Disclaimer: not mine


The Arrangement


Anne stood with her arms crossed, tapping her foot and muttering under her breath. Dinner was on the table, and once again growing cold, while her husband grovelled around in the garden, looking for his precious potion ingredients to avoid being in the house with her.

"If you are attempting to hurry me along you are failing miserably," Severus Snape said, without looking up from his position on his hand and knees.

"If you're trying to have your dinner tossed in the bin again you're succeeding."

"My dear, I succeed at every thing I endeavour," he said stiffly. "It is only my judgement of spouses that I question."

He continued scarping the dirt off roots and searching for a nice specimen when he heard the back door slam, followed shortly by the sound of a plate breaking into the bin. He knew it was the sound of his dinner plate. He had heard exactly the same sound three times this week. He needed new dishes.

His stomach growled as more crashes came from the kitchen, this time with a smattering of curses. He scowled and looked up at the door. He had heard his father mouth Muggle proverbs and dozens of them now raced through his mind. He was almost tempted to touch his nose to see if it was still there, or if he had indeed cut it off to spite his face. He had convinced himself that his robes were getting a little tight this summer, and perhaps a diet was in order, but knowing he would again go without dinner angered him.

Grabbing a root that he knew was not adequate for his potion, he held it tightly in his hand and proceeded into the kitchen to wash it and lay it to dry on the kitchen counter. He would rather eat a plate of flobber worms than admit his defeat in finding what he needed to that witch. Making sure the root was set where she could see it he went into the sitting room.

"Why don't you just throw that thing out instead of pretending it's what you were looking for?" Anne said as she slowly turned the page in her book. "I do have my Masters in Herbology you know. Your roots will not be ready for two weeks."

"I am sure I know when to harvest," Severus said with a sneer, knowing he had lost the fight before it began.

"I would suggest then that you sleep in the garden for the next two weeks. Perhaps you will be ready to admit you are wrong when you see what they are supposed to look like."

Severus sat down in his chair and picked up the Daily Prophet, pretending to read. He silently cursed his stupidity once again. This was proving to be another long night. They had married six months before, and he had yet to spend two consecutive nights in their bed and had yet to consummate the marriage. It seemed he could not keep his foot out of his mouth long enough to put it on her.

The few times he had managed to get to her bed she would have nothing to do with his advances and laid stiffly on her side staring at the wall. He did not understand women and this one least of all. The Ministry may have made them marry, but at least she could try to play the role they had foisted on her.

He had been furious at the politicians when they forced him into this marriage, and as time wore on transferred his anger at the Ministry to her. If she had left this world when the law first passed, he reasoned, he would not be in this position now. If she were not so stubborn, he would not be shackled with her now.

He remembered the softness in her face before this had happened, before the laws had begun. He remembered her in the shop he had first seen her in, and wished he had done something then, knowing that she would refuse him, as all witches refused him. Now, the only thing that he could hope for was for the law to be repealed and her freedom returned to her, thereby setting him free as well.

They sat in silence, each pretending to read, until Anne finally tossed her book down and walked upstairs to the bedroom the Ministry forced them to share. He watched her leave the room from the corner of his eye, trying to judge her mood by the way she climbed the stairs. He was not sure if the sway of her hips indicated it was a good night or that he should just head to the sofa as was fast becoming his habit. Six months was not enough time, he told himself, to read a wife's desires, it must take years. Arthur Weasley's grinning face came to his mind as he followed her up to try again.

She was sitting at her vanity brushing her hair. He wanted to touch her when she sat like this. He wanted to feel her hair slide across his chest and imagined what it would feel like fisted in his hands as he lay over her. He leaned against the doorframe watching, seeing her as he wanted to. He saw her in the way that made this sham of a marriage liveable and held out some measure of hope to him.

He had watched her for years at the Apothecary supply shop her Muggle parents ran in the Alley. She was always in the back, cutting and slicing roots and leaves, shouting out to the customers in the front. He often stood off to the side, in the shadows to watch the curve of her neck as she lowered her head to the table, and the way she bit her bottom lip as she concentrated. She was a strong and confident witch, one that did not mince words nor back down to an unruly customer. He had admired her from the first time he had entered the shop and she had argued with him about an ingredient he needed. She had been correct. He could never admit that from that day on, it was the arguments he went back for, and not the ingredients, often asking for the wrong thing just to see her flush of excitement and her rush to correct him.

The first Anti-Muggle law passed easily. Non-Magical residents were forced to leave or they were taken to Azkaban. The Ministry claimed they posed a threat to the Wizarding world. She took over the shop herself, when her parents left. She struggled to keep it going despite dwindling sales in the ever-increasing suspicious times of all things Muggle. Voldemort paid dearly to over take the Ministry positions that passed the laws.

The second law took even that from her, not allowing Muggle born to own property. After that, the Ministry did not even bother with hearings on new laws. They just pushed them through the channels and posted them on the front page of the Daily Prophet.

Severus had not known the shop had closed until he made a trip to collect supplies. She was inside on her knees packing boxes and had one set aside with his name on it. She looked up when he entered and pushed his box over to him, looking quickly away.

"Take it," she said. "If you want anything else, take it and leave. It is the Ministry's now so take what you want. Call it a sale, everything is free today."

"If you are in need of a recommendation for employment…"

"For what a live-in-maid?" she spat. "Or perhaps you have need of a cook?"

"You have your Masters. This is not the only shop in the Alley."

"Leave," she said turning back to her packing. "Just leave to your pure blood friends and your grand plans for us."

"Miss…"

"Out! You may be able to take what you want but you have no right to come in here just to gloat," she shouted and sprang to her feet. "Leave, leave the poor little witch alone you arrogant pure-blood bastard. "

"I am half blood, I…"

"A half-blood Death Eater, now that is an interesting combination," she spat. "Hedging your bets? Picking the winning side?"

"Do not…"

"No," she flung the roll of tape she held in her hand at him. "Get out! Just get out of my sight. Give me at least the privilege of packing up my life without your infernal gloating."

He had not read the Daily Prophet yet that day. He did not know what she meant as he took his package and stepped out of the shop, for once not throwing back his own insult. Now, as he watched her sitting at her vanity he noticed her hair no longer shined as it had as she knelt on the shop's floor that day, her eyes no longer held the same quick anger, or sparked with the same quick fire. Even her tears no longer made her eyes shine, but rather only served to hide the dullness he saw.

She watched him though the mirror and sat up straighter, pulling up the strap of her nightgown that had slipped down off her shoulder.

"What do you want?" She continued to brush her hair as she watched him.

"I am your husband." He watched her face in the mirror as he walked up behind her. "You don't think we can keep this up much longer do you? You know the time limitations."

"That is painfully obvious," she said, cold flat fear showing in her eyes. "I asked you what you want."

"You. You to stop this infernal avoidance."

She jumped up and grabbed her robe, backing away from him and struggling to put it on quickly.

"No, we still have time. We don't have to do this yet," she hissed at him looking vainly for a way out.

"Anne, perhaps if we got this over with you could stop being scared every time I am around." Severus ran his hand though his hair in frustration.

He warded the door and walked to her, taking her wand from her shaking hand, and putting it on her vanity. He pulled her to him and kissed her, sighing into her mouth. His arms reached around her, one hand going down and kneading her arse, the other gripping the back of her neck to hold her head steady. He pulled back and looked at her face, saw her eyes large in fear and let go.

"Fine," he hissed at her, sat on the bed and pulled off his boots.

"You are not sleeping in here, not tonight, not when you are like this."

"Yes Madame, I am."

"Then I shall use the sofa." She almost ran to the door only to find he had warded it against her. She turned, pressing her back against the rough wood.

"Severus Snape, open this door at once," she demanded, crossing her arms to hide her trembling.

"Anne, we need to do this."

"No," she said, stamping her foot. "I won't."

Severus was on his feet and had crossed over to her quicker than she thought possible. He pinned her to the door with his body while his hand took hers and held them useless against the wood. He pushed into her and felt her shudder.

"You will do as you are told witch," he said, looking at her body where her robe had fallen open. "I can have you any time I want. I was forced to buy this damned house for you. I am as much a prisoner as you."

"You promised me," she said, with her tears were running freely. "You promised me you wouldn't do this so soon, you said you would wait."

"I grow tired of waiting," he spat, pushing against her again. "I grow tired of being watched by the Ministry, waiting for them to know that I fucked you."

"Severus, please, if you have any pity, don't do this."

"You know we must," he said releasing her and stepping back. "It appears to be bothering you more as time goes on, not less."

"I am sorry." She sobbed sliding to the floor, covering her face with her hands.

"I don't understand you witch. I really do not understand you at all."

"You don't try," she yelled at him. "You don't even talk to me unless you say some mean and sarcastic thing. Then you come in here and want me to just roll on my back and open my legs."

"It is what a wife does," he yelled back at her.

"No," she sobbed, "it should be more than this."

"Tell it to the Ministry," he sneered down at her. "Tell them that you want out of this, go to Azkaban."

He wanted to yank her up and shake her. To warn what would happen if they failed to do this. He clenched his fists at his side and walked back to the other side of the room where he crossed his arms and glared at her instead.

"Do you think I would have chosen you?" he sneered, his words leaping from his mouth before he could stop them. "Do you really think I would have picked you?" Thinking to himself that he would chose no other.

Anne felt her stomach fall and tears threaten to fill her eyes. She was having a hard time breathing. She turned to the wall and curled up, hugging her knees into her chest, squeezing her eyes shut and putting her hands over her ears. She did not want to hear him, not again. She wanted to shut him out, needed to shut him out. She felt his arms around her waist as he pulled her up from the floor and propelled her back to her vanity. Pushing her into the chair roughly, he picked up her brush and threw it back in her lap.

"I am not the one that did this," he spat at her. "I am not the one that took your right to work and passed this damned law."

"I know," she sobbed, taking shallow breaths to will herself calm. "You have made it quite clear from the beginning that you didn't want me. Why do you blame me? Do you think I like this any more than you?"

"Why shouldn't I?" Severus glowered at her. "Do you not think this has changed my life?"

"How? Tell me what is different for you! I fix your meals that you are to stubborn to eat. I clean your house and I take care of everything you need. I have asked you for nothing. You come home when you want, or when you must, only to run off at the earliest opportunity while I am kept here."

"You sit on you arse all day while I work. When I come back at night you are always underfoot, always in my way, disturbing my life."

"Then, don't come home! I have no choice!" She turned to her mirror and lowered her head. "Fine, I will stay out of the common rooms. You needn't see me. I will have your dinner ready on the table. Eat when you want or if you want. You can pretend I'm not here. Maybe you will feel better then."

"Fine." Returning to the bed, he finished undressing, and then with a flick of his wand he dropped the wards on the door and watched as she fled the room.