AN: A very special Thank you, to my beautiful friends and betas Hebe GB and Dressagegrrrl, for keeping me sane during a terrible time with tea, sympathy and Jammie Dodgers. And also for having patience when this chapter made my sanity hiccup a bit. I cannot express how much I love you two. Thanks also to guest betas Noelle Leithe, who has the misfortune to actually be related to me, and Whitehound, who jumped in at the last minute and kept this one chapter from ending up in the Recycle Bin.
Canon has been twerked as needed, but with utmost respect. Dialogue that appears in bold-face is taken verbatim from Deathly Hallows, and thus are the words of JK Rowling, herself.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The Harry Potter Widows and Orphans Fund
HEROES, ONE AND ALL
Written and Directed by
Professor Hermione J. Granger
The students who were playing young Harry, Ron, and Hermione bowed several times to the audience, despite having been told repeatedly by the director that it wasn't proper to bow between acts. 'Harry' and 'Ron' blatantly attempted to see past the spotlights, hands held across brows, and when they saw the empty seat in the middle of the first row, they both sighed and slouched off the stage. 'Hermione' kept bobbing and waving until he finally noticed Professor Granger flapping at him with her script from the footlights. At that point, he finally scurried of the stage, and the charmed curtain came down with a whoosh and an apologetic grimace from the Herbology teacher, Professor Longbottom. Professor Granger, left standing on the wrong side, scrambled clumsily under the curtain.
Once in the little room behind the high-table dias, which was doing duty as "backstage", she immediately set about changing the sets while Hagrid, the de facto stage manager, led those students dressed in armor over to their pedestals. Once the sets were ready for the third act, Professor Granger went looking for her little doppelGranger.
Spying him at the mirror, layering on even more of that hideous sparkling pink lip gloss, she went over and had a quiet word with him. Quiet being relative.
"Mr. Watkins," she stage-whispered sternly. "I know you were the only student that auditioned to play me, and I'm honored. But you do realize that the other girls didn't want the part because it wasn't glamorous, don't you?" She conjured up a handkerchief and started to wipe at the third-year's lips. "I didn't wear this much make-up, nor use that much hair spray. I never ran through the woods in high heels, and I am not now, nor was I then, given to squealing. Do you understand?" She felt badly, having to rein in his burgeoning creativity, but someone had to do it.
"But Professor!" whined Mr. Watkins. "It's my interpretation of the part!"
"Jeremy, you signed up to act an historical role. You need to stick to the part. It's just too much."
"But the things you did were important, Professor," he said earnestly. "I'm just trying to make you more noticeable!"
Big Hermione shook her head sadly at Little Hermione. "I appreciate your efforts," she said, "but I will ask you one last time to play the part as written. I assure you, I was little more than window dressing for most of these events."
Professor Granger adjusted her glasses, brushed her fingers across her hair to make sure nothing had escaped her vicious chignon, and pressed a hand against the high collar of her nut-brown robes as she took a deep breath. Things seemed to be in place for the last act. She looked around her little fiefdom and launched herself back into the breach.
"Right! Places everyone! Filius, do you think we can leave the house lights up just a little? I'm afraid one of the students will tumble off the stage trying to see if His Nibs has arrived."
"It shall be as you say, my dear Directoress." Professor Flitwick had been an enormous help with the staging of the production, and his charm work on Nagini was perfection.
"Thank you. Hagrid? Hagrid? Hagrid! Are they ready?"
"Aye, I herded them all up and put them where yeh wanted. I think the pedestals are a might tall, mind."
"Are they?" Blast, she thought. This is the sort of thing that happens when you rely on memory boosting charms and only have one rehearsal.
"Don't you worry yourself, Hermione. I'm sure it's nothin'. Everythin' has been perfect so far. Jest a shame the guest of honor is missing it."
"Yes, well," sniffed the Transfiguration mistress. "There are other people out there who do appreciate our efforts. He's just one man, after all. The hall is packed. Could you give Jeremy a bit of advice? He's still struggling with his part."
"Sure! I'll just give the mite a few pointers on what you were like an' such."
Flitwick, who had been peeking out through the curtain, waved his hand, and the students tried to out-hiss each other while calling for silence.
"Right. I'm off! Break a leg everyone!" she called softly.
Clutching her script, she slipped around the side of the curtain and took her place hiding in the darkness in front of the footlights. The third act got underway.
"I wonder what could have brought you out of your bed at this late hour?"
"I thought I heard a disturbance."
"Really? All seems calm."
The seventh-year who was playing Snape leaned in and stared dramatically at the sixth-year playing the younger Headmistress McGonagall.
"Have you seen Harry Potter, Minerva? Because if you have, I must insist-"
Everything was going well. The actors were all hitting their marks. The audience was actually leaning closer to the stage. The tension was just right. Just as little Minerva was about to unleash her onslaught, and the pivotal duel between McGonagall and Snape would begin, a disturbance from the back of the hall stopped everything.
The loud squeal of the door signaled a late arrival. The susurration of hundreds of heads turning caused even the actors up on stage to turn towards the back of the Great Hall. The excited whispers of 'There he is!' caught like wildfire, and soon even the students on stage had crowded up to the edge to get a peek at the man. The hero who had turned away from the world these last years. The man that they had all come to see. The reclusive, mysterious, infamous Master Spy, Severus Snape.
The Great Hall fell back into silence. The slow, measured, kerplick, kerplock of the man's boots on the stone flooring rang out over the sound of Professor Granger waving her script frantically at her actors in a futile effort to gain their attention. Finally, she gave up and turned as well. She shoved her glasses back up her nose and stared at him, her lips curled down.
He continued his unhurried pace, impressive in his immaculate dress robes, his cape flaring out behind him as he passed by the Minister of Magic and other important Ministry officials, the original Heroes of Hogwarts, the rest of the school staff and the many other people who were willing to donate to the Widows and Orphans Fund so they could hobnob with Wizarding society's elite. He was still thin, tending towards gaunt, and still seemed pale even in this low light. An overly-eager young witch wearing too many strands of pearls reached out and clasped his cloak as he strode by, and he whirled on her, twitching the dark cloth out of her hand. The oft-seen ferocious scowl on his face morphed into a tolerant, yet slightly disappointed moue, and he nodded his head just the slightest fraction before turning away and heading to the empty seat in the front row.
Harry Potter stood up with an over-bright smile on his face and indicated the empty seat between himself and Headmistress McGonagall. The man just raised an eyebrow, and Harry flushed and dragged a nervous hand through his hair. Snape paused before his empty seat and nodded his head just slightly to the audience, acknowledging their attention, before turning to the Headmistress and giving her a deeper bow. Minerva McGonagall bestowed a fond smile on him and patted the empty seat. He turned back toward the stage and sat, flicking a hand at the cast as the loud murmuring of the crowd died away.
They hit a bit of a rough patch after that.
Professor Granger hissed instructions frantically as the players broke into an impromptu mosh pit trying to find their places. The boy playing Snape, hitherto dripping gravitas, suddenly forgot his lines and stumbled into the suit of armor he was supposed to hide behind, accidentally triggering the spell that made it look as if several daggers were sinking into the metal. The boy in the suit flailed his arms and concussed the girl playing Minerva, who fell to her knees. The little first-year who had been so honored to play his own Head of House, Filius Flitwick, promptly burst into tears and ran off the stage. The quick-thinking seventh-year playing Horace Slughorn slung 'Minerva' over his shoulder and turned to hiss at little 'Harry' and 'Luna' with such emphasis that he sucked in his big, fake mustache and began to choke. Professor Granger whimpered as she scrambled up onto the stage to help the choking boy, as 'McGonagall' came to on his shoulder and blurted out the one line she could remember.
"And now-Piertotum Locomotor!"
The rest of the students dressed in armor jumped off their plinths at this unexpected cue and immediately crashed against each other, staggering and tripping over each other's armored legs with cacophonous clangs. One poor sod spun away and, in a valiant effort to reclaim his center of gravity, ran across the entire length of the stage at a forty-five degree angle, arms pin-wheeling madly until he was out of sight. A crash and a scream followed.
Things went mostly on cue for a while after that; the only down point being the titters and giggles from the audience whenever 'Hermione' appeared onstage. Mr. Watkins had obviously taken his quick chat with another primary source to heart. 'Hermione' now looked like a frumpy mouse of a girl, wearing an exact copy of the robes Professor Granger was currently wearing. He also was sporting what looked like tumbleweed from the American Southwest on his head. He recited many of his lines in a bossy, brash voice that caused the filling in his teacher's only cavity to vibrate. Any lines delivered to or about 'Ron' suddenly peeled out in a depraved-sounding simper.
"It was Ron, all Ron's idea!" he said in a breathy voice. "Wasn't it absolutely brilliant?" He grabbed onto 'Ron's' bicep and batted his eyelashes up at him, causing both 'Harry' and 'Ron' to flub their next lines. 'Hermione' busied himself mooning up at 'Ron', and the poor boy looked thoroughly confused as he delivered his lines about speaking Parseltongue while trying to bat brown tumbleweed from his face.
"I had to have a few goes to get it right, but we got there in the end."
"He was amazing!" squealed Jeremy, adoringly. "Amazing!"
Professor Granger's lip quivered, but she was unsure if it was from tears or laughter.
The mood of the audience turned somber as the heaviness of events took over and the spell was rewoven. The death of Fred Weasley caused more than a few sighs. Hermione looked over to where Ron was sitting with Lavender. His wife rubbed his shoulder as he watched with glistening eyes and a brittle smile.
You could hear a pin drop as young Harry crawled into the Shrieking Shack and gathered up the memories of the dying Snape.
"Take…it…. Take…it…. Look…at…me…."
A sob was heard from the audience, as a hand thudded to the floor. Even Professor Granger was moved to peer at Snape. He sat, still as stone, as the Headmistress reached over and squeezed his arm, before dabbing at her own eyes.
Professor Flitwick's charmed voice rang out through the Hall and made everyone jump. Granger, who had expected it, was still looking at the Master Spy and saw his eyes widen in alarm and something that looked close to fear spread across his features. She felt guilty, thinking they should've stuck to the student's voice. No one that was there that day would forget that voice, it was obvious now that recreating it so faithfully had been in poor taste.
"You have fought valiantly. Lord Voldemort knows how to value bravery.
"Yet you have sustained heavy losses. If you continue to resist me, you will all die, one by one."
This next part was nerve-wracking for her to watch. When she had been writing the play, she'd first thought to omit any reference to Snape's memories-deciding the man would prefer his privacy-but a conversation with Harry on the subject made her change her mind.
"I don't think he'd be upset at all. When I returned his memories in the hospital, he seemed rather pleased that they had helped. I think he's actually happy people know. I can't blame him, his whole life had been a lie, and now the truth is out. I'd go ahead and put it in the play."
And so she had. She watched as the students reenacted Snape's life in quick, meaningful passages which charted his first friendship and its shameful loss, his life as a double-agent, his stoicism in the face of pain and suffering.
"You're…you're a witch."
"Save your breath."
"You are a braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff. You know, sometimes I think we Sort too soon…."
The audience was rapt as he cried out in anguish, "And my soul Dumbledore? Mine?"
They sighed as he revealed his abiding love, untarnished by time.
"After all this time?"
As the flashbacks ended she darted another glance at the man and detected a slight smile. Almost a smirk. Whatever that look signified, it wasn't the thunderous expression of anger she had feared. She turned back towards the stage.
She had played her audience like a master. Harry's long walk to his own death mesmerized them. At her cues, Flitwick's special effects produced the Dementors and the ghosts of loved ones, as well as the green flash as the young actor collapsed to the stage, and the transition to King's Cross went off beautifully. She had waved her wand furiously to swap sets on the fly.
At the peak of the drama, just as the student 'Hagrid' was carrying 'Harry' out of the forest, all hell broke loose. The same unfortunate students that had been buckled into the armor earlier were now wearing charmed costumes to look like centaurs. They fared no better on four legs than they had on two.
As 'Neville' screamed and clawed at the fake fire from the Sorting Hat on his head, the artificially-expanded stage filled with cries as the first centaurs hurdled onto the stage and promptly nose-dived, as their legs splayed in several directions at once. The few still upright lollopped around, knocking down actors and set pieces. One, in a vain effort to regain his balance, skittered along as if on four roller skates until he careened off the stage at a forty-five degree angle. Several wands in the audience came out and caught him but there was no consensus as to what to do with him, and he was pushed and pulled and tugged sideways until his costume ripped, and he collapsed to the floor in nothing but his pants. Professor Longbottom scurried along the footlights to grab him.
During all this, a tree-part of the set disturbed by the onslaught of centaurs-collapsed and fell into the wings, nearly striking Filius. He dodged out of the way, but as he jerked his arm, he also sent his fake Nagini-another impressively realistic bit of charm work-out into the audience. Professor Granger watched in horror as Snape's attention switched from an amused survey of the bit of costume Minerva was waving around, to the life-sized, murderous snake that was flying straight for his head.
"Gods fuck!" he bellowed. He appeared to be paralyzed until the Headmistress flicked her wand and banished both snake and costume. When it vanished he leapt to his feet, wand in hand, and stared about the room. His expression terrified everyone in a twenty foot radius. Harry reached up and touched his arm and was violently rebuffed.
"Severus, be seated," Minerva said quietly. The absolute silence in the room allowed her quiet words to travel a fair distance. You could almost see the ruffled feathers start to lay down, as Snape took several deep breaths and turned back towards the stage. His eyes found the play's director, and he stared daggers at her before sweeping the stage with his displeasure. He gathered his robes around himself and sat.
Several students started to whimper. Flitwick cast another charm and an almost ludicrously cartoonish snake appeared around the shoulders of 'Voldemort' who stood stock still, staring at the still very angry Snape in the front row.
"HAGGER!" screamed the real Hagrid, gamely playing his brother Grawp, as he lumbered onto the stage. The momentary paralysis was broken and the action on stage resumed. Several of the crippled centaurs weakly shot off a few charmed arrows from where they were still wallowing on the stage. Student Death Eaters fought against Student Order Members and mostly only managed to blind each other with the brightness of their fake hexes. They quickly started to bounce into and off each other.
Several loud pops startled the audience, and Hogwarts's own house-elves arrived on stage, along with their own guest-star. They had been tremendously honored when asked if they wanted to recreate their famous charge and their enthusiasm showed. Actually, it terrified. Kreacher, proudly wearing his locket, led the charge as house-elves swarmed across the stage. They zeroed in on the students playing the Death Eaters and shrieked at them, their faces reflecting pure malice and hatred as they waved real cleavers and knives. Professor Granger's lecture on 'authenticity' had not gone over their heads. Students screamed and ran.
'Neville' grabbed up the fake Sword of Gryffindor that had finally dropped out of the Sorting Hat he'd been throttling and, still dazed by the disaster around him, took a half-hearted swing at the snake. Flitwick had been distracted by a screaming 'Narcissa Malfoy' being chased into the wings by a shrieking Winky swearing dire retribution, so there was a long pause between the swing and when the snake obligingly dropped its head to the stage.
Hermione let out an audible moan as the play devolved into utter chaos. She frantically waved to get anyone's attention and try end the pain as quickly as possible. Dialogue was hissed to the actors at a frantic rate as Professor Granger tried to rope them back to task. There was some confusion, since she had prompted her 'Harry' to jump ahead a few pages of script in an effort to end the nightmare sooner. 'Harry' and 'Voldemort' repeated their lines in an awful, stilted recitation edging closer to the edge of the stage to hear their lines. The audience was shifting and grumbling, the worst possible omen for a director. The students were reduced to looking straight at their teacher and simply repeating whatever she said until their favorite lines finally came up, and they remembered there were three hundred people staring at them.
"What childish dream is this?" said 'Voldemort' with feeling as he stepped back from the edge of the stage.
"Severus Snape wasn't yours. He was Dumbledore's, Dumbledore's from the moment you started hunting down my mother. And you never realized it, because of the thing you can't understand."
The two student actors circled each other, and the other students started to remember their places and their responses as the two main characters now said their lines from memory.
Finally, the end came.
Flitwick hit his cue, and the resulting bang was indeed like a cannon blast. Half the audience jumped in their seats and several screamed.
'Voldemort' tossed 'Harry' his wand as he dropped backwards onto the stage in a death infinitely more graceful than the real thing. 'The Golden Trio' grouped together at center stage, and the rest of the actors clustered around them as the 'sun' rose steadily on Hogwarts. Hermione quickly changed the set on the darkened portion of the stage. When she heard a rustle of cloth she gave Flitwick the signal.
On cue, a spotlight shone down on the solitary body of Severus Snape, still lying in the Shrieking Shack.
'Harry' stepped to the front of the stage and said, "We have lost so many brave and noble souls today. Our victory is bittersweet. Let us go and retrieve the body of our unsung hero, the bravest man I know."
The entire ensemble followed 'Harry' stage left.
"Wait! He still breathes! Get him some air! Get pressure on that wound!" cried 'Hermione' in a bossy tone.
"How is that possible?" exclaimed 'Ron'.
"He was a Potions master; I bet he had a bezoar! We've been so stupid! Obviously a man as mighty as Severus Snape couldn't be stopped by a mere magical snake!" cried 'Harry'.
"Let me through!" shouted 'Madam Pomfrey'.
The tension in the Hall gathered as the actors flashed their fake Healing spells in utter silence. Finally, 'Madam Pomfrey' sat back on her haunches and dramatically wiped a wrist across her brow.
"He'll make it! Severus Snape is going to live!" The cries of the actors were soon joined by the thunderous applause of the audience.
Only the Master Spy himself failed to join in, but his scowl was gone. He wore a politely tolerant expression.
The students all started to hug each other enthusiastically until they finally noticed their teacher was tapping the stage with her wand. Then they all lined up at the edge of the stage and held hands to take a bow. The applause was hearty, probably because it was finally over.
The actors bowed again and then started to clap and gesture. Hermione thought they were urging her up on stage for a bow and smiled as she scrambled up to join them. She realized to her chagrin that they were gesturing to Snape. He finally stepped forward and turned to the audience and gave them a short, perfunctory bow. He turned back and bowed quickly to the actors on stage. As his head came up his eyes met hers, and he gave her a small smile and another short bow. The ensemble stepped back, and the curtain dropped with a whoosh.
Hermione Granger looked around her with a peculiar mixture of pride and humiliation as the students ran backstage to change out of their costumes. The house-elves, no longer terrifying demons, but once again the sweet, eager-to-please creatures they all knew and loved, appeared all at once and started to vanish the sets. She found herself in the way as they swiftly began to set up for the award ceremony. Looking around, she realized she was alone. The students had all scurried away. The other professors had headed out to mingle with the crowd. The curtain vanished, and she saw Harry and Ron, ignoring each other as usual with their customary twenty feet between them. Both were busy chatting with their own wives and business associates. Snape and the Headmistress were nowhere in sight. She looked out at the crowded hall for a moment longer before hugging her script close and walking offstage to find a quiet place to hide.
I hope you enjoyed! Review and let me know.