Severus Snape stood before the tea counter in the empty staff room of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, brow creased in deep thought.
Somebody had left an unused teabag on the surface of the cheap plywood surface and it bothered Professor Snape deeply to see the innocent potential beverage in such a poorly condition. His black eyes flickered searchingly over the nearby shelves, doing a quick autopsy of the state of the many containers that contained several hundred different types of tea. There seemed to be an ominous feeling hanging thick on the air and Severus could feel its weight pressing down on him.
Somebody had been careless and left a vulnerable little teabag on the side, leaving it open to any sort of assault a terrible teabag-pervert might make. The thought repulsed the straight-backed Potions Master and his lip curled in disgust at the thought of something happening to the little teabag.
The year so far had been disastrous for the entire school with the revelation that there was a horrid old snake slithering about on a never-ending hunt for a good staring match. While Severus didn't mind snakes that much, he was a little averse to the idea of a fifty-foot long basilisk sliding around, seeing as it could do something nasty like slithering into his bed while asleep, or even worse, taking advantage of a defenceless little teabag.
Thanks to his old pal Lucius Malfoy and the bloody diary he had stupidly given to someone, the school was facing closure and the teabags were facing an even worse fate of being thrown in the bin.
Severus sighed and pinched the bridge of his large nose as he considered the situation; he should really rescue the teabag and fulfil its purpose by dropping it into a mug and making a quick brew, but he wasn't sure just what kind of tea it was and he was extremely fussy when it came down to tea types.
Due to his absurdly sensitive olfaction, Professor Snape could stomach nothing more than a normal English Tea. He had tried several other tea types in the past, but on all occasions, it had turned out to be an incredible catastrophe and embarrassment on both his part and his hosts'. He had thought the exotic name Darjeeling would have yielded a taste of perfection but he was very much mistaken when the tinge of astringent tannic characteristics hit his taste buds and the musky spiciness a tea connoisseur such as himself called "muscatel" evoked a strange spasmodic fit that had him singing loudly in the Bhangra style and twirling in black saris for a full two minutes.
He had managed to blackmail Lucius into not telling a single living being on that particular episode, but the rotten Malfoy had laughed so hard on his own tea that he had ended up doing a humiliating little number that had him yelling in Punjabi at Severus until the latter had thrown the rest of his tea at him and got his immaculate white shirt covered in tea stains. Malfoy senior had sobered considerably after that and had been more than willing to keep the incident hushed up.
Severus continued to stand in front of the tea counter as he recalled with little fondness, the other 'tea moments' he had had in the last twenty years.
Drinking Earl Grey at a private staff Christmas party had rendered everyone speechless as his senses were overrun again and he had had another fit where he had pulled out a full black tuxedo before magicking it on, along with a silk black top hat and white gloves. To add to the shame of dressing up as a wizarding Fred Astaire, he had whipped out a cane from nowhere and sung a not-so-delightful rendition of the Hogwarts' hymn, much to Albus' amusement.
Thankfully, Minerva had had the sense to throw some holly at him after his toneless singing and the prickles had pricked Severus into regaining his senses. Honestly, as much as he hated to admit it, Severus did sometimes wonder what he would do without the Deputy Headmistress to knock some sense into him. She had been around the time he had tried drinking some Green Tea and had had to shove some shortbread down his throat to get him out of his profound meditation petit mal.
Having bored himself with reminisces of encounters with various disagreeable teas, Severus now decided that yes, plain English black tea was the best thing for him. He reached out a hand to carefully pick up the lone teabag and bring it to his nose to have a cautious sniff. Leaving a healthy gap of five inches, Severus inhaled deeply and smelt the tell-tale aromas of a fruit tea containing strawberries, raspberries and loganberries.
"Thank Merlin," he muttered in his glum voice as he mirthlessly rejoiced at having saved himself from another grand mal that might have been utterly mortifying. With a small sigh, he searched the shelves above him for the right jar and upon finding it, delivered the little teabag to the safety of its clan. He even imagined hearing the little, high-pitched cheers given by the lone adventurer's fellow teabags and allowed himself to feel content and satisfied at having done his first good deed since the first term had begun.
He busied himself with making a cup of his usual dull brew as he hummed tunelessly to himself. With a increasing burning sensation of annoyance, he thought about how the Potter kid and his irritable sidekicks were probably tearing about the school, hanging about in weird places like the abandoned girls' loos on the second floor and trying to be Sherlock Holmes, Watson and Turf-head (who that was, Severus really didn't know and really didn't care).
With a growl of annoyance, Severus took his mug of hot tea to one of the old, fat armchairs and slowly lowered himself into it, determined not to make the surface of the tea ripple in the slightest. As he went through his usual routine of eyeing the brew, sniffing it daintily and then blowing lightly across its surface, he fumed over how his public enemy no.1 seemed to have become beloved of the wizarding world to more than he cared to count. Only he and Lucius seemed to hate the brat amidst the adoration-crazed fools. Perhaps that was why the two unlikely men were friends in the first place; they hated little boys with messy black hair, dumb glasses and a dorky scar. Lucius had once confided in Severus that one of the reasons he hated Potter was because the idiotic kid somehow managed to look cooler with his crap scar than Lucius did with his pimp cane.
Severus had ended up in supplying his traumatised friend with a Sleeping Draught and sent him packing to his wife to go and relieve his wizard angst. Severus had been all the more surprised to hear at the beginning of the year that Lucius had managed to become one of the school governors and paranoid that the blond wizard was secretly out to get his personal collection of fine teas (which he never drunk anyway, seeing as he was allergic to most kinds).
Just as Severus was about to take his first sip, the door to the staff room swung open with a bang, causing him to twitch in his seat and spill a precious drop of his tea on the front of his robe.
"Damn!" he snarled in anger as he eyed the tiny wet spot on his lap. "Why couldn't you enter with some calmness?" he snapped at the newcomer without even looking who it was.
He jumped again as he realised it was none other than the strict Transfiguration professor who had crashed her way in and ended up slopping half the contents of the mug on the floor, much to his dismay.
"Look what you made me do!" he growled unhappily at McGonagall as she stood panting slightly in the doorway. He lifted his eyes to glare at his colleague, but stopped short when he took in the sight of her.
One hair had come out of her fierce bun and there was a small white smudge that looked suspiciously like chalk on one of her black-robed shoulders. Her glasses were tilted three degrees to the right and there was a speck of dust on the toe of her stylishly pointy black boot.
Severus couldn't quite contain his gasp at her dishevelled state and rose quickly to come to her side.
"Merlin! What happened to you? You look like you had a moth bat at you!" he said in a caring sort of sneer while Minerva exhaled loudly and wiped her forehead with a handkerchief.
"That blond moron has been in school again!" she sighed in distress while Severus stepped behind her to close the door and ensure a tad amount of privacy.
"He's given all the Slytherin Quidditch team a Nimbus 2001 and he was smirking again!" Minerva cried in a rare moment of loss of composure. Severus felt a slight tang of sympathy for the distressed Deputy Headmistress, but delight at having his House's Quidditch team so well-equipped overrode any words of solace he might have otherwise offered his colleague.
"Lucius was here?" he asked casually, not wanting to enrage the other professor any more with talk of her least favourite wizard on earth.
"Yes!" McGonagall hissed like an angry goose as she brushed her robes off and smoothed her hair back. "And I of all people have to attend a meeting with all the governors because Albus is in Lithuania."
"He's in Lithuania?" Severus asked with a raised brow, unaware that the Headmaster had even left the front doors of the school.
"Yes," Minerva replied tersely. "He's searching for a rare infusion called 'Vilnius Villainus'. It's supposed to make the drinker turn into a Lithuanian rogue, making them easier to track down due to the different language they speak."
"And I suppose the Headmaster is going to attempt to force the Dark Lord to drink it?" Severus said in a bored voice, not bothering to recall the countless times when Dumbledore had tried to trick the Dark Lord into consuming some kind of Charmed food or drink. Last time, it had been Portkey Oreos, if he wasn't much mistaken…
"Anyways, I better go and deal with that imbecile they call Lucius Malfoy and tell him to shove his daft bills up places unmentionable."
"Like the Minister's pigeonhole," Severus added with a solemn nod.
"Indeed," Minerva said brusquely before she turned to march out again. "Oh, and Severus," she said as she paused by the door to glance back at him.
"There's been a teabag theft from Filch's office. I actually came to tell you that, but it completely slipped my mind while I was thinking about Lucifer," the Transfiguration professor confessed while Severus felt his insides go numb.
A teabag theft? That left only one thing to do…
"I'll deal with it," Severus said in a gruff growl while Minerva gave him a nod of approval.
"I have faith in you, Severus," she said as she left the room.
"Have faith in Merlin, lady," Severus muttered after her as he suddenly pulled out a set of diabolical-looking crimson robes and hat. With a quick spell, he was wearing the menacing outfit like an inquisitor from Espanola and around his neck hung a chain with the symbol of the Deathly Hallows in pure gold. He closed his eyes to compose himself before opening them and wearing an evil, evil smile.
"Look out, teanappers! The Snapish Inquisitor is about!" he said with an evil laugh before running from the room with the flapping of his robes.
"Give it to me!" a Gryffindor first-year whined at a Ravenclaw second-year.
"Impudent complaint will get you nowhere, my friend," the haughty Ravenclaw replied as he started scampering down the long corridor.
"Hand it over, you thief! I can't let you go because of my honour!" the little Gryffindor yelled after the older boy, struggling to keep up with him.
"I thought I told you to shoo, you mouse-like caribou!" the Ravenclaw shouted back as he picked up his pace and legged it towards the bend of the corridor where he hoped to find his escape by hiding behind a suit-of-armour.
"Where did you get it from?" the Gryffindor hero roared as he chased the villain. "Why did you steal it?"
"Thou speakest in line with the stars of Mars and Jupiter!" the Ravenclaw answered back, stolen good clutched tightly in his hand.
"What the Quaffle does that mean?" the Gryffindor shouted in bewilderment.
"You speak like the son of a gun!" the Ravenclaw explained in a yell as he continued to race down the corridor.
"What the Snitch does that mean?" the Gryffindor whined at the older student.
"I don't know, do I?" the Ravenclaw snarled as he suddenly skidded to a halt, whirling around to face the little numbskull and assault him with his higher intelligence. "I got taught that line, okay?" he said in deep frustration. "Merlin! I wasn't expecting some kind of Snapish Inquisition!"
"NOBODY EXPECTS THE SNAPISH INQUISITION!"
Both boys slowly turned their eyes to see their Potions Master with quaking legs. Professor Snape was horrible enough in his black robes, but in the red ones…
The little Gryffindor burst into noisy tears and fled the scene as fast as Snape had appeared and the Ravenclaw fainted on the spot, hand unclenching and leaving Severus to bend down and retrieve the thief's claim.
"Excellent! A bag of normal English tea!" he exclaimed in grumpity cheer as he held up the teabag to the light and examined it. With a wave of his wand, he was back to Severus Snape: the Potions Master and he began walking away from the crime scene with his black robes billowing.
"A nice cup of tea for me," he hummed crankily to himself as he carefully cradled the teabag and headed back for the staff room.