Author's Note: Hello, Harry Potter forum! Though not new to writing fan fiction, I have never written HP before. Nor had I planned to, exactly, but this bunny just sort of Apparated into my head, and I thought, well, why not. This is (hopefully) a funny original short story, starring Snape and Harry in fourth year. It's meant to mesh with canon, but as I do not have a copy of GOF, I can't vouch for the details. What I don't remember I made up in the name of artistic license. Hopefully that won't bug any of you…if it does, feel free to point out my deadly sins in a review. Criticism of the civilized variety is always very welcome.
Note: this is NOT slash.
Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter, would I be taking out enormous student loans? Would my wardrobe consist entirely of cheesy college T-shirts? Would I be wasting my time writing stories about my own series that get me absolutely no money when I could publish them and make another billion dollars? I think NOT.
"Neville, have you got an extra gurdyroot?"
Four interminable years.
"Haven't you got your own?"
Not even four years, strictly speaking.
"Merlin's knickers! What'd you do to it?"
Amazing how long three and just-a-bit-more-than-a-half years could be.
"I haven't got a clue. My wand sort of slipped and next thing you know…"
"Is that hair growing out of it?
"Bugger. I think it is."
Three and just-a-bit-less-than-a-half years to go. Surely he could make it another three and a half years?
"Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I expect you've ruined that one."
"I figured that out myself, thanks! Now have you got an extra one?"
"Already butchered both of mine. Just go ask him for one."
"Are you off your rocker? I'd rather have tea with Volde—oh, all right! You-Know-Who!"
Perhaps OWLs would save him next year. Given the boy's infuriating good luck, though, he wasn't about to get his hopes up.
"You'll get a horrid grade."
"I'll get a horrid grade no matter what I do, Neville."
"That's the spirit."
"Oh, honestly, Harry, are you a Gryffindor or not?"
"That was low, Hermione."
"He insults me every chance he gets as it is! I don't exactly feel like giving him extra opportunities, thanks!"
"You're going to anyway if you try to turn that in without the proper ingredients."
"Having a wee bit of trouble, Potty?"
"Malfoy, shut your great trap before I shove this down it."
"Harry, stop it! You're going to lose us House points."
"I think that's a given right about now."
"You can't lose points just for mistakes."
"Tell him that."
Maybe, just maybe, he'd die peacefully in his sleep tonight and never have to see the doppelganger of James Potter sitting in his class again.
He looked up from his stack of sixth-year essays with a scowl. Such a glorious future would never come to pass. Fate was squarely on the side of the spawn of James Potter. Which left it to one Severus Snape to try and even the playing field himself.
"What is it this time, Mr. Potter?" he drawled.
He felt a bit of a twinge as the green eyes sparked irritably behind the glasses. Not that he was about to let anything of the sort on to the boy. Whatever those eyes might indicate, he told himself furiously, the impertinent brat was undoubtedly his father's son.
"Professor, I, uh…that is…"
"Sometime this term, Mr. Potter?"
The green eyes were snapping now. "I need another gurdyroot, Professor."
"Dare I ask what irresponsible calamity befell the supplies you were already given?"
"My wand just slipped, Professor—"
"I am not about to pander to your innate Gryffindor clumsiness."
"It was just a mistake—"
"Then perhaps this little incident will teach you to avoid making them in the future."
"I can't finish my potion without it," the boy said through gritted teeth.
"Mistakes are costly, aren't they, Mr. Potter?"
Potter's brat just glared at him stonily before nodding curtly, mumbling something that might have been a yes, and stalking back to his workbench. Snape turned back cheerfully to his stack of essays, and scrawled a large "D" on the paper belonging to Weasley, Fred, with relish.
"I. Am. Going. To. Kill. That. Overgrown. Bat."
"It was dreadfully unfair of him," Hermione seethed in agreement, dropping her books furiously onto the Gryffindor table. "Especially about the points. Completely wiped out the ones I got in Arithmancy earlier!"
"Not to mention my five from Defense. I knew Snape was low, mind you, but knocking off fifteen points for a potion he wouldn't even ruddy well let me brew?"
"Snape what?" roared a voice behind them. The two of them turned to see Ron approaching. His right arm was heavily bandaged, and on his wrist was a sort of bracelet—although Harry couldn't recall ever seeing a talking bracelet before.
"Good thing you weren't there, Ron, we'd have lost fifteen more. Honestly, I was this close to hexing him myself." Harry stabbed his fork into his lunch with a vengeance, attempting to make up for not having taken a potshot at his professor.
"Well, wouldn't that have been a stupid thing to do," commented the bracelet in a nasally voice. "WEASLEY, STOP MOVING THAT ARM OR SO HELP ME I'LL—much better."
Ron, who had slammed his fist furiously into the table top, scowled down at his arm. "Hermione, can't you get this thing off?"
"Did Madam Pomfrey charm it on?"
"She ruddy well did, I can't budge it, it howls bloody murder if I—"
"Then of course I won't."
"Now that's very sensible of her," the bracelet said approvingly. "Quite keen for a Gryffindor. You take heed, Weasley!"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Hermione demanded crossly.
Harry stuffed a forkful of he knew not what into his mouth and mashed it between all his molars as if it had been responsible for his latest torments in the dungeons. "Speaking of that thing, how's your arm?"
Ron scowled down at it and the bracelet, which despite being a bracelet nonetheless managed to look quite smug. "Madam Pomfrey thinks I oughtn't to use it for a few days. So she's gone and charmed this thing on to make sure I don't."
"I expect she's right," Hermione said primly, ignoring the bracelet's enthusiastic agreement. "That was a nasty curse you got nailed with. Frankly, I'm surprised Mad-Eye didn't jump on Nott for using it. I can't believe that one's legal to use in school."
Ron snorted. "In case you've not noticed, Hermione, Mad-Eye doesn't care all that much about a curse being legal. Or have you forgotten our first lesson?"
"Well, no, but that was a spider—"
"What I can't figure out," Harry cut in loudly, slamming his fork down, "is what's got Snape's knickers all knotted up."
Ron and Hermione exchanged a glance. "Mate," Ron said, "his knickers are always in a knot."
"But he's been even worse than normal this week," Harry persisted. "It's only Wednesday, and he's already taken thirty-five points. Honestly, you'd think I'd dunked him in a vat of shampoo the way he's been hounding me."
Ron stared off into space, eyes suddenly glowing. "Now there's an image I'll treasure."
"Harry, I expect it's just a phase," Hermione said reassuringly. "He gets extra cranky like this every spring, you know."
Harry paused, chewing more thoughtfully. "You're right. He does."
"Maybe he just hates life," Ron suggested. "All the new leaves and flowers and cute baby birds out there must really make him want to poison something."
"I bet he sneaks out of the castle at night and feeds kittens to the giant squid," Harry chimed in.
"Laces trees with Draught of Instant Death."
"Rips petals off flowers."
"Smashes bird eggs!" Ron slammed his hand down eagerly to demonstrate.
"WEASLEY! MARK MY WORDS, BOY, IF YOU DON'T WATCH THAT ARM, I'LL SEE TO IT YOU GET DETENTION FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! YOU'LL BE STUCK WITH A HALF-CURSED ARM UNTIL YOU KEEL OVER INTO YOUR COFFIN! AND AT THE RATE YOU'RE GOING I DON'T EXPECT THAT WILL BE FAR OFF! WHY I OUGHT TO—"
"Merlin," groaned Ron, "it's like having Mum strapped on my wrist."
"I'm sure it'll blow over, Harry," Hermione said. "It has ever other time. You know how he always gets sort of impatient towards the end of the year and doesn't pay much attention to anybody."
He sighed, cutting his gaze up to the sunny ceiling overhead. "Why me?"
The school day had finally spent itself, and Harry was just as happy it had. After the disastrous Potions class, he'd been in a royally foul mood the whole afternoon, especially when he'd gotten to Herbology and discovered that their task for the day was preparing gurdyroots for use in Potions classes. Then in Care of Magical Creatures, Hagrid had had them all trying to walk the Blast-Ended Skrewts, which were now nearly rivaling Snape himself for the title of Hogwarts' Most Fearsome Temper. Sitting down in a corner of the common room to scratch out his Transfiguration essay had practically been a relief. At least one couldn't very well dwell on Snape when one was attempting to explain the twelve major contributions to the field of External Transfiguration made by Flagellus Scriminius.
Having spent a relatively peaceful hour on that assignment, he flipped to the next one scrawled in his notes.
Explain function of gurdyroot in standard Memory Draughts, 14 inches min., due Friday.
Harry threw down his quill in complete disgust, scowling at the offending parchment. He positively refused to think one more thought about Snape or Potions tonight. Anyhow it wasn't due for another day yet.
Desperate for something—anything—that would take his mind off the unfathomable ways of his Potions professor, Harry cast his gaze around the common room. Ron was busy inking in his Astrology chart, and Hermione of course was hard at work on the gurdyroot essay. Except for a couple of other students equally buried in homework, the common room seemed to be devoid of distractions—
Then he spotted two figures hunched together near the fireplace, and felt himself perk up slightly. Scooting his chair back from the long table, Harry stuck his hands in his pockets and wandered over, attempting to pick up the hushed conversation being carried on.
"…course it's safe, double checked the charms myself."
"I seem to recall you double checking the charms last time."
"You volunteered to test that time, you great lout."
"Don't see me volunteering this time, do you?"
"Scared, are you, Forge?"
"Not as scared as you're ugly."
"Oy! That's your face you're talking about!"
"And it's your turn."
"My dear brother, I do believe you're sounding more like Percy ever day."
"What're you lot up to?" Harry asked. Two heads of shaggy, Weasley red hair spun around, and two identical pairs of brown eyes lit up mischievously.
"Parry Otter! Just in the nick of time!"
"Couldn't have arrived at a better moment," George said cheerfully, seizing him by the wrist and more or less hauling him over.
Fred slung an exuberant arm over his shoulders and gave him a resounding pat on the back. "A giant among wizards," he declared.
"Epitome of Gryffindor courage!" George added with a celebratory flourish of his wand.
"Unafraid to go where no wizard has gone before!" Fred agreed, waving his wand valiantly forward.
"Always willing to help a friend in need!"
Harry had a dire feeling he was going to regret abandoning his Potions essay.
"And has Karkaroff said anything further?"
"He has not."
"Hmm." Albus Dumbledore leaned a little further back in his chair, rubbing the rim of his glasses absently with one finger. "One is tempted to hope that no news is good news, but I fear that would be quite foolish."
"Quite," Snape concurred. He stood. "If that will be all—"
"Not precisely," Dumbledore disagreed, motioning him back down in his chair. "I wanted to discuss one of your students."
Snape scowled, and stood back up. "I am not interested in any further conversations about Harry Potter," he snapped.
"Severus, if you please, I am." Dumbledore's tone was as cheerful as ever, but Snape could see an echo of steel in those twinkling eyes. Stiffly he reclaimed his seat. There was no point warring with Albus Dumbledore when he'd made up his mind.
"And what, precisely, did you wish to discuss?" he said irritably.
"Severus, I realize full well that this is…a difficult time of the year for you, and I certainly cannot blame you. But it is not Harry's fault that it is so."
"The boy is every inch as arrogant, as spoiled, and as disrespectful as his father," Snape ground out. "He requires a firm hand—"
"Deducting fifteen House points for an unsuccessful potion?" Dumbledore said. "That is quite in excess of the offense, Severus. I realize that you had your differences with James and Sirius, but Harry can hardly be held responsible for their actions. There is only one living party who bears any responsibility for what happened, and I believe you know who that is, my boy."
Snape stared at the wall in stony silence. Dumbledore watched him for a few more moments, and then continued. "I have decided that the fifteen points will be restored to Gryffindor, as well as a further fifteen to compensate for the injustice."
Snape stiffened sharply, but Dumbledore held up his hand. "Of course I would not do so overtly and subvert your authority. Surely you know me better than that, my boy."
"And how do you plan on doing it without everyone knowing that you have taken a direct hand in the House competition?" Snape demanded.
Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled. "Very easily, Severus. You will do it for me."
Severus T. Snape stared in speechless horror at the headmaster for nearly a full minute.
"Before next Wednesday," Dumbledore declared, "you are going to award thirty points to your fourth-year Gryffindors. Fifteen of those thirty will be awarded to Mr. Potter."
"The boy does nothing to deserve the awarding of points," Severus said flatly. "It will look ridiculous."
"I have faith in your creativity, my boy," Dumbledore said cheerfully.
"Apparently more than you have in my judgment," he shot back, storming out of his chair.
"I have the utmost faith in your judgment, Severus. Except on the matter of Harry Potter."
Snape snorted, shrugging his cloak into its proper position. "I'll have you know I resent this."
"That's to be pitied, my boy. Lemon drop?"