Yes, but...: Eleven-and-a-Half

by Aestel

ELEVEN AND A HALF

Dear Mum,

Received your letter yesterday. Attached is an opinion from Kent Westbrook (mind control expert for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement) certifying that I am not under the Imperius Curse or any other detectable form of mind control. I have also attached a letter from Dr. Antasius Jelk in which he attests that I have not sustained any recent head injuries and I am experiencing a better-than-average recovery from Bundimun secretion poisoning. ('Average recovery' being something along the lines of death, since I'm certain you'll look it up anyway. I'm fine, Mum, I swear. You have Snape to thank for that.)

Dumbledore also wanted me to remind you that while your assessment of my fiancé's background and character might be rather accurate, he remembers that Grandpa and Grandmum Tonks had similar objections to you. He can be horribly pointed when he wants to be, can't he?

Speaking of the Grands, Snape and I will try to visit them this weekend, I promise. Yes, I know we should definitely meet with you and Dad before the wedding. We've a lot of details to iron out in a short time, so you'll understand if we're a bit distracted. And, yes, I do realize I've begun thinking in “we's” -- it terrifies me, too.

Love,

Jane (which is a much better name than ‘Nymphadora’ when you think about it.)

P.S. Pay no attention to anything you might read about me in the newspaper article I clipped out for you. We lied through our teeth.

P.P.S. Except the Bundimun secretion poisoning bit. That part’s unfortunately true.

P.P.P.S. Also, Willy Wood is a prat.*




To Whom It May Concern:

It is my opinion that Ms. N. Tonks is free of the influence of mind-controlling substances and her actions are not being directed by the Imperius Curse.

She appears to be marrying Severus Snape of her own free will.

Kent Westbrook, DMP**




Dear Madam,

Your daughter asked me to write to assure you that she is recovering from her inadvertent Bundimun secretion poisoning. Her vital signs are strong and all sources indicate that she will make a full recovery, thanks in no small part to Professor Snape’s miraculous new antidote.

After a thorough examination of Miss Nymphadora Tonks, I can also assure you that she has not suffered any recent damage to her mind.

Your concern for your daughter’s well-being is admirable.

Sincerely,

Antasius Jelk, WD***




My Thoughts on the Marriage Programme
By Rita Skeeter

It is unlikely by now that anyone in the Wizarding World has not read about the Ministry's Marriage Programme. Flurries of articles have already been written about the ground-breaking legislation -- there have been those expressing wholehearted support for the new law, protest pieces, those urging lonely singles to take advantage of it in order to snare an otherwise hesitant match, and even one rather interesting piece outlining how the Marriage Programme will lead to an increase in fetish behavior and deviant lifestyles.

This reporter was initially hesitant to leap into the fray; however, when I was contacted by the Ministry for an exclusive interview, I found I could no longer in good conscience deprive the Wizarding World of the opportunity to read my thoughts on the matter.

Certainly the Ministry’s new Marriage Programme has stunned many; it is, if nothing else, a daring move from a previously lackluster and weak-willed Fudge administration. Like any bold undertaking, it has been the source of some controversy. (Ministry officials report that there was a small group gathered in protest in the Atrium of the Ministry earlier, but they had dispersed by mid-day.)

Opponents of the Marriage Programme challenge that the edict will restrict a wizard or witch’s choice of partner. Josephus Elkins, the head of the new Planning Office, says that this is simply not so, and he denies that the programme is as radical as its opponents claim. He points to arranged marriage between pureblooded witches and wizards as a far more restrictive predecessor to the Marriage Programme.

‘Back in the old days there was courting, of course,’ the hoary-haired department head expounded, ‘but in the end it always came down to families. The family told you who you could marry, and “it was only a newt who crossed ‘em,” as the saying goes.

‘The idea that a witch and a wizard ought to fall head over heals into romantic love before they marry is really a modern convention,’ Mr. Elkins explained, ‘only appearing as recently as the Fourteenth Century. It was also -- and I feel many will be surprised to hear this -- introduced to the Wizarding World by none other than Muggles. Indeed, some have theorized that it has led not only to some young people putting off marriage in hopes of finding the perfect partner, but also to an astonishing increase in the separation rate.

‘Now here's the important bit: Our experts have discovered that, simply by mandating that witches and wizards of a certain age accept offers of marriage -- with screening for suitability, of course -- we can not only reverse the population decrease of the last several generations, but also decrease the number of Squibs produced.

‘But that’s all technical stuff -- bound to make your head muddled -- and I want to be sure to mention,’ Mr. Elkins added as a sly aside, ‘that if our young people want to experience the fluttering bellies and heaving chests of young love, the Ministry is willing to oblige them in that desire. Only ask, and it can be arranged.’

Mr. Elkins is most pleased by the fact that the programme has convinced couples who had put off marriage to come out of the woodwork and tie the knot. It has, he will admit with a glimmer in his eye, led to some unexpected, even counterintuitive, pairings. He points to the first couple to be engaged under the programme as an example of such an unexpected pairing.

It is here that I am pleased to introduce you, my dear readers, to Severus Snape and Nymphadora Tonks. ‘The first ones in the door,’ Mr. Elkins introduced them to me with a smile and a sly nudge to Mr. Snape’s ribs. ‘The ink wasn’t yet dry on the parchment of the Marriage Programme legislation when these two came running in.’

Miss Tonks and Mr. Snape sat down with me this afternoon to tell me their story, which I now relate to you. At first glance, it would seem to be a strange romance: He is a Hogwarts professor, reputed to have once been a Death Eater, she is an Auror. He is in his middle years, a forbidding figure swathed in traditional black teaching robes. The gloom of a dark past still haunts his onyx eyes. She is pretty young witch with a heart-shaped face and a penchant for shocking hairstyles. Sunshine and rainbows linger in her laugh.

I asked them to tell me about their past, and as their tale unfolded, told in turns by Miss Snape and Mr. Tonks, I became enraptured by their history and came to understand the truth of Mr. Elkins’ earlier words. I relate their story to you, my readers, in the hopes that you will be similarly touched.

Before the Marriage Programme was a glimmer in Mr. Elkins’ eye, the pair’s courtship began at a Ministry Ball. ‘I wasn’t that keen to attend,’ Miss Tonks will admit, and Mr. Snape’s glower would seem to convey a world of impatience at the inane preening of petty sycophants. Yet however reluctant they were to attend, the evening’s events would change them forever.

It was a balmy summer evening; an enchanted breeze fluttered through the otherwise humid London air. Miss Tonks had wandered out onto a balcony to escape the chaos of the ballroom. Little did she know that her erstwhile Potions professor had also chosen to secret himself among the night’s shadows on that selfsame balcony.

They might have gone on blissfully unaware of the other’s presence, but for Fate intervening in the form of one of Miss Tonks’ former boyfriends. It was immediately apparent to her that he had indulged in too much Firewhisky, and what began as an attempt to convince her to take him back quickly escalated into a terrifying assault. It was then, as Miss Tonks vainly struggled to escape the inebriated inamorato, that Mr. Snape felt compelled to reveal himself and come to her rescue.

‘He hexed the fellow sober,’ Miss Tonks recounted proudly, patting her fiancé’s knee, ‘and then when he was sure he could understand him, he started to tell him off. My Snarkypants, here, is a bit overprotective.’

‘Your Snarkypants,’ Mr. Snape replied with a feigned sneer, ‘has every right to be concerned when his fiancée insists on running headlong into danger without a moment’s forethought or consideration.’ He made a gesture toward the fact that Miss Tonks’ left arm was in a sling.

It was then I learned that only last night, Ms. Tonks was nearly killed by a rare poison that she was exposed to in the course of her duties as an Auror [See C4: Dustup on Diagon Alley]. The poison would have been fatal, except that Mr. Snape devised an antidote with only seconds left to save Ms. Tonks' life. One can only imagine the horror he felt, knowing that, in those breathless moments, the very life of the woman that he loved depended on his skill and nerve.

This reporter found, in this moment of inspired clarity, a tantalizing hint at the couple’s deeper feelings: their sort of playful banter is seasoned with a hint of danger and sharpened to an erotic edge. That Mr. Snape is her knight in shining armor, Ms. Tonks will not disagree. Nor will Mr. Snape deny that Ms. Tonks brings color into the darkness of his dungeon. They are indeed a well-matched, if unexpected, pair.

After allowing me this brief glimpse into what must have been a thoroughly traumatizing experience for them, they turn the conversation back to the aftermath of the scuffle on the Ministry balcony.

Once he had thoroughly chastised Miss Tonks’ erring former boyfriend and sent him on his way, Mr. Snape turned to the woman he had aided, and found, much to his surprise, that she was none other than a former student. ‘I was stunned, of course,’ Mr. Snape allowed. ‘I had not recognized her -- and I did not expect to stumble across a student of mine at a Ministry function.’ He admits he planned to make his excuses and withdraw into the shadows again, but something drew him to the delicate beauty and he lingered a moment longer.

‘I didn’t want to go back into the Ball,’ Miss Tonks related. “My dress was torn in places and my make-up was ruined. I was really a terrible mess. I begged Professor Snape to stay with me. And my hair was horrid,’ she added, touching one hand to her amethyst tresses.

Mr. Snape smiled in recollection. ‘She looked as lovely to me then as she ever has. A vision.’ Instead of leaving as he had planned, he found himself doing the gentlemanly thing and summoning her a glass of nettle wine to calm her. Moments slipped into hours, and the couple spent the rest of the evening out on that balcony, lost in conversation under the enchanted stars.

Their relationship continued, unbeknownst to both friends and colleagues, until two mornings ago, when they read the announcement of the Marriage Programme.
‘We hadn’t even discussed marriage,’ Miss Tonks confided to me, “but once we read about the Ministry’s new programme in the Daily Prophet, suddenly it seemed like a brilliant idea.’ With only a moment’s consideration, Mr. Snape proposed. ‘And considering we fell in love at a Ministry function,’ Miss Tonks added, ‘it only made sense to get married under this Programme.’

What does the future hold for them, I ask. ‘Well, a wedding, definitely,’ Miss Tonks answered. And after that? Mr. Snape’s lips curled into a smile as he turned to regard his fiancée with eyes like steaming cauldrons. ‘We shall see.’

One can’t but help feeling that Mr. Snape’s sentiment holds true to the Wizarding World in general. How will this Marriage Programme effect our way of life? This reporter tends to think that, like Mr. Snape and Miss Tonks, we will have to see.






Severus,

I was surprised to read in this morning's Prophet that congratulations on your impending nuptials are in order, and, if Rita Skeeter is to be believed, you are apparently wandering around smiling at people. I want you to know that I wish you and Miss Tonks the very best, and unless you let me in on your little plot, you will have as many happy hours of detention with Longbottom as I can possibly arrange.

Minerva



Footnotes:
* Andromeda Tonks suggested a young wizard named Willy Wood as an alternative to Snape in her Howler.
** DMP = Doctorate of Magical Persuasion
*** WD = Wizarding Doctor



Many thanks to my beta, Verity Brown and britpicker, Wartcap. They are awesome and everyone should know it.

Aww, dang, it stinks that anonymous reviewers can't post anymore! Looking back, many of my best, most colorful and constructive reviews have been anonymous, and I've never (personally) had a problem with spam or flamers, so I'd leave the option open if I could, but the choice isn't mine. *grabs handkerchief* I'll miss you... please sign in and say hi if it's not too much trouble.


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