A/N: A chapter! I decided Ron/Pansy is a thing, for as long as I can bother with that. Lumione (one of my top ships) is also a thing. Poor Remus doesn't have anybody yet. I'll try to figure that out. Enjoy!
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 eventually had to leave after another Ministry official appeared at the door, demanding to see Lucius. This one had been a skeletal man, about five-four, with sunken cheeks and tiny, beady eyes. Lucius had greeted him with cold formality, which, for Lucius, was practically a murder attempt these days, the hatred was so strong. Even when he came across Arthur Weasley in the Ministry halls he would nod nowadays, or say a quick hello. It didn't help that he was accompanied by Auror Fitzpatrick, who had originally arrested Lucius at the Department of Mysteries. And here, Severus had been sure they were taunting him unnecessarily. Poor Lucius got a much worse end of the stick.
No guilt welled up inside him at the idea of leaving Lucius to his fate; a supercilious, smirking Draco his only support. Severus had other things to be concerned about, the least of which being his future bride. He spared a thought to wonder how she was taking the news – whether she'd decided to face up to it as yet or whether she still had her head buried firmly in the sand. He would bet on her continued denial, but perhaps she would surprise him. There must be some redeeming quality within her, after all, if she had been chosen as his match.
Nevertheless, she was relegated to the bottom of his list of priorities, ostensibly because immersing himself in the budding revolution was more important. His honest reasoning, however, was that he simply could not be bothered to face her right then. She was determined to be difficult, but there was no need for him to indulge her fits.
He arrived back at his cottage with a plan, which he enacted immediately by writing letters. Some of the letters were favours long held, some of them pulling on emotional connections, and one of them a masterful manipulation that he found himself quite proud of, reading it back. They were dispatched all across the UK by the owls he usually used for his owl-order deliveries, and he moved onto the next task.
Obviously, quiet – and even loud – protests would continue to be ignored. If people wanted to get out from under this obscene law, they would have to act. And there was no better time to do so; the public was still riled up from the Anniversary of the Dark Lord's death, those who didn't fight still felt the guilt from that lack of participation. If the right figurehead came along to unite them, someone clever and bold and tenacious and charismatic, then it would not take much to convince them to rise against the Ministry. As a Slytherin, Severus instinctively shied away from such overt, drastic action, but it seemed to be the only solution. Such was the corner they had been backed into.
As a former Death Eater (he hated the word 'reformed', like he was a common criminal rather than a powerful Dark Wizard) it was dangerous to involve himself with any anti-establishment gang, but not so much with particular, individual people. For example, Harry Potter, who might be a dissident, but was a War Hero dissident in a way Severus simply could not be. Which was what found him at his house in Godric's Hollow, easily bypassing the wards to knock on the door.
It was opened by a mussed and irritated looking Ginny Potter, whose confrontational face melted into pale horror when she recognised him. He wouldn't deny enjoying that, not to himself. "Mrs. Potter," Severus drawled – drawled because it allowed him to control the reflexive gag he'd always had on the passing of that accursed title through his lips.
"P-Professor Snape," she stuttered out in shock. "What – what are you doing here?"
He let one eyebrow rise smoothly, and she gulped. "I was hoping to speak to Potter," he drawled, glancing behind her. "Is he in?"
Recovering, she frowned. "He is. You know, Snape, common courtesy is to call first."
"Even for 'old family friends'?" Severus drawled with considerable condescension, deliberately using the phrase Potter himself had used to describe him in an interview with the Prophet; a more ridiculous euphemism Severus had never heard, considering his less than stellar relationship with the lad's father. Mrs. Potter winced visibly, leaving Severus to restrain a grin. "Come, Mrs. Potter. Is the lad in?"
She scowled, but pulled the door open and stepped aside. He ducked under the unnecessarily low frame and stepped into a homely hall, decorated tastefully with a cream wallpaper and darker brown carpet. Mrs. Potter flipped her hair as she closed the door. "You've got good timing, Snape, I'll give you that," she snapped darkly, sashaying her way down the hall. "He's just got back from work for lunch. You can talk while he eats. Harry?"
They emerged into a well-lit kitchen where Potter was seated at the end of a bench table, the contents of a sandwich scattered about as he put it together. Some left over beef, no doubt from a roast over the weekend, horseradish, some lettuce and tomatoes. He sliced each with considerably more deftness than he'd ever demonstrated in Severus's lessons, nimbly compiling his meal. "Yeah, Gin?" he mumbled, focused entirely on his task. Severus had to restrain himself from rolling his eyes – Potter had always had the peculiar habit of being entirely too obsessed with his food.
"You've got a visitor." Perhaps it was the tone in which she said those usually polite words that had him glancing up in confusion, his eyes widening dangerously when he caught sight of Severus. He dared not think what image he made in this pretty suburban kitchen, all bound up in his inky-black robes.
"Professor Snape!" He exclaimed in a near shout, jumping from his seat so quickly it sent the knife plummeting to the floor. Potter caught it, of course, with those reflexes that had made him such a superior seeker, twirling it absently across his fingers before he placed it back across his plate. Severus narrowed his eyes as this show of Michelin-style prowess, and Potter blushed – blushed, as though he was still eleven and not a man of nearly twenty. "Erm – did you want a sandwich?"
"No," he replied, elongating the word until he'd sneered it, compacting as much meaning as he possibly could into it until he might as well have called him a damned imbecile and it would have been less cutting.
"Didn't think so," Potter said chirpily, unperturbed, adding a bashful little smile to the bargain. "Probably best, anyway – Ginny cooked this beef, and she won't mind me telling you it's a bit…" another grimace as he waggled his hands exaggeratedly, letting out a huff of laughter when his wife smacked him across the back of the head in faux-offense. Severus cringed away from the scene of domestic contentment, his mind going to his own fiancée – he couldn't imagine a similar scene with Miss Brown; she seemed more predisposed to stab him should he make an ill-advised remark about her cooking than share in mild hilarity.
There was something very wrong with him that he preferred that scenario to this one.
The reminder of his fiancée spurred him to get to the point. "Potter, charming as this is, I didn't come here to watch you and Mrs. Potter canoodle."
"Right, yes," Potter nodded, waving to a stool. "Sit down, Professor. I assume this is about the Marriage Act."
Severus eyed the little wooden stool with disdain, deciding to stand rather than risk the bound-to-be inelegant mounting. "Observant as ever. I find myself in an untenable position, and therefore offer my services to the cause."
"What cause?" Potter blinked like a dopey owl. "I'm sorry, Professor – I think you might have the wrong idea. The law has passed, our protests didn't work. There's really nothing more to do."
His eyebrow lifted quite of its own accord and Potter flinched automatically. Ah, it was so nice to know some things were ever-unchanging. "Protests, Potter? You're telling me this is all you had planned? A few speeches and a tepid little sit-in?"
Potter and his wife exchanged an uneasy look. They really were quite nauseatingly happy. "Look, Professor… I'm not looking to change the world. I've already done that. I can't win another war, I just … don't have the energy."
"Did I suggest war?" Severus snapped scathingly.
Mrs. Potter narrowed her eyes. "It sounds like that's what you want."
"Not at all," he replied, much more affably. "Rather, I was going to suggest taking a leaf out of the French's book."
"A revolution," Mrs. Potter said dubiously. "Really? It's not very…"
"British," Potter finished. "It's not really in the spirit of our country, is it?"
"If you want to be nationalistic, Potter, perhaps you might try sitting back and letting it happen, only to complain about it later in the pub when it doesn't turn out quite the way you wanted it to. You being a war hero, The War Hero, some might say, I presumed you'd be more active." He made a show of brushing off the front of his robes. "No matter; I see that I was wrong. Forgive the intrusion."
He was halfway to the door before Mrs. Potter stopped him. "My sister-in-law, Fleur," she said, quietly. "She's French, but she's also half-Veela. If you need someone to lead a revolution, she's the one you want. Men would follow her anywhere, trust me." She shoved something into his hand and glanced back at the kitchen door. "Harry's just scared. He's always been protective of me, and now that I'm pregnant again, he doesn't want to do anything that might end up affecting our child. However…"
She shrugged, grinning. "He's still The-Boy-Who-Lived, The Chosen One at heart. If you get a movement going, he won't be able to resist joining in." She nodded at his hand. "So get a movement going, Professor, and I'll see you on the front lines."
Lavender was day-drinking with Remus when Pansy turned up at the door. She'd been complaining his ears off, as usual, while he bore it with his customary grace (which is to say, he looked concerned for as long as he could hold the expression up, before his snickers started breaking through, and then he'd be chuckling at her, which only exacerbated her complaining, which only exacerbated his laughter… and so on and so forth in a never-ending cycle). Remus had the good sense not to look too relieved at her arrival, which protected him from a kick in the shins.
This time, Lavender hadn't been complaining about Snape being her fiancée, so he didn't really have room to complain. Okay, so she might still have been complaining about Snape, but it was a new complaint, and therefore far enough away from the original complaint that she couldn't see where he could have a problem with it. All she wanted was to actually see the bloke once in a while, okay? It had been – gods, days – since she'd last seen him, the night he broke in (yes, Remus, it's still breaking in if he wasn't invited by the owner of the damn house, which, by the by, is not you!) and told her they were getting married. One would assume that he'd want to get to know his betrothed, but apparently not.
So when Pansy came stumbling in, looking shell-shocked, Remus ran straight to her side. One might think that would be his usual reaction to a rough looking woman coming in the door, but as this was the Headquarters for a pack of werewolves, no matter how small, dishevelled women were pretty much a fact of life. His reaction, therefore, betrayed his desperation for a change of subject.
Looking closer at Pansy, Lavender felt concern begin to flicker in her gut. Usually, after a run, Pansy looked bedraggled, mudspattered and grimy but refreshed, and would stumble into the kitchen in relatively high spirits (relatively because this was Pansy, and Pansy's high spirits made her a bit yappy, so they'd banned that), possibly dragging a rabbit behind her (alive, not dead – Pansy liked to catch them, but couldn't stand harming them. This didn't stop her from digging into rabbit stew at dinner, though). This time, however, she was doing no such thing, leaning on Remus for support as he led her over to the table.
"Pansy?" she asked, reaching over to take the girl's hand. Over her head, she mouthed 'tea' at Remus, who immediately set off towards the kettle. "Are you alright?"
"No," Pansy moaned, making big doe-eyes at Lavender. "Do I look alright?"
Ignoring Remus's frantic cutting motions, Lavender shrugged. "Well, you look like shite, but I'm too polite to say that." Remus groaned audibly as Pansy straightened up enough to hiss at her.
"I'm pregnant," Pansy whispered, then paled. "Oh, Circe, I'm pregnant!" She gazed off into space for a few minutes then cursed loudly and colourfully. "Damn that bastard and his super-sperm! I should have known one contraceptive potion wouldn't cut it."
Remus went a little green as he handed over the cup of tea, backing away to his seat. Lavender could just sense him stifling the urge to cover his ears. "You slept with a Weasley," she reminded her friend, who glared. "You could have had your entire reproductive system removed and cauterised and he'd still have somehow managed to impregnate you."
It was supposed to be reassuring, but Pansy didn't seem to think so, instead letting out a wail of distress. "Damn that man! It wasn't even that good!"
"Well," Lavender mused, "if it helps at all, at least he'll have plenty of opportunities to improve."
Pansy stared at her for a moment more, then shook her head rapidly, turning around to face Remus. "You understand what a disaster this is, right?"
"Erm," Remus shifted in his seat, looking around for an escape. "Did you want some more tea?"
Pansy grit her teeth. "No, I don't want some more tea. I want to not be the next Mrs. Weasley. Is there anything you can make to solve that problem?" Her eyes widening with sudden inspiration, she asked, "can't you just, like, eat him or something? The full moon is next week, right?"
Remus's eyebrows disappeared into his hair. "The full moon – I'm not eating him!"
"Well, why not?! What's the point of having a werewolf friend if they won't eat someone for you?! Lavender, you'll eat him, right?"
She shook her head. "Nope – been there, done that, didn't like the taste."
"Oh, what good are you!" Pansy snarled, slamming her mug down onto the table top. On reflex, she reached out to steal Lavender's glass of wine, then stopped with it half-way to her lips. "Oh – for fuck's sake!" she shrieked, shoving it over the table until it toppled, spilling its delightfully alcoholic contents onto the floor. "I hate you all!" She screamed, twirling and slamming her way back out again. The -crack- of her apparition was spitefully loud, causing the two of them to flinch.
Lavender observed the scene of destruction with a mournful sort of apathy, finally setting the glass upright and filling it again. "And you thought you had problems," Remus commented dryly. Lavender snorted through a mouthful of wine.
"She'll get over it when she realises this means her kids will get to be the only purebloods in their year," Lavender replied, sharing another smirk with him.
He stood from his seat, stretching. "Right, well, I'd best get on."
Nodding, she settled her glass back on the counter. "Right, yes, sorry, you came here to – what were you doing here again?"
Remus's reaction was amusing – like a deer in headlights. HE glanced away, muttering something under his breath that even she couldn't hear. "Could you repeat that, please?" she asked, smelling the opportunity for mischief.
"I left my Twix under the sofa," he repeated aloud, a blush burning his cheeks as he scowled at her.
Lavender shot him a wolfish smile. "Well, if that's all it is, why didn't you just go get them?"
Scowling even harder, Remus shoved up from his chair and stalked through to the living room. There was a pause, and then – "Lavender?"
"Yes, Remus?" she asked, grinning into her wine.
"They're not here..?" Remus called through, puzzlement cutting through his voice.
Lavender fought to keep the smirk out of her own. "I know."
Silence, and then Remus was at the kitchen door, watching her with a dangerous look on his face. "You know..?"
"Oh, yes," she hummed, holding his gaze steadily. "Did I not say?"
"Say what?" Remus growled – actually growled, which for Remus was basically a declaration of intent to murder, and she realised, again, that she should stop playing these games with her Alpha – who could definitely pummel her if he was so inclined.
But then… it was so fun to see him angry?
(Lavender is so grateful that the Incredible Hulk is not a real thing because if it was she was pretty certain she wouldn't be able to resist prodding him with a stick.)
Pushing her chair back, she measured the distance between her and the door, and then the distance between her and Remus. She could probably make it, if she ran. She stood up slowly, careful not to make any sudden movements, and shot him a cheery smile. "Oh, well… I ate them."
She did make it to the door, actually, but not much farther.
Lavender had to admit that she had absolutely zero intention of getting involved with Snape's one-man scheme to overturn the law – considering how she knew nothing about politics and didn't fancy Azkaban, there didn't, at the time, seem to be much in it for her that sitting in the comfort of her own house complaining loudly to friends wouldn't also give her – up until the moment Hermione Granger turned up, stressed and angry, and ratcheted the entertainment meter of the whole scheme up about 1000%. If there was anything that could get Lavender – or, for that matter, any member of her Pack – out of bed in the morning, it was the idea that somewhere in the world unadulterated chaos might be occurring, and if they were lucky and hurried, they might even get to be involved.
That this was a trait Remus shared with them had, at first, been surprising, until they joined the dots on the whole thing – he was a marauder, he's also a werewolf (which, according to Pansy, basically made him 'part-dog'. While completely wrong, this theory did explain some of his attraction to disaster), he was a prankster… still is, sometimes. They ended up wondering why they hadn't seen it earlier. No wonder he'd wanted to teach at Hogwarts. Under Dumbledore, that place was a ticking time-bomb of anarchic opportunity.
Anyway, she'd performed this u-turn, as mentioned, during a visit from Hermione precisely three days after her not-so-dashing suitor had unceremoniously dumped the paperwork on her and split to whatever cave he lived in nowadays. She'd turned up at the door, all mad-hair and ideals, without even Remus as an excuse.
"Why are you here?" Lavender had asked, because Hermione had always seen right through her and if she could be rude-as-fuck to anybody and actually be appreciated for it, that person would be Hermione Granger, for whom honesty is and always has been worth more than politeness.
"I can't find Professor Snape," Hermione said in a panicked voice, shouldering past Lavender into her house. And, just – how fucking brave of her to do that! She worked in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, which meant that she, of all people, should know exactly how territorial werewolves were. "I can't find him, and I know – I know – he's unsatisfied with this law. He'll be fighting against it, and I want to help him."
Hermione came to an abrupt stop in the living room, taking in the design with slightly parted lips. "Oh… he's not here."
"No, he's not." Lavender said with amusement. "What did you expect, us to be shagging on the couch?"
Huffing, Hermione turned to Lavender. "Tell me where he is."
"Why should I do that?" Lavender asked, smirking. "He's my fiancé. Why would I want to send another desirable young woman, this one with intellect and beauty, into his desperately open arms? No, thank you."
Hermione stared at her, her expression telling Lavender that she wasn't buying it. That was fine, it wasn't what she was saying that was the point, it was the general obstruction. And the other girl got that, going by the anger flaring in her eyes. Then, just as quickly, her face shut down, and she stepped closer to Lavender, reaching out to grip her arm with a touch of desperation. "Lavender," she took a deep breath. "You have to help me. I can't let this law pass. I just can't."
"Well, that sucks for you, but I'm really not interested in getting involved so…" Lavender stepped aside, gesturing the door. Hermione didn't move, instead meeting Lavender's eyes straight on.
"They paired me with Lucius Malfoy."
A pin could have dropped. Lavender took a quick moment to assimilate that information, and then did the only thing she could do.
"Fine," she relented, ignoring the way Hermione's eyes lit up. "I'll Floo him. Give me two minutes."
She stomped out of the room, making a show of her reluctance, and closed herself in the bedroom. Quietly, she slipped out her wand, cast a silencing charm, and broke down laughing.
She couldn't help it.
Oh, Gods… Lucius Malfoy and Hermione Granger.
Hermione Granger and Lucius Malfoy.
There were actual tears.
To think just this morning she'd been feeling bored. Hermione Granger was, in this way, a gift from the Gods. Never a dull moment, she was sure. Still tittering, she trod over to the fireplace – the only one connected to the Floo, and heavily warded, at that – and called out Severus's address.
"What do you want?" he demanded upon answering. A more charming man had never existed, she was sure.
"Oh, Snape," she snuffled through her tears of mirth. "Oh – Hermione and Malfoy, oh Gods, it's so fucking funny!"
"Stop talking nonsense, woman," Snape chastised her sharply. "Use. Your. Words."
"You know, you're a real shit, but not even you can ruin my mood right now -" her peals of laughter trailed off and she wiped her eyes, snorting one last time. "Guess who's in my living room."
"Must I?" He asked with a long-suffering sigh.
"The rest of the call won't make very much sense unless you do," Lavender told him in a sing-song voice, lowering herself to the floor and sitting cross-legged, settling in for the long-haul. "I'll give you a clue – you don't like them."
He shot her a sardonic glance that made her snicker, but for the most part seemed to give in. "Well, I know it's not Potter," he drawled, glancing at something outside of his fireplace. "Presumably it's one of your atrocious Gryffindor cohort, though only the Gods know why you'd inflict their presence on yourself, never mind me. You've not Floo-ed me in the middle of an assignation, have you?" He looked faintly ill at the thought, which, you know, unflattering, much?
"If they were, I'd be most disappointed. I mean, listen to me. Nary a moan in sight – not even a breathy sigh." She grimaced. "I've had some bad sex in my day but that would just take the biscuit."
"You are crude," Snape told her, still looking nauseated.
"I have heard that about me," Lavender snarked back. "Come on, then, Snape. You were top of your class, surely you can guess."
He slapped an exhausted hand to his face and let out a low grown, which was probably the most dishevelled Lavender had ever seen him, and she'd seen him dead. "Very well, you infuriating creature. Weasley?"
"You're the worst at this game," she scolded, too impatient to wait. "Hermione Granger."
His response was deliciously visceral – the recoil, the look of harried disgust, the curse he couldn't quite contain. Within a second he was back to his closed-up self, though, and stared her down through the flames. "And this has to do with me… why?"
"She wants to join your merry band of revolutionaries," Lavender informed him with as little sarcasm as she could manage to keep out of it. "So you're really doing that, then?"
"What exactly is it about me that makes you think I'd lay down and let – this – happen?" he asked dryly, making an unflattering motion with his hands to indicate their betrothal.
She leaned back on her heels so that she could roll her eyes out of his sight and then pressed back in. "As flattering as that is," she said brightly, "would you like to come and talk to her, then?"
"Will you, then?"
Another flicker of emotion. Gods, how did he manage to keep all of this on the inside? Lavender never could – all of the things she'd want to say would build up until her head exploded. It was admirable, in a way, she supposed. "Tell her I'll contact her later." He backed off as if that was a dismissal, but Lavender wasn't going to allow that.
"So what are you doing?"
Snape shot her a quizzical look. "Do you care?"
She fidgeted slightly. "Well, yes. It has to do with me too, you know."
He watched her suspiciously for a moment and then sighed. "I'll be visiting with Mrs. Fleur Weasley on the morrow," Snape said, observing the fire. "About the Marriage Law, and what we can do about it."
"I'm coming," Lavender insisted at once. Snape looked surprised, and really, he shouldn't be. Yes, she'd refused to get involved before, but this was different. This was Fleur Weasley, half-Veela, credible threat! When she started to feel possessive of Snape, Lavender didn't have a clue, but it was one thing for them to part of her decision and quite another thing for some Veela to come swanning in and steal him away under the guise of plotting sessions.
Lavender had a sudden, vivid image of the two of them sat at a table, Fleur's husband asleep upstairs, the two of them talking quietly by candlelight, Snape's dark hair a stark contrast against her beautiful blonde, him mooning after her like a twat –
She nodded firmly. "I'm coming," she repeated.
He looked as if he'd like to complain, but held himself back, tightly reigned. She wondered, for a brief moment, what it would be like to have him slip free of restraints. She was sure she could provoke it out of him; it was her special skill, after all. But for now, she'd simply stick to butting in on his plans.
"I'll pick you up at eight," he said, then gave her a sharp nod, and tossed a glass of water on the fire. She pulled back, spluttering, as the connection cut out.
"Dickhead," she muttered, getting back to her feet. She had a Hermione to disappoint – and she wasn't going to be easy about it. If she couldn't provoke Snape today, this was a fair replacement.