title: The Masquerade
author: Raven Dancer

disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling. I receive no monetary compensation for these works.

Summary: Dumbledore has another brilliant idea, much to Snape's initial regret.

*Another disaster in the making* Severus Snape thought to himself as he leaned back in his chair. It was Thursday. Mandatory staff meeting. He was sandwiched between the Headmaster and Professor Flitwick listening with growing impatience.
*A costume party, how ridiculous!* he groused to himself, unable to contain a growing sneer. He already decided to absent himself from the festivities'.
Attendance is mandatory, Dumbledore said, staring at the glowering man on his right.
You've got to be kidding, Headmaster, Snape growled. He noticed Filch and McGonagall nodded in agreement.
For once I agree with Severus. I cannot see how dressing up like a, a muggle or animal can improve the school morale, McGonagall said.
Neither can I, sir, added Filch. The students will all lose
respect for us and that can't improve nothing, he sulkily sat back. Dumbledore's eyes went from twinkling in amusement to hard. He stared both McGonagall and Filch down; Snape was not in position to stare down.
You will all participate. You will select a non-magical
costume to wear. If you do not, I will select the costume, here he stopped and waved a quick spell over Snape,
and I prefer animal costumes. A stifled laugh ran around the table. Snape was completely transformed into a large brown rabbit, complete with ears. Stomping down his immediate desire to kill his best friend, Snape stood and ran his hand over his torso. The fur and whiskers disappeared and his robe returned. He shoved in the chair and stalked out of the staff room, ignoring the Headmaster's insistence he remain. Without a backwards glance he descended to the dungeons.
He knew what would happen next. Albus would search him out and try to win him over. Which would fail miserably as Snape would hiss and snarl. Then the Headmaster would be firm; insisting for the sake of the school and his colleges he show his school spirit (such as it was) and cooperate. Finally he would set down the ultimatum, his eyes would flash in anger and he'd threaten Snape.
Yes, the routine was assured. He could go along with the routine, play it out, or simply give in. He'd never given in before. Always held out until all three steps had been employed for a mandatory' compliance. It made him tired just thinking about it.
So the Potions Master instead embraced the idea of . Some costume he could wear that would not insult him and meet the Headmaster's criteria. He leaned back in the cool of his dungeon rooms and tried to recall the various muggle fiction he'd read over the years.
A smile slowly crept over his normally sour face. Yesss, that would be a good costume. He even had the bulk of it in his closet come to think of it. One trip to Diagon Alley for a couple things. Pleased with himself, he waited for Dumbledore to find him.
He hadn't long to wait. Without so much as a knock his door was flung opened and an irate Headmaster stormed in ready to do battle. Steepling his fingers, Snape observed the angry blue eyes.
I was wrong, Snape purred, I expected you to try coercing
me first. No divinity? His absolute calm drove Dumbledore up a notch. Now the Headmaster was hissing, much like he himself did when provoked. Still amused Snape smiled warmly.
Why Albus, you're nearly spitting mad! he was delighted in the reversed roles. Dumbledore sneered, glaring. Unable to contain himself any longer, Snape began to laugh.
You, you look so funny! he held his stomach as he tried to control himself. Angry beyond belief, Dumbledore actually reached for his wand. Snape beat him.
he easily de-wanded his friend catching the offensive stick. He rose up and approached the Headmaster.
I don't need a wand, came the snarl.
No, you don't, Snape agreed amiably. He put his hand on Dumbledore's shoulder wondering just how angry the man really was. Trembling. Yep, Albus was furious.
Albus, calm down! I'm sorry about storming out. I've
been thinking about all that was said and I've decided
on a costume. Come here, he pulled the man into a rough hug. How many times had the Headmaster done this to him? He smiled into his friend's hair. More times than he liked to recall. With a shudder Dumbledore caved in.
You enjoyed that, didn't you? the older man asked Snape. He was released and rewarded with a smirk.
Oh, yes. No wonder you provoke me. I must be a
great source of amusement for you, Snape said. He turned and pulled a small box off the shelf by his desk.
Here, Albus, I even have some lemon creams for you, and Snape offered the open box. Finally smiling, Dumbledore selected a chocolate covered treat and sat down. Tea was called up and they settled into comfortable chairs.
So, Severus, a much appeased Dumbledore began, what
are you going to wear to the masquerade ball?
A muggle outfit; You can try to guess, but I'm not
telling, he said with an amused grin.
Dumbledore was slightly taken aback. It was totally unlike Snape to actually agree to do something and enjoy it. The man was even being playful!
I will just be surprised, then, the Headmaster relented.
I enjoy surprises!
Snape just smiled. He was just as surprised that he was enjoying this little interplay. First time for everything, he supposed.

The week passed swiftly. Students were excited, making class increasingly impossible to teach. By Friday afternoon even Snape had given up the notion of work. The Weasley twins had begged their way into the classroom and were helping the other seventh years there with their costumes.
Surprised by his tolerance, the students were actually quite restrained and polite. He helped them with mixing face make-up and explained how spirit gum' worked. It proved to be a very pleasant afternoon. Snape was quick to point out as they left potions class would be back to normal next week.
I'll be expecting some movement on your projects! he snarled. After seven years they were used to him, but still assured him they'd be working hard. Eyes glittering, Snape watched them leave. Tonight would be fun.

Albus Dumbledore grumbled under his breath. Leave it to Snape to not show up to the ball. Oh, everyone was having quite a fine time; especially Bill Weasley who'd shown up rather unexpectantly. The young man looked dashing in his caballero outfit. Zorro. That was the muggle character's name. He was at the moment dancing some intricate dance with Professor Sinistra to the delight of the assembled students.
Moving away from the punch bowl he smiled at a group of long-haired creatures called beatniks. The students had certainly gotten into the spirit. As well as most of the teachers.
Glancing across the hall he spied the only hold-out. McGonagall came dressed as herself. She claimed it was a perfect disguise as no one would believe she would go against the Headmaster's wishes.
Good evening, Headmaster, a cheerful voice recalled his attention. Ah, Harry Potter (pirate), Hermione Granger (rag doll) and Ron Weasley (soccer player). They were pouring glasses of punch and catching their breath.
Well, Ronald, your brother certainly is a superior dancer, Dumbledore said by way of small talk. The boy looked puzzled.
Uh, well, thanks. I haven't noticed Fred or George on
the dance floor, he looked at his friends for confirmation.
I thought your older brother Bill had joined us? he asked a bit confused.
No, Bill couldn't make it, the reply came. Dumbledore looked at the black-clad Zorro displaying his sword work to a group of older students. The lithe body gracefully wreaked havoc with an invisible enemy. Harry followed his gaze.
Oh, no, that's not Bill, Harry put in.
said Ron, no, his hair is much longer. I thought
that was Professor Lupin. All four people turned their attention to the tall, slender figure.
I will say one thing, Hermione blushed, all the female
staff and most of the older female students have been trying
for a dance with him. As they watched several brave souls approached the masked man who bowed graciously as he smoothed his mustache. The boys grumbled as their hero was distracted.
Dumbledore knew one thing, it wasn't Lupin. The DADA professor was late coming back from an appointment in London at the Ministry. He'd offered to give some of his blood and allow them to do a physical for a study on werewolves. He'd sent Jeffrey Barnes with him to be sure the doctors there treated him with respect.
Snape wouldn't be so bold. Nor would he put so much effort in a costume. The black leather trousers and vest over a creamy long sleeved shirt was quite, um, nice. And the long black cape swirled as he moved. Coupled with the black silk mask, the black hat and mustache Zorro was quite the hit with both genders. The fancy sword play added to the image. He watched the man select a young girl to dance with, much to the disappointment of the others. Who was that masked man, anyway.
I'd best watch him, he may steal away more than the
silver, Dumbledore commented.
That was a lie perpetrated by the landowners in old
California, Hermione began warming to her subject.
In point of fact, Zorro fought against the entrenched
evil of the old system and brought justice to the poor
peoples. Ron rolled his eyes and received a slug on the arm from the aggrieved girl.
Better watch out, Ron, or Zorro will steal away your
date, too! Harry teased drawing a blush on both of his friends' faces. Ron had formally asked Hermione to this dance, not wanting a repeat of last year's troubles. Harry was happily single, getting to dance with whomever he chose. With a smile, the Headmaster went to investigate Zorro. The dancers parted as he wove through the floor towards the tall man and his first year partner. The man was masterful, able to compensate for the small stature of his partner. From the look on her face she was dazzled by him.
Patiently Dumbledore waited for the song to end, then quickly slipped next to the masked man. He had no idea who this was and it was beginning to make him nervous.
Headmaster! A delight as always! the man exclaimed, complete with a Spanish accent. As always', hmmm. Then he must know this person. He glanced at the face: thin, small mustache, black eyes sparkling mischievously. As they walked off the dance floor together, the stranger leaned close to Dumbledore's ear.
You were right, this is a great idea. No one has figured
out who I am! the voice lost its accent and the older man did a double take.
he exclaimed absolutely floored. You did come.
I've been stewing for over an hour wondering where you
The Potions Master pulled himself up straight and gave his friend a frigid glare.
I was under the impression I had no choice, Headmaster, he murmured, tone hurt. Noting the quick change in Snape Dumbledore grabbed his elbow and propelled him onto the balcony.
Severus! I meant you no disrespect. I am just as
delighted as you were, he patted his friend on the back,
plus, I had no idea who you were. It's a marvelous
Somewhat appeased Snape smiled and brushed his mustache.
Spirit gum itches! he complained mildly as the cool breeze fanned out his cape.
You look magnificent. From what I've heard you've turned
all the female heads in the castle, Dumbledore said. He noted Snape blush slightly.
They'll all be disappointed once they find out who I
am, the younger man sighed. The older man smiled slyly.
Who says they have to find out? and in a moment, Zorro smiled, too.
Well, Headmaster, the night is young and there are many
more young senoritas waiting, Snape bowed low, hat sweeping the ground. Standing, he took Dumbledore's arm and led him back into the ball. Again, the students began swirling around them. Dumbledore smiled at the students.
Waiting for me, perhaps? he asked, eyes twinkling. Several people blushed and stammered. A seductive dance hall girl bravely smiled and reached out her hand,
A dance, Headmaster? Cho Chan asked, and whisked the older man away. Zorro pursed his lips, looking appraisingly over his choices. This time he selected a Slytherin, Pansy Parkinson to be exact, and went out to dance with her. As he glided effortlessly over the floor Dumbledore caught his eye and smiled.
How could he have thought this a horrible idea? Albus is brilliant,' he thought to himself, looking forward to hours of fun.