The Sugar Quill
Author: Catherine Cook (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Fidelis  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

(Standard disclaimer: Jo Rowling owns everyone here but Barr and Fidelis. CC)

***

It was the morning of the first day of classes for the Hogwarts year, and newly-minted fifth-years Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley were walking briskly to their first class, trying to conduct a heated argument while keeping their voices from being overheard.

"Have you gone insane, Hermione?", Ron hissed, softly yet fiercely. "Do you really think a stupid Muggle plush toy is going to make Snape go easier on us this year?"

"It's not just any plush toy," Hermione retorted through clenched teeth. "It's a Beanie Baby, and you and Harry both admitted it was adorable."

"Well, that's because we're human," Ron growled as they turned a corner. "The jury's still out on that as far as Snape's concerned. I'm just glad you didn't put our names on the note you left with the thing."

Hermione's face turned crimson with barely-controlled rage. "I left the names off, Ronald James Weasley, so that he wouldn't think we were trying to toady to him. I want this to be something he can enjoy without worrying about who might be trying to curry favor with him."

Before Ron could reply, Harry clapped his hands over both their mouths. "Hush up, you two. We're going to be late for Flitwick's class if we don't hurry. Come on!"

===

Professor Severus Snape, Head of Slytherin House, Potions Master of Hogwarts, and would-be amateur sleuth, frowned in thought as he studied the small, anonymously-sent package on his desk.

Snape had left it unwrapped as a challenge to himself; he wanted to see how much he could divine of the package's contents, and of its sender, before he actually opened it. He had already been reasonably sure that it came from Hermione Granger, that well-meaning but wooly-headed Gryffindor busybody who was close to Harry Potter. A quick dusting with Glow-Print powder confirmed this; the fingerprints on both package and envelope matched those on one of her essays from last year.

Snape's mouth made what passed for a smile with him. He then turned his attention to the text of her message.

Dear Professor Snape,

I hope you like this little gift. I saw him in a shop and thought you might like him.

With best wishes for the coming school year,

A Friend

Oh, this was so like Granger, he thought, sitting back in his chair. She wanted to do something nice for that nasty old Potions Master, but she didn't want to look like a brown-nosing little suck-up. He snorted in derision. I wonder what she could have given me, he thought abstractedly. Perhaps a small dragonette, or a snake. She called it "him", in any event. Best be on my guard when I open the parcel; it would be just like her to give me something she didn't realize was dangerous.

Snape took out a small knife and held it in his left hand, while he held his wand in his right. Carefully, he cut the box open -- and then laughed a sharp, sarcastic laugh.

For there, in the middle of the box, looking up at him with winsome (albeit lifeless and plastic) brown eyes, was a perfect miniature rendition of a King Charles spaniel puppy.

Throwing caution to the wind, Snape pulled the stuffed puppy-toy out of the box. Ah, it's a Muggle toy, he thought, seeing the little heart-shaped paper tag attached to its left ear. Ty Beanie Baby, whatever that means. He felt the shifting weight of the toy in his hand; it must be stuffed with dried beans of some sort, he realized, hence the name. It does give the toy a rather fluidly realistic look and feel, he grudgingly admitted.

Snape read the tag, which informed him that the Beanie Baby's name was "Regal". Hah, he snorted to himself. How distinctive - not. That's a name no doubt shared by a few thousand other little toy dogs that came off the assembly line at that Muggle factory.

Holding the small toy dog in the palm of his hand, he came to a decision, which he announced, aloud, even though he felt a tad ridiculous for doing so:

"Henceforth, little dog, your name is Fidelis."

==================

The next few days saw Professor Snape becoming absurdly attached, somewhat against his will if not his better judgement, to that odd collection of beans and fabric. At one point he ran Fidelis through a battery of tests to ensure that there were no magical booby traps on him, no Imperius-Curse variants. The small stuffed dog passed every test.

Damn that Granger girl, mused Snape sheepishly one evening as he sat at his desk, grading student essays. She has a talent for finding the chinks in one's armour and exploiting them, he thought exasperatedly. His gaze, as it so often did lately, fell on Fidelis' silent form; Snape used the plush toy as a paperweight, having humorously ordered the tiny, inanimate dog to stand guard over his property while he was at his classes. Fidelis did not object.

Snape was waiting for Headmaster Dumbledore, who had an appointment with him at nine o'clock to discuss his spy work. Several persons at Hogwarts knew that Snape had been a Death Eater in his youth; far fewer knew that Professor Snape was, in fact, a double agent, pretending to be loyal to Voldemort while feeding information on Voldemort and his minions to Dumbledore, who then acted on the information as necessary.

It's nearly nine right now, Snape thought. He wondered if he should hide Fidelis; he wasn't sure what Dumbledore would think of him, Severus-the-Former-Death-Eater-Snape, harboring a child's stuffed toy in plain sight.

He was contemplating putting Fidelis into a desk drawer when he heard a knock on his office door. Ah, finally! rejoiced a relieved Snape. "Come in," he said, magically permitting the door to open.

Snape was immediately aware of two things. The first was that his visitor wasn't Dumbledore, but a rather scrubbish Death Eater of his acquaintance named Barr, Robert Barr. The second was that Barr had his wand out and was pointing it, with a none-too-steady hand, directly at Snape.

"Hello, Snape, you traitorous git," Barr snarled, doing his level best to make his high-pitched voice sound menacing. He had butterbeer on his breath; he apparently had had to consume quite a bit of alcohol before he could nerve himself up to confronting Severus Snape.

"Hello, Barr," Snape said calmly; he guessed that he could outmaneuver the stinking-drunk Barr, up to a point. Where the hell is Dumbledore? he thought. "What are you blathering about now? And how did you get into the castle?"

Barr's piggish little eye-slits gleamed with malice and inebriation. "That stupid fool Filch let me in," he squeaked joyfully. "I let him think I was Flitwick, then conked him on the head before he could find out his mistake. I'll be out of here well before he wakes up." He steadied himself against one of Snape's bookcases, his head swaying slightly. "I know you're a spy, Snape," he said, drunkenly advancing his short, potbellied figure towards the seated potions master. "I can prove it. And I'm going to go to Voldemort with that proof -- after I kill you!"

Snape rose swiftly from his chair, grabbing Barr's wand hand by the wrist. "You're drunk, Barr," he said evenly. "Drunk and delusional. Why don't you go back to Knockturn Alley and try chatting up the slatterns there as you usually do this time of night?"

Barr's response was to swing at Snape with his other hand. Snape ducked the blow, but was obliged to let go of Barr's wand hand.

"Aha!" Barr cried in besotted triumph, pointing the wand. "Avada Kedavra!" he shouted. Snape dodged the green rush of death, but just barely; it landed squarely on his desk, enveloping Fidelis in a green glow. Where is Dumbledore, dammit? he thought yet again, scuttling from side to side to keep Barr from getting a fix on him.

Barr tried to back Snape into a corner. He lifted his wand, pointed it at the wandless Snape, opened his mouth to speak the curse that would kill Snape dead -- when suddenly, something leapt up from Snape's desk and bit off part of Robert Barr's tongue.

Howling in pain, Barr dropped his wand and flailed ineffectually at the thing that was mauling his face. Just when he thought he'd grabbed hold of it, it leapt away.

Barr was too distracted by the pain and gore from his many facial wounds to see a very small dog pick up his fallen wand in its mouth and trot over to Snape with it. He had just begun to regain control of himself when he heard Snape roar "STUPEFY!" That was the last that Barr would know for quite some time, until he would wake up to find himself in Azkaban.

And so it was that at nine o'clock sharp, Professor Dumbledore came into Snape's office and found a stunned and bloodied stranger-wizard lashed to a chair, while Severus Snape, the vicious, the cruel, the cold-hearted Severus Snape, was daintily cleaning the blood from the fur of a very small, very adorable puppy dog, cossetting and petting him as the dog disgustedly spat out bits of wizard flesh onto a towel.

"Yes, yes, Fidelis; Death Eaters such as Barr certainly would leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth," Snape cooed as the tiny canine drank out of a small saucer of water set before him. The Potions Master looked up to see Dumbledore looking at him with the oddest of expressions.

"It seems you've had a most eventful evening, Severus," Dumbledore said, barely repressing a chuckle as he took a chair next to Snape's desk. "You'll have to tell me all about it."

=========

A crestfallen Hermione Granger followed Professor Snape to his office. She had really hoped that the anonymous gift of the Beanie Baby would have made Snape a touch more human. But here he was, still the same old imperious Snape, ordering her to his office with a look that brooked no denial.

But something odd happened, just as they got to Snape's office door.

"Granger," the professor said quietly, "is anyone else in the corridor?"

"No, Sir."

"Good." He then spoke the password and opened the door. Once Hermione was inside, he quickly shut and locked it. This was making Hermione feel very uneasy.

Snape motioned for her to sit in one of the leather chairs facing his desk. Then, he slowly opened his desk drawer -- and a furry little puppy poked his head up over the top of Snape's desk.

A furry little puppy that looked very familiar.

"Miss Granger, I'd like you to meet my dog, Fidelis," said a smiling Professor Snape.

====

For those who want to know what Fidelis looks like, go here:

(http://www.theturtletrail.com/ttt/pic/beanie/regal-l.gif)

And remember, as Maurice Vachon says: "It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog, that matters."

 

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