Special Thanks to MollyCoddles for encouraging me, letting me use her as a sounding board and beta reading. I got the idea to write this ficlet from ch 14 of my story 'Moonlight and Shadow' when Tonks, on night duty with Snape, is told not to ask him for advice. She replies, "But you'd be such a natural. Imagine it." The phrase she used, 'Dear Snarky Severus' inspired this story, set the beginning of September, HBP, after Snape left himself open for Harry to say "There's no need to call me 'sir,' Professor."
Dear Snarky Severus
Severus Snape entered the Headmaster's office to find Albus Dumbledore pouring a generous measure of firewhisky into a tumbler.
"Good evening, Severus."
With a curl of his lip, the current Defence Against the Dark Arts professor took the drink and a seat across the desk from his colleague. "Is it? I have suffered Potter once in my classroom and already he has earned detention."
"So I hear. For cheek, was it?"
Severus narrowed his eyes. Albus was too good an Occlumens to allow his thoughts read, but his expression was easy to interpret. "You find the boy's insolence amusing?"
White brows rose. "Of course not. Harry needs to be respectful of authority the same as every other student." Behind half-moon glasses, blue eyes twinkled. "But that Shield Charm must have knocked you off-balance in more ways than one for you to leave yourself open to such 'cheek.'"
There was a bruise on his hip from hitting the edge of a desk. Severus' lips twisted. "Indeed."
Albus rubbed his chin thoughtfully, likely hiding a smile. "When have you assigned detention?"
"You must reschedule for the following weekend," the older wizard said apologetically. "Harry has a lesson with me this Saturday at eight."
Severus frowned. "Potter did not mention it."
"I sent the note just after your class, I believe."
"Specifying the same exact time as my detention?"
Albus grinned. "Are you accusing me of something?" He made a show of gazing around the office. "I see no crystal ball for me to foretell the happenings in your classroom."
Severus' lips twitched. "You have your ways of acquiring information."
"How Machiavellian you make me sound." Albus picked up a crystal bowl and offered it. "Toffee?"
"You don't know what you're missing. The buttered rum ones are especially delicious."
"I'll take your word on it."
Albus smiled. "Excellent. I hope you will also take my word that the task I am about to entrust you with is well within your capabilities."
"What task?" Severus asked warily. He blinked in surprise to be handed a copy of Witch Weekly.
"There is an advice column within. Ask the Wise Wizard—perhaps you've heard of it?"
"Well, it is aimed at a younger readership." Albus' slightly downcast expression became cheerful once more. "I am the Wise Wizard."
Severus almost laughed. He murmured instead, "Your hobby?"
"Precisely! When a wizard reaches my age, new hobbies are increasingly hard to find. I already possess every kind of collection under the sun, can only read so many books, and have no artistic talent. This suits me." Albus leaned forward. "The only rub is the rare occasion duties interfere with the timely completion of my column. When that happens, I require a guest columnist." He stared meaningfully.
"Can you not re-publish an old column?"
Albus drew himself up indignantly. "Certainly not!"
"Then find someone else," said Severus. "McGonagall…."
"The Magnificent Mage has already penned a column this year."
"The Keen Cultivator has also filled in."
"Yes, the Erudite Enchanter has taken a turn as well." The old man's shoulders slumped. "If there was anyone else I trusted completely to keep my secret and answer letters with the wisdom readers expect, I would not ask this favour, my friend."
Severus ground his teeth. How could he refuse when it was due to Dumbledore's trust and sponsorship that he was pardoned all those years ago? "You should have been a Slytherin."
Albus shot to his feet, smiling widely. "Thank you for the compliment, and I am sure you will do a splendid job as the Sagacious Sorcerer." He reached down and picked up an enormous rucksack. "Here are the letters for you to choose from. Pick any four you like. There is no hurry. However, the column needs to be owled to the magazine office by Sunday morning at the latest."
The weight of the rucksack was surprisingly heavy. How many letters were crammed inside? Severus nodded curtly and stalked out of the office.
Four days later, he had still not opened a single letter. That night, when Harry-Bloody-Potter was being coddled in his private lessons with the Headmaster, Severus was dumping the rucksack onto the floor of his private lounge.
A great number of dunderheads in the world craved advice. He poured his third glass of firewhisky and allowed the bottled courage to seep through his veins.
It was shocking to realise he recognised the handwriting on many of the letters. Did the entire student body of Hogwarts write to their Headmaster unknowingly? He took a sip of firewhisky and set it aside in order to reach for his wand.
Within moments, the letters were opened and sorted into two piles. Severus picked up a letter from the 'student' pile and began to read.
Dear Wise Wizard,
There's this girl at school I like. Thing is, everyone calls her, 'Dotty Debbie.' I don't think she's dotty, I think she's just different, special. I want to ask her to go with me to Hogsmeade, but every time I tried to talk to her last term, I tripped over my big feet or I couldn't speak. What should I do to make this year different?
A low, malicious chuckle escaped the man reading. Nervous Nigel, was it? Neville Longbottom was an incompetent even in his efforts to disguise identity. He picked up a quill.
You should thank your lucky stars. If 'Debbie' is as 'different' as you believe, she may overlook your ungainly manner and say 'yes' if you ever gain the nerve to ask her out.
Severus took another drink. He didn't think even 'Loony Luna' would be desperate enough go with Longbottom, but it would be mildly amusing if the boy stammered out an invitation after reading the advice.
He picked up another letter and scanned the contents. Mary Kate Greengrass wrote that her sister Ashley was a jealous witch who wouldn't admit Draco Malfoy liked her more. Severus tossed the parchment aside. Even supposing 'real' names were allowed, if he printed that letter, Pansy Parkinson would hex both girls into the hospital wing.
It took a half a bottle of Ogden's Finest to make the drivel he was reading bearable. Finally, he discovered another letter worthy of publication.
Dear Wise Wizard,
I don't expect you to answer my letter. I don't read advice columns. I'm only writing because a friend tricked me into it during a game of Truth or Dare. Not that I believe you will read this. I'm sure you have an assistant that does all the screening for you and he or she will toss this out.
Regardless, I'm writing because there is a boy I have liked for a long time as more than a friend. I thought he liked me the same way, but he only stares at me, argues and pesters me constantly to get my attention. What do you advise me to do?
Sincerely, someone who never claimed to know all the answers.
There it was, in writing. Hermione Granger admitted she did not know everything! All those times in class when she acted like an insufferable know-all, the girl was hiding her lack of knowledge on how to handle personal relationships.
Severus raised his glass in a toast to irony. Then he began to write.
I assure you, not only did I read your letter—I re-read it in order to fix your predicament in my mind. I gather from the tone of your writing you are not the type to freely confess your feelings. If such is the case, I suggest you encourage your 'friend' in the same manner he is expressing his feelings toward you. A hex would do, perhaps one involving bees, to sting him into action.
Snickering softly, he poured another drink and picked up another letter. It was the next best thing to a letter from Harry Potter. It was a letter about Harry Potter!
Dear Wise Wizard,
I feel awful, because I'm dating one boy and hoping another one will ask me to go with him instead. My friend told me the boy I like would notice me if I did this, but I can't help but worry. Will you tell me if I'm doing the right thing? Should I keep dating the boy I'm with or should I break it off and be honest with everyone?
Little Ginny Weasley wanted to catch the eye of the big hero, did she? Severus had observed Potter looking her way more than once...but what if the girl thought the flames of jealousy would fan interest? He put quill to parchment.
It is said, there is never jealousy where there is not strong regard. Keep that in mind when you decide upon your course of action. The stronger you inspire jealousy, the more assured you may be of the boy's regard. The decision is yours.
What Severus left out of the answer was that it was also said Jealousy is a tiger that tears its own raging heart. He fervently hoped the saying was true in Potter's case.
A final letter caught his eye. It had fallen in between the student and non-student piles. He picked it up, noting with distaste that it was written on pink parchment. There was a scent wafting up from the paper. He sniffed. Revoltingly flowery perfume had been sprayed upon it.
Severus rolled his eyes as he read the large, loopy handwriting liberally sprinkled with hearts.
Dear Wise Wizard,
There has been an awful mistake. I'm sure of it! I came all the way from America to be a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but when I got here, the Headmaster told me my letter was forged! How can that be? Has there really never been an exchange student at Hogwarts? Is there really no Sparklypoo House?
I have overcome so much personal tragedy and I have so many talents to share, can't somebody make an exception?
Included is my latest beauty pageant photo of me winning the swimsuit competition. If you have any advice on how I can appeal to the Ministry, please let me know!
Your friend forever, Mary Sue
If she showed up in Scrimgeour's office wearing a bikini—that might get the Minister to change a few policies. Severus had heard rumours the man was partial to busty blondes. He curled his lip as he began to write.
Miss Mary Sue,
It is my duty to inform you that some person or persons, with the aid of forged 'acceptance letters,' seem to delight in persuading gullible Americans to believe they have been invited to Hogwarts. Every year the dupes come to Scotland, only to be turned away.
There is no Sparklypoo House, and no foreign students allowed except during Triwizard Tournaments. You must return to your former school, where I am sure your fellow students will all become better people from exposure to your many talents and will mourn your loss when you leave.
Severus was so relaxed by the firewhisky that he signed his pen name with bold strokes at the bottom of Mary Sue's response.
The Sagacious Sorcerer
With a sigh, he shoved the letters into a packet and began the walk to the owlery.
He passed Trelawney on the way. She shook her head disapprovingly at him, shuffling a deck of grimy playing cards. He sneered. Firewhisky smelt a damn sight better than cooking sherry!
After owling the column to Witch Weekly, Severus gazed out at the night sky. A star fell. Swaying slightly, he returned to his quarters.
"Slinky!" he shouted into the fireplace.
A house-elf materialised. "How is I to serve?"
"Retrieve the latest Salem School of Witchcraft newsletter from the library."
The elf snapped his fingers. The newsletter appeared.
When he was alone once more, Severus opened a secret compartment in his desk and withdrew a painstakingly forged document. He smirked. It was time to make another 'Mary Sue's' wish come true.
A/N: The quotes about jealousy are from Washington Irving and anonymous. As for Snape sending out forged acceptance letters to American Mary Sues, he does have a lot of bitterness and spite to work out, and who better to be the recipient? If readers would be kind enough to make me the recipient of a review and read my parodies Mary Sue, I Love You and Mary Sue, Marauders Love You, I will be a happy writer!