FIC: 'Some Enchanted Evening' for edgewise Recipient:edgewise Author:westwardlee (aka lee_west) Title: Some Enchanted Evening Rating: R Pairings: Tobias Snape/Eileen Prince Word Count: 3,000 Warnings: None Disclaimers: (1) All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. (2) The title and the summary are the property of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Summary:Some enchanted evening you may see a stranger across a crowded room, and you'll know even then that somewhere you'll see him again and again. Once you've found him, never let him go. Author's Notes:Some Enchanted Evening is from Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical South Pacific. A wonderful rendition of the song by Cesare Siepi can be found here. The lyrics are here. I changed the pronouns on purpose. Thanks to L and D for the brainstorming and getting me out of a hot spot, and to L and L for betaing.
The Snapes of Spinner's End were a reserved lot. They had lived in the small house for generations and there had been at least one Snape working in the mill for just as long. Despite that longevity, no-one in the grimy small town where they lived interacted with them socially. The current publican, himself a long-time dweller of the town, could probably count on one hand the number of times he'd seen old man Snape in his establishment. The old sod much preferred, according to the village gossip, to drink at home so he could liberally scream insults at the women in his family, especially his wife.
There had always been an abundance of Snape females throughout the times, but usually only one male, a needed heir to carry on with the family name and family practice of domestic violence and abuse. The women, at least the ones who could do it, generally left the house one by one, in the dark of night, climbing out of a window and disappearing in the world. Some had got pregnant by one of the mill workers, and therefore didn't have to climb out of any window, as the current Snape head of household made sure they were thrown out on the streets - a bundle of clothes flung on top of them if they were lucky - with the parting wish that both the daughter in question and her bastard child burnt in hell.
Either escaping through the window or ousted through the doors, the Snape females were never heard from again. A few of the pregnant girls had tried in vain to contact the fathers of their children, but throughout the many generations, there had never been one single mill worker who had responded. The current old man Snape ignored them, rather than try to find out if they were in fact the fathers of his grandchildren. He knew his daughters were not great catches, with their sallow faces, long noses and greasy hair that were the trademarks of the family. The mill workers had fucked them because they needed sex, and that the old men Snape accepted. That was also the reason that the only female who could never leave, either through the window or the door, was the current wife. She was needed for the dual role of housekeeping and sex provider. Throughout the years a few had managed to escape, but, unlike their daughters, they were chased down and brought back to an even more dismal existence of locked doors and additional abuse.
And yet, no Snape man ever failed to secure a wife. The villagers knew their fame and warned their daughters about the Snapes, but, in a grimy mill town, what else was there to do? As the girls turned into women and their marrying dreams turned to fantasy, they were ensnared by the young Snape of the time. After a somber marriage, they were taken to their new home and there they suffered their fate. They were cowed into submission, they bore daughters who would never be lifelong friends as they disappeared forever, and, after being threatened with a fate worse than death, miraculously would manage to produce a son. That was a truly blessed event, because their husbands wouldn't demand that they lie back and spread their legs every night. Sex, albeit still rough, was not as constant, since the mission of producing an heir had been fulfilled.
It was a life of misery. But at least they weren't spinsters any more.
On a windy and unusually chilly night in July 1958, the patrons of the Sheared Sheep watched warily as old man Snape and his son Tobias entered the pub for a pint. The publican looked out of the corner of his eyes at his own daughter, a pretty plump girl called Marianne. She was of marrying age, but the publican thought she would be safe from Tobias Snape, as she was quite popular among the young mill workers. It still gave him the chills to see Snape father and son, though, because Marianne, hopefully in jest, had announced that same morning that she wouldn't die a spinster. If none of her admirers came through with a marriage proposal, she would definitely become Mrs Tobias Snape.
The publican thought it was ominous that Marianne had said that on the same day that the Snapes had paid a rare visit to the pub. If he didn't know any better to believe in such foolishness, he might even think that the men were wizards and able to read minds. Like most sane people in town, he didn't believe such nonsense, but, just to be on the safe side he sent Marianne back to the kitchen under the guise of helping her mother. Marianne left, throwing a flirty look at Tobias, and the publican, scowling, turned his eyes to the young man, ready to defy him if he even thought that Marianne could have been serious.
To his surprise, though, Tobias Snape didn't even see Marianne's artifices; his own eyes were fixed on the new server that the publican had hired that same day. She was a skinny girl, with a long face and heavy brows, which gave her the impression of being constantly cross. She was eighteen, just like his own Marianne, but, unlike his daughter, she hadn't cracked a smile the whole day. Normally the publican wouldn't have even considered her as an employee - he needed servers, all right, but he wanted pleasant girls who would make the men merrier and cause them to drink more. He was about to dismiss her when she waved her hand in his face and he was taken by the gesture in such a way that he offered her a position on the spot.
She told him her name was Eileen Prince, and she had just moved to the small town by herself and she needed a job. She mentioned vaguely to the publican that she had recently left school, but wouldn't say where the school was or what she had studied there. The publican thought it was strange that a girl who'd studied something wouldn't find a better job, but, again, Eileen's hand waved with the same grace as before and he somehow forgot why he was asking such questions.
He watched with interest how Eileen, with a sullen expression, approached the table where the two Snapes were and, without even a smile or a greeting, took their orders. Throughout the whole time, Tobias hadn't stopped staring at her, but Eileen seemed oblivious to it.
The publican hoped that Tobias would find another prey, but, deep inside, he was glad his Marianne seemed safe. Maybe the same would happen to Eileen - give her time and she might find a suitable young man amid the mill workers. But, just a precaution, he made a mental note to talk to one of the young men who fawned over Marianne and put the idea in the young man's mind that he'd do quite well in marrying the daughter of the publican.
Eileen would have to fend for herself.
Alone in her room in the servants' quarters of the pub, Eileen mused about her day, the first as a Muggle. It had only been a few hours since she had stepped down from the Hogwarts Express for the last time. At the station, she passed through Platform 9 _ without giving or receiving a single good-bye to any of her former classmates. Dragging her trunk behind her, she considered briefly going back to her father's house, just because it was home, after all. But she knew what awaited her there. The old Squib had never forgiven her for being a full-fledged witch. Her mother was the one who had been proud of her accomplishments, even if all she ever excelled at Hogwarts was in playing Gobstones.
Eileen had always believed that with a little more encouragement from her father, she would have been ace in many other things. She did have an inclination for Potions, but being a very shy and insecure girl, she had never excelled in it or in any of the classes. Her marks were mediocre in the other subjects, and although she was always very accurate in Potions, she was never fast enough to be the first and the best.
At King's Cross, having finished school and without a job, Eileen sat down on her trunk and considered her options. The family house would provide a roof and nourishment but, with her mother dead, she wondered how her father would react: here she was, a witch who had gone to Hogwarts, but without any extraordinary skills for a good job. She knew she wasn't Ministry material - she didn't think she was smart enough for it. She had no aptitude for the healing arts. She didn't think she could teach. The only thing she could do, really, probably better than anyone at school, was play Gobstones, but it was a skill without any practical use in the real world.
Her Squib father had often told her that she would be in this position, just like her mother before her, and had always carped that she would be much better off studying her letters and maths at the Muggle village school. It was only her mother's insistence that Eileen didn't end up a barkeep like her father that had tilted the balance towards Hogwarts.
Well, it seemed that the only thing Eileen would be able to do, after all, was to be a barmaid. But she wouldn't do it in the same old smelly pub her father worked at; making up her mind, Eileen stood up and gathering the last few Muggle notes she had won in a Gobstones match, she bought a ticket on the first train that left King's Cross. A few hours later she was employed in another grubby pub, but this one, at least, had a girl roughly her age. Eileen didn't hope to make friends with the publican's daughter, but it would be nice to at least be in the company of someone young.
The publican had asked some uncomfortable questions, but as Eileen was actually quite good at simple wandless magic, she was offered a job right away. And a good job, that came with a small room and free food. And, better still, without anyone asking her why she had wasted so many years in that useless school to end up a barmaid, after all.
Exactly a week to the day that Eileen had started working at the Sheared Sheep, the door opened again for Tobias and his father. The publican raised an eyebrow: twice in one week? That was strange, and it could only mean that they were on the prowl. Safe in the assurance that his Marianne was out of danger, his conversation with a certain young man having produced the right effect of a marriage proposal for his daughter, he sent Marianne to serve the Snapes - and was unpleasantly surprised to see that Tobias shook his head and pointed at Eileen.
So Snape was definitely setting his eyes on his young employee. The publican was a good man and felt bad about this. In the few days since Eileen had started working for him, he'd grown attached to the homely girl. She was the most efficient employee he'd ever had, one day even doing the dishes in the absence of the dishwasher, a sly coot who called in sick more times than not. Eileen had done all the dishes while the cooks were in the pantry and, when the publican noticed the efficiency, he complimented Eileen saying "It must be magic! I've never seen anyone clean up so fast." Eileen shivered a little at the words and the publican, feeling bad with the implication that he had called her a witch, apologized and patted her on the cheek. That night he also gave her a few more shillings for having done the extra work.
And now, Tobias was obviously ogling the young girl. His two sisters had left home already, one of them miraculously legally married to a man who'd taken her to Australia, and Tobias was probably feeling the pressure to start his own family. The publican cursed his bad luck - Snape women didn't work out of the house, and wouldn't even if they had a bit of free time to do so, and his good employee had her days counted at the pub.
Because, frankly, it wasn't likely she'd find another husband. Maybe her lot in life would be better, and Tobias, a man who grew up in the after-war world, might be a little more open-minded and a better husband than his forefathers, if that was in fact what he wanted with Eileen Prince.
Eileen had never had a boyfriend, or even a boy interested in her during her years at Hogwarts. The only boys who talked to her were the members of the Gobstones team, and even so, the conversation never wandered from the game. She never had friends, actually - male or female - with whom to talk freely about things, and was pitifully ignorant about relationships. Granted, she knew how babies were made, but what actually took people to arrive at the stage of making babies was a mystery.
But she had eyes and noticed the sallow-looking young man following her every step. At first she thought there was something wrong with her clothes; she was used to wearing Muggle outfits when she was at home from school. She had, after all, had to go shopping in the village and knew better than wear robes among Muggles - her father would make sure she never did it again. Since arriving at the Sheared Sheep, however, she had noticed that her clothes didn't look anything like Marianne's. They were more like Marianne's mother's - definitely dowdy and old-fashioned.
But the young man didn't seem too fashionable himself, clad as he was in old and mismatched clothes, and his look was not one of disapproval at her appearance. It was uncomfortable, though, the way his dark eyes peered at her, following her as if he were a bird of prey. Uncomfortable, perhaps, but not entirely disagreeable. It was as if he were actually admiring her, and Eileen started feeling a little nervous around him, afraid she would make a mistake, spill some of his ale or something like that and he would find her clumsy.
When he left, she felt strangely abandoned and, at night, lying on her bed, she thought about the young man. He wasn't handsome by any standard, with his long beaked nose, sallow face and greasy hair. In her mind, she concocted a potion that would make his hair shiny and silky, another one that would give a healthy coloring to his skin. She couldn't do anything about the nose, but she felt that with clean hair and a better complexion, the long nose would actually add charm to his face. And he would compliment her on her potion-making skills. Unlike her father, who hated his wife and daughter's witchcraft, he would tell her he was proud of her being such an accomplished witch, who could make wonderful potions and clean the house with a wave of her wand.
And then maybe they could go out and purchase nicer outfits, a nice pair of slacks and a blazer for him, and for her a bare-armed red dress with a full skirt and a belt cinching her waist and perhaps even a little boater hat. Maybe she would wear short white gloves, like Marianne did when she went to church. And they would walk arm in arm around the town and people would stop and stare at the nice-looking young couple.
Eileen didn't even know the young man's name, but in her mind, she saw herself in a long white gown, coming out of the church, arm in arm with him. She fell asleep with a smile on her face.
The courtship, if it could have been called that, was short. Tobias asked her what her name was and asked her if she would meet with him outside of the pub. She did, her heart beating with anxiety, hoping that she would not make a blunder. But he only told her his own name, and that he was looking for a wife and would she marry him?
The marriage was a simple ceremony in the Registry Office. No white gown for Eileen, but Tobias was at least looking reasonably clean, although his clothes were still a little mismatched.
But for Eileen, he was a prince. She slid the simple ring on his finger, promising to love and respect him forever.
After the ceremony, they walked to the car the publican had hired to take them to their home. Tobias had shrugged off a wedding luncheon offer and only reluctantly had accepted the gift of the cab. Eileen walked to the car and waited for Tobias to open the door for her, but instead, the new groom brushed past her. She opened the door for herself, undeterred, and gazed upon her husband as he told the cab driver to make haste.
Sitting next to her husband, she waved happily to the publican and his family, noticing his sad face and attributing it to the fact that he had lost an efficient employee. She liked the old man, who had been very kind to her, but now she was embarking into a new life. She was Mrs Tobias Snape! Giddy with the thought, she reached out and put her hand over Tobias's. He snapped his head at her, scowled and pulled his hand away. Eileen felt bad, wondering if she had done something wrong - maybe Tobias was embarrassed about the public display of affection in front of the cab driver. She muttered a "Sorry," which he didn't seem to acknowledge, and Eileen made a mental note not to touch him again in public. It would certainly be different once they were in their own house - he would carry her over the threshold and they would be happy forever.
She closed her eyes and pictured him in the blazer and her in the red dress. And a little girl, in a matching dress, walking hand in hand with them.