Characters: Eileen Snape, Tobias Snape, OFC, Severus Snape
Word Count: 1775
Summary: Eileen does what she can to give Severus all the advantages as he begins his life.
Disclaimer: This work of fan fiction is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made from (and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by) the posting of this fan work.
Author's Note: Written for the 2021 run of snapecase. Thank you, Shog, for beta'ing.
The mushrooms covered the forest floor, poking up through decomposing leaves and the unmelted snow of the morning's fall. They had thick, bulbous caps that glowed with a pink-tinged pearlescence, and one could sense a thickness in the air around them.
Eileen removed a phial from her pocket. "Accio spores!"
A stream of lighted heaviness flowed into the glass until it shone like a little lantern; Eileen stoppered it with a cork, staring at the little wonders of nature as she considered the good they could do, would do, when properly prepared with a competent hand.
Her final ingredient collected, she took a moment to drink in the woodland sights and scents, the sounds that were not at all mysterious to her, and allowed herself the rare pleasure of being a witch, a brewer, in her element. She missed practising her craft, it was true.
But nothing's better than being with my Toby, thought she, cradling her belly with one arm.
Two were about to become three, and Eileen had never been more at peace.
—to do this, but it was your choice, and I respect it. That said, my dear darling, I cannot take the same risk. I like my life. It's as simple as that. I like my life, and I am weak.
I cannot risk being disowned as you have been.
Take this cauldron as a sign of my love, sister. It was the cauldron that brewed your First Potions. Use it to brew little Severus' to keep him healthy and strong. Try not to hate me for not helping you do it. Try. And be well, Eileen, well and happy and a mother.
With love and regret,
Eileen's sigh was deep as she placed her tools upon the table: a clean sheet, her own baby cauldron, a gold spoon, a silver spoon, and a copper spoon, and a glass rod with which to do the true stirring.
You knew she wouldn't come, she reminded herself, Summoning her ingredients.
Esme had never been strong, and she was beautiful, with friends and suitors in abundance.
At least she wasn't above a little thievery.
Was it thievery, though? A First Cauldron was never used for anything other than brewing those initial potions that would keep illness at bay in a magical babe. Once that brewing was done, the precious pot was set upon a shelf for all to gaze upon, an expected utensil and proof of parental competence, nothing more than that.
But in the right families, thought Eileen, something to show off.
She picked up her cauldron. It was small but weighty and would have not been particularly remarkable had not it boasted a filigreed edge that, upon closer inspection, revealed itself to be a set of protective runes rising from the black iron of the cauldron's body. The runes sparkled in the right light, full moonlight, and when they did, it became obvious that the pot, itself, sparkled.
Eileen, unlike her own mother, had never cared for such affectations, but tradition was tradition, and it was quite important to Eileen that she do everything right and proper for her son. Oh, yes, she knew that her babe would be a boy—surprises were anathema to her and there were spells—hence, she'd taken the trouble to name her son and begin budgeting for his arrival. Toby's job was a good one, but it was best to prepare.
Money is dear, now.
She poured the spores into the cauldron with the cold water, not yet lighting the flame. There was cold steeping to start this First, and in the quiet of the garden shed, which she's repaired to prevent light from escaping it, that admixture could glow as strongly as it needed to for the next three days.
Pretty, Eileen mouthed, as the colours ran together.
And then without ceremony, she pricked her left pinkie and allowed her blood to flow.
Toby had seen the page of her book, the one about mushrooms; she'd told him it was a cookbook, and that she was planning a mushroom pie.
"Don't forget the meat!" he'd cheerfully called, leaving for work.
That was careless, she thought later, in the safety of the shed.
Eileen couldn't afford to be careless. Severus was coming soon, and she needed to finish her brew. There were three First Potions, and they had to be the first things a wizarding baby tasted, one right after the other—and then the third things the babe tasted, after breast milk or magical formula—seven days after birth. The process wasn't the same as Muggle vaccination, but it served the same purpose. Eileen knew better than to waste the opportunity to protect her boy. She'd lost her family's respect, approval, and money, but she would keep Severus as safe as houses in this new life she'd chosen for them both.
She removed the cauldron's lid and inhaled.
The potion smelt of fresh, wet earth and something, well, something exactly like mushrooms that had not grown in shit. There they were, the little gossamer things: tens of tiny bright mushrooms growing atop the skin of her potion, some of them beginning to tinge from pink to red, from red to purple.
With the copper spoon, Eileen removed the mostly pearlescent mushrooms, scooping them into a goblet where they melted into an opaque liquid before reforming again. She cut under the pinkish mushrooms with the silver spoon and flipped each one neatly out of the cauldron and onto a plate before setting it aside. The purple-tinged mushrooms jiggled and steamed as Eileen smartly tapped each one down into the potion, which caused an acrid and, yes, unfortunately excremental scent to rise from the pot. The stench quickly dissipated when she upended the plate of pinkish mushrooms into the mix before vigorously stirring the concoction with her glass rod.
And now, the pearls.
Replacing the cauldron's lid, Eileen took the softly glowing remaining mushrooms inside where she unceremoniously fried them in butter and ate them with eggs and toast.
Eileen was decanting the first of her spore-bound potions when she heard the pop! of Apparation outside the shed's door.
She badly wanted to reach for it, but she didn't dare do so. She couldn't risk spilling her work.
"It's all right," a soft voice said. "May I come in?"
"Hurry!" Eileen hissed.
The door opened and closed again without a sound.
Esme picked up a cork and held it out to Eileen as she finished pouring the potion into the phial. "One down, I see."
"Why are you here?"
"You needn't snatch," Esme said, pouting. "I would have—"
"Why are you here?" demanded Eileen. "Someone could have seen you! And you're not supposed—"
"No one saw. No one will. I value my—"
"Pretty little life too much, yes, I know," interrupted Eileen, cradling the phial against her belly.
Esme's eyes widened. "Are you sure it's just the one boy?"
"Has Mother discovered it gone from the nursery?"
Esme flushed. "No, but it's only a matter of time."
"Well, you can't have it back, yet. I'm not done."
"Oh, don't worry about that! Look," said Esme, fishing about in her lacy reticule. "I brought all three. Bought them from the finest apothecary in—"
Suddenly, Eileen found herself staring down the length of her wand at her sister. "No. I don't want those. I'm brewing them myself!"
"You needn't be so unpleasant, dear. Only the best for my nephew, see?" Esme placed the phials on the table. "Only the best—and it's best this way, you know, because if Mother discovered the cauldron gone, she could set the Aurors on you for theft, and you know she would."
Eileen's wand hand did not waiver, but she felt her eyes burn. She had so wanted to do this for Severus, so wanted to do it right.
"Eileen," Esme said, in her wheedling way, "Eileen, we can't risk it. Mother knows you're pregnant."
"I don't know, but she does. Please, give me the cauldron. I'll put it back, and no one will ever know that it was gone."
"Why did you even send it to me?" asked Eileen, her tears falling freely.
Esme slipped Eileen's wand from her fingers and embraced her carefully. "I'm so very sorry. I shouldn't have. It wasn't fair. You left, you left and . . . well, leaving everything behind is for the best, isn't it?" she asked, holding up Eileen's wand between them.
The snarl came from a place inside Eileen that she hadn't known was there as she snatched back her wand and shoved her sister away. "Get out. Take the damn pot, but get out!"
Esme went, quite literally, flying into the door, which broke into several pieces that did nothing to break her fall. The cauldron landed to one side of her head, and trembling visibly, Esme picked it up and fled towards the back gate.
She never reached it.
Severus kicked, harder than he ever had, in the wake of his aunt's Disapparation, and Eileen issued one wet sob before falling silently to the ground amidst the shards of all but one of the phials.
Seven days after Severus Tobias Snape was born, Eileen found herself giving the second taste of the first of the First Potions to her son. The air was redolent of mushrooms, and she knew that the potion from which they emanated would bring him strength and keep him from contracting any number of hideously disfiguring magical poxes. After giving birth, quite alone, it had drained her of almost all her strength, forcing herself off the sofa and out into the garden to fetch it, but fetch it, she had.
I wish I'd had all three Firsts.
It crushed her to know that she hadn't managed to brew the second and third Firsts, but getting the first of the Firsts into her boy had been better than nothing—and more, honestly, than she'd expected him to have, all things considered.
"I . . . I did my best, baby," she murmured, inhaling his little head.
Severus smelled just like a perfect, brand new baby, just as he ought to do.
Just as I hoped.
It would be all right. It wasn't as if he'd be much around magical folk, anyway. He wouldn't be sickly.
I'll keep you well fed and warm and looked after, and you'll be fine, thought Eileen, looking at her son and resolutely pushing away her concerns.
It didn't do to dwell on things about which nothing could be done, after all, and it was a stupid waste of time in the face of her good fortune. She hadn't lost a family but gained one, gained a husband who loved her and adored his son, a man who wanted to make a family to love rather than have a family to show off.
Her son burbled up at her, and Eileen smiled happily at him. "Do you know what, Severus? You've your father's eyes. Yes, you do. Your have your father's eyes—and all the advantages of being his son."