The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Disclaimer:  Anything you recognize, however abused, is J.K. Rowling's fabulous doing.  What happens from there is all our fault, from which we intend no profit or fame or anything like that.

Why do they make chocolate chip cookie bags resealable, anyway?  It's not as if you need to open them twice.

˜v˜Jinx˜v˜ and rabbit

                                        If  Ewe are Prepared....

          At a quarter to four in the morning, Professor Severus Snape stood glaring down at a hole smashed through a door in the Slytherin boys' dormitory.  In one hand he held his wand ready.  In the other hand he clutched one curling horn of a terrier-sized ram, which was struggling noisily and sporadically emitting cotton puffs from its nether end. 

          Snape had not yet gotten to bed, which was the only thing likely to save those culpable from Mediaeval torture.

          That, and Albus had expressly forbidden such.

          Pity.  He was just  in the mood. 

          Snape had spent much of this miserable Friday night enduring Minerva McGonagall's supposedly hilarious and regrettably accurate recountings of how five  of his Slytherins had been caught out in the sheep paddock, desperately trying to abduct an animal in hopes of passing their Transfigurations exam.

          It had been a very long night.

          The lamb chop dinner hadn't helped. 

          It brought back … unfortunate memories.

          Eventually Snape had stalked off to his dungeons, there to soothe his nerves over a steaming cauldron and a well-used cutting board. 

          It had taken awhile.  Poppy would be thrilled to discover the infirmary stores fully restocked for the next three months.

          Idiot boys! 

          And they'd gotten caught.

          Dragon and all of it.

          And then Minerva  had possessed the utter gall to suggest that if he hadn't managed to kill every last rumor concerning his own  scholastic sheep-rustling, the current offenders would never have had the guts to try such a harebrained scheme....

          They should not have attempted it in the first place –

          From within the dormitory room came a lengthy crash, followed by shrill bleating and angry discussion, and then another magnificent crash.

          Muscles working in his jaw, Snape adjusted his grip on his wand and rapped smartly on the door.  "All right in there, Gentlemen?"

          He distinctly heard someone use an expletive.

          "Just fine, Sir!" came Tarantino's cheerful voice. 

          Snape highly doubted that, particularly coming from the leader of this hapless band of miscreants.  "I see.  Would you then --  "

          A quick series of thuds drowned him out, followed by the sound of impressively splintering wood; from within the room Rodriguez hollered, "Help!"

          Snape tapped the door with his wand, banging it open, and strode into the room, into...  a cloud of bees?  He had a countercurse ready on his lips before he realized he was being swarmed by very tiny, chubby... sheeplets...  with iridescent butterfly wings.

          "What in  -- ?" he exclaimed, as one of them hovered near his nose.

          "They're butterfleece, sir," said Tarantino, and then shrugged in nervous apology.  "They sang a little song, when they first got loose," he muttered. 

          The tiny creatures settled onto Snape like snow, some of them sliding off his hair to join their fellows on his shoulders, where they commenced gnawing his cloak. 

          Absolutely not!   Savagely the Potions Master cast a grounding spell, sending the winged things tumbling to the flagstones.

          Flagstones.  No carpet.  Snape looked around and spotted the inevitable bedslipper sheep.  Burton was attempting to bundle them up in a fleece blanket, and currently had one thoughtfully munching his pyjama sleeve, which had been partially torn loose.

          "All right there, Burton?" Snape asked, his tone indicating that there wasn't a hope.

          The boy looked up from under tangled black hair.  "Bit of bother, Sir," he said lamely.

          "So I see."  Snape inspected the ruins of the room.   




          [Insert destruction here.] 




          A ruptured piñata of a golden sheep with wings hung askew in the middle of the room, still spilling forth an occasional butterfleece.  Now how would you make that singular?  Or is that the singular, the plural then being "butterflock?"  I need some sleep!   They had to be the work of Rodriguez's cousin, a hopeless sentimentalist given to drawing unicorns on her spellbooks.

          A huffing, nearly-round sheep the size of a spaniel backed into Snape's leg, earning his baleful attention.  He charmed it to sleep, and trailed his stormy gaze along the tattered scarf hanging from the animal's gaping mouth;  attached to the other end of the garment were two white-knuckled hands, protruding from beneath a half-collapsed bed.  "Thank you, Sir," gasped Hardy, crawling stiffly out from the wreckage. Very carefully the boy pulled his scarf out of the snoring sheep's mouth.

          "That will need repairing, Mr. Hardy," Snape told him coldly.

          "Yes, Sir," Hardy sighed, wiggling his fingers through some of the larger holes.

          "And where is Mr. Wise?" Snape asked, surveying the gamboling herds.

          "Up here, sir," came the reply, and Snape raised his wand defensively before turning and looking up to discover Wise entangled by a number of sheep balloons and bound fast to the rafters.

          I wondered where the pillows had got to.

          With a frown that hid a sigh, Snape aimed two quick spells, freeing the bound boy and bringing him down to a soft landing upon the now grounded and bumbling sheep balloons, which began sampling bites of Wise's hair and pyjamas. 

          "Thank you, Sir!  I --  "

          "I don't want to hear it," snapped the Potions Master, bringing the piñata down as well and summarily grounding every other bit of wool he saw floating or fluttering past. 

          This done, he drew himself up and glared down at his hapless students.  "In fact, there is entirely too much noise coming from this room," he continued, darkly. 

          "We can't get them to shut up!" protested Burton, who was promptly kicked by Hardy.  "Ow!  We tried!"

          "Not hard enough," Snape informed him.

          "Sorry, Sir," ventured Tarantino, hastily replacing rather gnawed-looking glasses onto his nose.  "We --  "

          "You have lost track of  your...  possessions," Snape declared, and held forth the ram he had brought with him.  It bleated unhappily at the sudden motion, and ejected several more cotton puffs from its rump. 

          Several groans and aborted curses met this display, as the boys went very still and waited for the worst.  The absolute worst.  With salt ground into the wounds, to follow.

          Snape glowered at them, and rummaging in his pockets, traded his wand for an egg, elaborately carved from bone.  Dusting a small space clear of sheep, he set this item on the floor, where it quickly increased to the size of a pumpkin and split open round the middle.  Another, smaller egg hopped forth, repeating the process, and in a few moments a dozen eggs sat in a neat row, their carvings deepening and becoming more detailed.

          "Cave Canem," said Snape, and the eggs squirmed and stretched to become alert Border Collies, the largest no bigger than a breadbox, the smallest only the size of  a thimble.  They looked expectantly at Snape, wagging their tails. The Potions Master chirruped at them, and set them racing round the room to briskly collect the various sheep into neat flocks.

          "We could have used those three hours ago," marvelled Wise, straightening his well-chewed schoolrobes.

          "We could have used divine intervention, three hours ago," grumbled Hardy.

          Snape glared down his nose at the boy, then turned the same cold look upon his comrades.  "Are you in need of transport to St. Mungo's?" he icily asked the company. 

          Various abashed refusals greeted this query.

          "I see.  Do you wish to go see Madame Pomfrey?"  The Potions Master raked his gaze over the boys, taking note of gnawed clothing, missing tufts of hair, and an overall coating of lint.

          The students hastily shook their heads and declined, flushing red at the prospect.  Snape allowed them half a smile, which somehow managed to be the shadowy half.  "I see.  Then I think divine intervention might have proven excessive," he said drily. 

          He looked down at his dogs, busy keeping their flocks in order, and chirruped again for their attention.  "Bring them onto the landing," he commanded.  The dogs barked eagerly and chivvied their charges out of the room, neatly cornering them against the stairs.  "Stay," Snape directed this assembly, pulling the door closed to muffle the nervous baaing.

          "I trust," Snape drawled into the sudden gaping hush, "that you have noticed the rather sizable hole now apparent in your room's door."

          The boys looked at the damage, Hardy and Wise nodding slowly, Rodriguez offering a bewildered shrug, Burton avoiding eye contact and Tarantino --  Shades of Lucius Malfoy --  daring to look innocent.

          "Idiots!"  Snape lashed out at them.  "You should at least  have thought to corner the battering ram first!"  He waved the offending creature at them, eliciting more cotton puffs.  With a growl, he turned and pushed it through the gap in the door, leaving it to the dogs' supervision.  "Instead," he gritted, "it has had the run of the tower, and I have had the distinct displeasure of being disturbed by its insipid bleating as it butted its horns against my  door...  which, fortunately for you, is reinforced."

          He glared at his students, who looked duly alarmed but were trying not to laugh.  With a scowl, he retrieved his wand from its pocket and illuminated the tip, casting most unflattering light upon the wrecked room.

          "Clean up this mess!" he barked.

          "Pardon me, Sir," said Wise quietly, "but we've got detention at seven --  "

          "Then you'd best be quick about it!"

          "But --  the beds --  "  Wise gestured at the nearest one, which was folded into a neat "v."

          Snape folded his arms and cocked his head consideringly.  "I was under the impression that you were wizards, gentlemen.  I understood that to be the prerequisite for admission into Hogwarts."  When no one addressed this, he went on through gritted teeth, "Unfortunately, it appears that having brains in your head, and the ability to use them, are not."   He glared at his students, challenging, "Unless, of course, I am mistaken --  ?"

          "We'll get this cleaned up, Sir," Tarantino assured him, giving his confederates a look that implored acquiescence.  General nodding answered his pleading gaze.

          "Without further incident," Snape warned.  "If you are truly incapable of breaking a spell, leave it for me to deal with in the morning."   

          Snape spun on his heel and suddenly lunged sideways, fast as a lizard, reaching up to tap his wand against a bit of quartz resting atop a high shelf.  "Lumos solem!" he said sharply, casting the spell into the crude scrying prism he had spied earlier.

          Caterwauls of  pain were clearly audible from two floors above.  Snape recognized them as the expected culprits, Slytherin's supposed criminal masterminds:  Lee, Price, Rickman, McKellen, Spacey, all the usual suspects....

          Snape collected the scrying prism and held it up for the Fourth Years' inspection.  They looked insulted, but also relieved as they realized others were also going to suffer their Head of House's displeasure.  "Another thing you should have attended to immediately," Snape informed them, pocketing the stone.

          They looked as if they actually might respond, but Snape was not interested in should-haves or could-haves, particularly not at four in the morning.  "Get to work!" he snapped, and flung the door open.

          Stepping carefully through the milling sheep, he collected the battering ram and chirruped to the dogs, "Up!"

          To the sheep, using his full command voice, he said, "Go on, find your masters!"

          There was a general rush up the stairs, like a frothing waterfall in reverse, accented by leaping collies.

          Snape strode through the muddle, leading the way up to the Sixth Years' rooms and following the sounds of discomfort and dismay.  Throwing open Price's door, he entered the kingdom of the blind, where he certainly reigned supreme.  "Good morning, Gentlemen," he said harshly, "and Ladies," he added, catching sight of Hayek, Huston and Weaver rubbing their eyes.  "I don't believe these dormitory rooms are co-educational?"

          "Studying, Sir," offered Price, blinking back tears of pain.

          "I'm well aware of that, Mr. Price, as well as the subject of your study," Snape grated.  "Both are inappropriate."  He glanced round at the miscreants now scrubbing at sore eyes.  When a simple tincture of brighteye and moonflower petals would soothe them in an instant.  "Dear, dear, you all look so dreadfully weary," he said with terrible false sympathy.  "Pity.  You've a great deal of work ahead of you before you sleep tonight." 

          Those able to look at him did so with misgiving and dismay.

          Snape waited in ominous silence until the first wave of sheep arrived, and the creatures began trotting obediently to their masters and mistresses.  "You will start," he directed the blinking students, raising his voice over the happy bleating, "by transforming, transfiguring, de-hexing and otherwise completely restoring those items you have affected this evening."

          They accepted this, with fairly good grace.  It shouldn't take long.

          Snape held up the ram.  More cotton fell.

          "You should be aware, since you were surveying your handiwork, that at least one of your creations escaped, spreading the damage throughout our tower."

          His eyes glinted like a hawk's.  "You are all in deep... deep... cotton."

          Rickman laughed.  Alone.

          The rest cared a bit more for their personal safety, and looked appropriately apprehensive.

          "Therefore, when you have completed your spellwork and duly prepared all the items for return to their rightful owners, you will begin scrubbing the tower's common areas."  Quick commands brought brimming buckets and brushes floating up the stairs, to settle expectantly near the wrongdoers.  "I don't expect any of you will pass the pleasant day you had envisioned in Hogsmeade, as this endeavor will occupy most of the weekend."  He glared at the group, daring them to groan or comment. 

           "Proceed," he ordered sharply, and signalled the dogs into the corridor, tossing the ram onto the nearest bed as he strode from the room, closing the door firmly behind him.  An instant later the battering ram slammed into it. 

          Snape smiled and  waved his wand over the dogs, returning them to their quiescent state.  Pocketing the egg, he listened as squeals and shouts of dismay came from the dorm room.

          "Grab it!  No, grab the --  you've got it all wrong --  watch the teeth!"

          "They're everywhere!"

          "It is actually eating my sweater.  Do you know how unacceptable that is?"

          "This whole situation is unacceptable!"

          "Excuse me, whose idea was all of  this, Spacey?  Oh, that's right, it was yours."

          Snape filed that information away for later use.

          "Oh, no.  Have you looked at these buckets?"

          "There're sheep in them, right?"

          "Well, yes, but...  they're not potions at all, they're...  I think they're just water and vinegar!"

          "You're joking.  We're to clean the whole tower with that?"

          Oh, indeed.  Snape grinned, and tapped his wand against the stairwell's wall, murmuring a complicated hex, before making his weary way down the stairs towards his dungeon rooms.  As he descended, a kind of dense shadow spread along the walls in his wake, covering the stones with grease and ash which nothing but arduous scrubbing would remove.

          Pausing in the common room, he charged the Bloody Baron to supervise all clean-up efforts, and retired to his rooms, looking forward to two hours' rest before the Detention Breakfast, and then to a relaxing, peaceful Saturday all around.



          ... Just as soon as they caught the battering ram ....