Title: An Unusual Quittance
Warnings (highlight to view): For Deathly Hallows spoilers and implied, non-grim, secondary character death.
Word Count: 4952
Summary: Luna discovers Severus before he can take his leave, and both of them find it rewarding.
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 Notes: Written for chazpure as part of the 2007 Smutty Claus fest. Thank you, jadzia7667, for beta'ing.
No one noticed Luna "chasing" the Blibbering Humdinger out of the Great Hall, and that suited her just fine because the Humdinger she was truly after no doubt did not desire catching. As soon as she'd heard enough from Harry, Ron, and Hermione's conversations to glean some indication of her object's whereabouts, however, Luna had resolved to seek him out, and in providing a distraction for Harry, she'd managed one for herself.
She half-expected to find nothing but a bloodstain and was surprised to discover the body—its neck yet oozing blood. Luna knelt and gently pressed her hand to the wound, not sure what to expect. The flesh felt cold—almost like metal—but there was a strong pulse beneath its smoothness, and she realized that the man lying beside her was not dead but exhausted, and that he was brilliant with glamours.
Among other magic, Luna thought, brushing back the lank strands of hair obscuring the Headmaster's face and saying, "I'd want some tea and quittance, if it were me."
Peering closely at Severus' Snape's face in the gloom, Luna observed the sudden, downward curl of his lip and at once felt ridiculously cheerful.
The blasted girl had kept her word; she'd told no one about his continued, miserable existence.
It hadn't truly surprised him, for Lovegood, as he'd learned during his tenure as Headmaster of Hogwarts, had . . . unexpected capacities. In the magically expanded tent that he was currently sharing with her and her unwitting father, Lovegood had Imperturbed the entirety of the fabric of their—of her—living quarters; she had also managed to procure a great many of his belongings from Spinner's End and his personal quarters at the school. These were now neatly arranged in the further enlarged area that Lovegood had declared to be Severus' own until he "recovered." When he'd asked her how she'd managed to prevent the discovery of the loss of his effects, she'd merely smiled in that infuriating manner of hers and said something about being good with "small charms." Pressing her had only led to a bizarre, painful conversation involving the size and colour of various spells. Mercifully, Lovegood tended to leave him to himself.
That didn't mean, however, that she kept to herself. Even now, he could hear the girl calmly explaining, beyond one thin, enchanted canvas wall, how the repairs to her family home were progressing.
It had been a risk, interfering with Lovegood's Imperturbable Charm—her spell-casting was often peculiar—but Severus had needed to be able to hear what the girl was saying to whomever she was saying it because she never told him about her guests.
Potter, he thought, pressing his ear against the canvas that separated his area from Luna's, and Ginny Weasley.
His former students' conversation quickly progressed from the topic of repairs to him, and Severus listened in astonishment to hear what he'd only read: Harry Potter thought he, Severus, was a hero—further, he and Miss Weasley thought that they might one day name a child after him. The idea was so absurd that Severus reared back, inadvertently knocking his cup of tea to the floor.
I shouldn't be here. I should leave. I should—
"—right back," he heard Lovegood say, as she entered his room, closed the flap behind her, and pointed her wand at the patch of fabric through which he'd been eavesdropping before murmuring a spell. "It's not nice to listen in, you know. If you're bored, you might come out and tell them. I think they'd like to know."
Swallowing with difficulty, Severus glared at her. He knew that he had no business allowing Lovegood to hide him, but, while he'd planned against the day that the Dark Lord would attempt to murder him, he'd not given enough thought to where he'd go should he survive his old master, and he wanted to remain hidden—desperately.
"You . . . you promised."
Lovegood sighed. "I know, but you should be more quiet, especially while Ginny's here," she told him, leaving without offering further reproof.
Disgusted with himself for what felt like cowardice, Severus took to his bed.
"When I said 'quittance', I didn't think you'd take me literally," Luna said, settling into the chair next to Snape's—he'd told her not to call him "Headmaster" or "Professor"—camp bed.
"I'll go, then."
Luna waited; Snape didn't move. I didn't think so, she thought, opening the journal she'd brought and reading aloud.
When she'd completed the article in Potions Monthly, she considered her Humdinger, who'd rolled over to face the canvas rather than her, but Luna knew that he wasn't ignoring her. Snape was striking and extraordinary, but he was also in more pain and, she suspected, shock, than she knew how to handle.
Hagrid might know what to do with him, she mused, but I can't tell him about Snape. I can't tell anyone.
Luna had never regretted making a promise before; she was not, however, prepared to go back on it, especially not one she'd made to Snape because he'd done so much for everyone.
Even if he won't let us thank him for it.
There were loads of ways to express gratitude, though, ways that went beyond making sure a tea pot was full and that there was shampoo in the loo—even if it rarely got used.
He's stuck, isn't he? Stuck in himself, but now the place in which he could be himself is gone. Everything's changed, only . . . only he can't change.
Luna wasn't quite certain what she meant by her thoughts, but she did know that taking a thought-clearing walk wouldn't be a strong enough solution for Severus Snape's state of "stuckness." She'd have to encourage him to move in another way.
With that in mind, Luna took herself to Snape's bed.
"W—what are you doing?" Severus demanded, starting as he felt the press of Lovegood's supple body against his rigid back.
It was bad enough that the girl felt it necessary to read to him as if he were a child, but to find her petting him as if she were his mother was—
Oh. Not like Mother. "This is wrong," he protested, shifting onto his back. "S—stop."
"Lo—ovegood, you've no idea what you're doing!"
The small, sure hand grasping his prick put paid to that notion.
Severus groaned, and the stu—ridi—brilliant girl took it as encouragement, speeding her strokes until he was jerking his hips upward to meet her every downward movement. "Fuck!"
"I think we might have to wait to do that," she whispered—with far more animation than he was used to hearing in her tone.
"We . . . shouldn't have . . . you shouldn't have done—"
"Aren't wizards supposed to sleep after orgasm?" Luna interrupted. "Padma was always complaining about that."
Rather more embarrassed than not, all Severus could do was reach for Luna's hand and squeeze it. He'd never been in a situation similar to the one in which he found himself, but it seemed . . . reasonable to acknowledge her in some manner.
In the morning, Severus—she'd been ordered to call him that—had explained all about the protective charm he'd employed before seeing Voldemort that last time, and Luna had been pleased to see that her guest had eaten a decent amount of food. She wondered if she might encourage him further by the use of her tongue.
Padma had talked at length about that, as well, after returning to the Ravenclaw dormitory from her late-night meetings with boys.
I wonder if Severus has ever used his tongue like that? Luna thought, remembering how Dean had introduced her to the technique when they were at Shell Cottage together. He certainly enjoyed it more than talking about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, but Dean always did strike me as odd.
More than that, Luna was sure that Severus would be more precise in his tongue-related attentions to her than Dean had been. She knew from their conversations that Dean had difficulty focusing.
Severus, she thought, staring at him stare at her, has never suffered from that problem, I'd imagine.
He cleared his throat. "I don't like it."
Luna smiled. "That isn't true."
Severus frowned at her. "What are you . . . ."
"Interesting. Are you afraid to ask—"
"Why are you staring?"
Luna shifted a bit, stretching her arms back over her head and allowing it to drop back; she knew without looking that Severus still was. "I was thinking about your tongue. You'd stopped talking, and I was wondering if you'd ever used yours the way De—the way some wizards do with witches." Straightening, Luna was a bit surprised to see Severus flushing.
She was glad that she hadn't mentioned Dean; it seemed likely that Severus, who perhaps hadn't used his tongue in the way she was imagining, wouldn't want to know that she'd been with another wizard who had.
"I think you're curious now," she said, "about the tongue idea."
"I don't know wha—"
"Then I'll show you."
Since Lovegood's lingual instruction, Severus had stopped taking his yoghurt plain, even though eating it with raspberries made him blush like a boy.
Madness, he kept repeating to himself, sitting by the stream that ran near the Lovegood property.
Sucking on one of the fags Luna had brought him, he held the smoke as long as he could stand it and then exhaled forcefully.
He spent his days hiding behind the quiet of the canvas, reading his books, skimming the newspapers the girl brought him, and spying on her visits with friends: Longbottom came around with appalling frequency. At night, sometimes, Lovegood—he couldn't even think about calling her "Luna," not when "Lily" slipped from his lips at the most intimate moments—would steal into his bed and work upon the undignified demands of his re-awakened libido.
The thought that Lovegood might decide Longbottom made better company and turn him out of the tent plagued him; he didn't know why. He didn't know anything, anymore.
Luna was confused. She'd got Severus moving, but only down to the stream—and, well, he had become rather confident with his fingers in addition to his tongue.
I wish there were someone he wanted to see, someone he'd talk to, about . . . the things he keeps staring at in his head.
She wished there were someone Severus could talk to about the things that sometimes made him cry; on crying occasions, even though it hurt not to go, she never visited his part of the tent. Eavesdropping—to be nice, not to pry—she'd learned that he didn't hate Harry; Severus had been talking in his sleep, to Headmaster Dumbledore, she thought, and what he'd said wasn't the sort of thing a man who hated someone would say. She felt Severus' not hating Harry anymore was a good thing.
But he's still stuck. Perhaps because he doesn't have anything to do anymore? No one to protect? Just memories and bad dreams and . . . sadness?
Her Humdinger, Luna thought, would most likely always be sad about Harry's mother. She was still sad about hers.
But the two sadnesses aren't the same, are they?
Luna wanted to do more for him, in the way she'd discovered she could, but she wasn't Lily—and she'd decided not to fuck Severus until he started gasping her name when he came.
He didn't clumsily search for that pad of roughened skin that Lu—ovegood liked manipulated anymore, and, when he had three fingers inside her and she was struggling under him so wantonly, all Severus could think about was thrusting his prick so deeply inside her that she'd beg him never to stop.
"Do you like that?" he always asked, with increasing confidence that he'd know the answer, before latching onto her clit with his lips; she seemed to like that very much.
The last time he'd employed the technique, however, Lovegood had almost choked him with her thighs. He'd barely been able to hear her, she'd been squeezing so hard. He'd stopped long enough to spread her legs, catching Lovegood in mid-exclamation: "—eville!"
The rage he'd flown into then had come as a surprise.
Luna hasn't been to see me in days, Severus thought, sullenly staring at the cheerful design painted on the food tray that had been appearing since his dismal display.
Poxy sun colours!
It was madness to remain, especially with the repairs almost completed, but Severus found himself stuck upon one peevish thought: I'll be damned before I move out of Longbottom's way!
"I assume your friend has nowhere to go?" her father asked, four days after Severus had accused Luna of shagging Neville.
"What did you say, Daddy?"
"Your guest—your guest has nowhere to go?"
Luna took another bite of the fish sausage her father had presented her with that morning—"Perfect for camping, this!" he'd told her—and blinked at him. "I . . . I'm not supposed to . . . it's a secret," she babbled, wondering how her father had worked it out.
"Lots of your . . . friends from Hogwarts are at loose ends, I suppose, since the battle."
"What does that have to do with my guest?"
"Is that what he is, my love?"
Luna blinked more rapidly. "I didn't say my guest was a 'he'."
Her father chuckled. "You didn't have to."
"You're not angry?"
"Of course I'm not. I'm proud of you, taking in someone in need of help like that—but he is a wizard, your guest? And he doesn't have anywhere to go?"
Nodding, Luna said, "Yes, and no, he doesn't."
"No parents? No family?"
Luna shook her head.
"Well then, I suppose it's a good thing he has you—and that there's room enough for him here."
"Thank you, Daddy!" Luna exclaimed, jumping up from her spot in the grass before their house and throwing her arms around her father, who almost toppled over. "Only, I'm not sure he'd accept your invitation. He's . . . shy," she continued, pulling back a bit to settle herself next to her father, "and we've had a row."
"I'm off for a few days, you know," her father said, as if he hadn't heard her. "Going to the Small Presses of Britain Association's annual conference—that should give you some time to sort things out, I think."
Luna frowned. She knew all of her father's professional associations, and she couldn't remember any Small Presses of Britain Association. Before she could question him, however, her father spoke again.
"I'll need you to move everything into the house, as I'm leaving tonight. You'll do that for me?"
"Of course, but—"
"Good, good. I'm glad that's sorted, and I've left you a list of instructions in my desk—but you won't need to read it until the builders come tomorrow," her father said, rising abruptly, albeit a bit shakily, and ambling off towards the tent.
Luna's eyes widened—and then narrowed—as she watched him go; his movements were those of an ailing old man.
The tray didn't arrive at suppertime, and Severus, rather than feel neglected, felt concerned. He cautiously opened a listening portal in that part of the canvas wall that separated his area from hers and heard the sound of muffled sobbing.
"Luna," he said, suddenly finding himself standing by her bed.
He couldn't think of anything else to say. He wasn't the one shagging Long—
"You said . . . my name," Luna replied brokenly, clutching a crumpled, tear-stained piece of parchment.
"That isn't so remarkable. I do know it."
"I know yours, as well."
"Then why did you—"
Luna turned and looked up at him, and the sight of her tear-streaked face was . . . disturbing.
"I wanted you to know how it felt, but that doesn't matter now."
"What are you—oh."
"'Oh'," Luna repeated. "Oh! Are you hungry?" she asked, rising. "I forgot your tray."
Severus stopped Luna before she could push past him. "Tell me what's the matter."
He thought she might pull away, but she wrapped her arms around him, instead; Severus suddenly felt rather warm. He'd missed her.
"My father's gone away."
Sniffling, and then clearing her throat, Luna wiped her nose on Severus' shirt and looked up at him. "To die."
Rising before dawn, Luna dressed herself and went to wait for the builders, her father's "instructions" tucked into one of the pockets she'd sewn into her knickers.
It was important, having pockets, especially where other people couldn't find them without having to be very rude.
His handwriting gives everything away. I can barely make it out, she thought, thinking about her father's letter, which she'd committed to memory:
"My dearest girl,
"You shouldn't have any trouble with the press. I've fixed it, and Arthur Weasley's promised to come around to help you repair it if it does malfunction again. Talk to it or play it music if it stops cooperating—or just give it a good kick. The Quibbler, it's yours, now, and you'll do it proud.
"I'm so proud of you for everything you've done. Your mother would have been proud, as well. I wish I'd been stronger, but I needed you back, you see. Please tell your friends I'm sorry for what I did.
"Don't be angry with me, but you shouldn't have to see both your parents die. We've talked about this before, haven't we? I suppose now's good enough if we haven't. I think you'll do better without a portrait or a ghost, you know. Keep your memories, yes? They'll be worth more.
"Tell your guest to mind the Dirigible Plums—and get the warning signs back up. You know how careless some people are.
"I can't wait to see your mother again and tell her how strong and clever you are. I miss you already.
"P.S.: There is a Small Presses of Britain Association, but they're a bunch of daft blighters. Can't stand the lot of them. Never could."
The sound of footsteps behind her roused her from her reverie; she knew they weren't the builders'. "You should go back to the tent," she told Severus. "They'll be here soon to remove the stone-setting enchantments."
"So I'm aware."
Luna didn't turn around. "You don't care?" She heard Severus clear his throat; it seemed pointed, so she turned to look at him. "No. No, that's—"
"Perhaps I shouldn't have done it, but you shouldn't have to manage this on your own. There was no other—"
"No," Luna interrupted, feeling only a little ill. "I know why you did it, but . . . no, I don't want to see you like this—and when did you brew Polyjuice?"
"I had some with me, in my robes," Severus, who was currently wearing the visage of Xenophilius Lovegood, told her.
"It's creepy. I don't like it."
"I won't do it again. I merely thought to—"
"Go back to the tent, Severus. I don't care what you thought—this isn't helpful," Luna declared, yelping when he strode forward and seized her shoulders.
"Hey! What the hell do you think you're doing?" a furious male voice demanded then.
"Longbottom," Severus spat.
Luna, jerking away from him, turned to Neville. "It's all right. Se—Daddy's just . . . not himself."
"I'll say he isn't! Mr Lovegood, I don't care what's got you so upset, but—"
"Shut it, Longbottom. This is none of your affair."
Luna saw the shocked recognition cross Neville's face at the same moment that the builders appeared. With a worried glance at her "father" and her friend, she rushed forward to meet them, blinking back tears.
"—all the sensitivity of . . . of—"
"Spare me your assessment of my character, Longbottom," Severus growled, pacing before the tent. "Miss Lovegood requires support."
"Luna's fine, you great git! Why've you not told anyone you're still alive? Do you know how—"
"'Worried' people have been?" Severus sarcastically interjected.
Longbottom snapped his mouth shut.
"What's really going on, here, Snape? There's no way I'm leaving until I know—unless it's to bring people back to help me find out."
Severus grimaced to see Longbottom draw his wand. It didn't actually surprise him, really: Longbottom's capacities, unexpectedly displayed as they'd been, were undeniable; he'd acquitted himself remarkably well under the Carrows' tenure at Hogwarts.
And in battle, Severus thought, albeit grudgingly. "You may have discovered me, but that doesn't mean I'm going to discuss my every concern with you. Suffice to say, I've been a guest here for some time, and now that Miss Lovegood's father is—"
"Gone—they've gone, now, I mean—and the house is ready," Luna interrupted, entering the tent but not looking at Severus. "I . . . I need to make a sign, about the Dirigible Plums, because it wouldn't do if . . . if—oh, I wish you didn't have his face!" she exclaimed, running past Severus and Longbottom into the tent.
The younger wizard paled. "He really left? To die? He left her?"
Severus snorted derisively, but concern for Luna caused him to speak. "Go."
"I said no."
"I meant," Severus said, speaking through clenched teeth, "go to her."
"Only if you give me your word that you won't leave."
"You're here because she wants you to be. I won't have you leaving just because—"
"GO TO HER!" Severus shouted, drawing his own wand.
To his surprise and satisfaction, Longbottom looked somewhat frightened as he moved quickly towards the tent.
Neville returned to her area of the tent after their discussion to tell Luna, "Yes, he's himself again." Assuring him that she'd be fine—and securing his promise that he wouldn't tell anyone about Severus—Luna went to find him.
She didn't feel sick anymore, just uncertain.
"I know that you were only trying to help, but . . . ."
"It was 'creepy'," Severus replied, his back stiff.
Luna approached him, laying a hand on the small of his back. "I'm sad about Daddy, but he was only doing what he thought was best for me."
"Your father is an irresponsible, cowardly fool!"
"He was a lot of things, but I loved him," Luna said, rubbing her palm in small circles over Severus' back.
She wasn't sure why, but she thought perhaps he needed comfort almost as much as she did.
"Luna," he said, turning and gently laying his hands on her shoulders, "why do you think he's already dead? Don't you want to look for him? I'll do it. I'll drag him back!"
"Because my father and I've discussed it before—he was drunk at those times, but I believed him—and he told me what he'd do when the time came. And I've been through his desk. I saw his records from St Mungo's. He was dying, Severus. He just didn't want me to know, or know how to tell me." Embracing him, she murmured, "I think . . . I think he decided to leave now because he knew you were here."
It scared her to say that, but it needed to be said.
Even if Severus will leave now because I said it.
She felt his arms tighten around her and wondered if it were wrong to feel like kissing him.
"I don't . . . ."
"You don't have to stay. I understand. I'm not her," Luna said, although she didn't pull away.
"I don't know what to say to you."
"I hope you'll at least say goodbye."
"And not in a letter."
"Luna, look at me."
She did. There was nothing like goodbye in Severus' expression. It wasn't love she saw there; at least, she didn't think it was. She wasn't truly certain what love looked like—the kind of love that wasn't fatherly, at any rate.
Severus moved his hands and took hers, rubbing them gently.
"I'm looking," she told him, her voice barely above a whisper.
"And I'm . . . seeing."
Luna smiled. "That was almost romantic."
"Don't get used to it."
Luna laughed. "What were you going to tell me?"
"That . . . that I know who you are, and I don't want to leave."
Luna didn't realize that she was crying again—it was odd to find herself crying so much; death was a part of life, wasn't it?—until Severus' mouth was moving against her own and their cheeks were touching. She could feel the dampness of her tears on their skin. She found the sensation surprisingly intimate but didn't have long to contemplate it because Severus' lips were followed by his tongue, and then his hands, and then—
"Please," she said hoarsely, breaking their kiss, "I want to touch all of you."
Severus wasn't romantic; he didn't know how to be, but it was overwhelming—maddening—to feel the soft warmth of her kisses fall all over his body. It was better than anything they'd ever shared, her touching him with her mouth, almost everywhere, and he didn't want her to stop, not ever, even though she'd made it impossible for him to do anything but writhe in frustrated, incoherent desire: the feeling of her intense focus, on him, only him, was too good.
When, however, he felt her move over and envelope his prick with her body, squeezing herself around him harder than she ever had with her mouth, he was lost.
Luna found that she couldn't stop smiling, even if she was a bit sore: Severus had a vigorous way about him, now, one that moved him to take her to bed—and in a lot of other unusual places, as well.
I've got to contact the builders about the shingling. I don't think it's supposed to slip so easily, she thought, carefully collecting plums one morning about a month after Neville had discovered Severus living with her.
There were many reasons to be grateful for having a lover who could fly.
Severus, one of Luna's Dirigible Plum puddings in hand, floated back down to the kitchen floor and remarked, "You're not using enough flour."
"I'm not remembering to place the Sticking Charm on the pudding."
"It's the flour."
"It's almost suppertime," Luna said, smiling up at him as if in expectation.
Severus leaned down to kiss her, amused by her stubborn insistence on following a recipe that obviously needed refinement, and then started at his own amusement.
"It's happiness, you know, and nothing to be concerned about."
Snorting, Severus Stuck the pudding to its dish and followed Luna up the stairs to the lounge; the bouncing of her arse, however, caused a delay mid-flight.
They never did recover the pudding, but Severus, one morning while he was by the stream editing his anonymous Quibbler column on how modern Potions educators were getting it wrong, spied a group of gnomes skipping the dish across the water and got bitten when he attempted to retrieve it.
Later that night, Luna assured Severus that the "Gernumblies" had blessed him; it didn't occur to him to argue with her.
"I think he's recovering nicely," Luna told Neville, several months after his discovery of Severus. "There haven't been any explosions in his lab for weeks."
"But I don't suppose you should mention that you know there've been any. Severus might not like that."
Neville's expression, which had begun to turn gleeful, abruptly altered as he asked, "So, you're happy?"
"As happy as a Nargle in mistletoe."
Neville frowned slightly. "But don't you . . . I mean . . . well, I don't know what I mean, exactly."
"I do," Luna replied, grinning, "and I do, and I don't, and it doesn't matter—no one believes in Humdingers, anyway, Blibbering or otherwise, so why should I tell anyone about mine? It's not as though anyone else went in search of him."
"You know that people did, and—"
"No, not in the way they should have, not in a way that mattered. Severus is happy here, I think, and I know I'm happy to have him here. If he wants anyone to know, then we'll tell them. If not, then we won't."
"'We'," Neville replied, shaking his head. "It's just so bizarre to hear you saying that and meaning Snape of all people."
Luna bit her lip to keep from laughing as Neville started; she knew that he was still a little afraid of Severus, even though he had no reason to be. Not that Severus would ever let on to Neville about it.
"Er, good evening, Snape."
"I'll just walk you out," Luna said, but Neville demurred.
"Thanks for the pudding—I, uh, I see that you two want to be alone."
When Neville had gone, Severus told her, "I don't think of it as being alone. I think of it as being with you. I like . . . being with you."
"And you're sure?" Luna asked. "You're sure you don't want to attend the ceremony to receive your Order of Merlin?"
"Shacklebolt can stuff my Order of Merlin up his arse for all I care."
"Because you like being with me, or because you're—"
Luna stopped speaking when Severus moved across the room and took her into his arms. "Luna, I like being with . . . with you."
Oh, she thought, catching her breath. He likes being with me—how romantic—and eleven years and seven months is probably long enough for anyone to recover, isn't it? "Does that mean you won't mind managing a glamour when it comes time to take her to the train?"
"I think she'd mind, you know, her father not coming along to say goodbye," Luna continued, trying to breathe normally; she hadn't expected to tell him in quite this way, but the thought of Severus wanting to leave because of that stupid Order of Merlin had been frightening.
"Yes," Luna replied, feeling ridiculously cheerful to see the sudden, upward curl of Severus' lip.
"The usual way—as you should know. You were there, after all. Of course, she may have been conceived while we were flying, and that might be thought of as unusu—"
"But . . . but how do you know she’s a girl?"
Luna grinned. "There's a small charm for that."
It was most rewarding, much later, when Severus asked to know the charm's colour.