"Heart Shaped Scones"
"Professor Prince? Professor Arcturus S. Prince?
In a cluttered office filled with books, charts and oddly shaped containers sat a thin hook nosed sallow faced man with long black hair tied up in a braided leather thong. He looked up with piercing black eyes at the student who had interrupted his reading.
"Yes? What is it?" he queried in a tone that brooked no nonsense. "Office hours are over, surely you can see that. Are you unable to read plain English? Or are you like the rest of the dolts in this University who are functioning illiterates unless it comes to deciphering a beer label or translating instructions on bung holing a keg?"
The petite auburn haired middle aged woman who stood in the doorway seemed nonplussed by his brief tirade. "Financial Aid just sent me over. I am here to inquire about the open job position for the Afternoon Student Lab Technician. I am sorry to have bothered you, Sir."
"Very well, you are here and to avoid the annoyance of you bothering me again tomorrow I might as well interview you now. "
"That asinine beanie 1st years are forced to wear for the initial hazing of incoming pupils looks utterly ridiculous perched there. Please remove it- Now! Aren't you a bit mature for an incoming freshman? Hmmm, that could work in your favor. At least you won't be a flighty empty headed co-ed like the last three; making cow eyes at every single male of the species. And thinking that by flaunting ones over siliconized attributes that she can improve her failing grades; and laboring under the ludicrous false and misleading impression that she is to be "the One" to woo and redeem the teacher from being a lonely bitter old curmudgeon and hence turning ugly old Professor Prince (old ASP as he is known) into a handsome frog."
"Now, do you know anything about botany? Organic Chemistry? The compiling, compounding and handling of volatile chemicals and their proper disposal?
"Professor Prince, in school I was considered an outstanding student with high marks in herb… ummm botany and Organic Chemistry. My higher education was interrupted to raise a family, now grown. Dealing with volatile messes is common with a large family. And yes Sir, the beanie is most atrocious"
"You seem intelligent enough, eager, even respectful. I suppose that is a by-product of your British schooling. Working middleclass I detect? Here is the departmental application form, please complete it before you leave."
"Before you accept this position you should be aware that I am a hard and exacting taskmaster. The best is expected of my student assistants. I will teach you as much as you are willing to learn. My tongue is sharp and my temper and mood generally foul. And I have no desire to change. Still willingly to work?" he asked gruffly.
She nodded her head in assent with a faint twinkle in her eyes. "Good, be here tomorrow at 12:35 sharp to prepare for afternoon labs, dismissed."As she shut the heavy oak door he glanced down at her application. "My, my, Magdalena Pruitt, now where have I seen that name before? There it is, top of the stack of essays I just graded from the 8AM class; hmmm top marks, clear concise logical presentation of the facts. Perhaps this will work out. Her accent is a bit painful though."
Despite the chill February weather the students entered the afternoon Lab in high spirits. A tight knit surprisingly intelligent group for a change, they seemed to grasp chemical principles better than any other class that semester. This was due mainly in part, Professor Prince realized, to the efforts and encouragement of the lab technician, Ms Pruitt. The students were boisterously exchanging chocolate candies and cards. Magdalena Pruitt was even passing out heart shaped scones baked from a recipe her Great- Great Grand Mam passed down.
To Professor's highly developed olfactory senses, the smell was most enticing and he automatically separated out the various components. "Ah yes, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and glove gillyweed- most unusual."The odor began to jar the teacher's memory, a stone kitchen, papers, the lingering odor of burning socks.
" My god! What a blind fool I've been!" he muttered to himself. "Miss Pruitt, please see me after clean up."
"The Midterm Examination study folders and lab booklets need prepared for distribution. I would like for you to assist me in this endeavor at my living quarters where these materials are currently garnered. Please attend me at 4:30 sharp. Tea will be provided. Before you protest about missing this dratted holiday for lovers, flower sellers, confectioners, card manufacturers, and simpletons; let me assure you this project including tea will only take perhaps two hours. Then, you are most free to go."
"Um, yes Professor, I look forward to a proper tea." As she left the room his eyes followed her, his mind in turmoil.
The living quarters allotted to him by the college were but a reflection of his office. Books and bookcases everywhere, chemical treatises haphazardly strewn about, bottles of strange ingredients overflowing shelves. A single brilliant red feather hung suspended over a large bay window overlooking a mud covered garden which held promise of spring to come.
She had arrived promptly, dressed casually with a mature air of elegance. He was dressed in slim black trousers and what appeared to be an Edwardian frock coat the color of deepest night. "Was the tea satisfactory Miss Pruitt? I must compliment you and say that without a doubt, that you are one of the best lab assistants and finest students that I have ever taught. Your work is exemplary. I can only think of one other in my life time who surpassed your abilities. She is gone…… forever."
He turned and stared out the window for a long silent moment. Then he sighed and crossed to a small sideboard holding a decanter of blood red wine. "We are both adults here. Would you care for some wine?"
"Yes sir, thank you. Then perhaps we should get started?" He poured two glasses then crossed to her and handed her one saying, "Yes, do let's get started." "Ars Slainte!" He polished off the contents in a single swallow, purposely strode over for a refill and took up his position next to the window.
"I do believe it is time to put an end to this charade. So..., Mrs. Weasley……., what the HELL are you doing here and what do you want!" he shouted vehemently.
Molly lifted her head that had been staring into the depths of the vintage elfwine, looked the man straight into the eye and calmly stated, "You." He stared at her in disbelief then spun on his heel and stared out the window again.
"Severus?" he flinched slightly to hear a name he thought he had buried for good. "Severus? Why didn't you return?"
Still facing the shadowy garden he replied, "Firstly I had to fulfill my promise to Albus to see the Malfoys to safety in America."
"Humph, I'm not surprised that of all the Dark Wizards, slippery Lucius survived. Arthur wondered what had happened to him."
"It was for Draco's sake; one of Albus's last wishes was that the family survives. What you do not know is that after arranging escape from Azkaban, I wiped Lucius and Narcissa's memories. They remember nothing of the world into which they were born. They think themselves loving doting parents who were orphaned in America by families who had fled England after the bombing of London. Despite being bereft of his powers, Lucius has become a high powered wealthy Wall Street stockbroker named Jason Hook. Narcissa, now Natasha freelances as a fashion consultant to New York socialites. Draco, retained his memory and powers, is called Isaac. He works part-time at the Central Park Zoo with small mammals. He seems to have a peculiar affinity for ferrets and is studying to be an animal healer. Every few months I check on their well being. Lucius thinks me an old school mate nicknamed ASP. I set an unbreakable compulsion on Draco not to reveal my true identity. I think Albus would have been pleased."
"Severus, why didn't you return? You were hailed a hero!"
"And branded a devil and a pariah by too many others. By my actions Lily and James perished, by my hand the beloved Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, died. They cannot forgive that I wore the brand of DeathEater once. They cannot forgive, they cannot forget." "So many died."
"But so many more lived because of your selfless sacrifices."
He turned to find Molly touching his arm, gazing up at him, her eyes brimming with unshed tears for his pain. As he looked down on her, his gaze soften, and his body relaxed, releasing built up tension. Then softly he spoke. "And what of you, Molly Prewitt Weasley? One son lost, another maimed, a husband crippled by the Dark Arts. I am sorry Molly; I tried to save him, to cure him, to make him whole again. I'm afraid all I was able to do is give him a half life."
"Oh Severus stop berating yourself! You are so melodramatic at times. You gave Arthur a half life that was far better and richer than some men's full lives! He was able to reconcile with that asinine prat of a son, Percy. I love Percy dearly, but he is such an idiot! Arthur saw his only daughter wed (for which I shed 50 pounds!) He was able to hold and dandle his first three grandchildren."
Severus set his wine glass down on the window sill and gently placed his arms around her shoulders and bent his head forward so their heads touched. "Since you are here with me I must assume that the dark canker that was eating Arthur's marrow finally devoured it."
"This past June at 'The Burrow", surrounded by family, we said goodbye. There was no pain; your potion recipe was most efficacious. I miss Arthur; he was a good husband and father."
Slowly his arms slipped down and enfolded her in a gentle embrace. "Molly? How did you locate me? I thought I was quite thorough in my disappearance."
"An overly chatty witch at the Salem Medical Institute, she raved on and on about these marvelous, high quality, innovative potions that were being shipped by owl by a mysterious benefactor." Some of the best made Wolfsbane potion she had ever seen!"- That tipped me off. It is amazing how much information you can get for an English treacle tart and a cone of greasy Fish and Chips! It turned out that she was an amateur ornithologist and the delivery owls were peculiar to the area near Harvard University. Severus, why Harvard of all places? Wouldn't a small obscure Midwestern school have been better?"
Swaying her gently he replied, "It's a large school, a quality school, big enough to get lost in. Eccentric professors are the norm and more readily accepted than at smaller more obscure schools. And it is close enough to easily check on the Malfoys. Draco hopes to someday return home to England." Breaking their embrace, he gave a short laugh, Home! What is that anymore? Home is where my books are."
"I thought the Muggle phrase was "Home is where the heart lays."
Abruptly he turned back to the window. Quietly he stated, "I have no heart, it was broken and lost long ago."
"I think you are a fool."
"Thank you, that makes two of us." he replied sardonically.
"And a fraud"
"Fraud!" he turned to glare at her.
"Like Albus, I have always known that you're a good man. I too, could see past the cold mask of indifference you present to the world. Your capacity and passion of giving and caring runs very deep, Severus Snape."
"You are a misguided, well intentioned, busy body of an earth mother, who has always found it necessary to nurture and attempt to heal any unfortunate creature you perceive to be wounded that crosses your path!", Snape sniped.
"Guilty as charged! Not only do I nurture and heal, but I love. And my dear Professor, I have fallen in love with you." And with that declaration, before Severus could react, she grabbed his head, pulled it down and gave him a long passionate kiss.
His eyes betrayed his startledness, then he returned this kiss with a hungry fervor and passion. When at last the kiss broke he stroked her hair and said, "I must confess that I have found myself most attracted to the Muggle, Magdalena Pruitt. If I am not careful, I shall find myself falling in love with a witch named Molly Weasley."
"Perhaps it is time to throw caution to the wind Severus"
"Now, you are the fool Molly, I come with too much baggage. I'm still in love with Lily."
"And I with Arthur. We all have regrets and excess baggage, but it is who we love and our capacity to love that makes us who we truly are."
"You are a remarkable woman." They embraced; bodies intertwined, hearts beating as one.
Happy Valentine's Day, Molly"
"Happy Valentine's Day, Severus ".
And they kissed again and again and again.