Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive . . .
~ D. H. Lawrence, "Bat"
"So it's agreed: we'll move him Sunday."
Severus looked up from his lap, where he had been focusing on removing the dead cuticle from his long, slim index finger.
'Move him', he thought. I wonder when Potter will cop to the fact that he's just a pawn on the old man's chess board.
Severus, of course, had had the benefit of offering himself up, so he had known his place in the file from the very beginning. He comforted himself briefly with the fact that, in this at least, he was more fortunate than James's son.
In truth, he had no idea why he was even at this meeting. Surely the legal tribulations that had recently beset the boy were not a matter for the entire bloody Order to sort out? Everyone knew that it would only take a furrowing of Almighty Dumbledore's haloed brow to get Potter off whatever charge that fool of a Minister had trumped up to discredit the boy.
The Dementors in Little Whinging—yes, now that was worrisome. But they had barely discussed the implications of that disturbing bit of news in favour of a spirited debate over the best—and least efficient, Snape thought—way to get Potter out of his latest, and no-doubt self-imposed, scrape.
"We will send a group to retrieve Harry next Sunday evening and bring him here," Dumbledore was saying. "If that is acceptable to you, of course, Sirius?"
Severus almost snorted. Why the old man made such a show of giving his minions a choice when everyone knew that free will was an illusion wherever Albus Dumbledore met up with you was an enduring mystery to Snape. Then again, he mused, perhaps that's why the old man was a beloved icon of the Light, while he himself was a solitary dungeon bat.
"And Molly and Arthur, you and the children are also willing to come and stay?"
Dumbledore's non-question was answered with a pair of red-headed nods, and he continued: "It would be wise to send a group to get Harry. We don't know what kind of watch is on the area, and it is possible we will run into trouble. Can I have some volunteers?"
Snape didn't even need to look up to know which hand was in the air first. For once, he agreed with Moody when the old Auror said, "Don't be daft, Sirius. You can't risk being seen."
Not that Severus would have minded if Black ended up on the wrong end of a Dark curse, or even a Dementor's Kiss, mind you, but the man had a way of mucking up even the simplest operation with his laughable bravado. It put people in danger.
Probably all that inbreeding, thought Snape.
Dumbledore pre-empted any objection from Black, saying, "Alastor is right, Sirius. It won't help Harry if you are seen with him." Black sank back into his chair, giving a rather good imitation of Severus's own boyhood sulk.
Moody said, "I'll go. We should use people who are good on a broom, familiar with evasive tactics."
"Count me in, then," said the girl, Tonks. "Knew all that Quidditch had to be good for something."
How she ever got to be an Auror, Snape couldn't guess. She had been an adequate student—good enough to make it into his N.E.W.T. class, anyway—and good with her wand, but the girl was a walking disaster. Yet Moody had taken her under his wing.
Or maybe, Snape thought, Moody's wing wasn't the only portion of his anatomy involved.
Predictably, Lupin volunteered as well. He'd been sniffing after the ridiculous girl like a—well, like a wolf—all summer, Snape thought with a shudder. Just as well he was going, though; for all he disliked Lupin, Snape had to admit the wizard was formidable with a wand. Probably had to be, given his delicate condition, Snape thought, indulging in a private, internal smirk.
Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke up: "I'll contact a few of the other Order members at the Ministry—maybe Hestia and Emmeline? They're both level-headed, good on a broom, and quick with their wands."
Now Shacklebolt—there's a wizard with a head on his shoulders, thought Snape. Shame he's so in thrall to Dumbledore. He could be a good leader if the old man would let go of the reins for a minute.
"Fine choices," said Dumbledore, patronising Shacklebolt, as ever.
Severus looked up again when he heard Minerva's voice.
"No. I'll need you at Hogwarts," replied the old man. "I interrupted my travels for this meeting, but I'm afraid I must return to the Continent immediately. Someone must mind the store while I'm away." He gave her an apologetic smile.
Judging by the momentary silence around the room, Snape knew he was not the only one to note the look that passed briefly between the Headmaster and his Deputy.
"Very well, I think things are in order. Alastor, I'll leave you to arrange the details with Kingsley, Remus, and Nymphadora," said Dumbledore, ignoring Tonks's wince at his use of the given name she hated.
Get over it, foolish girl, Severus thought savagely. At least your family name doesn't make your bollocks ache.
"Motion to adjourn," said Minerva.
"Seconded," said Severus. It was almost the only word he had spoken all evening.
The collective "ayes" prompted Minerva to conclude, "Motion carried. This meeting is now adjourned." She closed her notebook and shoved it and her quill into her carpetbag a little more forcefully than was strictly necessary.
Snape dawdled, pouring himself a last cup of tea, as the others scraped and shuffled out. He heard the front door open and the goodbyes being said. Only Minerva, Dumbledore, and Sirius were left. There was definite tension in the room, and for once it wasn't between him and Black.
Sirius obviously felt it too. "If you'll excuse me, I've got to see to Buckbeak. Poor blighter's moulting. Puts him in a bad humour," he said. "Goodnight, Albus . . . Minerva," he added as he moved to go, ignoring Snape, which was just fine and dandy as far as the latter was concerned.
Severus Banished his teacup to the kitchen, bidding the two older mages goodnight. He gathered his cloak as if to go, but instead of slipping out the front door, he quietly crept into the study. He knew Albus and Minerva wouldn't notice; the sound of her angry brogue from the dining room assured him of that.
The study was dimly lit with several lanterns and gave off a familiar smell of neglect and despair that filled Severus's nose as he moved silently around the room, opening drawers and shuffling through bookshelves.
After a few minutes, he heard footsteps echoing from the hallway.
Damn! In his haste to search for mementos of Lily, he had uncharacteristically neglected to ward the door.
He quickly slipped behind the heavy velvet curtain that blocked all but a few intrepid slivers of moonlight from the study, and cast a hurried Disillusionment Charm moments before he heard the door creak open.
He was surprised to hear a voice belonging not to Sirius Black, but to Minerva McGonagall.
"You're mad, Albus, we can't do this here!"
"I am mad . . . mad for you and your succulent flesh," Dumbledore said.
Snape rolled his eyes. Really, the man was a font of insufferable clichés.
There was the sound of a scuffle, then he heard the Headmaster murmur, "Mmmmm, that's just the flesh I was talking about." This last was muffled, as if Dumbledore had his mouth pressed up against something soft.
Snape did not like where this was headed.
More scuffling, then he heard a small, feminine squeal. He had been blissfully unaware that Minerva was capable of squealing.
"Play fair, now," she said, laughing.
Severus heard a scraping sound, like that of a chair being moved across a wood floor.
"As I can't seem to put you off, you do know there's a bedroom right up those stairs?" Minerva asked.
Yes, go make use of Black's four-poster, PLEASE, thought Severus.
"I know, my love, but I'm afraid I can't wait that long. I need you right now, right here." Dumbledore, of course, his voice growing closer to Snape's hiding place.
Then Minerva: "We've been doing this for forty years, and you cannot wait the thirty seconds it will take to—unh!"
Something struck the wall close to him. Then silence, followed by heavy breathing—hers, Snape guessed.
Brilliant, he thought. A stag film for the blind.
A thumping noise began to emanate from his right, then developed an unmistakable rhythm. The window behind him rattled a bit in its sash, and Snape realised sickly that Dumbledore was having her up against the wall right next to him.
He heard Minerva begin to moan with each thump. After a minute or two, she cried out hoarsely, "Yes! Gods, Albus, you feel so good!"
Snape felt a rush of nausea at the thought of that randy old coot fucking her, making her moan like that. Mixed in with his disgust, however, was a tiny morsel of arousal. He was angry with himself when he felt his cock begin to harden, straining against his trousers.
Get control of yourself, man. You are not a fourteen-year-old schoolboy, he told himself.
The problem was that he couldn't help remembering himself as just that, as images barged uninvited into his mind: Professor McGonagall, bending in close to his fourteen-year-old self to correct his wand work, her robe-bound breasts brushing his shoulder, her perfume smelling subtly of honeysuckle and linden; at seventeen, mesmerised by her nipples as they stood erect through the thin, champagne-coloured silk of her Yule Ball gown in response to the chill December air; even at twenty-two, on a stiflingly hot day, idly tracing with his eyes the progress of a bead of perspiration as it trickled its way down from her neck to disappear in the valley between her breasts as she sat reading in the staff room, her glasses perched on her nose, her robes unfastened far enough to reveal the barest hint of cleavage.
Dumbledore had caught him looking, and had quirked him a brief, infuriatingly knowing smile. The young Potions master had spent the next week waiting for a letter of dismissal. He had not been accustomed to men who were secure enough to let another man ogle what was theirs.
He swallowed hard to try to dispel the memories. Fortunately, the couple was making enough noise of their own that they couldn't hear it.
Merlin's balls, old man, get it over with before you give yourself apoplexy, he thought impatiently as he listened to the Headmaster grunt and puff. Snape's male organ was not the only thing that was stiff; he hadn't moved a muscle in five minutes.
As if he had heard Snape's plea, Dumbledore let out a cry of what sounded like pain. Then there was silence, save for heavy breathing that Snape could identify as neither the old man's nor hers.
Gods! Had the man actually expired in the saddle?
Evidently not, as Snape next heard Minerva sigh, "Circe, that turned out to be a good idea after all."
"As ideas go, my darling, I must say it was one of my better ones," replied Albus, sounding only slightly winded now.
Snape heard what he tried not to imagine was the rearranging of robes and knickers, then a few moments later, the door.
He waited another five minutes before emerging from behind the curtain. Opening the door cautiously, he listened. There was no sound. He crept down the hall and out the front door. He immediately Apparated to Knockturn Alley and ducked into a dark passage between two buildings.
After conjuring a haphazard glamour, Snape set off down the street in the direction of a brothel he had patronised on the infrequent occasions when he needed a particular kind of Obliviator. He went in, paid his coin, and selected his merchandise.
When they got to the room, and the woman dropped her absurdly scant clothing, he requested she lie face-down on the bed.
She said, "If you want to put it in my bum, it'll cost you extra."
"No, thank you," he replied.
"No reason to be embarrassed, dearie, loads of blokes like it that way. Bit of a change from the wife, I expect."
"The customary way will be fine," he told her as he removed his outer robe. The truth was that he preferred not to have to look at her face during the transaction. It made it easier to fantasise about things that had never been and never could be.
"All right, but if you change your mind in the middle, it'll be an extra two Galleons, just so you know."
"I'll keep it in mind," he said, unzipping.
"You didn't tell me if you wanted oral, but if you do, I like to do that first, if it's all the same to you. If it's after, I'll have to charge you an extra ten Sickles," she said, businesslike, as she climbed on the grey-blanketed camp bed.
"You can expect an extra five Galleons when we're done if you can keep quiet for the next five minutes," Snape said as he assumed his position behind her.
The prostitute didn't say another word; whether because of the inducement of cash or because she took offence, Snape couldn't say. He didn't care either way.
More in the Epithalamium Series
For anyone who is interested, there are links and information on the backstory for characters and events in the "Epithalamium universe" on my website ( ).
If you'd like to know more about Minerva and Albus's adventures, you might enjoy the following stories, set in the same universe.
Bonnie Wee Thing | Epithalamium #0.5 ~ A short story that takes place on the day of Minerva McGonagall's birth.
One to Keep an Eye On | Epithalamium #0.72 ~ Young Minerva has her first Transfiguration class. It does not go as Albus expects.
From Jupiter's Head | Epithalamium #0.75 ~ Thorfinn McGonagall observes his daughter, Minerva, as she grows up, and finds that she is a very unusual witch.
Epithalamium | Epithalamium #1 ~ An epic romance novel that follows Minerva McGonagall from her seventh year at Hogwarts through her first year of teaching.
1945 | Epithalamium #1.5 ~ An excerpt from Epithalamium. Albus Dumbledor travels to Germany to confront Gellert Grindelwald.
Come Autumn, Sae Pensive | Epithalamium #3 ~ A novel following Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore through an unexpected pregnancy and its aftermath.
Winterreise | Epithalamium #3.5 ~ A short story about tension between Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore.
Familiar Rituals | Epithalamium #3.6 ~ A short story about some end-of-term rituals and how Minerva McGonagall became Head of Gryffindor House.
Mammals of the Order Chiroptera | Epithalmium #3.7 ~ A short story in which Severus Snape observes members of the Order of the Phoenix at closer range than he would perhaps like.
Ca' the Yowes | Epithalamium #3.8 ~ A fluffy short story featuring Minerva McGonagall just after the Stunner attack in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart | Epithalamium #4 ~ A novella about the lengths Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape must go to in the prosecution of the war after Dumbledore's death.
This work of fiction is based on characters and settings created by J. K. Rowling. All recognisable characters, settings, and plot elements are copyright © J. K. Rowling.
The author believes this work falls within the scope of the Fair Use Doctrine as a transformative work. For more information, see the Organization for Transformative Works.
All original characters, settings, and plot elements are copyright © 2011 Squibstress.
This work of fiction is available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.