By Megan E. Locati
Word Count: 2901
Rating: G (suitable for all audiences)
Summary: Harry causes merry mayhem when he dresses as Dumbledore for Halloween.
“You can’t go like that.” Ron’s words were flat. “It’s—it’s disrespectful to the dead.”
Harry arched one bushy white eyebrow at his friend. “It’s Halloween. We’re allowed to dress up. And I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t mind. Shall I ask his portrait for permission?” Not that he hadn’t already.
Ron opened his mouth to respond, then closed it just as quickly, shaking his head in exasperation. “Snape is going to kill you. After he takes every last point from Gryffindor and puts you in detention for the rest of the year. Merlin, we’ll be in the negatives by the time he’s through with you. Well, guess we didn’t need the cup anyway… even though this is our very last year….”
Harry grinned broadly. “Worth it. At least I’m not going as something lame.” He sent Ron a pointed look.
Ron folded his arms across his chest. “The Chudley Cannons aren’t lame, you prat—“
“Not very imaginative, Ronald.” Hermione’s voice carried easily down the stairs from the dormitory and into the Common Room. She was almost unrecognizable in full plate mail, a fleur de lis prominent on her breastplate. She had even transfigured her wand into a great sword—no small feat. She smiled at the two of them. “Happy Halloween, by the way.”
“Off to fight a troll?” Ron inquired, looking her up and down.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Not funny.”
“But really, what are you? Some sort of knight?”
“Joan of Arc, Ron!” Hermione cried indignantly. “How can you not get that? If it was any more obvious, I would need a big painted placard—“
“Oh. Joan of Arc. Neat.” Ron sounded less than enthusiastic.
With an impatient huff, Hermione turned her attention to Harry. “Oh, Harry, you’re… wow. Wow. Have you been practicing your human transfiguration? How did you get the wrinkles? Oh, and the eyes, they’re the exact shade of blue, I swear. And those robes! Where on earth did you get something that… uh… unique?”
Harry smoothed a gentle hand over the silken mauve fabric of his current ensemble, admiring the glittering dust—a small illusion—that shimmered in its wake. “It was a loan. Well, technically it is now willed to me, since certain quality portraits are endowed with the right to posthumously rearrange their estate—“
Hermione clapped a hand over her mouth. “You didn’t! You asked him? And he was okay with—oh, who am I kidding. He loved this, didn’t he?”
Harry’s grin widened, revealing aged, crooked teeth. “And I quote, ‘Harry, my boy, you flatter me beyond words. I shall do everything in my power to make this venture a smashing success.’ Even gave me Transfiguration tips, which was good, because it saved me from going to McGonagall.”
“Snape isn’t going to be amused,” Ron muttered, shaking his head.
“Ron,” Harry chided, “it’s Hermione who gets to be the sober, fun-killing voice of reason. You’re supposed to tell me that this is my best idea ever, loads better than anything Fred or George ever thought up.”
Hermione smacked Harry’s arm.
Harry cocked his head and, adopting a cracking, wizened tone, admonished, “Now, Miss Granger, violence is never a viable solution to our problems. Lemon drop?”
Hermione dissolved into a fit of giggles. Ron just shook his head to himself and muttered something unflattering under his breath.
“Ah, Neville, don’t look so glum. Lemon drop?”
The room burst into another round of chortling. Even the Slytherins were mostly grinning at Harry’s uncanny impersonation of the Headmaster.
Harry decided that a little goodwill toward that particular side of the dungeons classroom wouldn’t be amiss. The whole of Slytherin house had been rather subdued since the end of the war, and though Harry still didn’t personally like many of those students, he’d grown a great deal since the days of his schoolyard rivalries. He and Malfoy were managing a (somewhat fragile) peace these days, and he’d even managed a nod at Parkinson once or twice, his way of showing that the past was in the past.
So, seeing another opportunity to foster inter-house peace and unity, Harry doddered his way over to Draco Malfoy, whose lips were stretched in a tight, controlled smirk, even as his hands were clasped formally behind his back.
“Ah, Mr. Malfoy, good to see you, good to see you. Still playing Seeker, are you? Excellent, yes, excellent. I played a bit of Quidditch myself in my day. Fine game, Quidditch. Unfortunately, I took a few Bludgers to the head over the years. Some think it changed me a bit—“
Draco’s expression cracked the slightest at this point, his silver eyes alight with mirth. Clearly he was fighting hard to restrain himself.
“Yes, it was after the fourth hit that I developed such a fondness for socks. I doubt the two have any real correlation, though. I find that a fine pair of hand-knitted socks are naturally capable of inspiring the deepest feelings of awe, if one but takes the time to contemplate them—“
And it was at this point that most of the Slytherins lost it.
“Now,” Harry-turned-Dumbledore sighed contentedly, “who would care for a lemon drop?” He reached into one of the pockets of his voluminous mauve robes and produced a handful of the infamous candies.
Everyone immediately fell silent as the classroom door banged inward, as it always did. Snape always made certain to make a grand, sweeping entrance regardless of the class he was teaching, though the Defense door did not rattle nearly as loudly as the Potions classroom door. Most of the upper years were intimately familiar with the man’s habits, as he had taken on the advanced courses for both subjects since the new Potions Mistress only felt comfortable with the lower levels. They’d decided to split duties, and so Professor Applewhite had ended up with the lower forms for both Defense and Potions.
Harry hastily stuffed his lemon drops back into his pockets as Snape stalked to the front of the room. Quickly and stealthily, he made his way back to his place at the bench, wedged between Ron and Hermione, and affected his most innocent look.
The Professor’s hard black eyes alighted on him immediately. “Mr. Potter.” The words slid out silkily, a dangerous hiss that Harry knew only too well.
He and the Potions Master hadn’t established a much better relationship following the fallout of the war. Harry had sat with the man (rather awkwardly) several times during Snape’s stay at St. Mungo’s, during his miraculous recovery from Nagini’s bite. Phoenix tears had not been able to completely repair the damage, and Snape still bore a rather ugly scar on his neck (which was only rarely visible, since the man favored such high, stiff collars that it remained covered whenever he was in traditional teaching robes). They hadn’t talked, and Snape had never seemed to particularly enjoyed Harry’s visits.
The man hadn’t even thanked him for testifying at his hearing—a hearing that was only that, and not a trial, because Harry had put his full weight down on as many officials in the new Ministry that he possibly could.
Still, it seemed to Harry that the caustic animosity that had characterized their sixth year had faded back into mutual disdain. And that, in Harry’s mind, was perfectly manageable.
He hoped that Ron hadn’t been right. He hoped that he hadn’t provoked the man into outright hostility just now.
To Harry’s utter surprise, it was Draco who spoke up.
“That’s not a very respectful way to address the headmaster.”
Ah, Harry thought, to be in Slytherin, to have the ability to say such things to Snape without fear of expulsion or, much more likely, evisceration. Harry could see the confidence in Draco’s posture; whatever had passed over the years between him and Snape, he was still confident that he could just about get away with murder.
And the little ferret was right, too, Harry observed. The professor merely arched a brow before turning his attention back to Harry. “Ah, yes, forgive me, headmaster. Have you been passing out lemon drops in my class?” The question was deceptively mild. Not a good sign.
Well, to hell with it, Harry thought. Maybe by the end of his Hogwarts career, he and Filch would be the best of friends thanks to all of their bonding time. “Why yes, Professor Snape, I have. It is Halloween, after all. I have often said that the staff should make a greater effort to propagate the festive mood, as we have so few opportunities amidst the chaos of the term. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Repressed snickering echoed throughout the classroom.
Snape continued to stare Harry down, his black eyes glittering strangely. “I think you know my answer to that.” Still so gentle, those words, and so soft, though Harry was certain that they carried over every inch of the dungeon classroom.
Harry grinned brightly at the man. In for a penny, in for a pound, he thought. He hoped his faux-blue eyes were at least twinkling, even just a little. “I have been speculating with Professor McGonagall as to what your costume this year will be.”
Snape’s eyebrow crept higher in disbelief, even as his lip curled into a snarl. “Oh, do share,” the professor hissed. One hand gripped his lectern hard, and he leaned forward into it, the bent of his back and the way his robes spread with the posture making him all the more menacing.
And everyone held their breath. Because it was apparent to every seventh year in that small class just how many insults could follow such a setup. Comments about bats and vampires, and worse things still—cutting remarks about Death Eaters, veiled references to what had occurred on that fateful day in the Astronomy Tower. Things that could be leveled like weapons against the man, things that would, in the span of seconds, reignite the flame of what was then only a smoldering dislike.
Harry tugged at his long white beard, letting the suspense grow. Beside him, Hermione had gone pale and Ron was no longer breathing. Though he was swinging his head slowly from side to side, the motion as regular as the arc of a pendulum, a silent plea for Harry to just not go there.
“I always thought you would make a rather fine Stubby Boardman. You do have the same complexion, if I am not mistaken.”
Snape’s eyes widened a fraction before quickly narrowing once more. “Ten points from Gryffindor for delaying my lesson. Headmaster.”
“Oh, no matter.” Harry couldn’t resist. “I’m certain Harry will foolishly risk his life before the end of the year. It seems to be a pattern of his. I’ll just award him and his little friends a few hundred points at the Leaving Feast, thereby crushing the hopes and dreams of every other House and securing the cup for Gryffindor.” Harry slipped a lemon drop from his pocket and popped it into his mouth.
And then Hell froze over. Or, it must have, because rather than growling or snapping or bellowing, the Potions Master snorted. Then his lips lifted upward and he let loose what sounded very much like a chuckle.
The tension broken, the classroom burst into fits of giggling. Though Harry noted that the Gryffindors seemed a little discomfited now, while many of the Slytherins wore small, contented smiles, looks of vindication.
“Then I suppose Gryffindor House will not miss another ten points,” Snape announced at last, though his voice was more amused than anything. “Page 275, the Draught of Transformation. Mr. Longbottom, the eight circumstances of acceptable use for this restricted potion. What are they?”
The atmosphere quickly sobered once more as Snape forged ahead with their lesson.
At the end of the class, Snape called for the “headmaster” to remain behind.
Hermione and Ron cast worried glances at him as they packed up their things.
“Go on,” Harry commanded softly. “I’ll find you in the Common Room, yeah?”
Strangely enough, Draco stopped by before exiting the classroom, flanked by Parkinson and Zabini. One delicate blond eyebrow was arched expectantly.
“Yes, my boy?” Harry inquired amiably.
“I believe I was promised a lemon drop.”
Harry distributed the candy to all three of them, beaming as he did so.
Draco nodded curtly in thanks and turned to leave, but paused and whipped around suddenly. “I thought you liked Dumbledore, Potter.” His voice dropped to a low, intense whisper.
Harry blinked in surprise. “I did. I do. But the man had his flaws. And he’d be the first to admit that.”
Draco stared at him hard for a moment. Then he nodded again and turned on heel. Parkinson and Zabini followed him wordlessly, both of them casting curious glances back at Harry as they went.
Ron and Hermione left too. Hermione offered Harry a sympathetic smile, and Ron went so far as to squeeze his arm before they both hustled out of the classroom.
Snape was at his desk, already sorting through stacks of papers. He did not bother to look up. “Propagate, Potter?”
Harry blinked in confusion. “Er… sorry, what?”
“Propagate. Forgive me, but it does not seem that such a word should be a natural part of your vocabulary.”
Harry continued to blink bewilderedly. “Uh, I think Hermione used it a couple of times. It kind of stuck with me. Did you, er, need something, sir?”
“Yes.” Snape tamped a stack of papers against his desk a few times until they’d all fallen into place, then set them aside and began flipping through another stack. “Where in the nine hells did you acquire that eyesore?”
“I didn’t steal it.” Harry fought to keep the anger he felt from poisoning his words. Even so, they came out flat and cold.
Snape wasn’t fazed. “I did not imply that you did.” He continued to shuffle through his papers. “Am I correct in the assumption that you convinced him to bequeath it to you?”
Harry felt a smile tug at his lips as he remembered that part of the conversation with Dumbledore. “Yeah. He said something about the color suiting me. Not sure if that was supposed to be a compliment or an insult.”
To his surprise, Snape smirked, and his dark eyes flickered up to assess Harry once more. “Likely both. It is spectacularly hideous, though that is hardly exceptional in that particular wardrobe.”
Harry laughed. “If you’re jealous, sir, I think he mentioned something in mustard yellow—“
Snape made a face. “Merlin forbid. That would be a fate worse than death.”
Harry stiffened suddenly at the mention of death. And now that he didn’t have a classroom full of sniggering comrades, his choice of costume seemed particularly insensitive. He shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. “Listen, sir, I—I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories or—“
“Spare me, Potter,” Snape cut him off, rolling his eyes. “I am not about to burst into tears. I’ve made my peace, so don’t start blathering ridiculous apologies.”
“So… I haven’t offended you?” Harry inquired tentatively.
“For reasons beyond that purplish monstrosity you call a robe? No, you have not.”
Harry felt the tension leave his body just as quickly has it had come. So Ron had been wrong. Well, of course. Snape was made of sterner stuff, he knew. And the man had laughed before, and he was bantering with Harry now, so clearly he had been amused on some level.
“Technically, it’s mauve,” Harry informed the professor, trying for a faux haughtiness.
“Mauve.” Snape spit the word out as though the mere sound of it had left a foul taste on his tongue. “Please do us all the favor of burning it after tonight.”
“No way. I’m wearing this to the Yule Ball.”
“If so, do not inform your date in advance,” Snape advised.
Harry had to admit to himself that the level of civility between him and the potions master had been nothing short of stunning. It wasn’t even mere civility, he marveled. No, they’d gone beyond—they were chatting rather amicably, joking even. Perhaps he was dreaming. Perhaps he’d fallen asleep up in the Common Room and Hermione would shake him awake any minute for class.
Yes, a dream seemed to be the only logical explanation for the way things were going.
“Sir?” Harry inquired after hesitating a moment. “Was there something else?”
“Yes. As I remarked earlier, you were distributing lemon drops in my classroom.” Snape’s voice had turned frosty once more, an ominous note entering it.
Well, Harry thought, it had been nice while it had lasted. Swallowing back his nerves, and knowing that there was no use in denying it, he replied, “Yes, sir.”
“To every single student, as if this were the Kitchens rather than a proper potions lab.”
Harry shrank back a little. Had he risked some kind of reaction with their potions? He knew Snape did not allow food in the lab, but he hadn’t thought that hard candies would pose such a risk. Well, Snape was nothing if not strict. “Yes, sir,” he whispered meekly.
Snape dropped his stack of papers hard. They smacked loudly against the desk; Harry flinched back instinctively. The man fixed him with a withering glare, his lips stretched into a thin, unamused line. “Why, Mr. Potter,” he demanded coldly, “was I not offered one?”