As one who often dabbled in obscure potions and elixirs, Severus Snape was no stranger to hallucinations, both auditory and visual.
So when he started to see multi-colored halos around his students and colleagues, Severus attributed it as lingering aftereffects of his latest experiment.
When the halos didn’t go away, he started to wonder if this merited a visit to Madam Pomfrey or a convalescence at St. Mungo’s potions ward. Since he relished neither prospect, Severus opted to wait.
The halos persisted. His ‘visions’ also evolved.
When someone cast a spell, he’d see multicolored fireworks burst around the caster. These flashes lingered long after they had cast the spell. The colors differed depending on the spell. Since most of the students cast at each other in the Hallways were charms, Severus observed more of them: green, teal, and seafoam blue. Once, he took a peak in Professor McGonagall’s Transfiguration class and watched the pink and purple and red starbursts flash before his eyes.
Whenever he brewed a potion, or watched his students’ bungling attempts of thereof, Severus saw little creatures made of light dance across the rim of the cauldrons.
Six weeks of this, and Severus intercepted Madam Pince to find a reference on magical non-divination sight. When that went nowhere, he booked an appointment with Dumbledore.
Dumbledore was intrigued.
“Are the colors consistent?”
Severus produced the notes he’d taken on the matter. Dumbledore read them with a furrowed brow and twitching mustache.
“Just enough correlation to suggest causation, but not enough to create a true formula,” Dumbledore concluded.
“And it can’t be a side effect from dabbling with Tao Peng. I’ve checked,” Severus said.
“Did you alter the recipe?”
“Of course not.”
“I’ve replaced mermaid blood with my own. It’s standard.”
“Have you corresponded with Madame Aramamantha?”
“Yes. She was just as baffled and threatened a visit for further study.”
“I wondered why she tried to sneak into the school three weeks ago,” said Dumbledore with a smile. “Well, it doesn’t seem to be doing you harm.”
“It’s an ungodly distraction,” Severus grumbled.
“If an informative one,” Dumbledore said. “Argus remarked upon your improved ability to detect a student in the act.”
Severus didn’t suppress a smirk. Catching every would-be prankster, truant, and rebel in the act and dishing out punishments was one of the few things that made the weirdness bearable.
“Well, I have nothing more to add, except that you continue to monitor your curious condition. Mayhap I will come across an expert who can shed light on the matter.”
In the days that followed, Severus took to burning many pints of nightoil brewing a multitude of potions to see what creatures he’d see/hallucinate. So far: spiders casting webs, inchworms, and a row of marching ants were the most frequent. One memorable time, while fiddling around with the Wolfsbane potion, a miniature moon rose from the potion’s surface and bounced merrily around the rim.
There were so many potions he wanted to try. So many creatures he wished to see.
Unfortunately, his experiments went on the wayside as his teacher obligations consumed him as finals drew near.
In the middle of Michaelmas term, Severus realized he hadn’t seen a vision in days. He transfigured a quill into an arrow before a mirror, but saw no starburst of red. He then brewed a simple salve. Nothing emerged from the potion’s depths nor from his hands.
Severus felt oddly bereft. For all that they were a nuisance—and they were a nuisance; he’d been caught staring at the halos and light creatures, much to his colleagues concern and the students’ perturbation—he rather enjoyed seeing what his brain came up with.
He reported it to Dumbledore, who took the news with a wordless nod.
A few more years passed, and Severus had another unexpected discovery: Grandmaster Shin’s two sons were to join Hogwarts.
Severus looked forward to their entrance. He’d known their half-sister Cecilia Shin as a fellow Slytherin, though they’d never talked. Chances were the Shin brothers would get sorted into his house like their sister.
Come September, Severus became the proud Head of House of two beautiful girls who turned out to be two beautiful boys. Jason and Jeremy Shin proved themselves to be quiet, studious, and, as a whole, obedient. Severus had no complaints.
… Except for Jeremy’s propensity to decorate his essays with doodles.
Jeremy had a dab hand at drawing, but his doodles were the type one usually expected to see in a woman’s journal: cartoonish kittens, flowers, vines with leaves on them, cutesy constellations, feminine cursive and calligraphy.
Jeremy made no apologies for his likes and those who dared to tease him were liable to find themselves thoroughly hexed. While Severus could admire the boy’s self-confidence and immunity to peer-pressure, as the person often responsible for undoing aforesaid hexes Severus wished he’d use more standard wizard jinxes, not something he must have learned from his father’s knee.
Speaking of spells Jeremy might have learned from Grandmaster Shin, Severus swore it involved doodling.
Severus had heard about o-fuda, the written paper charms in Japan, though he never tried it himself (language acquisition was not one of Severus’s talents). But the doodles Severus found on Jeremy’s victims looked nothing like o-fuda.
If anything, they looked like the little creatures of light that once danced around the rim of his cauldron.
Severus wanted to ask: do you see…?
Not once did he ever try.
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