Written at 3:00 a.m. as a birthday present for McKay.

Let Them Eat Cake
by Beth H
(c) December 31st, 2003


Despite the vehement protests of the Deputy Head, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was finally dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 20th century.

That it was already halfway through the 21st century when these changes came to Hogwarts was irrelevant to Deputy Headmaster Severus Snape, whose grumbling about the recent mania for finding ways of introducing Muggle technology and other artifacts of the outside world into the school commenced at the very moment the first successful electric lighting fixture was installed in the castle dungeons and continued, unabated, for the following six years.

It wasn't that Severus was unable to see the usefulness of some of the innovations, but his concern that future generations of students would come to rely too heavily on non-wizarding modes of travel, study, and all other aspects of daily life, thereby lowering the high standards of magical ability in Great Britain, made it impossible for him to view the introduction of most things from the Muggle world with anything but suspicion.

The most recent Muggle novelties brought into the castle had proven to be a particular trial for Severus, since he had (although not without some token scowling and sputtering at first) given his word to Headmaster Potter that he would make an effort to exhibit at least a modicum of appreciation for the efforts the first years had made to give him a 'jolly fun party' to celebrate his natal day. Why the enjoyment of the brats was considered more important than his peace of mind on his own birthday was a mystery to him, as was the entire question of why they'd gone to any such effort in the first place, but it had been decades now since Severus had last believed he had even half a chance of emerging victorious in any test of wills with Potter.

And so Severus sat stiffly at the high table, his lank greying hair half-hidden by the conical paper hat decorated with pictures of wolf cubs they'd begged him to put on and a twisted grin forced unconvincingly onto his face, as the children carried up a large glass serving tray upon which was a rather lopsided iced cake. The cake, he'd been given to understand by a Hufflepuff girl with blonde pigtails and a set of ears that would have done a House Elf proud, they'd baked for him " . . . without a spell or anything, Sir!"

Wonderful, he thought. A poisoning for my birthday. Just what I've always wanted.

Sparing a moment for a quick glare at the Headmaster, he acquiesced to young Jerome Weasley's shrill exhortation to "Make a wish and blow out the candles, Sir!" and thought how very fortunate it was for his smirking colleagues that his wishes at this precise moment wouldn't come to pass. His fingers clenched tightly around the cake knife as the Hall erupted in laughter when the ninety candles he'd blown out burst back into life again. Trick candles. Muggle trick candles.

Would this torture never come to an end?

Twelve minutes later, Severus - having suffered through three verses of a Muggle song which appeared to have the painfully unoriginal title of "Happy Birthday to You" - was finally able to leave the Great Hall, a plate with a rather squashed slab of birthday cake held in his hand.

He reached his rooms and entered, shutting the door behind him and breathing a heavy sigh, only to hear laughter coming from behind his bedroom door. Severus shed his outer robes, then he went into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Did I wake you?" he asked, putting the plate down on the bedside table.

Remus Lupin smiled up at his lover and shook his head. "No . . . although I suspect that sigh of relief could be heard all the way up in the Astronomy Tower. I'm glad you went. Harry's very pleased with you, you know."

Severus scowled. "And you know exactly how much Potter's approval means to me." He brushed a strand of hair back from Remus' forehead. "Are you feeling all right?"

"Much better," Remus said, sitting up and leaning back against the thickly-padded headboard. "I think I'll be able to go into Hogsmeade as we'd planned tomorrow."

"I don't want you over-doing things until you're fully recov . . . ."

"I'm fine, Severus. It just takes a little longer to bounce back from the change these days. You know that."

"Hmm," Severus said. "Perhaps. And now, wasn't there something you said you wished to do before we go to sleep?"

"That's right! I was planning on eating cake!" He reached across Severus' legs, but Severus pushed him back and held the cake plate away from Remus.

"No. You are not getting any of this cake - which, I should note, was the last piece and is only in our possession due to the fact that even at my advanced age, I'm still quicker off the mark than Geraldine Goyle - until I get my presents."

Remus frowned. "Presents? Did I say I had birthday presents for you?"

"Remus," Severus said menacingly. "If the promised gifts don't materialize by the time I count to three, I'm going to personally see to it that this cake disappears before you get a single bite, and magic will have nothing to do with it."

"Okay," Remus laughed. He reached behind the pillows, pulled out a festively wrapped package, and handed it to his lover.

"Ah. I see we still have a supply of Albus' gift wrap with the prancing satyrs."

"Something tells me we're unlikely to run out of it in our lifetimes."

Severus smiled, then tore open the wrapping and started to examine his presents.

"Excellent taste, Remus. You have an unerring ability to give me precisely what I wish for every year."

Remus snorted. "Yes, well . . . since you've been dropping hints for the past three months, it wasn't terribly difficult."

He shifted on the bed so that Severus could stretch out next to him.

"You know," he said. "I've been meaning to ask you how it is that with all the bitching you do about the invasion of Muggle culture into Hogwarts, you keep asking for CD's."

"I do not 'bitch,'" Severus sniffed, ripping the protective plastic wrap off the first CD. "In any case, I'm already a fully qualified wizard - as you might remember, assuming senility didn't set in while I was attending that wretched party tonight. My abilities won't suffer from the occasional . . . lapse."

Remus grinned and put his arm around Severus. He looked over his shoulder and looked at the twentieth-century Muggle artists Severus had developed a liking for shortly after he asked Remus to move in with him.

"These are the ones you wanted, right? Barbra Streisand. Bette Midler. Rosemary Clooney. The Village People. Ru Paul. The soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz." He shook his head. "You are such a cliche, Snape. And a Muggle cliche, at that."

"Watch it, Lupin. The cake's not in your hands yet."

Remus smiled, then he hugged Severus tightly. "Happy birthday, love."

Severus let the CD's drop onto the bedcovers as he turned and wrapped his arms around the man with whom he'd spent so many years.

"Thank you. For everything."



Chit chat, Critiques, Gratuitous Praise: beth-h@mrks.org

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