Disclaimer: If I owned Severus Snape, he'd have a much happier life, although I might have trouble explaining him to my husband.
Warnings: Character death (as per canon). Minor HBP spoilers. Darkness. Lack of fluff.
AN: Ouch! Hey, stop that! Gerroff me! I told you, I'm too busy. I have a WIP and a Festival entry to write. No. Stop twitching that pink nose. Leggo, I say...
Thanks to Verity Brown for use of her beta skills, for convincing me to finish this up for posting, and for stuffing the rabid plot bunny back in his cage!
Severus was in the sitting room of his house on Spinner's End, reading one of the myriad books from the shelves. The school year had ended, and he had returned to the house a few days before. Unfortunately, the Dark Lord had seen fit to give him a housemate. He seemed somewhat distrustful of his spy, after the recent disastrous events at the Ministry of Magic, and wanted someone around to keep an eye on Snape's activities. Tonight, though, Wormtail was off scuttling about some errand, and Snape was enjoying the peace and solitude.
Snape was tired of the cold and damp, after yet another winter in the dungeons of Hogwarts, but the bizarre weather pattern this summer gave him little relief. The night was surprisingly cold for early July, and the fog was thick. A small but welcome fire burned on the grate.
He sighed, pushing his feet a little closer to the warm glow, and turned back to his book.
There was a knock at the front door. It couldn't be Pettigrew; he had a key, damn his tail. Neither accustomed to -- nor pleased by -- unexpected company, he opened the door a crack and looked out. A witch stood there on his doorstep, cloaked and hooded. Whether for concealment or against the chill, he could not tell. She was tall, nearly his height, with a stately bearing. Fine hands reached up and pushed back the hood, just far enough for him to glimpse a face.
Clear grey eyes stared back at him from a square face with a strong jaw. Golden blond hair softened the effect, but she seemed too determined for real beauty. He recognized her from Order meetings, although they had never spoken.
"May I come in?"
Wordlessly, Snape stepped aside and opened the door for her. She walked gracefully into the room, looking around her with frank curiosity. She seemed to approve of the bibliophile decor.
She undid the clasps on her cloak and slipped it off. Snape took it from her and placed it on a side chair, then waited expectantly for her to explain her visit.
"I need a favor."
Of course, he thought wryly, there was no possible other reason a woman would drop in on him.
"What sort of a favor?"
Well, she was in the right place for that. This would be personal, not Order business; Albus would simply have asked him for what was needed.
Snape raised one eyebrow in surprise. He had been expecting her to request a love potion. At least she wasn't coming to him for something any of his students should be able to make.
"I daresay you were one of my students, Madam?"
"Please, call me Emma. Yes, for a short while: my sixth and seventh year." She smiled. "You had only just started teaching after Slughorn retired."
So, she would be close to his own age; she looked younger.
"If you received an acceptable grade, you should be able to make it yourself," he told her sternly.
"That was years ago. Besides, I don't have six months. I hoped you might have some already brewed."
"I do have a batch. What will you pay for it?"
"What do you ask?"
He looked her up and down appraisingly. She had a fine, mature figure and held herself regally. Not that he was about to be picky; such opportunities were rare.
"Spend the night with me," he told her bluntly, then waited for her to leave.
She didn't head straight for the door, but raised piercing eyes to his and asked him sharply, "Do you often make such deals with your students?"
"Certainly not!" He drew himself up and glared down at her icily. "They are under my protection. You are an adult, or so I had believed."
His offense was not feigned; she felt her attraction for him deepen further. She wished for a moment that she could have been a member of his House; to have taken shelter, for a while, under that dark wing.
"I'm sorry. Of course you wouldn't." Would he throw her out now?
"Wait here." Snape opened a door that had been disguised as a bookcase and left her abruptly. Emma waited patiently, scanning the book titles with curiosity. When he returned, he held a bottle of mead and two smoky glass goblets. He set these on the table and bent to fill them.
Making no attempt at concealment, he removed a small vial from a sleeve pocket and unstoppered it. He let three drops from the vial fall into one of the glasses. He picked it up and, standing, held it out to her.
Emma put her hand out to touch the glass, but did not take it. She gave the glass a sniff -- her eyes dilated, then her eyebrows rose.
"Amortentia?" She looked at Snape questioningly.
"Yes. I have no interest in women who lie still and wait for it to be all over. This will make it easier on both of us; the dose will wear off by morning."
Emma saw the twist in Snape's features. She could imagine the encounters he must be remembering, and her heart turned over for him. She pushed the glass away with finality and stepped close to him. Putting her other hand behind his head, she kissed him deeply. She felt him stiffen in suspicion, but pent-up desire won out. He set the glass down and kissed her back.
Severus was self-conscious. With the women who had accepted the dose of Amortentia from him, he could take his pleasure and have no concern for them. While the love potion sent its fire through their veins, they were thrilled merely to be with him.
Emma showed every sign of wanting him, but he felt awkward. Deft with his hands in all other tasks, now he was uncertain: he did not know if he touched her too roughly, or too softly. She was experienced, though, and let him know what she needed without shaming him. The bright flush and sudden heat of her skin told him her pleasure was unfeigned. The knowledge only made him want to take her again and again.
It was not until the early hours of the morning that they both slept, Severus on his back with Emma curled against him, her head on his shoulder and one leg draped across his.
Shortly before the dawn, Emma rose and dressed. Snape went to some secret room and returned with a stoppered vial. As he gave it to her, she saw the shadow cross his face. Normally his face had the same transparency as a sheer rock wall, but this morning she could read his thoughts clearly:
What does she want it for? She is wise enough to know that a love potion would gain her nothing worth having. Luck, though, could bring her almost anything. There is a man, there must be.
Emma took the vial from him and hid it in a secret pocket. She responded to his unspoken thoughts, but did not answer them. "No questions; that wasn't part of the price."
His face darkened further as his suspicions were confirmed, but she was correct. She had paid his price, in full measure, and he had no further claim on her. He showed her to the door. Following wizarding custom, she stepped through before Disapparating from his doorstep.
Back at her flat, Emmeline sat in her favorite chair and twirled the small vial in her fingertips. The molten gold liquid shimmered and danced happily, even in so confined a space.
She reflected on her encounter with Severus Snape. For months she had found herself increasingly attracted to him, but had never had opportunity, or rather, courage, to speak to him. He always arrived at Order meetings just as they began and slipped out again immediately after making his report. His courage in returning to Voldemort as a spy awed her.
She was certain that he would be killed before all was said and done. Either Voldemort or the Order would believe that he had betrayed them; one or the other would surely kill him. Or he would wind up sacrificing himself for Potter's victory. She could not predict the future, but she knew in her heart that he was not destined to live.
Emma hoped she would know when the final confrontation was imminent. As a member of the Order she should hear what was planned, or be called to help if it came upon them suddenly.
Someday, maybe years from now, when she was certain that day was upon them, Emmeline would drink the dose of Felix Felicis. She had only one deepest desire of her heart. On that perfectly lucky day, when Voldemort was defeated, Severus Snape would miraculously survive, and he would still want her.
At the Dark Lord's direction, Severus bent over and examined the broken body at his feet. His Master wanted to be sure that this woman had really been a member of the Order, since they had not been able to force her to talk. The Dark Lord had not been certain that they had really killed Amelia Bones. He feared the Order had managed to make a substitution and spirited their target away to safety. He would brook no such mistakes here.
Severus would not have recognized the woman from the remains of her face, but a glint of light near her arm caught his eye. Looking closer, he spotted fragments of glass. A golden stain, bright against the dark blood, shone on the sleeve of her robe.
AN: The death of Emmeline Vance, and Snape's role in it, is one of the mysteries of canon. I would like to believe he took more credit than was really his due, in order to trick Bella, but there is no real evidence one way or the other.