He didn’t know how long he laid there, his head pillowed on her breasts. His arms were wrapped around her waist quite tightly, simply because he could not see his way to release her, even the slightest bit. He lay there, trying to work himself up to the point where he would be capable of letting her go. They could not stay like this forever. Poppy might return at any time. It would be embarrassing.
Finally he asked, softly, “Am I am hurting you? I don’t want to hinder your recovery, miraculous though it seems to be…”
Jane laughed softly. “Mmmnn…” she murmured, tangling her fingers in his hair and kissing his head. “I’d rather like it if you squeezed a little harder, actually.”
Snape complied, and Jane let out a satisfied grunt.
“Besides,” she added, “why would you be hurting me? There’s nothing at all miraculous about recovering from a sprained ankle.”
Suddenly Snape had no trouble disengaging himself from her. He sat straight up, now, frowning. “Your…your ankle?”
Jane nodded. “I mean it’s just a little sprain,” she said. “Honestly I don’t know why Remus even insisted I stay here.”
Snape’s frown deepened. “He told me…he told me you were attacked! By the Whomping Willow!”
“Attacked?” Jane echoed, perplexed. “By the Whomping Willow? Honestly, Severus, how foolish do you think I am?”
Snape was incredulous. And confused. Either Jane’s memory had been muddled by her injury, or Remus Lupin had deliberately attempted to fool him about it. More disturbing to him was that if the second were true, he had fallen for it.
“You’re foolish enough to make a pet of a siren plant!” he blurted, at last. “In fact you seem to have a flair for getting attacked by foliage!”
Jane made a derisive noise. “Don’t be silly. I wasn’t anywhere near the Whomping Willow. Remus and I were supposed to go to Hogsmeade tonight and have supper with Winslow. At least before I tripped on the two stairs leading down into Remus’ office. But it’s just a sprain, nothing serious really.”
Glowering at her, Snape took her chin in his hand then, quite roughly, and ran his thumb along her “bruised” lip. Instead of wincing in pain from the pull across her apparently wounded flesh, Jane tried to suck on his thumb instead.
He almost let her, but that would have no doubt counteracted his growing fury.
“Disingenuis," he muttered. "The bastard used Disingenuis.”
“Diss-in-what?” Jane asked.
Snape smiled grimly at her, then turned over the metal tray lying on the hospital table near her bed, and showed her her reflection.
Upon seeing herself, Jane gasped, and put her hands to her face.
She pulled at the bandages on her head, which came away immediately. “Who did this?”
“You know exactly who.”
Jane touched her mouth absently, then began touching the bruises on her cheeks and her forehead. “Remus?”
Snape gave one portentous nod, and Jane continued.
“You know, he was behaving rather oddly, even for him. I told him it was only a sprain but he went on and on about it, decided all of a sudden that I should come here to recover and be tested for some inner ear disorder or some such rot, because I’m so clumsy. He practically dragged me here, and brought me a Sleeping Draught. Though I told him I didn’t need one and would be quite fine, he just wouldn’t take no for an answer. He just kept babbling and babbling until I thought it would be more prudent not to argue with him. I think Poppy thought that as well.”
Snape nodded again, slowly. “My guess is that there was a bit of Draught of Living Death in that Sleeping Draught,” Snape told her, “to keep you from waking as he wrapped that bandage around your head. Then, he used a spell called Disingenuis to make you look like you’d been injured. A recent invention of those abominable Weasley twins, to aid students in their attempts to fabricate excuses to avoid work.
“And I believed it!” he added, furious.
Jane was still staring at her reflection in the mirror, touching her face gingerly. “It doesn’t hurt a bit, but I look horrid!”
Snape’s eyes had compressed to slits, now. “Yes, that’s precisely how it works. It will wear off, probably within the hour.
“I should have known,” he murmured to himself. “Poppy would not have left you alone were there any real danger. Lupin deceived me! And you as well!”
Jane looked at him, thoroughly confused. “But why? I mean I’d only sprained my ankle. What would be the point in tricking me into coming here, and deliberately trying to upset you? It’s cruel!”
Snape stood then, stiffly, and looked away. “He wished to fool me into thinking that you were mortally wounded, which he believed would force me to confront my…my feelings for you.”
Jane suddenly looked very distressed. “Oh, oh my...”
As Jane considered this revelation, Snape stared at nothing in particular on the other side of the room.
And when Jane did speak again, she would not look at him. “Severus, if you’d prefer that I forget you ever said anything…about marriage, I mean…I wouldn’t wish to hold you to a rash promise …”
There was a long pause, and then Snape grunted, glaring at her. “Oh for god’s sake, Jane, don’t be stupid. We were fools to think we could escape. From the moment I saved you from that bloody plant we were both doomed, so we might as well resign ourselves to our joint fate. Apparently we cannot escape each other.”
“Oh,” Jane said, her voice small. “Yes, well, of course. Sounds perfectly logical when you put it that way.”
Then Snape looked at her with steely resolve. “And we might as well get it over with. Better not to prolong the inevitable.”
But Jane only looked at him quizzically again. “You can’t possibly mean to marry me immediately…”
“No,” Snape said, with a curt shake of his head. “Not immediately. When I return from a necessary errand, within the hour. Go inform Minerva. She will perform the ceremony.”
Jane shook her head, vaguely horrified. “But I…but…Severus, I need time to prepare!”
“Don’t fuss at me about it! Go!”
However Jane did not go. She stayed planted in the bed, frowning. “You know, Severus, I really was hoping that my wedding day would be…well…a bit more romantic than that…I mean, flowers and a white dress and a church and…”
But then she noticed Snape’s withering glare. He had placed his arms across his chest. “Romance? Flowers? Church? Just who the devil do you think you’re marrying, anyway? Sir Walter Raleigh? He’s been dead for three hundred years, I’ll have you know.”
“Well, no…” Jane began, “but still, I really would like to…”
But Snape interrupted her. “You are marrying me. And I loathe flowers, church, engagement parties, reception lines, ring boys, rectors, corsages, and all the many and varied simpering details associated with the traditional matrimonial ceremony. And in addition, in case you haven’t perceived it after fucking me for four months straight, though I don’t see how it could have escaped your notice, I, Severus Snape, also happen to loathe romance.”
Snape had worked himself up again, and when he finished his tirade Jane’s eyes were very wide. To his pique he could tell she was biting the inside of her lip to keep from smiling.
“I can see you feel quite strongly about this, so I will accede to your wishes,” she said, affecting as much seriousness as was possible for her, considering that it was obvious she wanted to laugh.
He raised an eyebrow at her then, and a corner of his mouth quirked up. “I’m glad that’s settled. Though I will say that I find the idea of you wearing white quite amusing,” he added.
At this Jane’s mouth dropped open. She made an offended noise, and crossed her arms over her chest.
Unfortunately, Jane’s petulance made him want to kiss her. Quite badly in fact. Painfully badly. Her petulance always made him want to kiss her. But he restrained himself. Instead, Snape rolled his eyes, and then taking her by the wrist he pulled her bodily out of bed.
“Get up. I’m not going to argue with you about this. Find Minerva. We will rendezvous in half an hour, in the Headmaster’s office.”
Jane, however, had other ideas. As soon as she was on her feet, her free hand went around his neck and she pressed her body to his and buried her face in his hair, making a needy sound. He lost his grip on her wrist somehow, and then both her arms were around him and he was kissing her after all.
And for a couple of seconds he could not think. Tiny lights flashed behind his eyes, and his body, over which he had until seconds before been in command, suddenly acted of its own accord. They kissed and kissed and kissed, the tiny lights becoming starbursts as every nerve in his body sprang to life again, woke from its tormented sleep, and all he could think or feel was Jane Jane Jane Jane Jane…
And more Jane and still more until her hands began to flutter against his chest, seeking entrance, and some semblance of sense returned to him, and Severus Snape pushed her away.
She made a mewling sort of noise and began to clutch at him, but he took both her wrists in his hands this time, and looked at her sternly.
“Woman, you have no shame,” he scolded. But his voice was huskier than he intended.
Jane tried to wrench herself free, looking away, murmuring “Please, it’s been so long, Severus…”
She met his eyes again and the need for him that he saw there was so stark and overwhelming that he could not hold her gaze. She wanted him, now, here, in the infirmary, where Poppy could return at any moment. She wanted his hands on her, his mouth on her, his cock inside her. And after that she wished to press her face to his neck and live her life there, curled against him.
How she had managed to survive without him during their estrangement he did not know. But in that moment the very thought that her life without him had been anything but an agony was completely banished.
She was hollow without him.
“God, Jane…” he murmured weakly, looking away himself now. For what he had seen in her eyes had humbled him.
Still, his grip on her wrists did not waver. He pinioned her arms behind her then, and pressed his chest to hers. Jane’s face tilted upward and she closed her eyes, in expectation of another kiss. But he did not kiss her. His mouth went to her ear, and at the feel of his warm breath there, the knees almost went out from under her. Severus Snape held her up, though she was quivering now like a wounded bird.
“If you are a very good girl and do what I say,” he whispered, “right after we are wed I will spend all night giving you exactly what you want. Something I find far more agreeable than churches and flowers. Are we understood?”
Jane nodded, wriggling against him, trying to attain the most possible contact with him though he still had her hands behind her back.
“Severus…” she pleaded.
Then in one quick motion Snape let go of her wrists and stepped back, and made for the door.
“Why are you leaving?” Jane called after him, after she had steadied herself by taking hold of the bed’s rails.
“I have something very important to attend to.”
“What? Where are you going?”
Snape turned quickly and rather theatrically, and his robes swirled about him as he unsheathed his wand. His eyes glittered in the light of the half-moon shining in through the window, and despite herself Jane gasped.
“To kill Remus Lupin.”
Jane gasped again, as with his black robes billowing behind him, Severus Snape went in search of his prey.