Set: 4th year.
Summary: AU 4th year. In which Voldemort's plans are upset, Severus is annoyed, and Harry has a new career goal. There is also a kitten, because kittens are cool. Written for the 2012 Potions & Snitches Prompt Fest.
Disclaimer: JKR's world, my sillyness.
Prompts: blood-curdling scream, graveyard shift, mentor. I wanted to take angsty-sounding prompts and make them not angsty. Just because I can.
A/N: This is silly. This is your final warning. There will be no further warnings.
Severus had decided that to hell with legalities, there was one student who absolutely needed a tracking charm on him, for the boy's safety and for his own peace of mind. Which was why he was woken up in the middle of the night and dragged out of Hogwarts to track down said idiotic student and retrieve him from his latest death-defying stunt. Apparating to the current location of the charm deposited him in a dark valley just outside a small graveyard. Stone angels of death menaced the night sky and mist was rising, curling with well-orchestrated eeriness around the fence and slinking around the bare, skeletal trees stretching imploring hands to the unfeeling stars.
Severus sneered. Pathetic. Why did the world insist on unnecessary melodrama as if this was some cheesy Hollywood movie? He checked the trace on the tracking spell and chose his direction. The sound of a blood-curdling scream shattering the still night air didn't make him jump or pause, he just sighed quietly and continued on.
He must have looked impressive as he bore down on the small graveyard, striding through the open gate and down the path down the centre of the cemetery, but of course Potter was an insensitive and boorish audience and didn't even have the grace to look up.
"What," Severus demanded, glaring down at him, "are you doing in a graveyard in the middle of the night with a kitten?"
Potter blinked up at him innocently. The kitten took advantage of his distraction to grab hold of the piece of string in his hand and started to shred it. "Cats like it at night."
"That doesn't explain why you are out after curfew."
"She wanted to come out," Potter said patiently.
"It is not the cat's presence I am questioning, but yours."
Potter gave him a shocked look. "I couldn't let Draco go out by herself! Who knows what could happen!"
Severus saw his shocked look and raised him a horrified. "This cat is Mr Malfoy?"
"What? No! Who do you take me for, Moody? There are way better ways of messing with someone's head than transfiguring them, ways that don't involve you getting in trouble with the Ministry or – more importantly – McGonagall. Look, Draco sounds like a snake. Listen! Draco, speak!"
The cat looked up from its shredded string and hissed. It did sound remarkably snake-like, Severus had to (silently) admit.
"And 'draco' is Latin for 'snake'. So I called her Draco. There's no rule against it, I got Hermione to check. And if it confuses Malfoy, well, that's just a bonus."
It was safer for his sanity not to press the issue. Severus worked his way down a mental checklist. "I heard a scream."
"Oh, that was me. Draco bit me."
"The cat has some sense, then. Far more than you. Really, Mr Potter, do you expect me to believe that?"
"Well, okay, it was someone else Draco bit."
"Fine! You know I'm connected to Voldemort's mind, right?"
"And his sanity has been steadily decreasing as a result – not particularly reassuring as it was never high to start with."
"Yeah, well, you joined him, so what does that say about you?"
"That I was young and stupid, although never so young and stupid as you. What does your connection to the Dark Lord have to do with anything?"
"Well... I was in his head, right?"
"Thus contributing to your own rapid descent into insanity, one presumes."
"And I could see what his plans were. He's not exactly subtle, you know. You should have figured it out."
"Maybe I would have had I been in any contact with him in the past thirteen years. Having not done so, it was somewhat difficult."
Potter waved this aside as a pathetic excuse. "So anyway, his plan was to do some gross ritual that involved capturing me in a horribly elaborate trap that any half decent school would have been able to guard against—"
"Take it up with Dumbledore."
"—and then use my blood along with his dad's bones to do some creepy resurrection thing. Seriously, has he been watching too many B-grade horror movies?"
"I fail to see what any of this has to do with screams."
"Oh, that. Well, he sent Pettigrew along to grab the bones."
"Ah. I presume you got there first."
"I always thought it was supposed to be dogs that liked bones. Maybe Draco is a dog in disguise."
They looked down at the kitten, which was licking itself in an unmentionable place, one tiny leg raised delicately over its head. Feeling their gazes on it, it looked up and hissed inquisitively.
"It would have to be a very small dog," Severus said finally.
"Yeah... Anyway, the scream was probably Pettigrew realising he'd have to go back to Voldemort empty handed. That or it was when he tripped over Draco, who was just swallowing the last bone – seriously, is it healthy for cats to swallow bones whole? – because that was when he saw Draco for the first time. I don't know when you got here. Did you know Pettigrew had a phobia about cats? I never knew. Maybe that's why he went dark side, because he can't stand McGonagall. Can you imagine that? Being taught by your worst nightmare." He looked up at Severus. "Wait, sorry, that's what you do, be people's worst nightmare."
"Sadly," Severus said, "not your worst nightmare."
Potter had the cheek to grin. "Nah. I've seen worse than you."
Severus reflected that that was unfortunately true. It was hard for a mere Potions Professor to measure up to a psychotic Dark Lord and a sugar-high Leader of the Light. Normal childhood horrors like Dementors and Minerva on the warpath he might have been able to compete with, but in this case he was completely outclassed.
"Very well, we have explained screams," he ticked them off on his fingers, "and why you are out after curfew and out of school grounds, not to mention why the cat is called what it is." Potter looked at him expectantly. "Can you please explain to me why you acquired a kitten, of all things." A sickeningly cute white kitten with wide blue eyes, no less.
Potter grinned. "I figured I was going to be taking Voldemort out of the running soon and that would leave a space in the bad guys' ranks. So maybe I'll have a shot at the top job. Think about it! I've got the black hair, so that's a good start. If I get some coloured contact lenses, try staying out of the sun to get interestingly pale, I could so have a great bad guy vibe going. Then with a fluffy white cat – once Draco grows up – to pet slowly and menacingly while I laugh down at my victims, I'll be the perfect villain!"
"Should not such a cat have long hair?" Snape enquired.
"She will! When she's older."
Severus looked at the cat. It was definitely a short hair.
Potter looked too. Doubt crept over his features. "Can you get wigs for cats?"
"I doubt it."
"Never mind, Hermione'll find a spell. And then I'll be a bad guy! With a fluffy white cat! It'll be great! Dumbledore and I can duke it out." He beamed, clearly very pleased with his plans for the future.
Severus pinched his nose. "Most children, when asked about future career plans, do not include a desire to become a villain."
"I'm not most children."
"No. You are insane. However, you are still a child and whatever your goals you will now return to Hogwarts." Taking the boy's ear between thumb and forefinger, he led him out of the graveyard. Potter protested in yelps the whole way but followed lest he should be parted from his ear. The kitten pranced along behind them as if it was a great game and tried to catch the hem of Severus's cloak with its claws.
Severus let go once they were outside the gate and Potter was sufficiently subdued not to go running off.
"Bully," Potter grumbled, rubbing his ear.
"Always," Severus said. "Are you taking notes?"
Potter brightened immediately. "Does that mean you'll help me with my campaign?"
"Sadly, as a teacher I am supposed to assist all students in attaining career goals."
Potter gave him a sly look. "Not this one, I bet."
"You will be no worse than the current Dark Lord, and at least your plans are more interesting. You already have the requisite insanity for the job: I can think of worse career paths for you. Besides, it will annoy Dumbledore. I'll do it just for that."
"Great!" Potter said excitedly. "When do we start?"
"This evening," Severus said. "At your detention at seven o'clock."
"For being out after curfew, for leaving school grounds without permission, and," he looked down at his boots, "for that fact that your cat is spreading white hairs all over my robes."
"That's so unfair," Potter grumbled.
Severus allowed himself a smirk. "Watch and learn, Potter. Watch and learn."
After all, grooming the next Dark Lord to take his place as ruler of the world would ensure Severus a high position under Potter's rule. It was always a good idea to plan ahead.