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Potter's Bar by Grainne [Reviews - 26]

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Author's Notes: This one-off (set the summer after OotP) was inspired by a very awful joke I got in a Christmas cracker.

Q: Where do snooker players go for a drink? A: Potters Bar

This joke is even less funny--and downright confusing--if you don't know two things. 1: Shooting the balls into the pockets is called "potting the ball" in snooker. People who play, then, are often referred to as "potters." 2: There is a town in Hertfordshire called Potters Bar. See--awful joke. For this story I chose to focus on the idea of a literal bar.

Disclaimers: None of the Potterverse belongs to me; I do not see profit from it; this work is only for shits and giggles. I should also add that, although Harry might feel otherwise by the end of this piece, I am actually quite fond of the city of Sheffield. Oreight?

Potter's Bar

Harry Potter was completely pissed. Yes, the Boy-Who-Lived was legless; the designated savior-to-be was squiffed. He shuffled and lurched down Glossop Road, grabbing at railings and lamp posts where available to keep himself from ending up ass over kettle. At one point he even clutched the arm of an extremely tall, extremely muscular woman in a tight skirt, who took one whiff of him and growled, "Gerrof!" before teetering across the road in her stiletto boots.

"BEGYERPARDON MISTER!" Harry shouted after the retreating figure. He looked blearily about him. There had to be somewhere that was still serving. He wasn't ready to go back yet. More importantly, he wasn't exactly sure how to get back. And, he reasoned, as long as he could still more or less stand up why not keep drinking? There was nothing promising in the immediate vicinity, so he forged ahead. The very few people he passed heard him singing to himself, indistinctly, "Hoppy, happy birddyday to meee...happyday, harryday, birddyday to me...squee!"

While Harry's speech and coordination were affected by the alcohol, he was not actually as crazy as he seemed. It was, in fact, his birthday--his sixteenth birthday, to be exact--which had everything to do with why he was dragging himself down a nearly deserted street in Sheffield at one o'clock in the morning.

Earlier that day (or rather, the day before), Harry had sat grimly in the kitchen of the semi-detached in Ranmoor coming to grips with the fact that, as this had been the worst summer ever, his sixteenth birthday was likely to suffer the same fate.

His horrible Aunt Marge had finally got herself a man--a retired history lecturer--at a dog-breeding conference. He was twice as large as she (although to be fair Marge had never fully regained her original girth after the little inflation/deflation incident) and as jowly as Ripper. She had gathered up her whole pack of bulldogs and gone to stay with him for the summer in Sheffield; he had two bulldogs of his own and a kennel in his garden, which backed onto a large park. By all accounts they and their slobbery brood were cohabiting in plump, jowly bliss.

When Uncle Vernon had announced that Marge would therefore be unable to visit them at Privet Drive that summer, Harry had chomped on his own cheeks to keep from grinning with glee. But then Uncle Vernon announced that, instead, they would all being going to visit her in Sheffield. It happened that Uncle Vernon had to go to a business meeting there in a week's time anyway, and he'd decided they could all go and turn it into the family holiday. He was also a skinflint, and saw this as an opportunity to save on the hotel fares. Mr. Fannywhacke, as Marge's man was called, had said that there was plenty of room at his place (though Harry couldn't see how there could ever be enough room in any one place for all of the Dursleys).

Aunt Petunia had pointed out that those, "er, acquaintances of Harry's from the train station," might not like them dragging him off like this, but Uncle Vernon had stuff-and-nonsensed her. Later he'd made Harry write letters to, "those freak friends" of his, explaining that his aunt and uncle were kindly taking him on holiday up north and that he'd see them at school. Nothing Harry had said had made the slightest bit of difference. He'd been hauled onto the train by his collar and sandwiched between Dudley (who got the window seat) and his uncle.

He'd resigned himself then and there to two weeks of being either ignored, insulted or drooled upon by the various members of the combined Fannywhacke-Dursley household. At least, he had thought, he might get to see a few things. Hermione had written him a quick note before they'd left, telling him that she'd heard the Peak District was lovely, and Ron had passed on from Bill that the local museum in Sheffield had a pretty impressive mummy on display. Ron had also said that his dad wanted photographs of the Muggle flatware exhibit, of all things.

However, since he'd arrived in Sheffield, Harry had gotten to go precisely nowhere. Aunt Marge, loathing the boy more than ever although she could not remember exactly why, had assigned him to kennel duty. This meant looking after eight ill-tempered beasts who despised him. Otherwise he was locked in the house while the others went off to shop or sightsee. A couple of times he had broken out or tied the dogs to a tree when he was supposed to be walking them, but as he had no pocket money nor any idea where to go his explorations were never much fun.

By the time his birthday rolled around, Harry had spent too many long hours mucking out kennels or sitting in the kitchen brooding over Sirius's death. In short, he was verging on mild insanity. He just could NOT sit in the kitchen one more day, thinking these thoughts. Aunt Petunia had meekly suggested that they might include Harry on their outing to Meadowhall, seeing as it was his birthday, but she had been overruled. Aunt Marge had laughed and said that they would have to park him in the kid-care center if they wanted to get any shopping done. Harry had fumed. When they were all getting ready to go out he had shamelessly nicked a wad of notes from her purse. A half-hour after they'd left he'd broken out and embarked on what had to be the greatest Sheffield pub crawl ever undertaken by a sixteen-year-old wizard.

Having no clue where to go he'd wandered through Ranmoor to Broomhill, from there down to the Ecclesall Road, and had eventually found his way into the city center. Along the way he'd hit the Broomhill Tavern, the Fox and Duck, the Fox and Hound, the Dog and Partridge, the Slug and Fiddle, Champs (but he hadn't stayed there long as it had been too busy and too bright and too full of Americans drinking suspiciously-colored things out of cocktail glasses), Berlins (where he'd been groped on his way to the loo by a very large woman in a very small dress), the Star and Garter, and, most recently, the Frog and Parrot. And although he was only sixteen, no one who saw the haggard face and haunted eyes of the young man that evening would have believed it. If a publican did start to look at him funny, Harry moved on.

Now, though, time had long since been called at all of the pubs. Some of the dance clubs, especially the underground ones, were still open, but Harry didn't know about those. So he stumbled onward, not quite sure what he was going to do with himself.

Turning (or rather, careening) off of Glossop onto a side road, Harry saw a greenish glow up ahead. He made his way toward it unsteadily. It turned out to be a sign. A sign sporting great, green, glowing letters.

POTTER'S BAR Open Twenty-Four Hours

Harry's jaw dropped and he propped himself shakily against a waste bin.

"Thasme!" he whispered. "Mybar. All my own, for my birddyday." He grinned a lopsided grin, pulled what was left of Aunt Marge's money out of his pocket and made his way to the entrance.

Funny, Harry thought, usually when you come in off a dark street it gets lighter inside. But there seemed to be an impenetrable wall of shadow just inside the entryway.

"Tha lost, lager-boy?" said a deep voice. Harry looked up. The wall of shadow turned out to be a very large, fierce-looking man, dressed in a black jacket and trousers. Harry grinned up at him.

"Mybar. Wanna visit mybar. Thirsty." He held up the handful of coins and the few notes to show the man that he had money. The man's eyes narrowed, but then he laughed.

"It's a private club. Take yer sick squid elsewhere."

"But..." said Harry.

"I said GERROUT!" The man uncrossed his arms from his chest and took a step toward Harry. "NEOW!"

"But, but...IAMHARRYPOTTER!" he shouted. "I AM HARRY POTTER AND THIS IS MY BAR!!!" And then he burst into tears, which were occasionally punctuated by large, gut-wrenching belches. The large man took a step back.

Someone inside the club had heard the shouts. He was tall and dressed in black trousers, a crisp white shirt, and a silver waistcoat. His long dark hair was tied at the nape of his neck. He slowly straightened up from where he'd been bent over the table, studying the angle for a plant. No, surely it could not be.... Not him, not here. No one but Dumbledore knew about his secret hobby. But oh, if it was, if it was...he was going to have the boy's hide for a hat. He excused himself, apologizing to his opponent for the interruption. "It is a family matter," he said silkily, and received a knowing nod of sympathy in return. These Muggles were so easy to fool.

"Is there a problem Gerald?"

"Just this lump of misery. Says he wants in and then goes all mardy on me."

Snape stepped further into the small entryway and was treated to the sight and smell of Harry Potter, doubled over, reeking of alcohol and crying like a baby. Oh, this was going to be good.

"Gerald, I do apologize. This excuse for humanity is my...godson. He's a very disturbed young man, as you can see. Do you think we could let him in until I finish this match?"

A familiar voice cut through the haze of alcohol and tears. The voice of the one man Harry hated more than any other, barring Voldemort of course. Harry straightened up. What the bloody hell was Snape doing here, and had he just said what he thought he did?

Snape and Harry stared at one another with abhorrence, while Gerald looked nervously between the two.

"He," said Harry, pointing at Snape with a shaking finger, "is NOT my godfather. MY GODFATHER IS DEAD! AND IT'S ALL HIS FAULT!"

"You see, Gerald? Clearly disturbed. But I assure you, he'll calm down; just give me a minute alone with him and then bring him inside. I'll make it worth your while," said Snape.

Gerald looked into Mr. Snape's dark eyes. The man gave him the creepy crawlies. He nodded. "He'd better not chuck his guts up, is all I'm saying. New carpets inside and all."

"And I assure you Gerald, that if he does, he will clean up every last ounce of the mess...with his bare hands."

Gerald was very glad that Mr. Snape was not his godfather.

When Harry realized that he was about to be handed over to Snape he tried to turn and make a run for it, but Gerald intervened. Harry felt Snape's icy fingers digging into his shoulders. Gerald stepped outside, telling Snape to just give a shout when he was through.

As soon as Gerald left, Snape spun Harry around so that they were facing one another. Harry's stomach lurched, and he let out another great belch, right into his teacher's face. Snape flinched, his nostrils quivering.

"And now we see you for the animal you are, Potter."

Only sheer fury, and the force of Snape's grip, kept Harry on his feet. He tried to think of something hateful to say, but in truth all he wanted to do was howl in rage, and he would not give Snape the satisfaction of having his insult so neatly validated. In the end, all he could do was mutter, "Ihateyou, I hateyou, Ihateyou," over and over again.

Snape backed him up against the wall in the cramped entryway. "And I assure you, Potter, that the feeling is mutual. Nevertheless--and listen closely--I have sworn to Dumbledore that I will help protect your sorry hide until all the use has been had from it. I have no idea how in Merlin's name you came to be here tonight in such a state, but I assure you that, when Dumbledore finds out about this little travesty, he will not be pleased. In fact, he will most likely agree with me that you are a selfish prat. The future of our world may well be in your hands and what do you do? You run away from the only people who can protect you whilst you're not at school, proceed to get shit-faced, and start announcing to all and sundry who you are. Do you even begin to realize, you odious boy, how IRRESPONSIBLE," and here he shook the boy, "and FOOLISH you are?!"

Harry's stomach was doing flip-flops now, and his head was spinning.

Snape studied Harry's face closely. The boy was past it; he would most likely be sick or pass out any minute now. "Just one more thing, Potter, and then I'll leave you to Gerald. Why are you here? Did someone tell you...did you know I would be here?"

Harry would have laughed in Snape's face but he hadn't the stomach for it. Why on earth would he have come looking for Snape? But now that he mentioned it, what was this place, if it wasn't a public house? And what was Snape doing in Sheffield?

"Answer me, Potter!" Snape shook the boy again.

That did it. Harry managed to say, "Course not, you great git. I saw the sign," before vomiting. Snape barely managed to step out of the way.

The sign? What did he mean? Snape was troubled. He stepped over Harry and opened the outer door. As he motioned for Gerald to come back in, something caught his eye. It was the glowing green light of the club's sign, reflected off the dark street. Realization dawned on him. Oh, no, this was more than absurd. This was irony in its purest form.

"Take him in the back way, let him clean himself up, and then chuck him in a booth. He'll be studying the backs of his eyelids soon." He handed Gerald a twenty-pound note and turned to go back inside. He did not let himself look at the wretched figure on the floor as he reentered the club and made his way amongst the green baize-covered tables.

It was bad enough, Snape thought, that the one sport he actually enjoyed (other than dueling)--the one thing that offered him a bit of enjoyment and a reprieve from the stresses of teaching dunderheads and being a spy--made a "potter" out of him. And it was bad enough that half the bloody snooker clubs in the country bore the name of that blasted family, and that as he played he had to listen to people talking about, "potting this," and "potting that." But to have Harry Potter actually show up here, tonight, and crash in on his well-guarded secret because he had drunkenly thought the place was named for HIM? It was unbearable! Gah! He crumbled a cube of chalk in his fist. As his opponent stepped up for the opening break, Snape swore that he would not let the idiot boy's appearance put him off his game. He would pretend that every single "ball on" was Potter's little head.

The wee hours of the morning found Snape in the cloakroom, putting on his jacket with an air of quiet satisfaction. Harry had indeed passed out for several hours. Upon awakening, he had felt sufficiently poorly to not protest when Snape interrogated him as to the Dursleys' whereabouts. A few discreet phone calls had been made, and now Snape was going to tell Harry that he would be picked up at the police station by his aunt and uncle.

"Police?" Harry groaned.

"Yes, I'm afraid so, Potter. It's a matter of protecting the club's reputation. You are not legally allowed in here. Gerald will make sure you get there. They won't write you up for anything, more's the pity. Everyone will be told that you were found sleeping on a park bench. Even Dumbledore thinks it is for the best."

"Oww!" Harry said as he held his head. "But, Aunt Marge, Uncle Vernon...."

"Can give you the cane for all I care. You are old enough, Potter, to start dealing with the consequences of your actions. Perhaps in a few years you'll even learn to think them through beforehand. You do, after all, have certain responsibilities...to us all."

Harry looked miserably into the hard black eyes of the Potions master. He vowed, as so many have done before him, never to drink again. "Yes, sir," he whispered. Thinking he saw Snape's face soften a bit, he ventured, "I don't suppose, Professor, that there is something...a potion, I mean, for this?" He pointed to his throbbing head.

"Yes, there is." Snape smirked. "And no, you can't have any. Didn't you hear a word I just said, boy? Consequences." Snape turned and walked out into the weak light of dawn.

As he settled himself into the back of the waiting taxi, Snape patted his breast pocket. Inside was a small silver-plated cup, his prize for winning the match--best out of nine frames. It was only a trinket, really, put up by the club management, but Snape cherished it. Before he returned to Hogwarts for the new school year he knew he'd transfigure it into a jar of some filthy, slimy-looking thing so he could place it in his "trophy" cabinet, just like all the others. He didn't want anyone else to know about his passion for snooker. But for now he smiled, enjoying the weight of it in his pocket and imagining all of the things he would do to Harry if he ever so much as mentioned Potter's Bar.



Additional Notes:

Many of the places mentioned above are real, but as any Sheffielders will have noticed, I have rearranged the geography somewhat to suit. Harry would most likely never have made it to all those pubs in one night on his own two feet, although I'd like to see someone try to prove me wrong (I'll give you some Hangover Potion and a foot rub the next day.) And, as an additional disclaimer, I am sure that none of the fine pubs/clubs of Sheffield would ever knowingly serve an underage wizard.

Meadowhall is a vast beast of an indoor shopping center (AKA mall) with a cinema and restaurants and a grocery store and everything you might think you need under the sun.

The Potter's Bar is this story is not real. Although there are actually several snooker clubs called Potters Bar or Potter's Bar, there isn't one in Sheffield, as far as I know.

Lastly, "ball on" is the ball that the striker can legally pot during a specific shot. Without going into all the messy details (about which I am no expert), there is an order in which you must pot the balls and all sorts of other rules that apply. In most cases you have to indicate which ball you are attempting to strike, and it is usually a foul if you don't strike your "ball on."

Potter's Bar by Grainne [Reviews - 26]

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