Disclaimer: The characters from Harry Potter belong to J. K. Rowling. Everything else is just me playing around.
Summary: Cupids aren't always nice creatures. A Valentine's Day story featuring an unusual twist for Severus Snape and Hermione Granger. SS/HG
Word Count: 2,395
The Incivility of Fate's Dark Minions: A Love Story
By Keket Amunet
Hermione Granger's bushy plait whipped out behind her as she gave up casting spells and simply ran down the cobbled main street of Diagon Alley. Wand in her right hand, she sprinted past the familiar stores crowded with wizards and witches from all areas of the magical community. Of those she saw notice her fleeing, no one dared to help her get away from the beasts behind her.
Beasts might have been too strong of a description. Perhaps that appellation was better reserved for Molly and Arthur Weasley, the monsters who had set Hermione's attackers on her. Behind Hermione, on the bright streets of the London entrance to the Wizarding World were four, fat cherub-looking creatures that stood only six inches tall. They were borne along on the air behind her by pristine white wings and were covered only in white loin cloths. Each Cupid, for that's what they were, held in his chubby little hand a bow, and they held in their hearts a sinister purpose.
Golden arrows with Hermione's name magically engraved upon them were pulled from the Cupids' quivers and slung through the air at Hermione's back. Protection spells seemed to do nothing more than slow the arrows which meant Hermione had to feint and dodge as she ran, looking much like a lunatic recently escaped from some asylum. As she passed Knockturn Alley, a black clad arm shot out and wrenched her into a dimly-lit pub just as four arrows would have made contact.
"I see they're after you too, Miss Granger," said Severus Snape as he shut the pub door. "Why didn't you duck into a store?" His voice was the same half exasperated, half lecturing tone she remembered from her school days. "Cupids must catch you out in the open because they can't enter through glass enclosures."
"I know. I know. I panicked."
Snape snorted and looked out to the eaves of the building. Hermione followed the direction of his gaze and saw more Cupids waiting with quivers full of silver arrows.
"Ten? You have ten of them after you? Who did you piss off, Professor?"
Severus Snape turned to face Hermione. "The Fates, I think. They can't stand that I've survived this long without finding true love." The acid that laced the last two words could have melted all the cauldrons in Britian. "Though I'm not certain what do-gooder set that pack of monsters on me. You?"
"Molly and Arthur."
"Still hoping you'll finally give in to Ronald Weasley's propositions, are they?"
"I think those," Hermione pointed to the outer rafters where her own Cupids had joined Professor Snape's band of miniature archers, "prove they've gone beyond hoping. My thirtieth birthday passed last September."
"Wait till you reach fifty." Snape ran a calloused hand through his dark hair in what Hermione considered an uncharacteristic gesture of nervousness. "You'll never see less than eight Cupids when some idiot takes into their head you just need a helping hand. Cupids take it as a personal insult that you've lived that long without being stung by their arrows. Half of those are drooling just at the thought, and people think I stay indoors because I hate the sunshine…. Imbeciles."
Hermione patted his forearm in a rare display of sympathy before looking around the room. "Care for a drink?"
"Only if you'll bring it over here. I can't afford to let someone open the door and have one of those things get off a shot."
Keeping an eye on the door in case her former potions master needed help, Hermione ordered two Bloody Mary's and returned to help Snape keep watch. He took the drink silently and sipped it before letting out a little hum of appreciation.
"Healthy and intoxicating."
"Not too intoxicating. Just a relaxer. Is there a back way out of this place?" Hermione asked.
"No, and the barkeep insists he is out of floo powder."
"I've no doubt that more Cupids are waiting for me outside the gates of Hogwarts and my home. I'd never make it."
"They're that persistent?"
"You haven't dealt with them before, have you?"
Hermione looked back up at one of gaggle of Cupids. To her astonishment, they seemed to be arranging shifts. Two of hers were dozing and the other two were staring intently at her. One brandished a golden arrow and the other simply flashed her a toothy grin. The blasted things had fangs.
"No, this is my first time."
"You haven't studied them?"
"Never occurred to me I'd need too. They were just mythology to me until today."
Snape smirked, never tearing his eyes from the winged beasts. "Finally, a subject you know nothing about."
"Don't just stand there gawking. Teach me."
He laughed, a rich dark laugh that filled the room. "You sure you can keep up without parchment and quill?"
"Do try me, Professor."
Snape shifted his weight and assumed a modified version of what Hermione remembered as his lecturing pose. "Cupids are not classified as dark creatures though in my opinion, they certainly should be. They prey on the unattached, slinging magical arrows which remove emotional inhibitions for up to a few weeks at a time. Because the arrows dissipate on contact, no one has ever been able to capture and study one to make an antidote. Once hit, the victim's emotions latch onto a nearby person of the appropriate sex forming an attachment to the new partner's pheromones. The magic then allows the regular emotional inhibitions back into place with all other people except the new partner."
"Why the names on the arrows?"
"The Ministry has a treaty with Eros, the King of Cupids. Before the treaty, love arrows affected any person hit causing an instant attraction to the nearest person of the appropriate sex."
"Who lets them judge what sex is appropriate?" Hermione's voice rose a notch.
"Appropriate for the person, though Molly and Arthur have chosen for you, I see. They can petition for that now. It's a loophole in the treaty."
"What do you mean?"
"Your Cupids have golden arrows. Mine have silver. The colors have nothing to do with Hogwarts' houses."
"Do you see the white glow around both arrows?" Snape pointed at one of the Cupids.
"That's a 'true love' glow. Should one of us be felled by those arrows, we will soon find a life mate. Male is associated with the sun and gold. A person hit with a golden arrow will fall for a male. Silver is associated with the moon and women, thus the person who set these hunters on me wants me to fall in love with a female."
"What if the arrows are the wrong orientation for the person?"
"Several years down the road, the person will wake up decidedly unhappy in their marriage and usually leave for what appears to be no reason. I had a pack of Cupids with golden arrows set on me for my fortieth birthday."
Hermione had no urge to giggle. "Who?"
"But he's with Tonks."
"Yes, her Cupids got him which canceled out the ones he sent after me. I'm quite grateful, but I expect he'll remember his true nature soon and leave her."
"Indeed." Snape glanced at Hermione. "Although if the couple actually falls in love during the time together, they become impervious to future arrows."
"If they arrows will make me fall in love with the nearest male, then why isn't Ron standing around waiting for me to see him?"
"An excellent question." Snape glanced around the street outside the little pub, taking the time to glare at a would-be customer until he changed his mind and shambled up the street to another pub. "In my case, the person obviously doesn't care whom I fall for as long as I fall."
Hermione gave a grim nod, also peering out the window. She saw no one she recognized. "How have you managed to escape for so long?"
"Staying indoors mostly. I wish I'd done so today. If I'd realized it was Valentine's Day, I'd never have ventured out. Eros sends more of his minions on missions today. You're only thirty, so you'd only rate three Cupids. That fourth one is tribute of the day."
"I'm a special case."
"I once took it into my head that the Dark Lord could be defeated if he felt love."
"Eros, at my urging, sent eighty Cupids after him. Voldemort caged them in a glass box, and I had to free them after the war. Eros hasn't forgiven me yet."
Hermione imagined the toothy winged cherubs in a glass cage and half lifted her wand.
Snape grabbed her hand. "No, don't. Not unless you want the entire fleet of Cupids after you."
Hermione gave him a look before lowering her wand, forcing him to let go or hold her hand. "I think I'd rather have revenge."
"On the Cupids or the Weasleys?"
"Molly and Arthur, maybe Ron too."
"Oh, look!" Hermione pointed at the rafters.
Outside the window, a Cupid with a tiny messenger bag had flown up. All the other Cupids swarmed the messenger who puffed up his chest and emitted a blast of high pitched chirping that made both Hermione and Snape flinch. After a few moments, the messenger flew away. The other Cupids followed him at a high speed, but Hermione saw a couple look back and shake arrows at the two of them.
Snape and Hermione exchanged glances before pressing their noses against the windows trying to see if the Cupids were really gone. Hermione noticed as they pulled back that Snape's nose made a rather large smudge compared to her own smaller nose print.
"It's likely a trick," Snape said. "Though they are small, they possess intelligence."
"I could always Apparate to my flat."
"No, the courtyard by the door. I've put up stronger anti-apparition wards than normal after Ron thought surprising me in bed would be a wise idea."
"This is the first time Cupids have chased you?"
"They might not have set any on your home. You could risk it."
"Come with me."
"What?" Snape turned away from the window to give Hermione a wide-eyed stare.
"Just to my flat. You can hide there for a bit before making your next move. Food and drink will be free."
"Why would you help me?"
"You helped me. Besides, I didn't pay tuition for the lecture."
Snape and Hermione appeared with a pop in the back courtyard of her flat. They were surrounded by tall bushes and several trees that hid them from Muggle view. Without a word, Hermione led the way to the back door. Snape followed close on her heels.
A great woosh of high pitched chirping came as the bushes exploded with gold and silver arrows. Hermione had time to turn to at the sound. She saw Snape's eyes widen as he was hit with twenty arrows before he stumbled forward. Out of reflex, Hermione attempted to catch him as he fell, but he was too heavy.
They tumbled to the ground in an awkward tangle of arms and legs. Hermione was trapped under Snape. The vicious Cupids, sensing victory, closed in. Hermione could see the whites of their eyes as eight of the fat cherubs hovered over her and fired golden arrows into her head.
Distantly, Hermione heard the voice of Ron Weasley spewing words of frustrated fury. She looked at the dark haired man sprawled across her, staring down at her, and she smiled at him.
"You wanted revenge," he said, a smirk slowly curling up the corners of his mouth.
"I didn't think it would happen like this."
And then Ron was there, shouting her name and trying to pull Snape off of her.
Snape turned his head to face Ron but noticed the Cupids were still hovering. "You're done here," he said, his voice hard and flat, "Go." His command was perhaps less dignified than it could have been because he was being lifted to his feet by a hysterical redhead.
The Cupids let out a collective cackle and flew away.
"Monsters," Hermione said. She raised her eyes to Ron. "And I wasn't talking about the Cupids."
Epilogue: 10 Years Later
"Severus, why are you staring out the window?" Hermione asked.
"To see if the Cupids are taking up residence."
"We've got five minutes left before the magic wears off. Are you that worried?"
"Certainly not," Hermione's husband said from his position in front of the large picture window in the sitting room of their home. The walls were predictably lined with books.
"Then why?" Hermione stood from her comfortable reading position on their shared divan and walked over to peer out the window.
"I'm wondering if the Weasleys are going to try something."
Hermione leaned against Snape's back. "Paranoid man."
"And you love me for it."
"I do," Hermione said.
Three soft pops came at the edge of the Granger-Snape property. Snape snorted. "You see?"
Hermione's eyes narrowed as three redheads appeared at the edge of her lawn before shooting an appraising look at her husband. "Care for a snog?"
"Is that all you're offering?" Snape asked before turning to his wife and gathering her in his arms. "Ex-spies make excellent public performers."
"Only previews for others. The rest is a private showing." Hermione said as she threaded her hands into her husband's hair.
"Yes, dear." And then he lowered his lips to hers.
Some short time later, Hermione's need for air caused her to break her mouth from Snape increasingly passionate kisses. She turned her head to right which deterred him not the least as his lips fastened to her neck. Her eyes met the angry blue gaze of Ron Weasley, and then that of his parents. That was the moment she noticed the Cupids hovering over the Weasleys' shoulders.
"Severus, they brought Cupids."
He pulled back long enough to glance at the clock on the wall by the door. "Time was up two minutes ago. How do you feel?"
After a long pause, Hermione said, "And you?"
"The same. No arrows will affect us again."
"Care for a walk?" Hermione's innocent tone did nothing to disguise her mischievous intent.
Snape's laughter rang through the room.
Author's Note: I wrote this fic to entertain a friend while she was searching for Valentine's Day fics. I know I'm posting it after Valentine's Day, but I hope people find something they enjoy in it. As always, I wrote this as a writing exercise – in this case the goal was to do as little telling and as much showing as possible while still being entertaining.