A fan fiction by labrt2004
Chapter Five

Written for Kribu for the Summer 2010 SS/HG Exchange

Author's Notes: Tremendous thanks goes out to my incredibly capable and persistent beta, mw48, who truly did not let me get away with ANYTHING. She plugged scores of plot holes, disdained my excessive use of hyphens, and made me strive to be better. *hugs!* Also, thank you to Annietalbot for holding my hand and giving this piece a look through mrs_helenesnape for being one of my biggest cheerleaders! And finally, thank you, MODS for putting up with my endless excuses and whinging, you all truly are amazing!

Kribu's Prompt: The Grangers meet Snape. Could be a "parents meet daughter's new boyfriend", could be a series of meetings for random reasons, could be them meeting Snape-as-Hermione's-friend (or colleague) and mistaking him for something more, could be them walking in on something, etc.


He's in love with her.

I am pondering those words again, revisiting them as I have countless times over the last few months. I take a sip of wine.

Jeanie is still moody at times, but it is a different sort of sensitivity, what I would characterize as flightiness. She is easily distracted and prone to wool gathering. It is rather difficult to stomach, since until lately, Jeanie was always firmly grounded and practical as they come. But flightiness is infinitely more preferable to gloom. And in spite of the irrationality of it all, I have come to understand.

I snort. That is, I have come to understand after finally managing to grasp the fact that Jeanie had shorn my wife and me of our identities, emptied our brains of our memories, and sent us in an impaired state of mind to live in a different country. Then, just as expediently, she effected our return and reinstated our memories. Except for a few rather crucial ones, of course.

She insisted she had reasons. I smile wryly. They may even be compelling reasons, though I would never admit as much to her. A war had forced her hand, she had explained. Then, when the war was over, she came to Australia to fetch us. But she never gave us back our memories completely, because Mr. Snape had been presumed dead.

She returned home heartsick and weary. The memories were withheld for her own sake, she claims.

But then, unbeknownst to her, Mr. Snape had miraculously survived.

He's in love with her.

The voice whispers to me through my memories, goading. Jane, even in her adopted persona of Monica, had instincts that were frightfully keen.

I swirl the wine in my glass, waiting. The note, owl-delivered, naturally, lies next to me on the coffee table, the television remote weighing down upon the crisp folds of parchment. The elegant black scrawl it bears is now quite familiar. Finally, the doorbell rings. I stand and head for the door. Jane emerges from the powder room, smoothing a hand over her skirt as she joins me.

Slowly and perhaps more theatrically than is warranted, I open my home for the fourth time to Severus Snape. My daughter stands with him, an arm looped through his, her cheeks pink with pleasure. He is clad in black, as usual, and looks upon me gravely.

I return the gaze in challenge. Just because I understand does not mean I approve.

Jeanie bounds into my arms, breaking the awkward spell, and I kiss her, genuinely glad to see her. "Hello, Daddy!" she says, returning my kiss before reaching behind her and gently tugging Snape inside.

Jane elbows me, and I finally extend my hand to him. "Welcome, Mr. Snape."

The handshake is brief and perfunctory. As he steps inside, he looks slowly about him, as if seeing the house for the first time, though he has already visited twice before. I smirk triumphantly at him. It is one thing to sweep into others' homes as a self-assured professor and quite another to enter the home of your lady friend's parents.

"We are delighted to see you again," Jane says, patting him on the sleeve.

Speak for yourself.

"Come, Severus, don't be nervous," I hear Jeanie whisper as she unhooks the ever-present black cloak. His only response is a baleful glare. To my surprise, he wears something akin to a normal jacket and tie beneath the accursed cape. Jeanie smoothens him down a bit before leading him toward the dining room. I endeavor to keep a straight face as I follow.

The food is already laid out. Jane, in her true form, is not much of a cook at all, but she had put in an admirable effort, claiming she was now in possession of skills she had "learnt" as Monica.

Snape walks to the head of the table and pulls out a chair, signaling to my wife. "Madam," he intones. Jane blushes prettily as she sits, and I roll my eyes. He extracts a second chair and solicitously hands Jeanie into it before looking expectantly at me.

Scowling at him, I take my seat across from Jane. Finally, he sits, and I nod at him in begrudging approval.

"So, Mr. Snape, you no longer teach, I presume?" Jane says. I settle in, preparing myself for an evening of banalities.

"No, I am proprietor of an apothecary in Diagon Alley now," he answers. "It is a joint venture with Hermione."

"Severus is the only Potions master in all England who is capable of brewing Wolfsbane," Jeanie states with pride.

"Wolfsbane?" I repeat.

"In the wizarding world, certain individuals are afflicted with lycanthropy," Snape explains.

I rummage deep in my brain for the meaning of the word. "Werewolf?"

He nods. "Yes. Within the last few years, I formulated a potion that renders werewolves harmless during the full moon." He holds my gaze. "It has been a lucrative investment."

I make no acknowledgment of this cryptic declaration, though unwillingly, one of my doubts eases away. Jeanie is more than capable of supporting herself, of course, but it certainly couldn't hurt for Snape to prove his worth.

I watch him dubiously as I cut my steak. He explains the intricacies of the potion, in that sparse, highly snobbish tone that I have begun to associate with him. Though he isn't quite as ragged as the time he visited us in Australia, the man is still rail-thin. Black hair, too long for any self-respecting man, drapes down the sides of his face. His features are harsh and angular, like a craggy stone, dominated by a disproportionately large nose. And his fingers—I have always noticed his fingers—are aberrantly long, seeming to swallow up the fork he wields with freakish precision.

"Quite the contrary," he replies smoothly to a question posed by Jane. "Belladonna is only toxic when consumed in its natural state. When processed properly in a potion, it confers a sedating effect upon the werewolf."

Automatically, he reaches for the water pitcher and refills Jeanie's glass before topping mine off, as well. His smooth, orderly execution of things grates upon me, as does his confident lecturing. A cold fish.What on earth does Jeanie see in him?

"Now we're working on a variant of the potion which will suppress the transformation completely," Jeanie says excitedly. "Someday, a werewolf will no longer need to worry about the full moon. He would simply take his potion and carry on with his life as usual!"

I watch her bright, excited eyes, her animated gestures. I watch she and Snape momentarily meet each other's eyes and see the suddenly bashful smile that she flashes at him. The contrast with her demeanor from just a year ago is stark, and I suppress a resigned sigh.

"That sounds fascinating!" says Jane. Her mouth quirks slightly at the dirty scowl I send her way.

I mostly content myself with listening as the conversation proceeds for the rest of the hour until the plates are cleaned. Jane stands, beginning to collect the empty dishes, and I prepare to follow suit, only to be arrested by Snape's crisp voice. "Dr. Granger, would you care to show me the journal collection you spoke of?"

I am half-way out of my chair as I regard him with suspicion. The black orbs are shuttered, as usual. Another reason to dislike him. However, I am never one to shy away from a challenge.

"Why, certainly." I feel two anxious pairs of eyes upon my back as I lead Snape to the study.

After the door is shut quietly behind me, I turn upon him. "Well, young man?" I snap, crossing my arms as one does in preparation to scold. I had observed a slight streak of gray in his hair every now and then during dinner, and to my displeasure, I judged him to be about twenty years Jeanie's senior. However, that still leaves me with a good handful of years upon him and he would bloody well know that. "Don't tell me you wanted to come here to look at some sodding journals."

He is standing very still in the middle of the room, head lowered. At my question, he lifts his eyes, and to my shock, I see they are stormy and turbulent, unlike anything I have ever seen on him.

"Dr. Granger. I have come to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage."

I feel as if I have been punched in the stomach. Surely, this is a joke. "Why don't you go ask her?" I banter lightly, shakily. "Jeanie never spent a day in her life asking my consent for anything."

"In our world, we still adhere to the old traditions. A father's permission must be procured first, if only because wizarding fathers have a lot more… hazardous means at their disposal to vent their spleen," he finished drily.

I blink stupidly at him. "You are serious."

"Completely," he says quietly.

Suddenly, I am accosted by a nauseating idea. "She's pregnant? You knocked her up?" I hiss lividly.

He casts a stony glare at me, and I am reminded of how he is not a man to be crossed. "I assure you, I did no such thing."

"Bloody hell," I mutter to myself as I realize the magnitude of the discussion. I turn away from him and begin pacing. "She is young," I started.

"Two years past her majority in our world."

"Barely a year beyond majority in ours," I counter firmly.

"The war, sir. I believe you will find that it obliterates all conventional notions of time. Delays become superfluous when one is faced each day with the possibility of not returning through the same door one walks out of."

Ah, the war. The godforsaken war of which I knew both nothing and everything. Snape talks about it in the same dispassionate tone he uses with all things, yet the force behind the words is unmistakable. Jeanie rarely speaks of the war, though over the years, I have managed to stitch together the snippets I have been able to glean. I think of Snape himself. Of him periodically appearing on our doorstep, his news steadily worse as the sinister forces of the war gradually escalated. His preternatural calm. The hints of weariness, the caustic tongue. His journey to the house of Monica and Wendell Wilkins.

I sigh. "Explain to me…" I begin, then trail off hopelessly. Explain to me how all this bloody well happened! "Tell me…" I try again. …did you start wanting her when she was twelve? Fourteen? When?

"No," he grounds out emphatically, and I gaze at him in surprise. Flags of red rise to his cheeks. "I never touched her when she was a student. It was platonic until… it was no longer so after my recuperation."

I glower at him, then spin away. I have no particular wish to dwell on the idea of him bedding my daughter.
"Then?" I prompt, not quite knowing what I wanted to hear next.

He sucks in an impatient breath and I see that he is as uncomfortable with this discussion as I am. But he continues doggedly on, and I realize that he wishes to gain my approval. "She, ah, visited. At first, with her two friends. I was afflicted with amnesia after I was wounded and was taken in by an illiterate farming couple in Hogsmeade who had no idea of my identity. After I regained my faculties, we continued to… see one another. Then…" he paused and gestured vaguely. "We frequently conversed about potions, occasionally we shared a meal—"

I hold up a hand, stalling him. The only thing worse than describing one's relationships was being forced to listen to others describe them. Especially when the relationship included one's daughter. "I see, Sn—ah, Severus, that will do."

I close my eyes, the memory of a long-ago summer night unexpectedly upon me. I hope for her to be odd. I hope that she stands out for far greater things than her name. I hope she never blends in.
Be careful what you wish for.

"Does she want to be married to you?" I open my eyes again and resume the interview.

"Yes," he states soberly. "We both desire it."

The vision of Jeanie from earlier this evening as she came into the house, radiant in spite of the autumn chill, presents itself in my mind. "She does appear very happy with you, though why the hell that is, I can't understand," I mutter.

Snape has the good grace to remain silent, though the corner of his lip twitches once.

Then the question tumbles out before I have a chance to stop myself. "Do you love her?"

He opens his mouth, as if to say something, then promptly closes it again. His eyes become warm. "Very much so," he murmurs, almost to himself.

A knot that I wasn't aware existed loosens inside me. I don't trust blokes whose declarations of love flow with ease. This man has the look of one being dragged over hot coals. I almost feel sorry for him.

"Jeanie is precious to us," I state.

He nods. "As she is to me."

"Just because I don't do this wand waving business does not mean I won't make you rue the day you were born if you ever mistreat her," I grouse.

"I have not the slightest doubt you will."

"Go ask her properly to marry you, then, for Christ's sake," I grunt, waving him toward the door.

"Thank you. I am greatly honored." His joy is muted, sequestered behind an intimidating veneer of self-discipline, but to my own surprise, I still see it swell clearly in his eyes.

Smiling weakly, I sink into a chair, needing to calm my racing heart before I can confront my wife and daughter again. I try not to think too much. The magic will take care of the hard things, I decide. And for the rest, there's always Jeanie.