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Title: Baby, Now That I've Found You
Author: teaoli
Recipient: meladara
Prompt: I didn't know it could/would do THAT!
Summary: Hermione learns an important lesson about brewing.
Rating: T/Teen
Word Count: 1134 (yes, I went over my 100-word limit. Oops!)
Author’s Notes: This story, while written for meladara's prompt, was also inspired by a scene in a very late chapter (currently 37; I've only posted up to Chapter 2, so far) of my WiP Lessons in Metempsychosis and Saṅsāra. The title (from The Foundations' song) relates more to that scene than to this story (You'll see when I get around to posting it in a few years.), but I needed a title and this is what came to mind. Fortunately, you don't have to have read that to read this. Like all of my fest gifts, this one hasn't been beta-read.
Disclaimer: Everything recognisable was the invention and is the property of Jo Rowling.





Long fingers, slender yet strong, curled around it in a firm grip. As Hermione watched, his hand squeeze it gently before letting it slide backwards then forwards again, seemingly of its own volition. Soon, he’d established a rhythm pattern. Grip. Squeeze. Slide. Slide. Grip. Squeeze. Slide. Slide. Grip. Squeeze. Slide. Slide. Slowly, methodically, he let the pressure build, seemingly oblivious to his silent watcher.

Grip. Squeeze. Slide. Slide. Grip. Squeeze…

And then Severus turned its head toward the ceiling, and a stream of pressurised liquid entered the air in an explosive release.

“Perfection!” Hermione couldn’t stop a delighted squeal following her declaration.

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” he informed her, startling Hermione out of her fervent musings. “But your genuine appreciation for such true talent will get you a taste.”

Wondering what he could possibly mean by that, he blinked a few times.

“Come here,” he cajoled, one hand still gripping the object that had captured her attention.

She tasted. Perfection, she thought.

“Now get out of my kitchen and let me work,” he growled and turned back to the task at hand. “I need another ten minutes before dinner will be ready for eating.”

She left without making her usual protests, too consumed with thoughts of what she’d just witnessed to try to instigate a friendly argument. Later, she promised herself. When Severus was in his garden or of the greenhouses, there would be plenty of time to examine his fascinating tool.

~o~


It was a study in functionality informing form. The glass holding chamber allowed one to view its contents and the dozens of tiny wire fingers that whisked said contents together. And after only a few moments she was able to work out that alternating between squeezing the upper glass surface and allowing the whole canister to slide back and forth in her hand, started a pumping action that built pressure in the holding chamber. The pumping action – which, cleverly, also set the wire fingers whisking – could be accomplished with a single hand. The entire apparatus, in fact, seemed designed to fit comfortably in one hand, whether at work or at rest.

It was a work of art. The internal pump – made of some silvery substance she couldn’t identify without taking the thing apart – gleamed beneath the glass that encased it. Colourful but transparent markings showed Hermione exactly where to place her fingers for squeezing.
Definitely perfection, she decided.

It was her husband’s, unfortunately. Severus guarded his kitchen tools as jealously as he had once secured the contents of his private store of potions ingredients. And while the latter hadn’t stopped her at Hogwarts, Hermione balked at the idea of, however temporarily, stealing from her husband.

“I’ll have to get my own oil spray mister,” she announced to no one in particular. “It can’t be hard to find one as distinctive as this.”

~o~


It was bloody expensive. Hermione made a mental note to speak with Severus about household expenses.

Another week had passed before she was able to investigate, and then it had taken nearly a month before she found her answer.

Designing his own kitchen tools and then paying to have them fabricated was good in theory, but…

“Costs too much,” Fabrice Tillverkare told her. “It would never sell well enough to be worth the cost of production. Would have refused the commission, but your husband insisted. ”

“My husband is a brilliant potioneer,” she said stiffly. Even though she agreed with the fabricator, she felt it was her duty to defend Severus to anyone who disparaged him. “The tools of his trade are often costly.”

“Thought he was a housewitch, these days,” Tillverkare retorted. “Said he needed it for cookery.”

Then again, if the man insisted on exposing his foolishness for all to see…

She’d just snatched up her bag, ready to leave in a huff of silence, when Tillverkara let her in on a secret.

“Hope I haven’t got him in any trouble. Truth is, your man is brilliant, but he was aiming for the wrong market.” Hermione, mollified at the respectful note in the man’s tone, resumed her seat to listen. “And I built that one at cost. Didn’t charge him for the labour. But we both got that money back once I had a word with a cousin of mine. Squib, you know.”

He’d almost whispered the last bit, but eventually she knew what she needed to know.

~o~


A tantalising aroma filled the air surrounding her. Hermione nodded in satisfaction, but then she realised the motion took her out of range of the spray, and she held still until her hair had been uniformly covered in the potion. A soft glow – gently pulsating in the muted orange-scarlet of a pomegranate bursting into blossom – suffused her head while she held her breath. Once it had dissipated, she ran to the mirror. Her hair spilled down her back in a gleaming cascade of loose corkscrew curls.

“It worked!”

“Those were my favourite yoga trousers, Farm Girl!” Her husband stood just beyond the lab’s threshold, naked from the waist down save a few tattered strips of black and grey cotton fabric hanging from two elastic waistbands. “And that” —he nodded to the container in her hand— “is my oil mist sprayer.”

Several moments passed before she felt able to wrench her eyes from his lower half to cry, “It’s not! I got my own because I knew you wouldn’t want me using yours.”

Severus’s invention was the last thing on her mind. Memories of what had happened immediately following the last time she had attempted to brew a Muggle variation of this particular potion left little room for any other thoughts.

“I-I thought perhaps I could better control the ingredients if they were mixed through the pumping action and aerosol deliv—”

“Thereby cancelling the Ocelot Bane oil’s suppression of the Silky Silver Willow’s corrosive action.” Severus smiled smugly.

Irritation at how easily he’d worked out her formula warred with the arousal ignited by his state of dress.

“How did you know?” Another question occurred to her before he had time to answer. “What do you mean the Ocelot Bane oil’s action was suppressed?”

“Ocelot Bane oil is the obvious choice because it with both stop Silky Silver Willow extract from reacting with cellulose and make it briefly react with keratin, instead,” he drawled. “But what you failed to realise was that the oil and the extract, once airborne, would begin to separate. The process is too slow to matter so long as you hold the mister six inches from that rat’s nest you call hair, but if your foul brew were travel any further…” He gestured at what remained of his trousers and underwear.

He’d been wearing the black boxer-briefs with the buttons up the buttons up the front.

“Those were my favourite…” she breathed.

Severus smirked harder, if that were possible.

“And of course, using a Muggle device as your means of delivery was the mark of a pure genius. It’s not as if the components of the wizarding version had been chosen specifically not to interact with volatile ingredients. Oh, wait…”

“Oh, shut up, Buttercup!” she snapped, knowing she sounded unconvincing the second the words came out of her mouth. “How was I supposed to know?”

At that he laughed aloud, and he had only just caught his breath when he murmured, “You might have asked your husband.”

Suddenly, he was standing much closer to her.

“Oh,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”

“Are you, Farm Girl?” Now he was within touching distance, and she could feel something interesting happening to the bits she’d accidentally uncovered. “Care to show me how sorry? I’m sure I’ll be very forgiving.”

~o~


“Show a bit less curiosity and more caution, Westley, and you might live to see your children born,” Severus said drily, but Hermione could tell he was at least mostly pleased with how things had turned out. He never used either nickname when he was displeased.

With a soft laugh, she snaked an arm across his chest and pulled herself closer to his warmth.

“As you wish.”

TeaOli originally posted this entry at http://teaoli.dreamwidth.org/50884.html.

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