A/N: Aww, you guys! Thank you for giving my odd little ficlet a chance! I hope you continue to enjoy it! Love always, Eli x
Disclaimer: I do not own the works herein, all characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling, and all characters, storylines, situations, plots and the like do not belong to me. I make no money from this work. The opinions expressed in this piece are not the authors own, simply written in for the character.
Warnings: Rated M for situations, LOTS OF swearing, possible violence, sexual scenes...
Alihotsy, Aconite and Amortentia
Severus Snape was having a very bad day.
Originally, he'd thought he'd be exempt from the ridiculous marriage law thing, on account of being, well, dead. Well, not dead dead, but dead enough. Registered dead at the Ministry, hiding away in the Middle-Of-Nowhere, Ireland. The Ministry's reach, after all, did not extend to Ireland.
That thought had been shattered with very little ceremony when a dumpy, wrinkled witch appeared at the door to his cabin and demanded entrance, announcing that he remained a citizen of Wizarding Britain no matter where he hid, and therefore was subject to the law. Then, as though she meant to be encouraging, of all things, she added that "no doubt you're concerned about your prospective match, Professor, but worry not! Our tests are specifically tailored towards finding the most prosperous pairings available! You'll have yourself a lovely wife in no time at all!".
The most annoying part of that little speech hadn't even been the syntax.
A lovely wife. For him.
He couldn't think of anything he'd like less than a twittering witch dangling off of his arm, demanding his attention, taking over his space, much less one who was supposedly his 'soul mate'. Knowing himself; all of his dark, unpleasant self… any match made with him would be a disaster.
He submitted to the tests because he had no other choice, but that didn't prevent him from tossing the self-righteous hag off of his property at the first available opportunity. He'd played with the idea of moving away, to somewhere more remote – would a hut on the Sahara be far enough away? – but discarded it just as quickly. If he were to run out on the law, they could bind his magic from afar with only the use of one of his belongings, and while he was a powerful wizard there were too many of his things spread across the country for removing them all to be a viable plan.
Instead, he took to his bed to sleep off his sudden migraine, only to be confronted with nightmares about who his match could possibly be. Having been a teacher at Hogwarts since a year after his own graduation, he was in the unique position of knowing most of the people who populated this country, and their parents, aunts, grandmothers; whatever female family members they might have. In terms of nightmares, however, this gave his mind plenty of ammunition.
There was a figure, melting and reforming with a thought, face slightly blurred and everchanging. They reached out a clawed hand towards him, cackling. The next image, he was handcuffed to the woman, who laughed as he tried desperately to escape, cooing mangled words at him in a voice that sounded like a mix between Bellatrix Lestrange and Alecto Carrow, their cold hands fisting around his arms, wrenching him closer to them, puckering up for a kiss that was penetrated by flicking serpentine tongues…
Needless to say, he did not sleep well. Not that night, and not for the following fortnight.
He'd received his share of conciliatory letters; Minerva, whose relationship with him had been repaired following the humiliating trial he'd sat through which, while it resulted in his exoneration, made life a daily struggle, with witches with glamour-red hair throwing themselves at him in the street and not understanding the word 'no', some of them people he'd taught over the years who should really remember the whip of his temper, and yet continued to barrage him with god-awful love letters (one of which had included a pair of well-used briefs, to his horror) and stroke at him with uninvited hands.
Little wonder that when he'd relapsed into a venom-induced coma, he'd decided that this time he'd stay dead.
Not that the world cared so much about what he wanted, burning off the remnants of the infection and bringing him back as he lay on a marble slab in the Malfoy basement, waiting for transfer to what he later found was a preposterously flamboyant coffin. Leaving Lucius in charge of his funeral arrangements had proved to be a near-fatal error for the young Malfoy scion, who experienced Severus's utter rage not ten minutes after the contraption had been gleefully revealed by a curiously disappointed Lucius (that the man was upset at Severus's continued existence did not particularly hurt, not when Severus knew him well enough to know that he'd rather a jolly good party than a best friend, any day. His own wife's wake had lasted three whole days and the hangover even longer).
Minerva had sent letters that held a definite celebratory tone, the older woman for the first time in her life grateful for her age and the 'infirmity' (as the Ministry classified it, despite the rest of the world calling it 'Menopause') that precluded her from participating. In the face of her own excusion, she'd found it in herself to be excited about what the law might mean for Severus, in the manner of some pushy matron aunt – Severus, I am sure it hasn't escaped you that you are not getting any younger. I recommend that you comply with this ludicrous law to the very letter, for the Gods know – and I say this with the utmost affection, lad – it is highly unlikely that you'll ever find a wife the usual way.
The Malfoys, both father and son, were also among those who wrote to 'commiserate' (commiserate being a loose term for 'gloat'). Draco's letter was comfortably smug in his way, as his marriage to Astoria Greengrass last year had proved timely. His advice was that Severus should look on the bright side of the law – there are a few decent looking women in the population, Uncle, absurd as that may sound. Even Granger has tamed her hair, and her face is not unremarkable – whilst catering to the assumption that Severus was in want of a wife, the younger, the better; a more outlandish notion than this, Severus had yet to hear.
Lucius, widowed for two years on the day the law was passed, was actually angry. Very little angered Lucius Malfoy, who was an unexpectedly mellow man if you cast aside reactions to the suspicious death of one of his prized peacocks, and his aversion to badly tailored suits. It seemed he was to add 'forced marriage to those of lesser birth' to his list of grievances, which had resulted in him threatening to disembowel the Chief Mugwump whilst also attempting to bribe his way to the best possible match.
Since when is the Ministry incorruptible? He wrote in his letter. A more ridiculous time to discover morality and ethics would be hard to come by.
Severus had no sympathy for his stupendously wealthy friend because he could hardly afford to rig his own match and while Lucius could be generous when the situation arose, he wouldn't stoop to buying Severus a wife.
Feeling impotent, Severus had eventually decided to simply act as though nothing was happening. He went about his everyday life in his cottage, brewing potions to sell by owl-post, experimenting with new variations from the copious notes he'd drawn up over the years, and keeping his extensive potions-garden flourishing, no matter the season. Ireland was the perfect place for him in this way; few neighbours, none of them nosy; a temperate climate that rarely changed; and no pesky memories to assault him when he left the house. He knew nobody, cared for nobody, answered to nobody.
Of course, a year and a half of solitude seemed to be his limit, for all too soon the Ministry hag was back, knocking at his door.
"Professor Snape!" she cried in manufactured delight when he opened the door to glower at her. "Well, aren't you a sight for sore eyes! Bet you didn't expect me back so soon! Lucky for you, you have a most efficient case-worker, yes you do, yes you do!"
She reminded him of a spaniel; dopey but energetic. Two things he absolutely could not stand in a person.
Stemming the urge to slam the door in her face, he instead filled the doorframe to tell her in no uncertain terms that, no, she was not invited in. Behind her stood an Auror who appeared to be half-grizzly bear, with more impressive facial hair than Hagrid and the distinct look of a serial killer. Severus resolved to keep a close eye on him.
"Oh, and this is Auror Eades," she sang, waving the other man forward and patting his shoulder affectionately, an action which only made Eades's face darken further. Severus was quite certain he growled. "He's a big softy, really!" the ministry witch assured him, deludedly.
"Quite," Severus drawled, already being talked over by the official in front of him.
"Lovely weather! Lovely, lovely! You know, some people live in just the most awful places, but your house is lovely!"
"Yes, lovely," Severus cut her off with a wave of his hand. "I'm sorry, Madam- what was it?"
"Freeberry! But please, call me Summer!"
"No." He glared down at her until she shrank back a little, some of the light fading from her eyes. Satisfied, he crossed his arms and asked, in a flat voice, "Madam Freeberry, is there a reason for your visit?"
She appeared startled, looking down at the clipboard she was clutching to a generous but sadly, not gravity defying bosom as though she wasn't quite sure how it got there. "Oh!" she chirped, beaming up at him again with such energy he wanted to smack his head against a wall until she fucked off. "Yes, sir! I've brought your match!"
"My match." he said, the information taking a moment to filter into his brain.
"Oh, yes! And a wonderful one it is, too! My deskmate, Madam Bunting, carried out her initial assessment and she says that this woman is simply the loveliest –" here, she seemed at a loss for words, frantically searching for a substitute to whatever Madam Bunting (and what ridiculous names they all had) had said about his match, and he assumed the word had been unflattering, "- well, she's just lovely."
There she went with that word again. If only they'd taught English at Hogwarts. Perhaps she'd understand what a synonym was. Behind her, Auror Eades let out what sounded suspiciously like a disbelieving laugh masked in a cough. Severus narrowed his eyes on the man, but he simply stared back.
"Who is she?" he asked brusquely.
"Oh, no, no, Professor!" Freeberry tittered, holding up a hand in a 'stop' motion. "We can't just tell you her name! That's no fun!"
"I wasn't aware the law was supposed to be fun," Severus replied without inflection, leading Freeberry to laugh even louder. He stared down at her uptilted face, speculating on how good it would feel to wrap his hands around her exposed throat and throttle her, and whether it would be worth whatever curse Auror Eades decided to cast on him. She really was the most irritating person he'd ever had the misfortune to meet.
She let out a giggle, placing an uninvited hand on his arm in a way that was much too familiar. "You are funny, Professor! No, it's much more exciting our way." She snapped her fingers and from her bag drifted a fresh-cut daisy and a sealed envelope. Severus hadn't even realised he'd stepped back until he hit the door jamb. No.
You see, it was one thing to be told you were going to marry some nameless, faceless person and know that they had just received the equally disturbing news that they would end the month tied to 'The Greasy Dungeon Bat'; it was quite another to turn up at their house with flowers – fucking flowers – as though he was some eager lad on his first date.
Then, his brain conjured up the nightmare image of some poor woman opening her door to him, every sallow, greasy, grumpy inch of him on display as he panted on their doorstep like a desperate –
He pushed that horror away with alacrity, aware from Freeberry's ill-disguised flinch that even the consideration of such a situation had darkened his eyes to an extraordinary extent. He pitied her, and whatever specimen that had sinned to such an extent the Fates decided to pair them with him.
"This is a portkey!" Freeberry yammered on, examining it like it was the most ingenious invention. "The Ministry elves have made hundreds of them, you know, over the past few days, clever things! It will take us – all of us will come, for safety, you understand – to the doorstep of your new beloved! There, you can share the good news yourself! Isn't that romantic?!"
"No, it is not." Severus snapped, glaring at the flower as though if he tried hard enough he could set it on fire with only his hatred. "It is an asinine idea and whomever concocted it should be subject to dismissal, if not flaying alive, simply for the thought."
Freeberry wilted a little, her mouth twitching into the world's tiniest frown, an expression of displeasure so weak she might as well not have done anything. "That's hardly fair, Professor," she said, her voice chock-full of reproach. Let her be reproachful. She wasn't the one being set up for complete humiliation. "After all, we're only trying to make the situation easier on everybody involved."
"If you'd truly like to make the situation… easier," he sneered, "burn that, leave, and never come back."
"Now, Professor!" She spat, stamping her foot in the way of the door as he went to close it. "This impertinence simply will not do!" Suddenly her face transformed, her smile twisting into a horrible scowl as her eyes narrowed and hardened, and she fisted her claws on her hips. "You will comply, Professor Snape, or I shall have to take you into custody! I understand from your records, sir, that Azkaban did not turn out so well for you the last time!" Even with the exclamatory lilt to her voice, the threat was not disguised. He stopped, his face shuttering as he looked down on the hag, wishing more than anything that he could simply kill her. There were many things he had despised about being a Death Eater, but there was something to be said for living in a culture where one could simply kill off life's little irritants. Indeed, it was likely the only thing that had truly gotten him through two decades of near-slavery at both of his masters' hands.
Though he didn't regret the Dark Lord's defeat, he felt a fleeting sadness now, a mourning for the days gone by.
And then the shame poured in and the familiar drowning cool forced him to relent, marching out of the house and slamming the door shut. It was a quid-pro-quo situation in his mind; he had seriously considered killing her, which meant he had to do something for her to make it up – other than spare her life, as that was a given.
(And people thought he was evil - surely his self-control alone made him a saint.)
"Give me that," he snarled, reaching out and snatching the flower from her hands, and then the world was spinning, there was a jerk behind his navel and he was dropped to the floor in the middle of a forest, bracing his knees for impact. Freeberry and Eades appeared seconds later as he scanned the environment.
Trees. There were a lot of trees. In Ireland his cottage was surrounded by fields with one muggle road twisting up and around it, but here there were barely tracks. The cabin in front of him was situated in a clearing, no fence, and the ground was slightly trampled beneath his feet. The cabin itself was two-floors, small, with only two windows in the front and a door made of a slab of unfinished wood, a rusting handle and lock drilled into its surface. Brick-and-wood made up the walls, and a garden curled around the side and towards the back, where he could recognise the scent of vegetables and some potions ingredients, though not many of the latter.
Overall, it looked delapidated, the chimney stack crumbling to one side as if it might fall at any moment, the bricks eroded by the ivy that crawled up the side of the house and the bushes that grew wild there, though likely not from the wind as the tiny house was protected on all sides by trees. A silver box nestled in on the left of the house, covered by branches and splattered berries. He could feel the thrum of security wards; muggle-repelling, some blood wards, though none that protected the house from people nor animals. He supposed that was because it was so deep in woodland, no muggle or wizard would stumble upon the place.
He could, however, see deep scratch marks in the bark of the trees, the evidence that wild animals most certainly did roam hereabouts, which made it curious that she wouldn't ward them out.
"There, now, isn't this nice!" Freeberry chirped, though the anxious expression on her face as she examined the prevalent claw-marks told another story. She was uncomfortable, which was funny, because Severus felt right at home. She thrust the envelope into his hands and gestured towards the door. "Go on, now! I'm reliably informed that she doesn't bite!"
Eades let out another of his disbelieving snorts.
Severus eyed the house with some trepidation, realising now that he could hear voices from inside. Quiet voices, but they were human, backed by a low buzzing. He strode to the door and knocked twice, backing up a few steps so that he'd get a good view of the inhabitant – and to make it easier to avoid a hex.
The voices stopped abruptly and he realised the buzzing was the sound of electricity, which meant that the silver box was a generator. How odd, he thought, that a pure-blood would live in the woods and yet still use such a muggle convenience.
Footsteps, heavy for a woman, pounded down the hall, pausing for a moment and then continuing to the door. There was the rattle of locks, and then the barrier was thrown open to reveal a smiling blonde who looked vaguely familiar.
Immediately her smile dropped as she took him in with glazed lilac eyes – eyes that triggered a jolt of recognition, and responding nausea in his gut. He'd taught a lot of students, and most of them drifted into one. Especially the blondes; and this one was blonde, with messy hair tied up in a bright green ribbon, hot-pink lipstick, and a puffed-up red monstrosity on her legs, all of which clashed horribly together. Her weight singled her out – usually it was only the Bulstrodes of the pureblood world that had meat to them, the rest of the purebloods too image-conscious to dare break a 26-inch waist, but the Browns had been larger than average for decades, a fact he remembered from his own childhood with the Gryffindor Alice Brown who would be teased mercilessly for being 'fat' despite being 5'4" and weighing no more than 50kg.
Alice Brown didn't have a daughter, of course, but her older brother Anthony did.
And Anthony had had an extremely rare disfigurement that later turned out to be hereditary.
Lavender-purple eyes, for which they had named her.
He realised all of these things in quick succession, just fast enough for him to fully understand who she was and recognize the resulting disgust. This brought him back to the present just in time for her to look him in the eye, with those peculiar eyes hardened, and say, succinctly, "no."
And then she slammed the door.