Thanks a lot to my beta-readers,Duchess_Of_Arcadia and Pookah, for correcting my mistakes.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to J.K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
I’m not a native speaker of English!
Chapter 13 - The Greenhouse
When they arrived at greenhouse four, Pomona was nowhere to be seen.
“Maybe she isn't back yet. Let's see if greenhouse one is open,” Charlie said and led Severus, who was hopping on one leg beside him, in the right direction. “You really have a lot of energy, Sevvy.”
“Bree and Key not?” Severus asked.
Charlie stopped and looked confusedly at Severus. He had no idea what Severus was talking about. “Sorry, but I didn't get that, what do you want to know?”
“Bree and Key no en... ener... gy?”
“Oh, now I understand. You mean Bryanna and Kenneth. They have a lot of energy too, and you will enjoy playing with them. You’ll meet them soon because my mother has invited you, Albus and Minerva to the Burrow for dinner tomorrow. The Burrow is where my parents live, and some of my brothers and sisters.”
“Many children?” Severus asked, interested.
“Of your age, there are only Bree and Ken, and they are just there during the day and when my brother Bill and his wife visit my parents. The others are older. Ginny is the youngest of us and my only sister. She is still going to Hogwarts; she will be a seventh year. And then my twin brothers Fred and George and my youngest brother, Ron, are living at The Burrow, but they all are working, and so they are only there from the late afternoon or on weekends. Hermione is also living with my parents. She is a good friend of Ron and the twins and so my mother asked her to move in because she has taken an apprenticeship in a hospital near our house. Hermione is Muggle-born, but that would take too much explaining to tell you what that means for the moment.”
Severus tried hard to memorize all the names. It must be great to live with so many people. There would always be someone to play with.
They were standing in greenhouse one now, and Charlie said, “Look, Sev, that's what I wanted to show you.” He pointed at a plant with hairy stems and leaves and with many blossoms, which were yellow in the middle and had white petals. But the strange thing was that blossoms had tiny faces. Many little eyes with long lashes were blinking tantalizingly at Severus and Charlie, and their little mouths were smiling.
“Already flirting with 'Marry Me', Severus?” Pomona said while entering the greenhouse.
“Marry me?” Severus asked curiously while facing Pomona.
“Oh, I would love to, sweetheart, but I fear I'm a little old for you,” she said, grinning, and scooped Severus up into her strong arms. “Just joking, sweetie. So how was the flying?”
“Great!” Severus screamed excited. “Ro, cool. Sev catched her.”
“Caught her, sweetie, not catched.” Pomona corrected him while nudging his nose with her index finger.
“Caught her,” Severus said proudly.
Thinking about Ro made Severus remember the toffees. “Ro said you have toffee.” Severus tried hard to say it right.
Pomona laughed. “Oh, did she? Yeah, I have a toffee for you, but you have to promise to suck it and not to try to bite on it, okay? It could be too hard for your little teeth.” She rummaged in her pocket and produced a little squared thing out of it. It was wrapped in brown, crackling paper, and Severus unwrapped it with big eyes. Before daring to place it in his mouth, he looked at Pomona for permission.
“Try it, Severus,” she said encouragingly and smiled at him.
“Want one too, Charlie?” Pomona asked Charlie while Severus sucked on his toffee.
“Yummy, Arlie!” Severus said and then looked at Pomona, who already was pulling out another toffee. “Thank you, Aunt Pommy.”
“Oh, you are so sweet.” She kissed Severus on his cheek.
Severus wiped his cheek with his hand and looked at Charlie again.
Charlie was grinning, because he was thinking about what Rolanda had said about the other women in the castle. She was right, and Pomona is the biggest mother hen of them all. Her Hufflepuffs love her for it, he thought.
“Thank you for the toffee, Pomona, but please don't kiss me for saying it,” Charlie said teasingly.
“You should not spend so much time with Rolanda, young man. It isn't improving you,” she replied playfully.
“You must keep an eye on Charlie, Severus, so that he doesn’t become too cheeky,” she said while heading out of the greenhouse with Severus in her arms.
Charlie followed them, and soon they were standing in front of greenhouse five.
“You have to let me hold you, Severus! I have some dangerous plants in there, and I don't want you to come in contact with them, okay?”
Severus nodded and already was looking curiously around the door.
“Come on, Charlie, the dragon lady is in there. You will really love her,” Pomona said and was satisfied when Charlie followed shortly after.
This greenhouse was dim and it was harder to breathe in it. Severus snuggled closer to Pomona.
“No worries, Sev. As long as you stay in my arms, nothing will happen to you.” Pomona drew small circles on his back, and Severus relaxed.
Soon they were standing in front of a big plant, which quickly changed its colour from green, to blue and finally to red. It had four blossoms that were now facing the visitors, puffing smoke. “Try to touch them with the stick over there, Charlie!” Pomona instructed him.
Charlie grabbed the stick and moved it near one of the blossoms. Immediately all four blossoms were turning to the tip of the stick and were breathing flames at it. The stick caught fire, and Severus yelped surprised.
“Amazing,” Charlie said and blew the flame out. “I have never seen one like this,” Charlie exclaimed dreamily and a little sadly.
Pomona touched his arm affectionately and said, “I didn't want to make you sad. I'm sorry, Charlie. I know you miss your work in Romania and the dragons.”
“It's okay, Pomona. It's just that sometimes I get homesick, thinking of the dragons. I really liked to work with them, and I had found a lot of friends. But I'm glad to be here as well. Potions always was my passion and the opportunity to take over the position of the Potions Professor was something I couldn't reject. I'm just a little scared that I'm not mature enough for it.”
“Nonsense, the students will love to have a young teacher. It's good to have a big variety in the staff,” she assured Charlie.
Meanwhile Severus was playing with Pomona's hair and found a little beetle in it. “Look, Aunt Pommy.”
“Oh, a little ladybug,” Pomona said. “Let’s bring him outside. He wouldn't be happy in here.”
Outside of the greenhouse, Severus enjoyed the fresh air. In the greenhouse, he already had started to become sleepy. He stretched his arm and index finger where the little bug was sitting and said, “Fly lady!”
As if the bug had heard him, it opened its wings and flew away.
“Oh, you really have a special charm on ladies, Sevvy.” She cuddled him one more time and then let him down.
“Could you give something to Poppy for me, Charlie? She needs the salve I made.”
“Of course, we will just pass by the infirmary on our way back. I have to meet Alastor anyway,” Charlie said while taking the salve and placing it in his pocket.
“Going to the lake, Arlie?” Severus said while pointing at the water surface a few meters away.
Charlie laughed, “Okay, okay, Severus.” He faced Pomona again and sighed, smiling. “I fear I will be more exhausted than he will be tonight. He is full of energy.”
“It must be all so new and overwhelming for him, after what we know about his first childhood.” She looked thoughtfully at Severus. “You didn't know Severus as we knew him, Charlie. He was a very private man, but sometimes he had opened to some of us. We knew he had a bad childhood, but this...” She couldn't finish her sentence because she got a lump in her thought.
Charlie placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and then looked at Severus, who was unaware that he was the main topic of their conversation. He had seen a butterfly and was following it from one flower to another. “It must be hard for you all. You lost a friend.”
“We would have lost him nevertheless, Charlie. That's the only thing that makes it bearable.” She looked at Severus, who was giggling in delight. She had to smile again, and a warm feeling spread through her stomach. “But we also got this lovely child, here. Take him to the lake. Maybe the squid will come out to greet him.”
One last squeeze and he let go of her shoulder. “Okay, we will leave. I hope we’ll see you soon, Pomona.”
“Me, too, Charlie, me, too!” she said, smiling.
“Bye, Aunt Pomona,” Severus said, running over to her and hugging her legs.
“Here, Severus.” She pushed another toffee in his hand, leaned down and kissed his cheek again.
Severus smiled at her, but nevertheless wiped his cheek again. Then he ran over to Charlie, took his hand and again started to hop on one foot beside him to the lake.
The squid was happy to get some visitors. The holidays were boring, and so it spread its tentacles so that they were hovering over the water surface. With one it reached for the giggling child that bounced happily up and down on the shore.
Severus reached for the tentacle and patted it. It was like a big copy of his small animal toys. Severus loved the squid immediately.
When one wet tentacle touched him on his cheek, he said, “You're like Aunt Pommy.”
The noises at the shore made the other citizens of the lake curious, and some of the mermaids were coming to the surface to see where the noises were coming from.
“Hello!” Severus yelled and waved his hand over his head, while jumping on the spot.
The mermaids were looking curiously at him, but kept their distance.
“They can't understand you, Sevvy. They speak another language,” Charlie explained and took Severus’ hand. “Come on, we have to bring Aunt Poppy the salve.”
“’Kay,” Severus said, turned to the lake again and yelled, “Bye Bye.”