Anyway, here you go. Any comments/concrit/verbal abuse welcome.
Some people fall apart after wars. They can’t help it; it’s something connected with spending your whole life planning, in hiding or else just living in perpetual fear of a faceless enemy. When you are told that all this is suddenly over, that you may return to your daily business, you begin to wonder what your everyday life actually was before the war swept into it. It’s just too much.
Others, like Severus Snape, just continue. Snape had possessed little before the war had broken out in any case, and now that it had ended he found himself in largely the same position. He had his job, a comfortable armchair in the Staff Room and now the grudging respect of the wizarding public, if only to the tune of an Order of Merlin, Second Class. He still possessed the innate ability to terrify his students, and he was still regarded as the finest potion-brewer in Europe, if not the world. And that, thought Severus, was quite sufficient. And so it would have been, were it not for the arrival one fated morning of an all too-familiar owl.
“Dear Snape”…no, thought Harry in irritation, he was not a schoolboy anymore and perfectly entitled to address the man by his given name. All the same, there was something about writing “Dear Severus” that made Harry’s stomach feel like it was a Shrivelfig. A tapdancing Shrivelfig. A tapdancing, singing Shrivelfig that blew kisses as it belted out show tunes from “Oklahoma!” Perhaps not. Sighing, Harry crumpled the piece of parchment and passed the end of his bedraggled quill over his lips, pondering. “Dear Professor Snape” he wrote eventually in a neat script, not entirely sure why he was using his best handwriting.
“I am writing to you in a matter of some urgency. As you may know, I have been working for several years as a freelance curse-breaker in the Egyptian desert. Unfortunately, one of my co-workers triggered a hidden device inside a tomb last week, causing a curse to rebound and cast itself on me. The symptoms I have so far experienced include flaking skin, a blue, itchy rash and an inexplicable craving for honey. Despite several courses of treatment, these symptoms have continued to escalate over the last week. As a direct consequence of this (and also because blue is not really my colour), I am writing to request your assistance and ask your advice in this matter. Although we have had our differences in the past, I am reliably informed that these symptoms are unique and thus pose an interesting opportunity for your research, if not a tearful reunion.
I eagerly await your reply,
The first sign that Snape was going to have a Very Bad Day was when Harry Potter’s owl swept into the Great Hall, skidded down the staff table and managed to halt itself directly on top of his half-eaten breakfast, scattering the rest of his morning post into the butter dish with a final flex of those beautiful, snow-white wings. “Merlin’s diseased and blistering balls!” remarked Snape into the awed hush that had fallen over the Hall. To his left, Minerva McGonagall’s expression was rapidly gradating from “mild shock” to “severe shock, immense disbelief, possible loss of bowel control imminent”.
“That’s surely not…Harry Potter would never be writing to you, Severus!” she gasped, her hardy Scottish features rapidly purpling almost comically fast as she realised the implications of her statement. In her defence, Snape was as taken aback as McGonagall, if less inclined to convey it.
“Apparently so” he replied, wrestling the envelope out of the owl’s beak and casting a forlorn glance at his eggs, now with an added garnish of feathers.
“But Severus, surely after the ceremony…”
“Perhaps Potter is of the opinion that I broke his nose because I was lonely and needed a penpal” drawled Snape avidly, looking at the letter with distaste as he pulled it out of the envelope.
Although one would have to be very generous of temperament (and poor of eyesight) to declare Severus Snape’s facial features attractive, once could not doubt that they were expressive. The extraordinary range of expressions that graced that hook-nosed visage over the two minutes it took Snape to read the badly-penned (the boy may have been the saviour of the Wizarding World, but he still couldn’t form his letters properly) missive would have put any contortionist worth his salt to shame. First came sarcastic disbelief, quickly covered by Snape’s patent Killer Death Glare that continued well into the body of the letter (presumably Mr Potter’s feeble attempts at humour were not appreciated by his former Potions Master), a calculating look that made McGonagall surreptitiously check that her wand was still in place and finally…resolution. Folding the letter in one hand, Snape pushed his chair back and swept from the Great Hall without another word. Gazing wearily at the man’s retreating back, McGonagall found herself face-to-face with Hedwig, her beak full of stolen bacon rinds. The owl at least had the manners to look a trifle guilty. “You and me both” sighed Minerva, returning to her porridge.
“Dear Mr Potter”…how was it, Harry wondered, that the man managed to mock him even with three innocuous words? All the same, he’d been amazed that Snape had even bothered to reply at all, after the fiasco at the Order of Merlin ceremony. Even if Harry had grown up enough to realise that Snape was not trying to kill him at every turn, he’d found it extremely unlikely that Snape would be at all interested in helping him. Still, that cramped black handwriting was unmistakeably his, so it appeared that Harry was wrong yet again.
“Although I had held out hopes that seven years of your company was all that was to be inflicted upon me, I confess to finding myself intrigued by the list of symptoms you provided me with. Unfortunately, we lesser mortals cannot possibly hope to deduct any sort of reasoned diagnosis from the pathetically vague list you endowed me with, and I fear I must ask you for clarification. Exactly where on your body is this “blue rash” located? Are there any formations of hives, pustules or other blemishes included in it? How long have you had this craving for honey, and is it just honey you crave, or sweet objects in general?
If you have not expired by the time you receive this letter, I expect a prompt response. A man of my years can only wait with bated breath for so long, after all.
Harry finished reading the letter with an oddly potent mixture of feelings that he hadn’t experienced since his schooldays. There was anger, yes, Snape had made sure of that with his snide comments and thinly-veiled references to Harry’s (perceived) stupidity. And yet, at the same time there was a directness and refreshing honesty about Snape’s tone that Harry found himself appreciating. The man was almost funny in places…
Harry shook his head savagely to try and clear it of that last thought.
“I must be going mad” he muttered.
“I shouldn’t think so, dearie” his mirror replied. Harry scowled. “Greasy git” he added for good measure, although he couldn’t help the very slight smile that crept across his face as he reached for his quill to reply.
“Dear Professor Snape,
As I have not yet met an untimely end, I thought I would reply as quickly as possible so that you could save your undoubtedly valuable breath for higher pursuits, such as castigating First Years. Please feed Hedwig, she is not as young as she used to be and finds the flight from Egypt somewhat draining”…
“Hmph” muttered Severus Snape, peering over the top of the crumpled parchment at the owl upended in his sausages and ignoring Minerva McGonagall’s attempts to catch his eye.
“You asked about the blue rash. Although it started on my forearms, it has gradually been extending and has now reached my midriff. There are no obvious hives or pustules; the rash appears to be made up of tiny blue spots, rather like the Muggle disease chickenpox. As for the cravings, thus far it is only honey that I have experienced cravings for. I do not believe that this is a side-effect of my sweet tooth, as I have never been very fond of honey due to an unfortunate incident in my youth. You did not mention, however, the flaky skin. Am I to assume that this is unconnected and therefore non life-threatening, or that it simply doesn’t interest you?
A swift reply would be appreciated, as the rash is moving in a downwards direction, and I fear that I must resort to some other media-grabbing attention tactic if rendered impotent, or else risk disappointing a nation of middle-aged Witch Weekly readers.
Severus snorted twice, gave a most uncharacteristic smirk and folded the letter, placing it almost carefully inside his robes. When he looked up, it was to see the entire Hogwarts staff gazing at him, agog with excitement. Raising a sardonic eyebrow, Snape extracted Potter’s owl from the remnants of his breakfast and calmly poured himself another cup of coffee. McGonagall could contain herself no longer. Attempting to retain some modicum of her former dignity, she said very slowly
“Severus. What does Harry say?”
Snape was not fooled. Biting his lips to hide a smile, he allowed himself another mouthful of coffee before replying.
“Get a grip, Minerva. The boy has scarcely changed since you saw him last. Obviously he simply can’t find the time to write to all of his adoring fans. Oh, and I shall require someone to take all of my lessons for me today.”
It really was quite fascinating, watching the woman splutter in such a ludicrous fashion.
“Why?” she finally choked out.
“It would appear that our dear Mr Potter has been poisoned” Severus replied, and did not even attempt to hide the particularly nasty grin that graced his features as he swept from the Hall.