Characters: Severus Snape, Yaxley, Daphne Greengrass
Warning (highlight to view): For not being festive in the slightest.
Word Count: 2945
Summary: Severus never had a girl of his own—except that he did.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling; various publishers, including, but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books; and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Thank you, Shog, for beta'ing.
The Dark Lord would, from time to time, send Yaxley to Hogwarts to serve as his "independent eye." This was in reward for Yaxley's having broken the Fidelius on Grimmauld Place, and also, Severus knew, his master's way of testing him. That no love was lost between Severus and Yaxley, rather, that Yaxley didn't care for the Dark Lord's special regard for Severus, was known; and it had always pleased Voldemort to play one of his Death Eaters off another. Yaxley, then, was sent to spy upon the Dark Lord's spy, in order to keep Severus on his toes.
But it wasn't Severus' digits that remained of interest to Yaxley, it seemed, after his third visit to the Slytherin common room, and Severus found himself wishing, absurdly, that "his" girls wouldn't go about sock-footed—or rather, that they would, particularly Greengrass, whose predilection for wiggling her tiny, perfectly formed toes whilst studying had engaged Yaxley's attentions.
"Remarkably lovely girl," he said, as he and Severus left the common room—where the majority of Severus' charges had listened eagerly, or at least wisely pretended to listen, to Yaxley's tales of his "exciting and useful" work at the Ministry.
Fuck. So that's why you've been chatting up my students, Severus thought, snorting with unfeigned derision to cover his concern.
"What?" Yaxley demanded peevishly.
"You're above thirty."
"To any of those girls, you're 'old'."
"Don't be too sure."
"Which girl?" Severus asked, his voice pitched to indicate polite boredom with the subject.
"That petite brunette, the one nestled into the sofa by the hearth."
"'Nestled', Yaxley? It must be love, what with these poetics of yours."
Yaxley abruptly smoothed down the front of his robes. It was an effort to control himself, and one for which Severus was grateful. He knew well enough that Carrow didn't feel the same compunction, and he had the portraits to thank for keeping a vigilant eye on the prettier female students.
Which doesn't begin to explain his . . . dealings with Alecto.
Severus shoved aside his disturbing thought so that he could focus his apparent inattention on Yaxley's infatuation with Greengrass. The situation was a dangerous one, for the Dark Lord had reason to feel grateful towards Yaxley, and one never knew in what form his gratitude would be expressed.
"Trust you not to recognise beauty, Snape. What's her name?"
"None of your concern. Hogwarts isn't your personal brothel."
Yaxley stopped and drew his wand. Severus, tensing, swept past him; he'd conjured a silent shielding spell the moment Yaxley had indicated his admiration for Greengrass. It would be proof enough against any curse save Death, at least, for the next two minutes, but Severus was almost certain that Yaxley wouldn't attempt to murder him for his insult—and since Amycus' arrival, Severus had become rather practiced at Obliviation. If the besotted fool tried to hex him, his charm would provide him ample time to perfect his casting of that spell upon Yaxley.
"You've a filthy mind, Snape! I wasn't implying—"
"Your intentions don't interest me. The students of this school are under my protection," Severus said, speeding his steps and pitching his voice low so that Yaxley had to catch up with him in order to follow the conversation, "and they are not for you."
"So they're for you, then, is that right, Headmaster?"
In answer, Severus spun about and had Yaxley disarmed and pressed into the wall before he could properly react. "You're. Too. Old. Say it," he snarled.
Severus released Yaxley at once, and then drew back. "We understand each another. Good."
In a more cautious tone of voice and obviously pretending that he'd not just been bested, Yaxley said, albeit hoarsely, "I don't see how it's any of your concern. You're not her father—and she looked like a Seventh Year to me. Besides, it's high time that I took a wife. Why shouldn't I have a young one if I choose?"
"I'm certain that Diana Greengrass has had her daughter's marriage arranged since before the girl's birth," Severus answered, gripping Yaxley's wand so tightly that his knuckles burned, "and that she wouldn't appreciate any . . . interference with Daphne."
Yaxley paled. "Greengrass?"
"So I said," Severus replied, pleased by the reaction his name-dropping had engendered.
The Greengrasses were old, rich, and pure—far too pure to allow the admixture of their bloodline with such as Yaxley's. Further, it had been Diana who had lured her "old friend," Charity Burbage, to Malfoy Manor at the Dark Lord's behest, a small price to pay for remaining publicly neutral "in these uncertain times." Her service had guaranteed her, for the present, the pragmatic respect of Voldemort's followers.
No doubt the bitch hopes to curry his favour so that he'll wrest control of the Greengrass funds from her daughter's hands and place them in hers, Severus thought sourly, for he'd provided the antidote to Greengrass upon her return to school, her mother having attempted to poison her at some point during the funeral of the girl's father.
Wizarding wills were tricky things to circumvent, after all, and slow poison, to some, would seem expedient.
"I . . . I don't see how that changes anything," Yaxley said, his tone a trifle reedy. "I'm an important . . . I'm highly placed in the Ministry, valuable to our lord. If there hasn't been an arrangement, I could—"
"Shite—that's what you are to that lot—and would it be worth it, marrying into a family of witches who none of them remains wed for long?" Severus asked, changing tactics.
Severus arched an eyebrow.
"Scurrilous rumours," Yaxley repeated, his eyebrows knitting together as if he were thinking.
Severus held out Yaxley's wand and shook his head as the other man took it. "If it were me, I'd want a warm welcome to my marital bed—by a witch who knew how to provide one."
Yaxley fell into step with Severus, who'd begun walking again. "If it were you—"
"I'd take my pick from amongst the Gryffindors and spend my time breaking in a dutiful wife."
Yaxley exhaled in amused surprise. "Pervert."
"And would you enjoy . . . a redhead, then?"
"About as much as you'd enjoy a painfully slow death by undetectable poison."
Yaxley wisely said no more.
Yaxley did mention to Bellatrix, however, his intention to find a bride, and, for perverse reasons of her own, Severus discovered when next called to the manor that she'd taken it upon herself to champion Yaxley's suit of Greengrass to Lord Voldemort.
"—start with flowers, shouldn't he, Cissy?" Bellatrix was saying, as Severus arrived.
Yaxley's eyes held a triumphant gleam as they met Severus'.
"White roses, to speak to his . . . to the purity of his intentions," Narcissa replied faintly.
Severus succesfully fought back the rising panic he felt. For all his romantic affectations, Yaxley was no gentleman. From the glint in Bellatrix's eyes, she appeared to understand that.
Greengrass had always been a good Slytherin, keeping herself above the petty rivalries and political struggles of her house. Further, she'd consistently received good Potions marks and, thus, knew her floriography. Severus had never had cause to be concerned for her before, which was why he was both disappointed and alarmed, as he approached the open entrance to the Slytherin common room where she and his "colleague" were standing, to observe Greengrass pull one perfect white rose out of Yaxley's floral offering, spell it to shrivel, and hand it to him.
Death is preferable to loss of virtue.
It had never been Severus' motto, but he couldn't disagree with Greengrass' sentiments, no matter that she'd just made his job that much harder, for, while it was unlikely that Yaxley understood her exact meaning, it was impossible that he'd missed her insult.
And in front of witnesses, too, Severus realised, as he heard the exclamations issuing from beyond the door, which will only make him more determined to have her.
He engineered a cauldron mishap the following day; as a punishment for Greengrass' "carelessness," he arranged for her to receive detentions in his office every evening for the remainder of the term—detentions that would, under the circumstances, continue even over the holidays, for Severus had no intention of returning Greengrass to the tender mercies of her mother.
In preparation of her first session, Severus placed on his desk an arrangement of apple blossom, white heather, and rhododendron. "Promise," "protection from danger," and "beware"—he trusted Greengrass to understand these meanings, and not to attribute any others to the blossoms that he did't intend.
It's Greengrass, he told himself. She's not some foolish chit, not entirely—but why couldn't she have taken Yaxley's bouquet, thanked him, and then demonstrated her disinterest in some less-insulting way?
Severus knew that answer to that question, of course.
Yaxley should have known better, really, and Greengrass, as well.
But she's only a child.
Severus had to remind himself of that fact later, when he awoke from an unacceptable dream.
"Thank you, sir," Greengrass, her eyes on his bouquet, had said after receiving her task for detention.
Her voice had sounded sweet, but there had been no contrition in her tone.
"Damn you, Yaxley!"
It was his fault, Yaxley's, that he was dreaming of a student.
When Yaxley next entered Severus' office, he was wearing a single black rose at his throat, no doubt now aware that Greengrass would understand its meaning were she to see it.
Obsession. "Idiot," Severus said, with a disgusted glance in Yaxley's direction.
"As it happens, Diana Greengrass is a lovely woman, Snape."
Raising an eyebrow and ignoring the clenching of his gut, Severus asked, "Oh?"
"She apologised to me for Daphne's . . . awkwardness, and I have her permission to see the girl whenever I'm at Hogwarts."
"But you don't have mine."
"I don't need it."
"That's why you're here looking for it," Severus said, a nasty smile twisting his mouth and a promise stronger than a fruit blossom blooming in his eyes. He couldn't save Lily's child, he hadn't been able to save Lily, but he would save Greengrass—even if her stupid cow of a mother was content to whore her out. Or arrange to put her into harm's way in the most convenient manner possible.
The apple of Yaxley's throat bobbed as he swallowed. "Where is she?"
"Girls' dormitory. You'll remember, I trust, that there's no spell that will allow you to gain access to her there?"
"Snape," Yaxley said, his voice a choked whisper, "I will see her."
"There are other, older, more acceptable—"
"I want her!" Yaxley shouted, rising to his feet. "You can't keep her from me!"
Severus recognised the feverish expression on Yaxley's face; it wasn't due to poison but a potion. Someone—and Severus knew at once that it had been Bellatrix—had given Yaxley a love potion and set him upon Greengrass.
Because she knew I wanted to protect her.
Shuffling the papers before him, Severus didn't fail to note that Yaxley had drawn his wand; there was only one thing for it.
With a salacious leer, he said, "I'm not inclined to share her with you, but perhaps it would get it out of your system, this ridiculous . . . need of yours, if I provided you with a measure of Polyjuice and some of Daphne's hair?"
His eyes widening in fury at Severus' implication, Yaxley flew at him—only to be thrown into the far wall by the force of Severus' hex: "Sectumsempra!"
Glaring at Yaxley's unconscious, bleeding body, Severus knew that it would take more than Obliviation to put things to rights—but it had felt good to act.
Diana Greengrass appeared suitably concerned upon being summoned to Hogwarts to visit her daughter in the wake of Greengrass' latest "cauldron mishap." Severus saw her personally, and, as he led her to the infirmary, it was easy enough to sort her out. Obliviation—he could honestly call himself a master at it after how he'd altered Yaxley's mind.
Lily wouldn't have approved.
He ignored that thought, just as he ignored the lack of green eyes staring back at him in his dreams. He knew it was denial, of a sort, his "infatuation" with Greengrass. Lily had been in his heart—no, in his mind—for so long without requiting even there his love for her that he'd earned the right to dream of someone else, hadn't he?
He almost meant it, too, but, alone and panting in the dark, Severus knew that he was lost. The end was coming, and he was going to fail. He had no idea where Lily's brat was. He'd never manage Albus' last "request" of him. The Dark Lord was going to win—was it any wonder he'd taken refuge in these horribly inappropriate fantasies of his? He'd been infected by Yaxley's obsession with Greengrass, which, really, come to think of it, made perfect sense. For too many reasons, she was another witch he would never, could never, have, and Severus had grown used to feeling unworthy. It was easier than allowing himself to hope.
It was little consolation that no one knew of his internal struggle.
Impatient with himself, he rose from bed and summoned flowers.
He was there when Greengrass pulled them out from between the cushions on the sofa by the hearth the next evening, having charmed the flowers to be found by her alone, but, though he could feel her gaze upon him, he ignored her attention in favour of giving his to Theodore Nott.
Brown eyes, wide and dark—why couldn't he call green ones to mind?
He overheard the girls who shared Greengrass' room in the dormitory discussing the same blossoms, the ones which had been "strewn over Daphne's bed" when they'd woken. "So beautiful," they said, "so romantic," "so clever!"
"Cleverness" came easily to Headmasters.
He practically growled at her when she arrived for her next detention and saw them, the same flowers, sitting in the vase on his desk. "Don't gawk, Greengrass! Ten inches on . . . ."
Severus wasn't certain what he'd assigned her; he'd spent the duration of the session pretending to read various things, his eyes flying from her bent head to the almond blossoms on his desk.
Almond blossoms, for hope.
That's all they meant, hope—he wasn't Yaxley—and he couldn't stop himself from offering it to Greengrass, even though, in truth, he had none to offer; all he could feel any longer was fear.
One of the things that Severus feared most was that Greengrass would eventually seek to thank him for his hypocritical displays because, given the nature of impressionable young witches and his own weakness, Severus wasn't certain that he could refuse the most obvious expression of the girl's now openly apparent and profoundly misplaced gratitude.
Her eyes shone with it, gratitude, the alluring light rising dangerously in her brown eyes—why weren't they green?—above the corsage of campanula she'd taken to wearing on her collar.
She's just a child. Severus kept telling himself that, but not as often as he reminded himself that he wasn't Yaxley.
Of course, even Yaxley wasn't Yaxley, anymore—and how Bellatrix had glared at him when she'd last seen him and observed her "champion's" disinterest in marrying one of Severus' girls. It had inspired him to add laurel leaves to his vase of almond flowers, only a few, so that Greengrass would know of his success where she was concerned.
If he hadn't have needed to remain consistent, he'd have released Greengrass from her detentions.
Yes, but consistency is crucial.
Severus kept telling himself that, too, as he studiously ignored the lovely, unattainable girl—weren't they all?—sitting across from him and wearing that damned campanula.
He wasn't Yaxley. There would be no expressions of gratitude beyond the floral, not on his watch.
Besides, she's not your girl.
Even "his" girl had never been.
Potter. He needed to find him and complete his task—and he wanted to see that green again. Just once.
"Just once, to see the green of her eyes."
"Headmaster?" Greengrass asked, looking up, her brown eyes full of concern.
"Are you all—"
She didn't even start at his snarl but rose with a grace reminiscent of a lily waving in the breeze and left without a backward glance.
Severus envied Greengrass her poise as the almond blossoms shriveled to dust on his desk; there would be no more detentions, no more flowers, no more Greengrass.
No more green.
He wasn't Yaxley, and his eyes were open; he could see the end of things.
He just couldn't remember the flower for failure.
When the Aurors found Severus Snape's body, it was covered in bright blue borage blossoms.
Borage, Daphne thought, hidden from view and wiping hot tears of pride and grief from her cheeks, for courage.
In the years to come, no one ever asked Mrs Nott why she kept green roses. If anyone had bothered to ask her, however, she would not have told them that they were in memory of Severus Snape because it was no one's business; the professor had been a private man, and her gratitude towards him had never abated. But she did keep them, her roses, and faithfully.
Green, for Slytherin. Green, for his lost love.
The story of Severus Snape's love for Lily Potter was widely known, but that didn't mean that one spoke of it. There were always so many things about which one couldn't speak; this was a lesson that Daphne had learned well.
Green, for you . . . Severus.
Daphne, having never had the courage to speak his name while he lived, could only think it to herself now, always wistfully, and what she meant by her reticence, she'd never fully understood.