Author: Auror Borealis PM
Completely, utterly AU. The Potter characters in a Regency setting. If you don't know what I mean, this fic isn't for you. SS/HG. Rating will probably go up.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Severus S. & Hermione G. - Words: 2,772 - Reviews: 67 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 14 - Published: 04-20-02 - id: 732521
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Not mine. No money being made, no infringement intended, just homage to the wonderful characters created by J.K. Rowling.
Summary: Alternate universe, big time. A response to a challenge at WIKTT to depict the HP characters in a Regency setting. If you're not familiar with Regency fiction, then this story isn't likely to do a lot for you. Inspired by Kathy (Damiana), author of the wonderful SS/HG fic "Marrach." Blame her. Will be Snape/Hermione; thought I'd give you fair warning, in case you don't like that pairing.
Rating: To be determined. PG-ish right now, could very well become NC-17 (but no promises).
by Auror Borealis
Miss Hermione Granger breakfasted the morning of the assembly in her usual fashion, nose buried rudely in a book. Her parents had discovered long ago that allowing her to do so, in the absence of company at least, spared them early morning conversation revolving around such uninteresting topics as the war, the slave trade, and Mr. Coke's latest agricultural advances in Yorkshire. The last time her father demanded that she put away her reading material at the table, she had treated him to a heated defense of Mrs. Wollstonecraft's writing, which he had been unwise enough to say was filled with pernicious nonsense about the rights of women. As she reached adulthood, the Grangers could no longer deny that their only child was bookish. Those less charitable towards her did not hesitate to use the term 'bluestocking.'
A footman holding a silver salver in his hand approached Hermione, and she removed the note from it, thanking him. She opened it to see Ginny Weasley's hurried scrawl.
You shall never guess who has come to stay at the Burrow. Ron has brought home a 'friend from the army,' as he described him in his letter. He did not give his name then, but it mattered not, of course; any man who fought against Voldemort need never doubt his welcome here. It is none other than Captain Potter. You may imagine my feelings upon meeting him. A real hero, here in Hogsmeade! Papa says that the New Years List may see him made a peer, and no mere baron, either. He is quite young, only Ron's age; the same as your own. Ron met him in the peninsula, and they became thick as inkle weavers during the crossing of the Pyrenees.
He has the most dashing scar on his forehead, gained in battle during the Belgian campaign. And only fancy, Ron tells me that Captain Potter was in attendance at the Duchess of Richmond's ball, the night before Waterloo. It is such a sad tale, to think of men going to battle still in evening dress, and so few of them living through the next day. Thank God that the monster is safely locked away on St. Helena. God be willing, he shall not escape again.
I must not run on; Mama is taking me into the village to buy a length of ribbon to trim my blue muslin. If only I could have a new gown for tonight. The blue served well enough when we thought it was to be a local assembly only, with no one to impress besides Mr. Longbottom, and Mr. Thomas. But I am such a wet goose, to have forgotten the rest of my news, Hermione! Not only are we to have Captain Potter, who has promised to attend our poor assembly tonight, but His Grace has guests at the castle! Their identities are quite mysterious. Our parlourmaid, Winky, is walking out with a footman at Hogwarts, and I thought she might have got their names from him, but Dobby has refused to tell even her. It is quite vexing. I hope His Grace will attend tonight, and bring his guests. I must run now! I cannot wait to introduce you to our dashing captain. I vow, he is the handsomest thing. You will fall in love with him on the instant, I know it. I have done so myself.
Captain Harry Potter, the hero of two campaigns. Tales of his exploits at Ciudad Rodrigo and Salamanca must certainly be exaggerated, thought Hermione. No one would throw himself into harm's way so recklessly. But the newspapers had been full of his deeds both on the peninsula and in France and Belgium. Perhaps the assembly would not be as dull as she had feared. She had not looked forward to an evening of listening to Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown tell her that their gowns had come from a London modiste, and not the Hogsmeade seamstress who had Hermione's patronage. Worse would be the unavoidable presence of Pansy Parkinson, who had just become engaged to Lord Malfoy's son, Draco. As though anyone else would want him, she thought, but Pansy was in alt at the prospect of becoming a viscountess someday. Miss Parkinson would not lose the opportunity that the assembly would afford to maliciously console Hermione over her lack of beaux. 'Oh, it is a pity men do not appreciate intelligent women, my dear Miss Granger.' Or 'if only your hair were not so very bushy,' she would say, tossing her sleek blonde ringlets.
Hermione sighed. She could not turn herself into a fashion plate in one day, not even for the famous Harry Potter, hero of the wars against Voldemort. It was no use hoping he would notice a plain, unfashionable girl such as herself. Sighing, she rose from the table and sought her usual refuge in Granger Court's enormous library. Her mind was so full of wistful visions of Captain Potter that she forgot to wonder who the Duke of Dumbledore could be having to stay with him.
A sleek black curricle rolled up the lane towards Hogwarts at a leisurely pace, in deference to a tired pair of horses. Its driver, clad in a dusty coat of drab that boasted no fewer than twelve capes, had time for a lengthy perusal of the magnificent view the castle presented before he reached the front steps. A groom ran to take charge of the greys as the gentleman descended from the vehicle, and his portmanteaux were carried into the castle by the duke's efficient servants.
He was shown into a cozy parlor, and found the duke ensconced in a comfortable chair by the fireplace. The grate was empty, owing to the mild September morning.
"Sirius! You made excellent time from London. Severus owes me five guineas," said His Grace. Sirius' brows drew together; he had not at first noticed the other man, who looked at him with ill-concealed dislike from the depths of a wing chair.
"I was certain you would overturn yourself at the turn from the Great North Road," said Severus Snape, his tone making it clear that he did in fact expect this.
Sirius sketched a mocking bow. "Allow me to extend my apologies for having disobliged you, Snape."
"Save the apologies for your cattle, Black. You acquired them Monday, I believe? Bagman's breakdowns, were they not? A fool he may be, but I will grant that the man knows his horseflesh. Tell me, have you ruined their mouths yet?"
Sirius stepped forward angrily, but stopped at a gesture from the duke.
"Gentlemen, I have invited you here for the purpose of putting aside these foolish grudges you have nursed for far too long. You are off to a miserable start, I must say. I trust you will mend your manners long enough not to shame me in front of my neighbors this evening?"
With a venomous look at Snape, Black bowed to Dumbledore. "Forgive me, Your Grace. But you must know that your – invitation – " he stressed the word, knowing that it had not been an invitation but a command, "kindly meant though it is, must fail of its object. Too much lies between us."
"Much as it galls me to agree with him, Black is right, Your Grace. I promise that I shall not kill him while we are guests under your roof. More than that, I cannot do."
"I shall have to be satisfied with that, I suppose," said the ancient duke, his tone light, but his eyes holding a hint of sadness. Some things did not change. "This carpet is new. My cousin would have my head, were I to allow you to spoil it with bloodshed."
"You mentioned your neighbors, Your Grace. We shall be in company this evening?"
"Yes, indeed, Sirius," said the Duke, looking more cheerful. "There is to be an assembly at the Three Broomsticks this evening, and I cannot deny Hogsmeade the pleasure of making your acquaintance. Hagrid is already ordering your evening rig pressed."
"Your Grace – Albus – " Snape's protest died on his lips. His friend and benefactor had decided, and he could only acquiesce gracefully. "I look forward to it."
The door to the small parlor opened again, and a woman, younger than the duke but older than his guests, entered. She smiled when she saw the new arrivals.
"Severus, Sirius! How delightful to see you both. I am so sorry that I was not able to greet you when you arrived; I was detained by domestic matters, the details of which I shall spare you." She hugged Sirius enthusiastically, then turned her attention to Severus. She reached up to touch his cheek.
"My dear, I am so glad this wretched, wretched war has ended at last. Each time you went away, I feared we would not see you again."
He pulled her into his arms, too touched by her words to speak. For so long, he had immersed himself in a world of constant danger and betrayal. He had learned to distance himself from his need for human contact and kindness in order to survive, for among Voldemort's followers, he had found little humanity or kindness. He had almost forgotten how it felt to have someone care about him.
"Minerva, I've missed you," was all he could say.
A procession of carriages deposited their passengers at the door of the Three Broomsticks. Music spilled out of the doorway into the night, and through the windows, Hermione could see a line of couples performing an energetic country dance. She looked forward eagerly to seeing Ron Weasley, her childhood friend, again, but even more so to her first glimpse of Harry Potter.
Ginny met her at the door, taking her arm. "He's here, Hermione, over there!"
Hermione followed Ginny's excited gaze. She could see Captain Weasley, at the other end of the room. He had certainly changed from the gangly boy she had known, she thought. Tall and broad shouldered, his red hair in the artful disarray made so fashionable by the scandalous Lord Byron, he had grown into a very attractive man. His expression held a seriousness she had never seen in it before. Standing beside him was a black-haired young man whose disordered locks owed nothing to his valet. He wore spectacles, she noticed with surprise. One did not expect a war hero to look like a young, rather scruffy academic, but so he did.
He did not wear the scarlet and gold coat of his regiment. This was explained immediately by Ginny, who was continuing to provide Hermione with every scrap of information she possessed concerning the gentleman. She was soon informed that Captains Potter and Weasley had both sold their commissions shortly after the victory at Waterloo. They had taken lodgings together in the metropolis for a few months, taking a well-earned rest to enjoy the delights of London. They were then to continue their interrupted schooling at Oxford. This, Hermione mused, was a powerful reminder of just how young these seasoned soldiers really were. They had left to fight Voldemort barely out of Eton.
Ginny led her friend to the pair and introduced her to the captain. Hermione felt her stomach flutter at the frank appreciation she read in his eyes, and in those of her old friend as well.
The small orchestra struck up a reel, and Captain Potter bowed to Hermione. "Would you care to stand up with me, Miss Granger?" She took his arm, and he led her to a place in the forming set. Ginny gave her a comically disgruntled look as Neville Longbottom, appearing to claim a dance, led her into the same set.
Captain Potter danced very gracefully, she thought. He was slender but not too thin, with splendid legs on display in tight buckskin breeches. She noticed the envious eyes of other females on her as they danced, the envy tinged with disbelief and in some faces, malice. Just wait, those faces promised. Just wait until he learns that you are a bluestocking. Enjoy the dance, for he'll surely not ask again.
At last, with Hermione feeling breathless and flushed, the captain escorted her back to where Ginny already waited with Mrs. Granger and Mrs. Weasley. Hermione's father and the Reverend Weasley had retired to the small room where several card tables were set up, and where they would doubtless spend the evening. The erstwhile military men bowed and left to seek other partners. Hermione was conscious of a deep disappointment; she had hoped Captain Potter would be willing to tell her something of his experiences on the Continent. She swallowed this feeling, however, and summoned a brilliant smile for Rev. Weasley's curate when he solicited her for the next country dance.
She had always liked Remus Lupin, an earnest, self-effacing gentleman with one of the kindest dispositions Hermione had ever encountered. He actually encouraged her to speak to him on matters that interested her, rather than confining herself to seemly topics like fashion and the weather. She found him easy to be with, even if he sometimes looked at her with more warmth than was comfortable.
A stir at the door caused every head to turn and look. Hermione expected to see the Malfoys; they delighted in making a grand entrance, no matter how small or simple the occasion. But the Malfoys were in London, preparing for their heir's nuptials. Hermione suddenly remembered that the Duke of Dumbledore had houseguests; could this be the party from the castle? This question was answered immediately; His Grace entered the room with his cousin, Lady Minerva McGonagall, on his arm. Immediately behind them were two strange gentlemen, both tall and dark-haired. One was handsome; the other was – Hermione could not think of a word for it. Handsome he was not, but there was an indefinable quality that made her look a second time. His face was lined, making him look older than his actual age, which she guessed to be slightly under forty. He wore his hair unfashionably long, tied with a black ribbon. His clothing was sober, well-cut, but hardly on the leading edge of fashion. He presented a stark contrast to his companion, who wore a skintight coat of maroon superfine, black trousers, an extravagantly tied neckcloth, and shirtpoints that threatened to cost him an eye, should he be so unwise as to turn his head. She dismissed him immediately as a coxcomb, the sort of man with whom she had no patience. The first man drew her eye again. He looked around the room with an expression of unutterable boredom written on his features, but below that, there was something else. Uncertainty, perhaps? She was being fanciful, she decided.
The gentleman in question stiffened suddenly, and she followed his gaze. It led straight to Captain Potter, who, she noted with surprise, was glaring at the newcomer. Whoever this man was, the celebrated war hero obviously loathed him. Captain Weasley wore a similar expression. The man's features became shuttered, and he stalked along behind the duke and Lady Minerva, looking as though he would rather be anywhere else at that moment.