Author's Note: this is posted in my bio but I'm repeating it here: in the title, 'Potion Master' is being used to refer to Alexis. My rant- reasoning for this is in my bio as well. On a better note, this is the longest part so far. Enjoy.
Warning: mild violent spell casting in this chapter and the next.
15- Christmas Day
Christmas morning dawns bright and early. Pomona and Ollivander distract Alexis for a few moments so that Alexandra can spike her mother's morning coffee with a phial of Emotion Suppressant. Merlin knew they would need her as emotionally detached as possible today.
"Here's your coffee, mum," Alexandra smiles. "Is it alright if I go to muggle London to finish off my shopping quick?"
"Go on," Alexis sighs, knowing that Alexandra would go anyway. "Just make sure you stop at Gringotts first."
Alexandra rolls her eyes as she leaves the house and sprints to Gringotts, her muggle clothing making her stand out a bit. Ten minutes later Alexandra is entering the Leaky Cauldron, a pleased and very Slytherin smirk on her face. She had just seen Professor Snape Apparate into Diagon Alley and knock on the door of her house. Alexandra walks along a street in muggle London until she finds the bookstore she's looking for. She leaves the store with a few packages and crosses the street to a jewelry store.
"Three down, four to go," Alexandra muses as she leaves the store and continues walking, keeping the Leaky Cauldron in sight at all times.
An hour later after sneaking into the store and then back out- she thanks Merlin the wards don't go off for either her or her mother-, Alexandra leaves the Owl-post office. She had sent Hermione a butterfly hairclip, Harry, Ron, and the twins each a set of muggle magic tricks she couldn't understand the point of, and, out of pure Slytherin compassion and the need for a good laugh- for the entire student body come to think of it-, Draco a bottle of neon purple hair dye that looked like an expensive brand of muggle shampoo. If Alexandra had learned anything about the blond's personality, it was that he always had to have the best.
Smiling to herself as she returns home, Alexandra is very surprised that she can't see any holes in the walls in the house from outside although she's not surprised at all by the damage done to the plain wooden fence surrounding the back yard.
"No one's dead, right?" Alexandra asks aloud as she adds four presents to the small pile visible under the tree. Something is not right at all, she reasons as she surveys the only moderately damaged living room while warming herself by the fire. "Mum? Grandpa? Auntie Pomona? Professor? Is anyone here?"
"Why in Godric's name is someone at our house on Christmas morning?" Alexis snaps, storming out of the kitchen to answer the door.
"Alex couldn't have put the wrong potion in the coffee-" Pomona stops mid-sentence, the maniacal look in Mr. Ollivander's eyes terrifying her. "You had her switch the potion?! Are you insane?!"
"Not insane at all, Pomona," Ollivander chuckles gleefully. "I just thought I'd spice things up a bit this Christmas by switching the phials. Alexandra has no part in this except for being my little helper elf."
"Lexi is going to kill you, you know that, right?" Pomona shakes her head and sighs. How Alexis and Alexandra are actually descended from the crazed wand maker still puzzles her sometimes.
Meanwhile, Alexis had stormed out of the kitchen and through the living room to the side/front door of her house. Any comment or hex she had planned for the occasional group of Christmas carolers dies on her lips only to be replaced by a string of swear words, insults, jinxes, hexes, and curses. The nicest of these is a simple Bat Bogey Hex, some of the rest bordering on being Dark.
"What are you doing here, Snape?"
"I happen to have been invited here for the day by Pomona and your family," Severus smirks at Alexis' scowling face.
Alexis swears a bit under her breath but steps out of the doorway to allow Severus inside her house just as her grandfather and Pomona enter the room.
"You two are dead for this," Alexis snarls as she returns to the kitchen to make herself fresh cup of very strong coffee.
"What in Salazar's name, pray tell, possessed the two of you and the younger Ms. Ollivander to invite me here today of all days?" Severus questions as he leaves his winter traveling cloak on one of the empty hooks near the door. He surveys the large room quickly, the pictures missing from the steel blue walls catching his interest but he decides against mentioning it. "Pomona, you of all people should know that I am not the most pleasant person to be around on this holiday."
"That is a good question, Snape," Alexis begrudgingly agrees as she sits in one of the two armchairs by the coffee table. "Care to give us an answer, father? Pomona?"
"Alexandra," Pomona shrugs as she sits across from her best friend, using the coffee table as a sort of defensive wall while ignoring Severus' comment. "I asked her why after you left, Severus. She said it only seemed fair considering how much you had helped out the past two days. Don't you agree, Lexi?"
Alexis nods in agreement, proud, definitely not happy about it all, but still proud of her daughter's decision. Alexis had taught the girl to be a Gryffindor after all, despite her Slytherin personality.
"Sometimes I think that girl of yours should be in Gryffindor instead of Slytherin, Alexis," Severus voices Alexis' thoughts.
"Snape? Thinking? Well thank Merlin! It's a Christmas miracle!"
"Can't you put the past aside for one day, Alexis?" Severus sighs, trying to keep his temper in check and the anger from his voice.
"When Alex gets back, I will. Until then, all's fair in love and war, Death Eater."
"As you wish, snake charmer," Severus sneers back.
Pomona and Ollivander jump off of one of the couches and dive behind it the moment Alexis and Severus raise their wands.
"Don't hit us or the tree!" Ollivander yells as a curse of some sort misses someone and scorches a wall, an urgent tone in his voice. "Pomona!"
Pomona nods quickly and helps Ollivander cast the Impervious spell on anything of value, themselves and the feuding Witch and Wizard included.
"I thought they'd never stop," Ollivander sighs an hour later.
"And here I thought you wanted to 'spice things up a bit'," an equally relieved Pomona snaps.
Alexis and Severus had both collapsed from exhaustion. They had stopped just short of using the Unforgivables on one another thankfully but they had blasted away most of the snow in the back yard. The back of the house has some burn marks on it but the fence around the yard looks quite literally like Swiss cheese.
"Let's get them inside already. Alex should be home by now," Pomona sighs as she and Ollivander levitate the two inside, Alexis to her armchair and Severus to one of the couches. "They're alive."
"That's a relief," Alexandra smiles from by the fireplace, having just quickly searched the basement and her mother's private lab for bodies. "Why do they fight so much? And please don't say that mum'll explain it eventually because I've already asked her and she refuses to tell me until I graduate from Hogwarts."
"It's your mum's place to explain, not ours," Ollivander states as he claims the other armchair.
Alexandra shakes her head in annoyance and goes into the kitchen to help Pomona make breakfast for everyone.
Most of the day for everyone is spent dodging curses and hexes from Alexis and Severus although the two do make an effort to be decently civil in front of Alexandra- Alexis trying to set an example as a parent and Severus as a teacher, both claiming that the girl is still an impressionable young child. Alexandra pointedly ignored those comments. Everyone had agreed during breakfast to open presents after lunch for a change in the hope of there being fewer fights. As a safety precaution, though, Pomona takes everyone's wands and gives them to Alexandra to guard. Said young Witch places the wands on the mantle over the fireplace, behind the wards that Alexis had quite foolishly placed there to only allow Alexandra to set things on or remove things from the mantle. It's a little known fact throughout the Wizarding World that Ollivander is a right pain in the neck during the Christmas season. Pomona, Alexis, and Alexandra look at each other and shake their heads, silently agreeing that Severus is on his own.
Ollivander's face lights up with glee as he sprints over to the Christmas tree, rifling through the pile of presents while countering the Bedazzling Hex on said presents as soon as he gets there. The overly energetic and excited old man brings over a present for each person along with all of his own. The three Witches instinctively duck behind the armchairs and the other couch, leaving a puzzled Severus to be pelted by flying wads of wrapping paper.
Sadly for Severus, Alexandra is a Slytherin at heart who was raised by a Gryffindor, both of whom love a good laugh at someone else's expense no less. Alexandra quickly retrieves the family camera from the mantle over the fireplace and snaps a string of photos of her poor Potion Master trying to get the Bicorn Glue covered neon orange wrapping paper off of him.
"I had better not see those pictures around Hogwarts, Ms. Ollivander," Severus scowls at the girl as he pulls the remaining paper out of his hair.
"Get Professor Quirrell sacked and you won't," Alexandra sneers back, the tone of her voice clearly suggesting blackmail. "Otherwise, I can't promise anything."
"Give me that camera," Severus snarls at a snickering Alexandra. Severus trips over the coffee table and wrapping paper stuck to his legs, crashing headfirst into said coffee table. "Ollivander!"
"Yes, Professor?" Alexandra asks coyly from behind her flashing camera. "I do love blackmail, don't you? I think it's something we Slytherins are naturals at."
Alexis shakes her head sadly as she watches the normal holiday fiasco become even crazier with an extra person present. Snape trips over his own feet again as he tries to chase Alexandra around the living room for the camera. Alexis barely suppresses a fit of laughter when a wandless stunning spell from her father sends Snape crashing back into the empty armchair after he trips over Ollivander's new model train set from Alexandra. The combined force of the spell and Snape crashing into it flips the armchair over; leaving Snape sprawled out on his back on the unfortunately placed plush area rug.
Alexandra and Pomona sigh and try to restore order so that no more disasters can unfold when they resume opening presents. Alexandra gets a pain-killing potion from the back room of the store while Pomona revitalizes Snape with a spell after righting the armchair and Alexis scolds her father for his child-like obsession with children's toys, both muggle and magical.
"Stop snickering," Severus snaps as both of the Ollivander women- he can't call Alexis a girl when she is the same age as he, he would get cursed into next year for it- and Pomona, a powder blue cold compress held against the back of his head.
"Sorry, Professor," Alexandra says as she brings the rest of the presents over. "Now that grandpa's asleep on the couch, we can open our gifts in relative safety."
"Don't ask, Severus. Something always seems to go wrong. I think we're safe enough though now. After last night and so far today," Pomona sighs as she unwraps one of her presents, a gardening book from Alexandra. "Thank you, Alex."
"Welcome," Alexandra chirps as Alexis unwraps a stationary set with red and gold swirls on the top and bottom of each sheet of parchment. "Like it, mum?"
Alexis nods and hugs her daughter in thanks before opening the rest of her gifts. There is a new potion magazine from her father, a large box of hand-grown plants that can be used as potion ingredients from Pomona, and a small red and gold amulet from Snape that is layered with a single magical element, Forgiveness. The magical signature from the amulet is weak but is definitely Snape's, suggesting that it had been made years ago. From around the time- Alexis shakes her head to clear her mind, she's not about to dwell on the past right now.
"Thank you, Sn- Severus," Alexis thanks the Wizard, a warning glare from her daughter making her use his given name. Alexis meets Snape's gaze and answers his unasked question by moving her eyes from side to side and giving him a look that says she'll discuss the subject later.
Severus nods slightly in response before looking at the gifts Alexandra had handed him. He hadn't expected anything from any of them because he is a guest in their house. Severus, in spite of his sultry demeanor, still had manners though and had gotten gifts for his hosts out of courtesy.
"Go on, Professor. Open them," Alexandra urges, the mischievous gleam in her eyes contrasting the smile on her face, although that smile might be considered a smirk if one looked close enough.
Alexis reluctantly nods her encouragement as well, her mind elsewhere at the moment. Pomona had dozed off reading through her new book while Alexis was opening her presents.
Severus nods and unwraps the first gift; a head-ache potion from Pomona that either Alexis or Alexandra had custom brewed for him, judging by the clever tag on the phial: 'Extra-strength for professors whose students enjoy nearly destroying a classroom at least once a week.'
"I told you it would be fitting," Alexandra smirks at her now scowling mother. "We made a bet that what I wrote on the tag would get you to crack a half smile and I won. Thank you, Professor."
"You're welcome I suppose. And all three of you have my gratitude for this little phial," Severus smirks as Alexis hands her daughter five Galleons before continuing to open his gifts. He unwraps a new set of dark green quills from Alexandra and a self-updating book called Curse Marks throughout the Ages: Their Effects and Possible Negations from Alexis. Despite his better judgment telling him to keep his mouth shut, Severus turns to said Witch and asks, "Alexis, how, pray tell, were you able to purchase a gift for me when you were unaware of my visit until I arrived?"
Alexandra rolls her eyes and braces for the worst as her mother's features darken, a scowl marring her normally smiling face.
"I didn't," Alexis snaps. "That book has been sitting in the attic gathering dust. All I did was change the wrapping paper and recast the preservation charm. You would've gotten the damn tome years ago but you were too busy fawning over Voldemort to care about the people who were supposed to be important to you!"
"Don't ask me," Alexandra shrugs once she has given Alexis her wand back and the Witch has stormed upstairs to blow up part of her room. "She never says much about before I was born. Are you alright, sir?"
"Yes, I am quite alright, Ms. Oll- Alexandra," Severus catches himself when the girl snatches her hand from his shoulder, a glaring look in her eyes. His voice had been harsher than acceptable due to his shock at Alexis' outburst. He cannot, for the life of him, understand why the woman is still holding a grudge against him after all these years. It wasn't his fault he had been called on
the day he was supposed to be spending with the two people he cared- cares, damn it! One may be dead but her spirit is still alive as far as he is concerned- about more than life itself.
"Open your gift from grandpa. It'll make you feel better," Alexandra, seeing the pensive look on the man's face, pushes a large box towards him.
The girl really is too observant, Severus muses to himself as he opens the gift. The wand maker must have a death wish. He had gotten Severus a child's potion brewing set.
"I was not aware of the wand maker's insanity," Severus chooses his words carefully, trying to hide his mortification at the gift.
Alexandra laughs lightly at the predicament she knows her professor is in. She had seen his eyebrow twitch and tell he isn't sure what to say.
"Don't mind him," Alexandra waves a hand at her slumbering grandfather dismissively, a cheeky smile on her face. "He did the same thing to me and mum last year. Auntie Pomona swears he had a death wish back then too. We almost turned him into a potion ingredient that day but she stopped us."
"So he is insane then?"
"Only if you know him. Otherwise, he's just overly eccentric according to some of the customers from his store," Alexandra says, motioning to the model of the Hogwarts Express in her sleeping grandfather's arms.
Severus shakes his head in disbelief. Alexis and her father are worse than he remembers but he is glad- though he'd never admit it aloud- that Pomona had kept Alexandra from taking after them too much. The Herbology Master had kept the girl from the insanity of her family.
"Aren't you going to open your gifts?" Severus asks out of curiosity, wondering why the girl hadn't done so already.
Alexandra nods and opens the presents in front of her, throwing the wrapping paper into the fireplace to burn in the process. She receives the same potion magazine from her grandfather that her mother had gotten from him, a new set of school robes from Pomona, and a book on some of the more ancient and obscure potions of the Wizarding world.
"Thank you so much, Professor Snape," Alexandra's eyes light up as she skims through the book, despite the fact that her Latin skills are barely passable. "Flourish and Blott's hasn't had a copy of this in stock for ages."
"You're welcome. Just be careful with it. A book like that could be dangerous in the wrong hands," Severus warns, surprised that Alexandra had slipped the book under a loose floorboard near the fireplace at the word 'careful'. "What, pray tell, are we to do now?"
"Let them sleep," Alexandra answers nonchalantly. "Mum'll be fine by dinner. I've got no idea why she's worse than normal today. I think it has something to do with grandpa sneaking around in the kitchen this morning. He might've switched the emotion suppressant we normally sneak into mum's morning coffee on holidays with an emotion enhancer, if I know him."
"Your mother taught you well if you can slip a potion past her," Severus comments, ignoring the second half of the girl's answers. Alexis' temper had apparently only worsened with age, not unlike his own.
"She has. Scentless and tasteless potions aren't that difficult to brew," Alexandra smirks as she tosses the last of the wrapping paper into the fire. "Anyway, seeing as you're the only other person that's either awake or calm and that you're a guest…"
Severus watches Alexandra apprehensively as she disappears into the kitchen. The mocking gleam that the girl had had in her eyes and the nearly mischievous tone in her voice had unnerved Severus a bit. He eyes Alexandra warily when she emerges from the kitchen wearing a plain white apron and carrying another.
"You get to help with a family tradition," the girl is truly frightening Severus now. "Making Christmas dinner the muggle way."
"What in Salazar's name, pray tell," Severus adds his trademark phrase in an attempt to save his dignity, "possessed a Witch as talented as your mother and a Wizard life your grandfather to come up with such a ludicrous tradition?" Severus grumbles as he ties the apron around his waist. He can't help but plan ways to make one of his favored Slytherins suffer if she posts any of the pictures from today at Hogwarts. Severus' reputation as the stern and stoic dungeon bat would be shot if that happened.
"That's simple. I'm still an underage Witch. I'm only allowed to use magic in the store so I can help mum. Blackmail and bribery go a long way. Said she learned the trick from some Slytherin she went to Hogwarts with; went into one of her fits afterwards though."
Severus nods in understanding but pales when he realizes he's just walked into a trap. He deserves to be humiliated for momentarily forgetting that he's dealing with one of his own snakes. Even more so, Severus reasons as Alexandra takes various things out of the cabinets and a large steel grey refrigerator, because it had slipped his mind that this particular snake had been raised by a lioness that still holds a grudge against him from nearly twelve years ago. On a slightly better note, for once in his life, Severus is somewhat thankful to have had a muggle father despite the fact that Severus hasn't cooked or done anything similar to it without magic since he came of age fourteen years ago. Said Wizard curses to himself, hoping that he can remember what to do without having to be instructed by an eleven year old.