Disclaimer: Not mine.


Another "I Never" challenge…. This one should be fun… show why Neville repelled his boggart by seeing Snape in a dress…. You see… it was a story his Gran told him, one that involved her son and daughter in law…it happened when they went to Hogwarts for a party thrown for the Hogwarts' Alumni and… well, just read it.


The Dress and the Rat

Or

A Tale of Hogwarts


Sirius lay back on his bed, his arms folded under his head as he stared at the ceiling, listening to James' non-stop chatter about the upcoming Quidditch tryouts. Remus and Peter were sitting on the floor with a chess board laid out between them, arguing about if touching a piece meant you had to move it for certain, or if the touch could be taken back as long as it had not been moved.

"Bloody hell, would you two put a sock in it already?" Sirius flipped over on his stomach and looked down at the pair on the floor, then reached out and upended the game, sending pawns and kings alike skittering across the floor. "Don't you two ever shut up?"

"We're not fighting," Remus sniggered, "we're trying to drown out the sound of The Great Flying Potter."

"Shut up Moony," James quipped as he sat on the edge of Sirius' bed with a bounce. "It's not my fault they postponed it again."

"Right, it's ours," Peter complained as he laid flat on his stomach, reached under the bed and pulled out two chess pieces. "So, what do you want to do?"

"I have an essay…"

All three made gagging noises as Remus rolled his eyes. "Okay, you got a better idea?"

"I got a cigar left," Peter said brightly.

"Yeah, right," Remus swallowed hard, remembering the last time they had tried smoking in the dorm and wound up on Dumbledore's bad side.

"We could head down to the kitchen and nick some cake," Peter offered again.

"You always get cake." James picked up a pillow and swatted at him. "We need to nick something good this time … or go some place."

Sirius smirked and looked at Remus. "Goats anyone?"

"Shut up," Remus pouted. "Mum almost killed me over that one."

"We'll make sure we don't get caught." Sirius sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed.

"We better have a story ready for when that don't work," James snorted. "We haven't been doing real well this year."

"We'll blame in on the Slytherins." Peter shrugged. "They get blamed for most of the stuff anyway."

"Maybe we could get Evans to go with us," Potter clutched his chest and made a strangled sound.

"Not likely, Potter, she hates you." Remus said.

"Yeah, but … maybe we could make it look like she … like she was with us and that Snape…" Peter thought aloud.

"That's it. We nick something from Evans and make it look like Snape did it." Potter grinned, jumped up and ran down the stairs to the common room.

"Like what?" Remus said, still sitting on the floor.

"Bloody hell," Peter started towards the door, "come on Moony. You know how he gets. He'll go getting caught again and blame it on us anyway."

The four sat in the common room, lounging on the sofa and hanging their feet over the arm, counting the girls that came down and left. When they looked at the clock and knew dinner had started, they still had not seen Evans come down.

"Now what?" Peter said.

"I'm eating," Sirius sighed. "Sod this, we have all night."

"You guys go ahead. I'm going up to the library and check if she's there, she'll miss dinner again if someone doesn't collect her," Peter grinned at James and took off running, leaving the portrait hole open as he did.

The other three jostled though the hole behind the Fat Lady's portrait, laughing as they made their way to the Great Hall. Walking to their house's table James looked up and frowned at the floating candles. "Looks like someone's having party."

"Thought that was next week…" Remus started.

"May I have your attention?" The Headmaster stood at the front of the room, waiting for silence before beginning. "As you may have noticed we have visitors this weekend. It is our honour to be holding the Hogwarts Alumni Association's retreat this year, and as their host I bid them welcome."

He peered over his spectacles and waited until the small smattering of polite applause had died down before continuing.

"I expect you to offer our guests every courtesy. I have taken the second floor off limits for all students this weekend as our guests will be housed in that part of the castle. If you have any questions please direct them to your head of house. Now," he waved his hand as the platters of food appeared, "it is time to eat."

Remus leaned back and looked down the long table. "Evans is already here."

"Great," Sirius stood, swinging his leg out into the aisle, "knowing Peter he will use the second floor hallway and run smack into McGonagall."

James looked up at the dais and saw the absence of not only McGonagall but Slughorn as well. "Shite," he muttered.

The three left the Great Hall and snuck to the far staircase before hazarding up, sneaking past the infirmary and skirting around the clumps of ghosts that seemed to be waiting to join in the festivities. They ran on the balls of their feet, trying to be quiet until Sirius threw up his arm, skidding to a stop as Remus and James crashed into him.

"There," he whispered. "What it the bloody…? Peter, over here you idiot."

Peter turned and sat up on his haunches, pointed his nose in the air and twitched. Putting the scent together with the movement in the shadows, he again clamped the black silk dress in his teeth and dragged it down the hall. Once he reached the others, he returned to his human form, ginning widely.

"I found her," he nodded happily, bending down to pick up the black silk dress that now lay at his feet. "She must have snuck up here to use the bath. Never would have thought she had it in her."

"Sot," James smacked him on the back of the head. "She is in the dinning room."

"Then who…" Peter looked back down the hallway and felt suddenly ill.

"Could be anyone," Remus took the dress and held it up by the shoulders. "Whoever it is, she's not short, maybe a seventh year?"

"Shhh," Sirius put out his arm and pushed the others back and against the wall.

"What exactly did you expect me to do? Chase the bloody thing under the door?" a man's voice drifted down the hall to them. "Just… I guess ...just stay put until I find out where they put the luggage and I'll bring you something."

"It was a rat, a big rat. Frank, I told you I heard something," Alice's voice shook. "And what else can I do but stay put? The damn rat dragged it off I tell you, a damned rat took my bloody dress. You make sure Albus hears about this!"

"I can't do anything about it now, just be patient." He stalked off down the hall in search of his luggage as the boys let out a collective breath seeing him walk in the other direction.

Remus swallowed hard and looked at Peter who shrugged his shoulders meekly. "How was I supposed to know? I was a rat, rats can't see very far, and it is dark in there."

"You're a blithering idiot," James guffawed as Sirius clamped his had over his mouth.

"Shut up, Potter, that's the Longbottoms in there."

"No," James wheezed, "that's a naked Mrs. Longbottom. He left her. He left her alone with no clothes."

"Let's get out of here," Remus suggested, seconded by Peter.

The four scurried back to the staircase and started down as the heard footsteps coming up. Peter shoved the dress behind his back just a moment before they came face to face with Evans' friend, Snape.

"What are you doing here?" He lifted his eyebrow and smirked at them. "The Headmaster will be less than pleased to hear his favourite Gryffindores have ignored his directions, yet again. "

"We heard someone needed help up here and thought we would try to help," James said seriously, as Remus punched him in the ribs with his elbow.

"Yeah, some witch sobbing, we thought it was Moaning Myrtle, it's coming from down the hall," Sirius fought to keep his face blank.

"And…?" Snape intoned.

"We don't know," Peter squeaked. "We didn't want to go up there with all the ghosts."

"The ever brave Gryffindor I see," Snape said, as he pushed by them and strode down the hall.

"Let's get out of here," James peeked around the corner. "Come on, we can make it back to our table before he finds out it's not Myrtle."

.

.

.

Severus heard them as they charged down the hallway and thundered down the stairs as he was making his way to the bath. Once he reached it, he put his ear to the door and listened carefully, then opened the door slowly, feeling it push back. A woman's head peeked around the edge and looked at him.

"Oh, I hoped it was my husband," she said meekly. "Did you see a man, light curly hair, would be wearing a brown jacket coming this way?"

"Forgive me Madam, I was told someone was in need of help," he started to back out, his face turning red imagining why a witch would be hiding behind a door in a bath.

"I do, wait, just stay where you are," Alice whispered loudly and looked around frantically for something to put on. "Listen kid, some rat stole my clothes. A big rat. It dragged it under the door and I … my husband went to get me something to put on, but… he doesn't even know where they put the luggage."

"I will …. I can go back to the infirmary and…"

'I will not run these halls with my backside hanging out of hospital gown," she peeked her head around the door again and looked up at him. "Give me your shirt."

"Madam?"

"Just until I get my own, I can have something back to you in no time."

Snape looked to the end of the hall, and then looked to the other. He set his jaw and began to unbutton his shirt, handing it around the edge of the door when he was done.

"Thank you," Alice slipped the shirt on then stepped out and looked at him. "I am glad you're not a first year, at least this is better than nothing, although a little short."

Snape looked at the legs and gulped. "Um, I could let you use my trousers if you …."

"Yes, yes, please. I promise five minutes, three. If the luggage isn't in my room yet I can transfigure something and be back in no time."

Snape looked around, and entering the bath, he stood behind one of the stone pillars, pulled off his trousers and handed them to her. He waited until he heard her leave before walking back to wait by the door.

.

.

.

James was chewing his lip and hanging back from the rest, looking back over his shoulder at the stairs.

"Peter, give me that." He took the dress from Peter's out stretched hand and started back to the stairs.

"What are you doing Potter?"

"Listen, Alice Longbottom is in the bath and Snape is where he shouldn't be. Let's get him caught."

Remus toed the floor and looked at Sirius who was ginning as Peter rolled his eyes.

"Listen, you two go back to the Hall, if anyone asks we were right behind you and just had to duck into the loo. "Sirius took off running, calling back for Potter to follow.

They ran back up stairs and down the hall, no longer worrying about noise or if they were seen. It would be worth the detention if Snape were caught with them. Rushing to the bath, Sirius grabbed the dress and threw it in the door.

.

.

.

Snape paced back and forth by the door, feeling foolish and cold. He threw glances at the door every time he walked passed it, wishing she would hurry. Suddenly the door flew open and a garment sailed through the air, landing at his feet.

"Here ya go," a male voice called out to him as the door closed.

He picked up the garment and looked at the dress, suddenly feeling rather ill. He swallowed hard and groped for his wand, his hand hitting his naked thigh. Shite, he thought, remembering that he had not taken his wand from his trouser pocket.

.

.

Sirius and James pulled up short from their flight down the hall, walking towards them was the coupe Sirius knew as the Longbottoms.

"Boys," Frank said easily, thrusting out a set of robes, "there is a young gentleman in the bath that saved my wife from a very embarrassing situation. Would you be so kind as to take these to him?"

"Yes, sir." James took the robes, watching Sirius from the corner of his eye.

As the couple walked away, James could only grin at his good luck. Lifting up the visor on a suit of armour, he tucked the clothes inside, and turned back to Sirius. "I'm hungry. Let's get back before we miss dinner."

"Yeah, sounds good," James laughed, as he draped his arm over Sirius' shoulder and they started back to the Great Hall.

.

.

.

Severus waited until the castle should be sleeping. Then he waited a little longer, just to make sure he would not run into anyone in the halls. Cringing, he slipped the dress over his head and stepped out into the hallway, letting the door shut behind him. Walking quickly to the front staircase, he stared down, turning into the main hall that lead to the Dungeons as the doors to the Great Hall opened and the Alumni began pouring out.

He froze.

"That's my dress," Alice frowned, looking from Severus's booted feet, to his skinny white legs, then past the hemline and up, until she reached his face. "Why are you…"

"Young man, what is the meaning of this?" Frank snorted.

"Mister Snape?" The Headmaster had pushed through the crowd now stopped by the door. "I believe it is time you reported to my office."

Severus gave a curt nod and turned, the black silk billowing behind him, keeping his chin as high as it could go he strode off to the circular staircase and up to the Headmasters office.

.

.

.

Years later, Augusta Longbottom sat with her grandson on the floor of her son's house, boxing up his and his wife's belongings to go into storage. With each item she packed, she turned to the child and explained where it had come from, or why his parents had kept it. Picking up the dress she smiled, and told the child the story of the tall gangly teen that had caused such a stir at Hogwarts the year of the Alumni Retreat. Then with a chuckle, she set the dress aside to tell the tale again.


A/N: Anyway, that's the way Augusta told it at the beginning. But over the years, like all good stories, she expanded it, added a purse, a hat with a bird and told it so often Neville now tells the story to his own children. Neville swears this is why Snape learned to billow his robes behind him, finding that he like the feel of the fabric against the backs of this thighs. Hannah just rolls her eyes and smacks him on the back of the head.