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A More Merciful Man by Berkana [Reviews - 10]

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He slept for a very long time. When he woke, the sun was high in the sky, and Jane was nowhere to be found. Neither were his robes, or even his underclothes. Jane had tucked him under the covers as he slept, and apparently made off with his clothes entirely. Slightly confused, but not yet completely unnerved, he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. It was then that he spied Jane’s note on the nightstand, where she had also placed his wand.


Gone to church. Palm Sunday, you know. The service is longer than usual. Be back around noonish.

Washed your robes, socks, undies, which are hanging on a rack by the hearth. I made a small fire to help them dry, but they might need a drying spell if they are not dry yet.

Fresh scones, cream, strawberries, orange juice downstairs.

Made coffee instead of tea. Hope you don’t mind.


Snape frowned at the note. Church? Well, she had gone on Christmas so he supposed it was to be expected. Then he took a deep breath, realizing he could smell the coffee and the scones even from upstairs, and as hunger was threatening to make him faint, he set off to find them.

Utterly naked, he followed the scent, and found waiting for him in the kitchen a plate covered with fat, chunky scones studded with currants, and sparkling with a fine layer of sugar. They were still warm. Next to that was the coffee, and though it was in some sort of thermal carafe he could still smell it. By the coffee was a cream-colored bowl filled with fresh strawberries, very red (what she must have had to pay to get them so early in the year?), and a carafe filled with orange juice resting in a bowl of ice. There was clotted cream and butter and sugar and regular cream for the coffee, and though Snape liked his coffee black he thought he might put some cream and sugar on the berries, and the clotted cream on the scones, and was that some marmalade in that tiny jar? God, he hoped it was.

He was famished. They’d left Hogsmeade at dawn. He realized that he’d eaten nothing in nearly eighteen hours.

Snape stood there for a moment, willfully restraining himself from actually shoving an entire scone into his mouth all at once. Yes, he would eat, but first he would attend to his robes and underthings. He would dress himself, and eat fully clothed, seated at the table, like the civilized human being that he was. Jane had already corrupted him enough, her body reducing him to a jelly whenever she touched him. He would not let her cooking turn him into a naked savage as well, cramming baked goods down his throat over a counter, while his privates dangled exposed to the world.

No, he would not do that no matter how hungry he was. He felt a bit smug at that, glad that he could sustain himself on such a minor victory.

So he made his way to the hearth, allowing himself to vaguely resent the fact that Jane had taken it upon herself to wash his clothing at all. He abandoned that resentment, however, when he plucked his undershirt off of the drying rack. It smelled wonderful. Cleaning charms really were no substitute for a good slosh in soapy water and a nice airing out.

He was just about to slip the undershirt over his head when something very odd and disturbing happened. There was a great cracking sound from by the stairs. Stunned, he turned towards it, realizing exactly what that sound meant, and also realizing that in his famished and sleep-addled stupor he had neglected to bring down his wand.

Snape stood there, naked, wandless, as some unknown witch or wizard Apparated themselves directly into Jane’s cottage. He had many nonverbal spells he might use, but naked, and without his wand, he would be vulnerable to even the most mediocre wizard. Against a more dangerous creature like Bellatrix, he would have no chance.

And a witch did indeed materialize. But there was no former Death Eater standing there, ready to attack him. Suddenly, most manifestly there (in all her glory), stood a woman that Snape recognized could only be Eva Pellarin. Yes, it was Jane’s infamous mother that had most obviously Apparated into the house without a warning.

Snape, his face a mask of horror and embarrassment, attempted now to hide his nakedness behind the drying rack. He grappled with it, retrieving his robes, and covering himself. As he did, it did not escape his notice that his connection to Jane had indirectly caused him to expose himself to various other intrusive females as well, and suddenly he began to curse, loudly. There was, apparently, no escape from Jane or the women associated with her. Unsettling women all.

But Eva Pellarin was unfazed. She placed her hands on her hips and raised one elegant eyebrow. Then she looked him up and down, a slight smile on her beautiful face as he yanked on his underwear and robes, continuing to curse. She made not the least effort to avert her eyes. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying his discomfort.

Finally, he stood there, glaring at her, huffing and embarrassed, but at last fully clothed.

She stared back, implacable, continuing to look him up and down, her smile growing larger, into something slightly salacious.

“So you’re the wizard that’s been fucking my daughter,” she said at last.

Snape cursed a bit more. Then, “What are you doing here? What do you want?” he spat.

But Eva Pellarin only continued to smile. “What I wanted was to meet the wizard that’s been fucking my daughter,” she said. “Because I think we should have a little chat.”

He glowered at her, mortified, as Jane’s mother turned on her heel and made for the kitchen.

For a moment he was tempted to flee, Apparate somewhere, anywhere, but he realized how that would look. Severus Snape, the right hand of Voldemort, reduced to running away in terror at the thought of a conversation with someone’s mother.

And, in truth, despite his mortification, he was curious. About Jane. About Eva Pellarin herself, the only Muggleborn ever to have been sorted into Slytherin. She was infamous.

“Well?” Jane’s mother called from the kitchen, “Are you still lolling about in there? Jane’s coffee isn’t going to drink itself, you know.”

Snape cocked his head cocked slightly to the side, wondering how he could both accede to her summons and make it seem as if he were not merely obeying her.

He realized, at last, that this was impossible, and with a sigh, he followed her.

Eva Pellarin was in the kitchen, pouring herself some coffee. Snape realized with a start that she was not wearing robes, but rather a clean-looking and what was no doubt extremely fashionable Muggle suit, blood red, with what appeared to be a silk blouse. Her skirt came only to mid-thigh, and she wore heels as well. It struck him how utterly different Jane was from her mother. Jane, with her flat shoes and her glasses and her cardigans and her dun-colored dresses. Her mother was even taller, and quite slender. (No doubt the breasts and hips were fuller in the women on her father’s side.)

Where was Jane, anyway? Surely she didn’t intend to pray all damned day.

“Lovely scones,” Jane’s mother was saying. “My daughter is quite the cook. Would you like one?”

Snape shook his head curtly. He was still, of course, famished, but he was furious (and curious) as well, and wished to keep his wits about him. He continued to stare at Eva Pellarin balefully, his arms crossed in front of his chest, as if merely glaring at her could erase the fact that she had seen him completely naked.

It was plain from her expression, however, that it could not.

“I’d introduce myself but I’m sure you already know exactly who I am. And I know you, Professor Snape,” she said, looking at him slyly. “You’ve grown rather famous.”

Snape’s eyes narrowed. “Madam, you have me at a disadvantage.”

Her eyes roved down his body and came to rest on his crotch. “Not from what I can tell,” she said, giving him another suggestive smile. “Seems to me you’re quite auspiciously blessed.”

Severus Snape flushed red. Perhaps because he was so very slender, nature had in recompense provided him with a certain weight in other areas. He was fairly well-endowed, something that in truth had always embarrassed him, as the size of his cock seemed to exaggerate his sexuality even as Snape was attempting to ignore it. Considering Pellarin’s no doubt prodigious connections, and her utter lack of shame, Snape imagined that by the end of the day half the wizarding world would be informed about the dimensions of his dangly bits.

This might have pleased another sort of man, but not Snape. Trying to put the potential hissing of gossiping wizards and witches completely out of his mind, he decided to change the subject. Besides, he firmly believed that to continue to allude to his penis in the company of Jane's mother was likely to cause his head to explode.

“Do you make a habit of Apparating into houses without warning?” he asked, crossly.

Eva Pellarin crossed the room with her steaming coffee, seating herself at the table. She took an appreciative sip before she answered him.

“When that house is the one in which I myself was raised, the same house that is currently being occupied by my only child, yes, in fact I do.”

Snape continued to stare, and did not take a seat. “Your daughter is not here. Perhaps you ought to come back when she returns.”

Eva Pellarin made a disgusted sound. “Of course she isn’t here. It’s Holy Week. She’s in church. She certainly doesn’t get that from me. It my aunts. Stodgy, predictable women, both of them.”

Snape pursed his lips. Indeed, Jane was nothing like her mother, who seemed to share his own cynicism about all things regarding religion, most especially Christianity.

Taking Snape’s silence as an opportunity, Eva Pellarin withdrew a slender, silvery box from her jacket. “Cigarette?" she asked. "You look like a smoking man to me.”

The brand was one Snape did not recognize, and he stared at the box with longing as Eva Pellarin withdrew a cigarette.

“Your daughter forbids it in the house,” he said.

But Eva Pellarin remained unmoved. “You will forgive me if I consider myself exempt from such prohibitions." She held the package out to him. "Are you sure you don’t want one? There is nothing like a cigarette and coffee in the morning. Clears the mind, don’t you think?”

Snape thought that exactly, but he shook his head, looking on with yearning as Jane's mother lit hers. It was smoothly silver with a circlet of emerald green where the tobacco met the filter. He watched Jane’s mother put it to her mouth as a flame danced at the end of her index finger. Watched her inhale, and heard her satisfied sigh. He had not had a cigarette in three days.

That was it. He broke. In his head, he could hear his will snapping like a dry twig.

“Weeping bloody Jesus,” Snape groaned, collapsing into a chair, and extending one pleading hand.

Eva Pellarin laughed, a good-natured laugh, and placed the pack in his open palm, lifting her finger to the end of his cigarette as he put the filter to his mouth. Snape took a deep, smoky breath. It was glorious.

“Wonderful, aren’t they?” she murmured. “Incredibly smooth. I get them on Silver Street.”

Snape closed his eyes and inhaled again. Silver Street. He had been there once. An exclusive wizarding shopping district near Kensington Park, prohibited to all but Slytherin. All of Silver Street’s shops sold luxury items, many if not most of which had additional enchantments laid upon them. The cigarettes Eva Pellarin was holding probably cost her three times what one would pay to procure a pack at the tobacconist in Diagon Alley. But the cigarettes from Silver Street were at least three times the quality.

As he smoked, Eva Pellarin rose to retrieve him a cup of coffee. She did not ask if he wanted it black. She just seemed to know. When she brought it to him, Snape took it.

They sat in silence, then, for a bit, smoking excellent cigarettes and drinking Jane’s excellent coffee. Snape knew the silence would not last, but while it did, he relished it.

Finally, Eva Pellarin spoke. Her voice was low. “She doesn’t have a nickel, you know,” she said, “other than this house. My aunts left it to her instead of to me.”

Snape chuckled softly. “Imagine that,” he said, tamping out his second cigarette on his saucer.

“I’ll have you know that all the real money in the family is mine,” she said, passing him another, “so if you intend on living well—and if I know my own kind, you do—it would be more effective to fuck me.”

She stared right into his eyes then, a slight smile on her lips. Snape stared right back, trying to keep the shock from his face. Was she propositioning him? Truly? He saw an odd mix of emotions on her face. There was distrust, and protectiveness for her daughter (which seemed odd to him, considering). Under that was a persistent desire to challenge, to unsettle, to defy the polite expectations of everyone and everything.

She was testing him.

Snape took another sip of his coffee. “Do you make a habit of sleeping with the men your daughter fancies?”

Pellarin thought for a moment. “Would you call two a habit? I didn’t fuck the one before you. Another Professor. Though not a Professor of anything as interesting as Potions.”

Snape sat perfectly still, staring a hole in the rim of his coffee cup. She would continue talking, if he did not interrupt her. And he would find out about her, and about Jane as well.

“Can you imagine spending all your time studying Medieval Latin?” Jane’s mother was saying. “Honestly. Ablatives and vocatives and nominative plurals…of all the dreary ways to employ oneself. But they had a lot in common. He was quite devoted to her, it seems. He was invulnerable to my advances.”

Snape chuckled again. “Perhaps he was just not attracted to you.”

Again she laughed. A clear, beautiful sound. She was genuinely amused. “Don’t be silly, Professor Snape,” she said. “Everyone is attracted to me. Even homosexual werewolves.”

That did make Snape smile. He imagined Jane’s mother and her predatory gaze, drinking in the challenge of seducing Remus Lupin.

“No. I don’t think Jane’s previous beau even realized I was attempting to corrupt him,” Eva continued. “He was in some other world, most of the time. Lord knows how Jane managed to have any sort of relationship with him. Probably just launched herself in his direction and hoped he’d catch. Quite the opposite of you, I’d say.”

“And where is he, pray tell?” Snape asked, in as uninterested a tone as he could muster, considering. In truth he was intensely interested. Perhaps because they had mutually, tacitly agreed that they had no future, he and Jane had almost never spoken about their respective pasts. And now he found himself wondering.

Eva Pellarin dropped the lit end of her cigarette into what was left of the coffee in her cup, extinguishing it. She lit another.

“You mean you don’t know?”

Snape shook his head.

She looked at him, and then said, matter of factly, “He's dead.”

Snape looked into her eyes, then, and for a moment was brought up short by the image of a thinnish, bespectacled Muggle man, middle-aged, slightly rumpled-looking, stepping off a curb. He was lost in his own world, in a way that actually made him look almost wizard-ish.

He did not see the bus speeding towards him.

Snape shook his head in vaguely horrified wonder. The death of Jane’s former lover, her beautiful mother, seemingly unapologetic about her efforts to sleep with Jane’s beaux….it was a lot to take in, even for him. He thought for just a moment about what a strange life Jane had led, and how utterly, unimaginably normal Jane herself seemed despite this. He supposed for her normality must have been a defense mechanism, or perhaps even her version of rebellion, the way children of staid, middle-class parents suddenly decided to shave their heads and pierce every flap of errant flesh.

“Why on earth would you attempt to corrupt your own daughter’s paramours?” he asked Eva Pellarin at last.

But as the words were out of his mouth, Snape already understood the answer. She was testing them, testing them as she was testing him. She was testing their devotion to Jane, in the only way she knew how.

For a long time Eva Pellarin said nothing. It was obvious that her memories of the seductions were not pleasant ones. Snape did not see any emotion as eviscerating as guilt cross her face, but it was plain that she had taken no joy in what she had done. Snape sensed that Eva Pellarin was far too secure in her own beauty and her own worth to see the seduction of some clueless youth as a vindication.

“Those two, those boys,” she said, contempt creeping into her voice, “they thought they were doing her a favor, you know. I could see it in their eyes the moment I met them. I know what they were thinking. ’Plain Jane’ they thought…thinking as well that she was lucky to have their esteemed company. They thought that she should be grateful that they had bestowed their inestimable affection upon her, the poor, love-starved thing. They thought she should consider herself fortunate to spread her legs for them.”

She looked at Snape, then, and he could see the blind fury there.

They were the ones that should have been grateful!” she cried. “Thick, ordinary boys, the both of them. But they…they thought they were better than she was, thought because of that she was supposed to worship them! I put a stop to that. I had to!”

Jane’s mother spat out her bitter judgment, still wounded on her daughter’s behalf, still disgusted and furious, though Snape had no doubt that those boys, whoever they were, were part of Jane’s dim past.

He could not say he blamed her. The very idea of some clueless Muggle boy manhandling Jane, thinking he was doing her a favor…it made Snape a bit angry himself. But more than that, the thought of Jane wasting herself on someone incapable of appreciating her made him profoundly uneasy. It was not jealousy, no…that would be reserved for men who could appreciate her. No. It was something more like…sadness.

There was a long silence, then, during which Snape saw that Eva Pellarin was attempting to regain control, and Snape tried not to think about the inevitable. Because Jane no doubt would end up with someone else. She would not go into mourning after they parted ways, would take no vow of chastity after he married Princilla. She was far too sensible for that. She would pick herself up and go on, and someone new would find her. The thought of her touching another man the way she had touched him filled him with a possessive fury, and a mournfulness he could not quite explain. But what other choice did he have?

Because even if Snape refused to sign the contract, making his relationship with Jane public was not a possibility. If he acknowledged that she was anything more than a sexual plaything (and sexual playthings were politely kept under wraps in Slytherin), he would be made a pariah, as Slytherins simply did not entertain serious relationships with Muggles, Muggleborns, or Squibs. His own status as a half-blood aroused enough suspicion, and he knew how terribly lucky he was that Roland Gash was open-minded enough not to demand the purest blood for his daughter. The current interest in him was as a result of his recent circumstances. It did not change what Slytherin thought of his heritage.

As he watched Jane’s mother calming herself, Snape realized that Alphard Black had no doubt distanced himself from Jane’s mother for just such a reason. Eva Pellarin was herself an example of the inherent prejudice. She was charismatic and fascinating, but she had never been formally tied to any Slytherin, even Alphard, who probably had given everyone the impression that he was simply humoring her. Jane’s mother was a witch, and had herself been sorted into Slytherin, but no Slytherin thought her good enough to actually claim as their own.

Snape felt a sudden terrible sympathy with the woman, outcast among her own, though they were enthralled by her. She received a modicum of acceptance, went to shop on Silver Street like any other Slytherin, but she had always been kept at arm’s length. The fact that she had emerged with some semblance of self-worth spoke well of her. He wished he could say the same.

Severus Snape realized that these facts about Slytherin were ugly. He also realized that this did not make them any less true, and that it was pointless to resent a situation one could not change. He believed in his bones that life was not fair, that one must assess one’s circumstances and make the most of them. He would be foolish to pretend that things were any different, when they weren’t. To remain with Jane would require that he give up not only increased wealth and status, but the accomplishments and connections that he had already accrued on his own.

There was much about Slytherin that he loathed, in truth. But they were his family. They were his own. He hated and loved Slytherin, both its denizens and its philosophies. But what would be left for him without it?

Slytherin was forever. Slytherin was for always. Slytherin had existed for more than a thousand years. Whatever was between him and Jane could not endure, would not endure. He would be a fool to trust in it, a fool to abandon himself to it and make himself a spectacle. All such intense relationships were bound to end, and when it did he would be tainted by his association with her until the end of his days.

He would be left with nothing.

Finally, Snape broke the sullen silence, though for some reason he could not make his words fit together quite properly.

“After…after what you did…” he began softly, “did Jane…was she…was she able to…to forgive you?”

Eva Pellarin did not answer for a bit, but at last her eyes met his. In them he saw the truth.

I don’t know…

The two of them looked at each other, a silent understanding passing between them. And it was at that auspicious moment that the front door opened and in came Jane herself.

“I’ve brought a baguette and good cheese!” she called. “And green apples…I’m going to make us a tart! And I’ve brought us some wine, and…"

She was in the doorway to the kitchen, then, and stopped mid-sentence the second she saw her mother. Her eyes narrowed and she frowned.

“Mum! What on earth are you doing here?”

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth…” Eva Pellarin said to Snape. “She hasn’t seen me since Christmas and this is the way she greets me.”

Still frowning, Jane placed her packages on the counter. “You’ve come to snoop.”

“Snooping is a mother’s privilege, Jane,” Pellarin said. “Besides, I highly doubt that after what Professor Snape has been through that he could possibly be intimidated by the likes of me.”

Well, Snape had indeed been through a lot. And though he was loathe to admit it, Jane’s mother did intimidate him, if just the least little bit.

Eva stood and moved to place her hand on her daughter’s shoulder, but Jane shook it off, and stepped back.

“I would have introduced him to you the very second it became relevant for me to do so, mum. Patience is a virtue, in case you didn’t know.”

Pellarin turned to Snape again. “Ah, look at her, talking about patience, and virtue. No doubt that was the subject of the sermon this morning. That’s the subject of every sermon, from what I can tell. Emily and Charlotte took me to church, too. Lucky thing it didn’t take with me.”

She winked at Snape then, rather obviously, and all of a sudden he became very interested rim of his coffee cup again.

Jane’s mother turned to her daughter. “Well, here’s a sermon according to your mother. Far briefer than any priest’s. Listen well.” And at this she leaned in. Jane stood still, her nose in the air, affecting apathetic superiority.

Eva Pellarin smiled knowingly. “Patience is indeed a virtue, darling, but like most other virtues it is also a terrible bore.”

Jane opened her mouth to argue, or protest, but then her mother tapped her wand smartly on the counter, and a huge basket materialized.

“I’ve brought you some things from Silver Street. Spent half yesterday picking them out.”

But this only seemed to make Jane madder. “I’ve told you before I don’t want anything from Silver Street. I’m not about to use goods sold by merchants that discriminate against the members of other houses. Or Squibs, for that matter. How on earth could you buy something from a shop that would refuse to sell it to me if I went there myself?”

Jane's mother rolled her eyes. “That is a moot question, dear, as we both know you’re far too frugal to give yourself the kind of presents you deserve. Even if they allowed you to make purchases, you’d never take advantage of the opportunity.”

“I don’t care, I don’t…”

Eva leaned in and plucked out a small parcel tied with string. “You know they’ve just opened another wool shop, even more posh than the old one. I popped in and bought you a few things.”

Jane didn’t move, but her interest was obviously piqued. Her mother opened the package carefully, undoing it to reveal several snug little skeins of yarn, and a pair of black needles. She pointed to two luxuriously fuzzy-looking dollops of deep purple.

“These are self-correcting lace, at least once your chosen pattern is established,” she explained. “Silk and baby mohair. Don’t ask how much it cost. And I bought you two as well of something made from…the undercoating of a musk ox, was it? Sounds odd to me but it’s terribly soft and costs galleons and galleons. I asked them for the softest warmest wool they had and this is what they showed me. Enough for a pair of gloves at least.”

“I don’t need more wool,” Jane said airily, but she had not taken her eyes from the skeins.

“Well, what about needles, then? The needles are aged ebony. They don’t look particularly interesting, but the woman at the shop said they are specially enchanted to be smoother or rougher depending on the yarn. The points change, too, though I’ve no idea how such changes would come in handy…”

“You should have just given the money to charity,” Jane said, frowning. But Snape noted the longing in her eyes.

Eva Pellarin looked at her daughter indulgently. “Now, why should the orphans have all the fun?” she said. “Besides, I sent them a box of scratchy blankets just last week.”

She reached into the box again. “Here…milk chocolate truffles from the Silver Spoon.”


“Evermill soap from Latherings…five bars in ginger and five in vanilla, because I know that’s what you prefer…plus some smoothing peach shampoo and conditioner for your hair…”


Eva rooted in the basket again. “Aha! And look at this! A talking bookmark from that shop that sells those rare books….”

Jane stomped her foot, then. “Mother!” she cried, utterly exasperated.

Eva Pellarin tried to hand the bookmark to her daughter. “Well, the Venerable Bede is on it, if you want to know. You can actually converse with him. Speaks modern English, as well as fluent Latin, and Old English as well. I had a few words with him, but all he wanted to talk about was the bloody sacking of Lindesfarne. Maybe you’ll have better luck.”

Eva continued to proffer the bookmark, shaking it lightly, and Snape saw Jane’s will was about to snap just as his had.

“I’d love to hear about the sacking of Lindesfarne…” Jane murmured. Her hand went to take it, but just then she seemed to realize something disturbing. She took a deep breath.

“You’ve been smoking!” she said, accusingly. Her hand dropped.

“Yes, dear. Some people smoke.” Eva Pellarin replied, tucking the bookmark and the other items back into the basket. “If you had the decency to take up smoking I would have brought you some cigarettes as well. Your sullen lover seems to appreciate them at least.”

At this Jane turned to Snape. “Only cigarettes? Because I’m sure that’s not all she wants you to appreciate. Has she tried to sleep with you yet?”

Snape found himself quite relieved to be conversing with Jane at last and not with her mother, even if the question was a perilously uncomfortable one.

“She tried,” Snape deadpanned, “but I told her I wasn’t interested in the family wealth. I told her I was just using you for sex.”

Jane’s anger seemed to break at that, and she blushed, smiling coyly. Snape felt the urge to kiss her, despite her mother’s presence.

At this Jane’s mother blinked, and then she smiled. “Really? Good for you, darling. Much more fun than dating a man who’s just after your money. Believe me, I know. Is he good at it?”

Jane folded her arms across her chest. “Why don’t you find out for yourself, if you can?”

For a moment, Snape just stared at her. Somehow Jane instinctively knew her mother could not corrupt him. Jane had…she had faith in him. Faith in his character. Faith that whatever it was between them existed irrespective of personal gain.

Jane’s mother chuckled. “Look at him over there. Goggling at you. You’ve got him completely outclassed, poor fellow.”

At this Jane bristled again. “He beguiled the second most powerful wizard in the world, mother. He killed the most powerful one. ”

But Eva only looked at her daughter warmly. Finally she reached out and gently touched her chin. “I wasn’t talking about magic, darling. You happen to outclass most everyone, if you want to know…”

Then there was a long moment in which mother and daughter stared at each other, and Snape saw that even Jane, solid, predictable, most wonderful Jane, was not invulnerable to her mother’s considerable charm.

“You can’t make up for invading my privacy with bribery and flattery, mum…” she said. But Snape could tell it was a vain protest, of course, and so could her mother.

Eva took Jane’s hand, and this time Jane allowed it. “Maybe not, darling,” she said, “but please don’t blame me if I try…”

At that, Jane seemed prepared to say something freshly accusatory, but all of a sudden she seemed to give up, and her expression of defiance melted reluctantly into one of genuine affection. She squeezed her mother's hand. “Oh, it is good to see you, mum,” she said at last.

“Well, give us a hug, then, child.”

And, though Snape saw that it was against her better judgment, Jane did.

A More Merciful Man by Berkana [Reviews - 10]

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