Winner of the "Off With a Bang" challenge on The Maple Bookshelf.
Thank you xpage394x for the Brit Picking and lovely suggestions. Many thanks to Tychesong's guidance and patience as well.
JKR wrote the books...not me, dang it.
Saturday Potions: How Severus Snape Got Bested By A Six-Year-Old
Once upon a summery Saturday, a small house in the Village of Hogsmeade sat waiting for the start of the day. The house knew what to expect, as did one of its occupants. It was just a matter of timing. This particular morning, the wait was not long.
Hermione felt, more than heard, the ominous rumble from her study. The floor shook violently for a brief moment, and it caused a few books to fall from their shelves. She resignedly set down the teapot to clean up the tea that sloshed as she was pouring. The baby—who had been taking a mid-morning nap in her cradle—was screaming, her slumber disturbed by the noise.
"Hush, hush, love," Hermione said, picking up her daughter. "Daddy was doing something in the lab…again," she remarked, patting her daughter's back and whispering soothing words. The infant settled down, rubbing her face into Hermione's neck, making wet, snuffling sounds. "Let's go see what Daddy and Liam did this time, shall we? If either one of them knows what's good for them, it had better not be something dangerous."
Hermione set off to the lab, prepared to initiate the usual "ominous rumble" routine. She would investigate, yell at Severus, admonish Liam, and then return to whatever it was she was doing when she had been interrupted. Her anger could manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the circumstances: a foot stamping, hand flailing, or cancelling a trip to the bookshop or Magical Menagerie.
Anyone observing the Snape home would wonder just how Hermione could respond to what had occurred so casually. Little did they know that since Liam was old enough to toddle, Severus and he spent weekend after weekend in the basement lab. While most Muggle children were getting overly excited on sugar-coated cereals and watching what passed for Saturday morning cartoons, Liam was learning how to handle a knife and very basic potions ingredients.
He was always well protected with an automatic shield charm that activated anytime a potion reached a particular temperature or viscosity. In addition to the shield charm was a safety measure Severus had created to warn him if the colour of a potion was wrong, indicating a possible explosion. By simply adding the incantation Pigmentum Mutateo—in conjunction with a handy bit of 'foolish wand waving'—his son's cauldron would emit a high-pitched signal alerting him of impending danger. This was essential for those occasions when a moment was not sufficient to cast a shield charm.
Severus left teaching not long after his son was born to focus solely on research. Pigmentum Mutateo was one of the most popular and best selling of his patents. The residuals from it alone had allowed him to fund his research and take care of his growing family.
Severus adored his family. His son, Liam, age six, and his daughter, Annabel, six months, were the lights of his life. Hermione was the beacon that drew his heart homeward every day. Given a second chance at life, love, and a family, he allowed himself moments of pure joy, laughter, and the occasional moment of brewing something that he knew would make Hermione extremely angry.
Gods, he loved Hermione when she was angry. His lioness' eyes would burn brightly with anger, her cheeks suffuse with pink. She would stamp her tiny foot and put her hands on her hips. Her hair would crackle, and she would lay into Severus with a diatribe worthy of his own rants when he was a teacher. She was gorgeous. These diatribes always ended with her slapping him around the head and him grabbing her by the shoulders. He would kiss her passionately, and leave her with just enough breath to tell Liam, "For Merlin's sake, don't pick up your father's bad habits!"
On this particular ominously rumbling Saturday, Severus and Liam stood flabbergasted as smoke engulfed them. Fortunately, it was a benign brew and therefore, not generally dangerous. Severus mentally counted down to the arrival of his wife. He wondered if he would be able to clear the mess away and make it look like he was giving Liam a lesson in cauldron maintenance. Ten…nine...eight…The door to the lab flew open. Oops, too late, here she is!
"Severus Snape! What have you done now?" She stood in the doorway of the smoke filled room, her wand out, having just cast a Bubblehead Charm on Annabel. "Are you out of your mind? Do you not have a charm on Liam? Why are you both covered in…" She stepped closer to have a look, squinting her eyes. "Are those Fuggle husks I see on you two?"
"No, no, love. These are not Fuggle husks. Where would you get that idea?" Severus hoped to avoid Hermione's scrutinizing gaze by looking down and attempting to clear away more of the evidence, er, mess the exploding 'potion' made. He felt certain Liam would not rat him out; he and Liam had that unspoken pact that kept fathers and sons out of trouble with the women in their life.
Severus still had a thing or two to learn about very young children. The eleven to seventeens he knew were conniving, lying brats, but the under elevens? Not. A. Clue. Most children, by the age of five, knew which parent to approach to obtain a desired item, be it food, a toy, or permission to go over to Eddie's house and play. Children learned very early how to avoid "Screaming Mummy" or "Unhappy Daddy." The savviest of children learned when it was a good idea to suddenly have a hearing deficit and when to make sure "Somebody Else Got The Blame." Today, that Somebody Else was Severus Tobias Snape, and he was about to learn a cruel, cruel lesson.
"Mummy," began Liam, "Daddy does have me in a safety shield. He has that spell 'larm thingy that he casts before we start!"
"Be that as it may, what on earth were you two doing?" She looked at the floor. "Severus, is that a box from the Muggle naturalist store? And if you said you didn't have Fuggle husks on you, then why is the box clearly marked that it contains Fuggles?"
"Um…." Um? I don't say um, Severus thought.
"Mummy, Daddy said he wanted to try a new brew, and I could help."
"'Brew,' Severus?" Hermione's eyes began to spark with anger.
"Liam, go play."
"Liam, stay. What sort of 'brew' were you experimenting with, dear?" Hermione asked silkily.
"Um." Well, what do you know. Apparently, I do say um.
"Daddy said he wanted to make some ale. What is ale? I thought it was when someone was sick?"
"Liam," he patted the boy's head. "You misunderstood me. I didn't say ale, I said snail. We were going to make a potion to help kill the snails in the herb garden."
Hermione narrowed her eyes at Severus. He attempted to make bedroom eyes at her. Severus knew very well that his eyes made Hermione weak in the knees, and he was not above pure, unadulterated coercion to save his ass right now.
Liam burbled on "….and then Daddy put in some rice, and wheat and the Fwugglies and said we had to watch for something called bermentition.."
"Fermentation," Severus' brain automatically corrected his son, and his mouth fatally blurted. He bit his tongue as soon as his ears heard the word. He never knew when his inner teacher would make an unexpected appearance.
"…and then it bubbled and came right up to the top, and then it exploded! It was really neat!" Liam was beside himself with delight describing what happened, not even drawing breath as he did so. "A huge buncha water came flying out, and then all the Fwugglies floated up, and then the flame from the cauldron lit a few on fire, and…" He just kept going and going, happily sentencing Severus to his doom all the while reiterating the phrase 'and then it exploded!' several times.
Hermione moved into position.
Foot stamp, check. One hand on her hip (Annabel was currently occupying the other), check.
"I would strongly suggest, Severus Snape, that rather than 'brew' a snail repelling potion again, you simply go to the shop and buy some ale, pour it in a tinfoil pan, and set it out in the garden like EVERYONE else does! That would save you from wasting time and money while 'experimenting' with Fuggles!" That would be the yelling. Check.
His left ear rang as she slapped him around the head, and then shoved a finger into his chest hard enough to make him sway backward a bit. Check and double-check.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed her within an inch of her life. Checkmate. He felt her melt a little, and Annabel gave a distressed fuss.
"Oh, yuck." Liam gagged dramatically.
When Severus pulled back, Hermione breathily said, "Liam, come up for lunch while your father cleans this mess. I believe you both have had enough brewing for today. While you nap, your father and I will continue this little discussion privately." Turning smartly, Hermione sashayed out of the lab leaving Severus in no doubt about the outcome of their little discussion.
And that is the story of the Saturday morning that convinced Liam to one day be a Potions Master, Annabel to go into Arithmancy instead, and the impending birth of their brother, Mason.
AN: Fuggles just happen to be a hop that is/was grown in England for the better ales that were produced in that country. It makes sense that a potions brewer would brew up a beer now and again, yes? Perhaps, though, it was not a good object lesson for young Liam.
If you haven't checked out The Maple Bookshelf, I encourage you to do so. The site is looking for more authors as well as members. I for one, think we could use a stronger SS/HG presence. They accept all fandom. It is moderated, but they are not as 'grammar Nazi' as other sites are.