Dumbledore herded me up to his office, like I was some sort of sheep. Though I’m not sure where he got the shepherd’s cane on such short notice. Perhaps it was an impulse buy.
Along the way, he hummed some horrible tune, waved his cane about, and refused to answer any of my sensible questions.
I asked, “Headmaster, am I in trouble?”
And, “Why do you need to talk to me?”
But when I asked, “May I please at least use the toilet first?” I was rewarded with a loud, resounding, “NO!” right in my face.
And then more shepherding and humming, naturally.
“How did such a personage as you become Headmaster?” I asked, politely.
“Usurping, mostly,” said the madman, “With a bit of secretarial work on the side.”
A few wits after the end of my wits, we arrived at his office, which is the only room in this castle that’s madder than he is. (All those little whirring machines in it, by the way, look all magical and important, but are mostly just the product of Dumbledore’s brief foray into modern art. If you are ever unfortunate enough to ask about them, you will be subjected to a lecture on post-modern-urban-industrialism, full with visual aids and the occasional role-playing.)
Anyhow, Dumbledore waddled into his office, still wielding the shepherd’s cane, and deposited himself behind his desk. He then peered at me over his glasses with a look that was almost sane.
I proceeded warily into the office. If he was experiencing a brief moment of sensibility, I was not going to be the one to miss it.
“You wanted to talk to me, sir?”
“Yes, I wanted to remind you that Love Potions are strictly forbidden in the castle.”
“Well, you can’t prove anything. Is that all?”
(I inwardly marked that day down in History, as the Day We Exchanged a Few Lines of Rational Dialogue.)
“No that is not all,” he continued, “I’m going to London.”
“Methinks…once a day.”
“Alas, yes. Until methinks I should come back.”
“But…why?” (I inwardly cursed him. We had been doing so well with the conversing coherently.)
“Because there have been some strange happenstance happenings in this castle. I may be needed here at any moment.”
“So if you think you will be needed here, then why don’t you just stay, and not go to London at all?”
He glared at me. I saw his hand twitch towards that secret button that he has that opens the trapdoor that very often drops me free-falling down to my dungeons. So I leapt rabbit-like onto his desk, just as the trapdoor opened right where I had been standing.
I crouched (frog-like, now) there on his desk, smiling triumphantly down at him.
“Alas,” he said (for once using the word in its right context), “That usually succeeds. Alas, nice reflexes.”
“I know,” I said, thanking my daily yoga for making all this crouching so easy for me, “Now, Dumbledore, why exactly do you need to go to London in the first place?”
He just stared at me blankly. He was so blank that he even forgot to turn the twinkles on in his eyes. They were just normal blue for once. Staring…staring…staring…
“Ha!” I said, climbing down from his desk, “You have no reason to go to London! So it was all a char-AAAAAAAAAAH!”
Alas, I had forgotten that the trap door was still open. So down I fell. Down, down, down, and then bounce bounce as I landed on my bed, shouting angry hyperbolic metaphors and similes at no one, as the culprit chuckled to himself eleven floors above.
Or did he?
I heard a high-pitched “Wheeeee!” from above my head, and I dove off the bed just in time to see Dumbledore crash-land right where my face would have been.
“Forgive me for my intrusion!” he said (rather big words for someone who was bouncing on a bed with their five-foot-long hair-and-beard combination all standing up on end), “But I forgot to mention that you must inform me if you see anything suspicious while I’m gone!”
“Alright,” I said, “But I still postulate that it would be more efficient for you to remain here.”
Dumbledore stopped bouncing and sat down on the bed, conjured up a dictionary from midair, looked something up, and then said, “Oh really? Well then I postulate that Quirrel will try to steal the Philosopher’s Stone!”
“What? What did you say?”
“Hmm, alas. Oh, nothing, nothing…”
He hopped off the bed and began to rummage through my closet.
“Oy, get out of there—Headmaster? What did you just say? Did you just say that Quirrel was going to—?”
“Aha!” he said, emerging from my closet with my second-favourite umbrella. (You know, the one with the different coloured slices, like a big bright rainbow orange.)
This very effectively distracted me from any questions I had about Quirrel.
“That’s mine!” I hollered, in a genuine panic, and began to chase him.
We ran out the door and down the hall.
“Give it back!”
I was gaining on him, so he turned his head back and yelled, “Voldemort!” just so that I would have to stop and take the customary flinch that must always accompany the Dark Lord’s name. This flinch slowed me down just enough so that he could speed ahead and out of sight, umbrella still tucked heartrendingly under his arm.
It was a dirty trick, but it worked every time.
So Dumbledore went to London every day that week. He would send himself an “Urgent Message” from the “Ministry,” every morning at breakfast (you could tell he sent them because they were printed on his customized purple stationary with the watermark of his face on it), and then yell something like “Oh my! The Ministry! How important!” and then set off with superfluous pomp and circumstance and, inexplicably, my poor, wounded umbrella tucked into his Weird Sisters’ rucksack.
It was really all very tragic and unpleasant.
And then, every day, he would return at some arbitrary time running around the halls, barking nonsense like, “Harry’s gone after him, hasn’t he?” and “No sooner had I reached London than it became clear to me that the place I should be was the one I had just left!” and other such waffle, until someone or other rounded him up and locked him back into his office.
Episodes like this are rather common with Dumbledore. It gets hard to feign concern after a point.
This behaviour continued all the way into exams, right until the very last day, in fact. But by that time I couldn’t be bothered with it. The year was almost over. There was no stopping my buoyant cheer.
I divided my time between prowling, stalking, and surreptitiously humming, “The Final Countdown.” I had already made the executive decision to skip grading exams this year, and just award the student with my standard formula:
+10 points for a having a pronounceable name
+10 for tolerable looks
+10 for being in the Right House
+10 for never speaking to me in class
+10 for never speaking to me ever
+10 for sitting in the front row
+10 for having those scary-type parents that might owl me if I give too low a grade
+10 for not having those scary-type parents, and thereby having hope of becoming a tolerable person in the future
+10 for looking like a murderer (no point in me taking any risks)
+10 for imitating my hairstyle
+10 for attending the exam
+15 for existing, just so that I don’t fail everyone and look suspicious
+100 if I like you (this has yet to happen)
…all out of 100.
It’s a very effective system. You’d be surprised how few complaints I’ve received.
I imagine that every teacher has his or her own similar grading system.
Quirrel’s would probably be something like +100 if you are an iguana.
Flitwick’s would be +100 if you are shorter than me.
McGonagall’s would be +100 if you actually earned a 100, which is why we call her The Cat in the Hat, behind her back.
Or at least I do. And, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, I am more or less a trendsetter around here.
Anyway, I was walking the halls on this last day, thinking with excitement upon the “END OF TERM COSTUME! AND CHOCOLATE! PARTY!” that had been advertised on flamboyantly coloured posters all over the school and was to be taking place in the staff room that night, and considering carefully my many costume options, when I stumbled upon a very irksome scene.
Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger, forming a triangle of annoyance in the middle of the hallway.
“—It’s tonight,” Harry was muttering excitedly, “Snape’s going through the trapdoor tonight—“
I was rather busy observing that Potter’s forehead is far too small compared to the rest of his face, but I did hear my name. I immediately puffed with indignation. But of course, none of the miniature blockheads noticed my indignant puffing.
“—He’s found everything he needs,” he continued, “And now he’s got Dumbledore out of the way. He sent that note, I bet the Ministry of Magic is going to get a real shock when Dumbledore turns up.”
“But what can we—?”
I stepped very suddenly (and dramatically) into the light.
I meant to say something very cutting and snarky, but I blanked a bit and just strangled out, “Good afternoon!” at the last second.
They stared at me.
I regained my snarkiness.
“You shouldn’t be inside on a day like thisss,” I said, lingering on the “s” for effect. And it was very effective.
But then, at the worst possible moment, I suddenly and unstoppably beamed out the most shiny and charming of smiles. I had got it! My costume! It was perfect!
Potter interrupted my blissful thoughts.
“We were just…”
“You want to be more careful,” I smoothly interrupted him right back, “Hanging around like this, people will think you’re up to something. And Gryffindor really can’t afford to lose anymore points, can it?”
Harry blushed like a schoolgirl. They all began shuffling suspiciously away, but I remembered something else:
“Be warned, Potter—any more nighttime wanderings and I will personally make sure you are expelled.”
I was taken then by a powerful sneeze, but I cleverly turned it into what sounded like “Good day to you!” (in a sneezy sort of way), and walked quickly away.
I needed to hurry if I wanted my costume to be ready in time for the party. I was on a mission.
I crept down to the kitchen, and stole a string of garlic cloves. Then I crept up to Dumbledore’s office, and stole one of his purple curtains (Dumbledore was out again on one of his pretend “Ministry Missions”). But, mind you, even when he’s not there, stealing from Dumbledore’s office is never easy. Fawkes set me on fire three times before the curtain came down properly.
I, only mildly singed and smoking, then went straight down to my dungeons to concoct my hilarious disguise.
Three hours later, I emerged victorious, with the string of garlic around my neck, and a purple turban wrapped expertly around my head (turbans are harder than you think to affix). I was walking innocently towards the staff room, pondering whether or not to steal also Quirrel’s horrendous clog-like shoes, just for effect, and practicing my stutter, when someone shouted from behind me.
I began to run, thinking that Quirrel was near, and not wanting to spoil my costume just yet. But to my astonishment, I found myself suddenly Immobilized.
“Quirrel!” the person said again. I heard them run up behind me.
And suddenly, with fury in his eyes, and his wand pointing at my chest, the quiet Third Year Hufflepuff Cedric Diggory was in front of me, shouting melodramatically in my poor immobilized face.
“I know what you’re trying to do, Quirrel! You’re trying to Steal the Philosopher’s Stone! I’ve figured you all out. That’s why you’re throwing that staff party—you’re trying to distract the teachers while Dumbledore’s conveniently out of town. Well, I won’t let you! Stupefy!”
My last thought, before the spell hit me full-on in the chest, was something about garlic.
I awoke, some interval later, and before I even registered my surroundings I shouted, “I do not resemble Quirrel!” for anyone who cared to listen.
It turned out that no one cared to listen, and that I was still in the exact same corridor Diggory had left me in.
I got up and ran to the Staff Room, hoping desperately that I hadn’t missed the whole party.
When I arrived and ripped open the Staff Room door, my heart fell into my knees. There were no decorations, no costumes, not even any chocolate. And there was only one, endlessly unnecessary person, sitting in an armchair, probably memorizing a textbook.
“Minerva—“ I began.
She looked up and screamed. Then she threw her book to the floor, and began brandishing her wand in my face.
“Quirrel! Dumbledore said you were dead!”
My first instinct was to bite her. But I resisted.
“It’s me!” I said, “Can’t anybody tell the difference?”
I ripped off my purple turban, which in my hurry I had forgotten I was wearing.
“Severus?” She looked positively befuddled. “Why on all of God’s green and blue earth are you dressed like Quirrel?”
“It was my costume,” I said sadly, “I got waylaid on the way to the costume party. I was going as Quirrel.”
She looked at me in alarm.
“You realize the costume party was three days ago?”
“Three…days…I was left lying in a corridor for three days?” But then suddenly something she had said earlier hit me full-force, “Quirrel’s DEAD?”
“He had You-Know-Who in his turban,” she said simply, as if that was any explanation at all, “He tried to steal the Stone. Amazingly, Potter, Granger, and Weasley held him up long enough for the Headmaster to intervene.”
“Dumbledore killed Quirrel?”
“I think not. I believe Potter killed him with his fiery hands,” she said, which, again, was just as good as no explanation at all.
“So in a similar vein, then, Minerva, do you think I could get Potter expelled for being a murderer?”
“Severus, do you not understand the implications of this?” she snapped.
“The Dark Lord!” It all clicked, “He’s alive! And Quirrel is dead! Oh, this is far too much for me…”
I sat down in what may have been a mild swoon. I sat there for a few minutes, and Minerva began looking a bit uncomfortable.
“Severus,” she finally said, “Are you…sad?”
“No,” I lied, “I just miss him a little.”
“You?” she asked incredulously.
“I hated him so deeply…You don’t find someone like that every day.”
“Well, then, I’m sure you’ll find someone else to fill his place,” she said awkwardly, and by the time I looked up to reply, she had skedaddled out the door.
So I conjured a quill and paper, and wrote the following carefully-crafted eulogy:
We are one and the same.
We both worked for
You were like
My worser half:
I was cool
And you were naff.
Your purple turban
Smelled really bad
And now that you are dead
I am sad.
When I emerged from the Staff Room, people were all heading in packs towards something.
I stopped one student.
“Where are you going?”
“The End-of-the-Year Feast, of course! But—why are your eyes all red and puffy?”
As I hemmed and hawed, another student popped in helpfully, “Yeah, and why do you smell like garlic eggplant?”
This is why I hate students.
I just gracefully clonked their heads together, removed my garland of garlic, and proceeded to the feast. As I walked, I reconciled myself to the fact that I’d been Stunned and abandoned in a hallway for three days. At least it made the end of the year come faster.
I passed Cedric Diggory on the way, and resisted the urge to vomit on his head. He did not even spare me a look; apparently he had never realized his grave error. I solemnly swore at that moment to never let him have a moment of peace while he resided in the same building as me.
I sat down at the feast. I did not care how many points Dumbledore shoveled onto the Gryffindors. I did not care who won the House Cup. I did not even care that Madam Pomfrey was rubbing my leg with her own under the table. I only cared about one thing.
When Dumbledore stopped rambling at the students, and the feasting ensued, I shouted across to him:
“Dumbledore! If you knew all this was going to happen, then why didn’t you stop it?”
“Why, elementary, my dear Watson!” he quipped. He then chuckled, took a sip of juice, choked on it, wheezed for a while, and then got the hiccups.
I stared at him in utter frustration, but he didn’t seem to plan on saying anything more.
Madam Pomfrey’s leg was wandering dangerously, so I kicked it and resumed my meal.
This year was not going on the Top Ten List.
A/N—Yes, this is the finale! The grand exeunt of Year One! I can't believe it's over. So I just wanted to thank you all for how great and supportive you’ve been, putting up with my slow updating, and my sheer ridiculousness. Every single one of you made this possible. Every single review keeps me writing. I had endless fun, and I hope you did too!
Extra HUGE thanks to everyone who nominated me for a Dobby! This is lame, but it literally brought tears to my eyes.
So…liked this story? VOTE P^5 FOR BEST NOVELLA!
(Don't ask me why it's "novella" of all things.)
And lastly,Year Two (Severely, Severus) is UP! Please check it out!