The Assassination of Severus Snape
(Week 2 of The Maple Bookshelf's War of the Words)
All characters and canon situations are the property of JK Rowling and Warner Brothers and I make no money from the writing or publishing of this story. Thank You.
Sitting in his favourite chair in front of a roaring fire, Snape leaned his head back, closed his eyes, listening to his beloved classical music, a composition by Herr Beethoven. How he loved the solitude of his little house, his roaring fire, and good music. It was lovely to be back at Spinner's End, even if it was only during Christmas break.
All was right in his world, yet in many ways it seemed all wrong as well. The good part was that the Dark Lord had been vanquished by Potter two years ago. The other good part was that Hermione Granger, the snippy little swot, saved Severus from a certain death at the last minute, and was even now doing an internship at Hogwarts in Transfiguration. That was the bad part. He hated that condescending little chit. She was like a boil on his backside that refused to go away. Worst still, he couldn't help feeling as if he OWED her something, seeing that she did save his life and all.
It was enough to give a potion master a headache. Closing his eyes again, he waited for the crescendo of the piece he was listening to – it was always his favourite part – when instead of hearing the climax of the composition, he heard what could only be described as screeching.
Using his wand, he turned the sound down on the music, and then eventually completely off. Leaning forward in his chair, he strained to hear the noise again. He waited… and waited… and then he heard it again – a horrible screech or a cry. He rose from his chair and rushed to the door.
Opening it slowly, he peered outside and that was when he saw HIM. It was the third time he'd seen him since he'd been back home. Just like last night and the night before, he was walking back and forth in the shadows on the stone path right outside Severus' house. He stopped walking and looked toward the door. That was when he saw Severus looking at him.
It appeared as if he was smiling at Severus. Of all the nerve. What could such a creature want with him, of all people? Wasn't it considered a bad omen for one such as this one to be hanging around outside someone's door? Snape wasn't a superstitious sort, but one didn't get to be his age without taking a care or two. Showing utmost caution, Snape closed the door, bolted it, and then warded it with magic.
He heard another howl. Then another. The thing certainly didn't mind that Snape knew he was there.
Why was he there?
Snape wondered if it was some rogue Death Eater (in disguise, but of course) coming to enact revenge against him. That had been his assumption from the start. There were still a few of them flitting around. Surely they would have heard of Snape's betrayal of the Dark Lord by now – it had been two years. It was last summer when Snape received the first of two death threats. The second one came a few months later. He didn't take them seriously at the start, and he certainly didn't inform the Ministry. The day Snape couldn't look after himself was a drearily day indeed.
He couldn't remember the exact wording of the notes (one left in his mail slot, the other under his front door mat) verbatim, but he did recall that they said something about 'you won't see me coming' and 'I'll be in disguise, black as a cat, dark as the night, just as you were in disguise as a Death Eater all those years'. Snape looked out the window near the front door. Could this be what the person in the letter meant? Was this the disguise they mentioned? Was Snape truly in danger?
Fingering his wand tightly in his hand he was just about to Disapparate away from his own home (though he wasn't sure where he would go) when there was a knocking sound on his front porch. It didn't sound like the door, but it did sound as if someone was out there.
He was ashamed to admit that he jumped slightly at the sound. Gripping his wand in one hand, he used the other hand to pull back the curtains. There the rogue was – nice as can be – right at his own front door. What bollocks! What nerve! And using the Animagus charm to boot! Well, if HE wasn't afraid to come right up to the door, then Snape would show no fear either.
Unlocking and unwarding the door, he pulled it open and bellowed, "What the hell do you want?"
The thing on the door merely stared at Snape. Then he had the audacity to lick his lips. Closing his eyes slowly, he reopened them and then stepped around Snape to walk right into Snape's own house! The unmitigated nerve!
Snape pointed his wand right at the bastard as he sat there in Snape's favourite chair. "I would suggest you take yourself elsewhere, you smarmy bastard. I'll have you know that I'm not afraid of you! I'm not afraid of death or dying, so I'm certainly not afraid of the likes of you. I've faced the Dark Lord and lived to tell the tale. If you came here to assassinate me – as I suspect you did – then go ahead and give it a try, but don't expect it to be easy."
Snape held his wand steady, kept it pointed right at the rogue, and smiled. What he said was true. He wasn't afraid of death. And if this assassin felt as if he had to hide behind a mask (or in this case, an animagus form) than let him hide. Snape had stopped hiding behind masks and lies two years ago.
To Snape's utter and mortifying confusion, the bastard in the chair turned twice, and then snuggled down into a tight ball where he appeared to then close his eyes. Was this the pinnacle of bravado, or was the bastard merely stupid? Snape approached him wearily, nudge him with his wand and said, "Enough of this! Show me your true self, before I kill you as a cat!"
After that, confusion reigned supreme. Someone shouted from the doorway: "Don't you dare kill my cat!" The cat (was it truly just a cat?) on the chair bounded from its laying position, arched its back and hissed at Snape. The interloper from the doorway shouldered past Snape, took the black cat (damn it all to hell – it really was a cat) in her arms and she turned to face Snape.
"Why in the bloody blue blazes would you threaten to kill my cat, Snape?" It was Hermione Granger, of all people. She put her nose deep into the fur at the ruddy menace's neck, cooed softly to it, and then said, "I've been searching for it for days and days. My locator spell finally led me here, and I find that you have your WAND pointed at it. Why would you want to kill a cat, Snape? What did it do to you? Did it kill a rat you were angling to make your best friend, or what?"
Snape stared at the pair, speechless, mouth open, hands at his side. What in the world was he supposed to say to this woman? 'I thought your cat was a former Death Eater in animagus form coming to assassinate me?' It sounded bloody stupid in his head, and he knew it would sound worst still if he said it aloud… and to her of all people.
"He was sitting, uninvited, in my favourite chair," Snape found himself saying. He realized that sounded just as stupid. No. It sounded ten times stupider. The expression on the woman's face told him distinctly that she agreed with that assumption.
"And she's pregnant, too!" Hermione shouted, turning her back to Snape and holding the cat up to her face again. "Did the big bad Snape scare you, Pumpkin?"
Snape leaned forward. "Pumpkin?"
She turned sharply. "That's her name!"
"It's a her?" he asked. That made it worst somehow.
"And she's pregnant! Her litter is due any minute now!" Hermione added.
Snape actually felt as if he might faint, and wouldn't that just be the cherry on top of his total mortification! He pushed by her, sat in his chair (cat hair be damned) and said, "Let me get this straight. Your cat, Pumpkin, a female cat at that has been missing for days, and you located her here, and she's pregnant. Have I missed anything?"
Hermione regarded him carefully. "Are you alright, Snape?"
He waved his hand in front of his face. "Fine, fine, Miss Granger, just fine. Would you mind leaving now?" He closed his eyes again. With a swish of his wand, the music began again. "I want to be alone… in my humiliation." He kept his eyes closed until he heard the door shut. He opened his eyes. She was still there. She was sitting in the chair across from him, the effing cat on her lap.
"Are you certain you're alright, Snape?" she asked again.
"Perfectly fine, Miss Granger," he said in his haughtiest tone. A tone that used to make the best of them shake in their boots – but then again, it never bothered her, not even when she was a child.
Hermione removed her outer jumper and scarf, placed them on the floor on top of the rug, and sat the cat on top of them in front of the fire. It kneaded the wool, first with one paw then the other, and finally it curled back into a ball and closed its eyes. "I don't think we should move her, not at the moment, if you don't mind. I'm pretty sure she's in labor."
"Labor?" Snape asked with shock.
She smiled at him and nodded.
Something strange happened when she smiled at him. He felt… dare he think it… all warm and fuzzy inside. He didn't like it one bit.
"How about I make us a cup of tea? It may be a long night. The last time I had a cat that went into labor it took five hours for the kittens to be born." She started toward a door and said, "Is that your kitchen?" She didn't wait for an answer. "Do you have any biscuits to go with the tea?" Again, she didn't wait for a reply. She merely went through the door and vanished.
Snape narrowed his eyes and looked at the cat in front of his fire. The cat opened her eyes slowly and looked back at him. "I don't know what your game is you stupid cat," Snape started. He was interrupted when Hermione peeked her head back out the door and said, "Would you mind if I turned up the music, Snape? Beethoven is my favourite composer." She smiled again and ducked back into the kitchen.
Snape listened as the strains of his favourite composition by HIS favourite composer come to his favourite part and then he slipped off the chair, to his knees, in front of the cat. He began again, "I don't know what your game is, cat," he said, purposely leaving off the 'stupid' this time, "but… well… thank you." He scratched the cat behind the ears. The cat appeared to smile at him again. "I hope I can have one of your kittens after its born. I hope I can also have your master… but we'll worry about that later."
Hermione came back into the living room, a tray with biscuits, tea, cups, dishes, and other accoutrements, placed the tray on the table by his chair, and she knelt on the floor beside Snape and the cat.
She continued to smile at him, placing her hand on the cat's back and rubbing the fur back and forth. Their hands touched (as he was still petting the cat's head.) Neither of them removed their hands. He clasped her hand, she clasped his, and they remained that way until the kittens were born two hours later.
Pumpkin was the proud mother of three little kittens. An orange and white calico, a grey stripped tabby, and a black little beauty just like her mother. Snape adopted that one and named it Assassin. It was fitting, after all.