Disclaimer: Annabelle is mine. Everyone else, not so much.
Er. This is…odd.
Harry was going to violently harm Mundungus Fletcher the next time he saw him.
"Look, ma'am," he said wearily to the owner of the poky little thrift shop Fletcher had told him about, "all I want to know is if you still have a certain locket a man sold here a few months ago. It's kind of big, has an S on it…" Contains one-seventh of the soul of a murderous snake-thing gone wrong…
The woman, a middle-aged harridan with a face like a hatchet and breath that reeked of nicotine, harrumphed. "Sold it," she told him dourly, eying him as if she suspected he was about to whip a machine gun out of his pocket and blast away her and her stupid shadowy dust-infested store.
Harry gritted his teeth. "I don't suppose you could tell me who…?"
"No," she grunted, jaw jutting out fiercely and her eyes narrow enough that they nearly disappeared in the shadows of her gaunt face.
Well, there was nothing for it. Reluctantly, Harry leaned in and caught her gaze. He was still just plain bad at Occlumency, but he'd found that no one in the world was better at poking around in others' business (and heads).
Five minutes later, the shopkeeper was left with an odd headache and a vague memory of a dark-eyed, black-haired girl running through her mind. And Harry Potter, whistling a jaunty tune and walking with a distinct saunter, knew just where to make his next stop.
"Are you sure about this?" Hermione asked dubiously.
"Hermione," Harry sighed, "you know how good I am at legilimency. The woman paid by credit card. I know her name, I know what she looks like, and I know for a fact that she has Slytherin's locket."
Ron snickered. "Imagine," he said, grinning wickedly as he lounged on the hotel bed. "Salazar Slytherin's jewelry in the hands of a Muggle! He must be spinning in his grave like a bloody top."
Hermione paused her nagging long enough to appreciate the irony, which was also just long enough for Harry to make a break for it. Five steps to the door – three – almost there…
"Harry James Potter, get back here right now!" Harry froze, closing his eyes in dismay, as his best friend uttered The Words of Doom. "We need to plan."
"But Hermione - "
"Now. Don't make me come after you like last time!"
Ron snickered again, and Harry promptly added his name right under Voldemort and Dung's on his Must Eradicate Forever list.
"You're a stalker! Admit it!"
Harry was going to kill Dung. Slowly. Painfully. Irrevocably.
"Look, Miss, I swear that I'm telling you the truth," he lied. "That necklace is a really, really important heirloom in my family, and Grandmother's been just heartbroken without it. I wanted to make her happy before she dies, you know?" He looked at her pleadingly, eyes wide.
The black-haired Muggle in front of him – Annabelle Jones – eyed him skeptically. She was, he thought sourly, false advertisement personified. The flower tucked behind one ear, the long, fluttery purple skirt, the pale pink shirt…it all disguised a cold-hearted gorgon from the depths of hell.
"It's mine," the woman said, scowling, "and you're going to have to do better than this. Honestly, your heartbroken grandmother? Where'd you learn to lie, Emotional Manipulation For Morons? Now, what do you really want?"
"I swear on my parents' graves," he said impatiently, "I'm not stalking you. I don't want to ravage you. I have no interest in you whatsoever beyond the necklace you bought from Kind Hearts thrift shop three weeks ago."
"You should be more polite," Jones sneered, dark eyes glittering with malice. "Otherwise your poor dear grandma is going to be one very disappointed near-corpse."
"You're a horrible, horrible person."
Harry gritted his teeth. "Fine. How much do you want for it?"
Harry gaped. "You bought it for ten!"
"A girl has to make a living," she said sweetly, batting her eyelashes. Annabelle Jones, Harry decided, was clearly a monster in desperate need of vanquishing. Immediately.
"Fifty," he snapped.
"Hundred," she repeated sternly.
"Nope. Hundred or nothing. I really rather like the locket, you see, and I'm sure your poor old grandmother will understand…"
Harry somehow managed to restrain several overwhelming murderous impulses and instead snarled out, "Fine. A hundred pounds." He furiously dug out his wallet and practically threw a few pound notes at her, only getting more annoyed when she managed to snatch them from midair with a minimum of fuss.
"It's been nice doing business with you, Mr. Stalker," Jones said with a prim smile, and unhooked Slytherin's locket from around her neck and tossed it at him carelessly. Harry took a vicious amount of satisfaction in the way her face fell when he caught it easily. He'd never been so grateful for his Seeker skills.
"Give my regards to your fake grandmother," Jones called out snidely as he stalked away.
Harry'd never had a tic before. It felt rather odd.
And then the very beginnings of an idea started to germinate in his mind.
"I will never forgive you for this, Potter. Never."
"I got your name cleared, didn't I? And this was my one condition. My one measly condition. And it's not like anyone else will ever know."
Severus glowered at the Boy-Who'd-Bailed-His-Arse-Out-Of-Azkaban with more than a little anger and just the tiniest smidgen of respect. Potter had been surprisingly cool-headed and almost, well, Slytherinesque, ever since he finally figured out that Severus had been acting on Dumbledore's orders that night in the Tower. He'd agreed to help prove Snape's innocence – but for a price.
It just wasn't a price the older man was altogether sure he wanted to pay. He could respect revenge, even applaud it – but not revenge that required he dress as a woman.
He scowled down at his truly atrocious outfit – how Lenora Longbottom could wear this sort of thing day in and day out was truly beyond him – and then sighed, adjusted the vulture-hat on his head, and stormed up the walk towards the little Muggle house Potter had pointed out to him.
He couldn't believe his life had come to this.
The door swung open a couple moments after he knocked, and a woman with black hair and a permanently irritated expression glared out. "Yeah? What d'you - "
She froze, taking in Severus – in all his feminine glory – for the first time. And then her gaze flicked up and beyond him, to where Potter was standing on the walk, watching with raised eyebrows and a diamond-sharp little smile.
"I," Snape said in his best little-old-lady voice, which was truly atrocious, "am here to demand a refund."
He was going to kill Potter.
The muggle, a woman by the name of Annabelle Jones, if he recalled properly (and of course he did, his memory was the best in wizarding England, after all), blinked. "Excuse me?" she asked sharply, arms crossing over her chest.
"That boy right there," Snape said, shooting a quick and deadly glare in Potter's direction, "is my grandson, my dear orphaned grandson, and he says that when he tried to get my locket back just to make me happy, you made him pay a full hundred pounds. But the poor boy – he has no money, no job…" He trailed off, and added an unscripted, "No prospects, no sense," with malicious glee, before getting back to what Potter had told him to say. "Cheating him like that was a terrible thing to do."
Jones was transfixed in wide-eyed horror. "You – he – you're his grandmother? His elderly heartbroken grandmother?" she demanded a little dubiously.
"Indeed," Snape said ominously, and imagined turning Potter into potions ingredients to stop himself from roaring in sheer fury.
"Oh god. I thought – I honestly thought he was lying…"
"Doesn't have the imagination," Snape said shortly. "And that locket belonged to my grandmother, rest her soul."
Annabelle paled. "I'm so sorry. Look, I'll give back – fifty pounds."
The voice that had worked so well on over a decade of students didn't fail him now, even if it was, for the first time, in a falsetto. Jones leapt for her purse and dug out the notes, nearly shoving them into Snape's hands.
"I really am sorry," she said nervously, quailing under Severus' coldly accusing gaze.
The former professor glared at her and stalked away, only stopping when he reached Potter, who grabbed the money, counted it, and handed half back.
Severus blinked, startled by his former student's unexpected show of generosity. "What - "
Potter shrugged, grinning ruefully. "That hat looks heavy," was all the explanation he gave, before his grin went evil and he turned to face Annabelle, who still stood framed in her doorway.
Severus took that as his cue to shuck off his hat and Lenora Longbottom's dress, revealing the strange 'blue jeans' and 't-shirt' Potter insisted he wear beneath. His beanbag-and-bra bosom fell away as well, hitting the concrete with a solid thud.
Jones' face went blank, then contorted in fury. "You little bastard!" she shrieked, and suddenly Snape saw why Potter had referred to her as a demon hell spat out. "Get over here, I'll tear out your bloody spleen and stuff it up your nostrils!"
Potter took off with a gleeful yelp, running flat-out for the 'car' he'd borrowed from the Ministry. Severus took one look at the quickly-advancing muggle, who was wielding her large purse in an altogether overly threatening manner, and followed the younger man's lead.
They barely made it in time, and even as they drove off, they could hear Jones' outraged shrieks of, "I'll get you! I'll get you next time! I'll destroy you both!"
"Well," Potter said, sounding very self-satisfied. "That was fun."
"I loathe you," Severus grumbled, but oddly enough it didn't ring quite true. His debt to Potter was finally paid off, he was, oh, twenty galleons the richer, if he calculated correctly (which, of course, he did), and…well, Jones' reaction had been rather amusing.
Potter just grinned and drove.