Most Embarrassing Moment
“Mr. Giles, do you want to bring your car around to the outpatient door downstairs? We generally take the wheel chairs out through those doors.” The nurse asked Giles.
“Downstairs, do you mean by the morgue entrance?” Giles clarified, while thinking to himself that it was a bad sign if the most familiar part of the hospital was the morgue.
“Yes, the sliding door there.” The nurse smiled. “Steven and I will take the elevator down and meet you there.”
“Very well.” Giles stared down at his step-brother, who was looking very uncomfortable in the sweat suit he had borrowed. “Don’t get into any trouble while I’m gone.”
“Yes mother.” Severus rolled his eyes. Just because he was incapacitated at the moment, didn’t give Giles the right to treat him like a child, dressing him in these ridiculous pajamas and giving orders.
Giles disappeared down the stairwell. Severus was turned around and pushed to the elevator doors. Just as Nurse Kendall rolled him inside, another nurse called for them to hold the door. “Oh, did you hear about Judy?” The nurse began as soon as the elevator doors closed.
“No, what about Judy?”
“She was caught in the linen closet with Dr. Williams!”
“Swear to god!”
“You mean Dr. Williams from Oncology, right?”
“No! Dr. Williams from Radiology.”
“But he’s like eighty!”
Severus winced as the nurses squealed around him like a pair of Hufflepuff third years. He breathed a sigh of relief as the elevator beeped. He assumed that meant either they had reached the right floor, or the elevator was about to explode, putting him out of his misery; either outcome would be fine with him.
“Who found her?”
“Was it that cute intern down in emergency?”
“No, it was her supervisor.”
“Well that’ll show her!”
“I know. Too bad it wasn’t that cute intern. Hey do you think…”
Severus watched as the two nurses wandered out of the elevator, leaving him inside. He was about to say something, when the doors closed, and he could feel the elevator start to move again. “Oh dear.” Severus mumbled, watching the numbers climb.
When they reached the second floor, a disheveled doctor got in, pressed a button, and waited patiently for the elevator to reach the third floor, where he got out, never once commenting on the unaccompanied patient in the elevator. At the third floor, a family got on.
“Hey mister,” A little boy addressed Severus. Severus responded with the Snape-stare-of-death, but the boy didn’t seem fazed. “Why are you here? Are you getting a new sister too?”
“No.” Severus muttered.
“Come on, Chris, remember we don’t talk to strangers.” A man who was obviously the boy’s father tried to pull his son away, but he was having a tough time balancing his stack of balloons, teddy bears, and flowers without having to cope with a five year old.
“Girls are dumb. I told mom she should have a boy instead, but she never listens to me.” Severus stared blankly at the boy who continued to prattle on. “Hey, is that a cast? My friend Bobby fell out of a tree and had to get a cast on his arm, too. Don’t worry, he said it didn’t really hurt.”
Severus begged to differ. Just having to remain in a hospital that sheltered obnoxious brats like this was painful. “Alright, buddy, we’re here.” The dad tried to steer the boy out of the elevator, nearly losing a balloon in the process.
“Bye mister!” The kid patted him on the arm then ran off after his father, leaving Severus alone in the elevator. On the other side of the door was a set of lit up buttons that seemed to correspond to the floors of the building. Undoubtedly this contraption was the inspiration for that hideous device installed in the Ministry recently. Unfortunately, he couldn’t reach the panel of buttons from where he sat so understanding how the elevator worked didn’t really help at all. He waited for several minutes before the elevator began moving again. He had hoped it would go down, but instead, it climbed to the sixth floor before the door opened.
A pair of nuns got in. He couldn’t tell what was worse, the nun that looked like she pitied him and was praying for his soul or the nun that looked like Mrs. Travers about to go on a tear. “Young man, what are you doing in the elevator?” The stern nun addressed him.
“I assure you madam, I have no idea.” Severus replied, trying to look as dignified as possible, which was hard to do when stuck in a wheelchair.
“Where is your nurse?” The softer nun inquired.
“How should I know? She’s obviously not in the elevator. Now, if you could please make this go down to the ground, I’d appreciate it.”
“I think you should really consult the nurses before taking off.” The stern nun stared at him like she expected him to confess to some crime. Undoubtedly he’d given that same look to some first years who thought they could get away with something.
“I did not ask for your opinion. I only asked that you hit the ground floor button.”
“Why I never!” The nuns were affronted. As if to spite him, they hit the tenth floor button, and yet again, Severus felt the elevator moving in the wrong direction. As they reached the top floor, the meek nun wheeled him out, following her fellow nun down the hall to the nurses station in front of one of the wards.
“What can I do for you Sister Agnes?” The nurse manning the station asked the stern nun.
“We found one of your patients trying to escape in the elevator.” Sister Agnes proudly proclaimed.
“Really? Well thanks for the help. I’ll take care of it.” The nuns, content that they had done their Christian duty, returned to the elevator heading down to the ground floor and Severus watched as it took them down to the first floor.
“So you’re trying to get out, are you? What ward are you from?” The nurse addressed him.
“I’m not from any ward.” Severus rolled his eyes. “Now, if you could just have someone take me back to the ground floor, where my ride is waiting, I’ll be on my way.” Severus couldn’t help but feel ridiculous; he could barely peak over the desk the nurse was sitting behind.
“Of course.” The nurse smiled sweetly at Severus, but he didn’t believe she really meant it. She picked up the phone and paged a nurse. The nurse that answered the page, was a large burly man that looked too big to even play beater. Severus overheard the desk nurse whisper instruction to the man including the words “mental”, “security”, and “escapee.” Could this day get any worse? The male nurse grunted and took the handles of the wheel chair, pushing Severus back towards the elevator.
“Look, I’m not sure what that woman told you, but I assure you, I am not supposed to be here. My brother is waiting for me on the ground floor, and I just need someone to bring me down there.” Severus watched as the nurse hit the sixth floor button. “Why are you going to the sixth floor?”
“Mental ward.” The nurse replied with a shrug.
“Oh no! I’m not mental! Look, if I was a mental patient would I have these blasted casts on nearly every appendage?”
“Maybe. Those crazy people come in all sorts of shapes.” The nurse muttered.
Severus downgraded his opinion of the nurse from hired thug to bed-pan cleaner. “Look, can we at least go to the ground floor and look for my brother? If he’s not there, you can take me back to the mental ward.” By that time, I may qualify for it, Severus added in his thoughts.
“Mmm, alright.” The nurse didn’t sound so enthusiastic about the idea, but evidently it was a better way to waste time than what he had been doing upstairs. He hit the ground floor button just as the doors opened onto the sixth floor. Severus breathed a sigh of relief as the doors shut yet again and they continued to descend.
The nurse had barely wheeled him out of the doors, when he picked up the sound of Rupert losing it. “What do you mean, you lost him? How can you possible lose your patient? It was just one floor and he can’t even run away!”
“Honestly Mr. Giles, he was there one minute and was gone the next.” Nurse Kendall insisted.
“Where could he go? Both his legs are broken, you bint!”
“Maybe he took the elevator to a different floor?”
“Yes, well, if you had bothered to get me out of the elevator before the doors closed I wouldn’t have had to take the blasted thing to another floor.” Severus interrupted the argument as the nurse wheeled him closer.
“That your brother?”
“Yes, that is.” Severus muttered.
“Bruno! You found him!” Nurse Kendall beamed. “You’re a doll!”
“He one of yours?” Severus was amazed to see the big hulking nurse blush.
“Yes, where did you find him?”
“What were you doing in oncology?” Severus glared at the nurse who dared to scold him like he was some disobedient puppy. He’d wipe that smirk off her face if only he could cast spells with his non-wand hand, in front of muggles, on the Hellmouth… damn it. Life was not fair.
“Well, Ms. Kendall, if that’s all…” Bruno had such an ‘aw shucks’ expression, that Severus was doing his best not to vomit.
“Thanks Bruno, you’re a dear.” Ms. Kendall winked at the big nurse then took control of the wheelchair, pushing it towards the exit. Giles trailed behind the nurse, still in shock that the nurse could lose a patient, and then go on with her business without so much as an apologize. “Where’s your car?” Ms. Kendall asked.
“It’s right there.” Giles pointed to the only car waiting at the outpatient exit, a small red convertible.
“Merlin’s beard.” Severus muttered, staring at the automobile that looked more like a toy than a legitimate form of transportation. He turned to his brother in all seriousness, and asked. “I don’t suppose you’ve made any modifications to it, like adding a spare trunk?”
Just as the boys turned the corner to their wing, the sound of Nana’s voice caught up with them. “Where have you boys been?” Their personal maid came running towards them.
“Nowhere!” Rupert got out at the same time Severus answered. “The library!” Both boys glanced nervously at each other, but Nana didn’t seem to notice.
“Oh dear, you’re going to be late!”
“Late, late for what?”
“We need to get you washed, and changed, and … good grief, just what have you been up to?”
“Nothing.” Both boys answered. It was true that they had spent the better half of Saturday afternoon in the library, but instead of working on the cuneiform lessons Quentin had left, they had been trying to “hotwire” the back fireplace onto the floo network. While they were unable to crack into the floo system, they did discover three birds nests and a dead bat.
“Oh well, undoubtedly I’ll find out later what sort of mess you two have made.” Rupert had the good grace to blush, but Severus was not going to give an inch. “Now, you need to get cleaned up!” She gently shoved them towards their rooms. “I’m not sure you have time for a full bath, but really you must get that, good heavens, have you got soot in your hair? Were you two playing at being a chimney sweep?” Nana tutted, following along behind the boys.
“I don’t see what the big deal is, Nana. We normally don’t have dinner until six, and father doesn’t care if we’re a little late.” Rupert spoke to the woman who had been his mother figure for most of his life.
“Surely you two haven’t forgotten? Tonight, Mrs. Giles is having some friends over for dinner.” Nana was pulling out clean clothes and laying them out for Rupert as he scrubbed his face.
“We have company?”
“And they’re her people.” Nana added in a whisper. Well that certainly explained why the staff had been so jumpy at lunch time. They had entertained the Watchers Council on numerous occasions, but Rupert couldn’t remember a time when Cassandra had brought any wizards or witches to their house. She was a proud Slytherin, and not about to admit she was living in a place with no floo access, no magical ornaments, and no house elves.
“Do you know whom she invited?” Rupert stuck his head out of the attached bathroom to ask Nana.
“Good grief, no, but they should be arriving any moment now. There you go; that should be appropriate. If you have no more questions, I’ll be going across the hall to check on Severus.”
“Thanks, Nana!” Rupert said around his toothbrush. His curiosity overcoming his aversion to dressing up, Rupert got dressed in record time, and even looked mostly respectable by the time he met Severus in the hall.
“Alright young men, you’re to meet your parents in the study. Now shoo.” Nana herded them down the hall.
Cassandra Snape-Giles was waiting for them at the door to the study. “There you are! Good heavens, what are you wearing?” Rupert glanced at Severus and then back at himself. They were actually dressed quite well for a Saturday dinner. “I told Nana you were to wear your dress robes. This is a disaster!” Rupert didn’t see what the big deal was, but judging from Severus’ grim look, it must have been a minor faux pas.
“We can go back and change.” Severus offered.
“No, no, it’s too late.” Cassandra fretted, although Rupert admired how not a single curl on her head moved as she panicked. “I had just hoped that you would have made a better first impression.”
“First impression? You mean we aren’t just entertaining our relations?” Severus frowned.
“Oh Severus, what am I going to do with you?” Cassandra pulled her son away from the doors of the study, and lowered her voice. “In that room are the senior members of the British Alchemical Society. If you want to arrange an apprenticeship for next summer, those are the wizards you would need to impress. Now, many of them respected your father, but they need to respect you as well if you intend to get a position in their laboratories.” Rupert watched as the blood drained from Severus’ face. He was normally a pale child, but now he could pass as a vampire.
Cassandra brushed off Severus’ clean shirt and pointed him in the direction of the study. “And you,” she added, pointing to Rupert, “I don’t want any of your shenanigans getting in the way tonight.”
“Yes. Ma’am.” Rupert blushed. It didn’t matter how many times he’d proven himself, he had a feeling Cassandra would always consider him the troublemaker. Heaven forbid she admit that Severus got into enough trouble without his assistance. He followed the Snapes into the study and decided the safest course would be towards his father.
“Ah, Rupert, so nice of you to join us. I was just talking to Professor Jigger here about your study habits.” Then again, maybe heading towards his father was not the best move.
Severus was stuck in an equally awkward position as his mother took him from wizard to wizard, introducing him to each of the elderly alchemists. The first one grabbed him by the chin, and twisted his face this way and that before finally pronouncing he looked just like his father. The next in the line immediately announced that he looked just like his father then proceeded to critique every single error Mr. Snape had ever published in Ars Alchemica, and even some errors of omission as well. The third in the line was losing his hearing, and so everything Severus said had to be repeated. The man evidently got it stuck in his head that Severus’ name was Severence and kept on making ridiculous puns about severance pay and severance packages.
Severus was beginning to think the day couldn’t get worse when the butler rang for dinner. The group followed into the dining room, and Severus realized that things were likely to get considerably worse. His place card was sitting next to Albus Dumbledore’s.
“Ah, Mr. Snape,” The headmaster found his place, and nodded to the boy next to him. “I see your molt has gone quite well. I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to be a bird. Tell me, what do feathers feel like?”
Severus wondered if wishing for a Hellmouth to open under his chair was normal for people stuck next to Dumbledore. “It wasn’t a whole bird.” Severus muttered, blushing slightly.
“What’s that you say?” The deaf man on his other side asked.
“He said he wasn’t a whole bird.” Albus repeated, loud enough for the entire table to hear.
“Well that’s silly. Either you are a bird, or you are not a bird.” The alchemist on his right quibbled.
“Ah, but there are some creatures that are only half a bird. Is that not so, Mr. Snape?” Severus wondered if the twinkliness in the headmaster’s eyes correlated with his current level of deviousness.
“Of course, headmaster.” Severus quickly agreed to avoid any comment from his mother. He glanced at the other end of the table. Rupert tried to give him a supportive smile, but he was trapped in his own problem. On Rupert’s right, Master Shingleton was arguing that students should be required to do their mixtures in pewter cauldrons while on his left, Professor Jigger was arguing that students were not competent to handle anything above cast iron for their cauldrons. Both men were trying to draw Rupert into the debate, despite the fact that he knew nothing about cauldron composition.
“Take, for example, the proud griffin. It has both a bird’s wings and a lion’s tail. Fascinating creature, the griffin,” Albus smiled absently as he brought his soup spoon to his mouth.
“That it is.” A pudgy man sitting directly across from Severus chimed in. “Why, I remember, back in the day, my housemates and I decided we’d charm our rooms with a griffin-hex. That spell was a piece of work. At the end of the year, not even the prefects could figure out how to disable it. I don’t suppose it still is active?”
“Oh it might be.” Albus grinned as Severus blushed. As the boy ate his soup, he listened to the man across from him tell about his glory days in Gryffindor.
By the time they reached the main course, Severus was ready to change the subject. His mother gave him a meaningful stare, and he realized that this was his opportunity to impress everyone with his knowledge. He racked his brain for any suitable topic, throwing out anything that had come up in class. Finally he remembered a subject. “I was looking through Ars Alchemica in the library last semester, and I noticed they had developed a wolfsbane potion. Do you think it will actually control the werewolves in this country, Professor?”
“That wolfsbane potion article, didn’t you see boy? That article was recanted.” One of the potion masters scoffed.
“Recanted?” Severus stuttered. He really had no good ideas to fall back on. If his mother had only given him more warning, he could have been prepared.
“Total failure that piece.” Another master added his opinion. “The results were inconsistent and unrepeatable.”
“I thought …” Severus tried again.
“That was precisely the problem. Whoever thought aconite should be included in a potion for werewolves should be drawn and quartered. That’s the problem with these open access journals, anyone can publish there. Now, Alchemica Experimetalis, that’s a quality journal.” The pudgy Gryffindor cut in.
“I’m not familiar with…”
“Of course not, dear, it’s only distributed to society members.” One of only two witches in the group replied. “Of course, there is no good reason why your family should not have a subscription. Cassandra?”
“Yes, Professor Starkey?” As his mother turned to his end of the table, Severus could feel the heat rise to his face. This was a disaster.
“Severus here says he’s never seen an issue of Alchemica Experimentalis. Surely your family has a subscription?”
“But of course. It’s in the library dear.” Cassandra shot an inquisitive look at her son. He felt positively ill, but tried to express that things were running smoothly.
“Well, there you go dear.” The witch smiled patronizingly at Severus then returned to the conversation on her left.
“Thank you.” Severus mumbled.
“So Severus, are you interested in wolfbane potions?” Albus Dumbledore asked. For a second, Severus could have sworn the headmaster’s eyes were shrewdly studying him, but they quickly reverted back to their twinkling indifference.
“Impossible task, if you ask me.” One of the wizards that made Dumbledore look young answered.
“Nobody asked you.” The wizard across from Albus retorted. Suddenly Severus found himself under the scrutiny of Nicholas Flamel. “So, boy, do you think a werewolf potion is possible?”
Severus could feel the weight of several wizards’ gazes on him. “Well.” Severus tried to stall by taking a bite of his food while brainstorming an answer. “I …”
Suddenly all the warnings his mother had ever given him about cutting his food into smaller pieces and not talking with his mouth full made perfect sense. He tried to cough, but his food got stuck in his windpipe. He tried to take a sip of water, but that only made things worse. He could feel his face turning blue as he tried to cough the piece of steak up. He tried to get up and excuse himself to the nearest bathroom, but he staggered against the table. The cries of the wizards around him were drowned out by the sound of his heart racing in his ears. He was going to die, and the earth wasn’t even going to open up and swallow him to grant him a glorious death. No, he was going to be taken down by a piece of Beef Wellington.
“Eruptus!” Albus Dumbledore pointed at Severus’ chest. The boy could feel the last bit of air in him pushed out. The piece of beef went flying out of his mouth, landing squarely on Flamel’s nose.
“Oh dear. Next time that happens, you might consider fixing your aim.” Dumbledore whispered in his ear.
As he sunk back into his chair, Severus realized that this would undoubtedly be the most embarrassing day of the rest of his life, even if he lived to 100.