"Severus' Woodcut" by the absolutely amazing mywitch ❤️, who has once again been so thoroughly and indescribably wonderful as to make a piece of art for my story. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, you incredibly lovely witch, you! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️)
Primarily I wanted to make sure it's seen, because I'm bouncing in my seat from excitement and it's now buried in a chapter from months ago. (MW, I'll add a link to it when I (er, eventually) put up the next chapter. 😘❤️) For context, if anyone is looking for some, here's an excerpt from Chapter 109 (LJ / DW) from "beyond wandpoint" (LJ / DW). I don't think it's necessary to have read the rest of the story, the scene can stand on its own, or at least it can with a couple of previouslies. To wit...
Our story so far...
Hermione is briefly taken hostage in the corridors of Hogwarts and Severus comes to her rescue. Albus, after some deliberation, decides the answer to a small assortment of his problems lies in having the two bond, and as both are rather vulnerable at the moment - and Albus is quite practised at what he does - they soon acquiesce. Somehow, so strangely, he neglects to mention in advance that such a bonding will permit them to sense one another's feelings. (Severus is beyond thrilled by the discovery.)
Staff have many and varied reactions to the news, but eventually pull themselves together enough to send congratulatory gifts in an attempt at a show of support. Severus, unfortunately, completely fails to recognise it as such. Hermione has artfully arranged the gifts on their dining table, and feels quite certain the thing to do is send "thank you" notes - she wasn't raised by wolves after all. Her bondmate has frankly never heard something more absurd. (They're getting along swimmingly.)
After Hermione blithely throws the extremely well warded door to their chambers open to the (technically) second person to come knocking with absolutely no foreknowledge whatsoever of who is on the other side, Severus is forced to teach her the Observation Charm that permits it to act much like a Muggle two-way mirror. And speaking of mirrors... Unaccustomed to having another person moving about his quarters, the Potions Master placed a related Perception Charm on the mirror adorning the witch's door in order to better view the room behind his reading chair by expanding its breadth of field. This, too, went unmentioned, because reticence is something of an epidemic in the castle.
They stand there for a moment in silence until she deems it... safe to change the topic. “I’ve written the ‘thank you’ notes...” His response is a bark of laughter. Hers is now uncertainty. “We... had agreed to that? Hadn’t we?” In retrospect, and looking at his expression now, she’s beginning to wonder if he’d been completely and utterly facetious when they’d spoken of it this morning.
It’s beginning to look like a strong possibility. She begins worrying her lip again. With a vengeance.
“Oh, no, absolutely. You’re quite correct, we had,” he assures her, and she wonders why she doesn’t quite find herself put at ease to hear it. “I’ll just sign them then, shall I?”
“Um...” She’s regressing. She swallows and answers, no more ‘um’s. “I’ll just get them then...” Which isn’t to say she’s the paragon of confidence, but still...
She Accios her bag and removes a stack of the things, which she now hands him along with her quill. “We might want to check to make sure I remembered everyone...” She gestures to the table, still laden with her strange shrine of tat.
With a long suffering shake of his head, he pretends to have to struggle to find some free space at the head (or perhaps foot) of the table to put the sheaf of parchment down. Hermione finds herself dangerously close to a snort at that. She settles on rolling her eyes, the silence of the gesture the winning argument in its favour. It’s a bit of a shock, really, when she catches herself, and she wonders when she became comfortable enough to even consider such a response. She thinks the fact the bond reassures her when she’s not on thin ice, when she hasn’t pushed things too far... It’s giving her the self-assurance to respond to him more as she might Harry or Ron.
Well, perhaps not quite as she might to them, but it’s a fair sight more relaxed an interaction than it would have been a week ago, and she’s pretty sure it isn’t entirely down to the Draught of Peace in her.
“Do you suppose there’s any chance we could address the pile while we’re at it?” He asks, indicating it with his head. She looks at him a little blankly, and he revises any thoughts he’d had as to her intelligence. Downwards. And if she knew what he was thinking, she’d do much the same as to his, as he still doesn’t seem to have grasped why she’d left the presents there in the first place. Wizards can be unconscionably thick sometimes. (Not that certain witches are much better...)
“Perhaps remove them to your room?” He suggests, because it seems the thought simply won’t occur to her of its own volition.
“Oh, well, we’ll need to sort through them...” She hadn’t missed the way he’d glared (she’s sure it was a glare) at her uniform, and she’d promised after all. Quarters were supposed to be a uniform-free zone. Only she’d become distracted searching for Crooks... And he has enough to do for the moment signing the notes.
“I’ll just go change first while you see to them,” she gestures to the cards a series of Diffindos and some folding had made of her parchment and he nods in agreement, not that she sees as she’s scampering off towards her room.
She’s pleased with what she’d accomplished with those notes. It strikes her as a perfectly acceptable response, the proper response to the faculty’s kind gestures, and she doesn’t think he can go too far wrong just dashing off his signature. She’s effectively Snape-proofed it, she’s sure.
He’s leaning over the table to sign the bloody things, he hasn’t even bothered to take a seat, when she stops and turns to him, a dreadful idea occurring to her.
“The way Madam Pomfrey used the Observation Charm... It isn’t just limited to doors, is it? If someone knows it, they can apply it to... to walls as well?”
“If they’ve learnt it, yes,” he answers slowly, scenting trouble, righting himself once more and observing her carefully. “It’s hardly restricted to a specific material or function, such as wood or a door.”
“But on any wall??” She looks and feels nervous now, and he thinks he understands why. She was about to change her clothing, to disrobe, and he’d only just demonstrated the ability to render walls see-through with a flick of his wand, and she’d never know he had.
While he can understand how that might be an uncomfortable thought in the abstract, in his concrete case... To assume he might do such a thing... The very notion gets his dander up.
He does’t take what isn’t freely offered. That had been most of the point for him to agree to their damnable bonding. Just what does his... wife take him for? “The ability to do so does not mean one has the inclination,” comes his reply. It’s frankly hissed, and he sounds so utterly offended at the idea, she’d know where she stands even without the bond.
Which throws her.
Because what she was thinking wouldn’t begin to explain his reaction.
“But...” She isn’t sure how to explain what she meant when he’s this angry. She doubts he’ll hear. “Did...” And she can’t imagine he’ll explain himself either, certainly not to her. “I...” And then she just stops and tries to work out why he could be this angry at the question.
It doesn’t take her long, even though she considers his interpretation far from obvious. It’s more a matter of summoning the courage to address her newly formed suspicion. She swallows hard and leaps. “I wasn’t implying you would.” She rushes to reassure him. “Was that what you thought?”
He doesn’t confirm it, she’d doubted he would, but the bond gives him away. The hurt... ebbs and he... unclenches. Slightly. No change is visible in his expression yet. It’s still clouded. Dark. But she’s encouraged by the insight the bond provides and pushes on, ”It just occurred to me that anyone in the school could use Charms like that. On any of the walls. The lavatory, say. The bedrooms. Or the showers.
“It would never cross my mind that you would. I doubt anyone who’d agree to a bonding like you did would... That’s out of the question.”
She’s completely sincere, and he relaxes further, mollified, his face now following suit. Hermione tries not to smile. ”And I wouldn’t have thought you capable of something like that even if you hadn’t. Agreed to the bond, I mean. It would never have occurred to me.”
She means every word. He knows it.
But now her expression falters a little, “But there are some people here at Hogwarts I wouldn’t trust,” she shrugs one shoulder a little helplessly, because this is touching on thoughts she prefers to avoid. “Not to use something like that... In that way.”
Severus feels like an unmitigated idiot, because of course that’s what she’d meant, and he’d forced her - a recent assault victim - to spell it out for him like the imbecile he is. He is an arse. And having gotten past his righteous indignation, his hurt, his... ego, he understands her problem quite fully. And responds accordingly.
“I apologise, Miss Granger. I was too superficial in my instruction of the Charm. I was focused on our immediate goal and neglected to provide you with the necessary context for the Spell. The short answer is ‘no’, they could not, at least not here.
“First and foremost, Perception Charms, like many others, depend on permissions. This door,” he gestures with his left hand to the door to their chambers, “is yours.” Her stomach does something odd at that, but she’s anxious to hear what he has to say and listens intently. “You could apply that Charm to either side of it. That door,” he points now to his right, “leads to my office. The wards are different, the permissions are different. Try it.” She hesitates. “Go on, give it your best.” She draws her wand and attempts the Charm she’d only just learnt and fails. Completely.
“It’s not you,” he tells her and his expression softens, and she begins to smile.
“It never is,” she quips, a little uncertainly, but trying to unwind.
He gives her a slight smirk, relieved she seems to be able to move past his blunder. “Come with me,” he tells her, lowers the wards and leads her into his office. He closes the door behind them - he really does seemed doomed to the doorman’s role today - and asks her to try again. This time the Spell works on the first attempt. “Those are your quarters. As such, you are able to apply the Charm from this side.”
It provides them with an excellent view of Crooks, now stationed before the closed door and giving it quizzical looks. (Once they reenter their chambers, he’ll quite naturally feign an abiding disinterest in them and their activities, of course.)
“Useful, given I’m unable to enter your office without you,” she smirks and seems to be shaking things off and he finds himself increasingly relieved in response.
She almost receives something that could be the hint of a smile in reply, more because of that relief than any actual amusement. “Not entirely useless as I believe the exercise demonstrated the issues succinctly.”
They return to chambers, and she notes he didn’t need to lower the wards for her again. They’re obviously still there, she can feel that sensation like a warm breeze across her skin, the tingle beneath it. It seems nothing keeps her from entering their home. The door closes, locking automagically behind them.
“You are able to see from your quarters to public areas, but not private ones. It’s out of the question that anyone but a staff member could apply the Spell to the rooms you mentioned, and even then there are limits. Poppy can apply these Charms to the Infirmary walls as those are her rooms. You could not.”
There’s a soft snort of amusement, “If the castle works with me. As a member of staff, it’s sometimes possible, for Heads of House, naturally more so, but that wouldn’t extend to Poppy’s private chambers, say. The inverse is also true that she might be able to see into the Potions classroom, but definitely not into our quarters.
“It may assuage your fears further to know the Charms aren’t widely known - hence your Oath on the matter, we’d like to keep it that way - and it’s a good deal more difficult to apply them to stone than wood and to something with the thickness of a wall as opposed to a door.”
By the time he’s done, he’s achieved his goal, he can feel it. She’s smiling now and thanks him for taking the time to explain it to her, for banishing her fears. He still feels a fool for having caused them in the first place, but lets it stand with a faint dip of his head in acknowledgment. She darts off towards her room again with a, “I’ll be right back, if you could just finish signing those...”
And it’s the oddest thing. For a woman concerned with her potential visibility, exposure while changing, she once again fails to shut the door.
No, she stands there now, next to her bed and begins to shuck her robes.
The issue, of course, is that most of her room is visible thanks to a Perception Charm he’d cast on the mirror on her door. If she isn’t in the bathroom...
She’s very much in his line of sight.
He has no idea how to begin to explain that to her now. Certainly not in light of her concerns just moments ago. He stands, mutely staring. Mortified.
The tie follows the robe to the wardrobe, and Severus is finally spurred into action by the sight of her hands at the closure to her blouse. He whips around, turning his back to her doorway. Strange habit of hers, this changing with open doors.
“I wasn’t sure about what’s traditional, and I couldn’t think of much to say in the notes...” Had she actually opened the gifts first, he can’t help thinking, she might have had more to say. Naturally he misses - completely - that she’d waited for him to do so.
“So I’d thought I’d fold them into cards,” her voice wafts out of her room. Towards the middle, it’s muffled slightly, he imagines as she pulls something over her head - no, no he does not imagine that, of course not - and he continues to fixate on their front door with unwavering resolve. “I was just trying to come up with something to put on the front. You know, to make it a little more decorative...” She emerges in the decorative green blouse from the weekend, still with too many buttons undone along her front... He plants his eyes firmly on hers and refuses to allow them to drift again.
“Do you have any ideas?” She prompts. He blinks twice trying to recall the topic, and then blinks again at the idea he should be consulted on the matter.
“As far as traditions go, I believe doves are an oft used symbol.” She looks at him enquiringly, the suggestion surprisingly helpful. “Perhaps animated? Possibly turning on a spit?” Comes the now unmistakably sarcastic rest. “I could have Sunny provide us with his favourite recipe for them as an enclosure...”
And then it occurs to him why he’d wanted to sign the cards in the first place...
Elfwine, Firewhisky, Rolanda’s champagne... It bordered on a wonder neither Rolanda nor Taylor had sent sensual massage oils... No, this was the only acceptable response to his colleagues sending his bondmate wedding presents for their farce of a union. The whole idea is such an affront, it was the only conceivable response.
Well, once Miss Granger had conceived of it anyway.
“Leave that to me, I have the very thing.” Something about his tone has her questioning that, and she reminds herself that even if he had been helpful and reassuring just moments ago, he is by no means just another Harry. Although Harry hadn’t been anywhere near as reassuring, now that she thinks about it, and that might be part of why she keeps forgetting to be more cautious with the Professor.
He takes a blank sheet of parchment from the bottom of the stack and Transfigures it into a piece of wood about an inch thick, forming two grooves along the sides to better hold it. His wand firmly in hand, he glances at her and with a perfectly devious smirk begins to carve something into its surface. The satisfaction on his face when he finishes has her nervous, and he turns it to her presenting it proudly.
It’s a woodblock carving. It’s rough, there’s no question. The ability to work wood doesn’t by extension mean he’s an artist. But there’s no question about what it depicts.
It’s a carving.
Being fed a bunch of grapes.
She’s having a great deal of trouble processing that.
“Grapes,” he supplies, sounding suspiciously like he’s trying to do an impression of ‘helpful’.
“Yes,” she replies dumbly. “I recognised that.”
“It’s our portmanteau,” he gives her a positively filthy smirk and she goggles. He nods, apparently eminently satisfied with the effort. And result.
“All that’s missing is a grape stamp to sign the things...” she grumbles, more from shock than anything else.
“Brilliant, Miss Granger! Just the thing...” And he’s grabbed another blank sheet of paper and begun the Transfiguration.
“Perhaps a wax seal, too, while you’re at it?” She adds. Only the most dull witted could take that for something other than facetiousness. Severus is far from dull witted.
And yet he simply laughs, “I’ll see to it next. You’re just a fount of inspiration tonight.” He Summons some ink from his desk, not the Selkies Silken Signatures, and hands it to her. ”Why don’t you begin stamping while I finish? You’re familiar with the process? A light Tergeo should do for the brayer...”
“I’m sure I can work it out.” She stamps the first one and examines it. He looks much himself on the card, perhaps slightly more cheerful than usual, although far from as cheerful as he seems just now.
She looks at him uncertainly, “Do you really think this is a good idea?” Because to her this no longer seems like an appropriate response in the least...
“I think it’s the only answer to... this.” He waves his hand at the pile of... things in front of him, and she can feel something twisting uncomfortably through the bond. She had been thinking of it solely as a question of manners. It occurs to her now that he really isn’t happy with the gifts, that to him, somehow it feels like everyone has completely missed the point.
Were Taylor suggesting such a scene, him and his young bondmate, her nibbling the fruit playfully as it dangled from his hand, he’d have probably hexed the man where he stood. It’s an entirely different matter coming from himself. He has a vague hope seeing the picture might show the others the utter absurdity. Illustrate just how inappropriate their reaction had been.
For the second time now.
What he’d wanted, what he needs is for them to make believe nothing has changed. Certainly not for them to pretend it’s more than it is.
Just a desperate bid for an added measure of safety... The very extremity of the action screams of that desperation.
How could they possibly have thought to celebrate their circumstances? They should have sent condolences, for fuck’s sake. At least if they had anything vaguely like brains in their heads...
“Humour me in this?” He asks, and it sounds... it sounds real. He looks at her and she meets his gaze. Funny choice of words, that, because there’s no humour here. He seems serious, so... earnest. There’s no sarcasm. It’s just... real.
“Of course,” she agrees simply and means it. If he needs this to happen, it’s certainly in her power to make it so, and she will.
They work in silence for a little bit, it doesn’t take long. He crafts the seal while she double checks the notes against the presents. She hadn’t missed a one, she discovers with some satisfaction; it isn’t as though she’d set out to memorise them. She prints and blots the fronts as he signs, applying the matching little stamp between their signatures - oddly, neither makes use of their surnames - and then she places the cards in envelopes she’d Transfigured from her parchment, addressing them one by one. When she’s finished, he Summons a candle and hands it to her. She sets about sealing the lot.
“Thank you,” he tells her, acknowledging it hadn’t been quite what she wanted. To be fair, she thinks it was something of a compromise, but perhaps their messages hadn’t been exactly compatible. Whether or not they’re mutually exclusive probably depends more on the recipients she decides. Some people will know enough to understand she’d been sincere.
Unquestionably all should recognise he was taking the mickey.
But surely they must be accustomed to that by now.