Note: Takes place in Imogen's 'Carpe Diem' and 'Nil Desperandum' universe which can be found here:
Dedicated to Daniel The Toad, who sits and points out every word he recognises, and who insists on typing the alphabet at the top of every page.
An angry frown puckered Hope's brow as she counted the remaining cauldrons in front of her. Sixty two. And there were more over by the door. How could so many cauldrons have become so filthy in just one afternoon? The mountain stacked so precariously along the bench seemed almost to have been incubating muck since she began her malodorous detention two hours before. There had to be a better way of cleaning them than this.
Suddenly her eyes brightened. Of course, the book Aunt Hermione had sent her that morning! It was a Muggle science text, but Aunt Hermione had said that many spells and potions were based on sound scientific principle, and that such knowledge would aid her in her studies. Somehow she didn't think getting out of detention quicker was what Aunt Hermione had in mind, but still, it was educational. She pulled it out of her book bag and began flicking through.
Saponification. That was how you made soap, wasn't it? The fat clinging putridly to the insides of the cauldrons would do for a start. Now she just needed... Hope glanced at Professor Snape's shelves of potions. Ooh, there it was. Caustic soda. She poured the contents into the closest cauldron. Her eyes watered as fumes erupted from the cauldron and made her choke. "Sapo- //cough// -nificate!" she bellowed, waving her wand vigorously so that all the cauldrons were included in the spell, and giving the word what she hoped was a quasi-Latin pronunciation.
It was unfortunate that Professor Snape chose that moment to enter his dungeon classroom. It was also unfortunate that Hope really didn't know the difference between Latin and Spanish. The spell did exactly what it had been asked to do. The result was a very stunned looking toad sitting in a puddle of black robes. A soapy looking toad, but a toad nonetheless.
"Croak!" exclaimed Professor Snape in horror.
"Oh, Merlin!" breathed Hope.
Toad Snape began hopping up and down in agitation, croaking frantically. Had he been human there was no doubt Hope would have been subjected to a sharply sarcastic lecture.
Aiming her wand at the toad whose throat was swelling ominously with every angry croak, she said hopefully, "Finite Incantatum!"
A significant amount of nothing happened.
"Help!" whispered Hope to herself. "What do I do now?" She looked wildly around the classroom as if help were about to materialise in some form or another. It didn't.
She hurried over to Snape's cupboard where his personal stash of potions and restorative draughts was kept. 'Bufonis curiatus'. Did curiatus mean cure? It sounded kind of similar.
Grabbing Professor Snape around the torso, she showed him the bottle. "Open up, sir. This will fix you!" Snape was not feeling in an obliging mood; his wide mouth remained firmly closed. "Do you want me to do this the hard way?" she asked. "Because I will, you know!" Snape shook his head.
"All right. But I did warn you." Hope started to tickle the toad on it's belly, her fingers unerringly finding a particularly sensitive spot.
Immediately his mouth opened and Hope poured the contents of the bottle down his throat. Snape choked, and Hope discovered being covered in Toad vomit was just as unpleasant as it was being covered in baby vomit, courtesy of Robert's little brother. Luckily, enough of the potion found its way into Snape's system. Enough, that is, to turn him pink.
Hope was horrified. Obviously some residual spell was at work here. Toad Snape was now the exact same shade of pink he'd been when he was a Flamingo last week. But that didn't help her change him back into a human.
She was now getting to the desperate stage. What was she going to do if she couldn't change him back? Her eyes suddenly fell upon the bottle of detergent she had been using to clean the cauldrons. Detergent was what you used to break down soap scum, so maybe if she washed the toad in detergent, Snape would come back to normal? Despite her worry, Hope grinned evilly for a moment at the thought of Snape being considered 'scum'.
Scooping up the toad once more, she plonked him in the sink and turned on the tap. She paused. Snape's robes were on the floor, did that mean he was now naked? The toad was naked, but did Professor Snape still have on his underwear in his human form? Hope wrinkled her nose in disgust and hurriedly added the robes to water so Professor Snape could put them on when he transfigured. Taking a deep breath and closing her eyes, she poured some detergent into the sink from the glass bottle. She waited. No blistering remarks came from the sink. Oops, had it worked or not? She opened one eye and peered nervously in Toad Snape's general direction. Bugger! The toad was still sitting there, detergent dripping off it's...his... back.
Uh, maybe he needed to be washed? She prodded at him doubtfully with one finger.
"Psst, Hope!" Robert stuck his head around the side of the door. "How's it go-" He paused. "What on earth are you doing?"
Hope flushed. "I had this teensy little problem..."
Robert came and peered at the toad. "Well, just give it a bit of a wash and that mucky stuff will come off in no time. Whose toad is it? Is it supposed to be pink?"
"It's not a matter of whose toad it is." Hope bit her lip. "It's more a matter of who the toad is." She picked up an edge of the now saturated robes, displaying the Slytherin House Crest.
"Not... Snape?" gasped Robert in shock.
Robert began to laugh. "You know, if you were going to turn Professor Snape into anything, surely a bat would have been more his style?"
Toad Snape croaked angrily.
"Sorry, Professor." Robert apologised. He pulled Hope by one arm and tugged her to the other side of the room. "What are you going to do? Do you know how to change him back?" he hissed.
"That's what I was trying to do when you came in."
"Giving him a bath?" Robert could not have looked more dubious if he had tried.
"Well," explained Hope, "I was trying to make soap, but got the toad, so now I'm trying to get rid of him, like I would soap - using detergent."
"Let me guess - it didn't work?"
"Didn't think so. You have to think magically about this, Hope, not scientifically. How do you change back toads in our world?"
Hope's memory drew a blank. Was she supposed to know this? Had it been on a test? But then, she had been focused on other things lately. Like trying to get expelled.
"Come on!" laughed Robert. "A tried and true method, passed down from one Princess to another."
"What are you babbling about, Robert Miles?" she demanded.
"Didn't your mother ever read you fairy tales? The Frog Prince?"
"Oh, yes." Robert grinned gleefully. "You're going to have to kiss him."
Hope eyed the slimy looking toad with distaste. She was feeling most decidedly unlike a Princess, and Snape was most certainly not Prince material. To be honest, she'd rather be kissing a Dementor. At least then she wouldn't remember it for the rest of her life. "Where?"
"Where do I have to kiss him. Not on the lips?" Hope had a feeling her dinner would not stay down long, if so.
"I don't know." Robert shrugged. "Where do you want to kiss him?"
"Nowhere, if I can help it!"
"How about his head?"
"Have you seen how greasy Snape's hair is?"
That remark was greeted with a raucous round of ribbitting from the amphibian member of the group.
"Sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned that, Professor. But you really should see a good hair dresser."
"Well, it's true! Anyway, the head is definitely out." She scrutinised the toad in front of her. "I guess the arm wouldn't be too bad."
The toad held out its arm invitingly.
"Do you think I should put you on the floor first, Professor. You don't want to end up in that sink, do you?"
Toad Snape shook his head. She placed him on the floor. "Oh, Robert, could you hold those robes up in front of him?"
"Well - he might be naked!"
Robert rolled his eyes. "Only you would think of that." But he held the robes up anyway, while Hope crouched on the floor. Holding the little leg in her fingers, she bent forward, closed her eyes and pressed her lips to the strangely smooth skin.
"Is anything happening?" she asked, her eyes still tightly closed.
"Looks like it's going to have to be lips, Hope."
"Well you don't have to sound so pleased about it!" She glared up at Robert as if this were all his fault. "Are you ready, Professor?"
The toad nodded.
She took a deep breath. This wasn't going to be too bad, really. Her father had faced far worse trials than this when he was at Hogwarts, so she could do it. "But he was in Gryffindor," a little voice said inside her head. "He was brave."
"I can do this!" she said between gritted teeth. Quickly, she kissed the toad on its mouth.
Suddenly smooth gave way to slightly prickly. It was sort of like the feeling she got when she kissed her father on the cheek in the morning before he shaved. Unfortunately there wasn't any way she could convince herself she was only kissing her Dad.
"That is enough, Miss Potter," drawled Professor Snape. "If you wouldn't mind turning your back?"
Whirling around she heard the murmur of a quick drying spell and the rustle of robes.
"You may turn around now."
Hope drew herself up to face the music, wondering what foul punishment he might have in mind. Professor Snape stared at her, his gaze not wavering as he announced, "I think you have done enough tonight, Miss Potter. I'll get the house elves to finish cleaning the cauldrons." He paused. "I won't be taking any points off Slytherin for your antics, nor Gryffindor, Mr Miles. But I will expect you to never-" he glared ferociously at Robert and then herself, "never to tell anyone about this incident!"
He gestured towards the door.
"Now off, both of you." He swirled around, his robes sweeping out in the bat-like manner Robert had alluded to earlier.
Hope grabbed her bag, stuffed the science book into its depths and walked quickly to the door. She could hear Robert breathing deeply as he followed her, obviously trying to stop himself exploding. Racing down the corridor towards the staircase, they suddenly stopped, Hope bending over and clutching her stomach as if it hurt.
"Oh my!" she laughed, tears coming to her eyes. "What I wouldn't give to be able to tell Uncle George and Uncle Fred!"
"They wouldn't believe you anyway." Robert sank to the floor laughing. "Just don't come anywhere near me with those lips of yours - I don't want to catch warts!"