Growing Up Snape
Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling, I am not a multinational bookselling company, nor am I a multi-million dollar movie company, so I don't own anything that you recognize. I am a retired former teacher with a bizarre sense of humor, who likes to twist plots and play with characters' minds, so enjoy.
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Chapter 18: The End of Summer
After two solid weeks of experimentation, the four Ministry Potions Masters and their eight apprentices had determined that the phoenix song was only necessary for the last three hours of the tedious eight hour brewing process of the newly discovered cure for Lycanthropy. They also determined that the song had to be real, magical recordings had no effect upon the brewing and made the potion no more potent than a regular Wolfsbane and thus useless because of the alterations that Severus had made to the original formula. It had also been determined that the formula could be doubled but not tripled without losing any of its efficacy.
The Bureau for the Care and Control of Magical Creatures had registrations for 196 werewolves on its active list, they also estimated that another 50 or 60 would come forward once the cure was announced, so the Ministry wanted 300 doses prepared to be safe and make sure that Lycanthropy was eradicated from the British Isles. Of course if there were an excess of doses they could always be sold to other governments for their own indigenous population, though the Ministry was also planning for the eventuality that some werewolves from other countries would merely show up and claim citizenship in order to benefit from the cure.
The second weekend in August had been orchestrated to become a massive brewing marathon at the Ministry for Magics own potions lab. The four Ministry Masters and Severus Snape had been drafted to be the brewers, while all eight apprentices and another six of Snape's NEWT level students had been drafted to prepare ingredients, help with the tedious stirring and any other drudge work that would be required. Severus also had Nippy to assist and Professor Dumbledore had graciously allowed a team of house elves to volunteer to assist in any way necessary in keeping the group fed and watered.
Remus and Sirius were in charge of keeping Shaun occupied and entertained until he was needed for the critical last three hours of brewing and had offered to watch him overnight so that Severus would be able to sleep undisturbed and leave early in the morning without having to worry about waking up Shaun.
Severus woke up early on that Saturday morning, unable to sleep any more after a night of tossing and turning, vainly trying to sleep. He had not been so nervous about a day of brewing since he had taken his own mastery tests years ago. He showered, dressing in his lightest weight work robes and tying his hair back so it would not interfere with his day. He smiled at the memory of his co workers and especially his students when he had first appeared in the Great Hall one morning with his hair neatly washed, grease-free and tied back with a simple leather strap. Shaun had insisted he stop using the fire and potion retardant treatment in his hair because he liked to play with his daddy's hair too much and he complained about the greasy feel it left on his hands. Their relationship had been so new at the time that he was willing to do almost anything to get a faint smile and a hesitant hug from his son. He had quickly decided that he liked the new feel of his hair and it really didn't allow any more damage to his hair and scalp than using the noxious potion on it had.
After a quick breakfast of tea and toast to try and settle his stomach, he gathered the few supplies he would need, called to Nippy to tell him to leave for the Ministry and went up to Albus' office to floo to the Ministry potions lab. He stood up carefully; brushing the stray bits of soot off of his work robes as he turned and scrutinized the set up of the lab for the marathon brewing that would take place today.
There were five brewing stations set up, the maximum that would fit comfortably in the specially warded and reinforced brewing chamber. Because of the unknown and sometimes dreadful results that magic could have upon potions, the room could not be magically expanded or enhanced in any way and the wards were placed upon the exterior of the massive physically reinforced walls of the large chamber.
After greeting and shaking hands with the other potion's masters and nodding at the introductions between his six students and their eight apprentice contemporaries, he scrubbed his hands and began to set up his work station to his own preferences. Each ingredient was to be carefully prepared to exact specifications by a team of four students, each brewer would be assisted by their own two apprentices while Severus was assisted by his own carefully chosen and trained seventh year students. Nippy would be in charge of the house elves who would keep an area set up in an adjoining small room furnished with food and drinks as well as any other reasonable requests from the brewers and their assistants.
The time passed slowly as Severus moved swiftly and gracefully from cauldron to cauldron, his two assistants following his every whispered instruction like a well trained team of muggle chefs. It was challenging to say the least, keeping three cauldrons brewing to exacting standards at the same time was something the young students and apprentices marveled at as he deftly performed the intricate dance of the potion's master. He was by far the most dexterous and competent of the brewers there. The four Ministry brewers were each struggling with two massive cauldrons while Severus made his own three bubbling cauldrons look no more difficult than a large pot of stew.
As each brewer came to a point where they could leave the meticulous and exacting stirring of the potion to an apprentice, or in Severus' case, his own exceedingly well trained house elf, the four adjourned to the adjacent room for cooling drinks and sandwiches.
"So Master Snape, how did you come upon this remarkable cure? I have heard vague stories about the original Wolfsbane but nothing so far about changing the Wolfsbane into the Werewolves' Cure? Have you been researching the ingredients for a long time?" asked the elderly Augustus Wimple, who had been brewing for years without ever reaching his mastery.
Severus carefully swallowed his bite of the excellent turkey sandwich he was eating as he thought over his answer carefully. He didn't want to claim more credit than he was eligible for, but how did he explain his four year old son had changed the ingredients in his lab simply because he hadn't wanted to make his father mad?
"I have been working on the Wolfsbane formula for several years and was finally able to begin brewing experimental potions last summer at Hogwarts. As you know, I am unable to brew experimentally during the school year because of the student population, teaching classes and keeping the hospital wing stocked, which can sometimes be a full-time occupation by itself."
Seamus O'Reilly nodded his head sagely as he swallowed his own mouthful, "I imagine it is, Master Snape. Merlin knows we are quite busy here with just the Ministry potions, and we are just brewers, not masters like you. I always thought I would have more time to finish my mastery here than working for a profit making apothecary or St. Mungo's but, alas; there is no more free time here to experiment than there would be at either of those places."
Severus took another bite before answering the others. "I adopted a young boy last year and he has been 'helping' me in the lab. He is quite inquisitive and asks many questions that sometimes lead to remarkable insights into new potions. Without his assistance the Werewolves' Cure would not exist. Also, the fact that his tutor is a werewolf, or should I say, was a werewolf; I had a unique interest in finding both the Wolfsbane and the Cure. A very personal reason, that spurred on my inspiration as it were." There was no need to tell them that the child in question had been only three years old at the time, it wasn't his fault if they thought the child was much older, now was it?
The other three men nodded in agreement before standing up to return to their cauldrons and the still very long day ahead of them.
Fawkes and Shaun were playing keep away from Sirius and Remus through the halls of Hogwarts. Of course, Remus and Sirius didn't know they were playing keep away! Shaun had a firm grip upon one of Fawke's tail feathers and was flying down the corridors just out of the two men's reach. Niveus was gliding gracefully beside the two, encouraging them, or perhaps just mocking them.
"Shaun, get down here right now! It's time for you to eat lunch and then it will be time to go to the Ministry and help Daddy brew his potion. You know how important that is, now get down here!" Remus was trying to appeal to Shaun's reason and his desire to help his Daddy.
Sirius was a little more direct and hit the two escapees with a jet of cold water from his wand which caused Shaun to gasp and startle, dropping Fawke's feather in shock. "Agghhh! Uncle Sirius, that's not fair! I don't have a wand and I can't get you back!"
Sirius had caught the very wet and wiggling child, squeezing him with a big hug as Remus quietly cast a drying spell upon both his friend and the boy. Sirius looked at Moony, nodded his thanks and then threw Shaun up onto his shoulders before transforming in a flash into Padfoot and running down the corridor in the direction of the Great Hall. Remus grinned, took just a bit longer and there was a large silver wolf chasing the two.
Niveus trilled at Fawkes, 'Serves you right for teasing the poor humans, you look like a drowned chicken.' A delighted laugh was evident in her song as she looked at the humiliated and very wet phoenix before flashing to her perch in Shaun's bedroom. Fawkes just shook himself with a disgruntled 'humph' and flashed back to his perch in Albus' office to recuperate. The startled headmaster just looked at the dripping phoenix, his eyes twinkling merrily as he laughed heartily. "I'm not even going to speculate my old friend!" With a shake of his head he returned to his paperwork, glancing every once in a while toward the bird vainly trying to preen his wet feathers and laughing all over again.
After what seemed like days, the five brewers had reached the critical last break before the three hours that required Shaun to be in attendance. Severus leaned over to Nippy and whispered into his elf's oversized ear, "Please fetch Master Shaun now, Nippy."
With a bow and a nod, Nippy snapped his fingers and disappeared. He returned momentarily but alone. Severus looked at him quizzically and queried, "Where's Shaun?"
"Master Shaun is on his way, Master Snape, sir. Master Shaun's is having his own way of coming here today, sir." The old elf bowed and turned back to stirring the potion that he had just left.
In a far corner, up next to the ceiling a bright red flash of fire was followed by an almost instantaneous flash of bright bluish white light and the sound of childish giggles erupted into the large room, echoing around the stone walls. "Thanks, Niveus that was wicked!"
Niveus flew gracefully down, Fawkes flying in formation to her left, and dropped Shaun into his father's startled but waiting arms. Severus hugged the boy, ruffling his already unruly hair and smirked at the boy, "Just had to make an entrance didn't you?" But his laughing took any bite out of the rebuke.
"Just like you Daddy!" The little rascal giggled back.
"But you know you love me, don't you Daddy?" was the impertinent answer. The eighteen witnesses to the playful interchange between the two wore various expressions of disbelief as they tried to reconcile the bitter and sarcastic reputation of the Hogwarts Potions Professor with the cheerful and loving father they were witnessing. Severus let Shaun slide down his body until his feet hit the floor, then he reached down, grabbing one shoulder to spin the boy and swat him on the rear before calling him 'brat' one last time.
Fawkes perched on one of Shaun's shoulders while Niveus took the other. The four brewers hurriedly turned back to their own cauldrons after watching Severus retaking his stirring paddle in anticipation of his son's singing.
Severus cringed as he remembered he had forgotten the pair of earplugs he had wanted to bring. Not that Shaun didn't have a beautiful clear boyish soprano, he did. What he did have was an appallingly small repertoire of songs that he actually knew the words to. So he sighed and resigned himself to another long afternoon of repetitious songs about weird muggle cartoon characters. He had just begun to stir the first cauldron, nodding to his two student helpers to begin stirring their own when the most remarkable sound he had ever heard erupted from the trio and echoed through the large chamber, spilling out into the Ministry building at large.
Fawkes' low baritone trill was blended with a descant of high soprano from Niveus but blended into the duo was a clear and precise third clear trill issuing from Shaun's open mouth. The phoenix song rose high and then descended as it seemed to shimmer visibly in the air of the chamber. Everyone in the chamber froze in amazement, startled that a phoenix song could even be sung by any human, let alone a five year old boy! The massive cauldrons started to belch smoke, drawing all eyes back to the task at hand, all traces of fatigue and weariness disappearing in the marvelous warmth and love of the song.
Throughout the Ministry, workers and visitors alike stopped to allow the mesmerizing peace and joy of the unearthly song fill them completely. Down in the Ministry holding cells, deep in the bowels under the building, despair and desolation seeped out of the prisoners, the judgment of the phoenix song as harsh and eternal as the final judgment of any mortal meeting his maker.
The sixteen hidden death eaters and sympathizers within the Ministry walls collapsed from the weight of their crimes as the phoenix' song judged them. All others felt empowered and uplifted, their spirits soaring with the heavenly trills. Many muggles passing by the odd empty building swore they heard angels singing in a heavenly chorus. Attendance at churches all across England would reach record heights that Sunday, and the police recorded the smallest amount of criminal activity in the last century that weekend.
Severus blinked his eyes, seeming to awaken from a trance or a deep meditation. He looked down at the three cauldrons sitting before him and was surprised to find them completed and perfect in every way, just waiting for the final slow cooling before being measured out into individual doses, each one priceless beyond measure for someone afflicted with Lycanthropy. He looked over to find his son curled up, deeply asleep with his head on his arms, Niveus cooing softly at him as she lay beside him on a couch, her wing spread protectively over him like a feather blanket. Fawkes was perched protectively over the two of them, his long wings stretched out along the back of the couch he perched on. He reached a long neck down and curled it lovingly around Niveus, rubbing his cheek against hers in affection and love.
All around Severus, people stretched and murmured amongst themselves, no one truly willing to break the enchantment the long phoenix song had spun around the potions chamber.
A crowd of Hogwarts elves popped into existence with a string of soft pops, much like popcorn popping, until each now very tired witch or wizard was surrounded by a group of small beings herding them into the anti-chamber to be fed and watered before going home. As they all sat and ate, they were quiet and still awe-struck at the once in a lifetime experience they had all experienced that afternoon.
Severus had tucked Shaun into bed after managing to coax the boy into swallowing a small cup of creamy chicken soup and then leaving him to be once again covered and protected by two large and very powerful birds.
Albus stood up as Severus leaned in weariness against the doorframe of Shaun's bedroom. He took the younger wizard by the shoulders and led him over to sit beside him on a couch facing Remus and Sirius on the other couch that flanked each side of the now gently burning fireplace.
"So, child, how did the brewing go today?" Albus gently asked the obviously exhausted Potion's Master.
"Sweet Merlin, I can't even find the words to begin to explain what happened!" Severus was leaning back, his head against the top of the couch, his eyes closed as he rubbed them tiredly with one elegant but slightly potion stained hand. "I have never experienced anything like that before and I imagine that I shall never again have that opportunity. I never wanted it to end, though, it was truly magnificent!" His voice was soft and full of wonder and even awe, a tone of speech the three men had never heard him speak in before.
"Brewing Wolfsbane?" Remus asked, confused.
"No, it was the sound, the unearthly song, of two phoenixes and my son joining in to sing for over three hours straight not the brewing." Severus' spoke softly
The three men looked at him startled; Albus was the first to recover and asked, hesitantly, "Fawkes and Niveus accompanied Shaun in singing?"
Severus chuckled at their misunderstanding, it was understandable of course. "Niveus and Fawkes joined my son in singing in phoenix song, not human song! And no, I didn't think it was possible for a human voice box to make those sounds either, but he did."
Severus reached over and grabbed Albus' old hand in excitement, "Would you like to share in my memories of today? All of you? I admit I am most anxious to relieve them, they are indescribable, simply …" He shrugged, unable to think of any more words.
They had eventually invited Minerva, Filius, and Poppy to join in the pensieve as they all revisited Severus' memories of the performance of that afternoon. All seven of them left Albus office that evening with smiles of pure happiness as they each made their way to their own quarters for the night. Each was closer to the others after sharing in the experience, and none of them would ever forget the feelings, nor would any witch or wizard who had experienced the glory of the three singing ever have difficulty finding a happy enough experience to cast a patronus ever again.
Shaun was the first one up the next morning, gleefully jumping on his still blissfully asleep father's chest in his excitement. "Daddy, Daddy, wake up! You promised to take me flying today with Uncle Remus and Sirius! Wake up, Daddy!"
Severus managed to crack open one bleary eye and glared at the small exuberant child jumping on his chest. "It's too early to fly Shaun, let Daddy sleep some more, please."
"It's not early, Daddy. Nippy says breakfast will be over soon if we don't come. The clock says it's after nine and it's pretty outside so let's go flying! You promised Daddy if I did a good job singing yesterday and I did Daddy, I did and Niveus and Fawkes helped me. I did do a good job didn't I Daddy?" A small amount of doubt had crept into Shaun's voice as he continued his one sided conversation with his father.
Severus groaned once and sat up abruptly dumping Shaun onto his lap where he grabbed the boy in a fierce hug and kissed him soundly on the cheek. "Yes, son, I am very proud of you. You did a fantastic job yesterday. I have never heard such beautiful singing in all of my life!"
A huge grin threatened to split the boy's face in half as he grabbed his daddy and returned the hug.
After a glorious morning spent flying in the bright August sun, they all adjourned to the Great Hall for lunch and returned to the matters at hand. Albus asked each of the Professors present to report on their individual summer projects and had a surprising bit of news for the group. "Professor Binns has been reluctantly encouraged to finally pass over so it seems that this year we will have one more, very much alive, Professor at Hogwarts. I would like to be the first to offer and hopefully congratulate Professor Black on the position of History of Magic, professor?" Remus held his breath as he looked at his lifelong friend. He knew the years at Azkaban would never truly leave the prematurely aged wizard, but a job like this would go a long way to making him young once more.
Sirius Black gulped in astonishment. Only a short year ago he had been without hope, weakened near to death and almost resigned to never even seeing daylight unencumbered by the grey walls and metal bars of Azkaban and now he was free and being offered the position of a lifetime, to be allowed to teach a subject he loved and to live in the place he most called home. He swallowed again in nervousness, "Of course I will accept, Headmaster. It's such an honor…it's so…I…" Everyone at the table chuckled at the notoriously glib prankster so gobsmacked and searching for words.
Remus grabbed Sirius in a big hug and pounded him on the back in glee. "James would be so proud of you, Padfoot! No more goblin rebellions and sleeping in history class!"
As Sirius bent his head to surreptitiously wipe away the moisture pooling in the corner of his eyes, Albus turned to Remus and asked him about the progress in setting up the new day school program. "When will the new programs be up and running, Remus? How has the response from the parents and new students been?"
Remus let go of Sirius and looked around again, "It's been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, most parents would like something set up for even younger children. But I think we should still emphasize some of the curriculum from Muggle schools also. I think it will go a long way toward keeping another Voldemort from arising if Muggle borns know about the wizarding world, but it is equally or even more important for the pureblooded wizards to know the facts of life about Muggles, not the nonsense they learn in Muggle studies here at Hogwarts. No offense, Albus, but it is too little, too late and the Governor's insistence that it be taught by a pureblooded wizard is just ridiculous. At least have a muggle born teach it!" Remus let a little frustration at the situation seep into his tone, but the others at the table were nodding in complete agreement with his sentiments.
Minerva interjected, "We have the facilities and curriculum set up and it should be running by the middle of September. Exactly how many students have signed up, Remus?"
"We currently have almost all of the nine and ten year olds from the Magical Registries book. Only two pureblooded families prefer to remain with private tutors. So a total of 93 students will be starting this year. And many of those have younger siblings that would be interested if space opens up for them, at least part time. We have found eight areas where between eight and ten students live close enough for a regular day school, and we have five more sites for up to twelve students that draw from a much wider area. We have six magical families that are donating their homes to start with until we can find a building, we are contracting with three Muggle schools for space in unused classrooms for time after regular school hours are over and we have located space for the last four day schools in failed nursery schools at Muggle shopping malls that we can use. The last four sites are set up for much larger groups of students and we might want to combine some groups and run more than one classroom at each of those sites since they already have playgrounds, bathrooms, kitchens and multiple classrooms set up. Or we might expand the ages served at those four sites, whichever you think might work best, Albus."
"Excellent, excellent, please keep up the good work and let me know if there is any way I can expedite anything for you. The Ministry has been remarkably open about changing the educational system and in fact has suggested that we require a new class the first year for all students, Wizarding Culture for any non-wizard raised, and Muggle Culture for any children raised strictly in the wizarding world. I would like to offer the position for both of those classes to Arabella Figg, if no one objects?" No one spoke up and the group turned to lunch as their plates appeared with a wave from the headmaster's hand.
Severus noticed Shaun was enthusiastically munching away on his Brussels sprouts, something he wasn't particularly fond of. He bent down and looked at them more closely. His face turned pale as one eyebrow raised almost to his hair line. He coldly confronted his son, "Shaun Snape, did you turn those sprouts into chocolate?"
His son looked up at him innocently, "No Daddy, and they are malted milk balls, not sprouts. Want one?"
Severus glared at his colleagues up and down the long table. But with all of them trying to hide smiles and laughs it was difficult to distinguish exactly which one of them had transformed the boy's disliked vegetable into a despicable Muggle candy! He turned once again to his son, reaching to remove the candy only to find the last one disappearing into a small smiling mouth. Severus leaned his head down into his hand and muttered, "Merlin, why me?" His colleagues lost their battle with composure as mixed peals of laughter spread around the Great Hall.
"Merlin says because you are the Creature of Night who must guide me and love me. You do love me, don't you Daddy?"
Severus looked like a deer caught in the headlights; he was the prophesized one to guide the Chosen One? How, why…he couldn't be…he thought that had meant Remus or Albus or someone…
But looking at the absolute trust and love in those small, brilliantly emerald eyes of the small child now grasping his hand he knew that whatever came their way, no matter the obstacles, or how hard the fight, he would be there. He would guide and cherish his son, his Shaun, his gift from the gods.
As his smile lit up his black eyes; he clutched the child, picking him up to kiss him soundly on the cheek as he proclaimed to the world, "Yes child. I LOVE YOU!"
The End of Part Two
AN: The story will continue, but it might be several months before it will begin. RL has hit me with the double whammy! My husband of 36 years decided he didn't want to be married any more, well, at least not to me so I am in the process of packing up and moving to another state to be closer to my family. Then last night my Stepmother died after a long and terrible fight and my Grandmother, the one who is 100, had a mild stroke last week. Anyway, thank you for your support and encouragement and I will return with a sequel for both stories when I have settled in and found a new apartment.