Warning: there be OOCness ahead!
Severus Snape flew up the dungeon steps and flung himself behind Draco Malfoy, clinging to the boy as though he were a life-line.
"Oh, God! It's hideous! It's horrible! It's about the scariest damn thing I've ever seen in my life!" the Professor whimpered to Draco, burying his head in the boy's shoulder and shivering. "I'm never going down into the dungeons again!"
"Err, Professor? What's the matter?" Draco winced as the vice-like grip on him tightened. "Would you mind letting go of me, sir? It really can't be that bad… please, Professor, I need to breathe!" If anything, the grip became even more solid. Draco bit his lip and wriggled a little. The Professor's behaviour was beginning to make him very nervous for, honestly, what could make Professor Snape, dungeon bat extraordinaire, quiver like a toddler fearful of a spanking? Draco frowned and drew his wand out from his sleeve, staring down into the forbidding darkness of the dungeons that gaped like an open maw before him. Was it just his imagination, or could he hear hissing?
Snape had stopped clinging so tightly, and was now peering over Draco's shoulder with the same morbid fascination one might devote to a slow motion car crash. Draco turned his head and favoured him with an elegantly arched eyebrow. Snape cleared his throat and took a step away from Draco but, nevertheless, did not let go of his student.
Draco chewed his lip before taking slow steps towards the dungeon staircase, Snape following close behind so that they looked like a two-man conga line. The closer they got, the smaller Snape seemed to get, until only his eyes could be seen peeping over the top of Draco's shoulder. Draco considered this to be quite an impressive feat as the man was over six inches taller than him.
About three feet from the top of the staircase, Snape stopped walking and clutched Draco to him like a security blanket, forcing the boy to stop walking as well.
"Come on, Professor Snape, let me go!"
"Don't want to!"
"Oh for Merlin's sake, are you Head of Slytherin House, or not? I'm supposed to hide behind you, not the other way round!"
These words had the desired effect. Professor Snape let go of Draco's robes, drew himself to his full imposing height and opened his mouth to either snap out a witty re-joiner, or give Draco detention. Draco wasn't sure which. However, the words never formed. Snape caught sight of something on the stairs behind Draco and froze, mouth still partially open, face pale.
Draco didn't even pause to think. Letting out a squeak, which sounded remarkably ferret-like, Draco sprinted forward and dove behind his Head of House, fisting his hands in the black robes either side of Snape's waist and peered out from under Snape's wand arm to see…
Who was smirking.
"Wow, you Slytherins have sooo much backbone!" Potter strode forward and, still smirking, gently patted Snape on the shoulder. "You'll feel better about it soon, Professor; it'll just take some getting used to, that's all."
"Getting used to?" Was it just Draco's imagination, or was Snape's voice a few octaves higher than usual? "You want me to get used to that-that thing? In my dungeons?"
"Well…" Potter scrunched his nose up and pretended to think about it for a few minutes. "Technically, he won't spend all of his time in the dungeons – he'll just sleep there. And as he's not that tired at the moment…"
Snape whimpered slightly and hid his head in his hands before starting to gently bash the side of his cranium against the wall. Realising that he was still clutching Snape's robes, Draco hastily let go.
"Potter," he spat. "What the blazes are you talking about, and what the hell have you done to my Head of House?" Draco pointed dramatically at Snape, who was now mumbling softly to himself and pounding the wall with his fist instead of his head. Draco could've sworn he caught the word 'sunglasses.'
Potter looked uncomfortable. "Ah." He shot a look at Draco that blatantly cried 'help me!' before walking up to Snape and gently catching hold of the offending fist. "There, there, Professor, I'm sure it won't be that bad. Let's go and get you some nice hot chocolate, and then maybe you could have a chat with Professor Dumbledore to take your mind off things?"
Patting and soothing, Potter managed to draw the Professor away from the wall and, with Draco's help, led him through the corridors down to the kitchens. After what seemed like an age, they arrived in front of the large painting of the bowl of fruit.
Potter cleared his throat. "Here we are, Professor! Do you want to tickle the pear?"
Snape yanked his arms away from the boys and glared at Potter. "No, I do not want to tickle the pear, Potter! I am not some fickle toddler who you can distract with paltry amusements!" he snapped as though he had not just had to be led through the corridors by two teenagers holding him by the elbows.
"If you say so, sir," Potter said as he rolled his eyes. Draco, seeing that this was leading nowhere, reached out and tickled the pear for them. Potter had some serious explaining to do, but the presence of his Head of House prevented him from using his usual methods – hex Potter until he squealed (not that he's been able to do that recently anyway, Potter was too damn fast) or sneer degrading things at him until Potter got angry and let something slip.
Draco waded through the sea of house-elves, giving one or two a kick to move them out of his way. Honestly! Why did they have to mob him? If he wanted something, he'd call! How could they think that smothering someone was going to produce any kind of positive reaction?
Draco plonked himself down, in a very un-Malfoy-esk manner, and scowled at Potter, who appeared to be chatting with the darn little creatures and holding onto Snape with one arm. Draco was actually quietly impressed by this second, as the Snape in question was doing everything in his power to try and get free of the Potter-grip, and Potter wasn't even turning to look at him. Draco smirked slightly as Potter squinted a little when Snape bit his fingers.
Eventually Potter came over and pushed Snape down onto the bench beside Draco, setting a large mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows in front of Snape as he went. Snape stared at it as though it were foreign.
"Drink it! You've had a shock. The elves put a little Firewhiskey in it to help accommodate this," Potter told Snape while sipping from his own mug that had appeared in front of him. Snape started drinking with no further ado. Draco noticed his own was slightly smaller than the other two and scowled. Still, it tasted good and was calming Snape down, so Draco wasn't going to complain.
Snape drained the last of his mug and sighed. His hands had finally stopped shaking and he looked more in control of his faculties than he had previously. Draco heaved a silent sigh of relief. It would appear his acerbic Potions Professor had been restored to them. Unfortunately, Draco still had no idea what the hell was going on.
Snape turned and gave Potter a shrewd look. "Any particular reason that after all the months you've been spending time in the dungeons you did not see fit to inform me of this?"
Potter grinned, and Draco almost sighed. It was a pity that Snape and Potter were getting on better after Potter had saved Snape's life during the Final Battle. In fact, at times, they almost behaved like old comrades – winding each other up while smirking good-naturedly. Draco missed the days when Snape and Potter truly loathed each other with a vengeance, and a confrontation between the two would shake the foundations of the school, providing those in the vicinity with entertainment as long as they wore hard hats. It looked like this discussion would be tame in comparison.
Draco cringed as he remembered the Final Battle from his point of view. About halfway through – once it became obvious which side was going to win – Lucius had stood up on the ramparts of Malfoy Manor, waving a white bed-sheet and yelling 'I surrender, I surrender!' This had caused both sides to pause in shocked amazement for a couple of minutes, and making Narcissa's 'Get down from there, you great pansy!' all the more noticeable. Draco sighed and shook his head as he came out of his reverie. It had taken him months to live that down.
"…so that's settled, then. You go chat with the Headmaster, and I'll go take care of our not-so-little problem."
"You know that you're completely mad, Potter?"
"Yeah, I know. But I promised him I'd let him out for a wander and this is the only way, see?"
Draco blinked. He'd missed the whole discussion while reminiscing! What kind of Slytherin was he? Snape and Potter were already on their feet, and Draco leapt to his also.
"Wait, wait! Potter, you owe me an explanation as to what you did to my Head of House!" Draco snapped out as he hurried after them through the exit. Snape turned briefly and gave him a tell-anyone-about-this-and-you-will-die glare before billowing on up the corridor and out of sight.
Potter grabbed his arm. "Come with me, Dray, and I'll show you!" he exclaimed as he dragged Draco along behind him.
"Don't call me Dray!" the Slytherin spat as he struggled to keep up. "Whatever you may believe in that addled brain of yours I am not your buddy! So don't give me pet names! Get that through that thick skull of yours, Potter!"
Potter looked back over his shoulder. "You're not my buddy? Really?" he asked coolly. "You might want to re-evaluate your opinion in a minute, 'cos you certainly won't want to be my enemy."
They were back in the Entrance Hall again and Potter let go of his arm. "Wait here and just point him outside, would you?" Without waiting for him to reply, Potter walked over to the dungeon stairway and yelled, "You can come out now, Hasseth!" before turning and walking calmly straight out of the large double doors that led to the grounds. Draco sneered after him. Now what?
A sound like a bulldozer travelling very slowly across gravel – not that Draco would know what a bull-dozer was anyway – echoed up from the lower levels. Draco's sneer froze and quickly became a frown. What in Merlin's name was happening now?
Something slowly slithered up the dark steps, before rearing up and staring down at Draco with a haughty demeanour as if to say 'Well? Come on then!' It was a snake. A very big snake. A very big snake that was over forty foot long, and that was not all…
Draco gulped. It was wearing giant sunglasses.
"He…" His voice cracked; something that hadn't happened to him for almost four years. "He's outside." Draco raised a shaking finger and pointed in the direction Potter had gone in. The Basilisk nodded and slithered all forty seven feet of scaly muscle past Draco out into the sunshine.
Draco swayed. Potter had put sunglasses on a Basilisk to stop its glare from being deadly to anyone it looked at. Dear Merlin, Snape was right! Potter was mad! The seventeen year old whimpered slightly and collapsed to the floor in a dead faint.
Sorry! Couldn't resist.
This started out as an idea for a horror story on the theme of 'there's something nasty in the dungeons' (Cold Comfort Farm, anyone?) in preparation for Halloween, but the story mutated into something else entirely! Once it was in there, I just couldn't get the image out of my head.