The Ninth of January Ritual
"Happy...UNGH...bloody...YOW...birthday...SHITE...to...GRR...me!" Snape alternately muttered and swore under his breath. He leaned back in his chair to survey his handiwork. Merlin's beard! It was getting worse every year. Soon he'd have to resort to using Master Gizzards for the Mature Wizard. He scowled at himself in the mirror. No! Snapes did NOT dye their hair. A lifetime of this, then...
"Professor Snape!" Draco burst into Snape's office. He stopped in his tracks, eyes widening at the sight of his Head of House sitting before a vanity mirror, a very large pair of silver tweezers in his hand. On the desk sat a little pile of what looked like wiry grey threads. "Professor?"
Snape hastily covered the pile of hairs with his hand and pointed the tweezers at Draco like a weapon. "You had better have a very good reason for barging in here, you insufferable little blonde!"
"Yes, sir! I'm sorry, sir. Professor Dumbledore wants you in the Great Hall."
"Well tell him he's in for a great disappointment then. I have no plans to visit that particular room today."
"I am sorry, but he insisted, Professor. He said that you're to come with me or you will be assigned to the Decorations Committee for the St. Valentine's dance."
"So?" Snape snapped, fidgeting with his tweezers. "I have already proved myself more than adequate at disposing of the little rotund and winged monstrosities let loose in the castle round that time of year."
"Yes, Professor Snape. But...er...well, being on the committee means that you would have to help create them, not destroy them."
"What? Do you mean to tell me that someone creates those things on purpose?"
"Yes, sir. I believe Professors Flitwick and Trelawney are involved."
Snape sighed. He would almost rather spout gooey sonnets to Potter than help create enchanted cherubs with Flitwick and Trelawney. Almost. He replaced the tweezers in his desk drawer and burned the pile of grey hairs with a flick of his wand.
"So, are you coming, sir?" asked the anxious Draco.
"If I must. And, Malfoy, if you ever mention what you saw in here, I guarantee that the amazing bouncing ferret will be returning for an encore performance. Is that clear?"
Draco's face turned a rather disgusting pink color, and Snape shuddered. The boy looked disturbingly like a strawberry cake with lemon icing. Gah! thought Snape. I will not think about cake!
"I thought you should be with friends on your birthday, Severus." Dumbledore beamed as the Potions master took his seat at the staff table.
Snape glanced disdainfully around him. What friends? I see no friends here, he thought, but he restrained his nastiness and announced, "I prefer to celebrate in private." He crossed his arms over his chest and stared straight ahead.
Dumbledore leaned over, patted his Potions master on the thigh, and whispered, "You should just give in, my boy. White is not such a bad color. Look at me--I'm still pulling the birds."
Snape looked at Dumbledore in disbelief and snatched his limbs out of patting distance. The headmaster tugged his beard and gave a little wink. Snape snarled, "Black, Albus. Always black. And spare me the details of your wrinkly shenanigans. I'm nauseous enough as it is."
Just then a bevy of owls entered the Great Hall, making straight for Snape. The first dozen cards had fallen in a heap on his plate before he realized what was happening. He drew his wand and began hexing the birds, sending them screeching away with sizzling tail feathers.
"Severus, stop that at once--unless you want to replace the entire flock of school owls out of your own salary!" shouted Minerva.
Snape scowled, but he lowered his wand. It was folly anyway; there were too many of them. Soon, he was surrounded by colorful packages and envelopes. Some interfering nitwit--and his Galleons were on a certain twinkly bearded menace--had leaked the news of his birthday to the world at large.
"One for every year, I see," tittered Flitwick.
That did it. When the last owl had deposited its odious package, Snape levitated the whole lot and sent them showering down on the diminutive Charms teacher, who squeaked in protest.
Snape then rose and, fixing the headmaster with his most baleful glare, announced, "That is about ENOUGH bloody birthday nonsense from you, old man. I don't care what you say, I am returning to my rooms now, and I DO NOT WISH TO BE DISTURBED...unless there is cake. Preferably chocolate. Devil's Food. With real butter frosting. And, perhaps, a small glass of port...but I digress. I WISH TO BE LEFT ALONE!"
Snape strode back down to the dungeons, his robes streaming out behind him. The morning had been wasted, but there was still plenty of time to finish his annual ritual. He knew it was vain, but he couldn't help himself. After all, he was knobbly and sallow, with an over-large nose and yellowing teeth. But his hair...oh, his hair was his one point of physical pride. He secretly loved overhearing what people said about it. He didn't mind it being called greasy, as long as they mentioned its color. Black. Raven-black. Ink-black. Black as night. Cascades of darkness. Curtains of shadow. He based his entire wardrobe and his entire public persona around it.
Once he was back in his office, Snape returned to his desk. He propped his chin on his hands and gazed, once more, into the mirror. As if in a trance, he leaned forward, and his hands began to move. He combed through his oily locks with long pale fingers, searching for the little white intruders.
AN: This was inspired by the "Snape's Birthday" challenge issued at The Potions Master's Muse (Yahoo Groups) in honor of Snape's birthday--January 9th--as announced by JKR. The basic idea was to show how Snape spends his birthday. There was a list of lines/scenarios, several of which were to be included. Draco bursting into Snape's office and Snape receiving unwanted scads of birthday mail are two examples. In addition, it was to be written in an hour or less. This version has been refined and slightly expanded.