A/N: No, I've not forgotten about my other stuff, I'm merely making sure it's up to par before posting ;) but UI has the next two chapters half-done so hopefully it won't be long. This is just a bit of silliness, and clearly AU because no one died (except Moldy), just the way I like it.
Snape cursed the person that had somehow slipped a DeAging Potion into everyone's drinks. Of course, it was only fitting that he had been the one left to tend to the group of former students and currently twenty-something year-olds that now barely came up to his knee.
The first five minutes, he admitted that their tiny voices, surprised expressions and chubby, angelic cheeks were a little cute. But the charm soon wore off when one of their whines turned to screaming, then screaming to screeching, and screeching to an all out wailing. Then the noise began like a domino effect, circling the room until every knee-high, snotty-nosed child was sniffling and whimpering like a child—which they had essentially been turned into— that had their lolly taken away.
Snape wanted to flee, but knew that Dumbledore would kill him if he left the little ones unattended. He thought about gathering up his teaching robes, catapulting himself out the nearest window and using it as a parachute to land to quiet and safety. Or maybe he would just tie the damn things into a noose, toss the other end to the rafters, and dangle there until his life seeped away.
No, even if making a robe-noose was an option, his ears would still bear the brunt of a horde of screaming children.
Draco Malfoy being shrunk to miniature size did nothing for his attitude; he still saw fit to terrorise his peers and had taken to roaring and chasing at anyone that got too close to him. Harry Potter, still wearing adult-sized glasses that were now skewed over a considering smaller head, was mooning after Ginny Weasley, who was ignoring him and had her brown eyes curiously fixated on something in a corner. Neville Longbottom had cried upon first realising that he was roughly the age of a four-year-old, and had promptly burst into tears when Snape glowered down at him. His wailing continued as he fled in terror, running fast as he could on his little legs and ducking into a cupboard across the room. The professor didn't try to stop him; for one, Longbottom's voice had been annoying as a young man, but as a tot? Ear-splitting.
Besides, it was sort of funny to watch the child launch himself across the room. Perverse, yes, but funny nonetheless.
Ronald Weasley had somehow found his secret stash of biscuits, the decadent ones covered in dark, bittersweet chocolate that could only be found at Madam Carouse's Patisserie. They cost a fortune but were rich enough that only one was needed to satisfy the eater's sweet tooth.
Now the ginger glutton was perched on the floor, the ripped open package between his splayed legs, while tiny, chubby hands shoveled each biscuit into a mouth that was covered with crumbs, had chocolate streaked around it, and was already packed to the brim. More crumbs clung to the front of his jumper, and there was...chocolate in his hair...on the hem of his trousers...and on his inseam...
"That had better be chocolate, Weasley!" Snape roared, refusing to give thought to what might be on Weasley's trousers if that suspicious stain was in fact not chocolate.
The professor knew he would be sent to Azkaban if the orange idiot choked to death on his watch. At the same time, at least the boy was quiet and sitting on his arse instead of digging into his personal belongings...like Seamus Finnigan!
"I am never fucking having children," Snape spat under his breath, knowing that it was bad form to allow little ears to overhear such foul language. "I don't care if I have to cut off my own balls, I will never reproduce or procreate. Not if Glenda the Good Witch paid me a lifetime's worth of gold Galleons—NEVER!"
Still cursing and snarling under his breath, Snape dashed over to his bookshelves and hoisted a rambunctious Finnigan away from his beloved books. The boy began kicking and yelling, and narrowly missed Snape's ankle.
"LISTEN, YOU!" Snape roared, bringing the red-faced child up to eye level. "Try to kick me again and it will be the last thing you do, Mister Finnigan."
Seamus looked mutinous. He looked as if he wanted to cross his tiny arms across his chest, the same way Snape used to in class when he stared down his nose at him whenever he blew up his cauldron.
Resisting the urge to give Finnigan a good shake, Snape set the boy back down on his feet. Just as he turned to walk away, a tiny foot made contact with the top of his dragon-hide boot, right before Finnigan turned tail and fled across the classroom, looking as if he was headed towards the same cupboard Longbottom was hiding in.
Too knackered to chase behind him, Snape was seriously contemplating sitting right there on the floor. Why did children have so much energy? Didn't they get tired of screaming and making messes and being a bother in general? Why couldn't they sit down and quietly play with the brightly coloured things he'd Conjured solely for their amusement? Bricks or blocks, he vaguely remembered them being called.
"NO! NO NO NO NO! THERE WILL BE NO FLYING IN MY OFFICE! MISS WEASLEY! MISS LOVEGOOD, GET OFF THAT BROOMSTICK THIS INSTANT!"
Peals of laughter coming from Ginny Weasley rang around the room. Little Luna Lovegood was behind the redhead, holding tightly onto the broom handle with crossed legs while her hands remained firmly planted on Ginny's shoulders. Despite the serene expression on her face, the same one she wore in Snape's Potions class, and even in Defence Against the Dark Arts (that damned look never faltered even when he spoke about the Killing Curse and he wondered what the hell she was thinking about. Perhaps seeking vengeance and killing him? She was remarkably calm and it was always the calm ones that turned out to be homicidal. Shuddering, Snape had ignored Lovegood and focused on the lesson.)
"DETENTION! DETENTION UNTIL YOU'RE ALL FIFTY-FIVE YEARS OF AGE! DETENTION FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES! MAY YOUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN'S CHILDREN BE BURDENED WITH DETENTION!"
Ginny and Luna paid the professor no mind; they continued whizzing around the classroom on the broom, deftly avoiding Snape's outstretched hands when he chased behind them and tried to snatch them midair.
Realising that if he were to make the girls fall and crack their skulls open, it was merely add to the folder of possible offenses that included Longbottom dying of asphyxiation as he hid in the cupboard and Weasley choking to death on his biscuits.
Then there was Granger. Hermione Know-It-All, Resident Bossy-Britches and quintessential nag, Granger.
She was literally the runt of the group; small for her age and not as fast as the others, she had been the only one that refused to partake in the childish activities that her peers indulged in. She'd tried vainly to stop Luna and Ginny from getting on the broom in the first place. She attempted snatching the packet of biscuits away from Weasley, only to scream shrilly when she found that the thing was empty. Whether she was cross that Weasley had gorged himself to the point of sickness, or cross because there was no chocolate left for her, Snape knew not, but he did know that Granger liked chocolate. He didn't know why he knew that useless bit of trivia, nor did he want to know why. The habits of his former students were no concern of his, and the only reason they were all back at Hogwarts was for annual We-Kicked-The-Dark-Lord's-Arse-So-Let's-All-Get-Pi ssed-Till-We-Pass-Out party.
Having filled the proverbial role of stick-in-the-mud and finding that no one wanted to play with her, Granger stayed off to one side on her own, hunched over on a tiny stool and doing what Snape was sure looked like pouting. She lifted one little hand and wiped furtively at her cheek. Snape couldn't tell if she was crying or not, as even her miniature-Hermione hair somehow still retained its bushiness and swallowed up her face.
Snape knew he was a bastard. He'd made plenty of his students cry before, and even some adults. But in his warped reasoning, there was a big difference between an eleven-year-old and a four-year-old, and immediately he felt guilty that the other children were ignoring her, even if it was her fault.
While furtively looking over at Granger between the curtains of his hair, Snape didn't realise that he had summoned the blocks that he'd Conjured—the very ones that the other brats refused to play with–and had been distractedly stacking then into a neat square. Feeling like an idiot, he knocked over the structure that had been quickly formed before busying himself with sorting each block into separate piles by colour. From the corner of his eye, he could see that Granger had clambered off her stool and was surreptitiously (at least, what she thought was surreptitious) inching her way in his direction.
Snape didn't look up when the small girl was close to his elbow, nor did he stop fiddling around with the blocks. After a few minutes, however, he gruffly shoved a few of the piles in her direction, wordlessly inviting her to do whatever it was two people did with blocks.
Hermione placed one of the blue blocks down in front of Snape, and then looked up expectantly at him. He put down a red block next to hers, still not looking down as he waited for her to go. Back and forth the two went, until all the blocks had been stacked to form a crooked tower. A spell muttered under his breath ensured the crude formation to stay in place.
"The other little bast—excuse me, children—avoided me when I was your age, too."
Snape didn't look at her when he uttered this admittance, but could see Hermione give pause to the words.
Now that they had run out of blocks, Snape didn't know what the hell to do with the child. Was he supposed to talk to her? Play some insipid patty-patty hand game? Read to her...he could do that. The girl was a library rat, after all.
"Would you like to read?" he asked awkwardly, feeling completely self-conscious despite their current enormous age gap.
"Yes," Hermione answered, almost adult-like, even though her tinny voice that had just a hint of a lisp sounded juvenile.
"Well, then, go and find a book from the bottom shelf—only the bottom shelf, Miss Granger. I don't want any accidents that might have the headmaster and your family demanding my head on a pike should harm befall you."
Hermione looked steadily at him, as if in clear comprehension of his words. She toddled off and soon returned with both arms wrapped around a huge dusty tome that was nearly the size of her torso.
"You want me to read this?" Snape asked, unable to conceal the shock in his voice as he peered down at her choice: Goyfried Fabrethroe's Abstract Theory on Dark Magic and the Wizarding Psyche. "Heavy material for a child, don't you think?"
The miniature witch glared so fiercely at him that Snape immediately regretted his words.
"Never mind. Come on, have a seat."
Primly sitting down, crossing her legs and resting her face on her hands, Hermione waited for Snape to begin reading. A few pages in, he began wondering if he was boring the poor girl, because she let out a wide yawn and scooted closer to him. He had no idea how she could be growing sleepy, considering the rest of the ruckus the other brats were still making, but sure enough, she began blinking slowly.
Eventually her head came to a rest against his bicep. Snape's reading faltered for a minute; no one dared to touch him, much less rest their head on him. But bold little Hermione Granger had no problem doing so, nor any issue with using his arm as a pillow for an impromptu nap.
Hmmm, if she was lulled by his voice, maybe the other obstreperous bastards running amuck would too, fall asleep...
Lo and behold, twenty minutes later, Snape found that ignoring each of his shrill former students worked wonders. They all sat before him, hanging onto his every word as he read from the book Hermione had picked. Even Longbottom had abandoned his cupboard to join in. Malfoy was the only one that needed talking to, as he decided to disrupt everyone at first before sitting down.
"Mister Malfoy, either take a seat or I'll tie you to a chair, and I promise you, your father will hear about it and there won't be a thing he can do!"
Draco sulked a fair bit, but eventually he sat down, petulantly folding his tiny arms across his small chest and shooting a baleful look at the professor. But after a bit he became engrossed in the unconventional 'story time' and inched closer to the group so he could hear better.
Maybe I should have tried this an hour ago, Snape thought to himself as he began the next chapter.
Apparently it didn't matter that the material of the book was stimulating as watching paint dry; whenever he adjusted his pitch to engage the children, they laughed or gasp in horror. Snape wondered if he should have used those very tactics in previous classes instead of droning on; perhaps it would have made his students pay attention.
Eventually, one by one, each child blessedly drifted off to sleep; lying right in the very spots they sat in to listen to Snape read.
Snape muttered something to himself about filling his one good deed quota for the day; he conjured squashy sleeping bags beneath each child, allowing their bratty little heads a hopefully brief yet soft resting spot. Granger, on the other hand, had fallen asleep while still propped up against him. His sleeve was suspiciously damp, and he suspected that she had drooled on him, but it wasn't enough to make him move to check, just in case she should awaken. Yet, when his arm began going numb from sitting still for so long, Snape was forced to move.
Carefully, he shucked out of his flowing black teaching robes and bunched them into a pillow for Hermione to lie on. Another bit of wandwork, and the rest of her body lie atop the same type of sleeping bag her friends were napping on.
I almost take it back, Snape mused, too scared to actually verbalise anything at that point because he finally had peace and quiet and was not about to threaten it, these little crumb snatchers are cute. But hell's bells if I'll have any! No bloody, fucking way.
"Severus!" a rather chipper-sounding voice suddenly called from the doorway.
"You dotty old bat!" Snape hissed in a whisper to a happily grinning Dumbledore, whose blue eyes shone more than usual. The white-haired wizard was pissed out his gourd— that much was evident. Dumbledore had gone on the lash, leaving Snape to work like a house-elf, and he was livid. "Shut up before you wake everyone. What took you so long?! And why the hell did I have to babysit the entire time? Couldn't you have gotten Molly Weasley? Children are her thing, and they bloody well should be—she has enough of them!"
"Now, now, Severus," Dumbledore chided between hiccoughs. "We had to track down the exact potion used to change everyone in order to find the antidote. It took some time and then Slughorn had to brew enough antidote for them all."
"I could have brewed the antidote!" Snape continued in a loud whisper, lowering his voice when he saw Longbottom's eyes twitch slightly and look as if he was going to awaken. "I was your bloody Potions master for how long?" he continued in a much lower voice, "I could have had the ruddy thing finished within the blink of an eye!"
"Yes, but Slughorn teaches Potions now, and you're Defence. And besides, look at the children—you've done a wonderful job of minding them!"
"Oh—shut up and give me the potion so I can get the hell out of here and have a drink of my own."
Dumbledore was still chuckling as he handed over the antidote. Amused as Snape glared at him while going round to each child and placing a dropper full of the pale purple liquid into their sleep-slackened mouths, the headmaster stood by and watched, swaying back and forth as if he were still at the party that was undoubtedly still in high gear back in the Great Hall.
"Well now," said Dumbledore loftily, rubbing his hands together as if he had been the one to personally brew and dispense the antidote, "I daresay that should do it."
"You do know that I hate you, right?" Snape offered. "And expect my resignation at the end of the week."
"I know, but I also know that you don't mean it," Dumbledore replied breezily. "Just think of this as a personal favour to all. And expect a monetary bonus for your outstanding work. Now, off I go to the party. My new dress robes were a hit with one of the wizards; perhaps I've found a new friend?"
With that, Dumbledore winked before flitting out of the room, ignoring the caustic look Snape threw at his retreating figure.
Snape was ever so grateful when each of his former students were restored to their original states. When they had first been transformed in the Great Hall, McGonagall had screamed at the sight of a naked Seamus Finnigan when he became free from the tangle of too-large clothing. He had the gall to break free from the many outstretched arms trying to capture him and wrestle him back into his suit, which was still adult-sized and laying in a heap next his chair. Having had enough of watching Finnigan's bare arse streaking throughout the length of the room, Snape caught him and kept him tucked beneath one arm, while brandishing his wand to Transfigure the boy's clothing into a more appropriate size. Two minutes later, during which everyone had been trying to figure out why the hell a then dressed Finnigan had been transformed into a toddler, the rest of the witches and wizards sitting at one table in particular began Transforming, one by one. That time, Flitwick had his wand out and hastily cast a charm to make sure that they would all remain clothed.
Snape sometimes had little use for some of the silly charms that Flitwick was fond of, but right now he was secretly thanking the man, as a heap of nubile, naked bodies strewn along the floors of his office was something that would surely make his eyes bleed.
Everyone looked properly horrified after coming to, and hastily made their way out of Snape's office, without offering so much as a by-your-leave. Weasley thought nothing of leaving his friends behind and had sprinted out the door ahead of everyone. Dippy Luna Lovegood was the only one to tell Snape 'thank you' as if he'd played host for some soiree, before drifting out the door.
"Erm...Sir...should I..." Potter stammered, hovering near the partially opened door while staring back into the room at the sleeping figure of his other best friend.
"What do you think I'm going to do, eat her alive?" Snape snapped, wanting to be left alone. "Just go! I'll send her along when she wakes up."
Potter practically tripped over his own feet as he dashed out the classroom. Fuming, Snape looked down at the soundly sleeping figure of a now proper-sized Hermione Granger, who was still using his teaching robes as a pillow and was still drooling on them. He thought about waking her, purely to send her on her way with the other dunderheads, but there was something in her face, some sort of peaceful expression, that seemed almost sacrilegious to disrupt. That, and the fact that she was at her quietest than compared to every other time he'd been around her...
Nope, it was best to let her sleep.
Which she did for the next half hour.
"Did you have a good nap?" Snape asked wryly when Hermione's bushy, sleep-disheveled head finally popped up.
The young woman turned round, looking completely disoriented as the events of the past few hours came slowly trickling back to mind.
"How articulate, Miss Granger," Snape replied, closing his book and looking directly at her. "How much do you remember?"
"I remember...taking a sip of punch, only it tasted funny. Then we were all carried throughout the castle and shoved into this room...hey! Who slipped us a DeAging Potion?!"
"That remains to be seen. And please, I finally managed to get my room back to a proper state of quiet; I don't need you ruining the peace."
"Sorry," Hermione apologised. "I also remember everyone being mean to me... and then you reading to me? Or did I imagine that?"
Waiting for an answer, Hermione peered over at the book that was still beneath Snape's fingertips before venturing a look at his face. He was still reading the book she'd chosen from the shelf.
"I...hmph." Snape's cheeks turned faintly red, and he almost looked sheepish.
"Thank you, for…just, thanks," she continued, looking down at the purple sleeping bag beneath her. Finally getting up, while keeping one hand on the skirt of her dress to keep it from flipping up and exposing her unmentionables, Hermione slid into the chair opposite Snape's desk and looked across at him, a little smile on her face. "Did you know that you have what my mum would call a nice telephone voice?"
"No, I didn't," he stated flatly. "But I suppose that's a compliment…thank you."
The two sat in tense silence, until a loud rumbling interrupted.
"Sorry," Hermione apologized. "I didn't get the chance to eat before my night turned to hell."
"Actually, I believe that was both of our stomachs," Snape countered, his rigid posture sagging a bit as if conceding to something. "Here or the Great Hall?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Where do you want to eat?!" he almost snapped. "My office or in the Great Hall?"
Hermione was a bit taken back by the sudden abruptness in Snape's voice, but soon recovered.
"Your office is fine," she answered, irritation seeping into her voice. "Those idiots; Ron and Harry are the reason I came to this thing in the first place, and then they ignored me after we were turned into children. No, I'd rather stay right here, if you don't mind."
"That 'idiots' dig is almost enough to make me want to award points to Gryffindor," Snape stated as he stood up and walked over to the hearth, "but it's not going to happen."
A house-elf was called, and soon the two had a feast spread out on the desk between them, although they were both taking dainty little bites like a couple on their first date.
"You know," Hermione murmured after swallowing, "I'd planned on asking if there was a chance you might ever want to go out for coffee or the like. That was the only reason I agreed to come here tonight."
Snape stopped chewing.
"What?" he asked dumbly, raising one eyebrow.
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Stop looking at me, all, suspicious-like! I would have asked you at the last one of these stupid balls, but you stayed in the Great Hall for about five minutes before skulking out without saying goodnight. I figure I'd take my chances; the worse you can do is turn me down."
The house-elf that brought dinner had also left a large carafe of wine. Thankful for the deep red liquid courage, Snape filled a goblet and took a long drink.
"Dinner sounds…feasible," he answered, still somewhat stymied that his former student and thankfully now very much adult acquaintance was asking him out on a…date? "As long as it's far, far away from this place."
"And away from idiots that slip potions into your punch and make you revert back to childhood," she added with a shudder. "If you want to choose the restaurant, fine, so long as there's chocolate."
Some part of her sentence made Snape's eyes flash, and he silently Accio'd something over to his desk.
"The chocolate biscuits that your greedy, uncouth friend ate," he stated, placing a brand new package in front of Hermione.
"You know," she began, scooping up a generous portion of dinner onto her fork, "I knew that you were nicer than you let on."
"Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" Snape grumbled. "Just do me a favour and don't tell anyone. And if you breathe a word about me taking you to dinner next weekend, you'll rue the day."
"Not a word," Hermione replied, winking as if they were conspiring together. "I won't tell anyone about your prowess at playing nanny. And I promise to never, ever tell anyone about our first kiss."
The bit about them kissing was enough to render Snape silent again. Hermione went on with finishing her dinner, as though her last statement had been nothing out the ordinary. Snape got her back, though. Before departing that evening, he kissed Hermione's hand, something she clearly hadn't been expecting, and chuckled to himself at the dazed expression on her face.
One thing was for sure—he was still going to seriously maim the person that slipped the DeAging potion into everyone's drinks. Yes, he might thank them because it unerringly landed him with a date which he refused to admit he was looking forward to, but he was still going to torture the infidel, purely on principle.
And he'd make sure that Hermione would never find out.