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The Conference by Melvacaea [Reviews - 3]

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Trickie Woo for the latest review and thanks to all you wonderful reviewers who have stuck by me, helped me out, complimented me, and made the plot bunnies giddy with your ego stroking!

****
Chapter Ten: Happy Halloween, Professor

Mara glared at the woman in the mirror. She was wearing a moon-colored dress with white elbow-length gloves and white court shoes. Her hair was up in a bun, straddled by a white moonflower. Her face dusted with white glitter, she picked up her white mask and snapped it on, reveling in how it covered the right half of her face like the Phantom of the Opera. Dress trailing along behind her, she walked downstairs to the Great Hall, where she was greeted by someone that looked vaguely like Don Juan.

"Snape?" she asked, surprised, when she recognized his eyes behind the mask.

"No, señorita (1), Don Juan (2)!"

She laughed at him and watched his thin lips smirk.

"And who are you supposed to be?" he asked, reverting to his normal inflection, a neutral tone ingrained with sarcasm.

"Goddess of the moon," she said with a smirk not unlike his own. "Remus killed me when he saw my dress."

"Then why are you here?"

"Because I came back to life."

They sent amused glances at each other before entering the Great Hall, where some people nudged each other, nodding towards them.

"Do you think they recognize you, Don Juan?"

"Probably not. Idiots."

"Oh, look. It's our favorite person. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll check out the punch."

"I'll join you."

Laughing deep in her throat, both of them rushed across the room to the refreshment table, glaring at Dumbledore (who was currently dressed like... Gandhi?). She picked up a glass of the red drink and swirled it, glitter on her face glimmering in the light of the chandelier. Someone was singing on stage.

"Oh, look. It's Potter."

Her head snapped about, looking up on the stage, and saw a woman there. She had bright red hair piled into a bun, a pair of black flared pants, a black blouse, and bare feet. Brown eyes glimmered as she sang a familiar song.

"Potter?"

"Ginerva Potter nee Weasley."

"Ginny?" she said with a gaping look. "My god. She's changed. She's grown." It clicked. "She's married?"

She saw him shake his head hopelessly and he took off through the crowd, docking points for pouring alcohol into one of the teachers' punch bowls. Sure enough, she saw a raven-haired man standing in the shadows, grinning at Ginny. Emerald eyes shone in the darkness and Mara's smile twitched. Then, when Ginny finished singing, Dumbledore arrived on the stage. The sinking feeling fell into her stomach again.

"Students, professors, and guests! I am pleased to announce that our guests will be walking around the room evaluating the costumes. Four will win: a male student, a female student, a male professor, and a female professor. Our judges are Ginerva Potter, Ronald Weasley, Harry Potter, Seamus Finnigan, and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Please give them a round of applause!"

There was not only applause but whistles and hoots. Then, when the four men stepped out of the shadows, the noise increased. Harry, bright red, entwined his arm with his wife and started to walk around the room. A waltz came on and Mara walked around the edges of the dance floor, checking the alcohol levels in the punch.

When the elder, dark-skinned Auror approached her, she didn't know what to think. He was giving her glances up and down, as if stripping her with his eyes. She shifted uncomfortably and made to move.

"Miss Alexandria, isn't it?" he asked, stepping in front of her.

"Professor, actually. Presently."

"Professor." He smiled at her. "Who are you dressed as?"

"Goddess of the moon."

"It's a very nice dress." He extended his hand to her and she took it tentatively. He made her turn slowly, as if savoring the effect which the dress had upon the curves of her body.

"Shacklebolt, kindly take your hands off her." They both looked around in surprise at Snape, who stood there calmly.

"And you are?" he asked rudely.

"Who does it look like? Monkey man? Don Juan, you brainless idiot."

"Professor," Mara chided him gently. "Come on, come dance with me. Sorry about that, Monsieur Shacklebolt."

She took Severus' hand firmly and led him onto the dance floor away from the half-French Auror, shaking her head at him. He placed one delicate hand on her slim waist and held her hand firmly in the other, smirking again.

"You are impossible." He only smirked deeper as they waltzed across the floor, drawing stares.

"Mara!" She looked around at Harry's call and smiled at him, stopping the dance with Severus.

"Hello, Harry."

"Hey - Snape? Is that you?" He sounded incredulous.

"No, Potter, it's Don Juan. Professor Snape decided to go to sleep while Severus decided to go out and be festive," he sneered.

"Professor!" Mara said, exasperated. The sneer turned to another smirk, the third one that evening.

"Well, I know he's Don Juan, I don't know what you are... besides beautiful."

"Harry!" The revealed part of Mara's face went pink. "I'm a goddess of the moon."

"Love the flower. It's huge!"

"It's a moonflower. It's fifteen centimeters across. Ginny!"

"Hello, Mara!" The two embraced and Mara went up into a tirade about Ginny and her getting married, not sending her a card. When they told her that they had eloped in the middle of said tirade (and in the middle of the war), she lapsed into an embarrassed silence.

"Um. I'm going to go... do rounds." She hurried away, tapping a Hufflepuff boy on the back. He froze in the action of dunking firewhiskey into a punch bowl. "You may want to try the one in the on the other side corner." She watched him scuttle away and hold a large conversation with a redhead, who laughed at him and led him onto the dance floor.

"Professor Alexandria?" a man with an Irish brogue said from the side. She turned to face the father of one of her students.

"Finnigan, isn't it? Seamus Finnigan, father to Katie Finnigan?"

"That's the one."

"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, sir." She shook hands with him. "You are one of the judges, aren't you?"

"I am. I must say, I'm surprised at Snape. I thought he'd stay hidden in his dungeons, muttering about the youth these days."

She rolled her eyes. "It was obligatory. Believe me, if it wasn't, I wouldn't be standing here in this ridiculous dress. I'd be working on that blasted conference for next month."

"That's right, you're working on the werewolf conference. How's it going?"

"All right, I suppose."

"Does it have anything to do with your choice of dress?"

She grinned. "Remus was ready to fry me alive."

"Goddess of the moon. Good choice. And, may I say, that it looks wonderful on you." The pink blush alighted again upon the revealed half of her face.

"Thank you, Mr. Finnigan."

"You're covering for Hermione, aren't you? Charms?"

"Yes, that's right."

"How is Hermione?"

"Besides suffering from motion sickness, queasiness, and mood swings, absolutely wonderful. I feel sorry for Rem."

The two of them chuckled and Seamus looked off to the right where Harry and Snape were sitting down and talking like civilized men.

"I never thought I'd see the day when Harry and Snape would not tear each other's throats out within five seconds of seeing each other." Mara laughed. "Here now, he's dressed as that seducer... what's his face..."

"Don Juan."

"That's it! Nice costume. Well, I won't monopolize you anymore, Professor."

"On the contrary, I'd be pleased to dance with you later."

"I shall hold you to it."

She sat down and began to play with her wand, blue eyes scanning the crowd. It was a clearing of the throat that alerted her of the tall redheaded Weasley.

"Hey, Ron!"

"Mara. Good to see you."

He seemed rather cheerless. "Ron, is something wrong?"

"It's Luna. She didn't come tonight because she went to the doctor. She told me to come and I suppose I'm a bit worried."

"She's fine, Ron. I'm sure it was just a check-up. Did you see Snape?"

"Don Juan. Since when does he seduce women?"

"He could probably be very good at it," she teased. "Deep, baritone voice. Dark, expressive eyes. Silky, black ha-"

"Stop! Stop! Please!" He head his hands over his ears and his face was scrunched up in horror and mock pain.

"Yes, please, stop complimenting me. You shall inflate my ego until it reaches America."

She turned with a start to the soft voice and saw the amusement in those eyes, veiled by disapproval. "Professor Snape! Speak of the devil! We were just commenting on what an excellent Don-" Ron's hand slapped over her mouth and he gave his former professor a curt nod.

"I'll see you later, Mara. Snape." He walked away as fast as he could to not look like he was running away from the 'greasy git'.

"How has your night gone?" Snape asked her as she seated herself again.

"I've gotten compliments from married men. I suppose it's okay."

They both snorted in unison when Dumbledore was approached by the five judges. There was a brief conference held and the judges retired to a table, where Ginny scribbled something on four pieces of paper. A brief fight erupted between Harry and Shacklebolt. When the slow song that was currently playing stopped, Dumbledore asked for silence.

"I have here the winners of the masque." A ripple ran through the students while the professors appeared impassive. "The judges had a hard time deciding between some of them, so it was divided further. There is a male and female award for Most Creative and Most Beautiful, and then an Overall winner. This is for both professors and students."

"For the female students, the Most Creative award goes to –," Mara saw Harry make a drum roll in his wife's ear, who snorted,"– Katie Finnigan as a siren!"

The girl with the hair charmed blue stood up and Mara smiled broadly as she applauded. Seamus looked proud.

"For the female students, the Most Beautiful award goes to Adriana Treble as Venus!"

Snape applauded his Slytherin seventh year, whose blonde hair was pulled into long ringlets.

"For the male students, the Most Creative award goes to Thomas Weasley as his godfather, Harry Potter!"

The room ringed with laughter at the blushing second year boy (who had charmed his hair black) and the confused Harry, who hadn't seen his godson.

"For the male students, the Most - ah, Handsome award goes to Marius Goethe as Phoebus!"

The sixth year Ravenclaw dressed as the Greek sun god stood, shaking the hand of the furiously blushing second year.

There was a silence as the four of them approached, the timid Thomas half-hidden by Marius.

"The Overall female winner is... Adriana Treble!"

They applauded the Slytherin and the two girls embraced, to the amazement of Gryffindor and Slytherin.

"The Overall male winner is... Thomas Weasley!"

The boy rolled his eyes to the ceiling and Harry was grinning like mad. Marius squeezed the boy's shoulders after he had received the award and then released him, to let him hide with his friends, who were falling over themselves with laughter.

"Now, on to the professors... who don't appear to be very enthusiastic. The Most Creative female award goes to Professor Sally Sprout, Herbology professor, as Devil's Snare!"

Snape and Mara sniggered at the same time.

"The Most Beautiful award goes to Professor Mara Alexandria, substitute professor for Charms, as a goddess of the moon!"

Snape snorted at her as she lifted her face to the sky and asked the ceiling what she had done to deserve this.

"For the male population of our professors, the Most Creative award goes to Professor... Remus Lupin as the Invisible Man!"

It took a moment for the joke (however lame) to process. The room burst into laughter and Harry slapped his forehead. Dumbledore lifted a hand.

"I apologize. It was too good to pass up. Now, in reality, the Most Creative award goes to Professor Oliver Wood, Quidditch professor, as Quidditch seeker Wronksi!"

The Weasleys and Harry whistled.

"And the Most Handsome award goes to Professor Severus Snape, Potions Master, as Don Juan!"

The look on Snape's face was priceless. He was staring in wide-eyed, jaw-slackened, frozen-limbed shock. As was the rest of the room. Then, slowly, the applause started and then rose to a storm within milliseconds. Mara saw the blush on Snape's face and she gave him an encouraging squeeze.

"See? There was a plus. You'll be able to be in a foul mood with your students tomorrow," she whispered to him and he cast her a half-hearted glare. "And that glare wouldn't scare a first year."

"Settle down, settle down." There was a twinkle in his eyes. "And now, the Overall female winner is --" He stopped and looked down at the parchment. "Mara Alexandria!"

As everyone whistled, she let out an anguished sound of protest that sounded as if she were drowning. Snape simpered and clapped politely as she took to the front, resigned.

"And the Overall male winner is Severus Snape!"

"HA!" Mara shouted into the dumbfounded silence.

Severus raised a hand to his horrified face. Then, when the 'You go, Professor!' was shouted from the back, several things of the like followed: shouts of approval, applause, whistles, hoots, acclamations to see him... Mara motioned for him to come and Snape's lips curved back into a scowl.

"Don't scowl, Professor, it does nothing for your features," Mara said as he approached her. He glowered down at her and she gave him a belligerent smile. "Trick or treat, Professor. Happy Halloween."

Severus groaned and, while they made their way to the wine table for the professors and of-age students, made a brief, strangling motion with his hands at her.

****

Completely predictable, but it's the reactions you can't wait for. Actually, this chapter was actually another part of chapter nine, but that was too long, so I cut it and slipped in a perfectly good transition if I do say so myself. (I am infamous for my transitions).

Oh and:
Author's Notes:
(1) This is Spanish for 'young lady'
(2) In case someone doesn't know who Don Juan is (which I highly doubt, but I decided to stick this in anyway) he was a Spanish nobleman famous for his seduction of women. When you call someone a Don Juan, you're saying that they are a seducer of women.

Read, review, criticize constructively! (Well, that's a BIT better...)

-Mel

The Conference by Melvacaea [Reviews - 3]

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