Chapter 1: Practice Makes Perfect... Trouble
Remus Lupin was bored. Slumped in an easy chair in the staff room, he tried to decide just what to do about it. There was no one around to talk to, he’d finished grading all of his student assignments, and lunch wasn’t for another forty minutes or so. Idly, he flipped his wand back and forth from one hand to the other as he stared at the ceiling. Maybe he should brush up on his charms.
His pride still smarted a bit from the sneering of his ever so helpful colleague, Severus Snape, who’d laughed himself silly over the failure of Lupin’s Cheering Charm just yesterday. Failing miserably at the charm hadn’t been the way Lupin had intended to cheer Snape up, although it was probably the way Snape preferred it. After all, a dash of humiliation always seemed to make the Potions master’s day, as long as the humiliation was someone else’s, of course.
But darn it, it wasn’t Lupin’s fault that Charms had been his worst subject in school, well… after Potions. Certainly, he could perform many spells that were far more difficult than the charms were supposed to be. He never had any trouble with the curses, counter-curses and defensive spells that he needed to excel in his own area of expertise.
Perhaps when it came to Charms, he just had a mental block of some sort. After all, no one could truly be an expert in every subject no matter how knowledgeable Mr. “I could do your job better than you ever could” Potions master tried to make out that he was.
Well, he’d find a way to show him, and this was certainly the perfect time to practice. No one was around. So what should he try? There was nothing to cheer up here, so Cheering Charms were out, which was probably just as well. Anyway, surely he could manage something a bit more difficult… at least, when there wasn’t an audience around to distract him.
Suddenly, he snapped his fingers and sat up straighter in his chair. Now there was an idea. He’d try a Transposing Charm. That was a moderately difficult one, and the perfect situation for practicing it was right in front of his eyes. Hanging from the cloak rack next to the door were a worn black cloak and a Hufflepuff scarf. They were separated by three hooks on the wall, which should be just enough space to make it work. If the items were too far apart, the spell was more difficult to work. Best to start with something easy.
Lupin held his wand lightly in his hand and tried to recall the correct incantation to make the two objects switch places. It had been awhile since he’d done this one. Okay, if he was to be strictly honest, he’d have to admit that he’d never successfully performed this charm, but he’d seen Flitwick do it a few times. How hard could it be? Anyway, if he failed, who’d know about it? No one was anywhere around. And he was never going to improve if he didn’t practice.
“You know you can do this!” he told himself firmly, as he banished the image of Snape’s laughing face from his mind. Pep talks were very important to successful magic and believing that you could do it was often half the battle. He grinned to himself at his foolishness. It was just as well that no one was here to see him making such a big deal out of performing a simple little spell. Enough stalling. Just get on with it. Carefully, he aimed at the cloak rack and gave his wand that flourishing flick that Flitwick always encouraged as he stated the spell in a firm, determined tone.
At the instant the sound died from his lips, the door to the staff room opened and in rushed Snape and McGonagall mired deep in an argument about the fairness of some Quidditch technique. As Lupin watched in horrified fascination, the burst of bluish light from his wand enveloped the two teachers instead of hitting the cloak rack that was now behind them. Awash in blue sparkles, Snape and McGonagall seemed to blur momentarily, then the two of them fell gracelessly to the floor.
Lupin sat there with his mouth hanging open for a horrified moment, then he jumped to his feet to see if he’d managed to kill his colleagues or only render them unconscious. Internally, he debated in a half-serious manner which would be worse; neither scenario boded well for him. Why did it have to be Snape who walked in?
When he bent down to feel for a pulse at McGonagall’s throat, her eyes snapped open as he was groping at her neckline, and her closed fist came up and punched him squarely in the nose. As he sat down hard on the floor and felt for blood on his face, his assailant sat up and yelled, “What the bloody hell were you doing, Lupin? Have you finally lost all semblance of intelligence?”
As Lupin simply gaped at her uncharacteristic outburst, a very strange expression came over McGonagall’s face. Her mouth continued to hang open in a most unattractive manner, but words seemed to momentarily fail her. She held her hands out in front of her face as if she’d never seen them before. Then she clutched at her body as if it was a foreign object and looked in confusion at the still unconscious body of Severus Snape lying on the floor next to her.
Her eyes flicked back to Lupin, and she managed to whisper in a somewhat strangled tone, “What in hell did you do, you incompetent Gryffindor hack?”
Before Lupin could even begin to respond to this attack, Snape opened his eyes, groaned and sat up. He took one look at McGonagall and his eyes bugged out. All color drained from his face, not that there was much there to drain in the first place.
“What on earth is going on here?” he gasped in shock and immediately placed a hand to his throat as if he couldn’t quite believe the sound that had just emanated from it.
Lupin was belatedly beginning to catch on. Somehow, he’d managed to transpose Snape and McGonagall instead of the scarf and cloak. Now he knew that there was no doubt about it; he’d have been far better off if he’d simply killed them outright. Instead, he had a horrible feeling that it was more likely to be his life that suddenly hung by a slender thread.
Both Snape and McGonagall were staring at him now with identical murderous glares on their faces. He’d never noticed before how much they could look alike when they were both focused on causing intense pain to someone.
The extremely nervous wizard began scooting away from his accidental victims as quickly as possible with a rather sick grin on his face while he tried to think of a way to placate them and possibly avoid the thrashing that he just knew was coming his way at any moment.
Snape was faster though, and he managed to grab Lupin by the neck of his robes and haul him unceremoniously to his feet. “Any last words, you idiot?” he snarled in McGonagall’s refined voice.
Lupin hung there entranced by the spectacle of Snape’s words coming from McGonagall’s lips, when McGonagall herself grabbed her colleague’s arm and exclaimed, “Don’t be a fool, Severus. We may need him to cast the counterspell. Sometimes a charm can only be undone by the person who cast it.”
Lupin could practically hear the internal debate going on inside his assailant’s head. “Oh, but can’t I even maim him just a little… you know you want me to…”
“Oh, all right, Minerva,” Snape snarled angrily instead, giving in with ill grace. “He can live… for now. IF he proves himself useful and casts the counterspell this instant!”
Lupin nodded vigorously and pointed frantically at his throat, which was still being abused by Snape’s tight grip on his collar. With a nasty grin that actually looked far too at home on McGonagall’s face, Snape released his hold on Lupin and let the by now slightly oxygen starved professor fall back onto the floor once more.
With her lips pinched into a prim line, which also looked oddly at home on Snape’s face, McGonagall bent down and assisted Lupin back to his feet. “For all our sakes, Remus, I hope you do know the counterspell for this charm.”
As they both stared angrily at him, Lupin’s mind abruptly went blank.
Snape snorted and rolled his eyes at Lupin’s suddenly dazed expression. “There’s your answer, Minerva. This pitiful excuse for a wizard couldn’t cast a successful charm if his life depended on it.” He then directed another quelling glare at Lupin. “Which it does, by the way.”
Lupin backed away from the angry wizard. Or was it witch? Oh, this was going to get confusing. He held up his hands defensively in front of himself and tried to summon up some of that boyish charm that used to be lurking in there somewhere. It had always worked on McGonagall in the past. Of course, it would have absolutely no effect on Snape, but having only one of them trying to kill him would certainly be an improvement over having both of them at his throat.
McGonagall frowned darkly at the bemused werewolf. “You do know the counterspell, don’t you, Remus?”
The implied threat in her tone caused Lupin’s throat to go dry. At least he assumed there was an implied threat, with Severus’s voice it could be hard to tell. There always seemed to be an implied threat… often there was an overt threat to keep it company.
Lupin pulled himself together as the more humorous aspects of the situation struck him. He spread his arms wide and smiled what he hoped was a confident smile. “Of course I do, Minerva. Don’t worry, we’ll have this little error corrected before you know it, then we’ll all have a good laugh about it together.” He smiled encouragingly.
Both Snape and McGonagall stared ominously at the man as if neither of them could ever envision actually laughing about anything with Lupin ever again.
Right, smiles all around, thought Lupin as he bent down to pick up his wand from the floor. When he had it in his hand once more, he straightened up and looked at them. “Ready.”
Snape just growled and McGonagall crossed her arms and sighed. “Just get on with it, Remus, before any other members of the staff come in and find us this way.”
Lupin nodded and flourished his wand. He spoke the counterspell and watched as they were once more enveloped in sparkling energy… this time a lovely shade of pastel orchid.
When the haze cleared, the smile on Lupin’s face faltered. They were both still glaring angrily at him. He glanced down at his wand. What was wrong with the silly thing anyway? Before they could attack him again, he flourished his wand once more. This would work! He’d never had a problem with this spell!
“Finite Incantatem!” he exclaimed confidently.
Snape and McGonagall shivered as the spell struck them. But, once again, Lupin could tell he’d failed from the looks on their faces, which were beginning to look murderous once more.
“I don’t understand! That should work with any spell!” Lupin stated in confusion.
McGonagall sighed resignedly. “Sometimes it doesn’t work when the original enchantment was something that went awry. Mistakes can be difficult to correct when they involve the human brain.”
Snape flexed his fingers and commented ominously, “Oh, good, then you won’t object if I revert to the original plan and simply kill him.”
Lupin held up a hand hurriedly. “Wait, wait! I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t I try the original spell again? After all, it worked correctly. You did transpose. Another hit should just… put you back where you belong.”
Snape snarled and took a threatening step toward Lupin. “Should is the operative word here, you dunderhead! At the moment, I wouldn’t trust you to so much as light your wand and expect you to do it correctly!”
McGonagall grabbed hold of her true body and kept its current occupant from reaching the hapless Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. “Violence isn’t going to solve anything, Severus. We need to remain calm here. Remus is right; perhaps the recasting of the charm would work. However,” she hastened to add when her fellow sufferer looked ready to explode, “perhaps it would be better to have Flitwick cast the charm. He’s much more knowledgeable in this area.”
Snape paused in his struggles and gave a long-suffering sigh. “You realize that means we have to tell people about this.”
McGonagall didn’t look any happier about that than her colleague. “In order to get the help we need, I don’t see any other way.”
Snape drew himself up stiffly and looked down his nose at McGonagall. “I refuse to be made a laughing stock in front of the entire school. Flitwick is a notorious blabbermouth, and you know it. If we have to talk to anyone, it should be Albus. At least he’s capable of being discreet.”
McGonagall nodded. “All right, we’ll go talk to Albus before doing anything else.”
Lupin didn’t particularly fancy being at that meeting so he said, “While you two are doing that, why don’t I head off to the library and do a little research into this charm. Maybe there’s a simple answer in the literature.”
Snape turned and spat, “It would have to be absurdly simple for you to discover it, Lupin.”
Lupin began backing toward the door. “Don’t worry, Severus. There’s an answer to this problem, and we’ll find it, you’ll see. By tomorrow, we’ll all be looking back on this and laughing. I’ll head to the library and see what I can find, and then I’ll meet you in the Headmaster’s office.” With that Lupin flashed them a weak smile and turned and fled from the room at top speed.
Snape frowned. “It’s not tomorrow’s laughter I’m worried about, it’s today’s if anyone finds out about this.”
McGonagall nodded in tightlipped agreement. “Come on then, let’s go see Albus.” With a flourish of ebony robes, she whirled around and headed for the door. Snape glared after her for a moment while re-seating the spectacles that her dramatic exit had nearly knocked off his face. Then he followed his body out the door of the staff room and headed for the Headmaster’s office.
Chapter 2: A Perfectly Acceptable Solution
As the two professors walked rapidly off up the hall, Snape suddenly gave a frustrated yelp and went sprawling full length in the corridor, getting the wind knocked out of him rather severely.
McGonagall turned around and glared down at him. “Severus, please be careful how you go flinging my body around, will you? I’d like to get it back without too much damage being done to it.”
As she bent to help Snape back to his feet, he frowned up at her and snarled, “I didn’t decide to fall on my face on purpose, Minerva. These torture implements you call shoes simply went out from under me with no warning. How the hell do you women walk in these idiotic things anyway?”
McGonagall straightened up and frowned at her colleague who was now clutching the wall and examining his shoes with a sour expression on his face. “Really, Severus. You can find more things to complain about than any other person I’ve ever met! It’s not like you’re wearing stiletto heels or some such nonsense. Those are perfectly sensible shoes. Perhaps if you’d try actually walking in them instead of stalking about as you usually do, you wouldn’t have any difficulty.”
Snape straightened up and looked down his nose at her. “I do not stalk. I stride purposefully. An activity that would be life threatening in these absurd things. Do you have any footwear that doesn’t have at least a two inch heel?”
McGonagall sighed. “What difference does it make? Do you really want to take the time to go change your shoes before we see Albus? He’ll get this mess taken care of quickly, then you can have your own body back and not have to worry about what sort of shoes I choose to put on my feet.”
With a ferocious glower, Snape whirled around and started up the corridor again, trailing a hand along the wall just in case. “Fine. Let’s just get this over with as soon as possible. I’d hate to break your neck tripping over your feet in your ridiculous shoes.”
McGonagall rolled her eyes and followed her body off up the corridor at a slightly slower pace than before.
They made their way up toward Dumbledore’s office with no more serious mishaps. As they stepped onto the moving staircase behind the Gargoyle, Snape turned to his companion and hissed, “This is the most mortifying thing that’s happened in a long time. I knew that hiring that Gryffindor imbecile would be a mistake, and I intend to insist that Albus fire him for this outrage.”
McGonagall frowned as she stepped off the staircase in front of the Headmaster’s door. “Don’t be ridiculous, Severus. It was a simple accident. Remus didn’t mean to harm us.”
Snape opened his mouth to retort, lost his balance again as he came to the abrupt end of the moving staircase, and yelled in frustrated alarm as he found himself clutching at his colleague desperately while he unsuccessfully tried to regain his bodily control. This had the effect of knocking both of them into the door, which opened for them as they fell through it and landed on the floor of Dumbledore’s office in a heap.
Snape was getting extremely fed up with the impossibility of balancing on McGonagall’s foolish idea of proper shoes and, untangling himself from her sprawled form, he sat up and yelled, “This is gross incompetence, not a “simple” accident! The only thing simple about this whole situation is Lupin himself! The man’s an idiot! He obviously couldn’t cast a proper charm if his life depended on it!”
Aggravated far beyond normal by the situation she found herself in, McGonagall sat up and yelled back, “That’s utter nonsense. Remus Lupin is highly competent. You’re just prejudiced against him!”
Before Snape could reply, a throat cleared itself rather forcefully above his head, and he glanced up to see Albus Dumbledore with his hand still on the knob of his office door, staring down at the spectacle of two of his professors sitting on the floor in front of him and yelling at the top of their lungs at each other.
“Ah, Severus, Minerva… how nice to see both of you. May I offer you a sweet?”
Both professors gaped at him for a moment, then Snape opened his mouth and exclaimed, “I want that incompetent menace Remus Lupin fired, Albus! This instant if not sooner!”
Dumbledore smiled down at the figure of his Deputy Headmistress and asked blandly, “And why is that, Severus?”
Two mouths fell open and two sets of eyeballs goggled at him. Then Snape whispered in awe, “How in the name of Merlin did you know who I really was?”
Dumbledore smiled gently and bent over to help his stunned professors to their feet.
“I listened to what you said, Severus. It was fairly obvious whose words I was hearing. I take it the reason you want Professor Lupin fired this time has something to do with the fact that you and Minerva seem to have somehow switched bodies?”
McGonagall sighed heavily. “Yes, Albus. Remus was using a Transposing Charm in the staff lounge when Severus and I walked in and were accidentally hit by it. Frankly, I wish the man was incompetent. We might not be standing here as you see us if that was the case. However, the spell worked rather too well. Unfortunately, the counterspell didn’t.”
“Neither did anything else that idiot tried. He probably bought that wand he uses in a joke shop.” Snape crossed his arms and glowered darkly at the universe in general.
Dumbledore nodded sympathetically, though his eyes twinkled with amusement. “I see. An unfortunate situation.”
“Unfortunate!” spat Snape. “Is that all you have to say? We came here for your help Albus, and I, for one, would appreciate it if you’d treat this situation with the seriousness it deserves. We hoped that if someone who was a bit more competent cast the spell on us again, we’d revert back to our proper selves.”
Ignoring Snape’s bluster, Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully. “That sounds reasonable. May I ask why you came to me instead of Filius? He is the Charms professor, after all. I’d think he’d be the most logical person to cast the spell.”
McGonagall kicked Snape in the ankle before he could say something scathing and replied, “We just felt more comfortable coming to you, Albus. We’d like to keep this quiet if possible. The fewer people who know about it, the better.”
Snape glared at McGonagall and rubbed his abused ankle against his shin, contenting himself with thinking that by the time the bruises appeared and the true tenderness set in, any damage done would be McGonagall’s problem not his. Then he sighed and looked at the Headmaster. “Well, Albus, can you help us?”
Dumbledore nodded and withdrew his wand. “I believe so, Severus. I’m certainly willing to try at any rate. Although, I must warn you that it has been a very long time since I’ve made use of that particular charm.”
Snape and McGonagall glanced at each other and shrugged. “It’s not likely to make things any worse, Albus. If you can’t manage it, we can always go to Filius later. So you might as well go ahead and try,” stated McGonagall firmly.
“Very well.” Dumbledore nodded and raised his wand. Then, just as he was about to cast the spell, the door to his office flew open and Remus Lupin threw himself into the room.
Lupin reached out and plucked the wand from Dumbledore’s hand, exclaiming, “That would be a very bad idea, Headmaster. A very bad idea, indeed.”
Snape looked ready to explode. “What the hell is your problem? First you set this plague on us, and now you interfere with Albus’s attempt to lift it.” He turned to Dumbledore and added, “If I kill him, who gets sent to Azkaban… me or my body?”
Dumbledore frowned warningly at him. “Severus.”
Snape rolled his eyes. “Just a thought,” he muttered darkly.
Dumbledore held out his hand for his wand. “I trust you have an explanation for this, Remus.”
Lupin nodded as he handed over the wand. “Yes, sir, I do. I just checked the literature on this charm, and I found a reference to what can happen if it’s accidentally cast on living beings, something that the books strongly urge you to avoid. Apparently, the countercharm isn’t powerful enough to reverse the spell under those circumstances, and if you keep casting the original spell it merely strengthens the effect. The two of you would remain stuck in each other’s bodies for even longer, if the spell is cast on you again. In fact, after three or four castings, the effect could be… permanent.”
Both Snape and McGonagall blanched rather severely at that thought.
After a moment of heavy silence, McGonagall asked quietly, “Is there a way to reverse the effect?”
Lupin nodded and grinned at them. “Absolutely. Do nothing. Apparently, it will wear off in approximately twenty-four hours.”
Snape goggled at him. “Twenty-four hours! Are you insane? We’re stuck this way until tomorrow?”
Lupin took a step toward Dumbledore, unconsciously seeking his protection. “Unfortunately, yes, Severus. There doesn’t appear to be any other answer, I’m afraid.”
Snape crossed his arms and sulked. “Well, that’s just wonderful. Congratulations, Lupin, I guess you get to teach Potions this afternoon, because I’m certainly not showing up in my classroom looking like this. The damage to my reputation would be irreparable!”
Lupin gaped at the Potions master. “Me? Teach Potions? Forget your reputation. The damage to your classroom would be irreparable!”
Dumbledore’s eyes were twinkling quite madly by this time as he held up his hand to quell the brewing storm. “Actually, there’s another solution to this problem, one I’m sure you’ll find perfectly acceptable.”
All three of his professors eyed him with suspicion. What Dumbledore considered acceptable didn’t always agree with what they might consider to be acceptable, and the amusement on his face didn’t bode well at all.
McGonagall figured that if no one else was going to ask, she might as well be the one to do it. “And what solution are you talking about, Albus?” Goodness with this voice you could make even the most innocuous question sound ominous. She’d have to remember that.
Dumbledore smiled benignly. “Why simply that you and Severus should take over each other’s classes, of course, Minerva. If you don’t tell anyone what’s happened, no one would ever guess that you weren’t yourselves. Surely each of you could pretend to be the other for a few hours?”
Snape’s jaw dropped. “What? You expect me to pretend to actually be Minerva McGonagall! That’s the single most inane thing I’ve ever heard you say, Albus.”
McGonagall concurred, making full use of one of Snape’s more intimidating scowls. “I must say I agree. I couldn’t conceivably fool anyone into believing that I was Severus. You certainly didn’t have any trouble guessing the truth. Besides, our personalities are much too dissimilar. Neither of us could possibly pull something like that off. We’d be found out in no time.”
Lupin snorted to himself and muttered, “That’s what you think.” Suddenly, he found himself being glared at by both Snape and McGonagall as he belatedly realized that he’d spoken aloud. He really had to learn to watch that.
Dumbledore sighed theatrically. “Well, then I guess the only solution is for you both to go sulk in your respective rooms until this wears off. I’ll have to explain your absences somehow, though. Perhaps an unfortunate accident that you both suffered… together. There’s bound to be a bit of wild speculation, but I suppose that’s preferable to the two of you having to resort to a little playacting. It was silly of me to even suggest such a thing.
“Although, I must say that in your case, Severus, I’d think someone who was once capable of fooling Lord Voldemort on a very regular basis would certainly be capable of such a trifling masquerade as this. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your former role as a spy.”
Snape looked a bit uncomfortable at that.
Then Dumbledore turned his eye to McGonagall. “I seem to recall that you were rather good at amateur theatricals in your younger days, Minerva, but I suppose those skills do tend to atrophy if they aren’t kept honed.”
McGonagall straightened up and looked vaguely insulted.
Dumbledore turned and walked over to his desk as if the matter was all settled. “Do be careful going into your rooms. If the wrong person should see you, the resulting rumors could get rather ugly.”
Aghast at that thought and all too aware of the speed of the Hogwarts’ rumor mill, McGonagall and Snape stared in horror at each other for a moment, then identical expressions of pained acceptance appeared on their faces.
“All right, Albus. You win. We’ll pretend to be each other for the rest of the day and however long it takes for this to wear off,” McGonagall said with a resigned sigh.
Snape stepped up and glared at Lupin fiercely. “However, if this doesn’t work and this appalling situation becomes public knowledge, you had best put your effects in order quickly, Lupin, because suddenly the full moon will become the least of your worries!”
Lupin’s complexion, not exactly robust to begin with, faded two shades at that comment, and he gave a fierce nod, thinking privately that practicing charms had been a foolish idea and that maybe what he really needed to brush up on were his curses.
Chapter 3: Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue
As the cowed and somewhat confused class of first year Hufflepuffs made for the exit to the Transfiguration classroom at a dead run, Snape dropped down into the chair behind his temporary desk and emitted a huge sigh of relief.
Thank whatever deity watches over the unlucky, that that was over! What a nightmare. He’d always suspected Hufflepuffs were hopeless no matter what subject you were trying to cram into their little brains. As usual, it appeared he was right. What a surprise.
He groaned, kicked off his shoes, and yanked the stockings from his legs, kneading his sore feet firmly to try to ease some of the painful, tense knots out of them. Minerva’s idea of what constituted sensible shoes and his were obviously incredibly far apart. How could women stand to wear those things anyway? Why put themselves through it?
With a sigh of relief, he stretched out his feet and wiggled his toes. Oh, that felt so good. Snape found himself wondering if it would be too out of character for him to just wander around barefoot for the rest of the day. He smiled nastily… so what if it was? Minerva would be the one having to live with people thinking she’d lost her mind.
Now, there was a thought. He could do all sorts of interesting things and Minerva would get the blame. Who’d ever believe that it wasn’t her? Albus had been right; no one suspected a thing. Even Polyjuice wouldn’t be any more convincing. He could start some nasty rumors, make advances to Flitwick, or remove some questionable books from the restricted section of the library just to fluster Madam Pince. He chuckled to himself. Why the possibilities were endless.
As reality settled in and his smile faded, he sighed regretfully and shook his head. No. Albus knew about the switch. He’d make him pay dearly if he got Minerva into any trouble with his actions. Damned Gryffindors always stuck together. Oh, well, it was amusing to think about at any rate.
He glanced idly around the Transfiguration classroom. It felt rather strange to be teaching anywhere other than down in his own dungeon. This room was far too light and airy and far too uncluttered, as well. The whole atmosphere was overly cheery and uplifting. Still, it was a bit more challenging to intimidate a class under these circumstances, a bit more rewarding, as well.
At the moment, he was actually rather proud of himself. He’d managed to deduct a total of thirty points from Hufflepuff, reduce two students to tears, and give five students detention for a week. Minerva was going to find her evenings rather full when she returned to her body.
And best of all, he managed it without giving himself away! In fact the little monsters hadn’t even seemed all that surprised. Apparently, Minerva was quite the martinet in the classroom, herself. Pulling off this little charade had been much easier than he’d have ever imagined.
Still, he had to be a little bit careful. Hufflepuffs could be such fragile creatures. If you pushed the little twits too far they tended to combust. Then you found yourself having to pick up the messy emotional pieces. Gryffindors and Ravenclaws tended to be made of sturdier stuff. They were ever so much more fun to torment than Hufflepuffs, more of a challenge, too. Oh, well, you do what you can with what you have.
He sat up straighter in his chair and idly opened McGonagall’s grade book. What would he find if he checked up on a few people, hmm? My, my, Potter might be the apple of McGonagall’s eye, but she was pushing the bounds of credulity to call him one of her better students. Apparently flitting around on a broomstick really was all the boy was good for. Oh, there was Granger… perfect across the board that one. How boring. Maybe he should alter one or two of these grades and see if Minerva noticed?
As Snape was picking up a quill and humming to himself, there came a knock at the door. When he glanced up, he found his current top contender for least favorite person in the world standing in the doorway looking repentant.
The beleaguered wizard scowled blackly. “What do you want, Lupin? Haven’t you caused enough mayhem for one day?”
Lupin entered the room and closed the door behind him. “I’m sorry, Severus. How did the class go? Did you manage to fool everyone?”
Snape snorted and sat back in his chair. “It was a bunch of foolish little Hufflepuff first years. Filch could’ve fooled them into thinking he was Minerva if the light was dimmer in here.”
Lupin moved over to the desk with a tight smile on his face, still a trifle wary. “Good. That’s great. Then there won’t be any problems. This’ll be over before you know it.”
Snape closed the grade book with a snap and leaned over the desk to glare at Lupin. “You’d better hope that is indeed the case, Lupin, or else you’ll be sorry you ever displayed your appalling lack of ability in Charms when other people were around.”
“Well, there aren’t any more classes for you to deal with are there?” Lupin asked hopefully.
Snape leaned back and crossed his arms. “No, Minerva has a disgustingly light class load on Friday afternoons. However, I do not. She’s currently dealing with double Potions with the Slytherin/Gryffindor third years. You’d better hope she was the star of the show in those amateur theatricals that Albus was on about or this whole house of cards could still come tumbling down on your sorry head.”
Lupin looked a little nervous as he considered the possibilities. “I’m sure she’ll be fine. After all, from what I’ve seen, your teaching style seems to consist solely of standard intimidation techniques. As long as she yells a bit and stomps around and takes house points off Gryffindor, no one will ever know anything’s amiss.”
Snape sneered, “You’re a fine one to talk about teaching methods. In case you’re wondering, I have indeed heard all about your little Boggart demonstration.”
Suddenly even more uneasy, Lupin forced a smile. “Oh, really?”
Snape purred darkly, “Oh, yes. I’m sure you found it very amusing.”
“I also heard that you’re apparently afraid of crystal balls… or was it cheese? The students seemed to be a bit confused over that point. Perhaps I should enlighten them, hmm?”
Lupin swallowed nervously. He’d been afraid of something like this happening.
Suddenly, Snape sighed, dropped his head into his hand and began to massage his temple wearily.
“Lupin, just get out of my sight. The very last thing I wish to think about right now is you and the monumental deception that you’re perpetrating on the students of this school. It’s been a trying day, and all I want is some peace and quiet and a chance to soak my aching feet.”
Lupin came around the desk still hoping to be helpful and alleviate some of the tension between them. If he wanted to survive the school year, he needed to keep Snape pacified, and today’s little error hadn’t helped matters.
“What’s wrong with your feet? Did you injure yourself?”
Snape dropped his hand and glared sideways at Lupin. “I’ve dusted the floor and twisted my ankle far too often today because I’ve been forced to navigate on stilts! The aches, pains, and bruises will become Minerva’s problem tomorrow, but until then I have to put up with the agony.”
Before Snape could stop him, Lupin bent down and grasped the Potions master’s left foot in his hand and began to massage it. “I’ll bet I could help you with that little problem, Severus. I used to do this for my mother all the time when she’d had a long day on her feet.”
Snape jumped in his chair and opened his mouth to yell as his colleague grabbed his foot and began to rub, but before he could get the words out he found himself actually enjoying the feeling. “Lupin! What do you think you…oh…OH…god…don’t stop…Oh, that feels wonderful.” He leaned his head back against the back of the chair and sighed with relief as the aches in his arches and ankles began to melt away.
Lupin grinned, apparently the way to Snape’s good graces was through his feet at the moment. Maybe this would work out all right after all. “Feel better?”
“God, yes! You’re in the wrong profession, Lupin. You may be a dismal failure as a teacher, but you’d make an excellent masseur.”
Lupin grinned and shook his head resignedly as he switched to the other foot. “I’ll keep that in mind if I ever feel the need to try yet another career.”
As the werewolf knelt on the floor and rubbed his feet, Snape closed his eyes in bliss and leaned back in his chair. Emitting small happy moans whenever Lupin hit a particularly painful spot, he found himself enjoying the first peaceful and comfortable moment he’d had since this appalling situation began.
Just as Snape was thinking that maybe he’d survive this ghastly experience after all, something wet suddenly hit him right between the eyes. Startled, he opened his eyes and looked up to see Peeves hovering over his head with a glass of water, which the poltergeist was carefully dribbling onto the bridge of his nose.
Peeves squealed in delight. “Oh, looky, looky, what I’ve found. Is Professor Loopy proposing? How precious!” The mischievous spirit giggled with glee and dumped the entire glass of water onto Snape’s forehead.
The shock from the cold water hitting his face, added to the surge of anger he felt at the poltergeist’s latest outrage, drove Snape up out of his chair in an unthinking instant. He jumped up, tripped over the startled Lupin, who still had a rather firm grip on his foot and the two of them went for a tumble, ending up on top of each other on the floor while Peeves swooped around the room laughing and singing in a loud voice.
Roses are red, violets are blue;
Loony kissed Minnie, will she say I do?
Happily smiling while rubbing her feet,
A wedding at Hogwarts would be a rare treat.
The poltergeist giggled gleefully. “Such happy news must be shared, indeed it must!”
As Snape and Lupin untangled themselves and started to yell up at the airborne troublemaker, Peeves spat a wet raspberry in their general direction and soared off through the ceiling. Though the poltergeist usually appeared to show some grudging respect for the professors, finding Lupin rubbing McGonagall’s feet was apparently too great a temptation to resist… unfortunately.
Furious once more, Snape gave Lupin an angry shove away from him and struggled to his feet. “Well, that’s just lovely. A fitting end to a most appalling day!”
Lupin sat up and rubbed the back of his head, which had hit the floor rather hard when he’d been shoved. “What are you complaining about, Severus? Minerva and I are the ones who’ll take the brunt of Peeves’s little joke.”
Snape stared at the disgruntled wizard for a moment as he considered Lupin’s words, then his face broke into a small satisfied grin. “How perceptive of you, Lupin, and I must say that it serves you right!” His smile faded slightly at the thought of Minerva’s reaction to Peeves’s little tune.
As Lupin climbed back to his feet, Snape bent over and retrieved his shoes and stockings from under the desk and then headed for the doorway. “Well, at least my obligations for the afternoon are over. If anyone wants me I’ll be in Minerva’s quarters removing the heels from all of her shoes. Don’t expect me for dinner.”
Before he could take more than a few steps though, Lupin interrupted him. “Ah, not quite, Severus. I didn’t come to see you simply for the joy of your company. Do you remember the ballroom dancing class that Hooch is offering to all the students?”
Snape turned slowly and glared at Lupin. “Yes. I do remember. I also remember that it was deemed optional for any and all houses. Since optional means not required, I polled my students and not surprisingly none of them were interested, so I opted out.”
Lupin smiled politely. “Well, Minerva didn’t. She felt it would be good for the Gryffindors to learn a useful social skill, and I’m afraid that I’m here to remind you that the first lesson for the first, second, and third years is this evening. You’re required to chaperone, I’m afraid.”
Snape sighed, “As much as I am forced to agree that the Gryffindors could use some social skills, I refuse to spend my evening chaperoning the little hellions while they step all over each other’s feet!”
Lupin shrugged, “I’m afraid you don’t have any choice, Severus. Albus was the one who sent me to remind you about this. I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t be too happy if you just didn’t show up.”
Snape continued to skewer Lupin with his very best death stare. It looked quite effective coming from McGonagall’s eyes, too, but Lupin continued on bravely, or foolishly, depending on your point of view. “It’s at eight o’clock tonight in the Great Hall.”
“Do you have any idea just how thin the ice beneath your feet is at the moment you sorry excuse for a wizard?” Snape snarled.
Lupin headed for the classroom door as fast as he could, realizing that he’d probably overstayed his welcome by more than a little. “Sorry, Severus. Do wear some comfortable shoes,” he couldn’t resist adding, ducking as two shoe shaped projectiles made a beeline for his head, narrowly missing him as he managed to scoot out the door and around the corner at the last second.
Chapter 4: A Trying Afternoon
McGonagall stalked around the Potions classroom and desperately tried to ignore the intense throbbing in her head. This little masquerade that she’d been forced into had just about done her in. Considering the state of her headache at the moment, keeping an unpleasant expression on her face wasn’t much of a challenge, but remembering where to direct it was.
Six times this afternoon she’d had to bite her tongue to keep from giving Mr. Malfoy and his cronies detention for their insolent behavior toward the other students. So far she’d managed to keep everyone fooled as to her identity, but class was only a little more than half over. How likely was it that she wouldn’t slip up and take 50 points from Slytherin before the afternoon was finished?
As she watched Malfoy lob a few newt eyes at the back of Ron Weasley’s head, she sighed. At the moment, she wouldn’t give herself any better odds of success than 50/50. Hoping that even Severus wouldn’t let him get away with something quite so blatant, she walked up next to Malfoy, leaned down and spoke in a menacing tone.
“I trust your potion is finished, Mr. Malfoy, and that you are ready to demonstrate its excellence to the class.”
Malfoy jumped and swallowed hard as he whirled around to face his professor. “Umm… No, Professor Snape, not yet. I’m almost done though.”
She straightened up and fastened one of Snape’s most intimidating glares on her face. “Then I would suggest you focus all of your attention on completing your work. You’ll have a much greater chance of success that way.”
Malfoy nodded quickly. “Yes, sir. Absolutely, sir.” He bent back to his potion and left tormenting his classmate for another time.
Satisfied that she’d avoided one unpleasant incident at least, she returned to prowling the classroom and somehow refrained from stopping to stare at the clock that hung on the wall near Snape’s desk, though she mentally willed it to move faster.
As class was finally nearing its end and she was beginning to think that pretending to be Snape wasn’t going to be so difficult after all, Neville Longbottom added one ingredient too many to an already off-color brew. Immediately, thick orange smoke began to pour from his cauldron, followed by its churning contents, which flowed quickly over the side and across the floor, managing to douse both Longbottom and his reluctant partner, Lavender Brown, in bright orange muck.
Everyone within arm’s reach of Longbottom and Brown screamed and scrambled out of the way as quickly as possible. While the class watched in horrified fascination, what should have been a fever reducing potion showed itself to be merely a reducing potion instead, as the unlucky duo, dripping orange liquid, found that their clothes were rapidly becoming far too tight to be allowed to remain on their bodies. Both students were forced to begin the process of stripping off all of their clothing while their flabbergasted classmates began to laugh and giggle in amusement and embarrassment.
McGonagall groaned and reluctantly waded into the fray. Briskly, she ordered Harry and Hermione to take off their school robes and give them to Neville and Lavender so they wouldn’t have to strip down to nothing in front of everyone.
Then she dismissed the rest of the class and told them to get out in a hurry, so that the hapless Gryffindors could remove the more intimate pieces of their wardrobe without a smirking audience. In the confusion, she finally remembered to loudly berate poor Neville and take 30 points from Gryffindor for his carelessness.
Unfortunately, in the process of shepherding the class out the door and trying to make sure that Neville and Lavender were decently covered, she neglected to watch where she was stepping, and her left foot ended up in a puddle of the troublesome potion along with the hem of her trousers and the edge of her robe as well.
Suddenly, McGonagall found herself in the same predicament as her students, and it didn’t seem quite so hard to yell at Neville Longbottom for his carelessness and stupidity anymore. In a voice drenched in annoyance, she ordered the two forlorn Gryffindors to clean up their mess before they could leave the classroom, then she wrenched the shrinking shoe off her foot and sprinted out of the room to get some new clothes before the ones she was wearing shrank down to an unmanageable size.
As her clothes became more and more constricting, McGonagall stood outside Snape’s rooms and tried to recall the counterspells for all the protective wards that he insisted on using to seal his door. My god, the man was absolutely paranoid! You’d think he had Ministry secrets hidden under his bed or something. Who’d want to break into his quarters anyway? The rest of the students and staff wanted to spend less time with him not more!
Finally, just as she thought she’d have to give up and was steeling herself for a run through Hogwarts half clothed, the final ward gave way, and she was able to open the door and escape into Snape’s private chambers. She threw herself inside and slammed the door in her wake. Then she wasted no time before stripping off the incredibly tight trousers and robe and sighing in blissful relief.
As much as she hated to admit it, Severus had a point. Neville Longbottom was a menace around anything volatile. Neville was a kind boy and he meant well, but spending time around him was extremely hazardous, particularly when he was trying to manipulate things with magic. She’d had a few incidents herself in Transfiguration class. She could only imagine the horrors of regular Potions sessions with the boy. Shaking her head, she realized that spending time in the body of her colleague could actually lead to better understanding between them; at least it might if she managed to survive the experience.
She glanced down at the trousers and robe that she’d removed from her body just moments before. They now looked as if even Flitwick might have difficulty wearing them. If Longbottom’s potion had been half as effective at reducing headaches as it was at reducing clothing, he could have looked forward to a lovely future as an apothecary.
Well, she’d better investigate Snape’s wardrobe. It wouldn’t do to appear in public clad in almost nothing but undergarments. She smiled to herself at the reaction she’d get if she paraded the Potions master’s body around the school half-naked. Her smile paled as she contemplated Snape’s reaction to that little daydream, and she shrugged philosophically. Oh well, no harm in merely thinking about it.
McGonagall crossed Snape’s sitting room without pausing to inspect anything. She’d been there before plenty of times and nothing was of particular interest to her, but the bedroom…ah, now that was a different story indeed. She’d certainly never had any reason to venture into the man’s private inner sanctum, so she had to admit to herself that she was a tiny bit curious.
Pushing open the door to the bedroom, she stepped inside and glanced around. A slight pang of disappointment flitted through her as she found herself faced with an ordinary, even rather boringly standard bedroom. A double bed with a green counterpane sat next to a small table topped with a couple of candles. Across the room was a fairly ordinary wardrobe, and in another corner sat a worn and comfortable looking reading chair with a stout table next to it that was piled high with books. There wasn’t so much as a picture or a tapestry to liven up the walls. She snorted to herself, well really, what had she been expecting? Dancing girls?
Shaking her head at her foolishness, she crossed over to the wardrobe and opened the door. Inside in meticulous order, hung Snape’s clothes. Four white shirts, three black jackets, four pairs of black trousers, three academic robes, also black, of course, and two black vests. How surprising. Severus was every bit as exciting a dresser as she’d always suspected. She poked her head inside to peek into the corners. No flashy outfits hidden away for that special occasion. The man could get dressed in total darkness and everything would match perfectly.
Another interesting thought struck her as she stared at the unrelieved blandness of a totally black and white wardrobe. Was it possible that he was colorblind? It would explain a lot. No, he couldn’t be colorblind and succeed at Potions; color often played a very important role in their success. Face it, Minerva. The man was simply boring… at least in his choice of attire.
With a shrug of her shoulders, she pulled out another pair of trousers and one of the flowing black robes. Then she bent down and pulled out one of the three identical pairs of black shoes as well. These she took over to the bed in preparation for putting them on.
As she was about to go hunting for socks, a familiar…yet slightly different sensation coursed through her. She turned her head and located the bathroom. Before she dressed, apparently it would be a good idea to make use of the facilities. She moved towards the door and froze in mid step. Her foot hit the floor painfully as her body came to an awkward halt. No… not her body… Severus’s body.
Her face flushed furiously as it suddenly dawned on her that in order to answer the call of nature, she was going to have to actually handle Severus’s body… intimately. Good lord! And he’d know that she’d done it! How could he not?
The color drained from her face as the other shoe dropped. The same was true for Severus, wasn’t it? He was no doubt going to have the experience of seeing her body far more intimately than propriety should allow as well. Color shot straight back to her cheeks once more. How embarrassing. Could she ever look him in the face again?
Her sense of humor returned in a flash. Well, that would probably depend on what she saw when she took these clothes off now, wouldn’t it? They were both in the same boat after all.
So with a snort of laughter at her predicament, she continued on to the bathroom. There was no way she could hold it in for the remaining nineteen or so hours until this spell wore off, so she might as well make the best of it. Might prove to be more interesting than the bedroom anyway.
McGonagall swept into the Great Hall for dinner and glared around her in annoyance. It had been a very tiring and frustrating afternoon what with one thing and another. If she’d been herself, she’d have still been expected to walk sedately up to the table and nod pleasantly to anyone who spoke to her. Then once she’d sat down, she’d have been expected to make conversation with those around her no matter how she felt, and she’d have put on a nice face and done it, too.
Yet it dawned on her as she stalked up between the tables and watched the students cringe slightly and turn away from her, that none of that was expected of Snape. He could stalk around and glower at everyone. He could be as rude and uncommunicative as he chose and no one batted an eye. No one expected him to put on a happy face and be sweet and pleasant when his feet ached or his back hurt or he was simply exhausted or out of sorts. How come he could get away with it, and she couldn’t? Definitely something to think about.
As she reached the table and walked over to pull out her chair, Albus Dumbledore glanced up at her and smiled with a teasing twinkle in his eye.
“Ah, Severus, did you need to speak to me about something? Minerva hasn’t shown up for dinner yet, so I’m sure that she wouldn’t mind if you used her chair for a short time.”
McGonagall froze. Yes, damn it, the chair that she had her hand on was her chair, but it wasn’t Snape’s chair. Who’d have thought that habits were so deeply ingrained? Not at all happy with herself for making this mistake, she leaned over and hissed shortly in the Headmaster’s ear.
“This has been a very difficult day so far, Albus. Do not push me.”
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow and leaned back so he could look his friend in the eye. “Of course not, Severus. In fact, please, feel free to stop by my rooms later if you wish. My door is always open to all of my staff, you know.”
She straightened up and glared down at the smiling wizard. “Thank you, but I plan to turn in early. Time moves more swiftly when one is asleep, and oblivion seems extremely attractive right about now.”
Then she turned and made her way back down the table to the correct chair this time. Unfortunately, the person who was sitting in the chair that was right next to it was Remus Lupin. Not exactly the person she most wanted to see at the moment. So giving the werewolf a sidelong glare, she must keep up appearances after all, she pulled out the correct seat and threw herself into it just as the food magically appeared on the table.
As she filled her plate and began to eat, Lupin smiled and addressed her quietly.
“How has your afternoon gone? I was told that you had a rather full class schedule. Any problems?”
“Problems? Why whatever makes you think that I might’ve had problems? Double potions with the Gryffindors and the Slytherins trying to subtly and sometimes not so subtly take pieces out of each other is such a relaxing class. I don’t know why in the world Severus ever complains,” she muttered in disgust.
Lupin smothered a smile. “No. I can imagine that it’s just one laugh after another. I’m rather grateful that most of my classes aren’t blended ones. I take it that no one suspected that anything might be wrong then?”
She sighed and shook her head. “No. No one seemed the least bit suspicious at all. I guess Albus was right. No one really looks past the face that’s staring at them, and as long as the actions and words come reasonably close to what one expects to see and hear, no one thinks twice about anything. Apparently, most of us are shockingly easy to fool. Frankly, I find that rather alarming, don’t you?”
Lupin’s face lost its smile as he considered her words. “Well, now that you mention it… yes. I suppose it is a bit disturbing at that.”
Silence reigned between them for awhile, then once she’d had a chance to assuage her hunger and rest her back for a bit, she turned her head and considered the chair next to the Headmaster which remained decidedly empty. Turning back to Lupin, she asked, “So where’s “Minerva” this evening? Did something nasty befall her this afternoon that I don’t know about?”
Thinking about the incident with Peeves, Lupin paused with his fork partway to his mouth. Should he tell her? He sighed and laid his fork down on his mostly empty plate. Probably it would be better if he did before she heard it from someone else. So he turned towards her and smiled uncomfortably. A feeling of alarm shot through her at his expression, and before he could speak, she got her words in first in a low, angry tone.
“Oh, no, tell me that man hasn’t done any more damage to my body. It’s bad enough that he can’t seem to stop himself from flinging it around the corridors. What’s he done now? Put me in the infirmary?”
Lupin shook his head. “No. No. Don’t worry. Minerva’s fine. I mean, you’re fine. I mean… oh, heck, don’t worry about that. It’s just… I mean… well, you see…” Before he could quite get the appropriate words out, Peeves came swooping down through the ceiling tossing flowers at everyone and singing at the top of his lungs.
Roses are red, violets are blue;
Loony kissed Minnie, will she say I do?
Happily smiling while rubbing her feet,
A wedding at Hogwarts would be a rare treat.
McGonagall’s mouth fell open along with everyone else’s, and then they all turned to stare at the now very red-faced Lupin whom Peeves was targeting with the last of his bouquet.
“What was going on in the Transfigurations classroom today once the students had gone? Shocking behavior, I think…” giggled the poltergeist.
By now, everyone in the hall was either laughing and pointing towards Lupin or talking loudly to each other about Peeves’s amusing performance. The little man looked quite proud of himself at the level of chaos that he was leaving in his wake until he caught sight of the outrage on the Headmaster’s face as he rose to his feet.
“Oops… got to go!” exclaimed Peeves, as he abruptly dropped the rest of his flowers on top of Lupin’s head and shot straight up through the ceiling. While Dumbledore calmed down the hall full of students, McGonagall fought an inner battle with herself. Never had she felt so angry, yet she couldn’t afford to show it.
If she were truly Severus Snape, she’d be smirking broadly at Lupin’s discomfort not wanting to tear the man limb from limb. So while inwardly seething, somehow she managed to stretch her lips into a smirk. Then she turned back to Lupin ready to quietly demand an explanation for this outrage only to find that his chair was now empty. Turning her head swiftly to see where he’d gone, she was just in time to catch a brief glimpse of him as he disappeared through the door in the wall behind the staff table. The coward.
Chapter 5: Who Would've Guessed?
After dinner was finally over, McGonagall stalked angrily along the dim corridors of the dungeon headed for Snape’s quarters. As she moved along, she muttered darkly to herself and didn’t bother to try to disguise it. Why should she? Everyone avoided Snape at all costs if he was in a bad mood, and she couldn’t imagine that any of his moods, no matter how noxious, were worse than hers was right now.
In her opinion, it was a darned good thing that Lupin had made himself scarce when he had, and an equally good thing that Snape had chosen to skip dinner altogether, for the infuriated witch knew that if either man was to currently be so foolish as to cross her path, she wouldn’t be responsible for her actions.
When she reached Snape’s door, she fumbled in her pocket for a moment trying to find her wand before belatedly remembering that Snape kept his in a holster up his sleeve. A tight smile crossed her face as she commented to herself that she’d always known he had something besides his arm up his sleeve, and it was nice to finally have confirmation of her suspicions.
She raised her arm to shake the wand down, but before she could complete the gesture, she jumped in startlement as a pair of hands clamped down on her shoulders and began kneading them like bread dough.
“Oh, your shoulders feel like bands of iron, Severus,” exclaimed the familiar nasal voice of the Divinations mistress. “I just knew you could use my help this evening. Anyone could see that you were horribly tense at dinner. You weren’t your usual self at all.”
Alarm spread through McGonagall at those words. She’d been so sure that she’d fooled everyone. Could it possibly be that there was more to Sybill’s powers of observation than she’d ever imagined? Considering the woman’s usual level of self-absorption, Sybill was the very last member of the staff that she’d have ever expected to suspect the truth. Still, stranger things had happened… wasn’t she living through one of them at the moment?
Cautiously, McGonagall turned around to face her surprise visitor; thankfully dislodging the woman’s grasping hands from her shoulders as she moved.
“Good evening, Sybill. I probably was a bit tense at dinner. It’s been a trying day. What brings you all the way down here from your aerie?” she asked cautiously.
Delighted not to be immediately sent packing for a change, Sybill pressed a bit closer forcing McGonagall back against the wood of the door.
“Oh, I understand, dear Severus, truly I do. Long days of endless toil can wear on even the most resilient of souls. But, you shouldn’t be surprised to see me here. I haven’t made my feelings a secret, you know.” She giggled like a parody of a schoolgirl as McGonagall stared at her in dawning understanding.
Surely not! Severus and Sybill?! Had Hell frozen over, and she’d missed it somehow?
As the dazed McGonagall stood there frozen in uncertainty against the door of Snape’s quarters, Sybill suddenly threw herself forward, grabbed her tightly and kissed her with a shocking amount of pent up passion. Horrified at this development, McGonagall’s first impulse was to struggle against such an unwanted intrusion, though she suddenly wasn’t sure at all whether Severus would find it as unwanted as she did. Was it possible that he and Sybill were secret lovers?
Damn, what other important bits of information had Severus neglected to mention to her before she began this impersonation? Surely if he and Sybill were involved, he’d have at least mentioned that she might stop by? Well, maybe not, she certainly would have tried to keep it a secret if she was in his shoes, which unfortunately she was at the moment.
As she stood there awash in indecision and let Sybill kiss her, the strains of Peeves nasty little song from dinner began to play faintly in her brain, and with that pushing her on, along with the thought that it was amazing what you could make yourself do when it was someone else’s lips that were being used, she began to tentatively respond to Sybill’s passion, hoping intensely that she’d chosen the right response.
When Sybill pulled back, the look of incredulous and shocked delight on her face, told McGonagall all she needed to know. Before the happy woman even opened her mouth, Minerva knew she’d made a huge mistake.
“Oh, Severus! That was wonderful. I knew that sooner or later you’d succumb to my charms. Why have you resisted me for so long? All these years… when we could have been so happy together,” she gushed.
“Uh… I… couldn’t believe that it was really me that you wanted. Not with my reputation… my past…” That sounded pathetic and weak to her ears, but Sybill lapped it up like a lovesick puppy.
“Oh, you silly man! It’s always been you I wanted. You pretend to be so gruff and unpleasant on the surface, but underneath it all, you’re really so sensitive, so wounded… so in need of my help and guidance. The stars have always been aligned for love. All you’ve had to do was open your heart and let it in.”
McGonagall had all she could do not to gag at Sybill’s starry eyed picture of Severus. A flood of guilt abruptly swept through her. Severus was a pain in the neck, but he didn’t deserve to be saddled with Sybill unless he wanted to be, and poor deluded Sybill didn’t deserve the reaction she was going to get the next time she tried to kiss Snape and found everything back to normal. How could she repair this?
Suddenly, Sybill’s eyes glinted maliciously behind her huge glasses. “I just knew that I’d be successful this evening. All the signs pointed to it being a night for love. After all, if that dried up old prune Minerva McGonagall could get lucky with Remus Lupin then surely anything could happen.”
Dried up old prune! In an instant, all her feelings of guilt were washed away in a rousing chorus of Roses are red, Violets are blue.
Inwardly seething, McGonagall turned around and hastily removed the wards that protected Snape’s room. Then she turned back to face the hopeful Sybill with her hand on the knob.
“Unfortunately, I have a prior engagement this evening, Sybill, but I do have some free time tomorrow afternoon. Why don’t you come find me after lunch, and we can pick up right where we left off. No need for any preliminaries, I’ll be eagerly awaiting your kisses.” Would she buy that?
“Oh,” Sybill simpered with excitement. “Are you sure?”
“Absolutely, I love a forceful woman.” She stretched her lips into a smile, well aware that it probably looked very out of place on Snape’s face. Sybill didn’t seem to mind, though.
“Until tomorrow then, dear Severus. I’ll be counting the seconds.” Trelawney wiggled her fingers happily at Snape and then turned around and wafted her way off up the corridor.
McGonagall watched her go with a feeling of relief and a sharp resurgence of guilt. What had she done? Then, with a sudden frown, she found herself wondering if maybe she wasn’t the only one who had something to feel guilty about. Just what the heck had Snape and Lupin been up to this afternoon that had inspired Peeves to go around singing that incredibly irritating and embarrassing song, anyway?
Snape limped along the corridor that led to McGonagall’s quarters and scowled a bitter scowl. It was a conspiracy. Fate had gotten together with some of her friends, roasted themselves a bit of sacrificial lamb, and for entertainment purposes, they’d decided to torture him. There was no other explanation for the monumental horror that had been his life for the last few interminable hours.
First, he had to endure having his body switched with that of Minerva McGonagall; then he had to experience the pain of tripping over her damnable shoes all over the castle. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then had icy water dumped on his face, causing him to fall on that fool of a werewolf, and then he had to listen to the inane prattling of that loony poltergeist who mistook a simple foot massage for some sort of prurient mating ritual. By that point, he’d thought that the day couldn’t get any worse, but that was before he’d gone to dancing lessons with the Gryffindors.
Somehow, he’d managed to avoid actually killing anyone, though once he got back into his proper body, there was a certain Gryffindor who would be learning a whole new meaning for the word… pain. Revenge, like wine, improved with the passage of time and if your intended recipient was a clueless dolt… so much the better.
Hooch, old softie that she was, allowed the students to select their own partners for the dancing, so at first, he thought he wouldn’t have to do anything more than stand around on the sidelines and force a foolish looking smile onto his face for a couple of hours. Definitely annoying but survivable. However, somehow he’d neglected to notice that once they were ready to begin, some of the students were still lacking partners.
Apparently, Lavender Brown managed to land herself in the infirmary while trying out a new way to avoid the tedium of painting her toenails. Though it was a mystery why even such as she would bother with that sort of nonsense when the current temperatures forced them to remain thankfully out of eyeshot during the public hours of the day.
At any rate, the twit thought that you could simply dissolve the old paint magically and replace it with new with a flick of a wand. Well, to be fair, someone who knew what they were doing could probably manage it, but he could easily have predicted how such an endeavor would turn out for the vapid Miss Brown. Naturally, when she somehow managed to dissolve the paint, her toenails went too, so now she was languishing in the hospital wing letting Poppy grow them back when she should have been in the Great Hall letting her classmates step all over them and saving him from a similar fate.
So that left one third year boy without a partner to dance with. Naturally, it was Longbottom. Even Gryffindor girls weren’t totally without taste. He’d tried to persuade Hooch that she should be the one partnering the boy, but she pointed out that she’d already been pressed into service partnering that endlessly annoying Creevey boy, who also lacked a partner. She offered to switch, but given the choice, it seemed preferable to have a partner whom he could actually see over the curve of Minerva’s bosom. That proved to be a mistake though. Not only was Longbottom all thumbs, but he apparently had two left feet as well.
Merlin, he couldn’t wait until all this pain and agony became Minerva’s problem. He’d damned well suffered enough! It was time that others shared his burdens for awhile. Though really if there was any justice in this world, the one who’d be suffering right now would be that incredibly incompetent werewolf. He’d get his when the time was right. Oh, yes, his time was coming.
Once Snape managed to attain the dubious sanctuary of Minerva’s quarters, he immediately kicked off her hated shoes and cast incendio on them. He gazed in satisfaction at the smoking pile of ashes lying in the middle of Minerva’s sitting room rug for a long moment and then limped tiredly into the bedroom.
As he entered the room, he shot a black look towards the oak wardrobe that stood innocently in a corner. No doubt more of her horrid torture implements lurked within, but first things first. He could take care of the rest of her abominable footwear once he’d done something to ease all his aches and pains. What he needed the most at the moment was a long soak in a tub of very hot water. His back ached almost as much as his feet did.
As he began to unbutton the neck of his gown, he caught a glimpse of himself in a tall oval pier glass that stood in the corner of the room, and he froze. Slowly, he crossed the room and stared at his image in the mirror. Minerva stared back.
Damn. Just to top the day off, he was now to be treated to the sight of Minerva McGonagall naked. Maybe a bath wasn’t such a good idea after all. He raised an eyebrow and frowned thoughtfully. Not that he wasn’t curious… Might not be that bad. She wasn’t an ugly woman after all, and whenever would he get such an opportunity again?
As an even less welcome thought struck him, he frowned unhappily. Of course, he wasn’t the only one who was getting a glimpse of that which was normally hidden. She’d be able to examine his body up close and personal too, and he’d certainly never win any beauty contests. He squirmed awkwardly at the thought of her standing just as he was before his own mirror and inspecting his body in an intimate fashion, possibly comparing him to other men she’d known. How might he measure up? Would she find cause to smile admiringly or laugh her head off? He had nothing to be ashamed of really, but still… The idea wasn’t a comfortable one.
Of course, that was presuming that there were other men she could compare him to. Maybe there weren’t. Maybe his body was the first male body that she’d had the opportunity to inspect so closely. He snorted to himself at the absurdity of that idea. Minerva was a healthy, attractive adult woman. Odds were more than excellent that she’d had many lovers through the years. Hadn’t she been spending quite a bit of time with that tall, skinny Ministry official a few years back? What was his name? Dougal? Duggan? He shrugged. Whatever. He certainly hadn’t looked like much, but you could never tell… which was really the point.
A new thought struck him, and he paused to consider it. Was she involved with anyone at the moment? Possibly someone he knew? Surely none of the staff… well, maybe Albus, but even that seemed rather unlikely. Secrets that juicy rarely remained secret for long, and there’d never been even a hint of a relationship there that went beyond that of friend and colleague. Still, maybe he should put a few extra wards on the door tonight, just in case. The last thing he needed at this point was a midnight visit from any lover of Minerva McGonagall, past or present.
Well, at least there was one thing he could be grateful for, she already knew his history. The faint lines of the Dark Mark on his forearm wouldn’t come as a revelation, so at least he didn’t need to worry about its presence forming the basis for a new line of gossip in the staff room. Actually, no matter what she thought about what she found when she undressed tonight, he was certain that Minerva wouldn’t make it public knowledge. For one thing, she’d have to explain how she knew what she knew, which would be rather awkward, and for another, she was simply too honorable to gossip that way. No, Minerva wouldn’t say anything, but she was bound to look.
Which brought him back to where he started… undressing. Oh, well, better get it over with. So he returned to unbuttoning and unhooking Minerva’s clothes. After what seemed like an eternity, he still hadn’t managed to hit skin. Why the hell did women need so many layers of garments with so many fussy fasteners? It didn’t seem as if there was usually so many when he was doing this from the outside, not that he’d undressed all that many women. Maybe the older women got the more layers they put on? First there was the robe, sometimes two, then the gown, then the shift, then the corset, then the camisole and knickers and the stockings and garters… With this much material you should be able to clothe a small family.
Finally, he managed to remove all of her clothes and stood before the glass once more. His glance as he gazed up and down at her body was frankly admiring. For a woman in her seventies, Minerva had a lovely body, including a very nice pair of breasts, not that anyone would ever know it under eighteen hundred layers of smothering fabric. His eyes narrowed as he stared at her breasts in the glass. Was that what he thought it was? He dropped his gaze to the real thing, his attention drawn to a small design that flowed along the curve of the right one.
A smirk spread across his face as he raise a hand and traced the sinuous line of a hunting cat as it chased a nervous looking snake around the nipple of her breast. Whoever would have guessed that Minerva McGonagall would have a tattoo and in such an interesting spot? Life was just full of intriguing surprises sometimes, now wasn’t it?
Chapter 6: All's Well That Ends
Remus Lupin took his seat at the breakfast table with a weary sigh. This had been the longest twenty-four hours he could ever remember living through, though he knew it had probably been much worse for both Snape and McGonagall than it had been for him. Still, he felt horribly guilty for putting them both through all this and would be so glad when it was finally over. Just a few more hours to go… hopefully.
A small shiver of trepidation squirmed through his stomach as he found himself wondering what would happen if they were wrong. What if the spell didn’t dissipate as promised? What would happen if Snape and McGonagall weren’t returned safely to their own bodies at the end of the allotted time?
He could certainly guess, and it wasn’t pleasant to contemplate. Tempers were already strained to the snapping point, and he didn’t want any more snapping to be directed at him. It had to work out the way the literature said it would. Surely not all of those books would be wrong on the same very important point. He just needed to have more faith. Really, what other choice did he have, anyway?
After dinner last night, even Albus seemed to have lost some of his amusement at the predicament that his staff found themselves in. If for some reason, the spell didn’t end as promised, he could probably count on finding himself on the next Hogwarts Express heading straight back to London. Hopefully he’d be occupying a seat and not be stuffed into a box in a storage bin, which is where he’d no doubt be if either Snape or McGonagall had their way. They might even collaborate on his sendoff… not a pleasant prospect at all.
While Lupin was filling his plate with eggs and sausages, he glanced up just in time to witness the afflicted professors entering the Great Hall at the same time… though hardly together. As they unexpectedly found themselves face to face in the doorway, the two of them came to a dead stop and stared awkwardly at each other for a long moment. Then, without a single word being exchanged between them, both of their faces reddened noticeably, and they quickly looked away from each other.
Lupin was amazed. He’d seen McGonagall blush once or twice, usually when she’d had more to drink than was prudent, but he’d certainly never seen the slightest hint of embarrassment on Snape’s face before. Of course, it wasn’t exactly Snape’s face at the moment, was it? It was on reluctant loan.
After that very brief uncomfortable exchange, the two professors ignored each other and walked the length of the hall in uneasy silence to take their usual places at the head table. As McGonagall took Snape’s seat next to him, the anxious Lupin ventured a friendly greeting to test out the waters.
He’d left the hall rather hurriedly the night before and was pretty certain that the woman he’d left behind had been fuming with barely concealed rage when he’d made his escape. Hopefully, a night’s sleep and being that much closer to the end of all this had sweetened McGonagall’s mood at least slightly.
“Good, morning,” he said with a smile. “I trust you slept well.”
McGonagall skewered him with a glance that didn’t look even a smidgen less hostile than yesterday and then returned her attention to her plate without answering. So much for the magic of time healing all wounds.
“Ah… well, I’ll just hope that you had a pleasant evening then,” Lupin muttered softly as he returned his own attention to his breakfast though it had rather lost its appeal.
The two of them sat there in frosty silence for a few moments longer, then Lupin set his fork down and tried once more.
“Look, I’m really sorry about all of this. I never meant to cause either of you any trouble. It was just unfortunate timing that you and… that the two of you came into the staff room when you did.” He sighed. “And I’m sorry about Peeves, too.”
“Yes,” McGonagall hissed in a low voice, seizing on that comment like a dog with a tasty bone. “What was that abominable song about anyway?” It and its disturbing implications had haunted her dreams all night long.
Lupin lowered his voice and leaned closer. “Well, you know that Severus was having problems with your shoes.”
McGonagall rolled her eyes in answer but refrained from commenting.
“I was just trying to be helpful. Really. I offered him a foot massage. I’m rather good at them, as it turns out, and while I was massaging his feet, Peeves came in intent on causing trouble. Severus had his eyes closed and had leaned back in his chair. Peeves dribbled cold water on his face, which not surprisingly, startled him up onto his feet. Naturally, he tripped over me, because I still had a grip on his foot, and we ended up tangled together on the floor. Peeves thought that was immensely funny, so I suppose you can imagine the rest,” he finished reluctantly.
She could. In fact, she did; the images that his words conjured in her mind brought forth a sharp snort of laughter and a huge smile for a brief instant before she managed to smother the expression behind her napkin. Minerva spent an uncomfortable couple of moments trying to get her sense of the ridiculous back under her control. While Snape could sneer and snipe at anyone with impunity, he couldn’t get away with laughing out loud in public without making everyone think something was wrong. A point on which she clearly had the advantage. Perhaps it all balanced out in the end.
Finally, having regained a measure of self-control, she sighed and lowered her napkin, scowling out over the hall just in case any curious students were still looking her way. Once she was reasonably certain that no one was watching, she turned back to look at Lupin with a slightly kinder glint in her dark eyes.
“Then, I’m forgiven?” asked Lupin plaintively.
“You’re forgiven,” she said. As he sighed in relief, she added a caveat. “As long as nothing else happens to make the situation worse. I just hope the spell ends around noontime as promised.”
Lupin nodded. “It will. All the books say it will… should… will.” He nodded again. “Will.”
“It better,” Minerva sighed wearily. Spending the rest of her life as Severus Snape wasn’t appealing to her in the least.
“Do you have any other obligations this morning?” asked Lupin cautiously.
“No, I don’t, but Minerva has office hours to attend. I hope that my students can survive it. I can’t imagine that Severus will be overly sympathetic towards them when they bring him their problems.”
Remembering that, in the past, she hadn’t always been overly sympathetic herself when brought student problems, Lupin nevertheless wisely kept his mouth shut and his thoughts to himself. Having learned his lesson, he contented himself with a vague murmur of agreement and a noncommittal smile.
Snape wandered around McGonagall’s office feeling decidedly restless. Facing the woman at breakfast had been down right embarrassing. Spending the night in the body of another was both so uncomfortable and yet, so instructive, that it was difficult to put his feelings into words. Perhaps once he and Minerva were back where they belonged and a bit of time had passed to allow them to process the experience, they could have an interesting evening discussing it over a bottle of single malt whisky. Until then, though, it was probably best not to dwell on it any longer than necessary.
His eyes strayed to the clock on the mantle. It was a quarter past eleven. Sometime in the next hour he should be himself once again. It couldn’t happen soon enough for him. Momentary doubt assailed him. What if it didn’t work? What if he was forced to spend the rest of his life as Minerva McGonagall? He shivered and turned to scowl darkly out the window. The only worse fate that he could imagine would be to have to spend the rest of his life in the body of that no good, incompetent werewolf. At least, when Minerva turned into an animal, it was done at her command… not against her will once every month.
He sighed and sank into the chair behind Minerva’s desk. Office hours were almost over, and so far none of her annoying students had shown up to whine about any of her assignments. One small thing to be grateful for.
Just as that thought crossed his mind, a timid knock sounded on the door. Typical, thought Snape as he growled for whoever it was to come in.
The door opened and Neville Longbottom edged into the room, crossing over to stand somewhat nervously in front of Minerva’s desk. As well he might be nervous, thought Snape testily, considering the number of times he’d stomped on her feet the night before. Actually, it showed a fair amount of courage and much more stupidity to be showing his fat face to her this soon after practically sending her to the infirmary with squashed toes and a damaged ankle. He buried an inner smirk; revenge might come sooner than he’d anticipated.
Leaning back in his chair, Snape contemplated his student for a long silent moment, as he watched the nervous young man fidget uncomfortably.
Finally, he spoke in a cold edged voice. “Yes, Mr. Longbottom, what can I do for you this morning?” Please say something asinine enough to be worthy of a detention…
Neville swallowed noisily and forged ahead. “I wanted to apologize for being such a klutz at dancing last night, Professor. My Gran always did say that I was born with two left feet.”
“Your grandmother is a remarkably perceptive woman.”
As Neville looked slightly distressed at that comment, Snape hurried on. He couldn’t be too obvious about his true feelings after all, he didn’t want to give the game away now when he was so close to escaping this nightmare. “However, I think that all you really need to excel at dancing is a bit more practice. Apology accepted.”
Neville brightened but as he didn’t turn to leave, Snape continued, “Is there anything else that I can help you with?”
“Yes, please,” Neville began, shifting nervously from one foot to the other. “It’s not about dancing or about class though. It’s sort of personal.”
Oh, god, could this get any worse, wondered Snape with a silent groan. The last thing he needed to listen to was Longbottom’s puerile insecurities about girls or spots or lack of facial hair or magical ability. The boy was a twit; he should just accept that fact and move on.
Snape gestured towards the chair next to Neville. “Well, then have a seat and tell me how I can help you, Mr. Longbottom.”
Neville nodded anxiously and perched on the very edge of the hard wooden chair. “You know about my parents,” he said in a soft voice. When McGonagall nodded without commenting, he rushed onward. “I really want to make them proud of me. I want to become an Auror, just like them, when I leave school.”
“An admirable goal,” Snape commented blandly. Silently adding that it was also a totally unreachable one.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have much chance of reaching that goal,” stated Neville, unconsciously mirroring his teacher’s thoughts. Snape nodded at the unexpected flash of reality that had somehow penetrated the boy’s thinking. Maybe he wasn’t quite the idiot that he’d thought.
“I’d need to greatly improve my performance in both Transfiguration and Potions to be able to pursue this as a career,” Neville continued.
Snape nodded again, now beginning to wonder what the boy expected him to do about any of this. Somehow, he doubted that Neville was here simply to get his Head of House’s agreement with the fact that he wasn’t cut out to be an Auror.
“I’m almost finished with the extra credit assignment that you gave me, Professor, and I wanted to thank you again for giving me that chance to pull up my grade, but I realized today that if I can’t manage to succeed in Potions, too, I still won’t have a chance of reaching my goal.”
Ha! Now he knew what was up. The little brat wanted McGonagall to intercede for him. He was trying to get one teacher to gang up on another one. Lots of luck with that, Longbottom. You chose the wrong teacher for your games this time. Actually, even if it had been Minerva McGonagall sitting here in front of him, Snape doubted that such obvious tactics would have worked, but they were definitely doomed under current circumstances. Longbottom’s next words surprised him, however.
“So I wanted to ask your advice. I always get so nervous in Potions class that I can’t concentrate on my work. I really like Potions as a subject, and I want to do well. I work hard on my assignments, and even Professor Snape would have to admit that the papers I turn in are fine. It’s just my class work that’s so bad, and I really think it’s just because I get so scared when he hovers over me watching for errors.
“When I’m at home, I often mix up potions that my Gran needs, and they always work just fine. In a way, Potions has a lot in common with Herbology, which I love and do really well in, but it’s just so much easier to face Professor Sprout than it is Professor Snape. Anyway, I was hoping that you could give me some advice on what would be the best way to approach Professor Snape when I ask him for an extra assignment. I don’t think he likes me very much, and I’m afraid that he won’t believe that I’m sincere in my desire for extra work, but I just have to convince him somehow. It’s the only way I can achieve my goals. The only way I can believe that I made my parents proud of me.”
Neville finished in a rush of words and sat back, relieved to have managed to get all of the words out without tripping over them. Then he waited for the person he thought was his Head of House to give her opinion.
The current occupant of her seat wasn’t at all certain how to reply, however and was simply sitting there staring back at him as if he’d never seen him before. “And are you sincere, Mr. Longbottom?” asked Snape softly.
“Yes,” exclaimed Neville fervently. “I am.”
To his astonishment, Snape couldn’t help but believe him. This put him in the extremely unheard of position of offering sincere advice to a Gryffindor, something he’d never live down if it ever became public knowledge, which thankfully, as things currently stood, it wouldn’t.
“Professor Snape sets a high standard in his classes, which is intended to benefit the students who study with him. If they succeed in his classes, they will be more than properly prepared to do well on their exams and to do well in any careers that require skill in potion making,” he began and was heartened to see Neville nod solemnly if a little dejectedly.
“If you approach him as you have me and explain your sincere desire to improve your grade, I’m sure that he will give you a similar opportunity to prove your sincerity and willingness to work hard to attain your goal.”
Neville looked doubtful. They were discussing Severus Snape after all, the most fearsome and reviled teacher in the entire school, but he could hardly contradict his Head of House. “You really think he’ll listen to me?” he asked.
“Yes,” stated Snape firmly. “I really do.” Though you’d better prepare to work harder than you ever have before, he thought with satisfaction. If revenge wasn’t possible one way… another would do.
“Okay, I’ll try it. Thank you, Professor,” Neville said as he got to his feet with a huge sigh and a fleeting smile.
As the relieved boy left the office, Snape sat back in his chair and frowned thoughtfully at the closed door. Who’d have ever thought that Longbottom of all people really wanted to succeed in Potions class? He’d always assumed that the idiot boy hadn’t even been trying, but perhaps there was a bit more to him than he’d thought. Changing bodies with Minerva had had its interesting and illuminating moments; nevertheless, he’d had enough and was more than ready for it to be over.
He glanced at the clock, which now read five minutes to twelve. Nothing yet, unfortunately.
Suddenly, the door opened without warning and Minerva herself stepped inside.
“I thought we might as well wait this out together,” she said as she took the chair so recently vacated by Neville Longbottom.
“That does seem reasonable.” Snape agreed willingly.
After sitting in silence for a few moments, Snape smirked over at his colleague and said, “You know, I was quite intrigued to see that you have a tattoo in a most interesting place…”
Before he could get any further, Minerva stiffened in her chair, scowled and shot back, “I don’t think you really wish to compare tattoos, now do you, Severus?”
He smothered a smile; it was always enjoyable to ruffle her feathers a bit. “Perhaps not,” he conceded.
After a further few moments of silence, Snape tried again in a rather more serious tone. “I do think this has been a valuable experience overall, though, much to my surprise.”
A bit startled to hear her colleague admit out loud what she’d been thinking privately, Minerva nodded in agreement. “I’d have to agree. Perhaps once this is behind us, we can get together for a drink and compare notes on the experience.”
It was Snape’s turn to nod in agreement. “I’d be willing… provided that it is possible to put this behind us. If for some reason this spell does not come to an end as we’ve been promised, I propose that we get together and plot a painful end for that miserable excuse for a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Minerva stated firmly, as they grinned at each other.
Before she could utter another word, though, everything abruptly became hazy and insubstantial, and she suddenly blacked out. When she came back to consciousness once more, she raised her head with a groan and found herself seated in her own chair behind her own desk and staring across at the frowning and slightly groggy looking figure of Severus Snape.
Was it over? If Snape was over there, then… Abruptly she sat up and looked down at herself. Yes, she was back in her own body once more. It had worked. The books had been right. “Oh, thank Merlin. It worked,” she exclaimed happily.
“Yes, I guess that lets Lupin off the hook.” Snape looked decidedly disappointed.
“It was an accident, Severus, and he is extremely sorry.” Now that the nightmare was over, she was prepared to be generous.
“Yes,” said Snape dryly. “I’ve always said that he was a very sorry wizard.”
Minerva hid a smile behind an expression of relief as Snape rose to his feet.
“I’ll be going now, I think. Goodness knows how much work I’ll find waiting for me in my office. I assume that you didn’t attempt to grade any of the papers that were due yesterday.”
“Certainly not. They’re all waiting for you, Severus. I knew you wouldn’t want me to do anything more than collect them.” She smiled pleasantly up at him.
He grunted in response and opened the door. “No, of course not, then I’d best get to them. I’d say it was a pleasure, but frankly, it wasn’t. No offense.”
“None taken, since I feel exactly the same,” she agreed. A smile lingered on her lips until he left her alone in her office, then she gave a huge sigh and dropped her head down onto her crossed arms in the middle of her desk. Now that it was all over, she was utterly exhausted and quite suddenly, her feet ached dreadfully.
In fact, it felt as if she could sleep for a week, which wasn’t a bad idea at all. Since office hours were now over, there wasn’t anything else she had to do for the rest of the day. Even lunch didn’t have the appeal of a nap in her own bed.
As she got up and headed for the door to her office, she found herself frowning discontentedly. Something nagged at the back of her mind as she stepped out into the corridor and began to walk. She was forgetting something, she was sure of it, but no matter how hard she tried to remember, nothing came to mind. Hopefully, whatever she’d forgotten wasn’t that important. It would come to her sooner or later, she was quite certain of that.
Suddenly, she heard voices coming from around the next bend in the corridor and instinctively she slowed her steps.
“There you are, Severus! I’ve been looking for you. I know you said to wait until after lunch, but here we are together with no one else around. It seems like fate to me,” Sybill’s voice gushed enthusiastically.
Snape’s response was puzzled. “What are you blathering about, Sybill? You’re making even less sense than usual.”
“Oh, Severus. You’re such a kidder. Surely you haven’t forgotten our little assignation in the corridors of the dungeon so quickly. Here, let me refresh your memory for you.”
Sounds of scuffling filled the air along with Snape’s harried voice. “What do you think you’re doi… mmmmph! Sybill! Mmmph! Stop it!”
Sybill’s plaintive and confused voice echoed through the halls. “But you told me yesterday that you loved a forceful woman.”
“MINERVA!!” Snape’s incensed voice rang out loud and strong, freezing McGonagall in her tracks.
Sybill! McGonagall grimaced in horror. That was what she’d forgotten! It was too late to do anything about it now, though, and not being a total fool, she wasn’t about to round that corner and face the irate Snape and the highly confused and disappointed Trelawney. So, knowing it for the cowardly but prudent move that it was, she turned on her heel and sped up the corridor in the opposite direction just as quickly as her rather sore feet could carry her.