TITLE: Because Cornelius Fudge Copped A Feel
BY: Careena (at Gmail dot com) ::whores "Careena" LJ::
FOR: "Master and the Wolf" Snape/Lupin Fuh-Q Fest, second wave
CHALLENGE 133: "Snape decides to search for a suitable partner. He
does so very systematically and unemotionally. Then, with similar cold
logic, he sets out to win his man."
ARCHIVING: Yes, with permission, after Fest.
WARNINGS: PG13 (Smutless). OotP spoilers ahoy. Certified MPreg-free.
AU of PoA timeline. Snape's characterization has been tweaked (and
made slightly clueless) solely for comedic purposes.
NOTE: Many millions of thanks to JJ Arrows for the excellent beta
Severus Snape was not accustomed to making charitable gestures,
or indeed any concession to kindness. He was on Dumbledore's side of
the war, and devoted to stuffing brats' heads with useful knowledge;
this was enough goodness and virtue to satisfy his admittedly cold
He was surprised, then, to feel a mild pang of pity when
acquainted with the story of Angus Grier, who lived in Hogsmeade. The
old man was dying, and had not a friend in the world. Dumbledore had
taken responsibility, as Dumbledore had done with so many other
charity cases.
"I would never make such a tricky moral judgement," said
Dumbledore, his voice echoing from the stones of Snape's office, "as
to suggest that you euthanize Mr Grier." He made it clear by his tone
that this was exactly what he was suggesting. "But his pain is beyond
Poppy's ability to alleviate."
"Headmaster," Snape objected, "surely this is a task which calls
for compassion and sensitivity. I have neither."
"This is a task which also calls for precision and businesslike
remove. No one but you, Severus, can do the job. Please prepare your
ingredients and leave at once."
When it was over, Snape stood outside the door of the run-down
cottage, dry-eyed but affected. In a technical sense, he had just
committed a murder, however merciful; that was not what disturbed him.
What disturbed him was the terror of finding himself in the same
situation, and the change he sensed in himself.
Matters had been complicated by the fact that the old man was,
and apparently always had been, a complete bastard. Thankless,
abusive, and thoroughly mean-spirited, from "More pain killer, y'
hatchet-faced niggard," to "Hurry up wi' brewing that potion! Are y'
here to kill me, or play tiddly-winks?" At first, Snape had given him
credit, thinking perhaps it was the chronic pain which had soured his
disposition. A kindly looking neighbor, popping in to confirm the
rumor that Grier was on the way out, assured Snape that he had, if
anything, mellowed with age.
"Oh, aye," he said, in a broad Yorkshire accent, "there's never
been a neighbor like Angus Grier. Ain't been able to get out as much,
these months, but 'e was still busy as ever. Favorite thing was to
shoot yer dogs and cats if they wandered across the property line. And
always so cruel to the children, yelling at them from the window and
bullying, like. It ain't decent of me to say so, but I'll tell ye,
mister, that there won't be a soul in this town sorry to see 'im go,
nor the world, neither."
Before Snape had arrived, he'd had visions of sitting by the old
man's bed, long into the night, giving some comfort by allowing him to
think Snape was paying attention to his ramblings. By the time the
neighbor had left, Snape found that his compassion for Grier was just
about nil, and perhaps he should just let the cretin suffer. He owled
When you said you weren't ordering me to euthanize Grier, were
you merely being coy? If so, please clarify so that I can have it done
- Snape."
Dumbledore wrote back almost immediately:
Destroy this letter. If you insist on my spelling it out, Yes,
euthanasia was Poppy's recommendation; in fact, she was most
enthusiastic. I know you'll be glad to help him out of his pain.
- Albus."
"Oh, won't I just." The explicit order perked him up
considerably, and he hummed as he added ingredients to the simmering
"Quit that goddamned caterwauling," Grier shouted from the other room.
"So sorry, Mister Grier," said Snape, through clenched teeth.
By the time the stretcher arrived for the body, it was past
sunrise, and Snape wasn't feeling nearly so smug. He had not the
slightest remorse for his part in the affair; even had he been sorry
instead of darkly amused, it would still have been his duty.
"What a nasty old git," he thought to himself. "Serves him right
to have been so alone. Always yelling at people and bullying childr--
oh, God." Snape's stomach sank. Some of the similarities between Grier
and himself were very disturbing. He hadn't really considered it
before, but while to be jaded and mean in one's youth was romantically
tragic, to be the same in old age was tragedy without the dramatic
appeal. To be cynical and snappish in one's youth was to be set apart
from the nauseatingly idealistic little optimists, but to remain
curmudgeonly in one's old age was simply cliche. Worse than that, it
was a one hundred percent guarantee of miserable declining years and a
lonely death.
Would his acquaintances be as amused by Snape's death as Grier's
neighbors had been by his? As Snape returned to the castle and
prepared for the rest of his day, he did not notice any heightening of
sentimentality in himself, but he did notice the fear.
Snape sat at his desk with a parchment before him, calculating
the remaining years of what passed for a personal life. He set the
quill moving:
"FACT: to be an old man, alone and unloved, is a terrifying prospect.
EARLY EVIDENCE: folk wisdom.
FINAL PROOF: first-hand observation (Angus Grier).
CONCLUSION: resolve to make great effort to avoid contempt and
terrifyingly lonely death.
SOLUTION: become less nasty. acquire spouse, children, et cetera."
Re-examining his logic, it made perfect sense. Since pupils were
unappreciative and friends were fickle, the only sure-fire way to
avoid such desolation in his old age would be to produce a family from
thin air. It was not as though he were some wild, free spirit
gallivanting off on impromptu trips; it was not as though child
rearing would cut into a thriving social life. It was really the most
practical thing to do: he had the financial resources to raise a
child, and certainly no atmosphere could be more convenient than the
very building in which it would be educated. The proximity would leave
plenty of leeway for "quality time" and "bonding," to make the little
tax write-off truly attached. It would be a practical use of time and
He was irritated by *other* people's idiot children, but
certainly his own would be wonderfully intelligent. Crafty.
Accomplished. Someone of whom he could be proud. Most importantly,
though, an investment in being cared for during his declining years.
Now, how to go about it? The usual procedure would be to find a
spouse; in fact, that would be additional insurance against dying
alone. Why hadn't he started preparing for this years ago? How the
hell was he going to catch a reliable, nurturing, giving, *useful*
spouse at this late date?
He would just have to try to be nicer.
"Oh, Lord," he muttered, "Slytherins weren't meant to be 'nice.'"
He glanced at his book shelf. "There must be some way to cheat."
"Severus, having been up all night, you're in no fit state to
make this decision." Lupin sounded indulgent, but concerned by the
unusual request.
"I am in a more rational frame of mind today, Lupin, than most
people are at any time," was Snape's scoffing reply.
"Explain it to me more clearly, please," Lupin said, glancing at
the spell book Snape had brought with him. "It's some sort of mood
"At the bottom line, yes. I am making some changes in my life.
One of those will be to become more 'pleasant' to be around."
"A less forbidding Severus? Impossible."
"Doubt my sincerity, Lupin, but never my power of will." For a
moment, though, he considered giving up the entire enterprise. Then he
thought of Angus Grier's shelves, with scrapbooks full of carefully
clipped newspaper articles that would soon be thrown away. Under the
present circumstances, no one would give a damn about Snape's
accomplishments, either, unless future generations bothered to read
the endnotes to their textbooks. "Are you going to help me, or do I go
to McGonagall?"
"I wouldn't mind helping even if I didn't owe you such a debt . .
.but why me?"
"A great deal of my disagreeable behavior--" He dared Lupin with
his eyes to make a crack at this admission of flaw; Lupin's face
remained placid, so Snape continued, "is caused by my Accumulative
Dark Arts Exposure Syndrome."
Lupin's jaw dropped. "How can *you* have ADAES?! Your position
doesn't deal with them half so much as mine, and even I won't be at
risk for years to come."
"And I hope you're warding carefully, Lupin, because another
disease is *exactly* what you need."
"Well, as they say, 'Coal miners always get black lung, and DADA
teachers'-- wait, I still don't understand how you've contracted it.
You would have to have been working in them yourself instead of merely
studying-- oh." Lupin blushed and turned the end of his sentence into
a cough.
"Don't ask me questions about how I got it," Snape said, pointing
to the book. "Just help me treat it."
"From what I've read, the early stages usually cause headaches
and very bad moods. Are you just trying to give yourself an excuse for
being so abrasive?" Lupin smiled brightly, but his teasing was not
well received, so he dropped his voice to a more serious tone. "Why
haven't you done anything about it before, Severus?"
"The last two morons who held your position would have been less
than useless." Snape wondered if Lupin noticed that this insult was an
implied compliment. "In addition to which, it has been convenient to
be bad tempered without making conscious effort."
"Easier for you to keep people away."
"I now have reason to become personable again . . .or possibly
for the first time. Once the first few layers of residue are removed,
I'll need your help once a month; like maintenance on a machine."
"Fair enough, but I wish you would go to Poppy for a check-up
once in a while," Lupin grumbled.
"She doesn't specialize in counteracting the Dark Arts," Snape
said. "Believe me, I would do it myself, if the spell were written
that way."
Lupin skimmed the page again. "The book claims it will make you
less snappish, less defensive, less angry . . .this could alter the
most fundamental aspects of your personality! Are you sure you want
"If millions of Muggles throw anti-depressants at the delicate
balance of chemicals in their brains, I can certainly use a proven,
trustworthy spell to reduce my acidity."
"Well, I'm one hundred percent in favor of a happier you," Lupin
said, looking puzzled, "I just can't figure out what brought on your
decision to ask for help."
"Just do it," Snape spat. "Perhaps when I am less 'defensive,'
I'll be inclined to 'share my feelings.'"
"You're absolutely certain you want to make this major alteration--"
"Cast the damned spell, you do-gooding boyscout, so I can try
being nice for a change. I've barked more in my life than you ever
will, and I want to try something different."
The spell took only fifteen minutes. When it was over, Snape's
face was still set in its customary sneer, but this was perhaps due to
habit and muscle memory. His body, however, was less tense, his limbs
less set to fend off the attack he always seemed to be expecting.
After a few moments, the lines of his face settled into a more neutral
"Severus, I can almost *see* the chip on your shoulder shrinking.
How do you feel?" Lupin asked, moving closer.
"Cleaner." Snape opened his eyes. "I hope you didn't expect me to
be skipping merrily about and strewing daisies from my cloak."
"No, I didn't. I'm glad to get any answer other than 'You've
served your purpose, you idiot quadruped, now quit pestering me and be
grateful your incompetent casting didn't kill me.'"
"No," said Snape, with half an attempt at a faint smile, "I feel
fine. It's the first step of my new plan." Then, somewhat grudgingly,
"Thank you for your help."
"You just thanked me for something. I'm frightened. And you're
welcome. Just how drastic *is* the change?"
Snape closed his eyes again for a moment, running a mental
inventory of his mood. "I feel far less inclined to snap at people
without provocation," he said, "but still likely to snap if provoked.
I feel less angry and less threatened. That's all I can tell you so
"Telling me *anything* about what you're feeling is a vast
improvement, Severus."
"We'll see," Snape smirked, "if the rest of them ever notice."
Now that Snape was feeling less cynical than ever before, he was
almost, but not quite, optimistic about his prospects. He was in the
best mood he'd been in since the time Lockhart had accidentally
transfigured himself into a platypus. This step of his perfectly
logical plan had gone well; having taken that risk, the next was less
daunting. He sat at his desk with another list:
1) someone known to me
2) someone as yet unknown to me
. . .God, I can't even stand to name them
a) angle for acquaintances to make introductions
b) get on the market and introduce self"
Dropping subtle hints like "Isn't your brother still single,
Minerva," or "Would that be your *maiden* aunt, Patel," sounded like
torture. He decided that angling for introductions was out. Option B
was nearly as embarrassing, but blessedly anonymous. He picked up his
copy of the Daily Prophet.
"Single Slytherin Male seeks long term relationship. Verbally
abusive and emotionally vampiric; will drain you dry and use what's
left. Enjoys intimidating children and stewing in hatred. Try fine
dining with a Death Eater! No Hufflepuffs need apply."
He tossed it into his wastebasket, where it sat along with dozens
of other crumpled copies of sarcastic drafts. Once he had gotten over
the stigma, however, it wasn't so difficult, and the finished product
was prominently displayed in the newspaper near the top of the column.
Just seeing "SSlyM, N/S, white/black/black" in print was enough
to make Snape nervous. "Career-minded" was not as specific as
"education" would have been, but putting his age had definitely been a
mistake. He let the ad run in the Prophet for one week, and then
pulled it. Not, he assured himself, because he had lost his nerve, but
because it had been too easy to decode, given his conspicuous place in
the community. He was made edgy, therefore, when, upon taking his
place at the professors' table Monday morning, he saw Lupin flipping
ostentatiously through an edition from the previous week.
"Just catching up on my human interest stories," Lupin said, with
an exaggerated look of wide-eyed innocence. "One finds the most
remarkable things."
"Hm?" Snape grunted noncommittally, the ADAE spell still
effective enough to prevent him from lashing out at his co-work-- . .
.friend. "What sort of things?"
"Oh, information about interesting people and their interesting
new goals." Lupin triumphantly flipped the page to the Agony Columns,
where Snape's own square of text was circled in blue ink. Lupin
pretended to be reading an ad placed by a witching recruiting for
"All right, you smug pup of a bitch--"
"How long have you been waiting to use that insult?"
"'Couple of days." Snape primly ripped the paper out of Lupin's
hands and smacked it onto the table.
"Don't wrinkle it," Lupin teased, "I want to pin it to the front
of my desk."
"All right, I've been caught out. You can quit toying with me. You win."
"I don't want to toy with you. I want to help you. If the staff
knew you've gone romantic on us, they would be lining up around the
block to play matchmaker."
"Your assistance in this matter," Snape said, producing his wand
and reducing the top page to cinders, "is not required."
"Which of us has better people-sense, Severus? The misanthropic
shut-in, or the good-natured handicapped boyscout?"
"You raise a valid point, but--"
"And if you don't make me privy to the entertaining details,"
Lupin lowered his voice to a threatening purr, and got out of his
chair, headed toward Dumbledore's section of the table, "I just might
let slip to Albus that we could use some help from him."
"You wouldn't!" Snape stood, as well, looking around to be sure
they hadn't been overheard.
"I'm only offering to help, Severus."
"I'm overwhelmed," Snape growled, "by your generosity."
The next morning, Lupin tracked Snape down to the library, in the
Muggle Sciences section. Snape had spent much of the night surrounded
by books on psychology, anthropology, gender theory, and sexuality;
having efficiently absorbed all of this material, he had reached some
conclusions. He was scratching a few final notes in his file when he
noticed Lupin's approach.
"Taking time off from your quest for the fairy tale ending, Severus?"
"Fairy tale, nothing," Snape snorted. "This entire project is utilitarian."
"You may *think* it's utilitarian. You don't want a marriage of
convenience, you want love. I know you better than you know yourself."
"When will this novelty cease to draw your attention?"
"When I'm used to the idea of you as a sexual being, I suppose,"
Lupin said, glancing at a stack of classics on the table. "And, more
alarming than that, a romantic one. Bronte, Shakespeare, Shelley . .
.if you read all of these, you'll be a confirmed sentimentalist."
"Purely for purposes of research, I assure you. I am still
completely failing to comprehend the quote-unquote 'bond' that couples
feel so strongly."
"Possibly because you've never opened yourself to the feeling.
You should start small, with love. Get yourself a cat . . .or a dog,
maybe." When Snape raised an eyebrow, Lupin clarified, "Cats are too
much like you."
"I keep animals. I have several."
"And try to pass them off as controls in the lab, I know. But a
snake in a tank hardly classifies as having a pet to cuddle."
"I like snakes," Snape said, with something like artlessness and
sincerity. "They're undemanding."
"All right, then, let's talk about love." Lupin invited himself
to sit down next to Snape. "Do you love your pets?"
"I don't love anything, Lupin, except perhaps knowledge."
"Consider this a form of learning, then. You look after your
pets, which unquestionably means you care about them."
"Can we dispense with the crash course on emotion, please? I have
research to do."
"No. How would you feel if someone were to harm your pets?"
"Very angry. I've assumed responsibility for them."
"There you go. To be defensive of someone is a demonstration of love."
"Next you'll be telling me that I care for our revolting little students."
"You do!"
"You," Snape slammed a book too loudly, "have just obliterated
your credibility."
"It's well known, Severus, that people don't go into our
profession for the money. Somewhere beneath your fits, there's a
lurking nobility. You growl because you want them to learn."
"Keep your voice down," Snape said, quickly casting a silencing
charm around their table. "You give me too much credit. I'm only
interested in the proliferation of skills."
"And that's why there have been several documented instances of
you risking your physical safety to help the children?"
Snape averted his gaze. "Only when there was no other option."
"There's decency in you, Severus. Decency, and, though you refuse
to admit it, love."
"I'll admit that I do care about some things." Snape looked at
his work spread out on the table. "Things in books, mostly."
"Living in books is a fairly romantic notion, whether fictional
or academic. You're so *dramatic*, Severus, with your dungeon and
glares and monochromatic wardrobe and your other endless lines of
defense. You're the tragic hero of your own drama. The sooner you
acknowledge it's all a form of romanticism, the easier this will be."
"Fine," Snape crossed his arms. "So I'm a textbook case of
melodramatic hysteria. It has nothing to do with understanding the
scientific explanation of love."
"If you want to be excruciatingly clinical, it's a direct result
of evolutionary biology. I assume you've studied biology?"
"Of course I've studied biology, you--" Snape reminded himself
that Lupin was trying hard to educate him, and checked the insult.
"Biology and chemistry are the very *essence* of a good potions
master. The physical properties of--"
"Then you'll remember that evolution favors species with genes
for altruism toward their own kind." Lupin consulted the shelves for a
moment and pulled out a thick book. "A species wherein parent
organisms are motivated to work together will, statistically, have a
higher survival rate."
Snape's eyes widened. "Of course! It's perfectly straightforward.
Over thousands of years, random mutations in an animal's genetic code
will select for the most effective means of reproduction."
"Apparently," Lupin said, rolling his eyes slightly at Snape's
left-brain fixation, "forming a deep, lasting emotional bond is useful
not only in a spiritual sense, but also a utilitarian one."
"Thank you for your help, Lupin," came surprisingly easily. "Now
make yourself scarce while I read."
Within a few minutes, Snape was completely fascinated. People's
preoccupation with affection, their fixation on warmth and kindness--
the motivations that had so puzzled him were (he felt) completely
illuminated by evolutionary biology. He read about why certain animals
mate for life, and about birds with self-sacrificial tendencies.
He read most enthusiastically about studies of human bonding. He
read about experiments in which women judged immune systems
complimentary to their own to smell "sexier." He read about the
tendency to identify oneself with a set of people (culture? friends?
House?) and fight loyally for one's "tribe." He read about the drive
to pass on one's genes and levels of investment in offspring. He read
about studies of widowers pining away. He made copious notes.
In a few hours, he felt he had completely mastered the mystery of
love. It explained everything, from the Potters' sacrifice, to
Dumbledore's universal benevolence, to Lupin's irritatingly kind
attitude. Didn't any of their genes have the good sense to be more
He went to the nearest fireplace and called Lupin up for a conversation.
"I understand it all now," he said, across the flames.
"You comprehend the science, Severus," Lupin said patiently, "but
you don't understand a bit of it."
"It's nothing but hormones and brain chemicals."
"Ah, but the results those chemicals produce are truly
spectacular. You're a wizard, Severus, but more hidebound than most
Muggles. Try to remember that all magic is traceable to some physical
reaction of compounds. And love for others *is* magic."
"It's science."
"It's both."
The next day, there was a knock at the door of Snape's office. He
spelled open the door to reveal a grinning Lupin.
"I haven't seen much progress in your mission, Severus. Should we
consult Albus after all?"
"I've been refining my lists."
"I'm afraid to look."
"Then don't. I'll do better without your help." Snape went to
spell the door shut again, but Lupin caught it.
"Sorry, this is much too rich for me to ignore." His eyes became
less bright for a moment, and he said, "Speaking of Albus, he's
noticed the change in you. He hasn't exactly pegged it, but knows it
has something to do with the night Grier died." His face became even
more serious, and he looked far away. "I can picture the scene: poor,
lonely old Grier making you promise you'd have a family and not end up
like him. Very touching."
"I'm sorry to destroy your naive illusions, Lupin, but Grier was
an absolute cretin. What changed me was how glad we all were to see
him die."
"Severus! That's terrible!"
"No, no, it was helpful. It made afraid of being alone, and made
me realize I don't want people to be glad of my death."
Lupin changed the topic. "Is this a list of matrimonial
prospects?" He squinted at the papers on Snape's desk.
"One of them is. The rest have been in order to narrow down the
sort of qualities I'm after."
Lupin sighed. "You can't base your love life on lists of
priorities. There *are* no fixed variables in the equation."
"There are *many* fixed variables. For example," he pointed to a
paper, "I won't accept a spouse with an IQ under this number, or a
blood pressure over *this* number, or more than five of these annoying
bad habits."
Lupin examined the list (on which his name, unsurprisingly
enough, did not appear). "You're going to be sorely disappointed when
you fall in love with a tattooed, chain-smoking alcoholic who . . ."
Lupin consulted the list as Snape made a face, "has a habit of
incorrectly conjugating the Latin for spells. Severus, when you
finally do have feelings for someone, you're going to have to tolerate
their vices as they tolerate yours."
"*My* vices?"
"You know: coldness, inaccessibility, arrogance, snappishness, a
mile-wide mean streak, arrogance . . ."
"You've already listed that."
"It bears repeating. What's this list?"
"Desired qualities in a partner."
"#1. Intelligent and Talented
#2. Educated and Scholarly
#3. Good Parenting Skills
#4. Good Health
#5. Appropriate Slytherin Values
#6. Complementary Strengths
#7. Dark Sense of Irony
#8. Well-Bred
#9. Good Conversationalist
#10. Pleasant To Be (Stuck) With"
Lupin stifled a laugh (poorly) and took the paper from Snape.
When he handed it back, he had drawn lines through most of Snape's
priorities and rewritten them. #4 was replaced with "Long life
expectancy," #7 with "Sense of humor," #8 with "Of equal or greater
social class, because I am a blood-conscious snob." Snape then noticed
that all the numbers had been crossed through and everything moved
down, to make room for a new #1: "Able to tolerate my ill-tempered
"There are three more pages," he said, handing them to Lupin for
him to skim.
"I don't see 'physical chemistry' or 'sexuality' on any of your
lists," Lupin winked, "unless they fall under the heading of
"That's because they aren't germane to the issue. I've had enough
one-night stands in my time to know that sexual chemistry guarantees
absolutely nothing."
"What about Rubeus, then?" Lupin said, with a straight face.
"He's an amazingly nice fellow. Sensitive, giving, nurturing . . ."
"Lupin, I will never eat again."
"You find me a kinder--"
"*You* find *me* a basin."
"So you do care about physicality."
"With your expert assistance, I see that it is a consideration,
after all." Snape crossed "Tolerable In-Laws" from his list of top
twenty considerations, and replaced it with "Sexual Chemistry."
"Just the top twenty?" Snape was silent, so he needled further.
"Professor Flitwick has another five or six good decades in him."
Snape made a face, crossed through #8, and bumped Sexual
Chemistry up to replace it.
The next night, Lupin again found Snape in the library. Snape
considered making a crack about stalking prey, or being "hounded," but
bit his tongue, as Lupin looked so damned cheerful and friendly.
"More evolutionary psychology, Severus?"
"I've read all of those. I am moving on to study practical
applications of the theory."
Lupin examined a spine. "Anthropology books?"
"History, and other cultures, present an excellent argument in
favor of arranged marriages. The tradition is still thriving in parts
of Europe--"
"Oh!" Lupin made a gesture of frustration, "Oh, *very* realistic."
"Spouses are chosen for useful and politically sound reasons.
Personalities are given consideration only so far as they suit the
"Severus, I thought you had learnt something from our discussion
last night. Please don't tell me you're going to send away for a
Russian mail-order Muggle."
"Of *course* not. The same principle, however, can be applied."
He looked up at Lupin's eyes, which were sad to say the least. "Why
are you giving me that hangdog look?" Damn, poor choice of words. For
once, Snape hadn't meant to poke fun at Lupin; he acknowledged (at
least to himself) that he was becoming attached to their bizarre
little friendship. "Was that comment 'insensitive?'" he wondered, and
ran a calculation in his head:
"FORMULA: "Sensitivity." Consideration and inoffensiveness: refrain
from drawing attention to others' shortcomings/misfortunes/handicaps."
"I was just wondering how much paperwork would be involved in
having you committed to St. Mungo's." He brightened. "Then you can
marry Lockhart! He still has plenty of money."
"Don't be frivolous, Lupin."
"*I'm* being frivolous?! Do I need to construct a flow chart in
order to get through to you?" But Snape was paying no attention,
looking intently at his latest book.
"Now, the common thread in all of these arranged marriages,"
without looking up, "is that the matches are always as politically
advantageous as possible."
Lupin looked wary. "I don't like the way you keep saying
'politically advantageous.'"
"Politics and power are the bottom line of any interaction."
Snape drew himself up in a proud posture. "I want my children to have
the very best connections and opportunities. And that's why I've
arranged a date--"
"Oh no."
"With the Minister of Magic."
"Oh, my God." Lupin looked so disappointed that Snape wondered if
Lupin had been angling for Fudge himself.
"He's career-minded, well-mannered, charming, and, most
importantly, *the* most powerful individual in the wizarding world."
"And how many years older than us?"
Snape gave him a reproving look. "Lupin, I'm surprised at you. I
thought you soulful, spiritual types were above superficiality."
"Are you even attracted to him?"
"He was remarkably handsome in his youth. There are some traces left."
"Have you any idea just how wrong this idea is?"
"Don't blame me, Lupin, I'm just operating according to the
prescribed morals of my House. Opportunism and gold-digging are key
Slytherin values."
"Why don't you figure out your *own* values?"
"I'm not a philosopher, Lupin, I'm a scientist."
"You're an artist. 'Subtle science and exact art.' No scientist
has a disposition like *that*."
"Well, good," Snape smirked. "Traditionally, artistic or colorful
spouses are a boon to politicians. That could work in my favor."
"The proletariat may not be as enlightened as you expect. Besides
which," Lupin raised his voice a little in frustration, "you may not
even *like* him."
"He has always seemed to have a high opinion of me," Snape said.
"At any rate, I've determined my target."
"I know why you're here," Fudge said slyly, from across the
table. "You're after the Order of Merlin, for your contributions to
the field." Fudge stood and made his way around to Snape's chair. "And
I could get it for you, if I were so inclined."
"No, Minister, that's not why I'm here." Snape noticed that the
staff had all suddenly disappeared from the room.
"Oh, you're after something; don't be coy. Or I could hand you
Dumbledore's job on a silver platter, if given enough . .
"Really, Minister, that wasn't what I had in m-- get your hands
away from there! HEY!"
Using an Immobilus charm to escape from the clutches of the head
of government had *not* been politically advantageous.
"Did we learn something?" Lupin asked, looking both smug and
highly entertained.
"Yes," was the terse reply.
"Care to elaborate? Since you're not likely to become more
embarrassed than you already have been, I mean."
"I see now that the point system needs some adjustment. Power and
political affiliation are no longer factored into the pie chart at--"
"You've been making pie charts?"
"Power is still a strong factor, but mostly in terms of the
individual's magical abilities."
"May I do the honors?" Lupin asked, reaching for Snape's notebook
for the project; he knew the page number well, by now. He flipped to
The List (comprised mostly of influential citizens who might consider
a talented, unethical brewer a catch) and ceremoniously crossed
through Cornelius Fudge.
"Now that you've discovered something about power versus honest
worth," Lupin said, taking the unnecessary measure of covering Fudge's
name with elaborate loops of ink, "I have a suggestion for you."
"Oh, trust me, Lupin, I've considered adding your name to the
list a hundred times." There was a hard, deeply sarcastic bite to his
tone, which intensified as he added, "But I've read enough novels to
know I'd lose the only friend I've got." Snape leaned back against his
chair wearily, wondering if the true statement had come across with
enough sarcasm to disguise it. When he dropped his eyes to the table,
he saw that Lupin had more or less obliterated the Minister's name
under several layers of blue.
"The suggestion *is*: that you join me tonight in Professor
Trelawney's classroom. I've asked her if I may borrow it for a few
"The tower? I didn't know you were skilled at Divination . . .but
it seems as good a means as any of determining my next move."
Lupin said nothing about his divinatory skills, but observed, "At
nine o'clock, Severus, we *will* determine your next move." Snape only
half noticed when Lupin drew a large X to cover all the remaining
names on The List
As Snape climbed the steps to Trelawney's tower, he wondered what
Lupin's specialty would be. Did he read tea leaves, or a crystal ball,
or a pendulum? Snape had never been a great fan of any art as
inconsistent and disordered as fortune telling, but Lupin was a
talented enough wizard to warrant his faith. Lupin was, in fact, a
talented enough wizard to warrant a lot of things . . .Snape pushed
that idea from his mind (for the tenth time that day) and returned his
thoughts to more pragmatic options.
When he entered the Divination classroom, it was lit by dozens of
candles. Trelawney's scarves and beaded curtains waved in the breeze
from the open windows. "Lupin?" he called. "Exactly which aspect of
Divination is it that you practice?"
"I never said I practice Divination," Lupin said, sneaking up
behind him. "Only that we would determine your next move." He threw
Snape on one of Trelawney's overstuffed sofas, then kissed him with a
gentleness that belied the violent action.
Snape's eyes went wide, and his breathing doubled in speed. "What
the hell?" he observed astutely.
"I had two reasons for luring you up here," Lupin said, calmly
and methodically unfastening the buttons at Snape's collar. "The first
is that I've always liked the atmosphere. Cushions on the floor,
scarves everywhere: very Casbah." He smiled casually down at Snape,
who was still too shocked to protest. "The second is that it's too far
away from the rest of the castle for anyone to hear us."
This caused Snape to sit up in alarm and begin talking more
quickly and at a higher pitch than Lupin had ever heard from him.
"Wait just a minute, Lupin. This is completely impractical. First of
all, though I will admit you meet most of my criteria, you're neither
wealthy nor influential. Secondly, we'll do nothing but fight, and
then you'll never speak to me again." Lupin wrapped his arms around
Snape's shoulders and patiently waited for him to continue his tirade.
"There are *hundreds* of reasons why this is a terrible idea, and yet
here you are, kissing me as if . . .as if . . .do it again." Lupin
Much as Snape tried to remind himself that this was primarily a
result of hormones, he couldn't quite sell himself on the idea. There
was too much emotion to calculate . . .much too much to write off as
mere sexual chemistry (Priority #8). Earlier hormonally charged
encounters had produced physical reactions, but those reactions had
never included shaking hands and a frighteningly speedy heartbeat.
Which, when the emotions were analyzed and traced to their smallest
chemical components, was also science. Science and magic, at the same
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