Amalea Snape was a charming child, no pun intended. Before her temporary disappearance, she had already managed to twist every single member of staff around her little finger. She even knew every house elf by name, and they would do anything for her.
When it was revealed that Denny had been the one to wish her away, there was a definite change. Even the students were reluctant to be seen with him at first, not knowing whether they'd be punished by association. Naturally, this made him incredibly miserable. This was just the start of it.
Sarah was sitting by the fireplace when Minerva came through the floo a few days after she promised to come up with a decent punishment. She had already gained Denny's co-operation after she told him of Severus' threat to have him thrown into Azkaban. She elaborated, making him squirm, when she said that his professor was perfectly within his rights to challenged Denny to a duel.
"I'll do anything, Professor!" Denny exclaimed. "Really! Just… not Azkaban. Not a duel. Not with Professor Snape." He paused. "Either of them."
Knowing now that he would take any punishment without complaint, she went straight to the Snape quarters to discuss her plan. Sarah smiled at her.
"Good evening, Headmistress," she said, standing.
"How are you, Miss Williams?"
"Great. Hermione and Severus are just tucking Amalea into bed. They won't be long."
Sure enough, Severus and Hermione walked into the living room less than half a minute later. Severus raised an eyebrow when he noticed Minerva, even as they all exchanged pleasantries. When all four adults were sitting once again, Hermione curled into her husband's side, the headmistress spoke.
"I have thought of a plan you will approve of," she said. Her frown deepened. "And you will approve of this, Severus. It is sufficient punishment for Mr. Ackroyd, and will benefit everybody."
"I look forward to hearing it," he said, his grip on Hermione's waist tightening ever so slightly.
"Very well. You are aware that Amalea is loved by the entire staff?"
"That's my daughter," Hermione murmured.
"Out of all of us, the one who requires the most assistance, and is most likely to think of horrible and appropriate… tasks for Mr. Ackroyd to complete," the corners of her lips twitched, "is Mr. Filch."
"And?" Severus asked. "Where does Argus come into this?"
"He adores Amalea, the same as the rest of us," Minerva said, straightening her robes. "He has already approached me about this, and I believe that, if we allow him to assign chores to Mr. Ackroyd for the rest of the year, he will soon learn his lesson."
"That is not enough, Minerva," Severus said, clenching his right fist where it rested on the arm of the couch. "There are only a few months left of school."
"Let me finish, Severus," she said, eyes narrowing further. "That can be during the week. As soon as he has completed his work for the next day's classes, he can spend the evening under Mr. Filch's direction. Then," she held up a hand, "he can work with the house elves every Saturday, with food preparation, laundry, or whatever else they deem suitable. To this end, he will forgo Hogsmeade trips. He will also forgo Quidditch matches to assist Poppy in the infirmary, before, during, and after the match. That is the busiest time of year for the hospital wing."
"That sounds more reasonable," Sarah remarked. But Minerva wasn't done.
"Finally," she said, "he will help you gather potions ingredients when you need them." Severus began to smirk. "I also believe that Sunday afternoons could be spent lending a hand to Hagrid."
"Isn't that when he cleans up after the Blast-Ended Skrewts and the Thestrals?" Hermione said. Minerva nodded. She began to smile. "Oh, Headmistress, that sounds much better."
"Does this satisfy you, Severus?" Minerva asked.
"Student slave labour has always appealed to me," he said. Hermione and Sarah laughed softly, and Minerva's lips twitched again.
And so it was.
Jareth yet again formed a crystal, only to throw it against the nearest wall, unable to summon the strength to throw it any further. He went to form another, but he let his hand fall to the arm of his throne instead. He sighed, not even glancing at the gaiety of his subjects as they laughed, drank, and chased chickens around the room.
Hoggle watched all this with an unsympathetic eye. Two of them, in fact. So what if Jareth was more depressed than usual? He was just sulking. Probably guilty, too. Sarah's nephew nearly got killed in the labyrinth, and his wife and kid were hostages. It served the king right.
"Quiet," Jareth said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. The goblins didn't notice. "Quiet." They continued with their antics. Hoggle could see what was about to happen.
Rather than shout, the Goblin King strode down among his servants, gaining their attention, and shot each and every one a fierce look, Hoggle included. It took several minutes, but the goblins were soon all shaking under glare.
"The next one of you to make a noise will spend an eternity in the Bog of Eternal Burning," he whispered. The menace in his voice was enough to make several goblins squeak in terror. Brandishing a crystal, he dropped it, and they disappeared. The rest of them scattered, jumping to avoid the crystals falling at their feet. Hoggle made himself scarce, guessing that Jareth would break down as soon as he was alone, and not wanting to be around to witness that.
But it was clear.
He needed Sarah.
Come to that, she probably needed him, too.
"You know you can stay as long as you like," Severus told Sarah. Almost a week had passed since Denny began his months-long trials. He and Hermione had eventually found that they could be away from each other during the evenings enough for one to put Amalea to bed, and the other to spend time with Sarah. She seemed more distracted, so they felt the need to talk with her. Severus especially wanted to get to know his aunt, just as she wanted to get to know her nephew.
Despite this, Hermione was closer to Sarah. They chatted casually when they were together, and it was a pleasant distraction from whatever preyed on Sarah's mind of an evening.
After Amalea's nightmares had stopped, she was better able to hear what Sarah murmured during her sleep, woken by sobs a few times. The first morning after this, she had told her mother that Sarah had been asking for Jareth. Hermione told Severus, and they had since been trying to decide what to do. If Sarah was this affected, was there a chance that the king was also distressed by the separation?
"I find it impossible to feel any regret," Severus told his wife. "His actions…"
"I know, Severus. But I can't stand seeing Sarah this unhappy. We must do something."
He thought about this conversation as he watched his aunt staring into the fire.
"You want me to leave?" she asked, not looking at him.
"Of course not, Aunt Sarah. But I wonder whether you are happy here?" She nodded, but she still evaded eye contact. "Would you be happier elsewhere?"
"Have I been disturbing Amalea?" she said, glancing at him, a worried frown drawing her eyebrows together.
"We are worried about you."
"That's nice, Severus, but it isn't necessary."
"Yes, it is. We are your family."
"Well…" She trailed off, picking at a seam on her skirt. "I'm okay. I promise."
"I don't think you are," Hermione said, coming up behind them. Sarah twisted around in the chair. "We'd love to have you stay, but it isn't good for you."
"But…" Sarah looked back at Severus. "What do you mean?"
"Sarah, I wish the goblins would come and take you away right now," Hermione whispered.
She barely caught Sarah's face before the lights dropped. Seconds later they were raised again, and Severus and Hermione smiled at each other.
The Goblin King was unable to stop his look of surprise when he saw the Snapes. His gaze flitted around the room.
"Sarah isn't here anymore," Hermione said.
"Oh?" he said, settling his expression into something resembling indifference.
"Look after her," Severus added. Jareth looked confused. Gradually, it appeared to dawn on him, and an almost-smile started to touch his lips. He nodded, and disappeared in a wink.
In the middle of the throne room, the goblins stared at The Girl – still a girl – as they waited for the king to return. When he finally did, there was a pause. He signalled, and the goblins ran for it, knowing better than to hang around lest they end up in the bog.
Before even the last had disappeared out the door, Jareth was embracing his captive.
It was only fair. She had captured his heart long ago.
The next day they received a letter amongst the rest of the owl mail. Severus slit the royal seal away from the rest of the scroll and handed it to Hermione. She gasped loudly when she had perused the contents.
"What is it?" he asked.
"A wedding invitation," she said, and she passed it to him.
"Whose wedding?" She grinned.
"As though you need to ask," she said.
The owl who had delivered the letter paused in his flight to look back at them, and Hermione waved. He appeared to dip his head, and then flew away.
Thank you all for your punishment input! As you'll be able to see, I incorporated as much of it as I could, the best I could. So, while I'm grateful for all positive reviews, thank you especially to these peeps in the order of contributions to the little box:
Ice Demon Ranger
Her Royal Goddess
I hope you've all enjoyed my first real crossover ("DVD Delights" aside). Do you approve? Should I do another crossover sometime in the future? Let me know some favourite fandoms if you like, and if I'm familiar with any of them I'll do some plotting or whatnot.
Thanks for readin'!