Title: The Advantages of Being Big
Characters: The Snape family
Beta Readers: arynwy and shiv5468
Beta Viewer: opaljade
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Summary: Severus never pictured things turning out as they did.
"Daddy! Look!" Sarah Jane exclaimed, waving a handful of papers as she ran into the kitchen.
No, not just papers, thought Severus. He set aside his ladle and knelt down to take them from her. "Where did you find these?"
"Mummy found them." Sarah Jane snuggled in against him. "Did you make them?"
"I drew them, yes."
"Will you look at them with me?"
Severus moved to the kitchen table, upon which he spread the drawings; Sarah Jane clambered up into a chair and pointed.
"This one's got magic in it!"
"That's your Grandma Eileen making Pepper-Up Potion," Severus replied.
"It's very good, Daddy. How many years were you?"
"Do you mean how old was I when I drew it?" Severus asked.
Sarah Jane nodded.
"I was this many," he told her, smiling as he held up his left hand to display his fingers.
"One, two, three, four, five! You were five, like me!"
"You know what it is. Your mother gave it to you last month."
"Oh! The one that made my ears go all steamy?"
"The very same."
Sarah Jane turned her attention back to the drawings and pointed out another one. "Is Grandma Eileen telling you a story? She is! What about?"
"That should be easy enough for you to guess. There's a clue."
Sarah Jane leant down to peer at the picture and traced the snake in the shield floating above five-year-old Severus' head. "Hiss."
"That's what snakes say, yes, but what does it tell you about Grandma Eileen's story?"
"It was a snake story?"
"Indeed. She was telling me about Hogwarts."
"And Slyth'rin snakes?" asked Sarah Jane, picking up the picture of a shield displaying the name.
"Slytherin snakes," Severus answered.
"Oh, but Daddy," Sarah Jane said, turning to lay a hand on Severus' arm and lowering her voice as she continued, "you spelt it wrong."
Severus laughed. "I wasn't as good a speller at five as you are."
"Mummy says spelling's important. Spelling things means knowing letters, and letters make words, and words—"
"Have power," they said, as one.
Sarah Jane turned back to his drawings, and Severus sat down.
Observing his daughter's sudden frown as she pulled a drawing he'd missed out from underneath one of the others, he asked, "What's wrong?"
"Do tears have power?"
Oh. That one. Severus sighed to look at it.
He was casting about for an explanation for the picture when he felt Sarah Jane slide one of her hands into one of his.
"Aunt Luna says it's okay to be sad sometimes."
Severus squeezed Sarah Jane's hand but didn't speak, and Sarah Jane, as if understanding that he couldn't, squared her shoulders and resolutely slid the unhappy image under the one of the Slytherin shield.
"We'll speak no more of this," she told him, sounding exactly like her mother.
Severus couldn't help but smile at that.
Sarah Jane beamed at him and pointed at the last picture. "Is that your friend?"
"Yes," Severus replied, feeling his already tightened throat close a bit more.
"She . . . she was very pretty."
"Where'd she go?"
"But why? Was she old?"
Severus leant down to kiss the top of Sarah Jane's head. "You would think so, I imagine, but no, she wasn't so very old when she died."
"It is," Severus told her, rising to tend to his stew. An impulse—perhaps to distract his daughter from questioning him further—made him ask, "Would you like to help me stir?" as he Summoned one of the kitchen chairs to his side.
"Mummy says I'm too little."
"When unsupervised, yes, but I'll help you—and we don't have to tell Mummy about it, now do we?"
"Daddy, that's lying."
Severus snorted. "Well, if you don't want to help me . . . ."
Sarah Jane immediately scooted off her chair and carefully, with Severus' help, climbed up on the one next to him. "This isn't a potion. It's just dinner."
"Lamb stew's magical enough for such a rainy day. Here," he said, placing the spoon in her hand and closing his hand over hers to guide it, "stir in a figure eight pattern."
"Am I doing it right?"
"You certainly are."
"Ahem," came a voice from the door. "Exactly what is going on here?"
"It's okay, Mummy. I'm supervised!"
Severus turned to see Hermione raise an eyebrow in apparent, mild annoyance and smirked at her. "My daughter is an excellent stirrer."
"I thought we'd decided that our daughter is still too little for cauldrons?"
"This isn't a cauldron, Mummy. It's a pot."
"And you are doing an excellent job of stirring it, but I think you'd best go wash up for dinner. It smells ready to me."
"To me, too," Sarah Jane replied, dutifully climbing down and scampering from the kitchen.
Severus flicked a hand at the chair, sending it back to the table. "And I thought we'd decided that she was still too young to sleep upstairs? You were up in the attics cleaning them out, yes?"
Hermione pulled Severus into a hug. "She's 'big', now. She'll be fine up there. I do still know the monitoring charm."
"Even so, I . . . I don't want her to be big."
"I know, but do you want to tell her that she can't have her big girl room?" Hermione asked, easing out of Severus' arms to stir the stew. "Because I'm not doing that."
Severus gave a mock shudder. "Oh, very well, but the stairs will need a cushioning charm so that she doesn't—"
"Well," Hermione said, sounding fond.
Severus placed his hands on her shoulders and leant down to rest his chin on her head. "This is not how I pictured things."
"Making Spinner's End a real home?"
"That, and so many other things—you, for example."
"And Sarah Jane?" asked Hermione, leaning back into his chest.
"Especially Sarah Jane."
"Still think I'm barking for suggesting all this?" Hermione asked, turning to surrender the spoon to Severus.
"You are completely barking—just ask Mam. Where is she, by the way?"
"She's having a good rummage through your old drawings. Might take her a bit to come down to dinner—she isn't keen to take the stairs again."
"Does she need more pain potion?"
"No, her hip's not bothering her today. She's just enjoying having a reason to complain."
Severus snorted, and turned as he felt a tugging at his sleeve. "Did you wash your hands?"
"Not yet," said Sarah Jane, handing him a drawing. "This is for you."
Oh, thought Severus, his throat clenching again.
"It's a lovely picture," Hermione told Sarah Jane, gently taking it from Severus. "Your father likes it very much, don't you?"
"I do. Thank you, Sarah Jane."
"You're welcome, Daddy! And Daddy?"
"Do you still have the shirt? Grandma Eileen says she can't find it."
"The snake shirt."
Severus looked at Hermione, unsure of how to respond. He'd never actually had a snake shirt, and he had a horror of disappointing his daughter. Hermione came to his rescue.
"Would you like a shirt like that, baby?"
"I'm not a baby. I stir now."
Laughing, Hermione unsheathed her wand and twirled it in Sarah Jane's direction. "There. One snake shirt, no charge."
"Eee! Wait 'til Grandma Eileen sees!" Sarah Jane dashed away again.
Severus flushed as he gently laid Sarah Jane's drawing safely aside. "She'll think it's silly."
"Perhaps, but she won't say as much to—what is it?"
"I . . . I like the picture."
Hermione's expression of curiosity smoothed into understanding. "I know, but that's not what you were going to say. What is it?"
"Oh, all right. It's just that I always wanted a shirt like that, but—"
"It never occurred to you to make yourself one." Rolling her eyes, Hermione repeated her wand twirling.
A frisson of magic tingled across Severus' chest. He opened his robes to look down at his shirt, and a little boy's delight surged through him. "Wicked."
"For you, there'll be a charge," Hermione said, winking, "but you may pay me later."
"I will," Severus promised, before dashing off, himself, calling, "Sarah Jane! Look!"