One Last Potion
“If you think that’s bad, you should see our school uniforms.”
“Do you do that whole pleated skirt, tie, Catholic school girl look?” Cordelia’s voice could be heard even before the door bell to the Magic Box chimed.
“You could say that.”
“Please, I could totally pull that look off.”
“But then we have to wear these big black robes over everything.”
“Like graduation robes?” Cordelia asked, holding the door open as the girl carried in a large pink caboodle.
“Exactly like that. No amount of fitting charms can make that look good. Trust me, Lavender has tried.”
“As long as you don’t have to wear those mortarboard hats, I bet I could still make it look good.” The girls giggled.
“Ms. Granger!” Severus barked from the back of the store. All giggling stopped.
“And that would be Professor Snape.” Hermione sighed and followed the noise to the back, Cordelia following her.
“You were supposed to arrive an hour ago. Where’s Poppy?”
“Madame Pomphrey got called to an emergency. Some of the first years were trying to recreate the last battle after hours and this time the dark side was winning.” Hermione said tiredly. “She can’t leave Hogwarts until the students have recovered.
“Bloody Gryffindors.” Snape muttered.
“Actually, it was the Hufflepuffs, sir.” Giles and Remus tried to hold in their laughter.
“Well, how am I supposed to portkey out if Poppy doesn’t fix me?’ Snape was considerably less amused.
“I can handle it.” Hermione insisted.
“I think not!”
“Actually,” Cordelia interrupted. “Isn’t this more Buffy’s specialty?”
“Huh?” Buffy looked up from where she had been filing her nails and ‘studying’.
“Hello? Pasty face, archaic clothes, total bitter ‘tude - you’re the slayer; do the math.” Cordelia addressed her former classmate.
“Ahem, Cordelia, that’s my brother.” Giles interjected.
“And weren’t you the one who taught us that one thing doesn’t prevent the other? I seem to recall you saying ‘he may have been your boyfriend once, Ms. Chase, but now he’s nothing but a demon wearing your boyfriend’s face’.” Cordelia’s impersonation of Giles’ British accent made it clear to everyone why she hadn’t made it big as an actress yet. “And, for the record, I never dated Bobby McDonald; we just hung out in the same circles.”
“True, I may have said that, but in this case, those traits have described him since Severus was five.”
Cordelia sized up the wizard in the wheel chair again. “Are you sure you’re related?”
“Yes. He’s my evil step-brother.” Giles said smugly.
“Would you quit saying that? It was old even before Hogwarts.” Snape sneered.
Cordelia finally relented. “Wow. You really do have an evil step-brother. Huh.”
“Now if you’re through mocking me, Ms. Granger, floo Albus immediately and have him send Poppy. You can take care of the Hufflepuff miscreants.”
“Trust me, I offered, but he refused. Evidently one of the injured Hufflepuffs is the Minister’s nephew. He insisted on a registered mediwitch present.”
“Very well.” Snape sighed. “But next time Albus wants to make me suffer, I’ll tell him to just send me to Azkaban. It will be much cheaper and more painless than being stuck in a room with you three.” He glared at Hermione, Giles, and Lupin.
“Hey, what did he do?” Cordelia remarked, catching the nasty glare Snape sent to the seemingly pleasant looking man in the tweed robe.
“You know how Xander, Jesse, and I had the ‘we hate Cordelia’ club back in junior high?” Willow started with the explaining. “From what I understand, it’s sorta like that with him hating him, but from way back when.”
“So you all went to school together?” The three men nodded. “And you hated each other from school?”
“Well, I think hate is a bit of a strong word.” Remus offered with a grin. “Or maybe not.” Remus caught the look Severus gave him, that clearly said ‘don’t encourage the girl.’
“And you’re still bitter.”
“I don’t think you can possibly comprehend the history we have, Ms. Chase.” Severus answered.
“But that’s totally lame! I mean, Xander got over it, heck we even made up, or at least made out, before hating each other again, and I was way worse than he could ever be.” Cordelia cast another haughty glare in Snape’s direction. “Geesh, hold a grudge much?”
“Please, Cordelia, let’s try not to insult Severus too much. He gets testy.” Giles resorted to polishing his glasses so that he wouldn’t have to see his brother’s returning glare. “I know, why don’t you girls go do that female bonding thing?”
“You mean get dinner?” Buffy teased her watcher.
“Yes, that will work too, please?”
“Alright, we get the picture. Come on Willow, let’s show Cordelia the fine art of campus dining.” Buffy jumped to her feet.
“Aw, I wanted to watch the wizard magic healing thingy.” Willow sighed.
Giles sent her a withering glare. The last thing Severus needed when being healed was an audience, especially one so prone to making witty comments. “Alright, but I’d rather go to some place in town than the dining hall. I’m sick of soggy green beans.” Willow relented. “Do you want us to bring you guys back anything?”
“No, thank you.” Giles answered for the group.
“A cup of tea would be nice.” Hermione commented. “Or at least something with caffeine. Do you have any idea what time it is back home?”
“One in the morning.” The three men all answered without having to check their watches.
“I’ll get you a cup.” Giles said, and was relieved to see Buffy, Willow and Cordelia leave the shop. “Is there anything else you’ll need, Ms. Granger?”
“Hmm,” Hermione opened her caboodle and pulled out a long scroll with
instructions from Madame Pomphrey. “I don’t suppose you have something that can take off the casts? Madam Pomphrey wasn’t anticipating those.”
“Foolish girl, why don’t you just charm them off? Any good mediwitch would know that spell.” Snape shook his left cast at her.
“I did think of that.” Hermione defended herself. “Cordelia was saying on the drive up that magic acted wonky here, so I thought I’d avoid unnecessary spells. After all, what if I charmed your cast away and your leg went with it?”
“Bloody know-it-all.” Severus mumbled, but couldn’t disagree.
“Hmm, how sharp does it need to be to cut through a cast? We’ve got several swords and battle axes lying around. Will one of those work?” Giles looked around the shop for anything even the slightest bit useful for cutting the plaster casts.
“Maybe if you’re trying to amputate his limbs, but somehow I don’t think a battle axe will work.” Lupin teased. “However, if you decide to try, please wait for me to get my camera.”
“If you’re not going to be any use here, perhaps you should go take a walk in one of the cemeteries. It will be dark soon.” Severus shot back.
“Hmm, if cutting them off won’t work, what else will?” Hermione mused. “You know, I’ve always heard that casts aren’t supposed to get wet. Do you suppose we could dissolve a cast?”
“We could try it with his arm first.” Giles mused. “It couldn’t hurt.”
“Yes it could.” Severus objected.
“We’d need some sort of pan he could put his arm in.”
“That’s easy enough to transfigure.” Remus offered.
“Please, put that wand away. I spent all morning getting rid of gribles; I don’t want to attract any more.” Giles answered. “No, I think I have just the thing in the back.”
As Giles went to fetch the small tub in the back, Hermione began laying out the various potions and salves she’d need to use. “When was the last time you ate anything?” She asked Snape.
“I don’t remember. Why does it matter?”
“Hmm,” Hermione made a non-committal noise as she scribbled something on the parchment.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing.” Hermione answered. “Are you sure you don’t remember?”
“Why do I get the feeling that something you’re going to give me will cause me to throw up?”
“He had some shortbread about an hour ago, and Rupert fed him half a peanut better sandwich at noon.” Remus answered.
“Ah, now that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Hermione smiled at Snape. “The good news is that it sounds like you’ve avoided dairy foods. Those tend to react with the skelegrow potion and make you prone to gall stones. But, since you haven’t had any cheese, cream, or milk in the last few hours, your calcium should be fine.”
“What’s the bad news?” Snape asked.
“What bad news? There’s no bad news.” Hermione asked as she continued to read Pomphrey’s instructions.
“You just said, ‘the good news is’. That implies there is equally bad news following it.” Snape answered.
“The bad news is poor Ms. Granger is stuck listening to you here, when the rest of her friends are sleeping peacefully in their dormitory.” Giles said, carrying a tin washtub in and setting it on a chair by Severus’ left side.
“Now I’m curious. How on earth do you use that to slay demons?” Remus asked. He had spent all afternoon exchanging humorous dark arts stories with these muggles and had appreciated their creativity. Already he had heard the story about the puddle of super glue, the fire hose, and the strawberry incense sticks; so he couldn’t help but wonder what sort of demon could be taken down by a metal bucket.
“Actually, this is for the shop. During the holiday sales, this becomes the bargain bin.” Giles offered sheepishly. “I just don’t leave it out year round because I trip over it.”
“Ah. That’s rather dull.” Lupin sighed.
“Could you fill this up to the second mark with water? It would probably go faster if we put some detergent in it as well. Mr. Giles, do you have anything that makes bubbles?” Hermione was all business.
“I think I have some laundry soap in the back. Buffy often has to wash often demon goo before returning to her dorm.”
“Brilliant.” Lupin grinned.
“A pinch of sand dollar, two naggins of Oil of Arabica, a sprig of mustard, two pinches sweet gum resin, and a spring of mint.” Snape pronounced.
“What are you talking about? According to Lyson’s Ingredient Compendium, one should never mix resins with Oil of Arabica, and according to Flamel’s Potions from the Sea, sand dollars need to be activated with another marine ingredient for any reaction with them to happen. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” Hermione frowned at Snape. Surely one week with muggles wouldn’t be enough to wipe out all he knew about potions.
“Sweet gum and Oil of Arabica? When have I… oh! That’s right!” Giles started laughing. “That’s brilliant. I had forgotten about that one!”
“How could you forget? It was the Gryffindor quidditch team’s crowning glory.” Snape smirked.
“Merlin, that was funny.”
“Wait a minute. Does this have anything to do with the Ravenclaw game incident?” Remus asked suspiciously as he dumped a pitcher of water into the tub.
“I reserve the right to remain silent.” Snape tried not to smile.
“Ah, those were the days.” Giles sighed contentedly.
“I don’t understand.” Hermione whined.
“Seventh year, during the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw game, all of the Gryffindor uniforms dissolved mid air. Minerva was beside herself.”
“She’d probably never seen that many naked men before in her life.” Snape added.
“They tried to find the culprit. They tested everyone’s wands, but nobody had used a dissolving charm lately, and of course, with the uniforms gone, there was no physical evidence.”
Snape decided to be benevolent to Hermione’s curiosity. “To answer your questions, Ms. Granger, Lyson is a spineless twit. Resins and the Oil of Arabica cause a fabric dissolving reaction when properly activated by an abrasive such as sand dollar dust. As for the sand dollar activator, the water in the tub is the marine element, you fool. Of course, salt water, such as sweat, would be even more effective, but I’m not up for a game of quidditch.” Giles broke into more laughter.
“You know, this is really wrong of you, Professor Snape. You led Harry to believe that you were persecuted by his father at school, but the truth is you gave as good as you got, isn’t it?”
“Ms. Granger, you should know by now that history is told by the winners.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but you’re a bastard.” Hermione said, fully expecting house points to be taken off.
“Now Hermione, you’ve probably been just as nasty to Draco Malfoy over the years.” Lupin counseled the young girl. He had gotten over the school rivalries years ago, but evidently others hadn’t.”
“That’s different. He started it.”
“And you felt the need to finish it. As did I.” Snape replied.
Giles decided it was time to change the conversation. “I understand the mustard for your skin underneath,” he said, collecting the ingredients Snape had asked for, “but what’s the mint for?”
“It smells nice.”
“Of course.” Giles sighed. “Well,” he poured the ingredients into the tub of water. “Here’s to your health.”
Professor Jigger stormed into the faculty lounge and threw a book down on the table. “There you are!” He seethed. “You harpy!”
“Cornelius?” Minerva questioned the normally placid potions professor.
“She’s ruined him!” He pointed an accusing finger at Medea Lestrange, who had been enjoying a pleasant tea time with professors McGonagall, Sprout, and Sinistra.
“Who?” Minerva asked. She cast a questioning glance at the defense professor, but she seemed just as puzzled as everyone else.
“Severus… he’s a mess! I don’t know what to do!”
“He seemed perfectly alright in my class.” Professor Sprout chimed in.
“Of course he did. Anyone with half a brain cell could pass your class!”
The ladies gasped. “Really, Cornelius! Whatever your own problems are, you shouldn’t take them out on your colleagues.” McGonagall scolded.
“Do you want to know what my problem is? I’ll tell you! I’ve waited my entire life for a student like Severus Snape. I can’t tell you how many idiots blowing up cauldrons I’ve had to clean up after just to find one student with the skills, knowledge, and artistry to truly be a master above all others. The boy is poised for greatness. Or at least he was, until YOU RUINED HIM!” Professor Jigger got right into Gran’s face.
“In case you’ve forgotten, I’m the boy’s grandmother. It’s in my best interest to make sure Severus does well. I would never ‘ruin’ him.” Medea snapped back.
“Oh really? The perhaps you could explain why ever since you had that little talk with him last week he’s been mumbling to himself and gazing off into space for minutes at a time? What sort of poisonous thoughts did you feed him?” The professor raged, his cheeks turning red in anger.
“All I told him was that he should follow his heart and ask a girl he likes to the dance instead of the girl he’s expected to take. I don’t think that’s unreasonable advice.” There were murmurs of agreement from the other female faculty.
“Did it ever occur to you that teenage boys are incapable of following their hearts?!” Jigger quivered in anger.
“Now really, Cornelius, so the boy has a crush. The poor thing has been in mourning ever since his father died over a decade ago. I think this is a good thing that he’s showing some life.” Pomona Sprout commented.
“Sure you do, but you’re not a potions master. Potions need to be precise and logical, not ruled by emotions. He’s getting distracted, and it’s getting to be dangerous to have him in the lab.”
“No more so that any other student. We all have to deal with teenage students and their hormones.” Minerva intervened.
“You don’t understand! Today he was so distracted, he combined sweet gum resin and Oil of Arabica.” Jigger ranted.
“That’s ridiculous! He knows better than that.” Gran interjected.
“Of course he knows better, but he did it anyway. No we’re both short one set of laboratory robes. What’s next? Ashwinder and brimstone?”
“Now Cornelius, I’m sure he’s learned his lesson. I don’t think Severus is going to start making bombs.” Gran tried to calm the potions professor down. “Besides, as soon as he asks Violet to the dance, that will be the end of the nerves. If she says yes, he’ll have a date and can stop worrying. If she says no, she’ll fail defense and Severus will go back to his normal gloomy self.”
“And why would you think he’d ask Ms. Whitehorn?” Professor Jigger scowled.
“When we spoke, he said she was pretty.” Gran answered. “He’s a boy; boys like pretty.”
“You stupid, stupid witch! If he had wanted a dance with the house trollop, Malfoy undoubtedly could have arranged it years ago. He’s not mooning over her. He’s set his sights on that Gryffindor Evans!”
“Lily Evans? Are you sure?” Gran was beginning to get a sinking feeling about this.
“None other. She couldn’t even boil water until fifth year, and the stupid boy thinks he’s in love.”
“Well, I for one think they could be a sweet couple.” Pomona offered.
“As do I. It’s high time our houses mingled, Cornelius.” McGonagall agreed.
“Mark my words, Minerva, nothing good will come of this.” Jigger grabbed his library book off the table and made a strategic retreat.
“Hmm, and I thought Slytherins like Jigger didn’t believe in prophecies of doom.” Professor Sinistra observed wryly. The ladies giggled in response, but Gran had the sneaking suspicion that there might be more truth to Jigger’s prediction than anyone could imagine. Only time would tell.