Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of Joanne K. Rowling. Any characters, settings, places from the Harry Potter books and movies used in this work are the property of Joanne K. Rowling, and Warner Brothers. Original characters belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the private enjoyment of readers at FanFictionNet, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Author's Notes

Prompt: The following story was written for the SS/HG Exchange 2008/2009, for the prompt "La Belle Dame Sans Merci — Fic inspired by Keats' poem and/or any of the pre-Raphaelite art (Dicksee, Waterhouse, Cowper, & etc.)".

Warnings: EWE, partly AU during DH.

Rating: R/Mature for strong but non-explicit sexual content in Act 2.

Summary: After the war, Hermione and Severus must come to terms with the past and face the consequences of their actions. A bittersweet tale of recovery and mercy, presented in a rising and a falling arc of constrained writing, ranging from drabble to mega-drabble and back.

Thank you: Many thanks to my beta-readers and alpha-readers: aranel_took, juniperus, machshefa; to my legal advisor: arwensommer; to my Brit-pickers: lifeasanamazon and tree_and_leaf; and to fellow fanfic authors who graciously granted me permission to refer to some very special ideas used in their various stories:lariopefic and miamadwyn.

References: All quotes from, as well as all direct and indirect literary references and allusions to, 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' by Keats, 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' by Alain Chartier, as well as to 'The Tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table', 'The Hospital of Love' by Achilles Caulier, 'Outlander' by Diana Gabaldon, 'La Belle Dame Ou A Mercy' (possibly) by Oton de Grandson, 'A Pair of Blue Eyes' by Thomas Hardy, 'Ulysses' by James Joyce, 'Nabokov's Dozen' by Vladimir Nabokov, 'Kubla Khan' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and last but not least, Joanne K. Rowling are entirely intentional.



Act 1:

"La Belle Sorcière Sans Merci"




Kissing the Man

An ugly, middle-aged man lies sleeping in a hospital bed. Stark contrasts mark him: black hair, white skin, eyes bruised; harsh features framed by stiff white sheets. But a hastily knit blanket — a dozen mistakes ripple through the rows — covers his shoulders. Bottle-green with silver waves.

It does nothing for his complexion.

The door opens. A curly-haired young woman enters the room, followed closely by a bodyguard of two. She walks to the man, watches him for a while, pensive. Then she bends down and sweetly kisses his lips.

He does not wake. And she spins around and hurries away.


A/N: An allusion to an anecdote attributed to Anne of Brittany (Colin Bingham, The Affairs of Women) or Marguerite of Scotland (Joan E. McRae, Alain Chartier: The Quarrel of the Belle Dame Sans Mercy).