Word Count: 1703
Summary: Severus brews up trouble by employing puffskeins.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling, and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made from and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by the posting of this fic.
Author's Note: alisanne prompted me with Severus/Harry: Pygmy Puff and volitorial. There are rumors that Severus is determined to quell.
"Oh, no!" Hazel Jane exclaimed. "Did you see that, Tansy?" she asked one of her Hufflepuff house mates, as Headmaster Snape strode from the High Table. "They're fighting. It must be true!"
"I don't think it is. I can't imagine the Headmaster would even try such a thing, not with Harry Potter for a boyfriend."
"No, he would, Baker," Michael Banks, another Hufflepuff, said to Tansy. "He's a right bastard, that one."
The three students fell silent as Snape glided past them, his movement so smooth that they almost appeared volitorial in nature.
On cue, Hazel's eyes filled with tears. "This is awful!"
His Defence classroom was quiet when Harry arrived for his first class of the day. The Slytherins looked affronted, and the Hufflepuffs, horrified. Marazelle Zabini's hand was in the air before Harry had even begun to write the theme of the day's lesson on the chalkboard.
"Yes, Miss Zabini?"
"Sir, is it true that," Marazelle said, her eyes darting to Hazel's and back to Harry's as she spoke, "Headmaster Snape uses them in potions?"
It wasn't like Marazelle to be anything less than hyper-specific. "Uses what in Potions?"
"Pardon? No, of course not!" Harry watched his entire classroom exhale and frowned. "Who's been saying that?"
"Malfoy, why the hell've you been telling the students that Severus uses Pygmy Puffs in his brewing?" Harry demanded, later that afternoon in the staff room.
Draco smirked. "Because he's only confiscated every last puff that he could since the start of term. Didn't you know?"
The other professors fell silent, some of them sliding out of their chairs as Harry's hands balled into fists.
"Take that back! He'd never hurt a puff!"
Draco crossed his arms and shook his head. "He must have fifty of the things by now, and since you've obviously not seen them about your quarters, what do you think he's doing with them?"
"You . . . you stop saying that!"
"I really think you should tell him," Harry overheard Malfoy saying that evening as he approached the staff entrance to the Great Hall for the evening meal. "He's been an arse all day."
"It's not yet time," Severus replied.
Harry stopped abruptly and threw himself into an alcove. Merlin, he is using them. Those poor puffs!
How could Severus be using such tiny, furry, defenceless creatures in his brewing? It was awful!
Ordinarily, Harry would have demanded an explanation from Severus there and then, but after their fight, he didn't feel up to seeing him at all.
I'll eat in my rooms.
It was the middle of the night when the firecall came. "Professor Potter! Come to my office at once!"
"Professor Potter"—as much as Harry would have liked to refuse Severus' summons, he couldn't; it was the Headmaster who was demanding his presence.
Which means the students have been up to no good.
It turned out that three Hufflepuffs, two Ravenclaws, and six Gryffindors had attempted to break into Severus' laboratory; the watch gargoyle told Harry that much. When he arrived to find the students crowded around Severus' desk, none of them looked repentant.
"Sir, you have to do some—"
"Be silent!" Severus thundered.
"You lot, wait in the antechamber."
In what Harry considered to be a sweet and uncharacteristically brave gesture, Hazel reached for his hand and gave it a squeeze as she left the office and closed the door.
"An admirer of yours, is she?"
Harry, noting the fur sewn into the cuffs of Severus' winter robes, glowered at him. "A fellow commiserator. How could you?"
"Pardon? Oh, you mean my winter attire," Severus replied, waving a hand. "You know how I despise the cold. More importantly, you're aware of the penalties for students who sneak about the grounds at night, particularly with the intention to snoop." Severus briefly explained to Harry what the watch gargoyle had already done. "What are we going to do about this?"
"Where are Sprout and Flitwick? Shouldn't they have a hand in deciding the students' detentions? And how could you?" Harry repeated. "Puffs!"
"The delicate sensibilities of students do not concern me, Professor Potter."
Hazel, Tansy, and Michael sat down to breakfast the next morning to see no evidence of Professor Potter's ever having been at the High Table; there was no place setting for him.
"This is bad," Tansy said, running over to the Ravenclaw table to discuss the situation with Roberta and Howard.
"Very," Michael agreed, as two Gryffindor boys came to join him.
Hazel merely sat still, as if stunned, tears falling into her plate. "He'll never agree now. He'll be too upset."
Draco frowned as he saw Marazelle's glare of reproof and shook his head. "It will be fine," he mouthed, as she flounced from the Slytherin table to Hazel's.
Harry didn't know all of Severus' security spells, but he wasn't the Defence teacher for nothing. It didn't take him long to achieve Severus' lab.
On every surface, every piece of furniture, in every shelf, and all over the floor—the puffskeins were everywhere.
They've been breeding. How am I going to rescue them all? he thought, reaching out from underneath his Invisibility Cloak to pet one of the puffs.
It purred happily, which set off a chain reaction of shaking and purring and chirping.
"I'll come back. I promise," he told them. No wonder Severus wouldn't let me in here the other day. I'll bet that box I caught him with was full of puffskeins!
Furious with Severus, Harry made for Hagrid's hut. He'd know how to corral and keep so many puffs.
While Harry was busying himself with his rescue attempt, Severus was addressing the breakfasting students at Draco's behest: "The plan's going splendidly, and you've all done well. You have my thanks. Now, if you'll excuse me . . . ."
"Hagrid! You have to help me! Severus has lost his—"
"What are you doing here?" Harry demanded, taking in Hagrid's hut, which had undergone something of a renovation.
Fairies floated in a ring around the ceiling of the dark room, looking almost like twinkling stars. Two chairs and a table were the only furniture, and Harry smelled the delicious meal set upon it before the beautiful settings registered with him. The rough floor had been replaced by soft grass, and floral vines covered all the walls.
A romantic scene, Harry thought, blinking stupidly around himself at the splendour of it. Well, if he thinks he can manipulate me into accepting his apology, he's—
"It's not what you think," Severus murmured, rising from one of the chairs.
He appeared nervous, which alarmed Harry more than anything in the past few days.
"Wh—at's wrong? Are you sick? Are you . . . breaking up with me?"
"Is for horses, except thestrals, of course. Thestrals prefer grass to—"
"Why are you babbling?" Harry crossed the short distance between them and laid a hand on Severus' brow. "Have you been hexed?"
Severus took Harry's hand and massaged its palm with his thumb as he knelt down on one knee. "Harry, I—"
"Aren't feeling well. I know," Harry said, attempting to help Severus back to his feet. "It'll be all righ—"
"It might be if you'd allow me to finish!"
Surprised by his usual strident, clear tone into releasing Severus, Harry stood up. He would have retracted his hand but for Severus' vise-like grip upon it.
"What the hell are you doing? Is this some side-effect of the . . . the puff potion?"
"The what? Oh, Merlin help me, you are thick."
"Hey—I mean, would you just tell me what the fuck's going on here?"
Severus got to his feet and withdrew his wand. "Finite Incantatem!" Hagrid's hut returned to its normal state. "I can't believe I went to so much trouble to quell those rumours with ones of my own. Clearly, the effort was wasted."
Harry moved to stand before the door. "Oh, no you don't. I want to know what's going on."
Severus swallowed visibly.
"Why are you so nervous? What rumours? Why puffs?"
"Pardon?" Harry asked, noting Severus' blush.
He was still working out what Severus had been attempting to say when he found himself pressed up against the door and Severus' tongue in his mouth. Breaking the kiss just long enough to speak a few words in between trying to steal Harry's breath, Severus said, "I was . . . trying to . . . propose to you . . . you dunderhead."
"Why would you . . . have been try—you were trying to propose to me? Severus!" Harry seized Severus' arms by the elbows in an attempt to steady himself so that he could breathe. "What do the puffs have to do with—hey! I'm not a dunderhead!"
"All evidence to the contrary! Now tell me that you'll marry me so that—"
"Why should I do that?" Harry demanded.
"Because you love me, you fool! How could you think I'd use puffskeins in potions? What kind of—"
"Then explain why there are so many in your—"
"—man do you think—"
Clutching each other, they stopped shouting and stared at each other. "Merlin," they said, as one, before throwing themselves at each other.
Draco smirked at Minerva, who grinned at Filius, who winked at Aurora, who squeezed Sprout's hand, who coughed pointedly and returned to her evening meal.
"I expect it's goin' well," Hagrid said, in a murmur that rumbled over the hall.
The students jumped to their feet in riotous applause.
"—and you're the one who said I should make more of an effort with the students so that they wouldn't fear me."
"Yes, but . . . but all this—I could have hexed you, myself!"
"Is that why you've still not answered me?"
Severus' voice was small. Harry smacked himself on the forehead.
"It was a bit hard to accept with your, er, yes, of course I'll marry you, you git. Why'd you ever doubt me?"
Severus raised his eyebrows.
"You did try to make me think you were involved in pufficide."
Suddenly, Severus sat straight up. "You said yes." He turned to Harry. "You said yes?"
Harry rolled his eyes and straddled Severus' lap, pushing him back down to the floor. "I said yes. And I'm up for saying it again—as many times as you can make me."