Title: Advent
Author: Alcina vom Steinsberg
Pairing: Minerva McGonagall/Severus Snape
Rating: G
Genre: General
Word count: ~750
Warnings: none
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling
Summary: Not everybody likes Christmas cheer
Notes: This small vignette was written for a German fanfic advent calendar three years ago. You'll find the original here under "Momentaufnahmen".
Translating your own stuff isn't any easier than translating anybody else's, and I'm most grateful to therealsnape for her fast, much-needed and and excellent Beta work to make this readable. You are awesome!


Alcina vom Steinsberg

His customary grim look firmly in place, Severus Snape entered the Great Hall and took his habitual seat. Ignoring his colleagues as usual, he reached for the teapot, placed strategically in front of his place, and poured himself a large mug of the steaming, fragrant beverage. While the delicious flavour improved his mood with the tiniest of steps, he pondered the iniquities of life, like every morning.

Having to earn his living as a teacher – accepted. Not what he would have chosen, but he could live with it. He could also – no, had to - live with the consequences of the blatantly wrong decision of his younger self, influencing his life until this very day. Not that he liked it, but there you are. Few enough opportunities existed for a Potions Master with such a dubious past, so he really was thankful for his teaching job, steady income and all. Children weren't his cup of tea, but at least he could vent his ill humour on them. And he wasn't too bad a teacher after all, not with so many good, no, make that excellent grades among his students...

But why, oh why was it beyond Dumbledore's intellectual and emotional capacity to realise the enormity of the ordeal for Severus, to be present at breakfast every morning, getting up at an unearthly hour and being forced to interact with the lesser of the human species?

A second cup of this most delicious brew gave him no more enlightenment than on all the previous days.

Wasn't Dumbledore said to be a wizard of extraordinary power of observation, who could read from the smallest of signs? Severus snorted and poured himself a third cup. These alleged powers didn't extend to his own sorry self, that much was clear.

His colleagues, at least, had learnt soon enough to leave him be until the mid-morning break. For their own sake, they even went out of their way for him and always made sure to have a pot with his favourite tea placed just in front of his seat. A service he really appreciated, though it was unthinkable of to say so that early, and when he was back to his less grumpy self, he forgot about it.

Days like this, though, were the height of intolerability. Severus poured himself another cup. Not as worse as Valentine's day, certainly, but coming close. As every year, this first Advent Sunday marked the beginning of the most atrocious time at the school.

All of Hogwarts was decked out in a garish décor of hysterical joyfulness, and everybody wore a silly smile and hummed some tacky melody or other. Every single hall and room was sparkling and glittering and had the tart smell of resin, and on every single table, candles were burning. RED candles. Pshaw!

His cup empty once again, he contemplated his teapot. Was another cup worth enduring the whole rigmarole for some additional five minutes?

His eyebrows rose indignantly when a hand appeared in his field of vision. A hand sticking out of a tartan sleeve.

She wouldn't dare, would she now? From HIS very own sacrosanct teapot?

Severus flared up, a nasty comment on the lips, meeting Minerva's glance. A very pinched glance in a surprisingly pale face.

"May I?" she asked miserably, glancing at his teapot.

Caught by surprise, Severus nodded and poured her a cup himself. What was wrong with the Deputy Headmistress? She always looked more or less stern, even at mealtime. He never had seen her like this before. His bad temper and resentment were forgotten.

"Are you all right?" he asked quietly.

Warily, she shook her head. "No. I have the Headache of Hell, and this ineffable Christmas clobber drives me crazy."

Severus was dumbfounded. Never in his life would he have believed that he wasn't the only one in dislike of Dumbledore's celebration and decoration mania... and McGonagall of all people! She who never could find any fault with His Garishness!

After another scrutinizing gaze, he fished something out of his pocket and pushed it in her hand.

"Here, take this."

She looked up, taken aback. "What's that?"

"A strong headache potion. Not for regular use, but fast and efficient. Five drops in your tea."

She complied gratefully and, after having drained her cup, gave a relieved sigh.

"Amazing, it's just gone. Thank you, Severus."

The tiniest of smiles, unusual on his dour features, spread over Severus's face.

"You're welcome."