Disclaimer: I don't own any of it. All rights belong to J. K. Rowling and her publishers.
Severus sat down wearily in his comfortable chair in front of the hearth. He was so tired. He should start reading the sixth-years' essays that were waiting on the coffee table for him, but he laid his head back and closed his eyes for a bit. Soon he heard the welcome sound of a house-elf popping into the room, the clincking of a tea- tray being set on the table.
"Thanks, Pisa," he said to the elf, as he opened his eyes and reached for the tea. As always, he idly wondered whether her first owner was Italian. For some reason, he never got up to asking her.
"Pi..," He got interrupted by a knock on the door. Severus groaned silently, couldn't they leave him in peace for just one night? He dismissed the elf absentmindedly and got up and opened the door.
"Yes, Mr. Mcleod?" He looked the sixth-year prefect over. No carefully blank face, or tremors in his hands, so the reason he was standing in front of his door at half past 11 o'clock in the evening was not disastrous. Yet.
Quintus Mcleod adressed his Head of House, carefully refusing to make eye-contact, without looking shifty. Looking shifty in front of Severus Snape was a Very Bad Idea.
"Miss Maris is having trouble in the girls' bathroom, sir," he said.
"Is that trouble or Trouble, Mr. Mcleod?" Somehow, Severus managed to convey the capital in the second trouble without any effort. Quintus took a moment to admire that fact before answering.
"No idea, sir. She's locked herself in and refuses to speak to anybody. According to her friends she's been there for the past three hours." Severus closed his eyes for a minute. Miss Maris, oldest daughter of a very aristocratic pure-blood family, was at this moment 12 years old and the school year had started only a couple of weeks ago. Severus had a pretty good idea what would be the problem. Inwardly he cursed those pureblood parents who believed raising their children was a waste of their time.
"Give me a minute, Mr. Mcleod," Snape sighed and half-closed the door. He went to his desk and opened the first drawer. In it was a beautiful clock, with words like 'catch wayward S.', 'comfort homesick S.' and 'get S. out of Trouble' instead of numbers. A couple of years ago, Severus had gone to visit the Weasley family and seen their family clock on the wall. Every family member had a clock-hand pointing to words like 'at home', 'at work' or 'in peril'. Of course, it was impossible to put as many clock-hands as there were Slytherins on the clock so he'd adapted the idea. His clock had only one clock-hand, and at the moment it pointed at 'give S. the Talk' Severus groaned inwardly, closed the drawer and followed the boy back to the Slytherin Common Room.
There were still three seventh-year boys draped over the couches and chairs in various stadia of tiredness. One well-placed scowl and a 'Bed, now' solved that problem nicely. Snape entered the girls hallway and took the stairs to the second years' hall. At the end of it a gaggle of four second-year girls was standing outside the bathroom door, looking anxious and apparently trying to get 'Patty' to come out.
"Could one of you please tell me what happened?" He asked the girls, who looked up at him with hopeful faces.
"We don't know, Professor," one said. The girl looked ready to burst out in tears. Snape hurriedly looked at the others, hoping to prevent any waterworks from breaking out that way.
"We were getting ready to go to bed, and Patty went to the bathroom and then she just locked herself in and she won't come out again!" Another girl, this one a bit calmer said. "We didn't know what to do, so we asked prefect Mcleod, who tried to talk her out, but she wouldn't even answer him." Yet another girl said this in an aggrieved tone. She obviously believed miss Maris should have jumped to obey the Prefect. Snape made a mental note to talk to her about the merit of a healthy distrust of authority. She was Slytherin, for Merlin's sake, any authority figure, except for Snape himself of course, was to be treated with healthy dose of scepsis.
"After half an hour, he decided to get you." The girl ended her tale.
Inwardly Severus cursed Mcleod. The girls should have gone to Tabitha Merrick, the female prefect of Slytherin. But, no, somehow they managed to ask the only male in Slytherin, who didn't have a clue what it could be, and who wouldn't even think to ask his female counterpart for help. Mcleods family were beyond conservative, they believed in total separation of the sexes, with the womenfolk living in a separate wing. Severus secretly believed the boys' parents had managed to procreate without even touching each other.
"Has she said anything? Did she look a bit off the weather these past days?" He asked the girls.
"Yes, she's been complaining about stomach ache," a shy girl in the back said quietly. Mcleod suddenly looked uneasy, apparently he was now being hit by the clue train. Broadside. Not even a childhood of brainwashing by his prudish family was a match for the formidable power that was Poppy Pomfrey's Sexual Education Lessons. Even now, Snape remembered his embarrassment at seeing those very detailed diagrams being projected on the Infirmary wall. Unfortunately, Sex Ed was only given in third year.
"Uh, I'm sorry sir, I didn't have any idea. Shall I get Tabitha?" Mcleod started blabbing, all the while turning an unbecoming red in the face.
The girls looked in hopeful confusion at Severus. He sighed. He always was a sucker for puppy-dog eyes, at least, if those puppy-dog eyes came from four little girls of his own house. Besides if he backed out now, it would be known to the whole House by evening tomorrow. He made that mistake the first year he taught at Hogwarts, and paid dearly for it. The Slytherin girls had been sniggering behind his back for months.
Now, after fifteen years being Head of Slytherin House, Severus prided himself in being able to handle everything teenagers could possibly throw at him.
"No, Mr. Mcleod, let her sleep, I'll handle this. Please make sure miss Maris' friends get into their beds."
Like a veteran going into battle, Severus started checking the most secret pocket of his robe for the necessary armament. If someone had told him twenty years ago he would be carrying sanitary napkins, tampons and infertility potions around as a matter of course, he'd probably hexed them six ways to Sunday, and poisoned their dog out of spite.
"Miss Maris, I'm coming in," Snape said. He tapped his wand against the doorjamb to override the girl's locks. He shored up his mental shields, breathed deeply, squared his shoulders manfully, and opened the door.