Chapter 6 : Peas, Coats, & Punishments
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He made a tunnel with his mashed potatoes and began flicking peas through it with his fork. He smirked. This was a fun game. Flick! Flick! Peas slid through the potatoes and out the other side of his plate, where they spilled onto the table.
Arista glanced up and discovered half the table was covered with peas. “Severus, don’t play with your food!”
“Why? It’s fun.”
“For you, maybe. Look at the mess you made,” she scolded. She gestured, and all the peas were back on his plate. “Now quit fooling around and eat your dinner, please.”
He pouted. It wasn’t fair. Why couldn’t he do anything fun? “Not hungry.” He wished his mother would come. She wouldn’t make him eat peas or stop drawing when he didn’t want to.
He flicked a pea off his plate.
“Severus Snape!” Arista set down her fork. “You stop playing with you food this instant, little boy! Or else I’m going to—” she floundered abruptly for words. Going to what? What are you going to do to him, Arista? He’s your father, for heaven’s sake. You can’t punish your own father. The very thought made her cringe. But she knew she couldn’t allow his naughty behavior to continue either. “—to put you in time out for five minutes,” she finished, recalling that was what Mrs. Dowd had always done to disobedient toddlers.
Severus rolled another pea inbetween his fingers. He was torn between obeying and doing what he felt like for once. He didn’t know what Arista meant by time out, since he’d never gotten one before. Was it worse than a whipping? Arista had promised though, long ago, that no one would ever take a belt to him. Maybe there was something worse they did? Though he couldn’t think of anything that bad.
Suddenly he was angry. He wanted his mother but she never came. He wanted to go outside today, but it had been raining. He’d wanted to finish his drawing but instead he’d had to come in and eat dinner. And now he wasn’t allowed to play the pea game either. It was just too much. It wasn’t fair!
He put about a dozen peas on his fork and catapulted them directly at Arista. She was the enemy who ruined all his fun.
Peas hit her right in the face.
“What the—!” she bit off the rest of her words, recalling just in time not to swear in front of the child. Who was smirking like a mischievous little devil, clearly proud of his little trick. That little brat! She thought furiously. “That does it! You’ve earned yourself five minutes in time out, mister.” She didn’t allow herself to think, she just reacted.
One minute Severus was sitting at the table, the next he was being carried over to a corner of the kitchen and put down on the chair facing the wall. “You don’t throw food at me, young man! When I tell you to stop, you listen. Now you sit here and think about your awful behavior for five minutes.”
The raven-haired child squirmed on the seat. And was promptly scolded for doing so.
“Eyes front and face the wall, sir!”
Severus obeyed, for her tone brooked no disobedience. He sniffled, for he hadn’t liked the way she had yelled at him at all. He stared at the wall, bored out of his mind. He didn’t like sitting here looking at nothing except the wall. He began to think he shouldn’t have thrown peas at Arista. She usually was nice to him and now he’d made her mad at him. Would she send him away now? He wondered frantically. Back to his daddy, who would surely punish him for being away so long. He started to sniffle, tears trickling down his face.
Arista was very aware he was crying and she felt awful. My God, what’ve I done? I put him in time out! How could I do that? He’s my father, for heaven’s sake! And now I’ve made him cry too. She wanted to run over and pick him up and hold him and apologize for being so nasty to him. He was only a little boy, after all. Yeah, a very naughty little boy who threw peas in your face, she reminded herself. He deserved to be punished and you know it. You gave him plenty of chances and he didn’t listen. All actions have consequences, Arista Eileen. If our roles were reversed, he’d have done it to me.
She still felt terrible. Was this how all parents felt when they punished their children?
The five minutes felt like an eternity.
Then there came the sound of a door opening, and Trish walked into the apartment.
“Hi, guys! Is there any dinner left for me?”
“Sure,” came her sister’s lukewarm response.
“What’s the matter?” she asked, puzzled. She walked into the kitchen to see Arista sitting at the table, staring down at her plate like it was revolting. For some reason peas were all over the floor. “What happened here? And where’s Severus?”
“In time out.”
Trish gasped. Then she looked over at the corner of the kitchen. Sure enough, there was her father, sitting on a chair facing the wall. “Arista! How could you?” she hissed.
Arista grabbed her sister by the arm and ushered her into the living room, where she knew they wouldn’t be overheard. “I had to, Trish!”
“But he’s our dad! You put our dad in time out!”
“What was I supposed to do?” Arista cried, throwing up her arms. “I told him three times to quit playing with his food and then he threw peas in my face, Trish! On purpose!”
“Oh.” Trish bit her lip. “But still . . . he’s our father.”
“So? He’s a little brat too. He had it coming, and you know it. If a kid had done that to him you can bet all your potions he’d have put them in time out. I’m just doing what he would’ve done.”
“I know. But you made him cry.”
“I know. And I hate it. But he has to learn. And it’s only for five minutes.”
“You’d better pray he doesn’t remember this,” Trish warned as they headed back into the kitchen.
“Believe me, I am,” Arista said fervently. Please Dad, forgive me for punishing you, even if you did deserve it. I don’t want to be grounded for life. She went directly over to the little boy, who was still crying silently. “Well? Are you going to behave now?”
He stared up at her, his little face a study in misery. “Yes. I’m sorry, Arista. I’ll be good. Please don’t send me away!”
“Oh, Severus!” she cried, and held out her arms. “Never. This is your home.” Even if you don’t remember it, she added silently then she caught him up in her arms and held him tight. He sobbed into her shirt. “Shh. It’s okay. All’s forgiven. Just don’t ever do that again,” she added belatedly.
“I won’t. Promise,” he whispered into her shoulder.
“That’s my boy,” she praised and sat down with him on her lap. He had stopped crying by then and now he sat up and looked about him.
Trish was sitting at the table, eating. She smiled at him. “Hey, scamp. How was your day? Were you good?”
He shook his head. “No. I was bad.” He said honestly. “I threw peas at Arista and she got mad. She made me sit and watch the wall for forever.”
“Severus, that was very naughty. I’m very disappointed in you,” Trish said, giving him a look of mild disapproval.
He hung his head. “I’m sorry. I said sorry to Arista.”
“That’s good. And you won’t do that again, will you?”
“No. Promise.” He peered up at her through his lashes. “Are you still mad, Trish?”
“Not any more, Sev,” she answered, then she pulled him onto her lap and kissed him. “Now how about you eat your dinner instead of playing with it, okay?”
“Okay.” Then he let her feed him a forkful of chicken.
Once he’d eaten, Trish offered to give him a bath and read him a story. Arista agreed, for she was feeling tired and a little out of sorts herself. I can’t wait till that potion’s done. If this is what it’s like having kids, I’m not having any, she vowed.
* * * * * *
The next morning there was a battle over his coat. Arista wanted to go outside walking, since it was a beautiful Saturday. She had called Mel and Kit and they wanted to come too. Drake and Trish were sleeping in.
“Come on, Sev. Put your coat on,” she urged, trying to get his arm in the sleeve of his new sheepskin blue coat.
He wriggled away from her. “No. It’s too hot.”
“It won’t be outside. Outside it’s cold and you’ll be glad you wore it. Now come here and let me put it on.”
He gave her a mulish scowl. “No. I don’ like it.”
“Why? We bought it special for you. It’s soft and warm.”
“Don’t care. I don’t want to wear it.”
“Then you won’t come outside for a walk.”
“Are you going to feed the ducks?” Feeding the ducks was something he especially liked.
“I want to come!”
“Then you have to wear your coat.”
He pouted. “But why?”
“Because it’s cold out.”
“Doesn’t matter. I like the cold.”
“Because you’ll get sick.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Severus, just put your coat on.”
“Because I said so, that’s why!” Arista cried, thoroughly exasperated. “And that’s all you need to know.”
“Okay, here’s another reason. If you don’t put your coat on, you’ll be stuck inside, miss feeding the ducks, and you’ll get a time out. That enough reasons for you, mister?”
He considered. “I guess so.”
“Now get your coat on.”
“But Arista! Do I have to?” he whined.
She put her hands on her hips. Please, not again, Dad! “Severus Snape, don’t make me count to three. Or else.”
“Or else what?” he asked cheekily.
“You’ll find out unless you put that coat on right now, young man. One.”
Seeing she was serious and not really wanting to miss out on all the fun outside, he reluctantly dragged his coat on. Arista thanked God.
Until she heard him mutter, “Bloody damn coat!”
* * * * * *
Ten minutes later, she cradled a sobbing Severus on her lap and asked him, “Are you ever going to use words like that again, Mr. Snape?”
“Nooo!” he wailed, hiding his face in her shirt. “Never! I hate soap!”
“Next time remember this and don’t swear, understand? Then you won’t have to get soap in your mouth.”
“It tastes nasty,” he grimaced.
She patted him on top of the head. “Yeah, I know.”
“How? Did you say bad words too?”
“Yeah. Once or twice. And I got my mouth washed out with soap just like you. After that, I knew better.”
“Oh.” She could see him pondering something. “Arista? Did you get time out too when you were bad?”
“Yeah, Sev.” She admitted, fighting back a grin. Who would have ever thought she’d be discussing punishments with her father this way? “I got put in time out too for a lot of things.”
“We’d be here all day if I told you that,” she laughed.
Then he said, “Did your daddy ever take a strap to you?”
“No. My dad doesn’t believe in hitting kids with belts,” she said softly.
“Oh. He must be nice then.”
“He is. He’s the very best dad,” she said, a lump coming into her throat. Then she hugged him tightly, so he wouldn’t notice the tears in her eyes.
Suddenly there came a knock on the door and Mel and Kit came into the apartment. “For crying out loud, Arista!” Mel exclaimed. “How long does it take you to put on the kid’s jacket?”
“We had issues over the coat,” her friend sighed. “He wouldn’t put it on, then I told him he’d get a time out, so he put it on, but then he swore at me and I washed his mouth out with soap.”
“You didn’t!” Mel looked like she was about to fall over.
“She did,” Severus informed her gravely. “It tasted nasty, Mel.”
Kit whistled. “Man, Arista. Who would have thought you had it in you? You put him in time out and now you washed his mouth out with soap? Merlin’s beard, but you’re dead once he finds out. You can kiss the Yule Ball goodbye, girl!”
Arista winced. “Please, Kit. Don’t even go there.”
“Why?” queried a little voice.
“Never mind,” all three of them said.
“C’mon, tiger!” Kit laughed, and then he picked up Severus and swung him around, then set him on his shoulder. “Let’s go feed those ducks!”
Then he ran down the hallway, with the Potions Master screeching in delight on his shoulder, ignoring all the Slytherins staring at them in disbelief.
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