The Sugar Quill
Author: Jedi Boadicea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Acts of Necessity  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.

Disclaimer: It all belongs to JK Rowling

Disclaimer: It all belongs to JK Rowling. We all know that. I'm only playing with it, because I can't help myself. I certainly make no money off this. My empty wallet attests to that.

A/N: I wrote this story as a birthday gift for Zsenya. She said she wanted to see Snape wash his hair. So voila! There's really no reason to post this, other than to hope that someone else might get a laugh out of it.

This is set sometime during Chamber of Secrets.


                                                                                    ACTS OF NECESSITY


            “This will do it for sure! He’s gone too far this time!”

            Snape stood, with his arms crossed, ankle deep in the puddle of water that was rapidly forming in his private bathroom. He’d managed to stop the water from spilling over into his sleeping quarters and his office with a Blocking Charm, but there was nothing he could do about the leak itself unless he wanted to get involved in repairing whatever damage Peeves had caused. And the last thing he wanted to do was stay here and listen to Filch rant on about the poltergeist, even if he happened, for once, to agree with the old caretaker’s opinion.

            “Wreaking havoc with Professors’ things! He’s done it this time! And that he did it to yours, Professor -”

            “Is mine the only bathroom affected?” Snape interrupted curtly. He was in no mood to hear Filch’s ingratiating praise. The caretaker treated all the professors with respect, but with Snape that respect bordered annoyingly on adoration. Snape was certain that Filch regarded him as something of a comrade in arms in his perpetual war against the students. No, not a comrade in arms. A superior. The old caretaker often commented admiringly on Snape’s ability to terrify the students, without ever once having to threaten the use of manacles and racks. Snape found the man’s manner intensely irritating.

            “No, Professor, all of the professors’ quarters are -”

            “Very well. Then fix them, Filch.”

            “Yes, Professor, of course, but I need to report this to the Headmaster.”

            “Whatever you do, Filch, do it quickly,” he ordered, letting the irritation show in his voice. Then he turned and sloshed through the water, scowling, and stepped out of the wet bathroom and onto the dry stone floor of his personal quarters. It was bad enough that the dungeons accumulated dampness as it was, so that he had to maintain several Drying Charms on his rooms. The last thing he needed was overflowing piping. Irritation aside, it posed a serious threat to the potions he had brewing in his office. At times like these, he did truly have to agree with Filch’s opinion about Peeves. The poltergeist had best hope he didn’t cross Snape’s path today.

            And what made the situation all the more irritating was that Severus was actually in dire want of a shower.

            He had just come from his last lesson of the day, with those impudent Gryffindors. Impudent and incompetent. If it was the last thing he did, Snape swore he’d find a way to make Longbottom understand what it meant to brew potions. And if it took exploding that blasted toad the way Longbottom exploded cauldrons, then sooner or later toad guts would decorate the dungeon walls. He’d see to it.

            With an irritated swipe of his hand, he brushed at some remaining slime on the sleeve of his robes, succeeding only in smearing it further. He could take out his wand and clear it, but more than anything he just wanted to clean his whole body. Normally the feel of steam clinging to him didn’t disturb him; he spent hours over brewing potions, after all. But Longbottom had been attempting to brew a Shriveling Potion, and the last thing Snape needed was for the effects of it to start to sink into his skin. Even wiping it away with magic did nothing to wipe away the residual irritation. He just wanted to shower. For once.

            Just then, he heard a whooshing sound from his fireplace, and turned to see Minerva McGonagall’s head floating in the flames.

            Severus,” she said in a clipped voice. “I take it you’ve discovered our little problem.”

            “Quite thoroughly,” Snape replied coolly. “I’m hoping a Drought Charm on the castle will not be necessary.”

            McGonagall grimaced slightly. “No, no need for extremes. I’ve already told the elves to help Filch take care of the matter.”

            “Wonderful,” Snape said sourly.

            “I just thought you might like to know,” her tone made it very clear that she truly doubted he wanted to know, “that Poppy has opened the Hospital Wing facilities for our use, until the problem is fixed.”

            Snape frowned. The thought of showering in the Hospital Wing, where any ill student might be lurking, was hardly an enticing one. But neither was sitting about in a damp room, reeking of ruined potions and listening to Filch directing an army of elves in repairing the plumbing.

            “Yes, thank you,” he said distractedly toward the fireplace, gaze already elsewhere.

            There was the sound of a rather irritated sigh, and then a whoosh as McGonagall’s head vanished.

            Snape stood in the center of his room, still frowning, for a few moments more before coming to a decision. He’d speak with Pomfrey, and if the Hospital Wing was empty, then he would go.

            Sometime later, he was standing in the blissfully empty shower room of the Hospital Wing with a black towel and a bottle of Mrs Skower’s Might As Well Scalp Yourself Heavy Duty Hair Wash, and hating circumstances that could make him feel like he was a student again in a dormitory bathroom. Truly, passionately hating them.

            He stripped out of his ruined robes, thinking again, with relish, of toad guts, and turned the taps to hot water.

There was something about the almost painful feel of scalding hot water on skin that he… needed. He stood like stone for a long while, letting the water roll down his body like trails of liquid fire.

            Spending as much time as he did over simmering cauldrons, he was used to heat. He was used to the way it slicked his skin, and settled in his hair, and set the air to shimmering. He was used to it, and he had learned to love it, and everything that came with it. Solitude. His work. And the added side-effect of looking highly unpleasant enough to terrify the students was only an extra bonus. He was used to all of it, so it wasn’t often he felt the need to scour himself clean with the heat of water like this.

            But he lifted his hands, and saw a gloopy mess he recognized instinctively as eye of newt smashed under his fingernail, and thought that this was definitely one of those times.

            The smell of Mrs Skower’s Might As Well Scalp Yourself Heavy Duty Hair Wash was not a pleasant one, but it didn’t bother him. He’d certainly smelled far worse in his time, and so long as it was effective, that was all that mattered to him.

            Moving quickly now, remembering suddenly that he was in the Hospital Wing and not his own quarters, Severus scrubbed the green Hair Wash potion vigorously through his hair. It made a quiet sizzling sound, and stung fiercely, but he ignored it and continued scrubbing.

            With the single minded determination he applied to all unpleasant tasks, he finished washing his hair and stood directly under the scalding stream of water to rinse the potion suds away. He lowered his hands, feeling the heat of the water trailing down his arms, and paused, watching the faint sheen of it coursing along the skin of his inner forearm. His left arm.

            Painfully hot water trailed from the ends of his hair and down his face, streaming over his eyelashes and partially obscuring his vision… but he didn’t need clear vision to see what wasn’t even there. What was there, even if sight would not reveal it.

            The skin over his inner forearm was unblemished. Pale, flushed slightly now with the heat of the water. Unmarked. But it was there - inside his skin. The Dark Mark. Waiting.      

            And no matter how long he stood here, no matter how much scalding water, boiling water even, he poured over his flesh, nothing would ever remove that Mark. It may lie hidden now, waiting for a chance to burn again… but it was there. He could wash grime away, but he couldn’t wash away his past. Some things could not be cleansed. Not even scalded away.

            A loud banging sound echoed suddenly through the room.

            Snape stiffened, and barely restrained himself from leaping out of the stall on instinct to reach for his wand.

            A second later, he wished he hadn’t restrained the urge.

            The banging sound, clearly of a door opening, was followed by a very cheerful sort of humming, and a voice… a very hated voice…

            “There’s nothing quite so bedaaaazzzling….” the voice spiraled up alarmingly, “as Maaagical Me!”

            Snape gritted his teeth against the violent urges which shot through him at the sound of that voice. He was very glad for the thick cloud of steam billowing around his stall, and hoped it would be enough to keep him from having to see the man.

            “Well, goodness, looks like there’s someone enjoying the hot water, doesn’t it?”

            Snape pushed his wet hair back, fingers clenched against his scalp as tightly as his jaw. He should have gone for his wand. Iced a bit of the floor. An accident. Could have happened to anyone. Everyone would thank him for it.

            Unfortunately, his silence was not enough to deter Gilderoy Lockhart and his boundless self-enthusiasm.

            “Is this a fellow beleaguered professor lost in all this steam?” Lockhart asked cheerfully, and Snape could hear his footsteps advancing across the smooth floor. They sounded despicably light. No doubt the idiot was veritably prancing.

            Clearly, silence was not going to work. And he was done here anyway. There was no need to torment himself by staying and listening to Lockhart’s prattle. Too long, and he would have to resort to violence.

            Snape shut off the taps and stepped out of the stall, dripping, scowling, and completely unembarrassed. The steam wafted aside, and there, in mid prance, was Lockhart. He had a sparkly, lilac colored towel flung over his shoulder, and was wearing matching sandals. He carried a huge, pastel colored bottle in one hand, and stood now with it dangling from nearly limp fingers as he moved his jaw soundlessly for a moment, clearly a bit stunned by Snape’s sudden appearance.

            “Lost your voice?” Snape curled his lips into an unpleasant smile. “What a tragedy.”

            “I…I…” Lockhart floundered for a bit, then quickly pasted a broad smile on his face, showing all his teeth. “I say! Not much for modesty there, are you Sev – Se- Professor Snape.”

             Snape kept his scowl perfectly intact as he replied. “I’m sure you recognize the symptoms.”

            “Well, well,” Lockhart prattled on, as though he hadn’t heard. “Seems we’re in quite a situation, aren’t we? Poltergeists are always quite the troublesome things. You know, they should just let me have a bit of a crack at it. I could have it out of the castle in no time! I’ve dealt with many a poltergeist in my day!”

            Snape decided that saying anything further would just be tempting Lockhart to continue the conversation. So he turned his back, reaching for his towel, then changed his mind and reached for his wand instead. He heard Lockhart choke suddenly on further words of self-adoration, and he smirked, sorely tempted to turn around, wand pointed. To see just how fast the man could truly prance.

            But he didn’t.

            He cast a quick Drying Charm on himself, unwilling to stay long enough to use the towel. By the time he pulled his robes back on and turned around, Lockhart had composed himself again, and was tossing his sparkling lilac towel jauntily onto a hook outside one of the showers.             

            “Let’s just hope none of the ladies decide to come on down, eh?” Lockhart grinned. “Wouldn’t want to dazzle them too badly.”

            Snape curled his hands over his wand. Tightly. “At least in the hospital wing they may be cured of the trauma,” he said coolly, then turned and strode toward the door before Lockhart could say another word. One more word, and his control would snap. In the absence of toad guts, other things would do.

            No sooner had the door to the hospital showers close behind him than he heard Lockhart’s voice raised in song again.

            “When you’re needing bewitching, oh desperateleeeeeeey…. you can always call on Maaagical Me!”

            Lips peeled back in a sneer, Snape continued down the Hospital Wing, relieved to hear the sounds of Lockhart’s voice receding… and then he stopped.

            No. He couldn’t simply walk away and allow that abomination to continue.

            His snarl melted into a smirk, and he turned back, walking silently back to the shower room door. Stealth was always something which had come naturally to him, and he pushed the door open with soundless ease.

            Instantly, he was hit by a powerful wave of scent. It smelled like someone had set fire to one of Professor Sprout’s more flowery greenhouses, and it looked that way, too. The room was full of bubbles, hundreds of them, floating out of one of the shower stalls and whirling around the room in a frenzy of pastel colors. Pink. Lilac. Blue. 

            Lockhart was still singing, and as he sang, the bubbles changed hue, shifting from lilac to deep purple, and then back to soft pink.

            Snape walked in, waving the bubbles aside to clear a path.

            Unbelievable. The man – no, not a man. A….

Snape’s smirk widened.

Lockhart’s voice suddenly shot upward. “Flawless and FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

The bubbles turned a sour green, and dozens of them instantly popped.

Maaaaaagicaaaaalllll MEEEEEEEEEEEE.”

Severus stood still, just outside the stall, and waited for the inevitable.

A few mere seconds passed, and then Lockhart began the song all over again.

Under cover of his screeching, Snape reached out and took the sparkly lilac towel off its hook. Then he lifted his wand, and thought of the creatures lurking in the Forbidden Forest. And of the stories the students were telling about some of Lockhart’s classes.

With a flick of his wand, Snape conjured an electric blue Pixie. It hovered right in front of him for one befuddled moment, and he grabbed the tiny creature with a quick, silent movement, gripping it hard enough to prevent it from breathing or biting. The Pixie glared up balefully at him, and he just smirked back.

 Then he carefully stuffed the Pixie into the folds of Lockhart’s towel, wrapped it up securely, and set it on the floor beneath the hook.

“When not just any wizard will doooooooo….”

Snape left the room, closing the door behind him, and this time he didn’t turn back. Lockhart would be screeching in quite a different manner very shortly. He didn’t need to be there to hear it. He knew. But perhaps he could find some students to punish, and send them up to the Hospital Wing for immediate detention. There ought to be some witnesses. Rumors had a way of spreading.

Severus tucked his wand back into his robes, and absently pushed a hand back through his clean and dry hair, pushing the unusually silky strands away from his face.

            It had been a good shower, in the end.

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