How to Relax
by Miss Rabbit
Disclaimer: Severus Snape and associated Harry Potter characters do not belong to me. They belong to the café-writer supreme JKR.
Notes: more at the end. Read it first. You know, I was listening to Rocky Horror as I listened to this. I didn't realise it until halfway through.
Severus Snape has always been a complicated man. It was fair to say his job had fairly high stress levels and dealing with his horrendous past as a Death Eater took up much of his time too (stalking around looking moody required quite a lot of effort). Mornings were a chore too. Merlin forbid he ever went out looking any less than the gargoyle they all expected.
Various people have wondered why Severus never left his obviously-hated job of teaching. He clearly did not like the little buggers and no one had ever suspected him of altruism. The truth of it was that he stayed there for Dumbledore, or rather what Dumbledore allowed him to do.
Some people blow off steam by indulging in ridiculous pastimes. They throw themselves from planes or high buildings for kicks. Others insert various strange drugs into their systems (Severus certainly could have had access to these sorts of substances but they were not really his thing like that).
In fact Severus preferred to relax in a different sort of way.
He liked to dress as a woman.
This should not be seen as a highly unusual or freakish thing. Many people throughout history have indulged in this particular pastime: Ed Wood, director of Plan Nine From Outer Space; Kitten, on whose memoirs Breakfast on Pluto – a rather good Muggle film – is based; and Tim Curry, though this may have been for professional purposes.
There was nothing that Severus liked better than wearing a skirt, heeled shoes (though not too high: he did not want to appear like a tart) and a nice cardigan. His hair scraped back very easily into a prim bun.
It was even better when he wandered the castle dressed in this fashion.
To this end he invented an entire new persona which he could slip into when he felt the need. With the co-operation of Dumbledore (who wanted to keep his pet ex-Death Eater at hand, just in case) and the use of a Time Turner (specially procured; Severus still knew someone who could pull strings at the Ministry) he could dress up and walk a round the castle at the same time as he was teaching in another part of it. After a while Dumbledore even suggested a scheme to integrate both of Severus's lives into the school.
As it turned out the school was in need of a librarian.
Soon Severus was quite literally leading a double life. He had always had something of an obsession with books – his home at Spinner's End was evidence of that – so to be in charge of the Hogwarts library was bliss itself. As Irma Pince (Pince was almost Prince after all) he ruled over it with a feather duster of iron and a penchant for leaping out on students who were misbehaving. No student had ever realised the true identity of 'Irma' thanks to a clever Don't-Be-Ridiculous charm devised by Flitwick as a favour for Dumbledore. The idea that it was Severus Snape in the frilly blouse never even crossed the students' tiny little minds.
And so the state of affairs continued for many years until the unfortunate business of Voldemort second time around at which time Hogwarts lost both its worst-tempered professor and librarian at the same time.
Worst of all, Severus stopped receiving his two wage packets.
Which was a pity, as nice cardigans did not come cheap.
Notes: I noticed the physical similarities between Snape and Pince in HBP in this passage:
"a moment later the vulture-like countenance of Madam Pince appeared round the corner, her sunken cheeks, her skin like parchment and her long hooked nose illuminated unflatteringly by the lamp she was carrying." (HBP, pg 288 Brit edition)
I actually began considering the possibilities of her having links with Eileen Prince (the names Pince and Prince seem to similar for coincidence!) but then this little idea occurred to me and I couldn't not write it really. I do apologise. I don't really think he's a cross-dresser. Though I did enjoy that scene in CoS…