Me? It's your job, not mine. I was just a reluctant volunteer," Andrew reminded him.

"It's your fault we're even here at all," Aurelius snapped back.

"Why is it," Severus interrupted with a voice that cut through the friction like a knife, "that the two of you are perfectly capable of acting like adults and doing exemplary work in your own fields and yet when you combine forces in anything you both act like first years?"

"Is Mother anywhere around?" Andrew asked. Severus squinted at him suspiciously.

"No, she is in Italy visiting your sister," Severus said. "Would this concern her?"

"Well, yes and no," Andrew said thoughtfully. "Actually, I don't know…"

"The point?"

"The point Andrew was 'helping' me bring a prisoner overland from the Orkney Islands when our prisoner escaped…thanks to him…" Aurelius began looking at his brother accusingly.

"I was merely trying to be polite…"

"She was a prisoner!" Aurelius snapped. "And a dangerous one at that! Bad enough that I couldn't take her straight away to Azkaban, but under the circumstances, and being what she was, I couldn't very well do that, could I?" Severus began drumming his fingers on his desk in a decidedly irritated manner. "Right, the point. Father, there's a siren lose in the Dark Forest. We lost her after she dazzled us…but don't worry, the centaurs are already looking for her…"

"One moment, Aurelius…are you telling me that you had to transport a siren and you chose him to help you?" Severus asked with a deadpan face. Aurelius grimaced, while Andrew took a fascinated interest in the ceiling.

"Grandfather didn't want to spare anyone else to go up there, and I thought that a Hogwarts Professor would have enough self control to not be drawn in by such a grossly obvious attempt at manipulating him!" Aurelius said.

"Enough, Aurelius please…"

"I hardly think that's fair! Dark creature or not, I think she's entitled to some basic considerations…"

"Basic considerations? Like she's given all those ships she's been leading astray? I can't believe…"

"More than enough!" Severus growled. "Aurelius, sit down! Andrew, remove your hood off when you're in my study. I take it you were trying to get this thing on a train and didn't quite manage it?" Aurelius nodded, still glaring at Andrew who gazed balefully back at him. "Aurelius, you had better alert Rosmerta about the current danger, and get Corey to help you while you are at it. In fact, he would have been a better choice from the beginning, or myself had you needed family help with this little mission of yours. I will go have some words with Sagittari about what may be done on our end, and as soon as it stops raining I'll send Descartes out to see if he smells anything unusual."

"Is there anything I can do? Send Owls? Watch the castle?" Andrew suggested, Severus eyeing him in a way that made him uncomfortable.

"You, Andrew, will go ask your mother to come home and explain why I might have occasion to need a specialist in oratory charms to begin with. Oh, and have a nice trip. Come along, Aurelius," Severus said in a brisk voice. Aurelius nodded to himself with satisfaction before following Severus out of the room, leaving Andrew to wonder if the punishment wasn't just as much to get him away from the area as for any other reason.