Title: Tea Time
Age-Range Category: Three
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Severus Snape
Beta Reader(s): Tuesday November, Inkfire
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Summary: Snape sits in his office and drinks tea.
He drinks tea.
Snape sits in his office and drinks tea. It is a Thursday night, nothing out of the ordinary, and he sits there quietly, enjoying the hot beverage. The heat from the cup is slowly seeping into his skin, first spreading through his fingers, then his hands, up his arms and finally into his whole body. It is calming to sit in the dark, cold Hogwarts dungeons on a Thursday night, a cup of tea in hand. Snape feels almost serene.
He takes a sip.
The tea is still hot, almost burning his tongue as he eagerly gulps it down. He nearly coughs as the steaming liquid runs down his throat, and exhales loudly. Heat spreads through his body again, and he feels like he has taken three doses of Pepper-Up potion. He half expects steam to coil out of his ears. Would the steam condense in the dungeon air, he briefly wonders, or would it simply diffuse, unnoticed?
No student has ever seen him like this. Ever since Snape returned to Hogwarts as a teacher—back in 1981, almost five years ago now—no student has seen him sitting calmly in front of a fire, holding tea and a journal. He spends a lot of time there, thinking. Snape does not care for the busy movement of the school above him, for the children running and screaming and mischief galore, or for his colleagues, who sit together gossiping almost ever evening. He tried, of course, out of obligation he did join them once or twice, and still does so sometimes when the occasion demands it. But like it, no, he doesn't. He doesn't like the noise or the light or the million voices rising to an enchanted sky that never fails to amuse the younger students.
Snape curls his lips. Younger students.
They must think he despises them, and with good reason, too. But in reality, he finds their antics amusing. He likes to see them cower and whisper and shake before the evil Potions Master. It is an image he has carefully created, artfully fashioned for himself. The dour, greasy-haired, unapproachable teacher, the one who doesn't mollycoddle his students and smirks evilly when asked a question by a young nitwit. It is amusing, he thinks, and takes another sip of tea. When he started, he was not much older than the children he was supposed to teach, but his other persona, Professor Snape, serves to keep them at bay. He is not one of them. Snape is a much better comedian than anyone would give him credit for. He is thankful for that, though sometimes, he looks at their faces and wishes he were not.
He takes another sip of tea. It is lovely, still warm and fragrant in his mouth. He does not trust the house-elves to brew his tea, instead he opts to do it himself, in an old-fashioned kettle over an open fire. The smoke helps create a peaceful atmosphere, he finds, and it is soothing to stand there, waiting for the water to boil, his mind completely void. It is the time he keeps to himself.
Snape reflects on what has happened when he drinks tea. On his stupidity. On his faults. On his past. On his mother. On potions and dreams. On Lily. On other things, more mundane, like the hole in his left sock and the way some students smile at one another. He thinks of articles he has read recently, and of the scathing replies he has prepared for the more idiotic ones. At times, his mind wanders to his collection of poetry and classic novels.
What would Minerva say if she knew he liked to sit in front of a fire, reading Jane Eyre and sipping Earl Grey tea?
Snape also fiddles with spells in the evenings. Although he finds that, as his youth has fled, his creative energy does not grant him bountiful discoveries, he is satisfied with the spells he has invented. They are mainly potions spells, and he distributes them through St. Mungo's as well as various academic journals under a nom de plume. His colleagues praise his work.
Sipping his tea, English Breakfast today although midnight is fast approaching, he is content.
He knows he has reasons aplenty to wish the world were different. In the morning, things usually look particularly dire. Snape is not a morning person, after all. When he has managed to drag himself out of bed and hot water is beating down on his tired shoulders, he cannot help thinking of things past, of love lost and friendships gone. A cup of tea and a proper, solidly English breakfast at the teachers' table usually lift his spirits, even on bad days. At least a little.
By lunchtime, Snape always manages to be awake and alert. His classes—bloody dunderheads—see to that. Sleepiness is only rewarded with explosions and melting cauldrons left and right. He likes his students, he does, but on Monday mornings at nine, it is particularly easy to slip into the sour-tempered character of Professor Snape. Even the Slytherins fear him on those mornings, despite their cunning talent to avoid being insulted. And after lunch, Snape drinks another cup of tea. It is usually green tea, sometimes incredibly sweet and flavoured with mint in authentic Moroccan style, sometimes perfumed with lemon zest and grated ginger, sometimes plain and simple.
His afternoon classes come and go in a blur of students, fumes and recipes. Night sets early here in Scotland, and in winter, darkness covers Hogwarts before Snape stops working. He is grateful for the silence darkness sometimes brings, especially when coupled with snow. On particularly cold winter nights, just before the Solstice and in the still short days of January, he fixes himself a cup of herbal tea before dinner. It is easy, for a skilled Potions Master, to assemble a delightful drink with some herbs, some spices, a splash of milk or liquor.
Albus sometimes asks him to brew a special tea for him. It is sweet, tasting of oranges, strawberries and cloves, but Albus seems to like it. Once in a great while, they will share a cup or two of his tea. All in all, however, Snape is an intensely private man. Albus is the only of his colleagues who is aware of his habit, and the headmaster has been sworn to secrecy.
Snape takes another sip of tea, draining his cup. The time has come to go to bed. He carefully rinses his cup, puts it back in the drawer where it belongs and, extinguishing the lights, he pulls the door to his sanctuary shut behind him.