"What's wrong, Michael?"
Michael Pryor shrugged and turned back to the window. He let his forehead come to rest against the cool glass and watched as the vivid green countryside flew by. Normally, he loved June first – it was the day school was finally out for the summer and the Hogwarts Express carried him home for three blessedly carefree months. This year, however, he was sullen and withdrawn, and it was a direct result of hearing from his parents not two days ago. His summer trip to France had been canceled because of his poor performance on his OWLs. He would be kept at home until September first. He sighed deeply. It was a sobering prospect.
Michael scowled and threw off his sister's hand when she tried to comfort him. "Michael…" she began but he cut her off with a sharp gesture. "Leave me alone, Emily. My summer's ruined."
Emily, his junior by one year, shrugged and gave up. She retreated to the opposite side of the car and continued to stare at him sadly. She was caught off guard a moment later, when Michael suddenly brightened and looked at her with excited eyes. "I've got it!"
Emily leaned forward excitedly. "What?"
"Maybe I can stay at Hogwarts for the summer." When Emily made a face, Michael rushed ahead, desperate to convince her. "No, it's perfect, Em. Think about it. I can tell Mom and Dad I'm staying at school to study, make up for my poor grades, and I'll have complete run of the castle!"
Emily shook her head. "I don't think so, Michael. I'm sure Professor Dumbledore would make you do something other than just goof off all day. Besides, you're supposed to clear that kind of request through the Head Boy weeks before the end of term, not on the train on the way home. And, Michael, even if you could stay, have you ever heard of anyone actually doing it? There's got to be a reason why they don't."
Michael dismissed her with a gesture. "Aw, maybe. But it can't be too horrible. It is summer after all. It's not as though there are classes to attend. Yes! It's perfect."
"I wouldn't be too sure of that, mate," a voice drawled from the doorway. Michael looked up to see Aaron Simms, Head Boy, in the doorway of their car. He was leaning casually against the frame and giving Michael a sympathetic smile. Michael cocked his head and frowned.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
Aaron sauntered into the car and dropped onto the bench next to Emily. "No one willingly stays at Hogwarts over the summer."
"But why not?" Michael sighed and leaned back in his seat. "I'm sure I heard that Dumbledore allows students to stay if they want. Aren't you responsible for forwarding those types of requests?"
"Yes," Aaron drawled, nodding his head, "that is, I would be if I got any. See, it's not that you can't stay, mate. It's that you don't want to. Trust me." He sat back and crossed his arms, giving Michael a superior look.
"Why not?" Emily asked, ignoring the scowl her older brother threw her.
Aaron drew his legs up on to the padded bench seat, forcing Emily to scoot all the way over to the window, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Well, it's like this," he said. "Contrary to what you think, things are quite busy at Hogwarts over the summer. You'll be forced into doing whatever chores the professors or Filch need done. No slacking allowed. And believe me, kiddo, it's no fun. Everyone works night and day. I'm telling you – I've heard they don't see the sun for weeks on end."
"If that adorable little boy with the black shorts and the apron passes by again, will you order me another one of those Tornado thingys?"
"It's called a Hurricane."
"Mmmm. Yes, one of those. And tell him to double up on those little umbrellas."
Severus sighed and lowered his book to his lap. He turned to Harry and sent him a disapproving look. Unfortunately, the effect was completely wasted since Harry's eyes were shut tight against the bright island sun. Severus frowned disapprovingly at his colleague. "You're going to be as red as a lobster."
Harry grinned, but didn't open his eyes. "Then you can rub soothing aloe all over my body."
"Aloe? I take it this is a local potion that is soothing?"
"It's not a potion. It's a plant extract, and yes, it's soothing. And slippery," Harry added, peaking up at Severus through heavily lidded eyes.
Severus arched his eyebrow as he took a sip of his strawberry daiquiri. "Carry on," he ordered as he returned to his book.
From a few yards away, Remus, situated under a large umbrella just as Severus was, looked on with worry. "Look at that, Draco," he said, slapping his companion on the thigh. "He's going to be as red as a lobster!"
Draco's answer was a sleepy mumble. He had just returned to the blanket after a long swim in the crystal aquamarine waters of the Caribbean.
"What was that?" Remus asked.
"I said," Draco answered, turning his head toward the other professor, "I'm sure Sev will take care of him if he gets burned. No worries, Remy. Relax. These three weeks will go fast enough as it is without you playing mother hen to everyone."
Remus sighed and picked up his slushy drink. "I suppose you're right." He squinted his eyes as he glanced around the exclusive beach. "Where do you suppose Albus and Minerva went?"
Remus choked on his Pina Colada.
"I can't believe they're stuck inside all summer!" Emily exclaimed. "Those poor people!"
Aaron nodded in pained sympathy. "Yes, it's horrible. Maybe you'll have a little more respect for your teachers now that you know some of what they go through when we're not there."
"Oh, I do respect them!" Michael exclaimed. "Well, most of them. Definitely Professor Potter and Professor Lupin." Emily nodded enthusiastically in agreement.
Aaron shrugged. "They all have it hard. Even Professor Snape. Professor Dumbledore makes them hash out the coming year's schedule over these endless staff meetings. It takes forever, you know – the logistics are simply overwhelming! It's not an easy task to accomplish, as you can imagine. Sometimes they meet every day for weeks, just on that one issue alone."
Draco squinted at the small rubbish bin across the room. He looked at his paper airplane one more time and made a minor adjustment to one of the wings. He raised the plane and closed one eye as he took aim at his target.
"Any day now, Draco."
"Shut it, Potter. I'm trying to concentrate."
After another full minute of aiming and fussing, Draco threw his plane. It drifted gracefully across the room and hit the wall above the rubbish bin with a soft crunch before tumbling into the basket below.
"Yes! I choose Friday afternoons off."
Harry nearly growled at him across the table. You had Friday afternoons off this past year. You can't have them off two years in a row!"
To this, Draco just smiled evilly and gestured toward the garbage pail.
Across the table, Remus sighed as he fiddled with his own plane. "It's no use, Harry. He's been practicing all year – in secret."
Harry's mouth dropped open and Draco shot Remus a dirty look. "You can't do that," Harry said. "It's…it's…"
"What any normal, intelligent person would do?" Draco finished for him sarcastically.
"Enough, children," Albus said from the head of the table. "Remus, I do believe you're next, my boy. Good luck. I know you like to sleep in on Monday mornings."
Remus sighed and stood. Three other sets of eyes glued themselves to the tiny white folded parchment. Absolute silence descended over the room as Remus took aim at the pail…
"And if you think the scheduling is difficult," Aaron continued, "have you ever considered how much time each of the professors spends on the upcoming curriculum and syllabus?"
Michael frowned. "Well, actually – no. I haven't. Don't they teach the same things over and over again?"
Aaron clucked his tongue and shook his head. "Michael, you're at the world's most prestigious wizarding school, being taught by the best and the brightest. Do you really think they would teach the same exact thing year after year? They're constantly having to keep up on new discoveries and innovations and weave this new information seamlessly into lesson that have been taught for centuries. Does that sound easy to you?"
"Well, no," Michael admitted. "I guess I just figured—"
"What?" Aaron asked. "You figured they simply dust off the exact same material year after year and force-feed it to the next incoming students?"
Emily had the grace to blush. "Of course they don't." she said shyly. "They're all much too good for that. Even Professor Snape," she added with conviction. Michael found himself nodding.
Harry groaned and buried his face under the pillow. Perhaps if he just lay extremely still…
The warm, wooly blankets were abruptly yanked off his naked frame and the cold air of the dungeon rushed over his sleep-heated skin. "Bloody hell, Severus," he yelped. "What the hell is your problem? I was planning on sleeping until noon at the very least!"
Severus brandished his wand over Harry's supine form. Most everyone else would have cowered. Harry just slapped it away. "What are you doing?"
"Where is my syllabus from last September?"
Harry snorted and rolled over, reaching blindly for the blankets. "How the hell should I know? I'm guessing – where ever you left it on last October first?" He successfully managed to grab a handful of covers and pull them over his head. When no immediate response was forthcoming, he began to relax. As such, he was unprepared for the unyielding weight of his lover first covering him and then pinning him to the bed. "Precisely," Severus hissed in his ear. "And do you remember where we were the evening of last October first?"
Harry didn't remember, but decided it probably wasn't wise to say so.
"Did you check under the bed?" he asked breathlessly, hoping that this would be an acceptable answer.
"Hmmm," came the answering rumble from above him and then the weight was gone. Harry peeked out from under the blankets and over the side of the bed only to be presented with the luscious form of his lover's ass sticking straight up in the air. He was beginning to contemplate his method of attack when a loud, "Ah ha!" sounded, somewhat muffled, from somewhere beneath him.
Severus emerged with a dust-laden folder and sat back on the floor. Harry continued to peek over the bed as Severus lovingly caressed the cover. Taking a deep breath, he blew across the top of the file, spreading a thick cloud of dust everywhere. Harry coughed and hoisted himself back onto the soft mattress. "Happy now?" he asked with a yawn.
"Of course, you idiot. Did you think I wanted to generate a whole new curriculum? Now I just have to dust this one off. Of course, now I must locate the folder for October."
"Of course," Harry agreed.
"I'm telling you , Michael, it's not easy. Spending the summer at Hogwarts is no walk in the park. The fact is, you'll probably end up having to assist Professor Snape with the rewarding of the castle."
Aaron continued, "And, each of the professors is responsible for readying their own classrooms for the coming year." Suddenly he shot forward, startling the two younger students. "Several of the classrooms, especially the Potions and DADA rooms, are subject to many complicated spells. The professors cannot teach without them. Dumbledore himself told me that." Aaron shivered. "I hear putting them into place is extremely intense and can last for hours on end! I certainly wouldn't want to be in the same room with Snape when he starts waving his wand around."
Severus thrust one final time and came with a primal cry, dragging Harry with him over the edge. They drifted for several minutes, blissfully sated, before Harry shifted uncomfortably. When Severus didn't so much as twitch, he wiggled again.
Severus tightened his hold on Harry. "Be still, brat," he grumbled. "I'm recovering."
"That's well and good for you," Harry complained. "But I don't have the luxury of another warm body for a pillow. This desk is getting harder by the second."
Severus brushed a kiss against the back of Harry's neck before uttering a deep groan and lifting himself off of his lover. Harry breathed a sigh of relief, giving a small moan himself as he climbed off the desk and straightened up. He felt a tingling as Severus spoke a cleansing spell and then his robe was being draped gently over his shoulders.
Severus's arms encircled him and he sighed contentedly. Harry glanced lazily down at the desk he was leaning against. "Why this particular desk, may I ask?"
Snape snorted. "Michael Pryor. The little twit blew up one too many cauldrons this past year. The only way I'll be able to stop myself from turning the little slug into a …slug every time I look at him, will be by recalling this very moment."
Harry smiled and leaned back into Severus's warmth. "Whatever gets you through, Sev." After a moment, his smile turned evil. "Surely Mr. Pryor's not the only student you have this intense hatred of?"
"No, they are all horrible."
Harry glanced around at the few dozen desks scattered throughout the room. "We best get busy then. There are only two weeks left before the start of term."
Michael frowned. "I know that the castle was rewarded every summer, but I didn't know that included the classrooms." He sat back with a sigh. "I guess asking to stay isn't such a good idea, after all." Emily slid across the compartment to sit next to her brother.
"I thought it was a good idea," she said, "but now I'm not so sure either. Actually, it sounds awful!"
Aaron shrugged. "I suppose it would be okay if you don't mind working your arse off all summer. But, frankly, I prefer to sleep till noon and lounge around. The last student to stay the summer at the castle was five years ago, and the stories she told…." Aaron shivered.
All three fell into a contemplative silence for a few minutes. Aaron watched and waited. Finally, Michael turned his attention from the window, where he had been watching the countryside rush past. He gave Aaron a weak smile. "Thanks," he said. "I almost made a huge mistake. It's bad enough having my trip canceled. I couldn't imagine being subjected to mountains work all summer. I think I'll just stay at home and take my chances with my parents."
Aaron smiled. He swung his legs off the bench and stood. "I knew you were one of the smart ones, Michael. Have a great summer. You too, Emily."
"Thanks, Aaron," Michael called as the Head Boy left. "I really appreciate it."
Aaron smiled as he made his way through the train, away from the Pryor siblings' compartment. "You're not the only one," he muttered.
Dear Professor Potter,
I hope you enjoyed your summer. There was a close call at the last moment (namely, Michael Pryor) but disaster was averted. How was the beach? I have owled next year's Head Boy and reviewed his "duties" with him in detail. Thanks again for everything, especially the recommendation for the Ministry position.
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