The Very Best Thanksgiving
* takes place about two weeks after events in Some Good Guys Wear Black
Wednesday, November 24th 2000
Point Pleasant, NJ
After it was all over, everyone said it was the very best Thanksgiving ever. But before the miracle occurred, Severus Snape swore it was the worst holiday he'd ever had, barring those miserable ones of his childhood. This was mainly because of eight-year-old Simon Rivers, the Director's new charge for Thanksgiving break.
The Rivers, who were distant cousins of Leo's, and had once been called Riveralla, but had long since Americanized the Italian name to Rivers, were a wizarding family to rival the Rockerfellers in matters of money and prestige. It was said that Tony Rivers had literally more money than he could spend in ten lifetimes, gained by being one of the shrewdest businessmen of the era, and the rest of it had been inherited by marrying Lacey Astor, a beautiful heiress whose father owned the United Wizard Bank. The glamorous couple had one child, Simon Anthony Rivers, whom they thought was the most perfect child ever born and whom they spoiled beyond belief. Simon had never been denied anything in all of his eight years of life. He had simply to whine for it and it was given to him.
Severus could have told them that was a very big mistake, huge in fact, but the Rivers didn't care about rules and consequences, all they wanted was a peaceful house and that meant catering to their child's every whim, for when Simon didn't get what he wanted, he tended to throw tantrums. Tantrums that lasted for what seemed like hours and quite ruined their peace of mind, and so they had long ago decided the best way to deal with them was to give their son everything he asked for.
Had Severus known what he was getting into, he'd never have agreed to watch the spoiled brat over Thanksgiving. But the Director didn't know, and Leo and Ari rarely asked him for favors of any kind. His in-laws had been invited on a three-day Thanksgiving cruise aboard the Rivers' one-hundred and fifty foot yacht, staffed with house elves. It was something they had always wanted to experience, having heard their rich relations bragging about it countless times. The only problem was Simon, who got seasick and therefore couldn't accompany his parents. Nor did they want to leave him alone for the holiday, without family, and thus they inquired if Severus would mind watching him, seeing as he was already watching Marietta, whose parents had gone abroad working on a case for the Magical Fraud Department and wouldn't make it home in time for Thanksgiving.
Simon was a few months older than Marietta and only two years younger than Sev's son Gavin. The children should get along fine, especially since Severus was spending the holiday in Pennsylvania with his best friends, the Flynns. Colin and Jenna Flynn were like family and Severus was godfather to their little girl Amelia and uncle to Colin Severus, their two-year-old little boy. Also invited were Trish and Flick and Arista and Drake, Severus's daughters and their husbands. Twelve-year-old Trina, Drake's little sister, was spending the holiday with her older brother as well, because she'd never celebrated Thanksgiving living in Britain.
Severus agreed, amid a sudden twinge of foreboding, because his relatives rarely asked him for favors and they watched Gavin without complaint those times when he was called away on a case for the DHI. "Very well, Ari. I doubt Jenna or Colin will mind one more kid running about, they live in the middle of a game preserve. It's only for three days, how bad can it be?"
If only he had known.
Simon was one of those pretty blond-haired children that made women go "Aww, how cute!" and smile. He had huge china-blue eyes and a brilliant smile. He could be quite charming when he chose, so long as the ones in charge understood that he was to be obeyed in all things. No one had ever informed Severus of that little detail.
Even if they had, the Director would have ignored it. He did not believe in catering to a child's every whim. Leo had warned him that the child had been a bit spoiled, which didn't really concern the master wizard all that much. He'd been a teacher for over sixteen years at Hogwarts and dealt with plenty of spoiled brats.
One and all had been made to obey his rules when he was Potions Master, and this one was only eight and unable to use magic yet. Severus wasn't worried too much about disciplining a mere eight-year-old. God knew, his son and niece weren't always the most- well-behaved children in the world, but they settled down when he flashed them one of his famous Snape glares.
Simon made Gavin and Marietta look like angels, pure as the driven snow.
Upon first stepping foot in the little house on Lily Lane, Simon had looked about and sniffed, his little nose turned up in a distinct imitation of his mother when she discovered a speck of dust on her silk sheets. "This is your house? My game room is bigger than this."
Severus decided to let that comment slide, even though he loved his cozy home, since the boy probably didn't know how rude that comment sounded. He introduced the boy to Gavin and Marietta, and waved his wand at the boy's three trunks, moving them into the guest bedroom. Three trunks? What do they think he's staying for, a month? He wondered in consternation. He'd expected the kid to come with a suitcase and maybe a few toys or whatever.
He turned back to tell the children to go and play until it was time for lunch, only to find Simon and Gavin glaring at each other like two rival dogs.
Gavin was a good foot taller than Simon and stronger, but Simon was unfazed. "The Nimbus 2003 is too better than the Windstorm!" the child snarled. "It was voted best Quidditch broom in America this year. My dad said so."
Gavin made a dismissive gesture. He loved his Windstorm 2000 and wouldn't tolerate any slurs about his beloved broom by anyone, especially not an eight-year-old brat. "Who cares? The Windstorm's more aerodynamic and corners better during aerials, everybody knows that."
"Me." Gavin's dark eyes were challenging.
"Like you matter. You aren't a professional," Simon said loftily.
"Neither are you, brat. When's the last time you rode a Windstorm?"
"Never. I don't ride inferior brooms."
"Why you little–"
"Gavin!" Severus snapped, before his son could lose his temper and strangle the little brat. "Why don't you let Simon try the Windstorm? Then he can see for himself if your broom is better."
Gavin bristled, insulted. "No way, Dad! I ain't letting him near my broom after what he said. He can just park his fancy little butt on his fancy Nimbus '03 and whistle Dixie."
"Gavin Albus Snape!" Severus growled, giving his son a warning glower. "Simon is our guest and as such I expect you to be polite."
"Tell that to him!" his son cried.
"I shall, but you're older and you know better, young man," his father lectured. Then he turned to Simon, who wore a slight smirk on his face. "Simon, one of the rules in my house is that you don't act like a rude brat, no matter if you don't agree with someone's opinion or not. I believe you owe your cousin Gavin an apology."
Simon gaped at him. "What for? I'm right, Severus."
"That's a matter of opinion," Severus interjected. "Right or wrong, you still owe Gavin an apology for insulting his broom like that." He then crossed his arms over his chest and flashed the boy a mild version of his Snape glare.
Simon stuck his lower lip out in a pout. "What if I don't wanna?"
"I'm not asking what you want, young man. I'm telling you to apologize. Right now. Or else no flying any broomstick this afternoon."
The boy's mouth dropped open. "B-but Severus, you can't take my broomstick. My mom said so. It's mine and nobody else's." He glared back at the older man defiantly.
"I most certainly can, Mr. Rivers. As long as you are staying in my house you'll abide by my rules or else suffer the consequences." He met the child's mulish stare steadily.
"No! You're not taking it!"
Gavin and Marietta exchanged gleeful glances. The little brat was just asking to be grounded.
"I promise you I shall, unless I hear you apologize to Gavin this instant," Severus stated in a soft deadly tone.
Something in his manner must have scared the boy a little, because Simon abruptly turned to Gavin and said, "Okay. I'm sorry. Now can I ride your broom?"
Gavin agreed at a nudge from his father, handing over his precious Windstorm. "Go on, try it. But you wreck it and I'm gonna-"
"Gavin!" Snape scowled. "Can I trust you two to get along and not kill each other for twenty-five minutes while I go inside and make lunch? Or do I need to hire a babysitter?"
Gavin flushed, for he hated it when his father used that tone on him, especially in front of younger children. "No, sir. I'll behave."
"Good." He turned to Marietta. "How about you, minx?"
"I'll be good, Uncle Sev."
Severus nodded in approval, then went into the kitchen to make some BLT's and fries for lunch. When he glanced over his shoulder, he saw Simon flying on Gavin's broom and smirking.
"It's not fair!" Gavin hissed to Marietta. "Why should we have to be nice to that little snot? Thinks who the hell he is, just 'cause his old man's some big shot that's got more money than God." He gestured at Simon. "Be nice to him, ha! I want to clobber him."
A few minutes later Simon landed on the ground. "Here. I didn't want to ride your stupid broom anyway." He tossed the Windstorm casually to the pavement.
Gavin had to clench his fists together to keep from strangling the kid, and bent and picked up his broom. "Don't just throw it like that, Simon! It's not a piece of trash."
"Humph. I've got twenty brooms that're better than that one."
"Like we care," Marietta sniffed, determined to put the other child in his place.
Simon gave her a disdainful sneer. "Who asked you? You're just a stupid girl, what do you know?"
"More than you do!" Marietta retorted, her blue eyes glinting angrily.
"Oh, go and play with your dolls." Simon waved her off.
"What if I don't want to, huh?" she demanded, her hands on her hips.
This was new territory for Simon, who rarely heard the word no and never from a child his own age. "You have to do what I say!" he cried petulantly, stamping a foot for emphasis.
"Says who? You're not the boss of me."
"Are not!" Marietta stepped up to him fearlessly and glared right in his face.
"Am SO!" Simon shrieked. "You have to do what I want, I'm your guest, Severus said so."
"Uncle Sev never said I had to play with you," Marietta returned. "So there!"
"You can't play with us anyway," Simon cried, only now recalling something. "I don't play with stupid girls."
"Oh yeah? Well, I don't play with little snots." Then she turned and said to Gavin, "C'mon, Gav. Let's go and play video games."
Gavin, who would have dearly loved to do that, sighed. "I can't, Marietta. I promised Dad I'd be nice to the little brat."
"Told you so!" Simon laughed.
"Shut up! Gavin ordered crossly. "Marietta can play with us if she wants and you'll just have to deal with it, got me?" And he glared sharply at the other boy.
"I don't play with dumb old girls."
"Sucks for you then," Gavin said. "Because I do."
"No! You have to do what I say. I'm telling." Simon yelled, growing very red-faced. That tactic had always worked wonders on the house elves.
Gavin was unmoved however. "Go on and tell then, you big crybaby. Go running to my dad and tell just like a little sniveling whiny girl!"
"Hey!" Marietta cried indignantly.
"Hush!" her cousin hissed, elbowing her in the ribs. He was hoping that last taunt would hit the annoying kid where it hurt most, his pride. Because if Simon really did try to run and tell on him, Gavin would need to take some rather drastic measures.
Fortunately, Simon bristled at being compared to a girl and didn't go through with his threat. "Fine! Show me what else there is to do in this dump!"
"Watch your mouth, kid!" Gavin shot back, itching to hang the boy up by his thumbs. Dad, what were you thinking? Merlin's ever-loving sweet eyeballs! I want to strangle him and we haven't even been together ten minutes.
He counted to ten slowly. "C'mon. We'll play hockey." That way he'd have an excuse to knock that smug expression off Simon's face and not get in trouble.
"All right!" Marietta grinned. She loved to play spelled hockey and usually wasn't allowed to with her older cousins. Gavin was one of the few older boys who was willing to play one on one with her, for he knew what it was like to be left out of something simply because you were too little.
Fifteen minutes later all three children were summoned inside for lunch. Simon was dusty and a little bruised from Marietta and Gavin checking him a bit, but he found that his pride wouldn't let him admit it, so he didn't bother complaining to Severus.
Severus was relieved to see that at least the kids seemed to be getting along a bit better now. For a moment in the beginning, he thought he might have had World War III erupting on his front lawn. Little did he know the armistice was just about over.
He ordered the children to wash their hands and faces, then come and sit down.
Marietta's eyes lit up when he served her the first BLT. "Yum! I love these, Uncle Sev!" She began eating hungrily.
Gavin also grabbed a large sandwich off the platter and began eating it.
Simon just stared at them and the fries with a look of revulsion on his face.
Severus arched an eyebrow. What was up with this kid? "Simon? Aren't you hungry?"
The kid swiveled his head around and looked at Snape. "Didn't my mom tell you? I don't eat food that's all mixed up together, like that. And I don't like sandwiches with crusts on them."
Marietta's mouth hung open. She had never heard of any kid refusing to eat her uncle's cooking.
Gavin snorted, waiting for his father to just tell the kid to quit whining and eat what was there or else starve.
But Severus was trying very hard to be pleasant, despite the fact that the boy's attitude really grated on his nerves. "Very well. You may cut the crusts off your sandwich, Simon. And take it apart if that's the only way you'll eat it." He'd never had this problem with any of his children, they ate everything, and even Marietta ate green vegetables now.
He listened in utter shock as Simon went on listing all the kinds of food he didn't like, until finally he'd had enough and said exasperatedly, "Is there anything you do like to eat, Simon? Or do you just live off the air?"
The boy blinked. Then he said, "I like to eat chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Separately. And the vanilla ice cream has to have a cherry on top."
"You only get dessert after you've eaten real food," Marietta pointed out.
Simon sniffed. "Humph! My mom says I can have dessert whenever I want." He stuck out his tongue. "So there, Miss Bossy!"
"Ahem!" Severus cleared his throat. "Simon, here kids have to eat lunch first before they get dessert. Too much sugar's not good for you. Now, if you're not going to eat your sandwich, what would you like to eat?"
The little boy pouted. "I told you, Severus! I want chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Tell your house elf to get me some."
Severus's eyes narrowed. He was fast losing his patience with the kid's continued demands and whining. "First of all, we don't have house elves here." Simon looked as if he'd just said the sky was purple.
"You DON'T? Then who does all the cooking and the housework?"
"I cook and Gavin and Marietta do chores around here. At least she does when she stays here." Severus informed him. "Second, I told you no dessert until you eat some regular food. Well?"
The boy stared sulkily at his plate.
Gavin was watching out of the corner of his eye, waiting for Simon to throw a fit. Do it, you little creep. And then you'll really be sorry, 'cause Dad doesn't put up with that crap.
"Well? I'm waiting," Severus prompted, an impatient note creeping into his voice.
The boy stuck his lower lip out. "I want chocolate cake."
"After lunch," Severus repeated firmly. "And make no mistake, boy, if you don't eat lunch, you don't get dessert."
"Those are the rules. Now what's it going to be?"
The little boy's lip quivered and for a moment Severus thought he would burst into tears. But instead the child shoved his chair back from the table so hard it banged into the wall and shouted, "I want my chocolate cake! NOW!"
There was dead silence in the room.
Gavin looked over at Marietta and mouthed, Oh, is he in for it.
Simon was sure that now he would finally get what he wanted. Things always got done his way whenever he used that tone of voice.
Sure enough, there was Severus getting up from his chair. Simon waited for the man to produce his ice cream and cake.
To his astonishment, he found the man standing right in front of him, scowling down at him rather frightfully, with a look Simon had never seen before. It was disapproval.
"Simon Anthony Rivers! You do not yell or bang chairs in my house, am I understood?"
The little boy gasped. No one had ever spoken to him like that before. He was mommy's little prince and his word was law. Why didn't these people understand that? He stamped his foot. "Where's my cake?" he demanded. "I want my CAKE!"
"No. And if you scream at me again, child, you're going to stand in the corner for a good ten minutes." Severus said sharply. Plainly this child had never been told no before. Well, he was going to learn that word now.
The corner? Come on, Dad. Gavin thought angrily. He deserves a good swat at least, the little peacock.
Simon was furious. He hated it when people didn't listen to him. "GIVE ME MY CAKE!! NOW!!" There. That should do it, he thought pleased.
Only what Severus did was not what Simon expected at all.
To his astonishment, he found himself lifted up by a pair of strong arms and carried into the hallway. "Put me down!"
He was set on his feet, facing the wall and then Severus said, "I told you what would happen if you screamed at me again, didn't I? Now face the wall, young man. No talking and be still. Otherwise I add another minute."
Simon was shocked. What was this? He didn't want to stand here. It was boring. He tried to sidle away from the wall. A hand reached out and held him in place.
"Stay still. Now you've got eleven minutes."
"Nooo!" he wailed. "I don't wanna! Let me go!" He kicked out at the wall furiously. Then he whirled around and glared at Severus, his blue eyes filled with angry tears.
"Thirteen minutes. I'd suggest you stop moving and be still, before you're here for a half-an-hour, young man." Severus said sternly, ignoring the boy's defiant expression.
Dark eyes met blue. "Try me."
Simon flinched. For the first time in his life he felt . . .powerless. And he didn't like it, not at all.
Severus turned him around again. "Nose to the wall, young man."
Then he stepped away, setting a timer on the stove for thirteen minutes. "When you hear the buzzer ring, you can come out. Until then, stand there and think about what you've done to earn those thirteen minutes."
The little boy scowled at the wall. He didn't like this, yet he was smart enough to realize that anything he did now would only make the situation worse. The minutes seemed endless. He squirmed and was reprimanded.
"Would you like another minute, Rivers?"
"It's no sir, when you're in trouble," Marietta instructed, rolling her eyes. Didn't this kid know anything?
"Marietta, please be quiet," Severus ordered, though he wanted to smile at the girl's tone. "I'll do the teaching around here, if you don't mind?"
"Okay, Uncle Sev." She finished her sandwich and a cup of juice. "Can I have dessert now?"
"Yes. Go and pick out something from the pantry."
While Marietta did as she was told, Severus kept a sharp eye on Simon.
The child's head began to swivel around.
"Eyes front, Simon. Don't turn around."
A whimper escaped from the corner. Severus ignored it. There were only nine minutes left.
At last the timer buzzed and Severus released the child from the corner. "I hope you've learned your lesson, Simon," he intoned sternly. "Next time don't yell at me or bang chairs. Otherwise you'll go back in time out. Is that clear?"
"Yes sir," the little boy said sulkily. "Can I have dessert now?"
Gavin nearly choked on his BLT. Merlin's pants, but this kid was either stubborn as hell or stupid.
Severus fixed the child with a look reminiscent of a very annoyed dragon. "Simon, what did I just say about eating dessert?"
The boy shifted uncomfortably in his chair, not wanting to meet Snape's gaze. "That I could only have it after lunch," he admitted. "But why? My mom never cares when I eat dessert."
"I'm not your mother," answered Severus crisply, thinking irritably, Maybe she should've, then I wouldn't have this problem, damn it all. Leo, why did you have to send me the child from hell? All I really wanted was a nice relaxing Thanksgiving. "And here in my house, you follow my rules. Now, let's try this again. What do you want to eat for lunch?"
The boy gave in then. "Fine!" he huffed. "I want chicken nuggets and a side of pasta with butter."
Severus concealed a sigh of relief. Few people were as stubborn as a Snape, thank God. "Very well. Now, was that so difficult?"
Simon shook his head, pouting a little. He wasn't used to being made to compromise and wasn't at all sure he liked it. Still, he was hungry and it seemed the only way to get any food around here was to ask the Director. He still couldn't believe they didn't have even one house elf. What was wrong with them?
Gavin mouthed the words, Spoiled brat to Marietta across the table when Severus's back was turned, cooking Simon's lunch. His eight-year-old cousin nodded and shot the blond boy a Look. Neither of them would have made Snape cook something else when he'd already made lunch for them. Then again, neither of them were Simon Anthony Rivers, prince of Rivers Inc.
* * * * * *
After the kids had finished lunch, complete with dessert, Severus suggested they go play somewhere quietly, for he needed to finish up making his walnut apple cranberry stuffing for Thanksgiving. Gavin headed into his bedroom with Marietta and Simon in tow, presumably to play video games. Snape heaved an enormous sigh when the Rivers brat was gone from his sight.
He summoned all the ingredients he needed for his stuffing and began to prepare it. The stuffing had a shot of brandy in it and for one moment he considered taking a shot. Or two. God knew he could use it after dealing with Simon. The kid could drive a saint to drink and Severus was far from sainthood, even on his best day.
But he declined the pleasures of the brandy, for he didn't really care for hard liquor. Maybe once the stuffing was baking, he'd indulge in a glass of wine to settle his nerves. He busied himself chopping up three Granny Smith apples and moistening the stuffing mix with chicken broth, water, and a shot of brandy. Cooking relaxed the Director, it was something he really enjoyed, like brewing potions. This was going to be his second Thanksgiving since moving to America and he hoped it would be as good as the last one had been.
He flicked on the radio with a gesture and Fireflash's deep bass filled the kitchen, singing an old song once performed by Rosemary Clooney, "Come On Over To My House". Severus enjoyed listening to music while he cooked, it helped him focus, especially when it was the bronze dragon singing.
Soon the savory smells of the walnut apple cranberry stuffing filled the kitchen and drifted down the hall. Scout and Ember, Snape's magehound and Marietta's fairy cat, came running into the kitchen to beg scraps off the former professor. Severus gave them a piece of sausage each, glad that the kids seemed to be getting along at last.
Until the tranquil moment was shattered by Marietta's voice declaiming angrily, "You cheated! I told you it was my turn, Simon."
"Did not! I was going to be Luigi after Gavin was Mario."
"I called it first."
"So? I'm the guest," Simon pointed out smugly.
"Who cares?" sneered Marietta. "You're a snot!"
"And you're a stupid girl who can't do nothing 'cept play with dolls."
"Oh yeah? You're dumber than dirt, Simon! Now gimme the controller."
"Knock it the hell off, you two," came Gavin's soft snarl. "You break that controller, Rivers, and I'll kick your ass."
Severus closed his eyes. Better get in there, Snape, before blood starts flying. He moved quickly down the hallway, wondering why the hell he'd ever had kids.
"What in blazes is going on here?" he demanded, coming to stand in the doorway of his son's bedroom.
Marietta was reaching out for the Nintendo controller Simon was holding, giving him a glare worthy of Medusa. Gavin was standing behind Simon's beanbag chair, looking like he was about to smack the smug brat into next week. Neither of them answered Severus.
Snape moved, stepping swiftly between his son and Simon, sensing Gavin was at the end of his patience. "Would someone mind telling me just what the problem is?" he repeated.
"Simon cheated, Uncle Sev!" Marietta began.
"Did not! You're a liar!" screeched the eight-year-old. "Here, take your dumb controller!" And he threw it at Marietta's head.
Severus's hand flashed out, catching it before it could hit the girl in the face.
"What'd you do that for, you little–!" Gavin cried, and would've drawn back a fist had not his father grabbed his shoulder with his other hand.
"Enough!" Snape yelled. "Gavin, take a walk. Now."
"Go, take Scout and go for a walk until you can control yourself," Severus repeated firmly. He turned his son around and practically shoved him out the door.
"No more video games until you can play without fighting," he told the other two. "Marietta, why don't you go and pet Ember for awhile?"
"What for, Uncle Sev? Why am I in trouble? He started it."
"And I'm finishing it." Severus interrupted. "Go on, minx. I need to talk with Simon alone."
Marietta went, though not before flashing Simon a look of utter disgust.
Severus turned to the cause of all this mayhem. Simon was sitting on the beanbag chair, utterly unconcerned with what had almost happened. Severus flicked off the TV and said sternly, "Look at me, Mr. Rivers."
Any of his children or his nephews or niece would have known that form of address meant they were in serious trouble. But Simon merely looked up at Snape with annoyance. "Hey. I was playing a level."
"Not any more you're not. We need to discuss some rules here, things I should have addressed before," Severus began. "First, you don't throw anything at anyone, young man, I don't care what they said or did. You nearly hit Marietta in the face with that controller."
"But she was being a dumb–"
"It doesn't matter," Snape cut him off. "You don't throw things, am I understood?"
"Answer my question, Mr. Rivers."
"Yes. . .sir."
Severus nodded, thinking that at least the kid seemed to realize he was in trouble this time. He dropped the controller on the ground, then crossed his arms and gave the boy one of his famous glowers that never failed to make misbehaving children shiver.
Simon seemed unfazed, however. He had precious little experience about being held accountable for his actions–in fact he'd never been held accountable for his actions and therefore had no idea how much trouble he was in. He was annoyed at having his game interrupted and didn't want to listen to another boring list of rules. The only rules in his house had been his own.
"Are you listening to me, young man?" Snape demanded, astonished that the kid had the nerve to tune him out.
"Good, because you've just earned yourself another ten minutes in time out," Snape said coolly.
"What? No! No fair!"
"Very fair, Mr. Rivers, since you were aiming to hurt her, and that's not something I tolerate. If Marietta was doing something you didn't like, you should have come and told me, not thrown a controller at her. Such behavior is unacceptable. You do not hit, kick, or hex anyone, and if you can't follow those rules, you'll end up in trouble. You also do not swear or talk back to me, Mr. Rivers. Swearing will earn you a minute with a bar of soap and disrespect gets you sent to time out and lines."
He did not bother to add that had Simon been his child, such blatant defiance would have also earned him a smack on the behind. Normally he didn't discipline using physical punishment, but in some cases, he felt a swat or two was justified. Lord knew he'd wanted to take certain students in Hogwarts over his knee sometimes, especially the spoiled brats like Brittany Marsh, James Hathaway, and Draco Malfoy. It might have made a major difference in their attitudes. He'd even considered it regarding the golden Harry Potter, though more because Harry was so impulsive and risk-taking than because he was arrogant. He never had, of course. They were his students, not his children, after all. That was the job of their parents, to discipline them. He just wished they'd done a better job of it, so they didn't give him so many headaches.
Like now. Young Simon was a textbook case of too much overindulgence. And now, he Severus Snape, would reap the whirlwind.
The kid was glaring at him now, all pouting and scowling. "Why should I be in trouble? It was stupid Marietta's fault for not leaving me alone. You said I was the guest, so they've gotta do what I want."
"Wrong. Being a guest means you are treated politely here, Simon, but it doesn't mean you get to lord it over Gavin and Marietta. You're not a king and they're not your subjects. Haven't you ever learned how to take turns or share?" asked Snape pointedly. He knew the answer was no, otherwise he wouldn't be having this conversation.
"My mom said when I invite someone over, I get to choose what we do and what we play with," answered the child. He turned back to the TV. "Are you done yet? I wanna finish my game."
Severus fought to keep his mouth from gaping. Did the child not hear a word he'd been saying? "No, I'm not done, and you won't be playing anything for at least ten minutes. Furthermore, I want you to apologize to Marietta for throwing the controller at her, that was mean and nasty."
Then he waved his wand and the TV and the video game system was removed from the bedroom and sent into the den.
Simon's eyes nearly bugged out. "Hey! Where'd they go?"
"That doesn't concern you." Snape said sternly. "Now, go and stand in that corner next to Gavin's desk."
"No! And I ain't apologizing to any dumb girl either."
Snape gritted his teeth. "Mr. Rivers, you have exactly to the count of ten to do what I said or else you're going to stand there for five extra minutes. One."
The child ignored him. "I won't!" Then he actually tried to run out of the room.
Severus flicked a finger and the door shut right in the startled child's face. Simon threw himself against it, kicking it and pounding it in a fury.
Snape continued counting. "Six. Seven."
"No! Let me out!"
"Nine. Ten. And now you've got fifteen minutes, young man." Severus intoned, then he moved over to pick up the kid before he put a hole in the bedroom door.
He picked up the screeching little monster and tucked him under an arm. The boy struggled, but he was no match for the older man's strength and he found himself carried over to the corner beside the desk in short order.
Severus went to set the boy on his feet and the furious child spun on him, one fist raised, the blue eyes burning with temper.
"Don't even think about it," Snape growled in his most menacing tone.
"Hit me, little boy, and you'll be in worse trouble, got me?" warned Snape. He really would take the kid over his knee if Simon dared to strike him. Then he firmly turned the child about and pushed his nose against the wall. "Fifteen minutes for you to think about your awful behavior, Mr. Rivers."
"I HATE you!" Simon howled. "I wish I'd never come here!"
So do I, Severus agreed silently. He turned and walked away quickly, before he throttled the little beast. "I'm going to come back here in fifteen minutes, young man, and if I find you out of that corner, you'll stay here for the rest of the afternoon."
The only sound was a muffled cry of rage.
Severus left and went to find Marietta, for he needed to speak to her also. He found her sitting on his bed, cuddling with Ember, her orange fairy cat. She had heard the awful boy screaming and hoped her uncle had punished him good. "Marietta, we need to have a talk," Severus began.
She looked up at him. "Am I in trouble? But he started it, Uncle Sev."
Her uncle held up a hand and she hushed, knowing he wanted to speak first.
"No, you're not in trouble, minx. I know Simon is not the easiest kid to get along with, believe me."
"He's a snot."
"However," Severus continued, frowning. "I need you to at least try and get along with him for the remainder of this holiday. Two more days, Marietta, and then he'll go home and you won't ever see him again. Can you be a big girl and do that for me?"
She sighed. "I really don't like him, Uncle Sev. He thinks girls are dumb."
He sighed. "Yes, but that's because he never met a girl before, so what does he know? Just ignore him, Marietta, and if he really gets on your nerves, leave."
"I'd like to clock him one."
"Marietta, you know my rules. No hitting, even if he does deserve a good punch in the nose. Now, can you do what I asked?"
"Yeah, Uncle Sev. I'll be nice to the brat. For you."
He ruffled her hair and hugged her. "Thank you, minx. I'm proud of you."
Then he left her with her cat, who was purring loudly, and went to find his son.
He found Gavin sitting beneath the large oak tree in the backyard with Scout by his feet. He appeared to have walked off much of his flash fire temper, much to Severus's relief. One enraged child was about all he wanted to deal with right now.
Gavin looked up at his parent as Snape made his way across the lawn and sat down next to him. "Why'd he have to come here, Dad? He's the most annoying kid, he's gonna ruin our whole Thanksgiving."
That was Severus's thought as well, but he wasn't about to say so. "He's here because your grandfather asked me for a favor. Now I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Marietta. Do me a favor and tolerate him for the rest of the holiday."
Gavin scowled, even though he'd known that was coming. "I don't know if I can, Dad," he said honestly. "He irritates the hell out of me."
"I understand, but you're older, Gavin, and you know better than to let him get to you like that. He's eight, you're ten, now act your age. Because the last thing I want is to have to punish you over Thanksgiving."
Gavin heaved a sigh. "Fine. I promise I won't strangle the little b–"
"-brat," his son finished. "What'd you think I was going to say, Dad?"
"Something that would earn you two minutes with a bar of soap," answered his father.
His son rolled his eyes. "Please, Dad! I'm not stupid. But he is one, you know."
"Yes, I know." Snape checked his watch. The fifteen minutes were nearly up.
He went back inside to see if Simon had followed his instructions. And found that the boy had indulged in a mini round of destruction by knocking all of Gavin's books and papers off of the desk. Snape felt his jaw clench and a nerve in forehead throb with the urge to seriously throttle the little menace.
"What's this, Mr. Rivers?" he said icily, coming to stand directly behind the child.
Simon turned around, and gave Severus a confused look. "I don't know. They fell."
"Don't bother lying," Severus snapped. "I wasn't born yesterday, Simon. Pick them up and then get yourself back in time out. Five more minutes for your destructive behavior."
The little boy gaped at him. "But Severus!" he sputtered. "I didn't do nothing!"
"Don't lie to me, Simon!" Severus roared, his eyes blazing. "Those books didn't just jump off the desk. Now pick them up right bloody now."
Simon did, sniffling a bit. Severus watched and when the boy was finished, pointed to the corner.
"No! I won't go back there! I WON"T!" the child howled. Then he threw himself on the floor, kicking and punching and screeching in a temper tantrum worthy of a three-year-old.
Severus stood there, his hands on his hips, glaring at the child. After three minutes he asked coolly, "Are you quite finished, Mr. Rivers? I think the neighbors have heard enough for one day."
The kid jerked his face up from the floor, red-faced with temper and astonishment. Such tactics had never failed to get him what he wanted before. His eyes met the Director's and saw something in them he'd never seen in any adult's before. Resolution and firmness. For the first time ever, he was forced to acknowledge that he wasn't going to get his way, no matter what he did. And he didn't like it at all.
So he began to cry, hoping that tears would do the trick.
But Snape was unmoved. "Crying won't help you either, boy. This is what happens when you choose to deliberately disobey me, Simon. Corner. Now. Or shall I add another minute?"
"No!" he sobbed, then picked himself and went back to face the wall.
"Better. After this you may come out, if you behave."
This time, however, Severus stayed in the room. Simon sniffled but he stayed where he was the entire time, not wishing to test Snape again. When the five minutes was up, Severus called him over and said, "Now, do you think you can manage to behave yourself for the rest of the day, Simon?"
"Good." Severus conjured a handkerchief and gently wiped the boy's face. "Now go and apologize to Marietta and then go outside and play. We'll be leaving for the Flynns as soon as Fireflash gets here in an hour or so."
"A bronze dragon and a very good friend of mine. Have you ever flown dragonback, Simon?"
"Well, then you'll have something to look forward to. Now get!" Severus ordered, and sent the boy off with a light smack on the bottom.
Simon went. Then the Director buried his face in his hands. He now had the beginnings of a migraine. He waved his hand and restored the TV and the game system to the bedroom. Merlin's starry hat, but I need that glass of wine. Glass, hell Snape, you could use the whole bottle. He just prayed he could make it through the rest of the holiday without losing it.
Marietta and Gavin were praying that Fireflash would dump Simon into the ocean, so they wouldn't have to keep their promise to Severus.
* * * * * *
To everyone's vast relief, Simon slept the entire flight to Pennsylvania, thus sparing Flash his obnoxious behavior. Severus began to think that maybe, just maybe, he'd make it through to Friday without having a nervous breakdown.
Flash dropped them off in the special clearing in the Poconos, which was only a short walk from the Flynns' house. "Thanks, Flash. You were great, as usual."
"You're welcome, Sev," the bronze said, giving him a dragonish smile. "Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Got to fly, I need to go and pick up the Lockwoods."
They all thanked him again, then he took off, back to New Jersey once more to bring Arista and her husband Drake and his sister Trina over.
Severus cast a Locomotor spell on their belongings, then picked up a half-asleep Simon and carried him through the trees and down the small game trail that led directly to the Flynn residence. The trail and the Flynn house were disguised by magic so no ordinary person could find it, this was a standard precaution for Dark Hunters, who were often targeted by the necromancers they hunted down. Colin had increased the level of spells on his house since he had become Severus's second-in-command two years ago, but the wards recognized the Director and his family and allowed them passage.
Severus made sure to put Simon's hand on the blue wardstone, so the wards would recognize the child's magical signature and allow him to come and go as needed. Not that Severus wanted the boy to wander off the property, but if he did, they would permit him to return. They were greeted at the door by a very excited Amy Flynn, Colin and Jenna's four-and-a-half year old daughter. She was dressed in a nightshirt with little sparkly fairies on it and pink slippers.
"Uncle Sev! You're finally here!" she shouted, hugging her godfather about the leg. "What took you so long?"
He glanced down at the child in amusement. "I wasn't aware I was on a schedule, Amy."
"I was waiting forever," she informed him. Then she spied the sleeping child in his arms. "Who's that, Uncle Sev?"
"This is Simon Rivers, my cousin, and he's going to be spending Thanksgiving with us," the Director told her. He shifted the boy over his shoulder. "Why don't you say hello to Gavin and Marietta, Amy, so I can put Simon down on the couch?" His lame left leg was starting to cramp from walking so quickly and holding the child.
Amy, who had bright blue eyes like her father and curly dark hair like her mother, agreed and went to hug Marietta and Gavin, whom she hadn't seen in months. Severus went and put Simon down on the couch in the den, then straightened to say hello to Jenna, who had come in from the kitchen.
"Oh, Sev! You made it!" she reached out and hugged him.
"Was there some doubt I wouldn't?" he asked, hugging her back.
"Well, I know what kind of hours you keep as Director and there's always the chance of an emergency."
"Not this time. Where's Colin?"
"Giving Sevvy a bath," she answered. Their two-year-old son was named Colin Severus, but everyone called him Sevvy. "Have a seat in the kitchen, I've got tea on. Where's Gavin and Marietta?"
"Playing with Amy, I think. And Simon's asleep on the couch," he indicated the sleeping eight-year-old.
Jenna peered at him. "Looks like an angel."
Severus choked. "He's anything but, God help me. You think Marietta and Gavin are mischievous, Jen? This one could drive me to drink."
Jenna raised an eyebrow. "What's this? A kid the famous Snape discipline has no effect on?"
"Oh, it has an effect. After about two hours worth of screaming and tantrums," Snape sighed. Then he called to his son and Marietta to come and say hello to Jenna.
Both kids came when called and hugged and kissed the petite Hunter, who was almost like an aunt to them. In fact, Gavin addressed her as Aunt Jen, since he thought it was more respectful, and he called her husband Uncle Colin. Jenna and Colin were very like siblings to Severus, so they didn't mind his son calling them that.
Amy tugged on Severus's sweater, and he reached down and picked her up. "Hello, butterfly!" he said. That was his special name for her, because she fluttered about like a butterfly, and was insatiably curious. "You've gotten bigger since I saw you two months ago."
She giggled and kissed him on the nose. "I know. Mom says I'm gonna be as big as Dad, someday. But not as big as you, Uncle Sev."
Severus laughed. "Well, you're a girl, so you don't want to be as big as me. Then you'd be a string bean."
Amy burst out laughing. "You're silly, Uncle Sev. Girls can't be vegetables."
"No! They can only be animals," she stated firmly. "Like I'm a butterfly, Mom's a cat, and Dad's a tiger."
"What about Sevvy?" asked Marietta. "What kind of animal's he?"
"Sevvy's a pain in the butt," said his older sister.
Gavin and Marietta burst out laughing at the little girl's honesty.
"Amelia Maureen, honestly!" Jenna shook a reproving finger at her daughter. "Now is that any way to talk about your little brother?"
"No . . .but it's true," the child insisted. "He always wants everything I have. And when I don't give it to him, he cries."
"You have to learn to share with your brother, Amy," Severus told her, setting her on her feet.
"I do share, Uncle Sev," Amy said indignantly. "But he never shares back. It's no fair!"
The adults exchanged amused glances and Gavin said, "I know just how you feel, Amy. It sucks being the oldest."
"Gavin Albus Snape! Mind that mouth!" scolded his father.
His son flushed. "Sorry. I forgot." Then he added, "But it really does, Dad. I always have to be the example."
"Yeah and you always have to share your toys," put in Amy.
"It's not so good being the youngest either," Marietta said. "Then you get bossed around by everybody." She was the youngest of the Amarotti children.
"Yeah being a kid is so tough," chuckled Jenna. "I remember following my older sister Marina around and being told I was too little to do anything with her. She used to tell me to go and play with my shadow, I was so annoying."
Her daughter stared at her. "Really? Aunt Marina thought you were a pain?"
"Oh yes! We used to fight like cats and dogs sometimes. Like you and Sevvy do. But we still loved each other afterwards."
"I love Sevvy. I just wish he wasn't so annoying," said Amy and the two adults laughed.
Then Jenna asked who wanted hot cocoa and chocolate cupcakes. All of the children did and the little Hunter levitated a large tray of homemade cupcakes with turkeys on them and a huge jug of hot cocoa onto the table.
"Tea or cocoa, Sev?" Jenna asked.
"Tea, if you don't mind. But I will have a cupcake," he said, indulging his sweet tooth.
"Figured you would," she smirked, knowing his love of chocolate.
He was in the middle of his second one when Colin entered the kitchen, carrying Sevvy in his arms. Father and son had nearly identical shades of blond hair, though Sevvy had inherited Jenna's darker complexion and big brown eyes. "Look who's here, Sevvy!" exclaimed Colin.
"Uncle Sev!" the boy crowed, and practically jumped out of his father's arms and into Severus's.
"Hello, Trouble," Snape said, hugging the child to him tightly. He smelled of oranges and limes from his bath and was dressed in a one-piece pair of red feet pajamas. "Have you been good today?"
"Uh-huh," Sevvy nodded, giving Severus a huge gap-toothed grin. "I didn' pull Amy's hair today."
"I'm glad to hear it, Sevvy," said the Director solemnly.
"What did you bring me, Uncle Sev?" the two-year-old queried.
"Colin Severus!" Jenna groaned. "You don't expect presents from people every time you see them."
"Why?" her son asked. "He always brings me presents."
"See what you started, Sev," Colin chuckled. "Now he thinks you're Santa Claus."
"Do not!" retorted the youngest Flynn. "Santa's fat an' wears a red suit, Daddy. This's Uncle Sev." He cocked his head at his uncle. "Well? Where's my present?"
"It's in my trunk," Severus told him, trying hard not to laugh. "But you only get it if you're good, right Colin Severus?"
"I am good!"
"Yeah, right," snorted his sister. "You knocked over all Daddy's paints yesterday. And pulled Surra's tail. That's not being good, that's being bad!"
"So? That was before. I said sorry," Sevvy cried. He showed his hand to Severus. "Surra was mean. She 'cratched me." There was a shallow scratch on his little hand.
"Was that before or after you pulled her tail?"
The little boy squirmed under Snape's frown. "After."
"You hurt her by pulling her tail, that's why she scratched you. Next time play gently with your kitty," Severus reproved softly.
"I will," promised the toddler. "Do I still get a present?"
Jenna hit herself in the forehead and Gavin snickered. Severus bit his lip to keep from laughing. "Tomorrow, I'll give you the present, okay? But only if you behave yourself, Mr. Flynn. Deal?"
"Deal." Then Sevvy spied the cupcakes. "I hungry. Want some of that."
"How do you ask?" Jenna prompted.
"Good job," Severus praised, then placed a cupcake in front of the toddler, cutting it in half first.
Sevvy crammed a quarter of it in his mouth eagerly, and Jenna floated a covered cup of milk over, knowing the child would be thirsty afterwards.
"Did you bring me a present too, Uncle Sev?" asked Amy, not wanting to be left out of the gift giving.
"I did. And the same rule applies to you as Sevvy, Amelia," said Snape.
"I know. I'll be good. When do we get them?"
"After dinner," Snape informed her.
"Oh," she sighed. "That means I have to be good all day."
"Exactly," the Director smirked.
"I can do it, Uncle Sev," the little girl stated firmly.
"I'm sure you can, Amy."
Colin smiled. "We've got something for you two as well, Marietta and Gavin. But you only get it if you behave."
"We know," Marietta said. Then she remembered something. "Hey, did you get something for Simon?"
"We did," said Jenna. "And you can tell him our rule when he wakes up."
Marietta rolled her eyes. "Okay, but it's a waste of time."
"Why?" Amy queried.
"Cause he can't be good for two minutes, let alone a whole day. He's worse than Sevvy."
Colin raised an eyebrow at Marietta's frank statement. "That true, Sev?"
"Unfortunately, yes. It'll be a miracle if that kid behaves himself tomorrow."
"He's that bad?" Jenna looked alarmed.
"You have no idea," groaned Gavin, then proceeded to tell her about Simon's awful behavior.
Amy listened, wide-eyed. Then she said, "You're right, Marietta. He ain't never getting his present."
Severus feared the children were right, though he hoped not. Perhaps his discipline had had an effect on the spoiled child, though he knew it was probably too early to tell.
So, how did you all like this part?
I wanted Sev to have a holiday in the Poconos the way I did several years ago with my family, it was great fun. And also to give him time to spend with his friends. Arista, Trish, and their husbands will make an appearance next chapter.
Next: More mishaps occur, and some humorous remeniscing, as Sev, Colin, and Jenna share stories from their own misspent childhoods.