On the way back from ConneXions, Rowan, Miriam, Estrella, and I (all due South fans) were talking about the HP movies. At some point, the question of Alan Rickman's age came up, and someone (I'm blaming Miriam for this, but I'm really not certain at this point who the guilty party is) wondered - in that blurring-reality-with-fantasy kind of way - what Harry would think if Snape were replaced by a new actor. Clearly the only way to handle it would be the way due South handled it. *g*
Um . . . this snippet? It's sort of a HarryPotter/DueSouth crossover, but only in an extremely high concept way ("high" probably should be read to indicate "high on crack"). Let me just say that this idea was absolutely hysterical when we were sleep-deprived and all in the car together, but now it's just . . . weird. However, I promised I'd write it, so . . . .
(Note: Believe me when I say you not only need to have read some HP, but I think you also need to know the dS ep "Burning Down the House" to find this particularly amusing. Also? As I was writing this, a great wave of sympathy for the old-time Vecchio fans suddenly came over me, because . . . well, you'll see. *g*)
Not Quite Polyjuice (Part 1)
It had been Harry's best summer ever.
Now that the spectre of Voldemort was no longer hanging over his head, Harry could finally relax for the first time since he was eleven. With Voldemort gone, there was no longer any reason for Harry to stay with his awful relatives, so for the past month he'd been staying at the Burrow, doing little but practice his Quidditch maneuvers, play Wizard's Chess with Ron, and help test Fred and George's latest inventions. One long weekend, Hermione came to visit Ginny, and she made the boys look over the textbooks they'd be using in their seventh year classes, but even that wasn't too bad, especially when Harry discovered that none of the books he'd be working with this coming year wanted to bite him.
By late August, though, Harry was looking forward to returning to Hogwarts. A lot. Ron was a entirely mystified by this "unnatural" attitude (Hermione, of course, was quite pleased), however Harry hadn't suddenly discovered a heretofore unknown scholarly bent. The truth was that he was just extremely eager to get back to school and see his classmates and teachers again.
One teacher in particular.
For the final two months of the past term, Harry and Snape had been forced to work together to find a way to stop the Dark Lord. Being told he had to work with his slimy, evil Potions master was nothing new for Harry. What was new this time was discovering it was . . . wasn't so bad. Not pleasant exactly. Not . . . nice. But once Snape was finally too busy to hold on to his resentments and bitterness, his skills - not only in Potions, but also in Defense - at long last came clear for Harry. He started to treat Professor Snape with the respect his talents deserved, which, in turn, stunned the older wizard to such an extent that he completely forgot to be a bastard, at least where Harry was concerned - and when Snape forgot to be a bastard, well . . . that was almost like anybody else being friendly.
Before the dust had settled on the battlefield where Voldemort finally met his end, Harry and Snape had become friends, enough so that Snape had agreed to assist Harry with a special project - and even before Harry left by portkey for the Weasley's he was already hoping that after he came of age, he and Severus Snape could be something more than friends.
However, that change in their relationship - should it ever arrive - had not yet come . . . and so, three days before the end of holidays found Harry flying in lazy circles high above the Burrow, wondering idly whether Flitwick or Hagrid would win in a broom race.
He brought his broom to a sudden halt, then looked down toward the unexpectedly loud pair of specks on the ground that might well be Fred and George. They had to be using Sonorous for him to hear them all the way up here. How long had they been calling him?
Harry flew down, landing smoothly by the front door of the house. He swept his messy hair back from his face and straightened the bright red sweater Mrs. Weasley had given him for his birthday.
"Other than you?" said George.
"Just a message," said Fred.
"Being carried by a creepy looking vulture . . . "
". . . that's waiting for you by the kitchen door . . . "
". . . and won't let anyone else . . . ."
". . . get near it."
Harry dropped the broom and ran around the side of the house where Snape's vulture was waiting impatiently to be relieved of its note.
Neither Molly nor Arthur Weasley were entirely happy about letting Harry head off for Hogwarts on his own before their two youngest were ready to go, but it was true that Harry had an independent study project to set up for the term and, in any case, he was of age by wizarding standards and therefore no longer subject to anyone else's directives, no matter how well meaning.
In the end, Molly just gave Harry a packet of sandwiches and more homemade biscuits than he'd be able to eat in a month, and told him he should always consider the Burrow his home.
The trip began well, but by ten in the morning - still miles from Hogwarts - Harry's broom had developed an odd shudder whenever it descended, and Harry decided to walk the rest of the way (something which Hedwig, who was forced to flutter along beside him in a very ungainly and undignified manner, wasn't at all happy about).
Harry turned to the squawking snowy owl and sighed. "For Merlin's sake, Hedwig, don't pretend you don't remember that Muggle taxis and buses won't let uncaged owls ride as passengers. Anyway, we're almost there. Just down the path, around the Quidditch stands, and . . . . oh, dear. Where'd it go?"
He watched, wide eyed, as the castle slowly reappeared, then flickered out of view, only to begin the slow process of reappearing after a few moments had passed.
Harry shivered, although when he turned to the left, he realized his shivering was due to the silent, chilly presence of Headless Nick.
"Hello, Sir Nicholas."
"Hello, Harry! Wonderful to see you again. Absolutely wonderful!" The ghost drifted around to Harry's other side, letting his barely-attached head loll to one side. "Is something the matter boy? You look a bit disturbed."
"It's Hogwarts, Sir Nicholas. It keeps . . . disappearing."
"Ah, that. Yes, I can see where that would be a bit of a problem for the more . . . invisibility challenged of our number." He squinted in the direction of the school. "Yes, there it goes again. Can't imagine why this has been happening so much over the past few days. It's not an easy thing to lose a castle, you know."
"No, Sir Nicholas. I shouldn't imagine so."
Headless Nick balanced his head back on his neck and smiled at Harry. "Well, my boy, it appears to be back for the moment. You'd best run along and go inside before the cursed thing disappears again."
When Harry walked through the main doors, he was relieved to discover that inside, at least, the castle appeared to be as substantial as it ever had.
Hedwig hooted softly in his ear, then turned her head in the direction of the dungeons.
Harry nodded. "I know, Hedwig. We'll go down there in a minute. I just want to make sure there's . . . "
He spun around. Filch was staring at him, a baleful look in his eye. Beside him, Mrs. Norris was worrying a small mouse.
Harry knew just how the mouse felt.
"Back a little early, aren't you, boy? Hope you're not planning on causing trouble even before the start of term."
"No, Sir." Harry shifted uncomfortably. "Excuse me, Mr. Filch. Have you seen Professor Snape?"
"You mean Severus Snape?"
"Yes, Professor Severus Snape, the Potions master."
Filch's glare grew more suspicious than it had been a second ago. "Where do you think he's likely to be, you little brat. Try the dungeons."
"Thank you, Sir." Harry turned to leave. "Oh, Sir? Would you like some of these biscuits? Molly Weasley made them."
He placed two of the biscuits in Filch's clawed hand, then started to walk down the hall. Before he turned the corner, he could hear Filch hissing.
"No, I'm not, my precious. And you're not touching them either. Circe only knows what those Weasleys put in their biscuits. You just eat that tasty-looking mouse, there's a good girl."
Hedwig fluttered her wing nervously against Harry's ear, and he reached up automatically to pet her. "I know, girl. I'm not sure which one is more scary."
Barely had Harry taken another three steps than McGonagall came out through a door Harry could have sworn hadn't been there earlier.
"Hello, Professor McGonagall!"
"Mr. Potter. How were your holidays? I trust you enjoyed yourself with the Weasleys?"
Harry smiled at his Transfigurations professor. "It was great, Ma'am! Um . . . you haven't seen Professor Snape, have you?"
"Yes. The Potions master."
"Ah, no I haven't. However, he's probably in the dungeons."
Harry nodded. "Thanks." He reached into his sack. "Professor? Would you like some biscuits? Homemade by Mrs. Weasley just this morning."
Professor McGonagall looked down at the crumbling biscuits he held in his slightly grubby hand. "Mr. Potter, I . . . I don't know what to say."
"Just enjoy them. There are lots more where these came from," he said, patting the sack reassuringly.
Harry walked off down the corridor. He had almost reached the steps to the dungeons when one of the staircases shifted, coming to a halt directly in front of him and bearing the headmaster on its bottom step.
"Harry. You've returned quite early, haven't you, my dear boy? Upon reflection, I imagine that pleases me."
He frowned in confusion, then nodded. "I hope so, Sir. You haven't by any chance seen Professor Snape, have you?"
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, then looked toward the dungeon entrance. "Mr. Potter, you and I must talk about a matter of some importance. Alas, the Minister for Magic awaits me in my office."
"I understand, Sir. Oh, would you like one of these biscuits? Mrs. Weasley made them."
Dumbledore peered into the sack Harry held in his hands, then smiled, his blue eyes twinkling over his half-moon glasses. "My favorites! Lemon drop flavor, unless I'm very much mistaken! And now, Harry, I must meet with the Minister. But remember, I need to speak with you as soon as possible."
Harry watched as Headmaster Dumbledore disappeared up another set of stairs, then turned and headed down into the shadowy, damp dungeons. Twenty feet and two turns later, he was standing in front of the door to the Potions classroom. He took a deep breath and opened the door.
There, standing before him, was the Potions master, cloaked in an uncharacteristically light set of denim blue robes and hunched over a boiling cauldron.
Harry smiled widely. "Professor Snape!"
The figure straightened up and turned around. Gone was the greasy, black hair, the hooked nose, the piercing black eyes. In their place was a set of bright blue eyes and spiky blond hair. The man wearing those features took one look at Harry and threw his arms open wide.
"Potter! Buddy!" the strange blond man said, wrapping his arms around him in a tight embrace. "You have a good vacation in the rabbit warren?"
"Do you mean . . . the Burrow?"
Harry swallowed hard. Something was very, very wrong.