It began on a perfectly ordinary day, Severus thought with a mental sniff. Of course, he should have learnt by now – 'normal' was a difficult word to define when at Hogwarts. Near impossible in fact, as it had been ever since he had come to know a certain twinkle-eyed, lemon-drop-obsessed, mildly-spoken, eccentrically-dressed-
He was ranting. Again. Severus sneered at himself, causing several passing students to jump in apprehension, expressions caught between amazement and fear. Severus knew what they would see, unfortunately. He had been snarling at the mirror for the better part of a half hour, forcefully and noisily rearranging his bathroom and spewing enough curses to make any filthy mouthed students blush.
Not that he'd mind that particular sight. Some might say he lived to...surprise the students, and he certainly did nothing to dissuade the idea. He did rather enjoy it, after all...
Which might have led to his downfall a few days ago at a certain Quidditch match. As he stalked to the office belonging to the subject of his aborted rant, he allowed his furious mind to dig up the relevant memory, cursing everything in existence all the more.
It had been Slytherin against Gryffindor, and he'd allowed himself some small measure of hope. Surely, he'd decided, Slytherin could not lose to the golden idiots yet again, not after the lengths he'd gone to ensure otherwise. Detentions for a month without respite was a good motivator after all, and this year Minerva would undoubtedly be eating her words.
Severus lowered himself into a chair beside the aforementioned witch, not about to forego the tradition of pre-match insults. She was a worthy opponent (for a Gryffindor) and was one of the few who would actually trade barbs with him and enjoy it. In fact, he spent the night before every Slytherin-Gryffindor Quidditch match perfecting his victory statements, just for the occasion where Slytherin might win.
Oh yes – that would be a fabulous moment, no doubt about that, and he would be sure to add just enough smugness to his voice and expression as he questioned the abilities of her own team. It would be such a refreshing change to her own crooning victory spiel – a speech he had long since purposefully forgotten. After Potter had joined the school, she had altered it so that she couldn't say a single syllable without the brat's name popping up, and he had no desire to hear that for a second year in a row. He had heard quite enough about Potter's 'abilities'.
Minerva gave him a sidelong glance. "Is something the matter, Severus?" Her tone was polite but there was an underlying tension, as there always was at times like this.
"Frog in his throat, I expect."
Severus suppressed a long-suffering groan as Lockhart sat on his other side, blocking off his escape route and smiling a smile that practically put the sun to shame. Not for the first time, he wondered if the man polished his teeth, and delighted in imagining the complications caused by Lockhart blinding himself in the mirror as he perfected the nauseating display.
Severus ignored him completely, fixing his gaze instead on the pitch, where the players had finished warming up and were beginning to give each other death glares. "My Slytherins are well prepared," he told Minerva. "Your precious team will not be able to blunder their way to a win. They do rely on that tactic far too much, in my opinion." He smirked.
Minerva sniffed at him but her mouth twitched treacherously. "You seem very sure of yourself, Severus."
"I have methods of ensuring success."
"I do not doubt that," she replied, still not looking at him, but at the unfolding match. "Did you ever consider actually teaching them how to play without cheating?"
He allowed disdain to creep into his voice. "Cheating is a rather strong word for simply taking advantage of the limited concentration span of your Gryffindors."
"Nothing like the powers of distraction," Lockhart boomingly announced, interrupting Minerva's spiky retort. "I remember when I was trapped by a dim-witted snurfle – all I had to do was pretend to throw something and off it ran! It made quite the headline, I remember, I could hardly walk for weeks afterwards for fear of running into crowds of admirers, all of them demanding my photograph – of course I was happy to oblige – and was forced to..."
Severus, not seeing the opportunity to interrupt and tell the man to be quiet – in much less unflattering terms – anytime soon, decided instead to tune him out. Oblivious to the fact that he had no audience, the man blathered on, smiling and laughing at random intervals, though from the glazed expressions on the rest of the teachers' faces, they too had no idea what he was talking about.
"Oh dear," a mild voice said from behind them, a small creak announcing that the Headmaster had sat down, "it seems I've missed the start of the match." He leaned forward and gave both Minerva and Severus a jovial glance. "I see that you two look remarkably whole. No duelling as of yet, I presume?"
Lockhart answered for them. "No, no, Albus – they've been quite civilised-" he missed a condescending sneer "- I was just telling them about the time I..."
And the monologue was repeated, with Albus nodding along patiently even as a distant groan, which had nothing to do with the wind blowing through the stadium, arose.
"-AND GRYFFINDOR SCORES!" There was a rousing cheer from all around the stadium, punctured by the jeering of the Slytherin students.
"Another fortunate blunder," Severus said in response to Minerva's triumphant smile. "Their streak of fortune will not last."
Albus, freed from the monologue, turned to their conversation. "The yearly ritual is continuing as usual, I see." His eyes twinkled knowingly. "I am surprised that you have not yet tired of it."
Both teachers actually turned to stare at him, eyebrows raised. Albus looked innocently back.
"AND HARRY POTTER IS GOING FOR THE SNITCH-"
He turned to face Minerva. "Not at all," he drawled. "Potter's lack of dexterity would not allow for him to catch that snitch – it is changing direction far too much for his limited capabilities."
"He seems to be getting closer," Albus said mildly, smiling proudly at the small dot of a boy flying haphazardly around the pitch.
"-AND WHAT'S THIS? HARRY POTTER HAS BEEN KNOCKED OFF HIS BROOM BY A BADLY PLACED BLUDGER-"
Severus pretended not to notice the glare that Minerva sent his way as one of the Slytherin players was thoroughly told off by Hooch.
"Another of your 'distraction' tactics, Severus?" Minerva's voice was icy.
He did not dignify that comment with a reply, but continued to watch the game, smirking as though there was no tomorrow.
"-GRYFFINDOR SCORES! IT LOOKS AS THOUGH THE REDS MIGHT WIN THE MATCH-"
Severus snorted softly, sure that no one could hear him. "My being nice to students would be more likely."
A bearded head suddenly appeared in the outlines of his vision, and he cursed inwardly. "This is a most surprising statement coming from you, Severus." Eyes twinkled above a crooked nose. "One which I am sure many members of the school would be relieved to see come to pass."
He had simply sneered at the headmaster and muttered something – loud enough so that Minerva would be insulted – before turning back to the game, eyes now glued to every movement.
And so it came to pass that Severus Snape witnessed yet another Slytherin defeat.
He had not heard the end of it for days afterwards. In fact, he had even been forced to avoid the staff room once several of the teachers in there decided to recount, in excruciating detail, the entire game. Especially the end.
It was therefore not surprising that he had been even more short tempered than usual with his students; detentions for failing to tie shoelaces correctly, for example. Of course, he did have his grounds for that particular detention. If he had not intervened when the child was bent double in his classroom, tying his shoelaces with obnoxious slowness, someone could have tripped over him. The child could then have proceeded to stand up in shock and trip over his own badly tied shoelaces, knocking over several cauldrons and destroying the hard work of many people. Luckily, he had intervened, and suffice it to say that the child now knew, without a doubt, how to properly tie a shoelace in his class.
But his latest rant had been stopped short by his last class, who had laughed themselves stupid as soon as he had shown any signs of ill temper towards them. He had tried to reprimand them properly, but the more he berated them the less able they were to control themselves. He had naturally placed the entire lot in detention – which was apparently hilarious – and assigned them essays long enough to cover the floor of their common rooms.
He had then stomped from his room in a foul mood, prepared to make it even fouler by marking the essays the dim-witted dunderheads had written for him, when he caught sight of his face in the mirror. Which had also laughed at him.
And that was when he began rearranging his bathroom, looking for something to reverse the curly blond locks that had sprung around his head.
He was jolted back to the present by a student who actually had the gall to take a photograph of him, the flash stinging his eyes. The ominous sound of pattering feet followed by stifled chuckles followed, and when he had finally been able to see without spots dancing in front of his eyes, the corridor had been empty.
Said student was going to have a very painful Potions lesson tomorrow, if he recognised them correctly.
"Curly whirly," he snarled at the gargoyle guarding Albus' office, which jumped aside to admit him. As he climbed the stairs, he thought he could see it grinning at him, but that must have been his imagination. Merlin knew he'd been seeing a lot of that expression today.
"Severus, my dear boy, what can I do for – oh." Albus broke off his cheery greeting to stare at him in mild surprise as the irate Potions Master slammed the door behind him and stalked forwards, standing with his arms crossed.
There was a pregnant pause.
"Well," one of the portraits chuckled, "I see that Gilderoy's hairstyle is becoming more popular."
"Shut up," Severus snarled, ignoring the portrait's shocked huffing.
"I must say, Severus, that this is an entirely original style for you."
The younger man growled. "You are behind this."
Albus simply leaned back in his chair, trying very hard not to grin widely. "And what, my dear boy, gave you that impression?"
"At the Quidditch match," Severus spat, "you implied that I should be...kinder to the students."
"Ah?" he repeated angrily. "My hair is an abomination, my students no longer take me seriously-"
"Which I am sure must be a terrible blow."
He forced himself to breathe deeply. "Headmaster, I must ask that you stop this" his lip curled "prank of yours."
"I do not 'prank', Severus." Albus popped a lemon drop onto his tongue and resolutely clamped his mouth around it, the edges of his lips twitching.
"You have charmed my hair to grow like this," he angrily yanked at the locks, which were now shoulder length and corkscrew curly, "whenever I am angry."
Albus looked at the rapidly growing hair with what could only be described as amused fascination. "It is an undeniably useful indicator of your emotional state."
"It is impairing my teaching abilities," Severus snarled, absently noticing that the hair had now reached the small of his back. "I can hardly be expected to keep them from blowing their cauldrons to pieces when all they do is stare at my head!"
"Perhaps you should try a different method of teaching. Anger is counterproductive, in this instance."
"No," he said flatly.
Albus sighed slightly. "I am afraid that you have little choice in the matter."
"Of course I have a choice," Severus snapped. "I choose to demand that you remove the spell."
"That is rather impossible at this moment. It will last until tomorrow morning."
Several portraits tittered in the silence that followed.
"What?" Severus' voice was menacingly calm.
"I considered that it might be necessary to allow you more time to adjust," Albus explained serenely. "I thought that twenty four hours would be a generous enough time-frame for you to discover what was happening and rectify the situation."
Severus stared at him. "Twenty four hours," he sneered. "How utterly fitting."
"Your only hope," Albus said in what was a suspiciously shaky voice as he took in Severus' appearance, "is to attempt to control your anger. I assure you that I cannot break the spell – I made certain, in fact, that it could not be broken." He popped another lemon drop into his mouth. "If you do not mind, Severus, I have rather a lot of work to finish..." he gestured the parchment strewn desk before him.
Not trusting himself to speak and wary of making the situation worse, Severus slammed out of the office...and promptly tripped over what he very much doubted was a stray shoelace, falling headlong down the stairs.
A pair of sickeningly shiny shoes stepped into his vision and he felt a hand helping him to his feet, while a familiar voice babbled blithely. Severus looked up to see Lockhart's golden framed face staring into his, lips pulled wide, and a camera in his free hand.
"...to take a photograph of us," Lockhart was saying. "We look quite the pair, don't we? Now," he said, ignoring Severus' murderous look, "if you would move slightly closer to me, maybe put your arm around my shoulder, imitate my smile, then we can-"
For weeks afterwards, the students who were fortunate enough to be loitering in that particular corridor would remember, with fondness, the way the Lockhart went tumbling to the floor in comically slow motion as he was pushed away from the furious wizard. Billowing black robes mostly obscured by hair to rival Goldilocks was the last they saw of the Potions Master as, with a thump and a loud 'oof', Lockhart landed on his backside, only to scramble to his feet and began chasing his fellow professor down to the dungeons, camera waving wildly in his hand.
What happened after that varied greatly, depending on the source of the rumours.
A/N: And there goes my first attempt at Harry Potter humour. If you liked it, let me know! Thank you for reading.