AN: So it's a new year, new writing! I've been wanting to write this story since Emma Watson's Beauty and the Beast came out, but the details never quite worked out right. After watching the Beauty and the Beast 30th Anniversary Special, everything clicked into place, and I finally got inspired to write this! Hopefully you will all enjoy!
Thank you for all the support! It is very deeply appreciated.
Severus Snape was no prince. There was little charming about him in personality or appearance. This lack of royal finesse carried over into his relationships. Intimate connections were troublesome, especially those involving women. It was best to enjoy one's solitude and avoid the headaches romantic affection could bring.
This did not mean Severus intended to spend all his evenings alone. No, he had his moments where he desired physical touch, not just the feeling of a golden potions vial in his hands. Some nights were longer than others, long enough that even the longest epic could not satisfy his cravings. These nights found Severus in the old tavern a few kilometers from his mansion, looking for a woman he could remember for the night, and forget by the dawn.
No woman found in that musty, drafty tavern would ever be an appropriate princess for the Half Blood Prince. This never bothered him. He sought a Frenchwoman who would leave his bed as soon as he demanded she do so. Severus desired a woman who said the filthiest things in the sweetest accent. Of course, her words were never repeated in English. Their attempts to hide their vile tongue always amused Severus. Little did any of them know Lucius had taught him French before putting him up in one of his safe houses in the French countryside. Still, it was amusing to pretend not to understand them, if only to hear them prattle on about his less than fine aspects.
It was a comfort to be amongst women who had no clue who he was and where he had been. He had no interest in being anyone's hero, which is why after the war he requested Lucius help in moving him to a place where few British wizards and witches would travel. After everything he'd done for Draco, Lucius was more than happy to oblige. Given that nobody could track every one of Lucius' assets, it was simple enough to hide amongst the French, enjoy his solitude, and revel in the occasion night of risqué behavior.
Tonight was one of those long nights. He was in luck, for on this night a woman with a slight British accent caught his attention. Initially, he was wary of her, even going so far as to wonder if he should be anywhere near her. Still, when she approached him, her light brown eyes drew him in. She was a decent conversationalist as well, even if she never drank anything stronger than a water.
Oui, Severus could see himself spending time with her this evening.
They spent hours chatting in the dimly lit tavern, the smell of cheap wine and beer suffocating in the stale air. She leaned on the wooden table, her eyes agleam when he told her about his adventures in Paris. In return, she told him about her life as a football announcer. Severus knew little about the game, so he was inclined to believe every word from her mouth. After his fourth glass of Chardonnay, he considered the sport to be the most fascinating thing he'd ever heard of.
Towards the end of the evening, Severus made his move.
"Would you enjoy a nightcap at my mansion?" He asked.
"You have a mansion?" She asked.
"I do," he replied with a slight purr.
"Certainement, I will go with you" she answered. "The conversation is good, and it's been quite some time since I've enjoyed a nightcap with anyone."
"Then allow me to lead the way."
Had Severus been a little less tipsy and a little less proud of himself for finding such an attractive woman, he would have noticed the predatory look in her eyes and the way her lips contorted into a sneer.
Severus sat on a green sofa next to the woman. It was harder than most people would've liked, yet it was functional enough for Severus' purposes. Lucius had told him it was in the style of Louis XIV, but he didn't pay attention to any other details. There were other more interesting aspects of the room for him to show his guest. He explained the stories behind the pictures of the cherubs and Greek heroes all along the walls. When asked what his favorite one, he said it was that of Persephone in Hades' carriage, her eyes a mix of terror and excitement. Part of him wondered if she enjoyed the underworld, or if she counted the days until spring.
The woman seemed less interested in the story than others, but Severus ignored that insight for another sip of firewhiskey.
"Do you take many women here for nightcaps?" the woman asked.
"Only the special ones." He gave her a half grin.
She giggled before picking up her glass of water. "You used to live in Britain, correct?"
"Why did you leave?"
"I grew weary of it."
"What about Britain was so exhausting?"
"The people of Britain are dunderheads and too absorbed in themselves for my liking. The fact that they had little of intelligence to say helped matters little," Severus took a sip of his cognac.
"You are from Britain though."
"Yes, and there is no dunderhead like one from your country."
"Is everyone around you a dunderhead?" He missed the edge in her voice.
"Not everyone, but I appreciate my solitude."
"I see. Since I'm British, I take it you do not have a high opinion of me."
"No, you are the exception to the rule. I've spent enough time with you to know you are anything but a dunderhead."
"Thank you," her voice was harsher.
"Britain is a distant memory. There is nothing left for me there. I am grateful for a change in scenery," he continued.
"France is a change in scenery," she admitted.
"Indeed it is," he purred as he moved closer to her. He may not have a traditionally attractive appearance, but he knew the power of his voice. Women could never resist his low, seductive tone.
"Do you see anyone in Britain still?" She asked.
"A few friends visit."
"Who would they be?"
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Why do you care?"
"I am just curious."
"You seem to be curious about many things."
"I apologize. Sometimes I want to know more than I should."
"That you do," Severus muttered. A small voice in him was warning him that this meeting was becoming dangerous. She was getting too close, too curious for her own good. She wanted something from him, whether it be information or, God help him, love.
Still, didn't he deserve a night out? She was attractive, and hadn't mentioned the war. If she wanted to kill him outright, she would've done so by now. If she wanted to fawn over a hero, she would've given some clue as to her intentions. No, she was harmless. Even if she wasn't, he wasn't too drunk. After being a double spy for so long, she could handle any curse she could fling at him.
"You seem happy here," she continued.
"That I am." He leaned closer to her. "I'm especially happy near you."
"Yes." His forehead pressed against hers.
"Do you say that to all the women you meet?"
"No, just the special ones."
"Do you say it to women you love?"
"Let's not ruin the moment by bringing love into this," he whispered.
"Have you ever loved before?" She asked.
"Does it matter?"
"I like to know who I'm ready to kiss."
"Let's just say I am of the persuasion that love is unimportant in a moment such as this."
"So I was right." She slid to the other end of the sofa as her eyes hardened. "You are incapable of love. You always were, and you always will be."
"What are you droning on about?" Severus asked, the sense of danger welling in his chest.
The woman stood. Her brown eyes became harder as her skin toned darkened. What was once blond hair was replaced with raven black. She looked familiar, and young enough to be one of his students. Which one though?
"I told Harry you were incapable of love the day you were exonerated. I told him he'd wasted his time and made a fool of himself for someone who was incapable of appreciating his efforts." The woman made a fist. "All you've ever done in life is leave a trail of destruction. You've never loved, nor do you know how to do so."
"Why do you care about love?"
"Because I want to prove to everyone you cannot love."
"Who are you?" Severus fumbled for his wand, cursing the alcohol for his dulled reflexes.
"Someone whose boyfriend you killed." The witch pulled out her wand and yelled, "Incarcerous."
Before Severus could react, he was encircled by ropes. Cursing his luck, he continued fumbling for his wand.
"I'll bet you don't remember me," she continued. "I'm just another faceless victim of your sarcastic tongue and pureblood supremacist views."
He stopped and got a good look at her. "Angelina Johnson?"
She gave him a twisted smile.
"What in Merlin's name are you doing here?" Images of her and Fred dancing flashed in his mind. Then, she'd been an innocuous Quidditch player with him, a happy go-lucky yet hardworking student. When had she become one step down from a trained assassin?
"I came here to avenge Fred's death. I was considering marrying him when he died."
"I didn't kill him." Severus struggled.
"Not directly, but you did support those who did. As far as I'm concerned, you are just as guilty of his murder as any other Death Eater."
Severus felt his wand in his pants pocket. If he could somehow reach it, grab it before she could attack him, he would escape this mess with only his pride wounded.
"I told her you were incapable of love, that the whole Lily thing was a ruse. He didn't believe me, so I set out to prove him wrong."
"How did you find me?" Severus felt his wand in his hands. If he could keep her talking he may be able to take her by surprise.
"I have a relative who was an auror who had a list of Lucius' suspected safe houses. I figured Lucius was in your debt, so they would be a good place to look."
He began pulling on his wand. If he could keep her talking for a few more moments…
Her eyes fell on his moving arm. She chuckled before turning to him. Then, she pointed her wand at him and intoned, "doar un trandafir și iubire te pot salva."
A pink beam of light blasted from her wand, crashing into Severus' chest. He let out a cry as his body glowed scarlet. He felt his chest warm, With every heartbeat, the warmth spread through his body. His heart constricted as it slowed from the curse. He was growing weaker, ever weaker. The last thing he saw was Angelina standing over him, and the last thing he heard was her whisper, "nobody will ever love a git such as you."
Lucius had made a habit of visiting Severus every Monday, always under the guise of a business trip. Few people dared question this behavior. Nobody in power wanted to examine Lucius' business dealings, lest they expose their own involvement with him. After all, Malfoy Industries had backed the winner in every election. It would be a shame to reveal by how much they did so.
When Lucius arrived at the mansion, he gasped.
The second he apparated to Severus' mansion was the second he realized something was amiss. The flowers in the windows, which had been in full bloom the day before had died, replaced by brown crusted stems and fallen wilted leaves. The lush green bushes had been replaced by thorny underbrush. No longer were there growing potions ingredients in the garden. All that was left was a pile of withered husks.
"Severus?" Lucius pounded on the door.
He stopped to examine the front. Instead of golden stenciling and elegant design, it was rusted and foreboding. A chill went through him before he decided to dispense of the pleasantries and barge inside.
Lucius raced through the house, only stopping when he found his friend laying on the couch, a pink shimmering rose on the ground beside him.
"Severus?" He shook the other man.
"Lucius," he muttered.
The blond suppressed a gasp. His friend's face was paler than he'd ever seen, and his black eyes lacked their usual spark. Even his voice was soft, as if speaking took a Herculean effort.
"Severus, what happened?"
"Doar un trandafir și iubire te pot salva," he muttered.
"Doar un trandafir și iubire te pot salva."
"What does that mean?"
"If I knew, I would be curing myself of this curse, not lying here and hoping the world will cease spinning," even his sarcasm lacked its usual caustic bite.
"Oh Circe," Lucius' eyes fell on the rose on the floor. "What's this?"
"A parting gift from my latest guest."
The snarky comment Lucius had considered died on his tongue as he held up the flower. It glistened, but a petal fell from it. As it hit the floor, Severus winced.
"Are you in pain?" Lucius asked.
"No, I've never felt better. My body feels as if it's been bitten by Nagini ten times over, I never want to touch another morsel of food again, and I can't do magic without my heart racing. Everything is fine."
"You cannot perform magic without your heart racing?" Lucius asked, ignoring how even his friend's sarcastic quips came off as pathetic.
Severus pulled out his wand. "Lumos."
Lucius watched as Severus flinched and recoiled. Another petal fell.
"Okay, you said you were hit with a 'doar un trandafir și iubire te pot salva?'" Lucius asked.
"When did it happen?"
"Last night, when I invited Angelina Johnson over."
"Why would you do that?"
"In my defense, if I'd known it was her I would not have let her in."
"How did you not know it was her?" Lucius asked.
"She must have polyjuiced herself to appear as a relatively attractive tourist. I was eager for companionship, so I invited her in with me. I shouldn't need to spell out the rest."
"I told you to be careful who you brought over her."
"I usually am." He winced. "Until I'm not."
"Okay," Lucius took a deep breath. "I'll scold you later. Let me look through your library to find something on this curse. In the meantime, stay where you are, and for the love of all that's good, don't perform another spell until we get this figured out."
He let out a groan, which Lucius took as an agreement.
Lucius rushed off, wondering what the hell this curse was.
It was just Lucius' luck that Severus had so many books on curses. Many of them covered obscure curses, but they were all one word, not a whole sentence. Other sentence long curses did not sound correct. If Severus' books did not have this curse, then where did it come from and how did Angelina know of its existence?
Lucius could hunt down Angelina and demand answers, but there may not be enough to do so. Severus could be dead before they found the first clue as to her location. No, finding Angelina was not an option, though the second he could destroy her, he would do so.
There was only one clear option. Lucius had his own books. He could go back and find a curse in there. Granted, Severus may have the same books he did, but if there was even a chance he could find something different he would take it.
At first, he was reluctant to leave Severus, until he saw the other man regaining his strength. Severus wasn't hungry, nor was he fit to perform magic. Still, he could move and had taken to drinking water. That was progress, at least enough to where Lucius was willing to leave him alone for an hour.
After thanking magic for apparation, Lucius returned to his mansion. As he headed for the library, he heard a soft voice from a bedroom.
"But then the sorceress became angry with the prince, so she said, 'doar un trandafir și iubire te pot salva.'"
Lucius stopped mid-step.
"Do you know what happened then?"
A coo came from a crib.
"That's right, she cursed the angry prince."
"What spell did she use?" Lucius burst into the room.
The red haired woman glared at him as her six month old son turned his head.
"Read those last two sentences again," he demanded.
"Hello Lucius, fancy seeing you around here for bedtime," she began. "I'm so glad you could join us."
"Ginevra, I don't have the time or patience for your attitude. What did that sorceress curse the prince with?"
Ginevra looked at the babe in a cradle and cooed, "Do you want to tell him what she said, Scorpius?"
"Damnit Ginevra," Lucius snatched the book from her hands.
"What are you doing?" She snapped.
Scorpius whined, upset that story time had been interrupted.
"What is this book about?" Lucius began thumbing through it.
"It's a fairy tale about a prince who gets cursed," Ginevra answered.
"By, a 'doar un trandafir și iubire te pot salva?'"
"I thought we'd established that."
"What happens in this curse?"
"His heart grows weaker, especially when he uses magic," she explained.
"How does he break this curse?"
"He must learn to love someone, and she must love him in return."
Lucius' eyes grew big.
"They find true love, and the curse is broken," she concluded. "It's quite a fascinating story. I loved it as a child, and Scorpius seems to enjoy it as well."
"Oh let me guess, I'm corrupting Scorpius' mind with fairy tales, and he should listen to more stories about history, or finances, or whatever you read to Draco when he was a boy," Ginevra replied.
"That isn't it at all," Lucius' voice was quiet as he dropped the book.
Ginevra's expression and voice softened as she took note of the the helplessness and weariness in his eyes. "Then what is it?"
"Severus was hit by this curse," Lucius took another look at the book. "And there isn't a princess in sight."