Chapter 8 : Composure, Curses, and, of course, Conniptions
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I was in a rather foul mood (and by rather I mean INSANELY), the cause of which I will explain later, so I was stalking about the castle (which involves a quick, angry walk and the occasional prance-and-leap combo plus imposing eyebrows) when I stalked right into a suit of armor. It promptly picked me up over its head, spun me in a circle, and threw me into a nearby classroom. This, believe it or not, was not the embarrassing part. That came when I stood up, straightened myself out, and turned around. And there was McGonagall. In a pale pink leotard. Doing a headstand.
"Oh! Excuse me..." she said, but she stayed upside down, with an almost serene expression on her face.
I went into shock. I swear to you. I didn't know what to do, which is just great because I always know what to do. Always. Until now. At worst I could have at least burst out laughing. Jesus Jiminy Christ, the old bag's taken up gymnastics and I can't even come up with a chuckle. I just gaped for a second, but she couldn't see me because she had already closed her eyes in a sort of headstand-trance.
"Ah..." I stuttered (and under normal circumstances it is impossible to stutter over the word "Ah").
"I--hmm. Ah...muck," I said slowly, so she could understand me, "Hem! That's right there, well...yes. There."
She then opened her eyes very slowly and looked at me--but not at my face. At my feet. Yes, the feet thing again. And yet I still couldn't do anything. I believe I said, "Cah!" rather loudly and then tripped over what I would love to say was my own foot, but in all honesty was absolutely nothing. I wasn't even walking. How do you trip when you aren't moving? Pure talent, I suppose.
So I said to myself in my head, "Composure, Severus, composure. Composure, composure, composure."
It almost worked, too. I turned to her, stuck my nose up, and said, "Com-pose-ure." And walked out.
But just before the door shut, she called, "Severus!"
I stuck my head back in. I should have just run. Why didn't I just run?
"You have toilet paper on your shoe."
Then I ran, but only until the next hallway where I checked my shoe and, sure enough, this was not just toilet paper, this was an entire roll. It had been trailing me along all day apparently, because as I looked around I saw it running down the hall and turning corners and crisscrossing everywhere. I shook it off (which took a full ten minutes) and stormed back to my dungeon. No more stalking for me.
Oh, right. Well that same day was the first Quidditch game--and of course it just had to be Slytherin versus Gryffindor. You see, normally I despise sports and those who play them, but I make a special point about Slytherin Quidditch. We have a name to uphold that goes much farther than Quidditch, but at the same time includes it, and so of course we'd better win if Dumbledore doesn't want me in conniptions for eternity. So I always show up to the game against my deeper wishes.
I knew this game would be particularly painful because Potter was playing--as Seeker. I had no idea how bad it would really be, but I prepared something to amuse myself just in case. I charmed a box to throw peanuts at him and set it in the stands the night before (after Filch let me out when I threatened to stop brewing him that excellent face cleanser I invented).
It worked the first part of the game (though I'm not sure he noticed--thick as he is. Next time I'll try throwing giraffes and see if that perks him up a bit.). But then the funniest thing happened. I was looking through my binoculars (to see if the peanuts were hitting, of course--as if I would honestly follow the plays of a Quidditch game) and I noticed that all the peanuts that were already in the air seemed to be having seizures. They were all whizzing around and lurching and looping. Along with everything else in that area--including Harry.
I looked around me and no one else seemed to be noticing. I knew it was a Mobili Curse, I could tell from the way the peanuts were moving and how it targeted a whole area. So then, I am ashamed to admit, I began to chant the counter curse. I don't really know why I did it, but I maintain that it was to save the peanuts.
Also, I could see Quirrel in the row above me trying to counter it as well, and failing miserably. With every word he said, Harry seemed to lurch even more. That incompetent mess of an ugly purple turban. I had no idea how he got that job, but I had a pretty good idea of how he would lose it. One day he'd be too scared and quivery to leave his bed and Dumbledore would have to fire him and make ME the Defense teacher, and make ME Deputy Headmistress, and make ME King of the World!...
I mentioned this offhandedly to Dumbledore sometime before I made a fool of myself in front of McGonagall. He was actually the root of all my angry stalking.
"Dumbledore!" I had said as I barged into his office. Well actually I had been hiding in his cabinet, sitting in his Pensieve (hoping that sitting there wouldn't forever give him a memory of my rear), and I jumped out at him at the exact moment when I knew he was just relaxing in his chair taking a sip of tea (which we all know is actually gin in a teacup). He spluttered it all over the place and made quite a scene. He's very gifted at calling up amusing profanities at the spur of the moment. Unfortunately he also has very good reflexes, so while he spluttered and carried on, he managed to put me in a killer body bind.
"What do you WANT Severus?" he spat (literally).
"Mm-hmmhmm. Mmm mhhmmm hmm hmmummhmm. Frmmummhmm--" He took me out of the body bind, "I saved Potter and Quirrel couldn't even do it and why haven't you fired him?"
"Ahhh, Seeeveeerrrrrrussss..." he has this habit of elongating words at only the most annoying times possible, "Whhhhy do you thinnnk you saaaved Hhhharrrry?"
"Peanuts!" I screamed, "And don't you try to make anything else out of it!--"
"And would you cut that out?"
"That's better. I didn't come here to listen to your rubbish. I came here to prove a point." And believe it or not, he actually listened. Probably because he had never heard me make that much sense before, "Today at the Quidditch game, both Quirrel and I were trying to save Harry, but when I did it the broom steadied and when he did it, the broom went nuts. If he can't even defend a single student then why does he get that job when I, being perfectly competent, have never been allowed it?"
"Stop it!" I squeaked.
"Oh, right, sorry." He cleared his throat, "Ah, Severus, perhaps there was only one of you who was trying to save the boy..."
"I was trying to save him Professor! Maybe I don't like him, but there are times that you have to push aside grudges if you want the peanuts to fly and no one to die--Hey! That rhymes!" I believe I giggled, but I prefer not to think about it. You see, I can handle many things, but alcohol is not one of them and I can't deny that I had visited Trelawney's "secret" stash before I went to the Headmaster.
But anyway, Dumbledore continued on, "Yes, you did save Harry, but did Quirrel?"
"No! That's what I'm trying to tell you! He's useless!"
"Useless to who?"
"Maybe he is being useful to someone else."
"By being incompetent."
"At the game!"
"I don't know!"
And then silence. I had a lot to think about.
"Headmaster?" I said about a minute later.
"I still don't get it."
"Ahhhhhh, well. Perhaps this is something I'll have to let you figure out on your own," he said. I hate it when he does that. So cryptic, and who does it help? No one. All this self-discovery stuff is so overrated. Why don't you tell me the ending before it happens so I don't have to be so surprised that I wet myself?
"But why can't you--" I began, but was cut off when the trapdoor beneath me opened and I fell eleven stories down to my dungeon. Ever since Dumbledore discovered that his rooms were right above mine, he'd been getting enourmous blooming enjoyment out of listening to my screams. I think it made him feel like he had a purpose in life (which he didn’t).
So that's when I changed my robes and went out stalking. I had to change my robes because someone set me on fire during the Quidditch game. And even then I was still able to save Potter. I was almost at the end of the incantation when I smelled the smoke, so I finished quickly and then stamped it out, but not quickly enough to save my robes.
It really was an eventful day.
I refuse to talk about the end of the Quidditch game lest I start blaming myself for how it turned out. If anyone had ever found out that I helped the boy who won the game, I would never have heard the end of it! The students gladly would have lynched me! I would have been outcast for life! I would never have been able to come back to the school ever again...
Actually, none of those things are sounding very bad at this moment.
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