Chapter Forty-Five ~ Recipes of a Different Sort
Harry's fingers played with the envelope's broken seal while he watched Severus chop a pile of tomatoes into perfectly even pieces. He didn't know why he felt anxious over his O.W.L. results. He had never cared much about his scores before, and Severus had said they weren't that bad. Before, Harry had needed good scores so he could take the courses necessary to become an Auror. Now, the only thing he knew was that he wanted nothing less than to become an Auror after he finished his schooling. Even with his O.W.L. results in his hands, he had no idea what courses he wanted or needed to take for whatever he decided to do when he grew up…if he grew up.
"Severus?" Harry let the envelope drop onto the island with a sigh.
"Yes?" Severus set down his knife, giving Harry his full attention.
"How do students pick what classes to take when they don't know what they want to do after Hogwarts?"
"I assume you're referring to yourself and not some hypothetical student?"
"You are going to get a well rounded education that will be suitable for almost anything you choose to do as an adult. Potions, Defense, Transfiguration, Charms, and Herbology will form the basis of your curriculum. You will strive to reach your full potential as a wizard not because you are the Chosen One but because you are an intelligent and powerful child who can do anything he chooses."
Harry's jaw dropped. "You think I'm smart?"
"Of course you are." Severus paused, his mouth twitching as he worked to find the right words. "Your mother and I were at the top of our class. I expect nothing less from you."
"But I'm not as smart as Hermione," Harry protested. Never in his life had he been considered as one of the smart ones among his teachers and fellow students.
"Have you ever applied yourself? Actually finished your homework five minutes before classes start?"
Severus raised an eyebrow.
"Not really," Harry confessed.
"Your work this summer has far exceeded anything you've turned into me before. Have the corrections I've given you helped?" Severus picked his knife up and returned to chopping up the tomatoes.
"I think I'm finally understanding how to write an essay." Harry smiled. It was the one thing he could say was something positive that had come out of his summer so far.
"What do you mean?" Severus' head snapped up.
"No one ever taught me how to write an essay. I knew that an essay had an introduction, body, and conclusion, but beyond that I didn't know that I should include specific examples cited from a text, and I'm still figuring out how to organize it into a way that makes the most sense." Harry tried to explain without getting angry. He felt like he was behind the moment he started classes at Hogwarts and never caught up.
"Why didn't you ask one of your professors for help? Minerva would've set aside time to give you a lesson or two on essay writing had she known and had you come to the study group on Saturday mornings if needed."
"What study group?"
"There's a group specifically for first and second years that meets on Saturday mornings for students that the staff has identified as needing extra attention in anything from a specific subject to writing with a quill. Professor Sprout and Professor Burbage are in charge of it. Usually, after a month or two, the student no longer needs to attend."
"I thought I was the only one taking remedial lessons. I never heard anyone talk about the study group." Harry doubted he would've gone if he knew.
"It meets early in the morning so the students can attend without everyone knowing." Harry watched Severus set the tomatoes to the side and step over to the stove, pouring olive oil into a pan. "I've changed your summer assignment. Instead of writing the essay I was going to set you tonight, you'll pick a book and write a five page critical essay using journal articles as your sources to back up your argument."
"What does that have to do with Potions?" Harry wrinkled his eyebrows in confusion.
"Nothing except that if you can analyze literature, you can analyze anything. Mostly, this is an exercise in writing a proper essay. We'll discuss how to choose proper sources, how to organize your essay, what, if any historical background to include, how to narrow down a topic, and anything else I think is beneficial." Severus added garlic to the saucepan.
Harry dropped his head to the counter, Severus' words sounding like Greek to his brain. "I think I'm going to regret bringing this up."
"Harry, when I said we, I meant we. You will write the essay but only after we discuss how to write it in detail. You'll have a template that we'll create to go by, and once we've gone through the process of writing this essay, you'll find your homework easier, especially as you enter your sixth year where your professors start to expect longer essays and assign lengthy projects."
"If you say so." Harry wasn't convinced. Severus would find out how dumb Harry really was. There was no way he could come close to Hermione when it came to grades.
"You'll have room on your schedule for other classes. While you could pursue other N.E.W.T courses, you may find it better to select electives that do not result in N.E.W.T.s."
"What do you mean?" There was no way Harry was going to take Arithmancy with third years.
"Hogwarts offers a group of electives open to sixth and seventh years that compliments the core curriculum and expands the base of knowledge past the most basic wizarding subjects. For example, Professor Burbage teaches a course on literature, and Professor Flitwick teaches Magical Theory that also incorporates Latin language skills, a class you should take if you're interested in inventing your own spells."
"Did you take any of the electives?" Harry rested his chin on his arm as he saw Severus add the tomatoes. "What are you making anyways?"
"To answer your first question, yes I took one elective in addition to achieving twelve N.E.W.T.s. I sat the Muggle Studies and Latin N.E.W.T.s without taking the classes. As for your second question, I'm making pizza, a food I recall that many teenage boys live on."
"Seriously?" His mind could never comprehend that Severus Snape grow up among Muggles and was aware of such Muggle things.
"Was I wrong to assume that you like pizza?" Severus looked down at him with a frown.
"No. I mean I think I like pizza. I've never had it," Harry admitted. The Dursleys ordered pizza almost every week, but Harry was never allowed a slice. Why was Severus going through such hassle? Usually Severus cooked something light and easy to throw together since Harry didn't eat more than a few bites. Harry eyed the envelope. "Are you doing this because of my O.W.L. scores?"
"Of course not. I merely wanted pizza and fizzy drinks for dinner." Harry saw an uncertain look flash across Severus' face.
Harry couldn't believe it. Severus was putting together a special dinner just for him to celebrate his O.W.L. scores, and he must have planned it because he had to have snuck off or arranged for someone else to buy the fizzy drinks. "There's fizzy drinks?" Harry asked instead of making a big deal of it to avoid an uncomfortable evening.
"In the cold cabinet." Severus motioned to the envelope. "Are you going to open it, or should I put you to work grating cheese?"
Harry picked up the envelope, pulling the parchment out and unfolding it. Holding in his breath, Harry let his eyes scan the parchment:
Care of Magical Creatures: E
Defense Against the Dark Arts: O
History of Magic: D
"I got an E in Potions." Harry was in shock. He never expected to get a passing grade in Potions, never mind an E.
"Along with six other O.W.L.s including an O in Defense. Congratulations, Harry." Severus grabbed two Cokes from the cold cabinet, setting one in front of Harry.
"Thanks," Harry said, his tone forced and awkward. He hadn't the slightest clue how he should react to someone praising him and hoped the simple thank you was enough.
Severus nodded before setting a grater, a plate, and several blocks of different cheeses on the island. "Start grating."
"But I opened my scores," Harry half-heartedly protested. He didn't mind helping out in the kitchen when he wasn't the only one cooking.
"Think of it as physical therapy." Severus smirked before grabbing the parchment off the countertop and sticking it to the front of the cold cabinet.
Harry stopped reaching for the grater in mid-grab as he stared at his scores stuck on the equivalent of a refrigerator. "You didn't-"
"Making pizza is a messy task. I merely moved your scores out of our work area." Severus stirred the sauce, splashing a bit of the red mixture onto the counter.
"Right." Harry tried hard not to smile as he started grating a block of mozzarella.
After dinner, which Severus considered a huge success since Harry ate a slice and a half of pizza, Severus set out the supplies needed for Harry's Potions lesson including a jar of the finished product. Harry's face had a look of dread written across it, but Severus hoped this lesson would change Harry's views on Potions. After all, Harry couldn't possibly mess up the lesson. Even Longbottom could've brewed the concoction before entering Hogwarts.
"This is what you will brew today." Severus opened up the jar containing a simple hand balm. "I have written out the base recipe for you. You will brew it twice, the second time following a slightly altered recipe. First, however, you will identity what is in the jar by using your senses of sight, smell, and touch. Do not over think it."
"Are you sure this is safe?" Harry eyed the jar with a look of concern. "I thought I wasn't supposed to use potions."
"Harry, I'm trying to purposely be vague to not give you the answer, but I will tell you that the concoction is listed in the class of common household potions. It is no more dangerous than shampoo." Severus measured out an ounce and a half of jojoba oil and poured it into a small beaker. His child was more than capable of measuring out his own ingredients, but Severus didn't want him spilling the ingredients and getting frustrated over his shaky hands.
Severus kept Harry in the corner of his eye. He wanted to watch the child without Harry feeling like he was under observation. So far, Harry had scooped out a small amount of the balm on his finger and had smelled it.
"Is this some kind of joke?" Harry sighed as he rubbed the balm off on a towel. "I don't know what I'm supposed to think this is."
"Rub it into your skin." Severus was surprised with how quick Harry gave up. He knew they couldn't erase all the bad blood between them overnight, but he had hoped Harry would try a little harder before reverting back to the frustrating teenager Severus had encountered in his classroom.
"This is pointless." Harry rolled his eyes, but rubbed a bit of the hand balm into his hands anyway.
"What difference do you notice?"
"My hands feel softer, less dry."
"Exactly. Now, what produces such results? Remember, don't over think it." Severus waited for Harry to make the connection.
"It reminds me of lotion, but why would anyone brew lotion?"
"A hand balm is the correct term for the concoction's firmer consistency, but yes, you are essentially correct. In rethinking your curriculum because of the restrictions, it occurred to me that you were never introduced to the simplest potions like these because your Muggle relatives raised you. You will use this class of potions to improve your theory by experimentation. For today you will brew the balm according to the recipe the first time, and the second time you will use two thirds more jojoba oil and observe what that does to your finished product." Severus set a notebook and pencil in front of his son. "Any questions?"
Harry looked down at the simple recipe. "That's it?"
"Do I have to use lavender oil, or can I use something else?"
"Use lavender today and in your next lesson you can experiment with the scent." Severus pulled a stool out and sat down. "Begin."
Watching Harry "brew" the hand balm was nerve-racking for Severus. It wasn't the concoction itself that had Severus' anxiety levels turned up high, but Harry handling the waxes and oils. Even though Severus had pre-measured the ingredients, he couldn't help but notice how the glass beakers shook as Harry picked each one up to dump it into the larger beaker that was submerged in a pan of simmering water. What if one of the beakers slipped from Harry's grasp or knocked against something and shattered in his hand?
"Do I do something wrong?" Harry frowned as he mixed the jojoba, shea butter, and beeswax together.
"No." Severus peered into the glass beaker, the ingredients all melted and combined together. "Get the lavender and lemon oils ready." He moved the pot off the stove, allowing Harry to mix in the oils before Severus poured the mixture into a jar to set up.
"I could've done that." Harry picked up the pot and returned it to the stove to start the next batch.
"I know," Severus said, more to reassure himself than his son.
"I've got this really. I know I'm pants at Potions, but I don't think even I can mess this up." Harry had the audacity to smirk.
"Brat." Severus summoned the Prophet, shielding his eyes from the temptation of watching his son's hands prepare the second batch of balm. However, the paper didn't block his hearing. Severus gripped the paper tighter every time he heard glass clink against something. For once, he was glad he assigned such a short assignment. If the preparation had taken more than five minutes, Severus would have had to flee from the kitchen.
Once Severus heard the pot hit the sink, he folded up the Prophet, set it aside, and walked to the sink. "What did you notice in the second batch that was different than the first?"
"The consistency seemed thinner." Harry turned on the water.
"Good. What do you suppose that'll mean to the finished product?" Severus motioned to the beakers and pan. "I'll get that."
"It won't be as hard, more of a lotion?" Harry guessed, standing awkwardly off to the side as Severus started to wash the equipment.
"Precisely. Write down what we did today and the results in the notebook. You need to get in the habit of journaling while brewing." Severus hid a sigh of relief as Harry returned to his stool, all in one piece and without a scratch or cut from the glass on him. Perhaps he should give that Muggle chemistry catalogue with heat-resistant plastic beakers and test tubes another look.
Again, I must apologize for how long this chapter has taken. The good news is that I'm actually excited for the next chapter. I know this chapter was a bit short, but there's a reason for it. I hope everyone enjoyed the lighthearted nature of this chapter because that'll change next chapter... So, as a little teaser you can expect to see Severus' first meeting with a psychiatrist and perhaps a scenery change in the form of Grimmauld Place...
If you haven't visited my livejournal page, I have posted a poem there that I wrote about Snape that you might enjoy. My penname is the same at livejournal.
Now as for the House Cup. These are the final scores as I have tabulated:
Congratulations Slytherin! As a reward (or maybe not), I can promise that soon we'll be seeing Draco and Narcissa appear, but perhaps not how you think... ;)