Dark haired and shadowy, the lone figure hurried around the darkened classroom from cupboard to cupboard, lithe fingers plucking small bottles off shelves and carefully storing them in a box on one of the desks. The figure paused at the box, checking off a mental list, lips moving soundlessly, fingers twisting around each other. Satisfied, he closed the lid, dark eyes dancing around the room before scurrying out of the door.
Two professors were sat in the school staffroom, sharing a pot of tea and tray of biscuits and buns with sugary tops.
"Horace tells me more of his personal stores have been tampered with…"
"He should ward them better."
"Some curious ingredients…" she continued, sipping, "Not a potion he recognises"
"Then best not to worry. Anything bad he would recognise."
"Maybe. He also tells me it's that Snape boy." Eyes meet, the Witch stares hard at the elderly Wizard's twinkling blue orbs, which smiled as he said "Probably."
"He is very talented, could probably teach Horace a thing or two!"
"Well. I shall keep an eye on him. He knows enough to know when to stop."
"He knows enough about the Dark Arts too…"
"He has my confidence. Now, more tea? A bun?"
The dark youth stand over a cauldron in a disused bathroom. The fumes swirling gently from its depths cast his face in a pale blue light. He is muttering to himself, very quietly. "Singular. Definitely singular. Eye of newt. Singular. Toe of frog,-one. Yes. Now… does a forked tongue have one fork or two? Half a tongue or whole...Would it say prongs, or tines…? He stood up straight and a little louder chastised himself "Don't be a fool idiot. Concentrate. One tongue, singular." He bent back over the cauldron and sniffed. "Good, good. Five minutes to allow the tongue to dissolve." Here he allowed a small smile, pleased with himself. Who ever had written this potion did not want it to be brewed. Any one with half an ounce of potions ability would know that adding bat wool and dog tongue before adders tongue would neutralise the entire potion. That sneaky fact was what had made him want to brew it and see.
Now, where was he? Ah yes,
"Wool of bat…" the mixture fizzed "and tongue of dog," eyes narrowed as the flames changed colour, "interesting." A couple of stirs and a glance at the door, "Blind worm's sting. Nasty. Hmm, carefully..." Outside the door is a growing commotion. Without warning the door is flung open revealing four young men. Upon seeing who is inside they rush forward,
"Oooh! Snivelous is cooking!"
"Whatcya making Snapey? Can I have some?" They giggled, approaching the young man, who, aside from a sigh as they entered has not moved from his work. Grabbing the next ingredient, a purplish leg of a lizard, he moved his eyes enough to fix the ring leader of the group with a glare and said, almost sweetly,
"Of course you can, Sirius. Grab a beaker."
"What is it Severus?" Asked a quieter boy with a long pinched face peering from behind the others, genuinely interested. The potion's brewer tone changed from snarky sarcasm to calm civility, "I don't know, that's why I'm brewing it." With that he dropped the lizard leg into the pot and stood back. With a satisfyingly dramatic BANG, a cloud of green smoke and red flame shot to the ceiling. Snape smirked. Guaranteed reaction when adding lizard's leg.
"Whoa!" Chorused the other boys, looks of worry on their faces as they hurriedly stepped back.
"You're nuts, Snivilous. Going to blow the school up one day!"
"Lets get outta here before McGonagall comes investigating."
Only the quieter boy hung back a little. " I know you know what you're doing, but take care Severus, That was pretty powerful."
"But entirely controlled." Replied Snape, a little shocked by the concern.
"Yeah well. Bye."
Alone again he sighed and relaxed. "Now. Owlet's wing-, yes. Type of Owl unspecified, but then again not a lot is." From a separate bag he drew a small snake, watching it gently curl around his fingers before deftly swinging its head against a sink. Thud. He grimaced slightly. Carefully selecting a wooden handled knife he sliced into its belly, cleanly removing a sliver of meat. "Perfect. Fillet of a Fenny snake." He whispered. The potion by now a lurid orange. In quick succession he added the last two ingredients, knowing their relationship and need to balance each other out immediately.
"Scale of Dragon, tooth of Wolf." A slight smile at that last one. He closed his eyes and sniffed, searching for answers in the aroma, desperately wanting to figure out what it is he had just created. As he settled onto a stool, waiting and watching for the potion to tell him when it needed stirring and when it was done- an art he'd acquired from his Grand mother- he heard the door open again. Un-willing to look away he growled;
"Go. Away. Potter. I still don't know what it is, and would rather keep an eye on it so when it tells me, I know whether to vanish it, hide, or" he smirked, "feed it to Black."
"That won't be nescacery Mr Snape" The boy snapped upright, facing a smiling but trying-to-look-serious Dumbledore and a scowling McGonagall.
"Sir! I, I, it was just…"
"Intriguing, isn't it. I'm surprised it didn't all just go 'poof' at the Adders tongue." Looking harder at the boy he added "But I suppose there was no chance of that with you. How about the lizard's leg? Stand back in time? Of course you did."
"Sir I'm sorry." He looked so downcast for a moment that the head teacher reached out a hand to his shoulder "Whatever for? I am confident that you did not take on this 'project' lightly, and have both the skills and knowledge to keep safe," McGonagall tutted, "however, I am going to have to insist you drink a beaker full before bed. It is done now, if you look. The sparkling pink was always a favourite of mine."
Severus! Do you really think I would write a potion and turn it loose on the school if I did not know what it did?!?"
"Of course not headmaster" Snape quickly conceded.
"Now." Said McGonagall stepping forward briskly, "Get this lot tidied away, there's dead snake all over the floor."
Later that evening, Severus Snape, gangly, awkward boy only ever at home behind a cauldron with some impossibly hard potion engulfing his mind, stood contemplating the very pleasantly sparkling pink beaker before him. Sighing, he grabbed it and swallowed. 'Hmm' he thought, 'strawberry cheese cake. Interesting.' He went to bed.
Albus Dumbldore and Minevra McGonagall sat with their customary pot of tea in the Headmasters study.
"I'm not sure I agree with the lack of punishment, Albus."
"For what? I was not joking when I said that boy could teach Horace a thing or two. When it comes to potions he is both serious and responsible. I am confident in his ability to watch and read a potion, averting any unwanted outcome, therefore it seemed right not to punish him for curiosity, educated curiosity at that. You may not have noticed, but Mr Snape does not have many extra-curricular interests…"
"I have noticed."
"Good" A pause as they sipped tea. "I am always surprised that more students don't try to brew it. They all know it off by heart by their second year. Not that many would succeed, of course, What with the tongue…"
"Tell me, Albus, what is that potion?"
"Ah! One of my very own! It is whatever I decide it is when I see it being made! Clever, yes?! And an added bonus that it rhymes."
"Quite enjoyable." They both chuckled and refilled their cups.
The next morning, Severus Snape awoke to the other boys in his dorm beside themselves with laughter. Tears were rolling down cheeks and fists stuffed into mouths. As Snape glowered at them, certain that he was, as normal, the brunt of some gag, he noticed the world had a pink glow to it. Waking fully, he realised with horror that it was not the world which was pink. It was the curtain of hair he looked at it through. And his bed clothes. And on closer inspection, all the clothes he owned. As he put on a black robe, mercifully lent by a neighbour, and watched it slowly turn pink too, he muttered under his breath, "Damn you, Dumbledore." But the suggestion of a smile danced about his eyes at he said it.
In his bed, high above the Slytherins dungeon based quarters, the Headmaster lay thinking, hoping the punishment was not too severe and would be taken in the manner it was meant. He had his doubts, deciding to remove the charm after Snape had made his entrance. Slowly a grin appeared under twinkling eyes. He was looking forward to seeing Minevra at breakfast. Amongst other people.