Author Notes: Hello to everyone! This is something else that had been sitting in my folder for a while now. It seems de rigueur for fanfic writers of Severus Snape to touch on the subject of his greasy hair at least once, so here is my contribution, as horribly cliche as it may be. The timing can be anywhere in the first 3 books, but there is a tiny spoiler for Book 6 - see if you can spot what that is!
Summary: Severus Snape's peaceful afternoon is interrupted but it does not follow that the interruption must be unwelcome. AlbusxSeverus friendship.
Appreciation: Thank you to The Half Mad Muggle whose beautiful writing opened my eyes to the special relationship between Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. I hope you are well and that you enjoy reading this.
Rating: 'T' (although K would still be fine)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the brainchild of JK Rowlings.
- Story Start -
"There you are, my boy."
Severus raised his eyes from the magazine he was reading and saw the familiar head in the fireplace.
"I take it you have some free time now?"
The congenial tone made a dark eyebrow lift, thin fingers tightening their grip on the magazine.
"That would depend on what use you have of it, Albus."
"Well, I just thought that - ah, do step through, dear boy. My knees are berating me as I speak."
Albus smiled at the long suffering sigh and withdrew his head. He got up while stifling a groan and moved to one side.
Less than fifteen seconds later, the flames turned emerald again. Severus stepped into the Headmaster's office with a carefully crafted look of exasperation on his face.
"What is it, Albus? I brewed a large batch of Skele-Gro for Poppy this morning and plan to catch up on my own research this afternoon."
Albus had been prepared for any number of excuses, hence the just as carefully crafted look of solemnity on his face.
"I need you to accompany me on a short trip, Severus. It shouldn't take more than an hour of your time."
Severus frowned, wondering what the catch was. He could spare an hour certainly, seeing as it was Sunday, but he had planned on having the rest of the day to himself. Besides, Albus being vague was never a good sign.
"Why do you need me?" he asked at last.
Albus stepped up to him and held his arm.
"To help me carry my things, of course," he said with a smile and a twinkle. "Deep breath, dear boy."
On the verge of protesting, Severus filled his lungs with air instead. Albus rarely used his Headmaster privilege, but Severus had experienced them before.
They Disapparated out of Hogwarts a second later.
- o -
"What the - Albus, where the hell are we?" Severus demanded, looking around the back alley he was standing in.
"Come along now," Albus said briskly and tugged at the arm still in his grip. He pulled the puzzled Potions Master who was still taking in his surroundings, to the end of the alley and out into bright afternoon sunshine.
"Wait - Albus, where are we?"
"A very small Muggle town where nobody knows our name or what we are."
"Precisely. Now, come along. I promised I wouldn't take up more than an hour of your time, but if you persist in dawdling -"
"I am not dawdling!"
"... or looking around -"
"I just want to get my bearings!"
"... or dragging your feet -"
"I am just being -"
Severus snapped his mouth shut when a door was pushed open and he was pulled into the cool, air conditioned interior of a shop. The sound of a small bell tinkling overhead, the mingled floral scents and the row of identical black vinyl covered chairs facing a long mirror on the wall made him blanch.
It had been many, many years since he had stepped inside such an establishment with his mother, but he knew what this place was at once.
- o -
A Muggle hair saloon, deserted except for the two young girls in attendance. Of course. He should have known.
Lips pressed in a thin line of disapproval, Severus sat in one of the aforementioned vinyl chairs. He ignored the pile of outdated, dog eared female magazines on the small glass shelf in front of him in favour of glaring at the reflection of the nervous girl behind him.
He was still here only because he didn't want to break the Statute of Secrecy by hexing Albus to bits and then storming out and Apparating back to Hogwarts. It was not because of the threat - spoken sotto voce into his ear - that his behind would be adhered to the chair by a sticking charm if he decided to leave before Albus was through torturing him.
"You told me you wanted me to help carry your things," Severus bit out to the old wizard in the chair next to his, each word forced out through clenched teeth.
Albus nodded and smiled as he leafed through a haircare magazine.
"So I did," he agreed. "Well then, I shall purchase a bottle of shampoo afterwards and you shall carry it for me."
Severus dug all ten fingernails into the vinyl covered armrests, cheeks turning a dull red and vein throbbing in his temple.
"Relax, dear boy. A good shampoo job never hurt anyone."
"I do shampoo, it is just that -"
"I know, I know, the damp air of the dungeons combined with the steam from your brewing," Albus said, waving an airy hand before turning to the shampoo girl.
"Go ahead, my dear. Don't mind his bark. I promised I would get him back within the hour and we have already lost ten minutes arguing."
"I was not arguing!" Severus growled, but a raised white eyebrow had him snapping his mouth shut again. He was going to alter the old coot's next batch of lemon drops, see if he didn't.
Nostrils flaring, he resumed glaring at the reflection of the girl behind him. He had planned on washing his hair after brewing Skele-Gro - it smelled worse than it tasted - but when he entered his quarters, he saw that the latest Potions Monthly had arrived and he was just going to take a quick look...
The girl behind him ignored the scowling face in the mirror as best she could, nervous gaze skittering away as she smeared a generous amount of lemon scented shampoo onto his hair and added water from a squeeze bottle. She worked up a lather, but her movements became slower and jerkier under that black, stony eyed glare until they stilled completely.
"Severus, do stop glaring at the poor girl."
"She is not doing a proper job!" Severus snapped. He couldn't stand her tickling, tentative fingertips, the resultant itch on his already itchy scalp was driving him mad!
Albus closed his magazine and gave a long suffering sigh which Severus thought should be his privilege and his alone.
"I'm sorry, my dear," the older wizard apologised to the nervous girl. "Perhaps you should turn over the task to me."
She jerked her fingers out of Severus' hair at once and turned a half relieved, half apologetic smile on Albus.
"You - you don't mind?" she said, already backing away. "We'll give you a discount..."
"Not at all," Albus smiled at her before getting up. He went to stand behind Severus, cracking his knuckles in anticipation.
Ignoring the burning glare in the mirror before him, and the way those long thin fingers clenched even harder on the padded armrests, Albus happily dug all eight fingers and two thumbs into the sudsy tresses of his Potions Master. He had been waiting for this opportunity for ages!
A minute of absolute silence went by with the two girls staying at the counter, their wide eyed gazes switching from the two men to the door and back again. They were without doubt the strangest customers they had ever encountered since working here; theatre folk judging from their eccentric mode of dressing.
Severus continued to sit ramrod straight in his chair, narrowed eyes never wavering from the humming wizard shampooing his hair. Then he cast a wandless Mufliato and lifted an eyebrow.
"You do realise I'm going to Obliviate everyone in here, don't you?" he said in the voice that had been known to make many a seventh year wet his pants.
The twinkle in Albus' eyes grew brighter.
"My dear boy, I would be disappointed if you didn't attempt at least that much."
That remark didn't deserve a reply and none was given.
Another minute of silence ensued. The girls quickly flipped the Open sign to Closed when they saw a woman crossing the road, looking as if she was making straight for the saloon. Albus nodded and beamed at them and decided their quick thinking deserved a larger tip than the one he had planned.
Turning back to his reluctant customer, he was just in time to see the tense shoulders sag and the stained fingers on the armrests uncurl, hands slowly coming to rest clasped together in the same lap. Then the black eyes blinked.
"A - a little to the left, above my left ear."
Albus held back his grin. He didn't say a word, but his left hand moved to the spot in question, seeing the thin lips part in a sigh of pleasure as he scratched at that area.
My dear Severus, I do believe I am going to make this a weekly ritual.
That one dark eyebrow had lowered itself, but it arched once more upon seeing a suspicious twinkle in the bright blue eyes in the mirror.
"I hope you are not thinking of making this a regular event, Headmaster."
"Why, Severus," Albus replied, fingernails going over every inch of Severus' scalp in a most satisfying manner, "do you really think the Headmaster of a Wizarding school has nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon?"
Severus sighed and foresaw himself becoming even more proficient at Obliviate than he already was. He shifted a couple of inches lower in the rather comfortable chair and withdrew his copy of Potions Monthly from his robe pocket.
He was a man who chose his battles and after all, there were far worse ways to spend one's Sunday afternoon.
- Story End -
A/N: Yes, the summary holds a mangled version of what Eliza Bennet said to Colonel Wickam in Pride & Prejudice, one of my favorite books of all time. Thank you for reading and please review!