Brewing for Hagrid

Author: Raven Dancer

Rating: PG

disclaimer: All characters belong to JKRowling except for Chiron. I receive no monetary compensation for these works.

summary: Professor Snape brews a special potion for Hagrid and Albus Dumbledore.

It was no longer important how they knew the Potions Master was sliding up behind them. They just knew. It was as if the very air parted, crowding left and right, to let the wizard pass through. It was certain he was silent in passing. Even Dumbledore made some noise.

On this particular occasion Snape simply swept by them, Gryffindor and Slytherin alike, standing near Hagrid's hut. For all the silence it was amazing how his robes billowed out, more substantial than the man who wore them. At least it evened things out: without the robes Snape would be as good as invisible, a flash of nothing at the edge of vision.

Hagrid was straightening traces, separating the long leather lines, turning with a delighted grin when he caught sight of the Potions Master. He hand shot out and he shook Snape's. The grim line of disdain didn't waver for an instant but the slighter man accepted the demonstration of welcome. It could have been worse, much worse, since the Groundskeeper was so pleased to see him.

"Perfesser Snape! Than' ya for coming. Let me get tha kids started first," the half-giant nearly bellowed out. The wizard grimaced, hair sweeping back from the force of the words. If the students expected some caustic comment they were sorely disappointed. Snape simply blended back into the cool shadows of the hut wall and watched. If his eyes didn't glitter he'd be indistinguishable from the brick and ivy.

Soon the students found themselves clutching the leather leads. Holding on tight and hoping not to be dragged off their feet by the feisty kelpies they were to exercise in the big paddocks near the hut. Even with four to five students 'guiding' each beast it was decidedly unfair. If one of the kelpies decided to stop, nothing could induce it to move. Conversely, once in motion they would not submit easily to the path the students wanted them to move preferring to cross traces with other groups.

With the students occupied Hagrid moved back to his visitor. Hermione noticed Snape slip out of the shadows and listen quietly to the expressive man. It was easy to see the groundskeeper was excited. Probably had a new animal coming.

"Why do you suppose Hagrid would want to see Snape?" Ron hissed through his clenched teeth, heels dug into the loose dirt.

"Don't know," Harry managed to throw his weight against the straining leather and shift their kelpie away from Malfoy's bouncing charge.

"Well, what Hagrid wants is not the question I'd want answered. I want to know why Snape seems so interested. He's actually paying attention," Hermione muttered before being flung backwards into Neville. The kelpie, sensing it had the upper hand, snorted and jerked the line pulling all four students face first into the dirt.

"If I didn't know better I'd say the blasted thing is laughing at us," Ron said sourly. Indeed, the creature was now seated, front legs splayed slightly, mouth open making a chuffing sound.

"Well, just as competent in Magical Creatures as Potions, eh, Potter?" Snape drawled as he followed Hagrid across the compound.

"Harry's doing fine. Kelpie's a bit stubborn," Hagrid took the line and tried a hand at the beast. With a strange snarling sound the kelpie decided it should protect itself and launched itself straight at his master. Teeth bared, claws extended, it attacked.

Hagrid was a large man, but it meant little to the creature lashing out at him. It got one clear shot and then it was suddenly flung back and held in place. The students were amazed to see Snape standing over the fallen man, wand out. The kelpie squealed in panic finding itself levitated to its holding pen. Before the other kelpies could react they were moved to other small enclosures.

Eyes blazing Snape took a deep breath before dropping his wand hand. He glanced at Hagrid. Long cut, but conscious. His eyes flicked over Harry, Hermione and Ron.

"Stay with him while I settle things," Snape's voice low and concerned. He jerked around, projecting anger and derision.

"Mr. Malfoy, see that everyone hangs up their traces. Longbottom, hand yours over to Finnegan and run up for Madame Pomfrey," he barked out orders.

"I dun need the nurse," Hagrid protested.

"I suppose that cut will heal up by itself?" Snape shot back with a snarl. Hagrid seemed to be cowed by the Potions Master and watched as the wizard cleared all the students from the area sending them back into the castle except for the three clustered about the groundskeeper.

Snape stood rigidly, staring at the castle and the departing students. Once satisfied the area was clear he turned back to the fallen man and quickly knelt by his side.

"Hagrid, let me see," Snape said in a remarkably gentle voice pushing the injured man's hands aside. The long gash cut through his shirt to his chest.

"Ms. Granger, Mr. Weasley, go into Hagrid's hut and find me scissors, some clean sheeting, a cup, drinking water and the emergency box on the sideboard shelf," Snape directed then caught Hagrid's eyes.

"You kept that potion I made for you?" The groundskeeper nodded dully.

While the two Gryffindors ran into the hut Hagrid was levitated and moved inside himself. Harry was sent for a basin of clean water. Putting the injured man on his lounge Snape removed his outer cloak and rolled up his sleeves.

"Kelpies are usually docile creatures, which is a good thing given they are somewhat poisonous," the Potions Master explained as he cut away the remnants of the ripped shirt. Damp clothes were blotted over the cut carefully.

"I'll leave that for Madame Pomfrey's delicate touch, she'll leave less of a scar," the wizard rattled around in Hagrid's emergency box picking up various bottles.

"Really! I do recall organizing this at start of term! What were you doing, Hagrid? Playing nine pins?" Snape chastised but they were quick to note there was no anger in his voice.

"Sorry Perfesser," Hagrid slurred, his eyes starting to flutter, then slipped closed.

"Here!" the Potions Master plucked out a slim brown vial and opened it. He eyed in a portion.

"An ounce, then 4 to 6 ounces water or juice." He held the cup up and waited for Hermione to pour water in. Forgoing a spoon, Snape expertly twirled the liquid in the cup to blend.

With a gentleness no one would believe he possessed, Snape lifted Hagrid into a more upright position and pulled him against his chest.

"Ok, Hagrid, time to drink for me," the wizard brought the cup to the man's lips and carefully teased it in. Hagrid slurped a bit noisily until all the potion was gone. Snape continued to hold him, talking utter nonsense (especially for Snape!) until Hagrid blinked several times and opened his eyes fully.

"How'd I get in cher?" Hagrid asked very confused. Snape smiled briefly very relieved to see the man better.

"Mr. Potter threw you over his shoulder and dragged your sorry carcass in," the Potions Master said as sarcastically as possible. A chuckle at the door caused all five sets of eyes to jerk up.

"Professor Snape teasing? I might require a restorative myself!" the rich warmth of Dumbledore's voice filled the room. He moved in followed closely by Madame Pomfrey.

Without any hurry Snape lowered Hagrid back onto the lounge.

"Deep cut, Poppy. We just blotted the blood and left that for you. He's had a dose of anti-toxin," the Potions Master reported succinctly as he moved back giving the nurse access to the patient.

Clucking to herself the witch checked out the length and damage before pulling out her wand and murmuring a long incantation. All three students watched as the flesh joined back together and nearly healed completely before them. Soon only a long thin line marred the big man's chest.

"Thanks, Poppy," Hagrid muttered. He looked across the room searching. Seeing his confusion Dumbledore moved closer.

"Professor Snape had to leave, Hagrid," the Headmaster said quietly. A look passed between them and the larger man nodded in understanding.

"You'll see 'im tonight?" Hagrid asked.

"Yes. I'll take care of it," Dumbledore replied. Pomfrey busied herself, wiping up spills and repacking the emergency box. While the witch organized the messy box the Headmaster prepared tea, bringing a large mug to the resting man.

"Did you get a chance to discuss your project with Severus?" Dumbledore asked curiously.

"Yeah. He said he'd brew tha potion for me," the groundskeeper smiled happily.

"Friday night?" Dumbledore pursued.

"New moon. Perfesser Snape said he'd set up after 11," Hagrid filled in. Hermione looked from one man to the other.

"What's Professor Snape going to brew Headmaster?" she asked curiously. Pomfrey chuckled.

"He's trying to catch a myth for Hagrid," she smirked as she packed her things and headed for the door. "See me after dinner Hagrid. You should be just fine but I might want to give you another dose of anti-toxin. Headmaster... children..." she nodded her farewell and left the hut.

"What the heck is a myth?" Ron asked with some confusion. The adults chuckled as Hermione gave him a disapproving glance.

"A myth is an imaginary person or thing," she said. "It doesn't really exist." Dumbledore gave her one of his most knowing looks, eyes twinkling.

"Sometimes myths are more than that. They try to explain natural events or ancient history. Muggle myths are based on many real things," he explained patiently.

"Look a' unicorns," Hagrid said, in professor mode. "Muggles think they're legend, a myth. Some circus dragged around a goat that had a deformed horn claimin' it was a unicorn. It was good for the young 'uns, but the rest figured it was bunk."

"Not to mention dragons," Dumbledore added with a suppressed snicker. Hagrid bristled slightly. "So many theories proposed to explain the existence of the creatures yet most muggles believe it to be another legend or fairy tale."

"Then what is Professor Snape going to try to catch for you?" Harry asked. Hagrid just grinned.

"Hmmm, it's a bit much to expect even you, Ron, to believe it exist, even with your wizard background," Dumbledore mused. "I think, Hagrid, that these three might benefit from a bit of extra tutoring..."

"Ah, yes, never hurts to learn sumthin new," Hagrid said with a considering look.

"But," Dumbledore quickly raised his hand, "you may not discuss this with any other student. Professor Snape will not appreciate you being there, and certainly would be even more upset if the school to find out about his little myth-brewing."

The three friends looked at one another. Keeping the special "lesson" secret would not be a problem and they easily agreed to the limitation.

"What is he going to do?" Hermione persisted. "Is there something we could research in the library?" Ron glared at her.

"No, no. It really isn't something to read up on. It will be more impressive if you come with a clear mind. Just soak up the moment so-to-speak," the Headmaster explained.

"Come out to my hut Friday night by ten. You can hel' me get stuff set up for Perfessor Snape," Hagrid said.

The rest of the week passed slowly. Hermione was thrumming with frustration wondering what Snape could be trying to catch. Even Harry became reluctant to sit near Hermione as she scanned tome after tome researching all sorts of strange creatures. When she started making long lists they all but abandoned her in the library.

"The problem is," Hermione huffed as they trudged to their magical history class, "is that so many muggle mythological creatures do exist. They are just sheltered by the magical world itself. I can't find many truly mythological creatures except in fantasy works. Like balrogs and orcs or that nanny Mary Poppins."

"She's not a myth! She's a character in a book!" Ron asserted.

"Well, so are orcs and balrogs for that matter," Harry added.

"I know! I think I alluded to that when I said they were fantasy characters," Hermione huffed. Both boys looked sheepish.

"Sorry," they chimed together. She gave them one more glare before shaking her head.

"And tomorrow night we'll know what he's trying to conjure up!," Ron said with a grin. He settled into his chair and pulled a parchment from his satchel. His friends followed suit ready to turn in their history assignment.

Friday felt like it would never end. There was a study session in DADA that should have been interesting but even Hermione couldn't get into the spirit of the discussion. They separated for Divination and Arithmacy meeting up for a final class in Herbology. Finally they spent what seemed like an eon researching and writing a parchment on healing potions for Snape.

They wanted that done in case he threw them into detention for the rest of the weekend when he saw them that night.

At dinner Hagrid waved them over and reminded them to be out at the hut just before ten. Dumbledore's mischievous eyes followed them back to their table as they settled down to wait for dinner. The only one missing was the Potions Master.

"He's probably getting ready," Ron offered.

"I wish I could help. I would love to know what he's preparing!" Hermione gushed. Both boys just looked at her oddly.

"Mione..." Harry began cautiously. She looked at him patiently waiting for his comment. Seeing the intense gleam in her eyes he waved off his comment and reached for a plate of mashed potatoes. Upsetting his friend was not a good thing!

He'd just begun scooping some onto his plate when he noticed Snape coming into the hall. His friends followed his gaze and soon all three watched the tall figure sweep up to the head table. Apparently he made an apology to the Headmaster for being tardy but it was waved a side and he was directed to his chair.

"Looks like he got spattered with mud," Ron commented as he looked up at Snape turning to sit in the proffered chair.

The ever-present frown deepened at some remark from Professor Flitwick. The three watched as another professor leaned over to speak to Snape. In no time it seemed that half the head table had given the Potions Master the once over and found him lacking. Before Dumbledore could interject a word into the apparent concern Snape rose and left the table slipping out a side door. This seemed to amuse the bulk of the staff who smirked or grinned knowingly.

Smirks and smiles were quickly wiped off every face with a disapproving frown and sharp word from the Headmaster. All of this took place in the span of three minutes but not many of the students seemed to notice.

"Wow! What happened?" Ron asked of no one in particular.

"Looks like the other professors didn't appreciate the mud," said Seamus, sitting next to him. "Some of them are mighty fussy about neatness!"

Hermione nodded in agreement but Harry just stared at the boy next to Ron. Seamus was rather a mess himself between his hair being partially plastered to his head while the rest stuck out at odd angles. Some sort of charm had backfired yet again on the student.

Seamus noted his companion's frank stare and shrugged.

"Hey, my robe's clean!" he said defensively. Harry just shook his head and turned back to Ron and Hermione.

"I've noticed that Snape doesn't seem to talk with any of the other professors much, aside from Dumbledore," Harry said in a very soft voice.

"He's an evil git," Ron asserted. "They don't want to associate with him!"

"They certainly like to make fun of him," Harry pursued quietly. Hermione looked between the two of them.

"Well, he's a greasy, evil git," Ron reasserted firmly. Harry grimaced.

"I wonder," Hermione glanced up at the head table. "Harry mentioned the mark he bears..."

"There, definitely an evil git!" Ron crowed proudly causing several students to stare at him curiously while Harry and Hermione shushed him.

"Ron!" Harry warned with a glare. Suitably chastised the red-head settled down in his seat, although he was only embarrassed for speaking so loud, not about the content of his outburst.

"There's more to it than that," Hermione said. "Starting with the Headmaster's assertions he trusts him completely to his moodiness..."

"Moodiness! The man goes nutters..." Ron's voice raised again and he was quickly hushed by both his friends.

"Look, if you can't discuss this like a rational human being then sit by someone else!" Harry said in an angry hiss.

"It gets old hearing the same things come from your mouth Ron Weasley! Life is not black and white!" Hermione added in a harsh whisper. Somewhat chastised the boy sank back into his chair. They finished eating in less than companionable silence.

Nine-thirty found the threesome at Hagrid's door. They would have been even earlier but thought they shouldn't press their welcome. The groundskeeper was happy to see them and settled them down with a cuppa. On the table were several sandwiches and sliced fruits.

"I figure Professor Snape might be a bit peckish..." Hagrid said with a small grin. The students shifted nervously. The Potions Master's reaction might be violent. He was an intensely private man and did not suffer Gryffindors at all! They didn't have long to panic as there was another knock at the door.

Hagrid swung back and let the Headmaster and Snape enter. Expecting the worst the three moved deeper into the room. Much to their chagrin Snape nodded almost pleasantly to them.

"Ah, I see your assistants arrived Hagrid," Dumbledore said expansively.

"Yes, yes. A bit early mind you, but I suppose they're eager to be on with it," Hagrid replied. "Perfessor, I thought you might like sumthing so I asked Dobby to bring in eats."

"Thank you, Hagrid. The Headmaster mentioned you would," Snape again inclined his head, his voice smooth and resonant.

"Why don't I join you Severus? I could use a little tea. Hagrid and his crew can get things together for our escapade tonight," Dumbledore decided.

With agreements all around Harry, Hermione and Ron found themselves moving a caldron and various packages around the hearth while the Headmaster began serving Snape. Harry noted the older wizard was actually convincing the Potions Master to try different bits and pieces, recombining sandwiches and adding extra sugar to tea.

Hermione kept stealing glances at the Potions Master's robes. They certainly weren't dirty now! The crushed velvet looked absolutely silky soft with subtle black patterns embroidered over to give an interesting texture. Under the open robes were long black leggings tucked into bÏlack leather boots. The only thing not black on the wizard was a deep green long-sleeved shirt, covered by a black silk vest with a long line of small black buttons. His normally greasy hair was brushed back and held in a short pony tail by a piece of leather.

Ron could only reflect that they were all dead meat the next potions class. Snape would only be acting pleasant because Dumbledore had threatened him!

It was strange for the three students to see Snape looking relaxed. He sipped tea and had a pleasant countenance as he talked quietly with Dumbledore. Hagrid moved about the two of them acting the perfect host although he was vibrating with suppressed excitement. If they didn't know better it seemed these three men enjoyed one another's company!

"Thank you, Hagrid. That tasted very good," the Potions Master actually smiled at the man.

"Yer welcome, perfessor, though I wish ya would tuck in a bit more," Hagrid replied. Dumbledore simply grinned, eyes twinkling in suppressed delight.

"Perhaps after this little adventure. I find myself more than eager to start," Snape rose, his robes swirling about his lank frame. The three adults turned and looked at their companions. Incredulity painted their faces.

"Are you three all right?" Hagrid asked with concern. "Ya look a bit green around the edges..."

"Perhaps you've had a bit of a shock lately?" Dumbledore asked with complete innocence.

"We... we're fine Hagrid," Hermione offered.

"No shock of late, sir," added Harry.

"He's gonna kill us," Ron squeaked, voice shattering. Snape raised an eyebrow at that and shocked them all by laughing aloud.

"Mr. Weasley, I most certainly will mark that down on my to-do list this week," the Potions Master smirked.

"Severus! Don't go killing the students! It will decrease our tuitions and we'll have to cut professor stipends," Dumbledore dead-panned. Snape grinned then faced the three students.

"What we're going to attempt tonight is so preposterous that

no one, and I mean NO ONE, will believe you! I am free to act as I choose without repercussion," Snape explained.

"Which means that the perfessor will be back ta being a right ass tomorrow..." Hagrid snorted. This caused Dumbledore to convulse in laughter. Snape attempted to look angry but it didn't hold.

"Yes, quite the ass tomorrow," he allowed. "Now, let's grab the equipment and get out to the glade!"

Hagrid distributed the packages, mostly shrunk to fit in pockets, and shuffled people out his door into the inky dark. It was a new moon and the stars in the sky shimmered placidly.

The Forest, usually full of animal noise, was deeply quiet. To Ron it was as if everything was watching the odd parade of humans. As they moved by trees and brush odd whispery voices would sound a raspy announcement of their passing.

Harry stumbled over a root and was hoisted to his feet by Snape.

"Are you all right?" the Potions Master asked. "It's a bit difficult in the dark."

Harry managed to nod, then answer "Yes" in a voice nearly as quiet as the forest itself.

It seemed to become more dark as they moved on, unconsciously moving closer to one another. No moon to guide them and none of the older wizards used a lumos spell.

Ron felt like a tea kettle just getting on to boil. It was as if a scream was building inside him and would burst out any moment. He was now practically treading on Dumbledore's sweeping robes. The Headmaster was secretly smirking and mentally betting himself when the youth would latch on tight.

Ron suddenly felt a breath of cool air hit his face and found himself striding into an open space. There was a soft glow surrounding him, starlight bathing the area from on high. He could see the muted shapes of trees and the rolling waves of grass gray in the night.

"Ai, Perfesser, it's right perfect ta'night!" Hagrid's happy voice broke the silence.

"Yes, Hagrid, a perfect night for brewing and calling!" Snape rejoined just as happily.

Soon the students found themselves busy setting up the caldron and small table that Dumbledore re-enlarged. Snape himself began lining up his ingredients and sent Hagrid to draw some water fresh from the nearby spring.

Harry found himself setting up a sitting area. Leave it to the Headmaster to bring along a half-dozen of the comfy, over-stuffed

chairs from his own living room. Complete with lap robes. A low table held a full tea service ready to pour. Snape glanced over and snorted in suppressed laughter.

"Ah Albus, I see you've taken your normal liberties!" the Potions Master exclaimed.

"Of course, Severus. I so love watching you at your craft, but I don't plan to forgo the comforts out here," Dumbledore smirked.

"Ya can't quite call up ta beastie you're trying fer in the Headmaster's settin' room!" Hagrid snickered.

"I should hope not!" Dumbledore added. Waving his hand dismissively Snape turned to his caldron and started a small, bright fire underneath it. Spring water was poured in to the half-way mark.

"You did bring the cranberry scones Albus?" Snape asked as he bent down to adjust his caldron.

"Of course. They are on the edge of the tray. I will not let anyone eat them," the Headmaster replied. Snape nodded and turned back to his materials. Hermione sidled closer to see what he had.

"Miss Granger, would you please mince these borogrove roots?" Snape asked the startled Gryffindor. "Like so," and he quickly diced part of one root leaving the rest for her.

"Yes sir!" Hermione answered with alacrity. She picked up a sharp knife and began to prepare the root.

Harry poured out tea for the Headmaster and watched as his friend assisted the Potions Master. The older wizard was speaking in a low voice seemingly explaining the ingredients to her one by one. Most had been prepared in advance but it seemed that some needed last minute work.

"Sit down, Harry," Dumbledore said as he accepted his cuppa. "It's a rare treat to see Professor Snape in his true element."

"Not torchurin' students ya mean?" Hagrid's voice called from behind them as he moved to take a chair to the left of the Headmaster. Ron's face as he came closer looked quite pinched and worried. He sidled up next to Harry.

"They both know! They know what he does to us and they let him!" although he tried to speak in a quiet voice it still squeaked a bit from the stress of the evening. Harry hushed him.

"Look Ron, you're getting a bit hysterical," he said carefully.

"Tea, Mr. Weasley?" the Headmaster proffered a steaming cuppa to the student. Ron accepted the steaming brew.

"A small drop for calming," Hagrid muttered and added some liquid into Ron's cup from a flask. Dumbledore smiled brightly and extended his cup as well. With a shrug Harry followed suit. Hagrid added a generous drop to the Headmaster's cuppa and substantially less to Harry's.

They'd just settled when Hermione's delighted laughter filled the air. Harry could make out the smile on Snape's face as he shushed the girl.

"Now Ms. Granger, unless you'd prefer being relegated to the cheap seats be quiet," the Potions Master mock growled. Quelling the snickers she made herself look reasonably serious.

As the cauldron began steaming Snape poured in a long thin stream of gold liquid from an ornate bottle into the water. He nodded to his assistant and Hermione carefully shook in the glittery contents of a pouch. The brew was stirred carefully with a long-handled wooden spoon.

"Remember Hagrid? When you convinced Severus to brew that time? You wanted to catch a wood sprite and you'd found a recipe in that old cookbook of your father's?" Dumbledore asked with a bemused smile. Hagrid blushed.

"Well, that 'un wasn't the best idea'r I ever had," the big man admitted.

"Didn't it work?" Harry asked.

"Did it blow up?" Ron asked nearly at the same time.

"No'wt. Dinna blow up..." Hagrid hedged.

"It did work. Between the incantation and brewing it called up several lovely wood nymphs," the Headmaster had the termitity to snicker. "They were rather... sprightly." Both boys looked confused.

"They were... happy to see Professor Snape..." Hagrid tried.

"They were very happy," the older wizard continued to unsuccessfully contain his mirth.

"Telling the young men about those rather amorous wood nymphs Headmaster?" Snape asked sharply, having been drawn to the conversation and the tray of scones.

Dumbledore tried, he really did, to quell his reactions. But the sight of Snape standing there glowering did not help and peals of laughter filled the meadow.

"What these two gentlemen are so carefully avoiding stating is that the incantation called the nymphs and the potion was an aphrodisiac of sorts," Snape growled. "It would have been less stressful and more enjoyable if someone hadn't neglected to copy the entire title out!"

"That must have been terrible," Hermione managed to keep a straight face, "being pawed at by those nymphs."

"You wouldn't begin to believe how terrible..." Snape agreed.

"Being stripped nekkid and all," Hagrid whispered. This set Dumbledore off laughing again now joined by Harry and Ron. Hagrid's little calming potion was working magic.

"and pawed..." giggled the Headmaster.

"Wish it were me," muttered Hagrid morosely.

"Behave or I will be forced to recount the calling of those flying monkeys you had to have!" Snape threatened.

"Oh NO! That's fine Severus! The children really shouldn't hear about things like that!" It was amazing just how fast the laughing Headmaster turned dead serious and placating. Hagrid was shaking his head in horror.

"I should think so given how long it took for some of the centaurs to forgive you..." Snape dangled the information like the sword of Damocles over his friend. "It wasn't like it didn't wash out..."

"PROFESSOR SNAPE!" Dumbledore roared.

"Oh my, is the cauldron boiling all ready?" the Potions Master smirked innocently. He stuffed two cranberry scones into his pocket and went back to his preparation area, Hermione in tow.

It seemed that the potion was getting thicker. The bubbling had a thickish sound. Pointing elegantly at the cutting board Hermione carefully lifted the flat piece of wood and slid in minced borogrove.

"Headmaster - do you hear it burbling?" Hagrid asked in an excited whisper. It did seem that the liquid was whiffling tunelessly.

"Fresh tove hair. Hagrid has one in the forest. I harvested

some earlier this evening," Snape told his assistant.

"Toves are dangerous!" she exclaimed. He shrugged.

"Not much worse than the monkeys," Snape replied.

"Was that why you were so muddy?" Hermione asked. Snape's eyes flashed dangerously. She blushed.

"I meant that I saw you at dinner and you'd been outside," she tried. "The other professors weren't very nice to you..." His glare burned for another moment before it softened and disappeared.

"Some of my colleagues are a bit fussy," he allowed.

The uncomfortable silence was broken by something shifting in the forest behind them. Both glanced back at the moving shrubs.

"Probably one of the centaurs. After the monkey incident they keep closer tabs on us," Snape explained.

"Will you ever tell us about the monkeys?" Hermione asked with a quick smile.

"Uh, perhaps. I think the Headmaster is still a bit touchy about that..." Snape hedged.

The tove hair was carefully spread across the top of the liquid and allowed to sit for several minutes. Then Snape gently stirred. A pale shade of purple steam rose up into the air carrying a slightly fruity scent. Everyone inhaled appreciatively.

"Smells good," Hagrid remarked.

"Our stuff never smells nice," Ron whinged. "It smells like wet dog or old gym socks."

"Stuff it Ron!" Harry shot back. He was feeling warm and safe; probably because of the 'wee bit' from Hagrid as well as the companionable feeling from the three older wizards. In any event he didn't want his friend's incessant negativity ruining it! Harry snuggled back into his chair cupping his mug appreciatively.

The wind shifted and the aroma of Snape's brew drifted away from them and into the forest. The rustling increased causing everyone to turn just as a centaur stepped into the clearing.

"Professor Snape," the elegant creature intoned with a slight bow.

"Chiron," Snape returned, also with a bow. "An honor to be sure." He turned slightly to introduce Hermione as politeness dictated. She managed a curtsey and stumbled greeting.

"I smell something... interesting," Chiron began after greeting the girl.

"Yes, a small bit of brewing to accompany a calling," he replied cryptically. The centaur twitched his tail.

"I was wondering..." Chiron began.

"No, nothing like the monkeys," Snape reassured the creature. "You are welcome to join the Headmaster. He has tea if you are interested."

"Well, if there are some lemon shortbreads?" the centaur asked.

"Of course, Chiron! As well as some scones with lemon

curd or jam," Dumbledore jumped into the conversation and invited the centaur over to the spectator area.

"Safer over' cheer," Hagrid put in.

"I don't doubt that, given those nymphs Professor Snape called up," Chiron disagreed but walked carefully to the chairs accepting a cuppa from the gamekeeper.

Of course Ron fell out of his chair never having been so close to such a stately creature before. Harry could only grin a bit given how relaxed he was. Chiron smiled down at both boys.

"I see you've had some of Hagrid's elixir, gentlemen," he commented. They both managed to nod; Ron reclaimed his chair.

As the spectators settled down Professor Snape seemed to be finished with the cauldron. He quickly cleared the table; all items were shrunk and packed into a small carryall which was handed to Hermione. She found herself shoo'd away from the steaming goop and was soon ensconced in a comfortable chair next to Hagrid.

"oooh, Now we're for it!" the half-giant leaned forward in excitement.

"Yes! I believe Severus is ready to do the calling!" Dumbledore added.

"If past performance has any bearing on this," Chiron said somberly, "I would definitely be ready to move quickly!"

Snape lifted his wand dramatically above his head.

"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe!"

"Oh bloody hell! I don't understand a word he said!" Ron groused. Hermione tried desperately to quash the laughter rising in her.

"sh! Just watch Mr. Weasley," Dumbledore urged.

Snape was now extended both arms over the cauldron.

"Behold the Jabberwock! The eyes of gold, the wings

that spread. Beware the jeweled jaws that bite and

grasping claws extend!"

"Ok, that I got!" Ron exclaimed. They watched as the wind seemed to freshen, billowing Snape's cape. It was a most impressive sight.

Then everything went completely silent. The wind swirled lazily about the professor sending the sweet scent of the cauldron's brew farther afield. There was an expectant feeling rising, although Harry couldn't tell if it were from the wizards around him or the forest beyond.

Far off in the distance a strange sound began softly, much like a bubbling of water in a pot just coming to boil.

"Do yer hear... whiffling?" Hagrid asked tensely.

"I think I hear more than that," Chiron replied just as tense.

There was a rushing, whistling sound coming through the trees towards them. The expressions on the onlookers faces ranged from utter excitement to extreme terror.

The noise increased somewhat, coming closer and closer. Then a silver-green streak passed Snape heading directly to the mostly seated crowd parting them as it sped through. The streak then looped up into the sky and headed directly back to the Potions Master.

"Oh bloody hell! Why do I let myself...OOOOMPH!" Snape was bowled over backwards onto the hopefully soft grass. There was confusion as the onlookers tried to decide whether to save the wizard or run for their own safety.

Dumbledore came forward first, worried for his friend's well-being. He was closely followed by Chiron who was more concerned for the forest dwellers. Both centaur and wizard pushed past chairs and around the table. Together they reached the downed man.

And were greeted by the Potions Master's ire.

"ALBUS DUMBLEDORE! YOU..." and here Snape shifted focus. "Get off me you silly beast! NO! Not there!"

There was a jumble of robes and silver green light as the professor seemed to be wrestling with something in the grass. Dumbledore held his wand aloft ready to come to aid, Chiron stood braced for the inevitable fight.

But none followed.

"You daft, daft creature! Let me get it out for you!" Snape was pulling at his cape and trousers.

"Uhm, Hagrid? Keep the students back!" Dumbledore directedˇ hastily. Perhaps this was another blunder? Snape was going to be extremely upset with the lot of them if this turned out to be another nymph-like scenario. Of course both Hagrid and the kids leapt forward to see the meelee.

"What's going on? Can you see anything Harry?" Ron asked in excitement. Hermione craned her neck over their shoulders.

But there were no beautiful females pawing breathlessly at the Potions Master.

Rather, it was a rather small, dragon-like creature that sat on the wizard making a strange whirring chittering, most reminiscent of a purring cat and a tea kettle starting to boil. Snape managed to sit up with the beastie perched on its hind legs, the tail acting as the third leg of a tripod.

Before anyone could react the wizard produced a scone and the animal took in in its front paws cooing in glee. It took a small bite (with extremely frightening, razor-sharp teeth) then looked adoringly at the Potions Master.

"There! I told you I would get it free for you! No need to go ripping my trouser pocket," Snape growled in a softened voice. His fingers lightly stroked the high ridge brows. With a whiffling sigh it happily closed its eyes and allowed the wizard to continue to handle it gently.

"Is that a... Jabberwock?" Hermione asked in awestruck tones.

"A what?" blurted Ron.

"A Jabberwock," Chiron confirmed. "A very rare creature indeed. I have not seen one in nearly a hundred years." the

centaur leaned forward to touch the delicate creature. It's eyes flashed open as it snapped at the intrusive fingers then pressed close to Snape for protection.

"A young one at that," Dumbledore said softly.

"Yes. It seems to have bonded with you Professor Snape," Chiron added. But Snape did not answer; he was entranced with the beautiful creature that was eating his cranberry scone.

"I thought that Jabberwocks were large and vicious," Hermione said.

"In ther muggle version 'twas," Hagrid agreed. "That barmy bloke, Kerold, wrote a piece full of vicious lies!"

"Lewis Carroll," corrected Dumbledore, "and he was not 'barmy', Hagrid. He had a few problems but his mind was quite sound."

"It's almost like a little dragonette," Hermione said breathlessly. "But it's so much cuter!"

"The lil' tyke is much prettier, too, wi' those colors," Hagrid added.

"Chiron, I seem to recall they have a rudimentary ability to mind speak," Dumbledore addressed the dazzled centaur. The Jabberwock was now warbling, shining eyes on the Potions Master and no one else. For his part Snape was equally mesmerized.

"Yes, they can," Chiron agreed. "This one seems to be speaking on some level with your professor."

"Professor Snape?" Hermione softly called. "Could I pet the Jabberwock?" This actually drew the wizard's attention away from the small creature happily tearing apart the scone. In a slight daze he looked at the ring of people (and centaur) looking down at him, then back at his new companion.

"Well, young one, do you mind if the others see you now?" he asked it. The Jabberwock seemed to consider the request then chirruped something that sounded like acceptance.

Snape gathered the small creature in his arms and stood up. He turned to the viewers and nodded to Hermione.

"Just go slowly and she'll be fine," the professor directed. The witch held out her hand and was sniffed. Then large shimmering eyes turned to hers and she suddenly saw an image of her touching the Jabberwock.

"Oh my! It can talk," she reached out to stroke the eye ridges as she'd seen in the vision. "At least, it can show me what it wants."

In turn each wizard was able to pet the Jabberwock and feel the touch of its young mind. Even Chiron was tolerated although he could 'see' fear in the images that were jumbled into his mind and was extremely gentle and unprovoking.

"By the by, Headmaster, it seems her mother is waiting by the edge of the forest," Snape said calmly although there was a smirk on his lips. Everyone turned around to see the beast described by the muggle author.

The huge Jabberwock stepped into the clearing and walked towards them. The earth slightly shook as her feet impacted each step. The head that seemed so delicate on the little one was other-worldly on this massive creature. She stopped a few yards away, towering above the assembled group.

"Bloody hell," Ron gasped only to have Hermione's hand slap quickly over his mouth. The young creature in Snape's arms warbled happily and everyone's' mind was filled with the image of the child nuzzling the huge beast. Then an image of the black-clad professor giving the small one a scone came followed by the others petting it gently.

The large Jabberwock snorted, hopefully in good humor. Snape walked carefully through the assorted chairs and wizards and came to stand in front of it. He lifted the small one up a bit for inspection.

A large pair of nostrils sniffed, first the baby then the wizard. Her eyes captured Snape's and once more the Potions Master was transfixed. After a long moment he shifted his burden, (who gladly clambered onto his shoulders) and retrieved the second cranberry scone secreted in his pocket. This was sniffed then gently accepted by the large creature.

To so large a mouth it was more the size of a piece of boxed chocolate, but she took her time in tasting it. Then a considered nod followed by the mother rumbling a warbling sound. She carefully lowered her head again and leaned near Snape; her baby leapt gracefully onto her head before settling on her upper back.

Snape managed a deep bow and the Jabberwock followed suit, bowing her head to him. She then looked up at the group behind him and seemed to make eye contact with them.

"Tthhank you," a voice echoed in each of their minds coupled with the image of the youngster on her back.

"We may crossss pathsss again," she said. Then with a slow grace the Jabberwock turned and moved back into the forest.

They stood in silent amazement watching the 'myth' disappear. Snape was the first to recover and he walked back to the tea table sinking into the chair. He picked up the Headmaster's tea cup and sipped at the contents.

The rest drifted back, each occupied with their own thoughts. Snape glanced at the depleted plate of scones and breads.

"She ate my last cranberry scone," he lamented. With a smile Dumbledore moved his hand over the plate and murmured a few words. He picked up a scone and offered it to his friend.

"For you, my beamish boy!" he smiled broadly.

"Frabuljous," Snape responded, accepting the scone as he fell back nearly limp into the chair.