This story was written before the release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". It is pretty AU to begin with, and is even more so now! This story was originally posted on Sycophant Hex's Occlumency archive. If you would like to read more of my fiction, please visit the site and search for my penname there, "mouse".
Disclaimer: All hail J. K. Rowling, who created this world for us, and who doesn't sue our pants off for playing in it when she's not looking.
The Owl Chronicles - a story implied by correspondence
Good news! The Ministry has just granted us funding to do that Muggle studies field trip I've been wanting to set up! Pack your bags, Severus, you're going to London this weekend with the second year students!
I'd sooner die in a pit of flesh-eating slugs. I will NOT do this.
Could you pop by my office this afternoon, after your sixth year Potions class is over? Ta very much.
I heard (literally - you were very loud) that you spoke to Albus about the field trip this afternoon. You have my condolences; I've been roped into it too.
You didn't yell at Albus nearly enough, however. Did he happen to mention who you'll be sharing a room with? I didn't think so. You'll be paired with Gilderoy Lockhart.
Try not to kill the man, you poor dear. I've been paired with Sybill, so you know I'm going to have my work cut out for me keeping my temper this weekend too.
I have thought about your suggestion, but I must decline. One hardly needs second sight to know what Minerva's reaction would be to such a swap. Yes, we are all adults and professionals here, but teachers of opposite sexes shouldn't share rooms when we don't permit the students to do this. It sets a poor example, my dear.
Besides, although Gilderoy and I do have vaguely similar tastes in fashion, I find that being in the same room as all those sequins befuddles my inner eye. Plus the wretched man never shuts up about himself. No, I don't want to trade rooms with you.
See you on the bus in the morning, Sybill
Dear evil-minded goat-stinking troll, may you rot in Hades for all eternity,
Thank you so much, Albus, for giving all the children bags of sherbet lemons to keep their spirits up during the bus trip. Yes, nothing keeps a child's spirits up like a rampaging sugar high, does it? Now I'm trapped for nine hours in a jolting metal box with a washroom the size of coffin and forty raving, sugar-addled hellspawn - who are undoubtedly going to turn into forty bickering, carsick whingers in a few short hours. And why do we have to take a bus anyway? Why couldn't we Portkey to London, and then immerse ourselves in Muggle culture?
Speaking of being immersed in Muggle culture, I just wanted to point out how very, very much I hate trousers. Nine hours on this bloody bus. Every time I have to claw wrinkled wads of denim out of my chafed crotch region, I'm going to be thinking of you, Albus.
I know you said we were to refrain from using magic if we could help it, but I'm very sorry - we're at the seven-hour mark of the bus trip and we've just been forced to tie Severus into his seat with an Incarcerous spell.
He was actually doing remarkably well keeping his temper with the students (remarkably well for Severus, that is), but then Gilderoy woke up from his nap, and - shall we say - began to acerbate an already over-wrought situation. And an already over-wrought Potions master.
Thankfully, the Muggle driving the bus is wearing ear plugs and didn't notice a thing, and Gilderoy managed to put his hair out before it set off the smoke alarm. Of course, he's refusing to come out of the bathroom right now, but that makes Severus happy, so no loss there.
Nine hours, Albus. I don't care how much fun riding in a bus sounded to you, nine hours on one of these wretched contraptions is quite enough to be going on with.
Have arrived in London. Arse hurts. Students have gone into a frenzy. Will check into the hotel and then deal with getting the little monsters some dinner.
Get downstairs, you selfish toad! You can unpack your bags later! The students are climbing the hotel walls down here! They're out of control! Longbottom just barfed with excitement! Why do you think Albus sent you on this blasted field trip anyway, Severus? It's because you scare the students shitless, SO GET DOWN HERE AND DO YOUR JOB!
We've finally succeeded in getting the students fed and sorted into their rooms for the night, although -
"No Lockhart, I didn't 'remember' to bring a curling iron with me."
by the sounds thundering through the walls of this room, I would say there's not much hope that the students are actually asleep right now. The plan for tomorrow -
"No, Lockhart, I'm quite certain that I didn't bring a curling iron. No. I didn't. Dammit, I said no! Does my hair look curly? Has it ever looked curly? Stop asking me! I'm trying to write a letter here, you prancing woolly-headed bowtruckle!"
is a morning spent in a shopping plaza, followed -
"How would I know, Lockhart? Just go down to the front desk and ask if they've got one you could borrow."
by lunch in a restaurant where the students will demonstrate their ability to blend in with Muggles by ordering their own meals and paying individually. After that we shall be taking in a "movie" at a "cinema". You know, Albus, I never took Muggle Studies when I was a boy. This trip really is an imposition on me; I hardly know what I'm doing. A "movie" is a sort of play, isn't it? Thank goodness Minerva is taking care of the money at least. And why precisely -
"Back already, Lockhart? Oh joy. The spa was closed for the night, you say? Yes; what a frightful calamity. Look, just shut up, will you? I'm still trying to write this letter."
is the Muggle Studies teacher not actually supervising the trip? I mean really, that woman just flounces around Hogwarts like she's some sort of femme fatale from a bad bodice-ripper novel and she doesn't appear to actually know how to teach -
"No! I'm not going to bloody well curl your hair for you, Lockhart! Go get one of the students to help you! I'm sure that at least half of them would dearly love an opportunity to touch your hair!"
her subject. Oh bother it all; Lockhart keeps distracting me. I'll tell you how everything went tomorrow, Albus. Good night.
PS - I haven't strangled Lockhart yet. In fact, I think I'm dealing with him with admirable restraint, regardless of whatever Minerva might have told you about the bus ride.
I know it's two o'clock in the morning and you were probably sleeping, but can I please, please sleep on the floor of your room? I'll bring my own blanket and pillow. You know I wouldn't be asking if it weren't important.
Yours desperately, Severus
PS - I haven't strangled Lockhart yet.
It's three o'clock in the morning, and I'm currently writing to you from the hotel bar because Minerva is a deeply uncharitable woman after her sleep has been disturbed.
Did you know that Lockhart talks in his sleep? And if you think that Lockhart is a raving egomaniac when he's awake, I assure you that he's much worse when he's asleep, and that it all takes on a deeply disturbing sort of Freudian tone too. It has never occurred to me before that sex fantasies such as those existed.
I'm not sure what to do. If I had a draught of Dreamless Sleep, it wouldn't be a problem, but since I don't, I'm faced with either not sleeping tonight (because you can't listen to Gilderoy's sort of nocturnal masturbatory cooing and not have your eyes pop out of your head in horror) - or getting myself too incapacitated with alcohol to stay awake, and then just dealing with the ill effects of that tomorrow.
And murder. That's a third possibility, I suppose.
I hate you like a father, Albus. I shall never forgive you doing this to me.
We're just getting breakfast for the children at the hotel restaurant right now. The reason why I'm writing this is because Severus is having a bit of a lie-in. Gilderoy says he wasn't feeling very well this morning. Hopefully he'll be alright to come with us to the shopping plaza, because we're already a bit short-handed with only one teacher per ten students.
Oh good; Severus just came down the stairs. He doesn't look too well, but he says he'll be alright. He's just getting himself a cup of black coffee before the bus arrives to take us to the shopping plaza. Severus will take over sending you updates for the rest of the day, Albus.
I'm somewhere in the shopping plaza. There's a fountain. I've lost half my students and I don't know where I am. I think all of these Muggles have blinded my inner eye. Could you come and find me? I'm beginning to feel a wee bit distraught right now. I really don't like crowds.
Er, I'm standing next to a big store that sells shoes. Have you any idea where in the plaza that might be? North end, south end? Funny, isn't it, how all of these shops look alike.
They sell some very cute shoes, however. Er, if you happen to see any of my students, just hang onto them for me, would you? Ta very much.
Sincerely, Gilderoy Lockhart
Weren't Potter, Weasley and Granger supposed to be part of your group? I've just discovered them in something called an "arcade", playing a game which apparently consists of manhandling a large lever and shouting a lot while some unholy contraption makes a blinging, beeping racket at you.
My students are finding the "arcade" quite fascinating, so I'm leaving them in there for now (my head can't take the noise; I'm sitting under a plastic tree outside). If you happen to come across us, stop in and I'll hand over the "Trouble Triplets" to you again.
Yes, those three got away from me. Thank you for nabbing the little blighters. And weren't Crabbe, Goyle and Malfoy supposed to be part of your group? I've just found them perusing some highly inappropriate magazines in a tobacco shop. I gave that Muggle at the front counter a piece of my mind, let me tell you; it's absolutely disgraceful, leaving material like that low enough that young boys can reach it.
It's almost noon, so if I don't find the "arcade" before then, I'll just meet you at the food fair in the north end of the shopping plaza for lunch, as was agreed.
PS - If you happen to pass by something called a "security desk", please stop and collect Mr. Longbottom for me, won't you? I'm sure you've been hearing them paging me to come and pick him up. You'd think it might occur to them to say where the security desk is, wouldn't you?
Dear Professor Snape,
I'm at the security desk right now with Professor Trelawney and some of the other students who have got lost since we entered the shopping plaza. Professor Trelawney was in a terrible state when they first brought her over, but she seems to be calming down now. They gave her a paper bag to breathe into.
Anyway, from what Theodore Nott said when he wandered by a few minutes ago (he said he wasn't lost, and didn't stick around), you're pretty close to where we are right now.
If you go north to the coin-operated plastic horse and then turn left, you'll find the security desk. Could you please come and collect us all? I'm getting hungry.
Respectfully, Neville Longbottom
PS - One of the lady security guards just went off to get Pansy Parkinson, who is apparently trapped in one of the cubicles in the girl's toilet and is wailing her head off. We should probably wait for her, too.
I've just found Hannah Abbott! The poor little thing was lost, but thankfully I was there to rescue her! Apparently she got separated from Sybill's group while examining a display of bubble gum. Could have happened to anyone; I myself am often distracted by shops that sell kicky little high heeled shoes.
Er, we're standing beside a fountain right now. Any idea where that is? Just wondering.
Sincerely, Gilderoy Lockhart
I'm currently at the food fair, and have managed to acquire well over half of the students (and Sybill), despite having only been assigned a quarter of them this morning. Where are you? The children are getting whiny, and you've got all the lunch money.
I'll be there as soon as I can. I've got a bit of a situation here. I'm currently engaged in a discussion with a rather straight-laced security guard who is trying to have Gilderoy thrown out of the shopping plaza. According to Gilderoy, Hannah Abbott (the only student he's managed to hang onto this morning) was upset about being lost for several hours, and so to cheer her up, they went into a shop and started trying on high heeled shoes. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about, but apparently it's not common for Muggle men to wear those (I shall have to remember to tell Albus that; he's so fond of those purple boots of his). At any rate, as soon as I can get this silly Muggle to leave Gilderoy alone, we'll join you straight away. Oh, and Theodore Nott was picked up for shoplifting. I've got him with me also. He was nicking cigars from that same tobacco place that I picked up Crabbe, Goyle and Malfoy in, but thankfully, the clerk was willing to let it go when he saw that he was going to have to deal with me again.
The morning has been a disaster. First Sybill had a panic attack, then -
"Mr. Thomas! Take those drinking straws out of your nose at once! Five points from Gryffindor!"
Gilderoy got lost, and then pretty much three quarters of the students got "lost", although they all managed to get lost suspiciously close to either the games arcade, the comic book shop, or one of the three sweets shops. We are currently -
"Miss Patil! Miss Parkinson! Stop throwing your won tons at each other! Five points from Gryffindor and five points from Slytherin! Don't give me that look, Miss Parkinson! We are in public; show some proper Slytherin self-control! No! I don't care what she just called you!"
missing eight students, and have the security guards combing the plaza looking for them. Minerva has just -
"No, Longbottom! No more candied apples! You're just about vibrating from the sugar intake as it is! I told you to go buy a healthy lunch - now do it!"
dispensed lunch money to the students, and they are currently -
"Mr. Boot! If you stomp on one more packet of catsup, I shall be writing to your parents! Five points from Ravenclaw! Now go get some paper serviettes and clean that up!"
buying themselves lunch. When we finish here, we shall -
"Sybill, Mr. Longbottom just tripped and impaled Miss Granger on one of the candy apple sticks that he had hidden from me in his pocket. Could you go and deal with that? I'm not good with wailing children."
be going to the cinema, where I sincerely hope that the students will just settle down and watch the show. Apparently we're going to see something called "Wayne's World". I don't know what it's about, but it sounds like it might be a character study. I do hope the movie -
"Oh yes, Mr. Finch-Fletchley, how amusing. Great green boogers to amuse your friends with, and now you're regretting it. Is it my fault that you wanted to stuff wasabi up your nose? No, I can't make it stop burning. Go to the washroom and see if you can wash it out."
is something artistic and noir. I've had quite enough juvenile antics this morning to last me for an entire year.
"Potter! Weasley! Get down off that table! Stop flinging mashed potatoes at Mr. Malfoy! Five points from Gryffindor for each of you!"
PS - I'm in hell, Albus. I really am.
Get your bony arse back into this movie theatre, woman. If Severus, Gilderoy and I have to sit through this frightful drivel, then so do you.
Finished watching the movie. Want to kill myself. Students keep quoting the dialogue.
We're back at the hotel now, and have just finished dinner. Severus has gone upstairs for a bit of a lie-down, which is why I'm sending you the update again.
What a dreadful movie that was. Who chose that, Albus? The children enjoyed it far too much, unfortunately, and are now imitating the two main characters's speech patterns incessantly. I shall have to ban it presently, just for the sake of my sanity.
After dinner, we're allowing the students some free time, to go swimming or to socialise. Hopefully we've worn them out enough today that they'll actually sleep tonight instead of thundering up and down the hallways until midnight again. I'm certainly knackered, and Sybill looks like she's been through the mill too. I suspect even Gilderoy is feeling worn out, and he's the youngest of the four of us. He's gone up to the spa for a pedicure, and I think I might just join him, if I can convince Sybill to keep an eye on the students in the pool tonight.
Could you pop down to the pool for a few minutes? I'm having a wee bit of trouble getting the students to not run on the wet tiles, and you're so good at getting them obey you.
Did you get my previous message? Now they're throwing Mr. Longbottom into the deep end repeatedly, and Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley keep chasing Mr. Malfoy around and yanking his shorts down. Please drop by, if you would be so kind. It's getting a little bit rowdy down here.
Please come down here. Now the students are doing "cannonballs" and they won't remainder of letter is unreadable and parchment is soaking wet
Come down here at once! Now they've thrown the sofa from the lobby into the pool and are jumping up and down on it, trying to make it sink! Miss Parkinson has been suspended from the diving board by the arse of her bathing suit! Malfoy, Potter and Weasley are running around in the car park stark naked, screaming profanities at one another! There's a brown lumpy something floating in the pool!
I just wanted a quiet evening by the pool! Demon-bunnies! Fiends! Devil-possessed Boggart-spawn! I hate them! I hate them all! I have Seer blood! I DO NOT DESERVE SUCH TREATMENT!
Thank you for stopping by the pool and straightening that all up. I am continually amazed by your knack with children. It was almost eerie how quickly they all went quiet after you showed up and stood there staring at them, wearing that ... very small ... green Speedo.
And then they all started leaving and going up to their rooms, quiet as mice. Quite amazing.
Oh, and thank you also for helping me fish the sofa out of the pool and Obliviate the desk clerks. You're a dear, Severus.
Hope you enjoyed your swim, Sybill
PS - I liked the serpent embroidered on the front of your Speedo, by the way.
I know that you and Minerva had a few sherries after your pedicure. I know that you were a little drunk. I understand that alcohol can lower the inhibitions, and yes - I was only wearing my bathing suit and sandals at the time.
I want you to know that I am as open-minded as the next person, and I do not hold the incident against you, but that my tastes do not run in those directions. To be frank, your proposition startled me in the extreme. I assure you that I did not mean to react quite that vehemently.
You and I are sharing a room for another night, and in the interests of preventing further embarrassment and discomfort to us both, I must ask that you never mention that unfortunate incident in the stairwell again. We shall just pretend it did not happen. Furthermore, you are to keep your hands, eyes and mouth to yourself in future; understood?
I will un-jinx the hotel room door and let you in as soon as you slip a note under it saying that you agree to this.
I know it's two o'clock in the morning and you were probably sleeping, but can I please, please sleep on the floor of your room? I'll bring my own blanket and pillow. You know I wouldn't be asking if it weren't important. Lockhart is talking his sleep again, and - let's just put it this way - I keep hearing the word "Speedo" mentioned in some very alarming contexts.
Yours desperately, Severus