Severus and the Incredibly Helpful House-Elf by gingertart50 Title: Severus and the Incredibly Helpful House-Elf Author:gingertart50 Pairing: Severus and a house-elf (plus, most probably, his own right hand) Rating: PG Word Count: 5000 Warnings: See pairing? Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The characters and their worlds belong to their original writers and no copyright infringement or offense is intended. No money was made from this story. Summary: Headmaster Snape discovers the power of house-elf magic the hard way. A/N: Beta-ed by the incomparable lovetoseverus. #alltheprompts. Yes, Roo and Snow are evil enablers. You tried to make it impossible this year, didn't you? Mwahaha! Well, see how well that worked out!
Severus and the Incredibly Helpful House Elf
A figure lurched along the narrow dungeon passageway, dragging a jug from which slopped the occasional dollop of foamy amber liquid.
"Winky is a sad, sad elf," a squeaky voice declared. "Winky lost her fam– *hic* –family, then Winky lost her fr-friend D-Dobby– *hic* –and now Winky hasn't got anyone!"
She gave a little squeak and cringed back against the wall as a tall shape loomed into view.
"What are you doing down here?"
"I is being sad," Winky said.
"Well stop it, then. All is merriment and joy, or haven't you heard? Precious Potter did the deed."
"I hasn't got anyone to– *hic* –look after!" Winky wailed.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake – go and look after Professor Snape, he needs it more than anyone!"
Winky froze, her eyes bulging.
"Yes. Now go away."
"I is being sick, then I is going to looks after the Professor Headmaster Sir!" Winky exclaimed and vanished with an unpleasant splattering sound.
"Draco?" Narcissa Malfoy appeared at the end of the corridor. "Are you ready to go home, dear? There appears to be a riotous party beginning upstairs and I'd really rather avoid inebriated Gryffindors." She sniffed delicately. "What is that unpleasant smell?"
"Nothing, Mother, just a stray elf. Yes, let's get out of here."
They hurried away towards the light of a brand new, Voldemort-free world.
Dying should have been so easy. He had made his peace with himself, he had saved Lily's son and done everything Dumbledore had asked of him, and now he simply needed to let go and slip away.
"No!" squealed a piercingly high little voice. "You isn't going to die! I is going to save you, Headmaster Professor Dungeon Sir, and you is being my new family to love!"
A jolt of magic, harsh and alien, made his chest jump, and cold breath rushed into his lungs. He could smell the metallic copper-salt of blood replenishing potion, and for some reason his exhausted brain could not fathom, a sickly-sweet hint of Butterbeer. Small, nimble fingers pressed the edges of the wounds together and he felt the strange magic tingle over his skin.
"Winky is taking Professor Headmaster Potions Sir to the– *hic* –healing lady and then Winky is going to make Headmaster Potions Dungeon Bat Sir very happy! – *hic*– Winky is! Sir is being so happy that Greasy Headmaster Git Sir isn't knowing what is hitting him!"
"Oh, bollocks," Snape croaked and passed out.
He recognised the scents of healing and sanitising potions before opening his eyes. The faint squeak of Poppy Pomfrey's shoes only confirmed his first impression; he was in the infirmary at Hogwarts.
"You don't need to stay here," Poppy said in a low voice, somewhere to the left of his bed. Snape fought down an urge to groan. Not Potter, please, let it not be Potter, holding vigil out of some misguided sense of indebtedness – or, Merlin forbid, hero worship. He could not stand it.
"I is watching over the Headmaster Sir," squeaked a small and distinctly elvish voice. "I is his elf and I is making sure that no-one is hurting my Headmaster Dungeon Bat."
Poppy gave a soft snort.
"Very well, if you must. If he wakes, try to keep him calm and quiet. He's a very sick man."
"I is looking after him."
Poppy's footsteps receded and Snape opened his eyes sufficiently to squint through his eyelashes. His arms were outside the covers and he was wearing a standard-issue infirmary nightshirt. The loose sleeves had pulled back to the elbows and upon his forearm coiled the hideous black shape of his Mark. It had failed to vanish at the death of its master and for some reason, exhausted and hurting as he was, that seemed like the final insult. Snape was horrified to feel his eyes welling up with tears.
"Oh, Headmaster Sir!" Winky exclaimed, "you is upset! Winky has failed you, you isn't happy!"
"Don't be an idiot," he said, or tried to say, but his voice was no more than a breathy rasp and it hurt like hell to speak. "I still have his damned mark..." his voice failed completely in a hoarse and agonising cough.
Then Poppy was there, casting numbing charms upon his throat, tipping a potion onto his tongue and tutting over him.
"You shouldn't have allowed him to speak," she said, which was rather unfair.
"He is having a sad," Winky said mournfully.
"Hardly surprising, after all he went through, poor lad. Send for me when he wakes next time, there's a good elf. Now, I have a lot of other patients to tend to, so I'll trust you to keep him calm until I can get here."
"Winky is being a good elf."
Poppy bustled off again. Through the warm, comforting fog of one of Horace's sedative potions, Snape was aware of the little elf placing a cool hand upon his arm. "I is making sure that Headmaster Sir isn't upset by nasty picture," she said. "I is making it pretty now."
There was a tingling warmth beneath her hand, and a peculiar squirming sensation as if something was wriggling just under the skin, then the potions carried him away into billowing clouds of pineapple-scented fluff.
Snape stared at his arm. Where the skull and snake had been, a unicorn now gambolled among intertwined roses, its hooves leaving imprints among the tiny daisies and buttercups. There was a rainbow and a cartoon elf with floppy ears and unnaturally huge eyes, and a scroll decorated with hearts and the words 'Winky loves her Dungeon Bat Sir!' in sparkly magical ink. He felt sick. He yanked down his sleeve and used a wandless sticking charm to ensure that his arm remained covered to the wrist. No way was anyone going to see this. Ever. He'd cut his own limb off first.
"You isn't having many visitors," Winky remarked sadly as she spooned soup into his mouth.
Snape swallowed – it was either that or drown in chicken broth – and whispered, "People don't like me. I'm hardly surprised."
He knew that was slightly unfair; everyone was busy grieving or celebrating or trying to rebuild their lives. He had had very awkward visits from Minerva, Filius and Pomona, all of whom had been tearfully contrite. He ought to have felt vindicated, or spitefully pleased; instead he had simply been very, very tired and not a little embarrassed. He had refused point-blank to see Potter, Granger and Weasley and could not be bothered to work out why the very thought made him nauseous.
"People does like you! You is brave and wonderful!" Winky proclaimed, spilling soup on the floor. "Winky is saying this! You is being loved very much! Winky is telling everyones to love you!"
"Oh, bollocks," Snape said, being too tired to care that he was repeating himself. "Don't bother –" but it was too late. She had Disapparated.
"Perfessor? Sir?" The gruff voice was familiar, as was the faint but distinctive aroma of unicorn dung and polecat. Snape had always tolerated the half-giant; Hagrid was respectful enough and cheerfully fetched ingredients from the forest when asked. Snape opened his eyes. Hagrid immediately clutched his hand and pressed it to the mat of his beard.
"Oh, Sir!" he bawled, tears spilling from his eyes like water from a dripping tap. "Yer a hero and we never knew! Oh, Headmaster, yer so brave an' – an' loyal an' true! I never realised 'ow good an' wonderful yeh are!"
Snape attempted to retrieve his arm but it was caught in the compassionate yet inescapable grasp that could restrain a fully-grown Hippogriff.
"Pull yourself together, man!" Snape said, but the thin whisper of his voice went unheard beneath the increasingly loud sobs.
"Perfessor Snape! I'm gonna look after yeh and keep yeh safe! Look at yeh, all pale an' noble-like! I never realised 'ow 'andsome an' – an' distinguished yeh are! Yer eyes a' like pools o' melted tar an' yer've got hair like the tail of a new-born Thestral!"
"Get off me, you maniac!"
Bellowing in distress, Hagrid threw the top half of his body onto the bed, causing it to creak ominously and effectively pinning Snape in place. Drawing in a breath to call for help despite the risk to his healing throat, Snape gasped as another very large figure squeezed through the door. Firenze clattered across the room, skidding on the polished floor, seized Hagrid by the shoulders and wrenched him from the bed.
"Get your hands off him, you oaf! That wonderful man is mine! The stars have foretold it!"
"What?" Snape croaked as Hagrid wrapped his powerful arms around the centaur's hind legs and grappled him to the floor in a thrashing of hooves.
They were well matched. Firenze's six limbs made up for the half-giant's advantage in sheer bulk. A sudden series of pops heralded the appearance of a group of Hogwarts house-elves and Snape sank back onto the pillows in relief – which lasted all of five seconds.
"Headmaster!" they squealed, "we is here! We is rescuing you and we is taking you away with us so we’s can make you happy! We is feeding you lots of good stuff and we is giving you lots of sex and we is keeping you like you is our family! We is loving you!"
"No!" He threw himself from the bed, desperately groping in the cabinet in the hope that Poppy had left his wand there. Small hands reached for him, only to be knocked away by something large and muscular. It pushed him onto his back and proceeded to lave his face with a slimy tongue. "Fang!" Hagrid bellowed, his arms wrapped around the struggling centaur. "Good dog! Hold 'im, boy! 'E's ours!"
"Oh, great Merlin, what is going on?" The voice was small and Snape almost missed it among the cacophony, but it was followed by an impressive bang and then elves. Hagrid, Fang and Firenze were all hanging up near the ceiling, suspended in midair.
"Filius!" Clutching the bed for support, Snape pulled himself to his feet.
"I'm sorry, Severus, I came as fast as I could. I don't know why but I felt that you needed me – I knew that you wanted me as much as I want you!"
"What? Oh, no, not you too..."
"Which is downright peculiar, if you ask me," the little Charms master continued, frowning up at the floating elves, "considering that I am generally heterosexual and have never found you to be particularly attractive in the past. Don't get me wrong, you're a good lad and very brave, but not at all my type. What is going on?"
"I wish I knew."
"Hmm, it has the feel of house-elf magic about it, don't you think?"
Snape took a deep breath and snarled, "Winky!" as loudly as his throbbing throat would allow. "Get in here and fix this at once!"
"Winky is sorry!" wailed the unhappy elf, "I is getting it wrongs! Headmaster says that people don't likes him, so I makes non-peoples like him instead!"
"Ah." Minerva helped herself to a grape from Snape's fruit-bowl. "I see. Filius' goblin ancestry and Hagrid's half-giant nature meant that they were affected. Luckily the Merpeople and the Giant Squid didn't make it far from the lake and could be returned to their homes, and Hagrid is now rounding up the other wildlife that was converging on the castle."
"Could have been a bit tricky if they had all managed to get here," Filius agreed, snaffling a chocolate frog. "Next time, Winky, I suggest that you check with one of the Hogwarts professors before casting such a wide-ranging charm."
Winky gulped and wiped her eyes with the corner of her tea-towel.
"Now you can all clear out and let Severus get some rest," Poppy said, making shooing gestures. "Go on! Away with you! The poor man will never heal with all this furore going on around him! You can visit him tomorrow."
"Or not," Snape muttered, closing his eyes. "Please?"
"This is an infirmary," Poppy snapped, "not a post office!"
Snape opened his eyes. A great many eyes stared unblinkingly back. They belonged to the owls lined up along the rail on the foot of his bed, bearing scrolls in a variety of pastel colours. Unaccustomed to the very idea of fan-mail, he drew his wand, summoned the first letter and began casting spells to detect curses.
Two hours later, an exhausted Snape had detected nothing but cheap perfume, traces of lipstick and a charm to cause one of the letters to burst into song upon being opened. The messages varied in tone and eloquence but all stated that they were in response to his advertisement in the Daily Prophet.
"Advertisement?" he wondered aloud, Summoning the newspaper that Poppy had left upon her desk.
"Tall, dark, hero wizard is wanting love. Is being mysterious and is liking discipline and is being brave and wonderful and is making you potions and is needing looking after. Has a castle and has lots of friends. Reply to box 666, Hogwarts."
He took a deep, calming breath. He had heard that this sometimes worked, although he had personally never found it to do so.
"Winky! For the love of Merlin, will you stop it!"
Winky appeared, pulling nervously at her ears.
"Is Headmaster Sir not finding his forever sweetheart yet?"
"No, I'm bloody well not!" His voice started to crack and he took in another breath and let it out slowly. "I need peace and quiet, not a liaison."
Winky stared at him, tears trickling slowly from her huge eyes.
"Winky is sorry, Headmaster Dungeon Bat Sir. I is only trying to makes you happy."
"Well, don't." He shut his eyes. "Please?" As soon as he was well enough, he would retreat to his house in Spinner's End, put up wards half a mile thick and never come out again.
A threat to hand Winky over to Hermione Granger for 're-education' unless she removed all traces of the advertisement from the Daily Prophet's archives, plus a few well-placed Obliviates aimed at the more persistent suitors, got rid of that little problem. Honestly, did those idiots really think that he would enjoy simpering over tea at Madam Puddifoot's, or going for romantic walks beside the lake in the moonlight? Did he look like that sort of person? It was better to be feared than loved, if that was what being in love entailed.
Minerva had protested that she did not want the job of Head of Hogwarts, being far better suited to a full-time teaching position with the duties of Deputy Head. Someone had to deal with the idiots at the Ministry and the stream of variously irate, anxious or bewildered parents, and who better to do that than a Slytherin?
She might be the Head of Gryffindor but she had learned a few tricks during her many years working with Albus, that most twisty and manipulative of Gryffindors. Snape could not argue when she pointed out the Slytherins desperately needed a good role model for their rehabilitation and Horace Slughorn was definitely not it. His Slytherins needed him, even if just for a few years. Perhaps the euphoria of Voldemort's demise had not worn off yet, or else living in a small house with an over-affectionate elf had driven him mad. After many months of slow recovery, Severus Snape took up the reins of Hogwarts again.
He managed to survive the hideously sentimental excesses of Christmas, thanks to the application of copious amounts of Firewhisky and the Headmaster's prerogative of disappearing through the wards when he had had enough. Winky made unhappy comments about him being all alone at the season of goodwill. The gift of a large flagon of Butterbeer shut her up, thank Merlin. He left an elf-sized dose of hang-over potion just outside her nest in his wardrobe. Despite what people said, he was not a complete sadist. No, really, he wasn't. Whatever gave anyone that idea?
Snape looked up from his perusal of Ars Magica; he rarely had time to catch up on the journals nowadays. Winky was beaming at him; always a bad sign. "I'm rather busy," he said coldly.
"Winky is going as soon as Winky has told Headmaster Dungeon Bat Sir the news!"
His heart sank.
"Don't tell me the charms on Ravenclaw Tower have failed again?"
"Is good news, Headmaster Sir! I is finding out your relatives!"
"My what?" Ars Magica slid from his knee to the hearth-rug.
"Your family, Headmaster Greasy Sir! Winky is thinking it not be right for Headmaster Sir to be alones in the holiday so Winky is finding Sir's family!"
"I have no family!" he said through gritted teeth. His parents were dead; in the case of his father, the less said about that, the better.
"You is a Prince!" Winky explained, as if to a rather dull child. "You is a noble wizard and your family is wanting to meet you!"
"They should have done that when I needed them, thirty years ago."
"Winky has been finding outs," she said importantly, "nasty old grandfather Prince didn't wants you to be meeting your family but nasty old grandfather Prince is dead now and Sir's second cousins is wanting to meet Headmaster Sir."
He hesitated just a moment too long. He had spent too many decades blaming the sins of the father upon the child; the old bitterness had died along with the Dark Lord.
"Winky is telling them that Headmaster Sir will be happy to meets them for the New Year!" She vanished with a pop.
Snape found himself installed in an armchair next to the fireplace in Leopold Prince's family home with a fat, asthmatic Crup lying across his foot. In the interests of family harmony, he resisted the temptation to boot it surreptitiously when no one was looking.
His mother's younger cousin Leopold reminded Snape a little of Arthur Weasley, apart from possessing black hair and a patrician nose. He was married to a comfortable, homely witch named Hyacinth and surrounded by a gaggle of children. Leopold ran a small but profitable business importing apothecary supplies.
"Mostly glassware, cauldrons and the like," Leopold remarked, watching the smallest of his children attempting to pull over the Christmas tree. "Don't do that, Prunella."
"Are you really the Headmaster of Hogwarts?" piped up a small boy, staring at Snape with wide eyes.
"Wow." The boy cocked his head. Snape narrowed his eyes. "Nah," the child said. "Can't be. He's dead."
"Really?" Snape said coolly, slightly insulted and having no idea how to go about engaging a five-year-old in sensible conversation.
"Yeah. Snape killed him."
"Thnape!" squealed Prunella, leaving the tree swaying dangerously and toddling across the room. She threw her arms around Snape's legs, just below the knees, waking the Crup in the process, who farted and shuffled off into a corner. "Thnape! Thnape!"
"That's not polite, Prunella," her father said fondly. Prunella gave Snape a beam that was mostly gums and held out a hand, clutching a half-melted chocolate cauldron.
"Aw, that's lovely!" Hyacinth cooed. "Are you giving our visitor a present? What a good girl!"
Snape peeled his lips back from his teeth in what he hoped could pass for a smile. At a distance, in a fog.
"So, Severus, now you've got the job running Hogwarts, when are you going to settle down with a nice witch?" Hyacinth asked, as if enquiring about Snape's preference for coffee or tea. She pulled the chocolate-coated child onto her knee.
"I beg your pardon?"
"If you're interested in your share of the Prince legacy, of course," Leopold said. "You might even afford to retire. I would, if I didn't have this brood to support!"
Hyacinth patted her rounded stomach in a significant manner. "Oh," Snape said, having assumed that she was merely plump. "Congratulations. What has that to do with finding a 'nice witch'?"
"Didn't you know? You can only claim the legacy if you're married. Something to do with continuing the line."
"You have to prove that you're a real part of the family," Hyacinth said comfortably, "for five years, isn't it, dear? Plus, there's a special little ritual for proposing, it's so sweet."
"A shame we don't have a use for the library," Leopold remarked, smiling at the small boy, who was now throwing empty gift wrappers at his elder brother. "I did consider it when I was thinking of taking on an apothecary myself, but the money was of more help with setting up the import business."
"Library?" Snape asked.
"Magnificent," Leopold said. "Great Uncle Pomponius Prince spent his life researching potions with his wife, Cornelia. They amassed an impressive collection of books upon the subject."
"According to this," Snape said, running a thin finger along the lines of faded writing, "in order to inherit the Prince family's library, I need to follow the Valentine Ritual."
"That sounds interesting," Filius said, sipping from his glass of Madeira. "What does it involve?"
"I have to be married by... oh, bugger."
Minerva and Filius exchanged significant looks.
"What's the matter, Severus?" Minerva asked in the bracing way that Gryffindors used when attempting to encourage people.
"I need to be married before the age of forty."
"You've got a little while yet, then."
"However, I am required to propose on Valentine's Day. Since I am now thirty-nine and will be forty on the ninth of January next year, I have just over a month to find an appropriate partner or lose the chance to inherit the finest library in the country on the art of brewing potions."
"Oh dear," Minerva said, which fell so far short of Snape's own feelings on the situation that he could not think of an appropriate reply before Filius bounced down from his chair and struck a dramatic pose on the hearthrug.
"What we need is a cunning plan! I shall muster the finest brains in the castle, so don't go away."
Snape subsided into a forlorn heap in his armchair.
"Don't worry, Severus, we'll think of something," Minerva said as Filius hurried out to round up the gang of reprobates, eccentrics and near-humans that made up the Hogwarts staff. "Here, cheer up and have an Acid Pop."
By the time the others had arrived in the Headmaster's study, Snape had Transfigured the boiled sweets into an assortment of little sugary tablets reminiscent of the Muggle 'Love Hearts' of his youth and was Charming messages onto them.
"What a splendid idea for Valentine's Day!" enthused Pomona, picking up a Slytherin-green sweet that read 'Why?'
Aurora Sinistra snorted. "Don't tell me that our dour Headmaster had gone romantic on us? What next – pink confetti á la Lockhart?" The red letters upon the sweet in her hand morphed into the words 'fuck you' and she snorted and bit it into two.
"Really, Severus!" Minerva scolded and watched the black ‘sweetie’ in her hand form the letters 'dead' before crushing it and dropping the sugary remains into the fireplace. Snape smirked.
"So, basically you've got a month to get all loved up," Hooch remarked. "A drop more gin in that, Filius, old chap, thanks."
"I foresee a dark future!"
"Oh, shut up, Sib, and pass the ginger newts."
"Headmaster beware, the serpent of ill fortune follows in your shadow!"
"That's already happened, you daft bint. There must be someone you fancy, Severus? Pomona, stop hogging all the jam tarts!"
"This is my future you're discussing in your cavalier fashion," Snape grumbled. Filius reached up to pat him on the shoulder.
"Never mind, dear boy, we mean well. At least you have a future!"
"If not a library," Minerva said under her breath.
Aurora Sinistra gave her sleepy, heavy-lidded half-smile. "Decorated war hero, Headmaster of Hogwarts… You're really quite the catch now, Severus. All you need is a make-over."
"And an attitude transplant," muttered Minerva.
Snape glared at his deputy. "Are you determined that I should fail in this endeavour before I've even started?"
"There was a time when you believed that love conquered all; now you've turned into the complete cynic."
Snape shrugged. If this lot knew what he really thought of them, he'd never hear the end of it.
Snape stared at the hand-written spreadsheet, his quill poised in mid-air. Down the left hand side was a list of names, the second column was labelled 'For' and the third 'Against'. Having Arithmantically weighted all the options appropriately ('good at potions' counted for a lot more than 'has nice hair' while 'fifty years older than I am' was possibly not as serious a disadvantage as 'three feet shorter than me'), he was ready to make his choice of life-partner. The quill dived down, scoring a large check beside a name. Yes, he would do it.
Hadn't he always got on well with her? She was attractive, intelligent, well-read, settled in her career here at Hogwarts and unlikely to interfere with the peaceful life he intended to build for himself in the future. She had even been in Slytherin and she definitely had a wry sense of humour. What more could he ask, really? Well, apart from the minor problem of having been incredibly mean to her while he was previously in charge of the school, but surely she understood that he was playing a part? He had better pull his finger out and make it up to her.
"Winky!" he called and the elf appeared with a loud pop. "Kindly take this note to Professor Sinistra."
"Winky is serving the Headmaster Bat sir – oh!" The elf's protuberant eyes almost bulged out of her head as she sniffed the note. "Sir has spilled his after-shave on his note! Winky will –"
"No, deliver it as it is. Go on! Off with you!"
The elf gave a squeak and vanished.
Snape was cautiously optimistic. Aurora Sinistra had accepted the invitation to meet him on the Astronomy tower; they had had a pleasant time watching the moon and speculating whether the Quadrantid meteor shower had finished for the year. He commiserated when she remarked upon the state of the largest telescope, damaged by curse-fire in the Battle of Hogwarts, and he promised to look into funding a replacement. She was brisk but not unfriendly and he began to think that she would do very nicely. She would probably desire to retain her name and he had no problem with that; Sinistra-Snape had quite a pleasant ring to it. A ring, ah, yes, it was traditional to acquire a ring, was it not? Would she prefer a Slytherin-green emerald to a chip of meteorite? Such considerations came to dominate his day-dreams over the next couple of weeks. He rather thought that he was turning into a romantic after all.
He took particular care to shampoo his hair, scrub and floss his teeth and select his best robes before descending to the Great Hall for breakfast upon the fourteenth of February. Blasted Potter was lurking around with his cohorts; Snape had vaguely noticed the speccy brat hanging around outside the staffroom a lot lately. Indeed, rumour had it that he had served an unusually high number of detentions, even for him. Noting Minerva staring fixedly towards the Gryffindor table, Snape leaned across under pretext of snaffling the marmalade.
"What's up with the Golden Boy?" he enquired out of the side of his mouth.
She sniffed. "He propositioned Rolanda."
"Immediately after being turned down by Septima."
"The consensus is that it's either a bet or a dare, most likely involving George Weasley. The boy does seem to be determined to humiliate himself in front of every member of the staff." She gave a smirk almost worthy of the smirk-meister himself. "I suspect he's leaving you until last."
Snape snorted and slapped marmalade onto his toast. "Lovely. That's all I need to make my life complete: an insane house elf and a randy Potter. No way is Potter setting eyes on my tattoo, thank you very much."
Then his attention was caught by a swirl of midnight blue robes. Aurora settled into her chair and gave her small, private smile. Yes, this was his moment.
"Winky," he murmured and the elf stuck her head around from behind his chair. "Do you have the ring?"
"Oh, Master Headmaster Bat Sir, is you going to do it?" She began twisting her ears with both hands in a fit of anxiety.
"Just get me the ring, Winky."
"But Master –"
She placed the little box into his hand with a stifled sound that might have been a sob.
"You is mine," she muttered as Snape got to his feet and walked to where Aurora sat.
Afterwards, he wondered if it was his natural instinct for self-preservation that made him ask for her hand in marriage quietly, without drawing the attention of the students.
"I don't think so, thank you, Severus," she said. "I'm really quite happy as I am."
"I'll fund your new telescope," he told her urgently, as visions of his precious, wonderful library receded into the distance. She shook her head and poured herself a cup of coffee.
That was it, then. Severus took a deep breath and closed his eyes, his heart breaking. He had lost all hope of getting his hands on the first edition of Dagworth-Granger, the fifteenth-century herbals, Belby's annotated original manuscripts, the Starkey collection of Victorian potions texts or the Wildsmith folio.
Snape folded his arms and turned to glare at the readers of his sorry tale. "You really expected a Happy Ever After, did you? This is me we're talking about, remember: Snape the Sadistic Headmaster and all-round Miserable Bastard. I don't do 'Happy.' With whom did you hope to see this saccharine ending? What’s that? Potter? You must be joking! Oh, for Merlin's sake – “Avada Kedavra!"