Chapter 7 : Potions and Tantrums
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“Right. So what’s the problem?” They were sitting in the living room discussing the potion before going into the lab.
“I’m not sure what the proportion is of lacewing flies to age thirty,” Trish admitted.
The former Potions Master looked up from the game he’d been playing with Blinky and some other toys. “It’s three lacewing flies for every one year you want to age someone, Trish.”
“That’s the answer. Three to one,” he repeated.
The two girls remained with their mouths open.
Finally Trish said softly, “Uh, how do you know that, Sev?”
His brow crinkled. “I dunno. I just do.”
“Is he right?” Arista asked.
“I don’t know.”
“I am right!” the child insisted. “I know I am. It’s three to one and then you need to stir in a dash of honey for taste. And then you need to let it simmer for three weeks and stir it counterclockwise twelve times and clockwise ten times every other day while it’s simmering.”
“I don’t believe it!” gasped Arista. “He remembers how to make the potion! But how?” she whispered quietly to her sister.
“Who knows? He’s a potions prodigy or something.”
“But Dumbledore said he wouldn’t remember anything about his adult life.”
“Yeah well, obviously he was wrong. Why are you so shocked? Dumbledore’s not God and Dad’s been Potions Master for over fourteen years. Why should all that hard earned knowledge be forgotten?”
“Why indeed?” Arista was on her feet. “Come on, Trish. Let’s get started.”
“What are you doing?” asked their father.
“We’re brewing a potion,” answered Trish.
“Can I come watch?”
“Yeah, only don’t touch, okay?” instructed his blond-haired daughter.
All of them went into the potions lab.
Severus blinked and wondered why this room seemed familiar to him. He’d never been in it before and yet he knew where everything was. The cabinet with the spare jars and containers was there along the back wall. All of the measuring spoons and scales were opposite in the shelf to the right. Dried ingredients were in the long cabinet against the wall across from the office. On the shelf behind the desk were the rare poisonous things and expensive ingredients. Extra quills and parchment was in the bottom left of the desk. So was a medical kit and some soft cloths and a basin.
He did not know how he knew this, only that somehow he did.
“Trish, I can’t find the tincture of ambergris,” Arista called, searching through the shelves.
“It’s on the top right corner, below the bezoar stones,” Severus piped up.
And it was.
“I have an idea,” Arista said excitedly. “Let’s play a game, Sev. We’ll call out a name of an ingredient and you tell us where it is. Let’s see how many you get right.”
“Okay. That sounds like fun.”
They spent the next seven minutes reading off the entire list of ingredients. Severus never hesitated. He knew where everything was located, sight unseen. The girls were able to find everything in record time. Severus was happy. He liked this new game. He perched upon a tall stool near the big desk and watched them putting all the jars and beakers (why were they called that?) on the table next to the big cauldron.
Then Trish came over and hugged him, smiling delightedly. “You are such an awesome kid, Sev! I love you!”
He wound his arms about her neck and whispered in her ear, “Love you too,” the way he usually did to his mum before bed. Eileen Snape was usually exhausted by the time she put her son to bed, but she never forgot to tuck him in, and neither did the two girls.
Trish drew away, and Arista took her place, telling him how she was proud of him and she loved him too. He hugged her back and told her he loved her also. Her words made him even happier than he already was. His mother sometimes told him she was proud of him, when he came home with good marks in preschool or drew her a picture, but his daddy never said it at all. Severus began to think he never would, no matter how hard he tried to be what his daddy wanted. But he would keep trying and maybe someday . . .his daddy would tell him he was a good son and he loved him. Like other kids’ daddies did.
Then his attention was caught by Trish measuring a spoonful of powdered amethyst crystals into the cauldron and he forgot about his father. What magic potion they were making was far more interesting than Tobias Snape, who would have thrown an absolute fit if he knew where his son was this minute, learning magic from two teenage girls. Severus shivered just imagining how angry the man would have been. The belt would have been in his hand before Sev could blink twice . . .No! He wouldn’t remember that! Not now. This was Hogwarts and nothing bad like that happened here.
He returned his attention to the potion the girls were concocting. He’d never seen it before, yet he knew exactly what was in it and how to make it. He didn’t know why he knew that, only that he did. And somehow it didn’t really matter. He watched the way that Arista cut up the snake scales and noticed that they weren’t as finely chopped as they should have been.
“Arista!” he called.
She looked up from her work. “What’s the matter, Sev? Are you getting bored?”
He flashed her a look of disbelief. “Of course not! I love potions.” That was true too.
“But you’ve gotta chop the scales finer.”
“Yeah,” he said firmly.
He watched her do as he had told her. This was really fun. He liked being able to tell his big cousins what to do for once.
Trish glanced over from where she was measuring out a cupful of phoenix tears and said, “Sev, I’ve got a job for you. You watch us making this Aging Potion here and tell us if you spot us making a mistake, okay? You can pretend like you’re a teacher and we’re your students.”
“Cool!” He really liked this new game. It was the best one yet. “And you have to do like I say, right?” He pretended to look angry, imitating his father. For some reason this made them laugh.
“Sure, Professor Snape,” Arista said when she could talk again.
He liked the way that sounded. He thought could remember someone calling him that once . . .then the memory vanished. “’Cause if you don’t I’ll make you sit in time out. For fifteen minutes of forever.”
“Yes, sir,” Trish said. “We’ll behave.”
“Good. Now measure out the lacewing flies. Three to one, remember?” he instructed. For some reason that was important.
The girls set to work and he observed them carefully. If he saw them make a mistake he would yell “Stop!” or “No, that’s wrong!” and they would freeze and wait until he had told them the right way to mix the ingredients. It took a very long time, and Severus’s bottom was getting sore from sitting on the hard stool, so he jumped down and stood up. Only now he couldn’t see over the top of the cauldron.
Sighing, he climbed on the desk and stood there. Then he continued watching.
The girls completed the last stages, mixing everything together in the cauldron and setting it to simmer under a constant low flame. It would be doing that for three weeks, practically forever.
“Oh, am I glad that’s over with!” sighed Trish, stretching out her cramped back muscles. “Now all we have to do is stir it every other day and let it steep.”
“We’re halfway there!” Arista said, and she grinned, then rubbed her back. Then she turned to the potions prodigy who was still standing on the desk. “But we couldn’t have done it without you, Sev.”
“I helped a lot, right?”
“You were the best helper!” she said, then swept him off the desk in a great big hug.
“Yay!” he cried. Then he squirmed in her arms. “Arista, put me down.”
“’Cause I really need to go potty.”
“Okay!” she laughed and set him on his feet.
He scampered out the door, running as quickly as he could into the apartment.
* * * * * *
The hardest thing about the next three weeks was the waiting for the potion to mature enough for Severus to drink it. Or so Arista originally thought. They had a timer set up in the bedroom to remind them to go and stir the potion every other day, morning, noon and night. But the three weeks were not uneventful. Anything but. For after the potions lab, an imp of mischief seemed to awake in the former professor, and he thought he could do whatever he wanted.
“But I’m the teacher!” he said when Trish scolded him for not listening one morning after breakfast. “You said!”
“Not now you’re not,” she replied. “Right now you’re just a little kid, and that means you do what we say.”
“I wish I was grown-up!” he cried, stamping his foot. “Being little sucks!”
“Severus Snape!” Trish frowned at him. “You know I don’t like that word.”
“Kit says it.”
“Just because Kit does something doesn’t mean you have to,” she said. “Wait till I get a hold of him,” she muttered angrily.
Uh oh, Severus thought. Kit’s in trouble. I wonder if Trish’ll make him eat soap? He looked at her uneasily. He wondered if she was going to make him eat soap too, but he was afraid to ask. Trish almost never got mad, but there was always a first time.
“Am I in trouble?” he asked, wanting to find out right away, so he could prepare himself to be punished.
“Well, you ought to be, but since this is the first time I’m scolding you for this, you can consider it a warning. Next time though . . .you’ll be in big trouble, young man.”
He squirmed under her disapproving frown. “Like with soap?”
“I’ll be good,” he promised.
“Glad to hear it,” she said, then she ruffled his hair.
He ducked away, grinning shyly.
“Come here, you!” she mock-growled, grabbing him and tickling him until he begged for mercy. She loved to hear him laugh.
When he’d had enough of the tickle game, she decided to comb his hair. He hated this, for he had fine hair that tangled easily, and it took forever to comb the knots out. So when he saw her summon the brush, he tried to wriggle out of her arms.
“No! Don’t brush my hair, Trish!”
“Sorry, but I have to!” she cried, struggling to hold onto him. “If you don’t brush it . . .it’ll just get more knotted. Stop it, Sev!”
“Nooo!” he howled. “No brush!”
“Severus! That’s enough! Be still.”
“No! No! NO!”
Trish was appalled. He was having a temper tantrum. With her. Oh God. Now what? she wondered as she tried to restrain the writhing little ball of fury. He has to get his hair brushed. It’ll be a dreadful mess else. “Severus, if you let me brush your hair, I’ll give you a chocolate bar.”
“No! Let me GO!”
“I won’t. Now behave,” she ordered in what was, for her, a stern tone. She lifted him up, intending to put him in her lap, where she could hold him better.
By then he was in a red-faced temper and fighting like a demon. His little foot flew out and kicked her right in the stomach.
Her yelp of pain caught him by surprise. He stopped fighting for a moment.
“Severus Snape, you don’t kick!” she snapped, losing her temper.
Then sunny tempered Trish did something she never thought she’d do. She spun the startled child about and smacked him twice on the bottom, hard enough to sting.
His mouth opened in an O of surprise. Trish had hit him. Trish who never yelled or got mad had smacked him twice. Because he had kicked her. He had hurt her, and he hadn’t meant to, not really. He felt terrible. “I’m sorry!” he bawled, burying his head in her lap. “I didn’t mean to! I’m sorry!” He burst into tears, wondering if he’d feel the belt next. He knew he deserved it, he’d been terribly awfully bad.
Trish froze, staring down at her hand. What have I done? Oh dear Merlin, I just swatted my father! I can’t believe I did that. I’m so sorry! Then she recalled what he’d done to deserve those swats. But only a little.
Then she looked down at the child sobbing in her lap and all of her anger melted. She picked him up and hugged him, patting his back until he stopped crying. “Look at me, please.”
Severus lifted his head from her shoulder. What now? Was the belt next? “Trish? I’m really sorry. Please, don’t get the belt. Please!”
“What?” she gasped in horror. He thought she was going to whip him. “Oh, sweet Merlin! Severus, I would never do that. Never!”
“No! The only thing a belt should be used for is keeping your pants on, not hitting little kids, no matter how badly they behave. Do you know why I swatted you?”
He nodded. “I kicked you. I didn’t mean to.”
“I know, but that was very bad. You must never ever do that again. Understand?”
He sniffled. “Yes. Does it hurt a lot?”
“Probably about as much as your bottom does you,” she answered.
“Ow!” he said, though the sting was nearly gone.
“Exactly. Now, are you going to behave and let me brush your hair?” she asked, returning to the dreaded thing that had started it all.
“The brush hurts,” he explained.
“I promise I’ll be careful. I won’t pull.” She had always hated it when her mother brushed her hair too, because Glinda yanked so hard.
“Yes. Now stay still.” She turned him around and very gently began to finger comb his hair, removing the snarls deftly. Once they were almost gone, she took the brush and ran it through the silky dark mane. And it didn’t hurt at all.
“There! Now was that so awful?”
“No,” he admitted.
“See? All that fuss over nothing. Remember this and don’t throw a tantrum next time. Okay?”
“Okay,” he agreed. He never wanted Trish mad at him again.
She tied his hair back in a tail. Then she hugged him. “I love you, my Sev.”
“Even when I’m bad?”
“Always,” she answered.
He threw his arms around her. “Love you too.”
She sighed in relief. Then she wondered if she was going to be grounded for life.
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