Chapter 3 : The Painters Are In
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The most shameful day of my life reared its ugly head four pathetic days later. As a direct consequence, I barricaded myself into a broom cupboard and resolved never leave until I was legally and spiritually dead. I would become a broom cupboard hermit crab. I would be a legend at Hogwarts. In fifty years First Years would skitter past the door nervously, knowing that something inside it was alive. The Seventh Years would dare each other to open the door or peek through the keyhole, but none of them, not even the dumbest Gryffindor, would have the nerve. Filch would suffer a sudden death because he would never see some of his smelly brooms and mops again…And I, I would wither inside that sad, dank, dark, misty, uncomfortable place, until I forgot the horrors of Tuesday, September the Eighth.
In retrospect, perhaps, it seems a bit dramatic.
See, here’s what happened: I was working on next week’s lesson plan for my sixth year Hufflepuffs, and deciding whether to make them drink their own potion or their neighbor’s, when a truly useless Third Year Ravenclaw approached my desk.
“Yes?” I said sharply. I always try to be as sharp as possible. It is very soothing.
“May I go to the bathroom, Professor?” she asked. She looked nervous. I knew she was up to something. They are always up to something.
“No,” I said, “You can wait until the end of class.”
“Please, Professor!” she said, and then she leaned in really close and whispered desperately, “The painters are in.”
Well, I looked handsomely boggled for a moment, and then realized what she meant.
“Well, class,” I said, “Miss Price here has just asked me an interesting question. She asked if she could leave class because the painters are in.” At this point everyone looked sort of shocked, though I didn’t know why. I turned to Price, “I don’t know why there are any painters at Hogwarts, Miss Price, but I suppose you could tell the class what you are going to do with these painters? Snog them, I suppose?”
Some of the class began to laugh, at my wit, I presumed. Price looked mortified, as one could imagine, but then she took me by surprise by running out of the room sobbing, like she had nothing better to do or something. The class, especially those intolerable Weasley twins, continued to laugh as if they had never heard anything so funny, while I marked Miss Price down for cutting class. I kept an amused half-smile on my face, not wanting to make them think I was turning into a nice, witty sort of guy. I am not a nice, witty sort of guy. Once I remembered that, I yelled:
“That’s enough! It was not that funny!”
Somehow, that only made them laugh harder, which was when I began to get suspicions. However, I did not completely understand my mistake until McGonagall barged in on me an hour later.
As I have said before, she is always barging in on me, so this was nothing special, though it was slightly embarrassing as I was singing along to some American bloke’s song called “Werewolves of London” that I was getting on WWN (Wizarding Wireless Network). By the time she had entered, I was very into it and was on a particularly nice “Awooooooo!” with my head thrown back and arms spread out. I may have been dancing as well (possibly Irish), but I prefer not to think about it.
She, being her insufferable self, had to take a few minutes to get over that (laughing unprofessionally hard and occasionally banging her head against the wall) before she got to her point.
“Severus,” she said, as if we were on first name terms, “I am here to teach you the facts of life.”
It went downhill from there.
Apparently that nitwit, Fanny Price, had gone running to McGonagall when she left my class. Why couldn’t she have gone to her own head of house?...though now that I think of it, Flitwick is not the one I choose to confess my girlie problems to either…
How was I supposed to understand female slang? How should I know that when “the painters are in” they are not actually painting portraits or walls, but flowing out someone’s nether regions? Urgh. No one will ever here me use those terms ever again.
Before McGonagall could educate me on the finer points of reproduction, I stunned her, put her in a full body bind and tried to carry her to her office. Unfortunately, her apparent frailness has no correlation with her weight. I would say that 302 kilos is not a bad estimate. As I passed through the halls, many students stared at me like they had nothing better to do except stand still all day staring at innocent professors carrying around their colleagues. And not one of them offered to help me either.
“What?” I shouted (rather feebly because I was panting so hard), “There is nothing to see here! Go on with your lives! Move along!”
They continued to stare however (they never were the brightest of things), so I forced the old hag onto two of them and panted back to the dungeons. Only then did I realize that I forgot to modify the mad woman’s memory.
I sat in my office the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself and then went into to dinner late, hoping that most everyone might have left by then (I knew that half the school would know what had happened by that time). Sadly, however, when I entered, nearly everyone was there, and more than half the students and all of the staff turned to stare at me. Most of them were smiling. Dumbledore was twinkling his eyes. I turned around abruptly when some of the students began to giggle and pretended I had lost something.
“Oh no,” I said, “I have lost my…” for some reason avocado was the only word that could come to mind. I thought very quickly and finished, “orange! Oh dear. I must find it.”
I don’t pretend to have good acting skills, but I must say that I think I handled that very nicely, considering. So then I left, looking for my orange, obviously, and then barricaded myself in the cupboard, never to come out again.
To make matters worse, something soon began knocking and shuffling about outside the door.
“Professor Snape-y!” someone said, in a horribly sweet, singsong voice “It’s time to come out now! I have some cheese for you!”
That is my life.
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by Zhi Nai Su