A Very Merry Christmas

"Rolanda Hooch, I'll have you know that I feel absolutely ridiculous in this promiscuous little black dress of yours," a certain green-eyed, black-haired witch huffed breathlessly as her Ravenclaw colleague clinched her lace corset tightly from behind.

"I think you look gorgeous," Rolanda snapped in reply. "Now stand up straight and breathe in, I can still pull this tighter!"

"Not without suffocating me!" Minerva gasped out as she pulled tighter on the strings at the back and tied them in a big bow. Double-knotted.

Poppy Pomfrey and Pomona Sprout giggled in the background as the Transfiguration professor doubled over in pain. "On the plus side, Minnie, it's an absolutely perfect opportunity to show off your more than ample bust to Severus Snape!" the former of the two laughed, immediately backed up by the latter, who was grinning widely.

Minerva's eyes narrowed slightly at that. "Don't be ridiculous!" she snapped irritably. "Furthermore, why is it that Severus and I are the only ones being forced to chaperone the Christmas Ball? Why, even Albus himself claims to be busy!"

"Honey, it's winter break- there are only 12 students left to chaperone!" Pomona sighed in exasperation. "And the rest of us are all still exhausted from that wild goose chase Hagrid led us on all through the Forbidden Forest last night."

"That's right!" Rolanda agreed, jabbing her in the back sharply. "You and Severus both claimed to have too much marking to come with us!"

"Even though you finished grading your exams weeks ago!" Poppy added on, causing Minerva to frown deeply and cross her arms over her chest in an attempt at decency.

"I still don't feel comfortable in this dress, Rolanda," she criticized firmly. "It is far too revealing and I am far too old to be wearing it!"

"Well at least there'll only be 13 witnesses to testament it," Hooch replied, already standing on her toes as she moved onto Minerva's long black hair. "…You're going grey, Min," she noted, upon the older woman's prevailing silence.

"Oh, just be quiet and do what you have to do- I have to be downstairs in less than 20 minutes," Minerva sighed, rubbing her poor stomach resignedly.

"It's not fair," Pomona mused a few minutes later, following a short and pain-filled silence. "You've only got a couple of grey hairs and they even look rather becoming on you!"

"Yes, why is it that Min's older than us but her hair is so lovely and long and black?" Poppy sighed in agreement. "It must be your shampoo, what do you use?"

Minerva ignored the questions, attempting to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear and getting her wrist slapped by Rolanda for the effort.

More sighs from Poppy and Pomona. "Oh well," the latter sighed eventually. "At least it brings you down a little closer to Severus' age."

"Enough of that!" Minerva snapped briskly. "You do remember that he used to be my student, don't you?"

"You're not actually trying to tell us that you still think of him that way, right?" asked Rolanda, frowning deeply. "Because you know that none of us will ever believe that- we're women after all. We. Know. Things." The last three words were each accompanied by a tap on the nose and Pomona and Poppy were suddenly giggling again.

"Even if he is no longer my student…the man is at least 30 years younger than me! In fact, my best bet would place him between 35 and 40 years my junior!" Minerva cried, as though the very idea were madness. "And you three… Why, you're all utterly incorrigible! Utterly!"

Poppy and Pomona laughed brightly and Rolanda quit tugging at Minerva's hair and stepped back to admire her handiwork.

"Do a spin for us then, Minnie!" Poppy commanded and the professor reluctantly obliged.

"You look absolutely stunning!" Pomona praised her. "Excellent job on the hair, Rolanda."

"And the dress: it's perfect for Minnie!"

"Takes about 20 years off her!"

"Oh, it does! Doesn't it!"

Rolanda grinned smugly and caught Minerva's eye. "Like?" she asked, gesturing to the full-length mirror just across the room.

Minerva hesitated slightly before going to stand before it, and she was amazed by what she saw. "I… Goodness, I…"

"Min, you look hot," Rolanda told her firmly. "Get it into your head. Severus will totally want you after this."

She blushed ruby red, a hand to her cheek. "Goodness…" she whispered again.

"Well, you'd better get going now, Cinderella- clock's ticking."

Minerva glanced up at the clock on the wall quickly- only five minutes to go. Shaking slightly, though whether from anxiety or lack of air (stupid corset) even she was unsure, she slipped her small white feet into Rolanda's strappy black heels and bent down to clasp them carefully.

"Ready?" asked Pomona breathlessly.

"This is it!" Poppy agreed.

"You're acting like teenagers," Minerva chided them in reply, but she was smiling. "I… guess I am."

"Good," said Rolanda, nodding curtly- now, only one thing left to do before I let you leave…"

"Oh?" said Minerva and Poppy and Pomona exchanged confused glances.

"Undies check!"

Before Minerva could lift a finger to reach for her wand, or even push her friend away, Rolanda had swept under her sexy little skirt and was looking up at her black lace panties shamelessly. Blushing bright red, she waited with determined patience for her friend to emerge. "Finished?" she asked, jaw tight, as she did.

"Yup! Just checking that your panties were hot enough for tonight!" she teased happily and Minerva whacked her hard.

"I'm leaving now but I'll talk to all of you later," she announced loudly as she turned to the door.

"Well, We'll all be sleeping here in Ro's room so come join us if you don't end up spending the night with Sevvy, okay!" Poppy called after her. "Now, have fun!"

The door slammed shut and the three girls remaining in the room burst immediately into peals of helpless laughter.

"Poor Severus! I wish I could see his face when he catches sight of her!"


Minerva stood outside the entrance to the Great Hall nervously. Yes, nervously. Her friends' jokes had gotten her all worked up and now she couldn't seem to convince herself to go in.

"Something wrong, Professor?"

The deputy headmistress whirled around quickly at the sound of the voice and then clasped a hand to her frantically beating heart as she realised that it was only Potter and Granger come hand in hand for the ball. It was the girl who had spoken and so Minerva focused her attention on her. "Perfectly fine, Miss Granger," she replied in her usual stoic and firm manner, her hand falling back to her side. "Shall we proceed?"

Without falter now, Minerva pressed on and bravely pushed the door open, not giving either of the two enough time to reply.

"Wow, where is everyone?" asked Harry, blinking around him at the almost completely vacant hall.

"Home, I'd expect," Minerva sighed, her Scottish lilt becoming a little more apparent than usual in her evident frustration. "And, of course, Dumbledore carefully arranged it so that only Professor Snape and myself are required to chaperone…" The last bit, Minerva muttered softly to herself before begging leave of the two students and crossing the hall over to where she had just sighted Severus Snape reading in a corner.

She cleared her throat softly as she approached and he glanced up, eyes narrowed and ready to snap- …Before he realised who it was and, even more shockingly, what she was wearing.

"Minerva…" he muttered quietly, not bothering to disguise the fact that he was checking her out as he glanced up and down her person conspicuously. "You look…"

"Severus, you're staring," Minerva pointed out, tugging on the hem of her dress uncomfortably.

"Forgive me," Severus replied, immediately regaining his composure and redirecting his gaze to her face. "I have always been fascinated by beautiful things."

A deep blush spread over Minerva's cheeks and she smiled at him, almost cautiously.

"Would you like to dance?"

Surprise. "How gallant of you, Severus. I know how you despise it," Minerva replied, her smile becoming more firmly etched on her face by the second. "I'd love to dance with you."

Severus set his book aside and climbed to his feet, taking the soft, white hand that Minerva offered to him gingerly in one of his own and leading her out onto the almost empty dance floor.

Those few who hadn't looked up and seen the professor as she walked in definitely saw her now. In fact, all eyes in the room seemed to be glued to her and Severus as they feigned obliviousness and assumed position for the dance.

"Wow, Professor! You look-"

"-AMAZING!" The Weasley twins exclaimed from where they were dancing nearby with their dates.

"Precisely what I was just thinking myself," Severus agreed, causing Minerva to blush again.

"Severus," she chided him softly and Fred and George shared an amused glance over the shoulders of their partners before simultaneously deciding to give the two some space. "You really oughtn't be flirting with someone my age…" she paused here and seemed to consider what she'd just said. "…But thank you," she added, offering a warm smile for his efforts. "You're being such a fine gentleman this evening and I am most impressed."

"It's been a very long time since you were my professor, Minerva," Severus reminded her quietly. "But as far as I'm concerned, you're still the charming young witch you were back then."

"But that's not true," his partner whispered hesitantly.

"I'm not your student anymore, Minerva. I am a man now, and you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on." Slowly, he pulled her closer and altered their position to be such that her head was resting on his shoulder and her arms fell loosely around his waist as they danced. "So beautiful…" he murmured into her soft black hair and she almost shivered at the sensual whisper he had found for her.

Shortly thereafter, the song ended and Severus led Minerva over to sit down without relinquishing her hand until the very last moment possible. "A drink?"

"Please," Minerva agreed thankfully and he left to get her one.

In the mean time, a rather flushed looking Hermione and Ginny sat down beside her.

"Hi, Professor!" the latter babbled happily.

"You look so pretty!"

Minerva smiled warmly and thanked them. "You both look lovely as well," she said. "Are you having a good holiday?"

"Absolutely," said Hermione, and she was positively glowing.

"She and Harry had a snog under the mistletoe earlier," Ginny explained with a grin. "She's still a little high."

Minerva chuckled lightly and glanced up as Severus returned with two glasses of champagne (of course, he could have simply conjured some, but that would have been untraditional and unromantic).

"Minerva," he said simply, offering her one of them.

She accepted it with a smile. "Thank you, Severus."

The transfigurations professor seemed completely at ease with the two students sitting beside her, but Severus was notably more hesitant to sit down beside them, and it was clear that he was only doing it for her. Another grateful smile assured him that she knew what he was doing for her.

"Read any good books lately, Granger?" Severus muttered, gaze fixed in the opposite direction determinedly.

Minerva laughed softly at Hermione's evident shock. Apparently she had never heard him attempt to be civil to a student –much less, a Griffindor- before. "Uh-uhm, yes sir… I actually just finished reading a book that Professor McGonnagall leant me the other day."

"Already?" asked Minerva, eyebrows lifting slightly in surprise. "And how did you find it?"

"Very interesting!" Hermione exclaimed dutifully. "How about you, Professor?"

It seemed to take a few moments for Severus to realise that she was talking to him. "A few," he replied with a non-committed shrug. "Weasley?"

"Words only make my head hurt around Christmas time," Ginny complained with a small sigh, and to everyone's surprise, Severus let out a small chuckle, which he disguised with a loud cough before excusing himself to go to the bathroom.

Minerva watched him go fondly. "Try not to laugh," she told the girls, though she was smiling herself. "Professor Snape is trying ridiculously hard to get into the Christmas spirit."

Ginny almost snorted in amusement. "Oh, he doesn't give a stuff about Christmas spirit," she giggled confidently. "He's doing it for you."

Minerva frowned slightly but was unable to find a reply for her.

"It's cute," Hermione agreed, upon realising that McGonagall wasn't getting angry at Ginny for her comment. "Snape is going all out to win your affections this Christmas."

"Professor Snape," Minerva corrected her automatically.

"Right. Professor," Hermione agreed carelessly, and she was about to go on when Ginny started giggling again.

"Look up!" she chortled happily. "Mistletoe!"

True to the girl's word, there it was- hanging directly above him. Most likely, Flitwick had charmed it to follow people around- the ridiculous little man…

Minerva was determined that nothing changed in her face at the sight of it and even went so far as to lean over and kiss both of the girls on the cheek lightly. "Happy now, Miss Weasley?"

Ginny shook her head, grinning widely. "I'll be happy when Snape comes back and you give him a Christmas kiss," she proclaimed stubbornly.

"ProfessorSnape," Minerva repeated without thought. Then… "That's completely different."

"You feel something for him, don't you?" asked Hermione. "It's obvious."

"That's not an appropriate topic…" Minerva found herself faltering here under the hard gazes of the two girls and she sighed resignedly. "Yes, I do," she admitted with a great deal of reluctance. "But it is disgraceful of me even to think it."

"Aww, go on, Professor!" Ginny cheered softly. "He'd be delighted!"

"Please?" Hermione agreed. "Don't pretend that he'd not the reason that you're all dressed up!"

"I'm dressed up because it's Christmas," Minerva maintained sternly. "And because Poppy,Pomona and Rolanda-"

"What have those three done now?" asked Snape, returning and sitting down once more, effectively saving his colleague from any further probing questions.

"Nothing too difficult to fix, thankfully," Minerva sighed. "Though the hair may take some work."

"Ah, so this was their enterprise," Severus chuckled, taking her appearance in once again.

Hermione and Ginny exchanged grins and stood up at the exact same time.

"Well, we'll be seeing you, Professors!" said Ginny, waving happily. "Merry Christmas!"

The two of them left very quickly after that and Minerva cast a somewhat discreet gaze up at the mistletoe still looming overhead. She blushed as Severus' eyes, having followed hers to the floating plant, returned to meet her anxious gaze.

"Severus, I wonder…" she said eventually. "…Are you in the habit of humouring silly holiday traditions?"

"On occasion," Severus replied. "I draw the line at the Weasley's new Wizard Crackers with those stupid paper hats that turn into Howlers and haunt you about every damn mistake you've ever made."

From the venom in his tone, Minerva gathered that he'd been subject to one of these rather recently, causing her to chuckle softly. "I was thinking more along the lines of Mistletoe," she admitted, a light blush gracing her cheeks once more. "We've been sitting beneath a sprig of the stuff for quite some time…"

Severus raised an eyebrow slightly but nodded. "At this point, I think that I could handle Mistletoe," he agreed. "But don't hold that against me if Gilderoy or Sybil comes at me with the stuff."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Minerva laughed softly, and then she kissed him…

…Causing the Mistletoe above them to explode loudly and burst into a disproportionately large volume of damp confetti and petroleum jelly mixed with red cordial, which subsequently fell upon the two professors and caused the Weasley's and co. to fall about laughing madly.

Oddly enough, though. This resulted in no points off of Griffindor house from either Head. Quite the contrary, Snape afforded the Weasley brothers a very small but honest grin, Minerva another kiss, and the most sincere "Merry Christmas" he had ever wished another living soul, to all those congregated around them.

The End

Happy Very, Very Late Christmas, ahaha!