Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. They're all JKR's. I only like to play with them. The concept of the spell Snape uses here is taken from a Discworld-novel so I'd like to thank Terry Pratchett, too, for providing me with a neat spell. ;)

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Your Best Trick

This time he's done it, Minerva McGonagall thought.

"He" being no other than Severus Snape.

Why can't he just keep his mouth shut? Why does he always have to taunt poor Sirius like that?

Always the same, at every single Order meeting. Only this time, Sirius Black finally snapped.

He suddenly jumped up, knocking over his chair, seized Snape by the collar and pushed him across the kitchen and into the wall next to the cupboard.

"Then show me, you Death Eater scum!" he spat at Snape, sending spittle flying in the other man's face. "Show me what a great and mighty wizard you are! Show me your best trick!"

"My best trick?" Snape beat Black's arms away and gave him a shove that made him stagger backwards. "You want to see my best trick? Very well."

His voice was dangerously soft.

Minerva, who like everyone else had risen from her chair, straightened when she heard that tone of voice. It meant that Snape meant business.

With one fluent motion, Snape drew his wand from his left sleeve. Minerva saw the other Order members - Tonks, Moody, Remus, Molly, Arthur - exchange glances. She looked at Albus. Why didn't he do anything to stop this? Moody and Remus started to move but Dumbledore stopped them with a look and a slight wave of his hand.

What are you waiting for, Albus? Are you going to let them kill each other?

"My best trick," Snape repeated once more. His black eyes were flashing. However, he wasn't pointing his wand at Sirius. He was pointing it at the palm of his left hand.

He started murmuring a spell, so softly that Minerva only saw his lips move and form the words. She watched, intrigued, a tiny golden glowing sphere form on the wizard's hand, growing larger and larger until it was about twice the size of his fist.

Minerva craned her neck to see more. She spotted tiny trees and flowers inside the sphere.

Snape stopped his incantation.

"Know what this is, Black?"

Of course he knows.

Every wizard had at least heard about Dexter's Garden of Delights. It wasn't an especially difficult spell in itself but it was difficult to get all the tiny little details right. As far as Minerva could see, Snape had done a good job of it. She had to give him that much. She only wondered why he had chosen this as his best trick.

Sirius stepped closer to Snape and took a look at the sphere.

"That's all?" He snorted. "Dexter's Garden of Delights. Every proper wizard -"

"- ought to be able to conjure it up, I know," Snape interrupted him with a sneer. "I'm not finished, yet."

"Well, then go on." Sirius gestured at the sphere. "I'm waiting."

He folded his arms across his chest. His stance and the expression on his face made it clear he wasn't expecting much.

Snape pointed his wand at the sphere again. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then, he resumed his incantation. Or started a new one. His voice was still too soft for Minerva to hear so she couldn't tell. She couldn't help but take a step or two towards Snape and crane her neck to better see what was happening. Just like the others. Only Albus, she noticed, remained where he was.

As if he knew what to expect ...

The golden sphere on Snape's hand was growing larger and larger and also more transparent. His muttering became louder and more insistent. The sphere was as big as his head, then as big as a cauldron, as big as he was tall, surrounding his hand. The details, the trees and flowers and other plants inside became ever more distinct.

Sirius' eyes grew wide as he watched. Minerva thought she heard him whisper something like "Amazing!" Tonks and Molly Weasley exchanged a glance. Moody raised his eyebrows - whether in astonishment or approval, she couldn't tell. But his magical eye was focused on the sphere instead of spinning around in its socket as usual. And she couldn't blame them. The bigger the sphere, the more difficult to cast the spell properly.

That's why he chose this spell. He -

A bright flash, like lightning, interrupted her train of thought. Grimauld Place, the kitchen with the large table, the corridor outside - all of it was gone. Instead, they were all standing in the garden. Minerva felt her jaw drop. She slowly turned around. The trees, towering above her. The flowers, pink, yellow, blue, orange, red. She could even smell their scent, smell the grass, feel it brush against the hem of her robe as she moved. A slight breeze was rustling the leaves. Somewhere in the distance, she thought she could hear the soft murmur of water. It all seemed absolutely real. Just as solid as Grimauld Place. She turned back to the others whose faces mirrored the surprise and wonder she felt.

Sirius' mouth was hanging open. He swallowed once or twice, tried to say something but obviously couldn't find the words. Opposite him, Snape ended his incantation and opened his eyes. He didn't say anything, just looked at the other man.

Around them, the garden remained solid for another few moments. Then it started to fade and finally vanished altogether. There was absolute silence. Almost as if the entire house was holding its breath, including the wizards and witches within.

It was Snape who broke the silence.

"My best trick, Black", he said with a sneer, "think you can best that?"

Slowly and without a word, Sirius shook his head.

Snape looked at him, then the others, then he turned on his heel and left in a flurry of black robes, slamming the door shut behind him.

"Didn't see that coming, did you?" someone whispered in Minerva's ear.

She shook her head and turned to find Albus smile at her with his bright blue eyes twinkling.

No, she really hadn't seen that coming. She didn't know what exactly she had expected. Something dark, maybe. Something vicious. Cruel. But not - that. How could a man like Severus Snape create something that beautiful?

Maybe I ought to reconsider some of the things I thought I knew about him ...

--- End ---