Warnings: Smoking and Communism jokes.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine, no harm or profit intended.

by Rex Luscus

Snape stood stiffly beside Ron before the door of the Burrow.

"Remember, Severus," said Ron in a loud, tense whisper: "Best behaviour. For Merlin's sake." He paused. "For my sake."

"Would you mind telling me what the rules are for this kind of affair, then?" Snape asked caustically.

"Just smile, thank her, and say everything is excellent," Ron replied. "You can't go wrong."

The door opened and Molly ushered them inside, arms spread wide, all smiles and generous bosom.

"So lovely to have you here at last, Severus!" she said to him.

He pasted on a tight grin. "Thank you. Everything is excellent."

Her smile grew confused. "Yes. Well then..."

Arthur Weasley settled into his armchair by the fire and reached into his shirt pocket. "Cigar, Severus?" He held one out to Snape, then hesitated. "Unless you have business to conduct after supper, of course. We confiscated them out of an illegal shipment from Cuba--don't tell anyone--and they tend to give people strong anti-capitalist sentiments for at least three hours afterwards..."

"What do I do?" Snape asked Ron through clenched teeth.

"Accept it," replied Ron, also through clenched teeth.

Snape took the cigar.

"Now smoke it," said Ron.

Snape leaned forward and accepted Arthur's light. He took a puff from the cigar.

"Now thank him, and tell him what an excellent blend it is."

"Thank you," said Snape aloud. "It's an--excellent blend."

"Ah!" said Arthur, sitting up. "A cigar man, eh? Well, if you like that one, then you really must try..." He got out of his chair and began rummaging in a cabinet.

"What do I do now?" Snape muttered angrily, on the verge of panic.

"Just play along," said Ron. "Er--please."

Snape sighed.

"How am I doing?" Snape whispered, cutting into his pork chop.

"Pretty well," Ron whispered back. "Just try to tone down the labour exploitation rhetoric."

"I can't," hissed Snape.

Snape accepted his cloak from Fred--or George--and whirled it about his shoulders with an audible sigh of relief.

"Are you sure you can't stay for an after-supper nip?" asked Arthur. "I've got a lovely enchanted peppermint schnapps--don't tell anyone--that lets any four people drinking it sing together as a perfect barbershop quartet..."

"I apologise," said Snape sincerely, "but I truly am exhausted. I must return home and rest."

"They work you far too hard at Hogwarts," interjected Ginny, "especially for the amount of compensation teachers receive..."

"Too true," Snape smiled, and turned to leave. Behind him, Molly was shrieking at Ginny about cigars.

Once Snape was gone, Ron turned to his parents. "Well?"

"He's not Hermione," Molly sighed, "but he does seem to be trying very hard, bless him!"

"I'll say," said Arthur. "Looked like he was about to fall over near the end, there..."

"Do you think perhaps you're putting a bit too much pressure on him, dear?" Molly asked Ron. "People can't be perfect every moment of the day, you know. Let the poor man relax!"

Ron sighed.