THE LIFE OF SEVERUS

Students and staff were gathered on the Quidditch pitch. Those lucky enough to arrive early, those lucky enough not to be detained by yet another exploding cauldron incident in Potions, were nearest the pavilion where Dumbledore stood. He spoke, and the first few rows of the crowd nodded gravely.

Harry shifted from one foot to the other to the other. Bloody Neville and his potion-gone-wrong. Harry hadn't had time to see Madam Pomfrey and get that third leg taken off. He nudged Ron.

"What did Dumbledore say?"

Ron shrugged. "I dunno."

Hermione poked both of them with her first-rate poking elbow. "If you'd both shut up, maybe we could hear."

A deep syrupy voice wafted over all of them. "If you'd be quiet, Miss Granger, maybe we could all hear."

Snape stood a few feet away, arms folded, his eyes on Dumbledore. He seemed to be trying his best to read the elder wizard's lips.

"Shut up, Big Nose," Ron muttered.

Snape chose to ignore that, but stored the memory, ready for Weasley's next transgression. One false wand wave in Potions, and a zillion points would be reamed off Gryffindor, until the golden lion howled with pain.

Harry sniggered.

"Shhh!" Snape snapped.

"Big Nose," Harry mouthed at Ron. They both squashed smirks.

"Quiet!" Hermione hissed.

"Big Mouth," Ron whispered to Harry.

They both squirted out laughs.

"Shut up, all of you!" Snape growled.

"Big Nose," Ron muttered again. "He shouldn't tell Hermione to shut up," he said to Harry.

Snape used his own bony bits to elbow Hermione. "I'll thump him if he calls me Big Nose again." He thought he heard Ron say something. "Two hundred points from Gryffindor," he said, before he wallopped Ron neatly in the guts.

Hermione moved to intervene. Ron caught her a beauty across one cheek. Hermione flailed, belted Harry amidships. Harry reeled into Snape, and all four of them went down in a heap.

"What are they doing?" Lavender Brown asked Parvati.

Parvati shook her head. "Just trying to get attention. This fight has been coming a long time. Ever since the underpants thing last year." She sniffed. "What did Dumbledore say? Voldemort will kill the weak?"

"The meek!" someone in the crowd said.

"Oh, bad luck for the meek," said Lavender. "They're always copping it."

Neville Longbottom looked worried. He didn't want to cop anything more. He all ready had forty hours of detention with Snape over the extra legs thing. Harry had used his third leg to kick Neville up the clacker. No, he didn't want any more punishments for meekness thankyou. He fainted at the thought of Voldemort would do to the meek. He fell on top of Hermione, who had had quite enough of sweaty boys falling on her for one day.

She used all her feminine strength and rage to foist them all away. Harry and Neville were tossed in the direction of Madam Pomfrey. Pomfrey made Harry walk (one leg, two leg, three leg) to the Infirmary, but she had to sling Neville across her shoulders.

"Aren't you staying for the rest of the speech?" Macgonagall asked her as Pomfrey staggered past.

"I haven't got time for that." Pomfrey gestured to Neville. "He's not well again."

Macgonagall shrugged, and shifted her feet to avoid Ron Weasley's body rolling her way.

Hermione couldn't move Snape. Too heavy. He was a big man. She shifted uncomfortably. He was a big man in more ways than one, she could feel. How awkward. Snape saved further embarrassment by picking himself off the ground, and then lending her a hand to get up.

"Thankyou," she squeaked.

Snape nodded his reply and they went back to listening to Dumbledore to the best of their abilities. He was mentioning those who had all ready defected to Voldemort's side during the past three years since his resurrection.

"Peter Pettigrew controls the entire north country," Dumbledore said. "So those of you who live north of Yorkshire must beware of him, and his minions."

"Down with Pettigrew!" someone yelled.

"Splitter!"

"He should be horse whipped!"

Snape rolled his eyes. "As if any of this will help," he said. "If we kill Voldemort, the whole organisation will fall apart."

Hermione rounded on him. "I didn't see you at the last meeting of the People's Front Against Voldemort," she accused.

"That is because I prefer direct action."

Hermione smarted. It was true. She'd formed the People's Front two years ago, and so far all they'd done was paint 'Voldemort Go Home' across his ancestral home, and send him a booby-trapped exploding cauldron (specialty of Neville).

"You're not part of the People Against Voldemort, are you?"

Snape shook his head.

"Hogwarts' Popular People's Front?"

"No."

"Popular People Against Voldemort?"

Snape raised an eyebrow. "I doubt I'd qualify." He sighed. "I'm a lone agent."

"Splitter!"

Dumbledore was reading the list of students who had been captured by Voldemort or Peter Pettigrew. The list was rather longer than last year, and his voice sounded out clear in the sudden silence. Each name rang like a bell.

Hermione shook her head. "We have to do something. This has gone on long enough."

"People are working on it, Miss Granger, much more qualified than you."

Hemione's cheeks stung red. How could anyone be more qualified at anything than she? She had OWL's, NEWT's, one accelerated PYTHON from university, and a pet cat. She never exploded a cauldron, once levitated Professor Flitwick, and Charmed the pants off…….but that's another story.

All around her, seventh year students were resolving to act now. Sixth years looked determined, fifth years looked grim, and those below looked frightened. Hermione was glad she was a seventh year.

"What can I do?" she demanded of Snape. "All these meetings are useless. You must know something. Tell me!" She tugged on his arm.

He shook her free. "Miss Granger, listen to Professor Dumbledore. Stay out of trouble, keep a low profile. Haven't you and your friends been in enough trouble over the years?"

"If that's about the pants incident, I swear-"

"It is not about the pants incident, although that is indicative of your impetuous nature. Let those best qualified handle Voldemort."

Again with the qualifications. Wrong thing to say to Hermione. May as well tell that Weasley mob not to play Quidditch. Snape's shoulders slumped.

"Meet me later, Hogsmeade, behind Zonko's. If you can't stay out of trouble, then you may as well help me." He paused. "Wear trousers, and a loose shirt. Do everything to disguise your femininity."

Hermione caught his gaze flicking over her skirt and blouse, his eyes resting on her curves. She blushed becomingly.

*****

Hermione smoothed down the shirt she'd borrowed from Harry. It was white, loose and smelled of some cologne that was meant to make women karate chop their own grandmothers to get to the wearer. As far as she could tell, she had no urge to karate anyone, except maybe Snape, who was late. She felt conspicuous, lurking behind Zonko's. She'd had three approaches from men, one from a woman, and now Professor Macgonagall was bearing down on her.

"Hermione, what are you doing here?"

"Er…Begging."

"What?"

"I've gone through all my allowance." She held out one hand. "Alms. Alms for..er..an ex-Muggle."

"Ex-Muggle?"

"Yes, Professor. There I was, happy at school, and I got the letter. Not so much as a by-your-leave. Suddenly I'm a witch. I was heading for a good career as a dentist, and now…."

"You don't like witchcraft, Miss Granger?"

"No, I mean, yes, I mean….it's been disruptive, that's all. Alms for an ex-Muggle!"

Macgonagall sighed. This had to be some stupid Potter prank, a dare. She dropped a coin into Hermione's hand and walked off. Sometimes she wished she were Head of Hufflepuff. They were so much quieter. Except for that pants incident, and well, Hermione was at the bottom of that anyway. So to speak.

Hermione glanced at the coin. "One knut! One knut for my bloody life story. "

"There's no pleasing some people," Macgonagall muttered.

Hermione was about to shoot off her mouth, when Snape appeared. He looked at the knut in her hand.

"I would have thought you'd be worth more than that," he said.

Hermione aimed a smack at his head. He ducked, smirked in that oily way of his.

"Shall we go?" he asked.

"Where?"

"You want to help. Then you must take direct action. I am Apparating to Voldemort's headquarters, to take part in a meeting. If you can disguise yourself sufficiently, you may come, observe, help me."

He made some adjustments to Hermione's clothing, pulling the shirt tails from her trousers, and giving her a cap to tuck her hair into.

"Can't you suck in?" he asked, pointing to her breasts.

"Sorry, no."

He sighed. "Just don't take big breaths." He took her into his arms, and they Apparated.

*****

Hermione guessed it was southern country, but could not begin to suppose exactly where they were. Snape knocked on the door of a large house, suitably Gothic in design, and most likely haunted by at least one of Henry VIII's wives.

A voice came from within. "Just a moment. My legs are old, my eyes are weak, I have a distressed bladder…." The door opened. "Yes?"

"Snape, and apprentice."

Hermione gave a weak smile as the door opened and they were admitted. Down the hallway and into a large room. Lucius Malfoy hid behind some drapes. Two more men were under a table. Voldemort climbed out from under the rug.

"Who is this?" he demanded of Hermione.

"My apprentice," Snape said. "He wishes to join us."

"Vewwy well. Let him undergo the test."

Hermione blinked, both at Voldemort's strange speech impediment, and the mention of the test. Test? She hadn't studied! Her worst nightmare. Next, just like her nightmares, she'd be naked, and holding Ron Weasley's old, broken wand.

Several other young men were shoved into the centre of the room. Hermione frowned. Surely under that cloak was Narcissa Malfoy? And weren't the others all women as well?

"Stwip them naked!" Voldemort shouted. "And give them bwoken wands!"

Worst nightmare realised.

Snape, Lucius Malfoy and several other wizards started forward, protesting at the 'naked' thing. Voldemort frowned.

"But the test is always done naked." More shouts. "Oh, vewwy well, they may retain their clothes."

The 'apprentices' all breathed light-voiced sighs of relief. Voldemort peered closely at them.

"Are there any women here today?"

"No!" "No." "Urk, women, fooey!"

"Vewwy well, pwoceed."

Each apprentice was given a wand. Hermione's was snapped at the tip and a single owl feather core protruded.

"Appwentices, you must use the Cwuciatus Curse on your masters."

The masters steeled themselves. Hermione licked her lips, pointed the wand at Snape, and whispered the curse. Her wand made a rude blurty sound and Snape fell to the ground, caught in orgasm. Lucius Malfoy was rolling about the floor, laughing hysterically, his own clothes tickling him. Goyle was clucking like a chicken. Another man was dancing a strip tease.

Voldmort relented.

"Welease them!"

One apprentice kept her wand focussed on her master, a vicious smirk on her face.

"Welease him. Welease Woger at once!"

The apprentice sighed and lowered her wand.

It took some moments for each man to pull himself together, Snape longer than most. He lay on the floor, writhing.

"Sevewus, get up!" Voldemort commanded.

"Just a minute, I'm not finished," the Potions master moaned.

Everyone inspected their nails until Snape stood again, adjusting his clothes and looking more relaxed than he had in years.

"Appwentices, you have passed the test. You were all willing to torture your masters. Welcome. There are no loyalties here, except to me," Voldemort said. "And to Peter Pettigwew in the north, and Throbbler Wand in the south."

Someone giggled. Voldemort rounded on him.

"So, do you find the name Throbbler Wand funny? Throbbler Wand is a vewwy gweat fwiend of mine, and a gweat dark wizard."

More sniggers. Hermione tried hard to concentrate on a painting. But the two characters in the painting were laughing also.

"He has a wife you know. Throbbler Wand. Do you know what her name is?" Voldemort stormed among them. "Incontinentia."

Snape bit himself on the hand, and Lucius Malfoy sucked his cheeks in until they hurt.

"Incontinentia Buttocks."

Narcissa Malfoy burst out laughing, long, loud, very female, in a drain-clearing sort of way. Voldemort turned purple with rage.

"A woman! Take her away. I want her fighting dwagons before the day is out."

Lucius helped his hysterical wife from the room. She squawked as she was led.

"But all I did was laugh!"

Lucius prodded her. "You're making it worse for yourself."

"How can I make it worse for myself? Ha-ha hahahahahahahahaha!"

They disappeared behind a door and there was a distant roar, as of a hungry dragon in the basement.

"Lucky bitch!" muttered a very deformed man. "Lucky, lucky bitch. Proper little Dark Lord's pet, eh?"

Hermione turned to the man. "She's going to fight dragons," she said,incredulous.

"Oh, what I wouldn't give to fight dragons. I lie awake at night, dreaming of fighting dragons, if only for an hour."

"Dragons are awful."

"They're a doddle. I've been serving the Dark Lord for three years, and I've only be allowed to stop crawling on my knees yesterday."

Goyle slapped the man. "Shaddup you."

The man shut up, and stifled a sob. "Wonderful people, dark wizards."

Voldemort cleared his throat. "Now that we are alone, I want to make it perfectly clear what your assignments are." He quickly ran through a list of atrocities for each of them, and turned his attention to Snape. "And your work, Severwus? It is time to start wecwuiting diwectly from Hogwarts. Is their mowale pwopewly cwushed?"

Snape looked uneasy. "Er, about eleven, sir."

Voldemort gave him an odd look. "Mowale, Snape. Is their mowale low?"

"Oh, yes. On the floor."

"Good. Make sure their mowale is thwown to the fwoor."

"Uh huh." Snape shifted uneasily. "Is that it?"

"And bwing me Dumbledore in chains."

"Uh huh."

Voldemort rabbited on for a while longer, then dismissed them. The ugly man cowered before him.

"How shall we fuck off, oh Lord?" He was hit by the Imperio curse and made to crawl from the room, on his knees again, and forced to lick the entrance way clean.

Snape and Hermione passed him in the hallway. They Apparated to Hogsmeade.

"That was dreadful," Hermione said, freeing her hair from its cap.

Snape rubbed the back of his neck. "Same orders as always. I was hoping you had some ideas to sabotage things. How does one go about keeping up morale?" A foreign concept for Snape.

Hermione shrugged towards Zonko's. "Open the shop up inside Hogwarts?"

"I was hoping you'd put that over-active mind of yours to some use, Miss Granger."

"Sorry." She thought hard, all the while tucking in her shirt and trying to make herself feel more feminine. Her breasts strained against the shirt. Snape tried to think of the Cruciatus curse, but remembered how it felt when the broken wand was used.

Hermione spoke. "Why not throw a party?"

"Pardon?"

"A party."

"Me?"

"I see the problem. You're not really a party boy, are you?"

"Parties are a Gryffindor thing, study groups for Ravenclaw, raves for Hufflepuff, I believe."

"What about Slytherin?"

"Orgies."

Hermione felt she didn't want to ask if he were telling the truth. Not for the first time, she thought she was in the wrong House. Ravenclaw sounded attractive.

"You could make up an excuse for a big party, get everyone talking, looking forward to it."

Snape paled, if that were possible. "The last party" (he made it sound like a dirty word) "I had was for my tenth birthday."
"Then it must be time for another." Hermione smiled bravely. "Now, let's see, graduation's over, and your birthday…."

"Is not for months. Miss Granger, I imagine the only thing the students of Hogwarts could imagine me celebrating is-" He was going to say 'a rising of the undead', but Hermione interrupted.

"Your marriage."

Snape staggered back. "Miss Granger, I don't think-"
"It's perfect. No one knows what you do in your spare time. You could have a girlfriend. Everyone will be delighted."

"Astonished."

"A few might be nauseated," Hermione admitted.

"Bastards!"

Hermione took her fate into her own hands. "You could marry me. Well, pretend to anyway. We spent a lot of this year together, working on Potions. We could pretend to get married, and have a big party. Then get a quiet divorce afterwards."

Snape thought Avada Kedavra sounded easy compared to this. So quick. So quiet. It had been years since he was caught up in a Gryffindor plot, except for that pants incident. They always had the oddest ideas. Still, he couldn't think of a single reason to have a legitimate party.

"Very well."

"Well then…."

"What?"

"The proposal. Don't I get one?"

Was this the punishment for joining the Death Eaters all those years ago? Snape sighed and got down on one leg.

"Miss Granger….Hermione….will you marry me?"

Hermione thought about saying no. She wondered if she were capable of swooning. No, apparently not.

"Okay."

"Well, fuck me sideways with a tree!" came Ron Weasley's voice.

Harry, Ron, Ginny, Seamus, and about a dozen other Gryffindors were peeking around the side of Zonko's, all gobsmacked. Hermione dragged Snape to his feet. She plastered on an insincere smile.

"Oh look, a few of my friends have popped by…er…darling."

"Popped by? Swarmed by, more like it….dear."

Snape and Hermione were surrounded by astonished Gryffindors, and as Hermione had predicted, Neville was sick to his stomach. Nothing new there. They were all hustled into the pub for a celebratory drink. What an amazing end to the school year. All the rumours were true. Snape and Granger. Wow! And now to plan the party to end all parties!

*****

The amount of big, fat lies they both had to tell were growing by the second. Biggest was the fabricated wedding.

"Oh yes, we eloped to London and were married there," said Hermione.

"Old Druid up in Wales performed the rites," said Snape.

If Dumbledore noted the difference in stories, he kept it to himself.

The Gryffindor girls threw Hermione a belated hens' night.

"Cor," said Ginny. "I didn't know the teachers were fair game. That new Professor Chapman is rather nice."

Lavender Brown followed up with a few choice comments about Lupin.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I'm not a role model, you know. You don't have to follow me. You're all individuals."

Lavender smiled at the thought of taking Lupin walkies. "I'm not."

Ginny brought the conversation round to business. 'Have you two done it yet?"

"Who? Oh, me and Severus? Er, no. We're saving ourselves. For after the party." Hermione wanted to add more, but her mouth was full of gin. She wiped the bottle off and passed it on to Lavender. Lavender shifted, took the bottle, and brought her thoughts to the present, instead of a nice warm dog kennel with Lupin.

"Are you a virgin, Hermione? If it's not a personal question?" Curiosity and concern all in the same voice.

Hermione couldn't take any more. She stood up, unsteady on her legs. "How much more bleedin' personal can you get?" She stomped out of the room. No use going to the common room. The boys would be there. Only one place to go. She started for Snape's rooms. At least there would not be hoards of people there, asking personal questions and recommending Position Number 23, and Love Potion Number 9.

Lavender, Ginny and the other girls exchanged looks.

"She is," they agreed.

Snape was asleep at his desk, head slumped over a pile of first year Potions essays. He started as Hermione touched his shoulder.

"It's just me."

"Oh gods, I thought it was Malfoy, insisting upon another bucks' night."

"Couldn't have been worse than my hens' night."

"You didn't have Millicent Bulstrode doing a lap dance." He shuddered.

"No, but apparently later in the evening I was to be subjected to Neville Longbottom doing a strip."

They looked at each other with sympathy.

"Miss Granger, I appreciate what you're doing. Morale at Hogwarts hasn't been this high since Voldemort's rise. Everyone seems unnaturally excited by the prospect of our wedding. But I will understand if you wish to call this off. It has gotten out of hand. And I understand if you have feelings for…someone else."

"Who? You mean Harry? No thanks. Randy little bugger. Can't keep away from the girls. Up and down like the Assyrian Empire."

Snape blinked. More information than he wished to know about Potter. And he hadn't expected Hermione to be so…succinct.

"Even so, I will understand if you wish to withdraw from this arrangement."

Hermione smiled. 'You mean give up being married in the evenings? That would be a blow." She perched on the edge of Snape's desk. Her all ready short skirt rode up. Snape licked his lips.

"Miss Granger….Hermione….may I ask you a question?"

"If it's about the pants incident-"

"No. We all know what happened. No need to bring it up again. Once I got the buckles undone, I was fine. I was going to ask if you are aware of the particulars of a wizarding marriage celebration."

Hermione shrugged. "Pretty much like a Muggle one, I imagine. Big party, dancing, cutting the cake."

"And putting the couple to bed."

"I…er…oh."

Snape put a tentative hand on Hermione's leg. "Hermione, are you a virgin? If it's not a personal question."

"It IS personal, and no, I'm not."

"Because you walk like one, and- oh, you're not. Right." He really didn't want to imagine who'd done the deed. Potter? Weasley - any of them? Longbottom? No, she didn't look melted. Finnigan? Malfoy? Keep the imagination at bay, Snape! Zabini? Chong? Krum? It had to be him, blast the jock!

"Are you? If it's not a personal question?"

Snape was going to answer 'how could you ask when Sinistra has that satisfied look on her face?' but knew he'd be lying. She didn't look satisfied at all. Bemused maybe.

He cleared his throat. "No."

Hermione covered his hand with hers, moved it up her leg and to the inside.

*****

Snape woke and felt wonderful. The woman beside him felt wonderful. She was curled against his side. He gently shifted her hand off his shoulder and stood up. His lower back complained for a second but he told it to shut up. Get used to it.

He went and opened the large window to his room and stretched out to take in the morning air.

Over one thousand people were gathered below on the lawn. Dumbledore stood on a dias, making another speech. A roar went up from the crowd when they saw the naked and satisfied Snape. Neville was ill again. Pomfrey sighed and started shoving him towards the Infirmary.

Dumbledore glanced up. "Ahh, Professor Snape. I was just making a speech about your forthcoming wedding party. Perhaps you'd be kind enough to put some clothes on and come down?"

Snape shut the window. Could the day get any worse?

There was a knock on his door. Before he could answer it, the door was flung open and his mother entered, just as Hermione sat up in the bed and rubbed her eyes. Sharleen Snape rolled her eyes as Snape moved to protect Hermione.

"What the hell is going on here, as if I don't know. Couldn't you wait until tonight? Hmmph, I suppose not. Severus, leave that Muggle-born alone a minute."

"But I don't really want to, Mum."

She moved, gave him a clip around the earhole. "Get up, you lazy bugger, and get downstairs. You know these parties start at noon and go all night. People are waiting. I've been waiting."

"You've been waiting?" Snape stood, ushered his mother to the door. "If you had any idea how long it's been for me…… Hermione and I will be down when we're good and ready." He shut the door and turned to his 'wife'.

"Good and ready?" she repeated, and looked him up and down. He felt himself rise to the occasion.

"How about bad and ready?" he said, crossing the room to her.

In the end, it wasn't the morale at Hogwarts that did Voldemort in. It wasn't the sudden death of his fwiend Throbbler Wand. It wasn't even the final battle with Harry Potter, the Boy Who Became The Man Who Lived And Whomped Voldemort's Arse.

It was the honeymoon photo of Snape and Hermione. They were looking lovingly at each other and singing 'Always Look On The Bright Side of Life'.

*********