England, Near Barnsley in South Yorkshire
Early December, 1814
Truly, I blame Dumbledore for beginning this mess I am tangled in.
The mess specifically being the fact that I am careening towards a country estate in my second best carriage to finalize my engagement. I, Severus Tobias Snape, war hero, Potions Master, and renowned theoretical potion researcher, was getting married.
I rubbed clammy fingers gently on my temples, already cursing my stupidity. I had made it through the war alive, honored even. All the years I spent spying and teaching incompetent children I had longed for nothing more than a quiet home with a large laboratory, and to be completely and blissfully alone. Now I had a manor, a laboratory and all the silence I could possibly desire and what was I? Desperately lonely. So lonely that I actually went back to Dumbledore and asked about getting my job back just to see people again. It was unspeakably, horrifyingly humbling.
Dumbledore's disastrous answer was two fold. First, he agreed to allow me to come back to Hogwarts, the esteemed College of Magic, to give guest lectures, and second, he encouraged, nay actually demanded, that I seek comfort in matrimony.
I, Severus Snape, get married. The idea was absurd.
The carriage hit a rough patch at that precise moment in my ruminations and I was all but thrown to the ceiling. Indeed, my nose hit it with a satisfying thump and my temper rose to the challenge. Damn country roads.
It was ruthlessly unfair that I would find it necessary to find a partner so late in life, after any youthful softening of my features had long been swept away by the sorrow and misery of war and my own youthful dreams had been abandoned. It certainly didn't help that, despite my recently acquired fortune and fame, I was still ugly and lacking in gentlemanly manners. A gutter brat dressed in expensive robes is still a gutter brat, after all.
The girl was a problem, as well. Mind, I had not yet had the pleasure of inflicting my presence upon her, but she was nearly fifteen years my junior and at thirty-seven, I didn't think this was something to boast about. The whole situation was reduced to a farce, and I was playing the fool.
There were others who had married later in life; indeed, it was something often sought by men of my age after they had enjoyed themselves. But I could not help but pity such a young girl being attached to me. My thoughts tangled, maudlin.
I fingered the wand that was always in my sleeve. A nervous habit, I suppose, from the war. I didn't care enough to try and break it.
There was nothing to be done but attempt to make the best of the whole debacle. I would see her, I decided, and make my decision. If she appeared unsuitable, I would resign my post, break the engagement and flee like the coward I was back to Spinner's End and the deafening silence.
Prompts taken from riceforbreakfast at tumblr called 30 Drabbles 15 Days Challenge, with additional prompts at the whim of the author. Chapter titles will be prompts.
I am doubly blessed: I have captured myself two wild beta readers. renaid (for the grammars) and orlandoswitch (for the plot bouncings; I swear that my mind is being read).
Edited for spelling on March 10th, 2013.
Edited for grammar on March 13th, 2013 [courtesy of renaid, who frees me from obligations to missing commas].
Edited for formatting and authors notes March 3rd, 2015.
This is a companion piece to The Dream which tells Hermione Granger's side of this little tale.