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Unspeakable Snape pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. This was not how he planned to spend his Thursday evening. He glanced at the augury-clock down the hall. Well, if he got cracking right away, he might still be able to get down the pub before trivia started. After all, it was chemistry night - his evening’s tab was practically guaranteed to be free. Grinding his teeth, he shrugged off his coat, rolled up his sleeves and got to work.

First step was, of course, containment. How the wards on that particular bookcase had been dismantled was beyond him, but there was time enough to figure that out in the morning. Casting his strongest personal protective enchantments, and taking the added precaution of daubing apotropaic runes on the soles of his shoes (goodness knows there was certainly enough blood about), he edged his way into his office and around the walls until he was directly behind his desk. The bastard had also fished his Order of Merlin out of the bottom drawer (probably seeing if it was genuine, the little shit), and Severus used the flat of it now to gingerly close the grimoire still clutched by somewhat charred fingers. Pulling a pair of silver tweezers from his waistcoat pocket, he redid the book's clasp and levitated the thing back to its spot (third shelf, second from right).

With that safely stowed, he turned his attention to the unfortunate soul in his desk chair. Well, not much of a soul anymore, he thought with a dry snort. What sort of idiot would just…. crack open Osthenes’ Apechtheia, as if it were some sort of beach paperback? He tweezed the gory wreck’s blood-soaked robes back to reveal a soot-blackened badge and swore aloud. Of course, the auror sort of idiot. He would have to speak with Head Auror Potter about the way the new hires were trained. Did they have no concept of the proper way to handle Dark objects of unknown provenance? Just because it was in someone’s office didn’t mean it was safe to paw; in fact, the items in Snape’s office were more likely to be lethal than not.

Shite. Potter. Potter meant paperwork. And paperwork meant he could kiss trivia night goodbye. There were few things in this world that Snape loathed more than paperwork, and paperwork that infringed upon the sacrosanctity of trivia night could stoke the fires of hell, for all he cared.

Actually, come to think of it, that wasn’t a bad idea. Didn’t Granger mention something like this happening to Heinrich Agrippa once? Snape scanned his bookshelf, this time searching for….ah, yes, Bechstein der Jüngere, there it was (bottom shelf, fifth from left). Pulling it out and thumbing quickly through the appendix (this was perfectly safe to handle, thank you very much), he found the ritual he was looking for. This was it - he had all the components, it would take a fraction of the time of filling out paperwork, and best of all, he wouldn’t even have to clean the office himself.

He grabbed the chalk from the blackboard on the back of his door, and sketched a pentagram on the floor. Grimacing, he drew his silver knife from his boot, and delicately flayed the top, charred layer from the remains of the corpse’s neck, and tossed it into the center of the diabolical diagram. He quickly recited the infernal incantation, and gave a sharp nod when a coiling beast appeared, reeking of sulphur and possessing far too many eyes.

“Right. Clean my office of any whole or sectioned body parts and any liquid or congealed bodily fluids originally emanating from this corpse. And repair the charring on the desk. Then restore the body to its full, unmarred appearance in life, possess it, and have it, in front of witnesses, be stomped on until unrecognizable by a troll, such that anyone investigating his death who was previously unaware of the true method of his demise will be unable to trace it back here. And then depart back to the hell from whence you came, doing no harm to myself or any other being.”

With a direful groan, the fiend opened one of its mouths and belched out a cloud of oily black smoke that obscured the office. Snape covered his mouth, choking out coughs, and scrubbed at his streaming eyes. When his vision cleared, his office was as pristine as usual, and the smug face of Auror-in-Training Cormac McClaggen sat atop a well-muscled body wearing immaculate robes.

Oh, this was bad. He would have to have Words about this. But as furious as he was, Snape consoled himself with the knowledge that at least Words beat paperwork every damn time. He quickly unrolled his sleeves, shrugged his coat back on, and hastened to the pub. Trivia awaited.

 

*****

 

“Hello, Severus, so glad you could join! Nothing going on at the office this evening, I see?” the brunette asked with a wink.

“Even a smoking, headless corpse on my desk couldn’t keep me away from chemistry trivia night.” he replied, smoothly, as the other drinkers around the table tittered. Severus Snape did enjoy his trivia nights.

The evening progressed easily; he won, of course. As he left the bar after ordering one final drink (Satanic Mills’ Beer Nouveau, ordered with a smirk), he spotted the curly-haired brunette again. He abruptly switched directions, seized her by the elbow, and steered her down into an empty booth, casting a sticking charm on her seat and a Muffliato to mask their conversation.

“This cannot keep happening. I refuse to be your jackal. Take some responsibility for yourself, Granger, because I am sick of cleaning up the remains of your dates when they inevitably disappoint you. Why the fuck did you even accept McClaggen’s dinner invitation? You knew what a witless bellend he was. You could do worlds better.”

“He was remarkably persistent.” Hermione said with a grimace. “Besides, there is someone I’d rather go with, but I’ve a devil of a time getting his attention.”