"She'll just have to go to work with you, Severus," Harry said as he finished getting dressed in his desert robes and turban.
"Isn't Molly coming today to take over the office while you are gone?" Severus loved Alicia dearly, but the idea of having her underfoot at the shoppe sent shudders of anxiety through him.
"No, she's gone off to Egypt with Arthur to be there for Bill's first born. I told you all this last night while you were reading the latest issue of 'Independent Potions.' Honestly, I don't know why I bothered, you get so absorbed in your work that the rest of the world fades to nothing. The point is, no one is going to be here to take care of Alicia today. I'll be gone all day to the Kalahari Desert looking for the Namibian Star Snake, which apparently is located in some hidden temple only wizards can see. I hope to be back later tonight though, even if I have to come home without the snake."
Harry walked up to and wrapped his arms around Severus' waist and rubbed his face between the tight shoulders. "Everything will be fine. Arabella is there with you, I'm sure she could help keep Alicia from being underfoot and into your precious cauldrons."
Severus sighed, he knew there was no alternative. He certainly wasn't going to leave her in the care of strangers at some day care. "Fine, but if my day is more than the typical stress-filled day, you owe me a massage tonight."
"Done. Now have a good day. I love you, Severus." Harry squeezed his love's waist tightly before reaching up to place a gentle kiss on the back of Severus' neck.
"I'll need more than that to get me through the day, love." Severus pivoted in Harry's arms and brought his mouth down to claim Harry's in a hungry kiss. Harry had a dreamy look on his face as they parted. Severus loved that look, it told him how satisfied and content his husband was with Severus and their marriage.
"Now, that kiss will definitely help get me through the day." Severus smirked and then strode out with his robes billowing behind him.
He approached Alicia's room with no small amount of trepidation. Usually Harry or Molly took care of her while he spent the day away at his shoppe. Not that he didn't spend any time with his daughter, he did, but just in the more open environment of their home. He had taken her and Harry on picnics before the winter had come, and they had all recently gone out in the freshly fallen snow to have snowball fights and to build snowmen. They had also gone ice skating on the pond out behind their house. He even read her bedtime stories on many a night.
However, he just knew that Alicia would be bored and restless at the shoppe, yet he was needed at work today as a large order for his anti-wrinkle cream had been recently placed by a Muggle women's league. His store had become the place to shop by the upper crust of Muggle London society. Severus cracked open the door to his little girl's room and saw that his daughter was already up and playing pretend tea with her doll.
"Alicia, sweetheart, you have to go to work with me this morning, so you need to get dressed and eat some breakfast before we go."
"Okay, Papa. Will you braid my hair for me? I remember how you said that stray hairs around potions can cause bad things to happen. I heard you telling Daddy that the other day when one of Auntie Bella's hairs got into your Anti-Nau... um, Anti-Nausism potion you were brewing." Alicia cleared away the miniature tea service and went to get a pink frilly blouse and a pair of small blue jeans from her chest of drawers.
"That's Anti-Nausea, Alicia." Severus beamed when he heard Alicia's request, he was so proud that his daughter had listened and paid attention to his stories. She was so bright, he knew she would go far in the Wizarding World, but his happiness dimmed a bit at the prospect of braiding her hair. He had no idea how to go about it. "Sweetheart, I don't know how to braid hair."
"It's really easy, Papa. I'll show you," Alicia said as she went to Severus' side and took out his wand. Before he could castigate her for her temerity, she had waved the wand flawlessly and chanted, "Texeramus Capillus" and then pointed the wand at her hair. Severus watched in amazement as the hair parted and started to come together in a single plait.
"You'll need to find a ribbon, Papa, to secure the braid," Alicia said as she placed his wand back into his robe pocket.
"Alicia, don't ever do that again. A wand is not something you play with, especially someone else's. It is like an invasion of privacy." Severus almost started his speech with 'ten points from Gryffindor' when his shock and amazement had faded. He smirked to himself, some habits were just so hard to break. "Now where do you keep your ribbons, love?"
Nearly sixteen hours had passed since they had left the house for his shoppe, but to Severus if felt more like thirty-six, when Harry finally arrived home. He found Severus flung out on the sofa looking harried and bedraggled. Harry quietly muttered an 'uh-oh' to himself before sitting himself down next to his poor beloved. He laid a hand gently along Severus' shoulders and when nothing happened, Harry started to knead the tense muscles he could feel just underneath his hand. After several heartbeats, he felt Severus stir and then felt and heard a moan of pleasure issue from the Potions Master's mouth.
"Poor love, was the day that bad?" Harry asked in a whisper next to Severus' ear. A brief and terse yes was muttered.
"You have no idea. And it was all the twins fault." Harry's hands stilled at the mention of the twins.
"Is Alicia alright?"
"She's fine, she had a wonderful day. In fact, she would like to spend tomorrow with me again at the shoppe." At these words, Harry felt a small tremor work its way through Severus' body. "And I actually said yes."
Harry snickered silently at the wearied tone of Severus' voice, not wanting to further exacerbate his husband.
"Tell me what happened?"
"Well, the day started out typically enough..."
"Papa, let me help you! Please?!" Alicia whinged for what felt like the hundredth time, all while she tugged on his black work robes.
"No, sweetheart. And that is final. Do not ask again!" Severus spoke through clenched teeth, while he tried to keep his tone even and polite. His head felt like it was about to burst, yet he could not walk away from the cauldron, not at this essential stage. He yelled out to Arabella, who was working the front counter. He waited and watched for the elderly woman to poke her head in.
"Yes, Severus, what do you need?"
"Please take Alicia for a moment, at least until this stage of the potion has passed and I can leave it to simmer."
"Certainly. Come along Alicia, let's leave Papa to his potions, dear."
"Okay, Auntie Bella. Be good, Papa." Alicia skipped along after her. Severus never left the cauldron, even after the potion began to simmer and he lost track of time. Three hours later, he finished off the anti-wrinkle cream and poured it into small pots, which had already been labelled by Arabella. He set them aside and went in search of his employee and daughter. What he found was Arabella dealing with a customer, she was minus one pint-sized blonde mischief maker. He could see his daughter was nowhere in sight.
Severus started to panic. He rushed over to Arabella and before she could finish talking to the customer, yanked her away.
"Where is Alicia?" he roared.
"Calm down, Severus. The twins dropped by and they said they would watch over her at their shoppe. It would certainly be more fun for her there, than here," Arabella told him with a straight face.
Severus blinked in shock. Had the woman never been on the receiving end of one of their pranks? Severus shuddered to think of what that mad duo was doing to his sweet little girl, perhaps they were making her their test subject for their latest experiments.
Severus rushed out of the store through the Diagon Alley entrance, yelling over his shoulder as he went, "Watch the shoppe while I'm gone." Severus rushed next door to the Weasley's joke shoppe in search of his daughter. What he found flabbergasted him.
At the back of the store in the office, he found George, or was it Fred, looking not only purple and green around the gills (seriously, the twin actually had gills), but he was also levitating in the air and pretending as if he were swimming through water, while his daughter sat on her chair clapping in amusement and glee.
"What in the world of Merlin is going on here?" Severus bellowed, causing Alicia and Fred, or was it George, to jump in surprise. Alicia hopped off her seat and ran to her father's side, with a wide grin on her face.
"Papa, you would be so proud of me. I created a new candy for Fred and George. I called it 'Go Fish.' Like that Muggle children's card game." Once again, Severus was very proud of his daughter, yet at the same time mildly displeased as well. She had loads of talent, but he didn't want her to become the next prankster destined to disrupt Hogwarts. Certainly not a Snape. Merlin, help him. What was he to do? Praise her or scold her? He decided that perhaps both were in order.
"Alicia, sweetheart, I'm proud of you. You show great creativity and I don't doubt you will outshine even the best the Wizarding World has seen, but you will not go about creating these... these," Severus paused. Before he had married Harry, he would have blistered the twin's ears off with his caustic words about their foolish antics, but now these people were Harry's family for all intents and purposes and therefore his family by extension. Severus sighed and pinched his nose in frustration. "All that I ask is that you take your magic and that of others seriously, Alicia. Do you understand? It's like my discussion this morning on wands."
Alicia frowned a bit, but nodded. Before anything more could be said, there was a load gasp as Fred or George, which ever it was, fell from the air and landed roughly on the store floor.
"Well, seems that candy lasts for about twenty minutes, which is plenty long enough." The young wizard turned to Severus. "Honestly sir, Alicia really could have a great future in the joke industry. This 'Go FIsh' idea of hers was brilliant."
"George?" Severus lifted his eyebrow in question, while the patented sneer graced his lips.
"Fred..." Severus was about to give the young man a thoroughly discouraging talk for interfering in his parental rearing, when in walked the other twin.
"Yes?" asked the tall, gangly red head who just walked in.
"Grrr...." Severus growled at the twin who had misled him. George grinned sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, 'well what did you expect from me, of all people.'
"Never-mind. Just don't encourage her. That's all I ask." Severus gave the twins his most fiercest look, reminiscent of the days at Hogwarts where he presided over his class with an iron fist.
"Yes, sir. We won't encourage her. Will we, George?" Fred said to his twin. Fred had his back to Severus as he spoke, and gave his brother a look that clearly said that they should pander to the man. At least for the time being.
"Yes, sure Professor Snape. We won't encourage Alicia."
"Good. Now that I'm done for the day, Alicia, why don't you and I go for a late lunch at the Leaky Cauldron and perhaps for an ice cream at Fortescue's afterwards?"
"Yay! Okay, Papa, let's go right away."
"She then proceeded to drag me hither and yon around Diagon Alley. We went to Madame Malkin's and bought her some robes. Apparently, she likes how Grandpa Albus dresses." Severus groaned and so did Harry. They both knew how garish Albus dressed in comparison to the rest of the Wizarding World and the thought of their little girl following in the old wizard's footsteps was enough to send both of them into a fit of dismay.
"Where else did you go?"
"Flourish and Blotts for several books on fantastical, magical beasts, then on to a toy story, which had just recently opened, called 'Wonderful Surprises.' There she went through the entire store before she finally settled on a stuffed snake that closely resembles Sliver. After that, she wanted to go to Ollivander's."
"Ollivanders? But why?" Harry asked, as he continued to massage Severus' back, shoulders and neck.
"Well, remember how I told her not to mess with other people's wands?"
"Well then, she said that since she couldn't use other wands, she should have her own."
"But children aren't supposed to get wands until they start schooling. Right?" Harry questioned.
"That's typical, yes. And I tried to tell her that, but she wouldn't listen. So if she wouldn't accept that, then perhaps she would accept it from Ollivander himself. So I took her in, and wouldn't you know it, Ollivander was expecting her."
"What!?" Harry exclaimed. He stopped his massaging and Severus turned over to look at Harry as he finished the tale of his day.
"That's right, he was expecting her. He already had several wands out for her to try. She ended up with a 10 1/2 inch ebony wand with a phoenix feather and dragon heart string core."
Harry gasped. "Is the phoenix feather from Fawkes?"
"No, but it is from the same small clutch of phoenix eggs as Fawkes came from. Amazing isn't it that her wand has a similar core to yours and mine. She truly is our daughter in all ways, but blood. As we were leaving, Ollivander spoke, and the words he said I know are true. He said, 'She will go far, out-surpassing even that of her fathers and grandfathers.'"
Harry sat stunned. Then shook himself and smiled. "Well then, we have nothing to worry about. If she will out-surpass us then she certainly will go far, and that means she is destined for greater things than being a prankster."
"Hmm, you are right. But, still, I worry slightly. What will happen in the world that will cause her to outshine, you, me and even Dumbledore? Each of us has already faced the Dark Lord of the age, one being more dreadful than the last. What will she encounter?"
Harry didn't want to think on that, for if he did, then he would worry to the end of his days at what was to come. He didn't want that for his family, to live in the shadow of darkness.
"Honestly, Severus, don't be pessimistic. She could just be extremely powerful, that's all and no more than that."
"You're right. I shouldn't let it prey on my mind. I'm still very tired, love. Why don't we go check up on Alicia and then call it a night. Besides by the smell of you, you could do with a nice long, hot bath before bed."
"Hmm, sounds like a good plan, why don't you join me though? That would make it even better." Severus didn't need much convincing of that and he nodded his agreement. He reached up and wrapped a hand around Harry's neck to bring the younger man down so he could kiss him tenderly. They then went quietly upstairs and peeked in on Alicia and found her holding her wand in her right hand and her doll in the left. She looked content and peaceful.
"You know, Harry. For all that happened today and as exhausted as I am, I wouldn't trade it for all the galleons in the world."
"I know love, I certainly know." Harry smiled as he saw the contented expression settle on Severus' face.