A/N: This double-drabble was written for the "Snape and Mythology" challenge at Snape100, a community on LJ and IJ that posts a weekly topic for a Snape-drabble. Often in the Harry Potter fandom, "drabble" is used to mean any very short fiction, but in the Star Trek fandom (my original fandom and the only other one I know anything about), the term has a very specific meaning: it refers to a story of exactly 100 words. The Snape100 community uses this definition, too.
I love writing drabbles: because of the word limit, they're more poetry than narrative; each word has to be precise. You can concentrate on image and rhythm and sound rather than plot (which is good, because I'm not up to much when it comes to plot.)
When I saw the Snape100 prompt, I immediately thought of pairing Severus with Minerva because a) I always think of Minerva no matter what the challenge; b) I like McGonagall/Snape; c) Minerva's name makes her a natural when it comes to connecting HP to classical mythology. And Severus has a lot of Odysseus in him, too, if you think about it. Plus, I like putting in all those Homeric epithets.
In the opening lines of The Odyssey, Odysseus is described as "polytropos" -- literally "many turns." It's been variously translated over the years: "much-travelled," "shifty," "wily," "resourceful," "versatile," etc. The translation I like best comes from Robert FitzGerald: "the man skilled in all ways of contending." So I stole this line for Severus; I think it really fits him. And while I was at it, I stole from Shakespeare, too.
Well, the author's note is now longer than the story, so I'd better shut up.
Disclaimer: JKR has better things to do.
Warrior Odysseus, raider of cities, favoured mortal of the grey-eyed goddess Athena, sailed the wine-dark sea to home and a wife's loving bed.
Warrior Severus, master of potions, favoured of none, sails only the sea of his own mind and has no home save a House.
But he does have an Athena with a welcoming bed.
He does not seek her for wisdom, although she is sometimes wise. He does not seek her as Mentor, although she has been that as well.
And he certainly does not seek in her a goddess: he knows that no divinity shapes his end.
No, the things he wants from her are human things: warmth, connection, a few hours of not-alone spent in the embrace of one who knows him--knows Snape polytropos--in all his many ways of contending.
Human things, yet there is magic in them, and in him, and in her.
They come together gently, roughly, necessarily, his body on hers. Deities visit them then: Eros and Hypnos, gods of pleasure and rest. (But not--if they are lucky--Morpheus, he of the dreams.)
Thus the rosy-fingered dawn finds them, asleep and entwined, grey-eyed Minerva and Severus, erstwhile eater of death.