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A More Merciful Man by Berkana [Reviews - 9]

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Nothing in the world could have stunned Minerva McGonagall more than Jane Flintrammel appearing at her door, her face colored with bruises, insisting that she was that very night to be the bride of Professor Severus Snape. Unless it was Jane’s insistence that Minerva herself was supposed to perform the ceremony.

“At least I think that’s what Severus intended…you are Head of House…” Jane Flintrammel explained.

All heads of house had the power to perform a marriage ceremony, which had come in useful before the invention of the universal contraception charm, when a young wizard and witch found themselves pressured into what was termed a “wand wedding”. Still, there had not been a wedding at Hogwarts in more than fifty years.

“Perhaps you ought to sit down, dear…” Minerva McGonagall said kindly, motioning to a chair.

But Jane Flintrammel only looked nervously at her watch. “I have only twenty minutes now, to prepare. Not enough time to sit …Oh, I don’t have anything to wear!”

Then, Jane Flintrammel embraced her colleague quickly and was gone, and Minerva was left standing there, utterly stunned, and quite sure that the poor woman had lost her mind.

Because who in their right mind would believe that Severus Snape would marry the very woman whose hire he had protested so vigorously? The woman for whom he claimed to possess such disdain? Surely this was not possible.

Minerva McGonagall grew more sure as the moments passed that poor Jane was not right in the head. She had obviously injured herself somehow, which had addled her wits. And thus Minerva McGonagall, still in her nightclothes, went off to inform the ghost of Albus Dumbledore of what she believed to be a very grave situation indeed.

She found him in his office, of course. He and Fawkes (in a younger incarnation) were swooping around the room, playing some sort of ghost and phoenix tag, it seemed. There was a lot of laughing and squawking, until Dumbledore saw her, and seeing that his colleague was in a state of distress, he floated to his chair.

“Ah, Minerva…is something wrong?”

Minerva related the incident with Jane to him, growing increasingly worried as she did. You might imagine that she was quite surprised to discover that the news seemed to please the Headmaster, who began laughing again. Fawkes squawked, thinking that the game of tag was beginning anew, and indeed it was, because Dumbledore’s ghost suddenly rose up into the air and began swooping more vigorously than before.

“Has the whole world gone mad?” Minerva called up to him. “What the devil is going on around here?”

“A garter-stitch border will prevent the garment from curling!” the ghost of Albus Dumbledore shouted happily.

It was just at that benighted moment that Severus Snape himself arrived, and beside him was Remus John Lupin.

McGonagall approached them, her face filled with concern. “Ah, Severus, Remus…have you seen Professor Flintrammel? She’s quite mad, I’m afraid. Oh, I should have detained her! Why did I let her run off? We must find her! We must do something!”

Minerva was wringing her hands in distress, now, as Snape stared at her blandly and Lupin suppressed a smile. As for the ghost of Albus Dumbledore, he seemed to be happy where he was, flying about on the ceiling.

Minerva’s anguish was only compounded by the behavior of the Headmaster (and the apparent amusement of Lupin as well), and she looked at Snape, now, as the only sober influence.

“What is going on? Professor Flintrammel seems to be under the impression that the two of you are…well that you and she…and it can’t be possible, really…and she seems to have been injured, and…”

But just then Severus Snape put his hand on Minerva McGonagall’s arm. “Yes, Minerva, it’s true. We wish to be married. And I’d appreciate it if you did the honors.”

McGonagall stepped back, then, clutching her nightclothes to her chest, and stared in utter shock.

“But why the devil didn’t you banish the spell before you ran off?” Lupin prodded. “Jane’s wandering about now, looking like someone’s gone at her with a brick. No wonder Minerva was frightened for her.”

Snape frowned. “By the time I thought of it I was on my way to kill you.”

“K...kill you?” McGonagall said to Lupin, who was apparently still quite whole.

“Oh, we got over that, don’t you worry…” Lupin soothed. “In fact, I’m to be best man!” And at this he smiled broadly at the Transfigurations professor, who was still, of course, staring.

Snape looked distinctly uncomfortable, now, as he again addressed Professor McGonagall. “Do you have the proper text on hand? Perhaps you’d best find it. As soon as Jane arrives I’d like to get this over with as quickly as possible.”

Minerva, her mouth still agape, took two steps forward then, and put her palm to the Potions professor’s forehead. “Severus…are you quite well?”

“I’m fine!” he insisted, batting her hand away. It did not escape his notice that Remus Lupin had turned his head and was obviously shaking with suppressed laughter, or that Dumbledore chose that precise moment to shoot right through him.

“That’s bloody cold!” he shouted to the ghost of the Headmaster, as Fawkes swooped low, nearly catching his claws on Snape’s hair, “and damned rude to boot!”

The ghost ignored him.

“Has the Ministry passed some sort of marriage law of which I am unaware?” Minerva continued. “I mean I don’t understand...is there pressure being put on you, or on Slytherins, to…”

“No!” Snape was practically shouting, now, “and I’d kindly ask you to mind your own business about my reasons for marriage!”

But Minerva McGonagall, her mind eased somewhat, grew suddenly recalcitrant, even stubborn.

“Well, Severus,” she sniffed, her voice taking on a superior, chastising air (which she used often on errant students), “if I am to perform the ceremony, and join the two of you in matrimony forever and for always, I would like the assurance that the bride and groom have not both gone completely mad.”

Snape’s expression curdled into one of helpless frustration then, and he made a strangled noise.

Lupin chose that very moment to stop laughing, and a wise choice indeed that it was, as the situation was obviously growing worse by the moment.

“Severus is perfectly sane, as is Jane,” he explained. “They have been involved since before Christmas. And if you never believe anything else I say, believe this. Severus Snape is marrying Jane Flintrammel for the same reason any good man marries. Because he loves her.”

McGonagall’s face softened then, and she looked on Snape with surprising tenderness. “In love…? Severus?

But Snape, utterly mortified, buried his face in his hands. “We should have eloped to Beijing,” he murmured, “I would have avoided this and improved my Chinese.”

Luckily, it was then that Jane Flintrammel appeared at last. She was wearing the slightly-too-small cashmere dress she had worn to Yule Ball, and in an impromptu impulse of whimsy, she tied her hair back with a piece of the white bandage that had recently covered her head. Her face was still shrouded in bruises (though they were lightening, now).

“Stand still, Jane…” said Lupin, and Snape, his eyes still on her, heard him utter “Finite Incantatum…” and watched the discolorations disappear.

But Snape would not have cared if the bruises remained, to remind him always of what he had come so close to losing forever. And he found at that moment that he had lost the power of speech. In fact the couple said nothing to each other as Minerva fetched the proper book from which to perform the marriage, just looked at each other with a sort of wonder.

“Did you know about this?” Minerva whispered to the ghost of Albus Dumbledore, as she leafed through Hogwarts: Ceremonies and Celebrations for the marriage rites. Her hands were shaking.

“Knit two, purl two until the cuff measures four inches!” Dumbledore blurted, smiling.

Minerva McGonagall blinked at him. She would have questioned him further but the evening was already odd enough.

When she found the proper page, Severus Snape took Jane’s hand, and with Remus Lupin standing beside him he and Jane did what most couples in that situation do. They solemnly and with great reverence promised to love one another until death parted them.

“With my luck that will probably occur sometime next week,” Snape grumbled.

As for the bride she looked about as stunned as the Transfigurations professor.

“What have we just done?” she asked, turning to her new spouse, after they had been pronounced husband and wife.

“Made the biggest mistake of our lives,” he told her.

“You may kiss the bride,” said Minerva McGonagall.

And with a flourish Severus Snape did exactly that, for a long, long time.

A More Merciful Man by Berkana [Reviews - 9]

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