Pull them down by their pretenses, Snape snarled inwardly, lightfootedly meandering into the Parkinson's orbit - his gait was the twisting of a handkerchief on the breeze, spinning and swooping, half stumbling with impossible grace that somehow kept his form aloft, despite his unsteady feet. "And how is your grandmother doing in Stafford-upon-Avon?" Snape smirked. The Parkinsons turned as one to glower at him, but his satisfied eyes didn't alight on a single one of their faces. Instead, he focused on their hangers-on.
One Chang said, with a stilted voice, "But isn't Stafford-upon-Avon a muggle town?" Bless the Ravenclaws, lacking the sense a Slytherin is born with. Feeding me lines like chocolate strawberries.
Snape smirked, tossing a carefully twisted remark, "Why, what did you think they did with the unwanted children? The useless, magicless ones?"
The muttering from one hanger-on to the next got louder at that remark. The Parkinsons turned away from Snape, to try to right their alliances.
Taking his time, Snape approached Greta Goyle - with enough of a stumble to his ungainly gait (He hadn't been this clumsy even as an adolescent), that he used a hand on Greta's shoulder to steady himself. "Do you, perchance, still have the ability to touch unicorns? Some hair would be quite worth your while."
Greta Goyle, solid as an ox and as wide in the shoulders, blushed, "I shan't haggle over knuts in such an august gathering." Behind her, her husband cracked his knuckles. Her children looked at her as if they'd never known her.
Snape had to hand it to the robust woman - lady had guts, to own her failings in front of her family and her countrymen. Yet more counseling this semester, joy.
Behind Greta Goyle, Cinders smirked. I've given that one a weapon in her quiver, Snape suddenly knew. A far more dangerous Goyle than stout Greta or her milksop husband Richard. Nevermind the dead he's laid at Voldemort's feet, he's always been his lady's man first and foremost.
To the Smiths, Snape glided up, half stumbling to enter their orbit - his delicate fingers shoving a Cooper and a Fletcher out of the way, "Oh, I do apologize," he said, in such an affected, drawling manner that it was farcical. "Whatever happened to Emeline Smith? My mother used to swear by her canapes?"
"She died young," One of the Smiths said shortly. Another, who was closer to Emeline, simple glared at him.
"Whatever was that screaming in the attic, then?" Snape said, rubbing his chin. "Shall I invite her ghost for tea and crumpets? You do give her a proper tea on Sundays, don't you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Then to Gehenna with you, and let the dead walk free," Snape said, his mouth contorting into some sort of snarl. Onlookers (Draco Malfoy among them) found themselves wondering if Snape had always had such perfectly white (if crooked) teeth.
The McMillans stood apart, as secure in their standing as any.
Snape's ungainly form floated like a cat on cloud nine, stumbling and dancing away, with a sort of random walk that led him towards the McMillans. Inside his head, a scrap of song played:
When the world is puddle-wonderful
As if by chance, as if by some glorious accident, Snape stumbled into a muddy puddle behind the McMillans, spattering their suit and dress with ucky stinky bottom-under mud.*
The McMillans, Malfoy's allies, turned with a glare, "How dare you splatter us with mud!?"
"Couldn't be any worse than-" Snape said drunkenly, as if he was growing progressively more sloshed, "No, no, won't say, there are ladies present." His hand grabbed up the Lady McMillans' hand, and he pressed his lips that reeked of stale beer to her hand, "Perhaps not ladies of good-"
The Lady McMillan slapped Snape across the face, "Why I never!" She said, the epitome of good British manners.
Snape stumbled off, his ungainly dance somehow never landing himself on his bum, though every step seemed off-kilter. He drew near the Malfoys, and Draco watched him with some trepidation. Well he should be wary.
Snape's stumbly dance used his elbows and arms to keep himself upright, as he pivoted on one leg, using the other half outstretched like a figure skater to keep his balance - until he pitched forward onto it, his outstreched arms lending balance like a tightrope walker's pole. His gait sent him pitching toward Narcissa, who wisely glided out of his way. Lucius, who'd been standing beside her, was less lucky. Snape hooked him using one of his arms like a longhorn's outstreched horns, then pulled himself upright by dragging Lucius close.
Lucius got the most strained look on his face, as if the near and personal presence of his dear friend Severus was appalling to his morality.
Actually, it likely was. He'd hardly want himself sullied in front of his followers - and every eye in the room was following the exchange, ally and enemy alike.
"Yer not a ba' sort, Lucius," Snape said, the gust of his beer-drenched breath making Lucius' nose wrinkle. "Not nearly as cruel as I'd expect of a Malfoy."
Lucius' eyes snapped to his, glaring baleful hate at Snape.
"Like father like son, eh?" Snape chuckled blackly, "Or did that go the other way around."
Lucius couldn't manage a word, Narcissa's gaze shone with dark, portentous warning, and young Draco was looking just short of baffled.
Snape threw himself away from Lucius before the older man could manage a discrete heel to the arch of Snape's foot. Snape stumbled away, somehow keeping his feet long enough to steal a bottle.
As Snape stumbled out of the room, he let a fragment of a song trip off his tongue:
You're a bum, you're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas, your arse
I pray God it's our last
Unseen by the rest of the guests, Snape stumbled upstairs, to find the nearest guest bedroom.
He slammed the door behind him, and flopped face down on the bed, nearly smothering himself. Not breathing, he waited, until he heard the telltale pop of a house-elf, who'd undoubtedly report him to Narcissa.
Snape rolled over onto his back, and sang in a steady voice scarcely louder than a whisper:
Oh, comrades, fill no glass for me,To drown my soul in liquid flame,For if I drank, the toast should beTo blighted fortune, health and fame.Yet, though I long to quell the strife,That passion holds against my life,Though boon companions ye may be,Oh! comrades, fill no glass for me.With steady limbs, Snape climbed to his feet, and unlatched the window. He had a report to make.
*The sort that smells like swampgas, and comes from under the water in a bog or swamp.
[a/n: The first 'song' is a poem from ee cummings. The second is A Fairytale of New York, which is just a beautiful anodyne to the Christmas Spirit. And the last is a temperance song, with a dark enough tone (and less sanctimonious) that I can see Snape actually knowing it.
Snape's movements are based on the variant of Chinese Martial Arts called Drunken (the most famous type being Drunken Monkey), wherein one apes the movements of a Drunken man in order to enhance one's unpredictability.
Snape's left several clues here, while driving knives and wedges into people, whether or not they're his allies. He is a difficult man.
The Dark Lord may attend such parties (as is his due), but he doesn't enjoy them the way people who are born to it would. Snape's popping of carefully constructed bubbles is amusing to him.
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