Summary: Sometimes, there isn't room for a cool, logical decision. Sometimes, you just have to give up on reason and recognize that the best weapon just might be a pot of potatoes.
"Imbeciles. The whole lot of them." Severus muttered threateningly as he heedlessly barged through a group of dawdling first years who were blocking the entrance to the great hall while excitedly recounting some bit of exciting gossip to one another. They flitted aside, falling silent as the potions master charged through. Severus didn't give them a second glance as he swept into the hall, forcing himself to not flinch as he was hit by the wave of sound that emanated from the talkative student body. He glared at the students, all of whom were oblivious to the death wish their potions professor was wishing on them.
Suppressing a sigh, Severus made his way to the staff table. Minerva stopped her conversation with Trelawny mid-sentence and frowned at him as he took the seat next to her.
"Are you alright, Severus?" Her thin eyebrows rose. "I heard about todays' Longbottom incident."
Snape fought the urge to roll his eyes. "Nothing I couldn't handle." He started loading up his plate with anything in reach, ending up with the somewhat unsavory combination of waffles, roast beef, and rice pudding. Shrugging slightly and feeling his eye twitch, he started shoving food into his mouth with as much dignity as his self-control allowed.
"Hungry?" Minerva's tone was light and casual. "Did you take something for your headache already?"
Severus growled, but didn't turn to see the smirk he knew was pointed at him. "Is it that obvious?"
"No. But I know you, Severus."
He nodded slightly, frowning when his eyes scanned the hall and came to rest on one Harry Potter. The boy was pale, glaring down at his plate of untouched food. Severus did roll his eyes then. Potter was a bloody open book. He didn't even need legilimency to realize that the boy was angry. Yet Severus still had to continue to waste time 'teaching' the boy occlumency.
"What did Potter do this time?"
Severus hadn't realized he had been glaring. "Nothing. Yet." He looked back down at his half-eaten plate of food. He was supposed to be giving Potter another occlumency lesson after dinner. He didn't want to. He wanted nothing more than to go back to his chambers with a full stomach, knock back a glass or two of firewhiskey, and pass out. His head was already pounding, and the last thing he needed was to engage in a mental duel—however one-sided it would inevitably be. He would just have to put off the lesson to another night.
A small smirk found its' way to his face as he realized he would get the chance to embarrass Potter in just a few short moments by loudly announcing that 'remedial potions' would be moved to the following evening. With that, the pounding behind his eyeballs lessened just a fraction and he started eating with renewed vigor, ignoring the inquiring look he could feel Minerva throw at him.
At length, Severus pushed aside his plate, satisfied that he couldn't eat any more. His gaze once again wandered over to the Gryffindor table where Potter was still glaring resolutely at the table, though his face was turning a rather deep shade of red and the fist clenched around his fork was trembling. Directly across the table, Weasley was just as red. Severus felt his smirk widen as Potter snapped abruptly at his best friend, baring his teeth and finally looking up at the redhead. Said redhead jumped to his feet, his angry muttering growing louder with each word as he looked down at the other boy.
"Perfect." Snape was almost smiling as he stood up and strode purposely towards the fighting boys. With any luck, he'd catch a few foul words and be able to deduct points from Gryffindor.
"…You're just jealous because I'm the one who won the cup instead of you." Weasley was spouting as Severus approached behind him. Neither boy noticed him standing there.
"All you do is talk about that stupid game! It was weeks ago! We have real problems now, so get over it!"
"So you think you're more important than me, is that it? Poor Harry, he's the bloody boy who lived and he doesn't think quidditch is important now that he can't play it, and everyone else shouldn't think it's important either!"
"Right, because it was so important to you that you just couldn't wait to quit when you were a loser."
Severus smirked at Weasley's back when the boy straightened up even more, shaking and sputtering. He was waiting for what he knew would come.
Sure enough, Weasley couldn't hold his anger in check any better than Potter could clear his mind. The red head scooped up the nearest dish—a kidney pie—and flung it across the table.
Severus froze when the Kidney pie was suddenly sliding down his face, down his neck and onto the front of his robes. The entire hall fell silent. He opened his eyes and glanced from the gaping Potter with his wand still held defensively in front of him, to the wide-eyed Weasley who was splayed on the ground, apparently having ducked to avoid the flying pie.
A few giggles broke out behind him, quickly stifled or masked by coughs. He saw the corner of Potters mouth twitch up as the boy lowered his wand and quickly looked down, biting hard on his lower lip. Weasley remained completely still, not even blinking as he stared up at the glowering potions master.
It was the snort that brought Severus out of his temporary immobility. His eyes snapped back to Potter, who was shaking with silent laughter. Around him, other students were starting to tremble with mirth.
"Potter! Weasley! Detention for the both of you!" Minerva's voice came from somewhere on his right. He bared his teeth, still glaring at Potter. The boy was openly laughing, and something in Severus snapped.
Minerva was fully immersed in her lecture, as Severus scraped a handful of the goop off the front of his robes.
"Throwing food is immature and unacceptable-"
Potter abruptly stopped laughing as the handful of kidney pie exploded on the top of his head. Severus smirked at the shocked look on the boys' face, only to freeze again when he realized that the great hall had once again grown silent.
Somewhere in his head, he knew that all reason had left him. He turned to look at his fellow head of house, mouth already opening to try and excuse his behavior.
It was mashed potatoes this time that smacked the side of his face. With a roar, he whipped around to face Potter, pulling out his wand. The boy was on his feet defiantly, another handful of potatoes at the ready.
Wordlessly, Severus sent the entire contents of the nearest bowl rocketing towards the infuriating little prick. It looked like gravy, and splattered not just on the boy, but the girl next to him—whom he realized a second later was Granger.
Potter wordlessly let loose his handful of potatoes, reaching for another as soon as Severus deflected the first. An undignified yelp came from Minerva, but Severus was too busy staring down Potter to pay much attention. He was side swept by a pork chop. He turned just in time to see Granger cocking back to throw a piece of toast. He sent it back at her, as well as the next glob of potatoes that Potter sent at him. From his right, a turkey leg jumped onto his shoulder and started trying to grind itself into his hair. He let out a startled gasp and turned to glare at Minerva, who was simultaneously trying to pick potatoes out of her ear and bewitch a ham to crawl up his leg. He exploded the ham with a flick of his wand, sending the pieces spraying everyone within reach.
Vaguely aware that the headmistress was squeaking at the top of her lungs, Severus quickly sent a bowl of salad at his rival head of house. She deflected it, showering the neighboring Hufflepuffs with the foliage.
Then, all fell completely still for a few seconds, and Severus glanced between Potter, Granger and Minerva, who had her wand trained on a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.
"Stop this at once! I will not tolerate such behavior in my school!" Umbridge's voice echoed across the hall.
Potter flipped her the bird, and lobbed a handful of meatloaf across the hall as hard as he could. It landed at the Slytherin table, causing a few angry outbursts and swearwords to echo across the still silent hall.
The hall erupted into pandemonium as screaming broke out and every student—as well as most of the staff—turned their dinner into an endless supply of projectile weapons.
Severus sighed, grimacing as another chunk of food fell out of his hair onto the spot of the floor he had just painstakingly scrubbed. He heard grumbling beside him, and turned to Minerva. "This is humiliating."
The older woman just shook her head, frowning at her own patch of floor. "The sooner we get it done, the sooner we get out of here."
Severus rolled his eyes, turning his eyes to the other three members of their cleaning team. Granger was sighing heavily, sweeping up a stubborn pile of macaroni. Weasley was grumbling under his breath as he used a spoon to scrape smashed food out of the cracks between the stones in the floor. Potter, however, was smiling faintly as he deftly and swiftly wiped the remaining half of the Slytherin table, the last of the tables needing cleaning. Every once in a while, he would break down into a silent fit of laughter before resuming his cleaning.
"What exactly is so amusing, Potter?" Severus snapped, glaring at the boy when he broke down into his third laughing fit.
Potter shook his head, glancing at Filch who was lingering in a corner and 'supervising.' "This was so worth it."
Severus growled. The pounding in his head had returned with a vengeance. "Detention, Potter. Every day this week."
"Sorry professor. The Toads' already given me detention every day for the next two weeks."
It took Severus a second to realize that 'The Toad' was Delores Umbridge. He couldn't help a small chuckle. "And you still think it was worth it?"
Potter had moved on from the tables, and had gone to help Hermione with her section of the floor. "Well yeah! Did you see the look on her face when Luna charmed the peas to roll up her nose? Or when Seamus turned her hair into spaghetti? It was bloody brilliant."
Severus snorted, tossing his sponge aside and turned to look at the boy. He was making more progress than everyone else combined. Granger was rubbing her knees tenderly, and Weasley was cursing as the spoon got stuck between the cracks and bent. Minerva was watching him with raised eyebrows as he stood up. He pulled his wand out and with a wave, the great hall was sparkling again.
"You aren't supposed to use magic! The headmistress is going to be very upset-"
Minerva wordlessly stunned the whining man. "We'll modify his memory and no one will be the wiser."
Severus nodded. Potter was smiling even wider, while Granger and Weasley were just looking relieved. "Not a word, understood?"
"Yes Sir." Came the unanimous echo. Potter was still smiling.
"Good. Now, if any of you ever throw a pie at me again you can kiss your sorry ass goodbye. Understood?"
"Good. Now go get cleaned up and get to bed."
Minerva was smirking at him as he turned his attention to the stunned caretaker. "Admit it."
"You had fun."
"I most certainly did not!"
Minerva's smirk widened. "Whatever you say, Severus."
Severus glared at her as she left the hall. He quickly finished up with Filch and revived the man before gratefully slipping down to the dungeons and into his chambers. Only when he had locked the door and was clean and in front of the fire with a glass of firewhiskey did he allow himself to smile. Quiet laughter soon filled the room.