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The Abundance Of Her Charms

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To: meri_oddities

 

From: Your Secret Santa

 

 

Title: The Abundance Of Her Charms

 

Author: odogoddess (website)

 

Pairing: Snape/Luna

 

Summary: Abhorred in life, thinly admired in death, Severus Snape slowly discovers a sort of peace to be found in the company of a maddeningly perspicacious Ravenclaw.

 

Rating: NC-17

 

Word Count: 16,730

 

Warnings: as requested, this mostly ignores the horribly treacly & completely illogical DH epilogue as well as the continually changing and often contradictory turdlets tidbits of trivia that JKR keeps burbling forth about in her chats. As of early November 2007, the date of Luna's birthday is unknown, so I felt free to just make it up for the purposes of this fic. This fic also contains truly atrocious Latin, pig Spanish, dollops of UST, as well as wankage, peepage, shaggage and baggage (h/c). Oh, and a character death...sort of, but NOTE: this is not a tragic fic. :)

 

Author's notes: I hope you enjoy this fic as well as a very happy holiday season, Meri!

 

Archiving: Originally posted here.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

1998

 

 

They did not ask him if he wanted to be a portrait, so Snape failed to see why the decision had been left to him. Fact was fact. The castle considered him derelict in his duties in some fashion, or perhaps, not rightfully Headmaster, and therefore his portrait had not appeared as all the other august presences had in the office of his rank upon his death. It should have ended there. He should have ended there. There should have been no portrait, no memorial, and no accursed half-life.

 

 

The damnable Potter brat had taken it upon himself to not only publicly forgive him-bad enough!-no, he had wasted good galleons on a commissioned painting that had been made with Snape's own memories, imbued with his own life-force, providing him not just form and function, but a sort of consciousness that was, above all else, utterly intolerable. Worse, it sounded like Dark Magic, which he was sure the castle also sensed.

 

 

Hence, the office of the Headmaster had utterly refused to allow his portrait to attach to the wall. Slughorn had been disinclined to hang him in the Slytherin common room, since there were too many students with Death Eater relatives who still saw him as a traitor to the Dark Lord and he did not want to continually be taking points from his own house for vandalism. Therefore, naturally, the Headmistress had asked him where he would like to be hung.

 

 

"The Whomping Willow springs to mind," Severus muttered, scarlet with mingled shame and fury. Damn the boy to the lowest depths! That he had died was bad enough, that his most private memories had been scrutinized by Ministry officials, his former colleagues and a ruddy portrait painter was humiliation untold, but now that he had been given this wretched form of unasked for life-he remained an embarrassment, a pariah, unwanted.

 

 

"Severus..."

 

 

"Stick me somewhere in the castle. If it lets you."

 

 

"You have no preference?" Minerva eyed him with a resigned sort of fondness.

 

 

"Somewhere private. Dark. How far down was the Chamber of Secrets?"

 

 

McGonagall rolled her eyes at him and then nodded thoughtfully. "I think I know a place."

 

 

As it turned out, she had, but it had also rejected him. The castle utterly refused to allow his portrait to stick.

 

 

Flitwick considered him as his portrait leant against the wall at the shaded end of the Great Hall.

 

 

"We could always place you in a room on an easel," Filius suggested.

 

 

Snape scowled.

 

 

"I finished marking the First Year essays, Professor. Oh, hello Headmaster!"

 

 

The two teachers turned to look on the newcomer. Snape's scowl increased, but Flitwick beamed.

 

 

"Excellent, Miss Lovegood!"

 

 

"Is there anything else I can do?"

 

 

"You've done more than enough, my dear. You should go get a bite to eat."

 

 

"The castle still won't let the Headmaster hang on the wall?"

 

 

"Yes, unfortunately. It really is a most vexing problem."

 

 

Luna touched the handle of her wand, which was tucked behind her ear and considered the portrait. Her blue eyes became a bit unfocused, and then she smiled.

 

 

"I think I know someplace. Would you let me?"

 

 

"By all means, Miss Lovegood," Filius nodded. "What say you, Severus?"

 

 

"Kill me now."

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

"There."

 

 

"Is it sticking?"

 

 

"It's stuck fast," Luna reported with a smile. "I thought it would. The Fiend-fyre damaged the walls all the way through to the corridor. Any spells, charms or other enchantments in place for the castle won't apply here. So Headmaster Snape can hang here with impunity. The castle doesn't even know he's here, if you take my meaning."

 

 

"Which is fortunate in this instance. I will inform the Headmistress. We'll need to do area spells to protect this part of the castle." The Head of Ravenclaw looked to his erstwhile colleague. "Well, then. How do you find it, Severus?"

 

 

The hallway was not often used, which suited Snape's purposes. He was in Hogwarts, which was a relief, as he had been rather concerned the Potter boy would insist on taking him to his residence once he discovered the castle had refused him. Still, it was not at all what he had expected... or desired.

 

 

"Tolerable," he managed to say in a tight voice. "Now if you'll both excuse me, I'd like to rest."

 

 

"Oh, certainly!" Flitwick beamed, pleased, and turning to head down the passageway.

 

 

"I'll visit you later, Headmaster," Luna smiled at him, before tucking her wand back behind her ear and skipping down the corridor.

 

 

Once he could no longer hear the echo of their steps, Severus Snape hung his head and wept.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

He could not complain about the boy's insistence on the complexity and scope of his portrait. He had everything he required.

 

 

The painter had not accomplished a mere portrait, but a Virtuo Animago, a rare and expensive form of life portrait usually only done for revered personages. Snape did not think he had merited such attention, but the Potter boy had more wealth than sense and had insisted on what he termed "the best." Therefore, instead of a simple room setting that he could only escape to another portrait from, Snape had a full house to reside in or more specifically, a property. He could go outside where Potter had insisted an herb garden and a swing set and trees be included in his portrait. They rather strongly resembled the ones he recalled as a boy.

 

 

A small gazebo overlooked a brook. There was even a topiary maze, which only recalled to Snape rather unfortunate images from Potter's fourth year, but he could admire it from the outside, even if he did not care to walk within its borders. This could be dimly seen by a viewer of his portrait behind Severus's shoulders when he sat at his desk, if the curtains were drawn. The view to Snape was of a portrait that let him see whatever his portrait faced. Someone viewing Snape's portrait could not see into any of the cottages' other rooms.

 

 

The outdoors in his portrait had even been charmed to present him with the actual weather within proximity to the portrait. As time passed, he discovered that when it snowed outside, he felt chill and needed to light his fireplace. In summer, he found he needed to go in his shirtsleeves and open the windows, and if he ventured outside in high summer, he found he preferred to go topless and sometimes even with nothing on, although, on those occasions he definitely closed the curtains!

 

 

The house he'd been given was cozy, a cottage really, with the living room complete with furnishings and fireplace offset from the den, where his desk stood next to a cabinet full of books. The entire house was full of books. Even the potions lab Potter had insisted upon was full of copies of all his very own Potions texts.

 

 

The kitchen was one of the few rooms that had no books or bookshelves, and also no actual food, but a single cabinet that provided whatever food or drink he desired with a tap of his wand. There were similar cabinets in his potions lab and in his bathroom. He had little doubt the objects provided were mere simulacrums, but it did not seem so to him. His treacle tart was sweet. His roast duck was savoury. His eggs were moist and his tea was brisk and soothing. Even the firewhisky had the pleasant bite he could recall from life.

 

 

This might have been because his own memories had been somehow magically infused into his painting. Snape could scarcely credit the boy's kindness or consideration in providing for him, but he lauded it nonetheless. Particularly after it became clear that, despite his presence in Hogwarts and the fact he was attached to a wall within the castle, he could not exit his portrait or visit anyone else.

 

 

With difficulty, Albus had been able to make his way to the portrait within his den so they could converse, but he was the only one who could, and the consensus among the Heads of House was that this was most likely due to the strength of Dumbledore's magic, something which most felt death had only slightly diminished. They also felt it was remotely possible that, in time, the castle would "forgive" him and he might be able to leave his portrait, or have others visit, but he privately felt it unlikely.

 

 

So thanks to Harry Potter's largesse, Severus Snape did not go mad from boredom--at least, not right away.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

It was nearly two weeks since he had come to awareness to find himself in a portrait, when Severus decided to try something that made him feel patently ridiculous.

 

 

He had woken, if he could rightfully be said to sleep being a portrait-it felt like slumber to him, although his sleep was mostly untroubled by dreams or nightmares and seemed only a vague grey absence of time-with his usual morning glory.

 

 

It felt the same, a hot, heavy sensation between his legs akin to a feeling of urgent pressure combined with a pressing sort of pleasant itch. He frowned, feeling incredibly diffident. That was, he knew, ridiculous in itself since he had always, in life, just woken and if he felt the need, he had wanked without giving it much thought beyond making sure of the time. That particular consideration meant nothing now that all he had was time.

 

 

Still, this was different. Or was it?

 

 

He reached a hand down and cupped the warm bulk of his genitals, then bit his lip. It felt wonderful. It also felt wonderfully familiar.

 

 

He wondered if the entire experience would remain the same as before. There was only way to learn.

 

 

He pressed two fingers to the base of his erection and gently stroked them upward along the long, straining shaft.

 

 

"Sweet Merlin..."

 

 

Severus gave in to the sensation and fisted his cock, beginning to stroke himself in earnest. He soon found his hips thrusting up into his grip and all too soon, a powerful orgasm shook its way through him.

 

 

Even after he was too tired to keep holding himself arched, his cock continued to twitch in his grip. Snape groaned.

 

 

Well, that had been an unqualified success. He lifted his fingers and frowned at the sticky mess. A wave of his wand took care of the matter and he let his head fall back on his pillow.

 

 

It seemed the afterlife was not so bad as he had assumed.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

2000

 

 

Luna Lovegood was as good as her word. Whenever she came to the castle, she never failed to visit him. Once she became a researcher for The Quibbler, she often required access to Hogwarts Library, so she visited him frequently.

 

 

Despite himself, he found himself not only looking forward to, but also treasuring her visits. They provided him a sort of lifeline, a normality that even Albus with his perennial good cheer could not. He suspected the other castle portraits, being able to come and go at will, did not so desperately require the mental stimulation, and might, in fact, be grateful for the quiet monotony of his seldom-traversed corridor.

 

 

Not that he had found his chats with Luna entirely soothing, and, in fact, he had often found himself rather vexed with the happy-go-lucky little chit. The fact was they had often disagreed and he had even found himself shouting at her from time to time, a happenstance she reacted to with such aplomb it only served to make him feel ashamed of his lack of control.

 

 

The chit nattered on about the most amazing things as if they were factual and persisted in seeing the factual as mundane, but still, she had been company, the only one who seemed to seek him out aside from Albus.

 

 

The only other person he spoke to with any regularity was the Bloody Baron. No one else seemed to bother, although his erstwhile colleagues were pleasant enough if they happened upon him whilst passing by.

 

 

Severus tried not to take this personally.

 

 

 

 

 

"Field research?"

 

 

Luna nodded wistfully, a look of genuine regret on her face.

 

 

"Daddy and Hagrid both think I've done enough reference research and need to actually go out and locate some of these fantastical creatures. Maybe even study them and add to people's knowledge."

 

 

Snape said nothing, although a muscle in his face twitched. She smiled.

 

 

"But look!"

 

 

He blinked and saw her pull out a journal book and her wand. She tapped the journal book.

 

 

"Duplio!"

 

 

Now she held identical journals. She looked up at him, her bright smile making him a bit uneasy.

 

 

"Professor Flitwick helped me get the wand action down, but I came up with this charm." She twirled her wand between her fingers and gold sparks began to emerge from the tip, then she pointed it at the second journal and chanted, "Applico Inter Effigium Viesco!"

 

 

Severus gasped as the air above his desk began to glow. Soon the golden light was too bright for him to look at and he covered his eyes. When the light level lowered enough, he peered between his fingers to see the journal coalescing within the dying sparkles of gold. He frowned.

 

 

"I know you have a Never Dry Inkpot. Now we can write whilst I'm out in the field."

 

 

He looked nonplussed. "Write?"

 

 

"Watch."

 

 

She tucked her wand behind her ear and opened her journal, pulling out a stick of drawing charcoal from her pocket. She wrote into her journal, scribbling something by her words, then bade him open his.

 

 

Snape did, to find the words "Hello. This is Luna."

 

 

A tiny caricature of a waving smiley face was next to it.

 

 

He blinked. "This corresponds to your journal."

 

 

"Yes. I bought this journal specifically to correspond with you. I hope you don't mind, but I know I'd miss our conversations."

 

 

He cleared his throat. "Yes. I do believe you would."

 

 

She beamed at him, as if he had said something else entirely or even praised her. "Wonderful. Then I'll look forward to our correspondence. Be well, Headmaster."

 

 

His eyes widened as she extended a gentle finger and touched the surface of his painting. Her fingertip stroked his cheek and he gasped when he could feel a sparkle of sensation along his face.

 

 

"I'll miss seeing you, but at least we can communicate."

 

 

With that said, she pulled back and skipped off down the corridor.

 

 

Severus blinked uncertainly, watching her go. Then he turned to the journal on his desk and, when he ascertained no one was traversing the corridor, he picked it up and smelt it.

 

 

It did not smell like anything, aside from the leather it was bound in, and he sighed. Nevertheless, he held the journal for a long time, staring at it.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Headmaster Snape,

 

 

I found a Quetzlzacatenango Cobra! That is what the drawing is. I do hope it comes through to your journal as I drew it on the full page, but I'm not certain how the shrinking charm I used on your journal will affect the dimensions of a portrait.

 

 

These snakes are quite beautiful and travel here from their home world via a form of serpent Apparition. They are also quite cranky when cornered. My leg is healing quite nicely. Professor Flitwick's exsanguination charm was very helpful. I just took all the blood out of my leg, including the poison, and then put my leg in a stasis spell, after I stupefied the snake. My guide, Jenny, fetched help. Which is why I'm writing you from the Clinica de Magia de Maya.

 

 

I wish I'd been with Harry when that snake bit you. I could have tried the charm, although it might have killed you anyway since the charm would have taken all the blood from your head, so perhaps it wouldn't have worked in your case. I told Harry about the charm, anyway, though, in the letter I sent him along with the Quetzlzacatenango Cobra. The next time someone is bitten by a deadly snake near him, he can try using the charm. I do hope he can speak to it. I don't know if Parseltongue is the same for snakes that aren't from Earth. I made sure to include plenty of mangos for it to eat. It's their favourite Earthly food, you know, next to mice. It had just eaten a whole nest of them, so I didn't include any in the package to Harry. I did forget to tell him it would be hungry when it arrives. If you should see him before I do, please do tell him. I'll write you again when I'm released from the Clinica. I don't quite understand the healer here despite my translation charm. There are some local slang terms that don't translate well, but I think he said I can go home in three days or when my leg returns to normal size. My translation charm keeps saying that what he says is that I can go home in three days or maybe when my head is screwed on straight. I'm sure that's wrong because heads aren't screwed on except for some of those Muggle mannequins, but I'm not a mannequin.

 

 

Please do tell me how you are faring. I'll write you soon.

 

 

your friend,

 

 

Luna Lovegood

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Miss Lovegood,

 

 

I am relieved to hear you are recovering from your encounter with the Quetzlzacatenango Cobra. Their venom is legendary and said to be of great use for many potions, including at least one used in the late 1800's for a near-fatal Splinching case.

 

 

In future, should you encounter another one, please consider sending the specimen to Mr. Justin Finch-Fletchley who, I am reliably informed, has recently joined the Hogwarts staff as the new Potions Master. I am quite certain he would appreciate the opportunity to experiment with the venom.

 

 

As for my own encounter with a deadly snake, the less said, the better. Your drawing was rather alarming, if well rendered. I look forward to your next message, as ever,

 

 

SS

 

 

p.s. - I am no longer a Headmaster, Miss Lovegood. Please bear this in mind when composing future correspondence.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

One night, a month after Luna's departure, the Bloody Baron and Nearly Headless Nick had gone by, arguing, and he had broken up their debate. Within moments, he had taken one of his library books down and read the particular historical reference aloud, correcting them both. The Baron had insisted he read the entire chapter. They returned a few days later and asked if he would read more of the book.

 

 

From this began a weekly reading in the evening, as the students supped if school was in session. Soon Severus had found himself reading aloud to the Baron, Nick and eventually, the Fat Friar. The Grey Lady had been invited, but she declared that she read quite well on her own, and Nick had privately informed Snape that she did not want to be near the Baron.

 

 

Still, it was a pleasant event for Snape to look forward to, and provided them all some meagre comfort. If it were not for the readings and for Luna's occasional journal entries, he would be bereft of all company.

 

 

He tried not to blame Potter for his plight. He had given him the memories, after all, which had given the boy the chance to slay Voldemort. Snape knew he could not have foreseen that it would also give the boy some sort of need to commemorate him or, more to the point, to pay his respects in lieu of funeral or other honours. Minerva had informed him not long after he initially came to awareness in his portrait, that the Malfoy's-claiming the need to repay their debt to him for deflecting Voldemort's ire after losing several prisoners, including Potter, during the war-had asked for and received the permission to bury him, much to Harry's chagrin. Privately, Snape was relieved. The boy had done a great many things for him, which he was unable to ever repay.

 

 

He forbore from wondering why Potter had been so generous with his money as to imbue him with this odd form of pseudo-life, so very considerate toward his most hated professor's every possible need, and yet never come to see him.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Miss Lovegood,

 

 

My reading group is going well, thank you for inquiring, although it has devolved into a reading followed by a discussion session group. It seems even ghosts feel the need to expound on their opinions of a particular novel's passages, although as I am a mere portrait and maintain my personality and opinions, perhaps this is a case of the proverbial pot speaking of the proverbial kettle, but I digress. Since you inquired, I am currently reading Lord of the Rings to the group. It is a Muggle novel, written by a squib, with more than a passing familiarity with our world's tales of Middle Earth and the earlier ages. The Muggles believe it to be a cautionary tale on the subject of war and rampant industrial practices, rather than the simple retelling of the tale of the dark wizard known as Sour Ohn and his crusade to rule the world via means of scrying spheres and ensorcelled rings capable of mental manipulation.

 

 

The only difficulty I am having is that I made the mistake of singing one of the myriad songs in the novel, to illustrate how they are simply the lullabies that are taught Wizard-born children at their mother's knee. Now the group wants to partake in a sing along every time one of the songs is presented in the text. Fortunately, the time for our sessions is not disruptive to the peace of the castle; however, it does become rather raucous on my corridor. I can scarce believe the quiet the rest of the time here.

 

 

Still, much as it pains me to admit, were it not for the reading sessions and, in part, our ongoing correspondence, I fear I would lose my grip on sanity, or perhaps, more to the point, reality. However, as there is nothing that can be done about it, the issue is moot.

 

 

Regarding the matter of appellations, please rest assured that I cannot, in good conscience, call you by your first name, Miss Lovegood. Particularly if you wish to persist in addressing me as "Professor" and "sir" and even if you do consider me an acquaintance. My memories are quite strong as pertains to former students and whilst you were a capable one, and I cannot remember complaint with your studies and lab work, I maintain the feeling of being in charge of your welfare and the instruction of your mind. Perhaps it is an effect of having been a teacher for so long, or perhaps it is particular to me, but the feeling remains nonetheless and I am honour bound to it.

 

 

I hope your travels in Peru yield the same favourable results you have been enjoying on your journey thus far. It is hard to believe you have been traversing South America for only six weeks. Your discoveries are already quite noteworthy.

 

 

I look forward to your next message, as ever,

 

 

SS

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Severus,

 

 

My hunt for the Witchfire dog, what the natives here call the perro del fuego de la bruja, has been a bit disappointing. I found a nest of Leaping Lickspittle Lizards [fig. 1] and a rare spotted Incan Icecorn [fig. 2] but the weather has been defeating my efforts to find the Witchfire dog.

 

 

I can cast protection charms even against a hurricane, but while the natives believe in magic, they are scared of it and so I can only do minor spells and, as my father has always told me, try to follow their example. In this case that means wearing so much heavy wool I can barely move or see. I hope the blizzard season passes quickly.

 

 

Still, it's nice in that it reminds me of you up at Hogwarts, and of winter back home. I rather miss home. I miss you, too. Please write soon. There is not much else to do here until the storms pass, except draw. The image here is how I remember you. I'm sure it's probably all wrong, but that's what my mind sees.

 

 

Do you draw? Did you, I mean, when you were alive? What was your favourite beverage? Mine is hot cocoa made with chocolate frogs. The action of them jumping as they melt mixes the chocolate perfectly. I miss chocolate frogs, too. Do you like chocolate? I really wish I could talk to you. I'm so glad we have these journals! Write soon!

 

 

your friend,

 

 

Luna

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Miss Lovegood,

 

 

Luna. I trust you can see, by the feeble effort that precedes this letter, just how poor an artist I am. If you are uncertain what the drawing pretends to be, that is supposed to be the candlestick, which is atop my desk.

 

 

I hope the weather in your region has changed for the better. It is actually rather mild here, if the spell that enables me to experience the same weather that is outside the castle is properly functioning. There is no one I can ask, however. I find I prefer summer to the other seasons. How much that is because I did not have to deal with dunderheaded students and was able to indulge in reading and researching at my leisure in the summers is anyone's guess.

 

 

My mother used to say one preferred the weather in which one was born. She also used to tell me that the day I was born was the same one a six-day blizzard ended and that the world looked as if it had been sculpted from ice and frost. However, I have never much appreciated the bitter cold, aside from the warming beverages that are oft made to stave off its effects. By this, you may deduce that my favourite beverage is steaming hot spiced mead. The first mead of the holiday season is, in particular, my favourite. The castle elves provided the staff lounge with some on the first day of frost each year and it is a tradition I sorely miss.

 

 

As to chocolate, no, I do not care for it aside from bitter chocolate, which is highly medicinal, as you know. I prefer tart sweets, such as Honeyduke's Finest Sour Grapes and Charming Cherries, although if you whisper one word of this to anyone, I shall disavow any such predilection.

 

 

I too, appreciate this journal and your correspondence. I miss you, as well, and look forward to your next message, as ever,

 

 

yours truly,

 

 

SS

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Severus,

 

 

Please do call me Luna. You're my friend and my friends call me Luna.

 

 

I decided to come back to Peru when the weather improves and moved on to Tierra Del Fuego, since right now, I am informed, is the best time to visit without disturbing the Muggle population. They are settled in for winter and don't go out at night much, which is good, because that is when the Currucai Cancionera de Colores or Currucai come out and warble their colour songs. I so hope I can spot one. My father claims the colours the Currucai can sing into being are even more beautiful than the Aurora Borealis.

 

 

Your drawing is so dear! It's not that bad. I could see it was a candlestick and you even animated it! Please do draw me more if you wish. Perhaps you could draw me things from your house. I only ever saw the den.

 

 

Hot spiced mead sounds good. I've never had any. I've never had anything with alcohol. Daddy forbade it as the Brewer's Consortium might be conspiring to add Solipsism Solution to their beverages. Daddy believes in herbal teas, tomato juice and the occasional cup of cocoa when he wants something stronger. Like you, he likes bitter chocolate. I like mine a bit sweeter.

 

 

I won't say a word to anyone about the candy you like. Why would I? You're my friend and I know how to keep secrets, although I don't think telling anyone you like Honeyduke's Finest Sour Grapes and Charming Cherries is on the same level as not telling Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy where Harry Potter was and what he was doing when they interrogated me three winters ago.

 

 

Speaking of winter, I do like it, but I was born in Autumn, three months earlier than you. My mother said it was the day the Pumpkins were harvested, so her nickname for me was always Pumpkin. I still miss her very much. Do you miss your mother? The Prophet published a photo of her in their special post-war edition, along with a quite nice picture of you from the last staff photo taken at the school. Your mother looked very imposing, just as you do, but so young. It said she was a Gobstones champion. Were you good at Gobstones?

 

 

I can't imagine you as a boy, but you must have been. I bet you were a very cute, quiet sort of boy. Or were you rowdy? I can't imagine you being rowdy, but then look at George Weasley. Did you look like this? It's a drawing of how I imagine you as a boy. You're making a snow thestral. Did you ever make snow thestrals, Severus? I like making them. I love the snow. Winter is so brisk and bracing, but I've mastered all the inclement weather charms and so it doesn't bother me. Plus, I get to wear all my favourite scarves.

 

 

Oh, it's nearly dark so I have to go and see if I can find the Currucai. Wish me luck!

 

 

your friend,

 

 

Luna

 

 

ps - I forgot to mention earlier, but in case you didn't know, your dates of birth and death are on your frame.

 

 

pps - I was wondering-can you say his name now? Voldiething, I mean. I know you couldn't while he was alive, but he's dead and gone now. You're still here, in a way, and I just wondered.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Miss Lovegood,

 

 

Forgive the serious nature of this particular letter, but needs must I somehow find the strength to say this, especially in light of your confessed feelings of friendship. I cannot accept such a gift when I do not deserve it.

 

 

Pray forgive me, Luna. I knew you were being held by the Malfoys that winter. They informed me on Boxing Day, but I was unable to do anything or in anyway send word to your father. I knew they would keep you alive, because you were meant to be bait for Potter at best, or a bargaining chip, at worst-a hostage should any of our own forces be captured that the Dar Voldemort wished returned without harm. So I knew you were being held there, and subject to indelicate questioning for all those months. It is one of the prices I had to pay in order to remain in Voldemort's good graces and, therefore, be in a position to help Mr. Potter and his cohorts.

 

 

Yes, I can say his name now. Voldemort. Although, your appellation of Voldiething made me smile. I had not heard it yet, although I have overheard the occasional student calling him Voldiedork, Voldiefart, Voldiebutt and my personal favourite, Moldy Warts. It is heartening to see such evil being brought as low as it belongs. I am glad I am around to witness it, even if I am not truly alive.

 

 

For my part, I would rather call him, as Albus did, Tom. That was his name, as you may know. Tom Riddle.

 

 

It does not sound like a very impressive name, does it? I suppose that is why he chose the grandiloquent Lord Voldemort as his self-made title. I never knew him as Riddle, the way Albus did. I only ever knew him as 'Lord Voldemort', the self-styled saviour of the Wizarding World. I only ever knew him as my most demanding master and, when I did not please him, my tormenter. Perhaps torturer would be a closer appellation, however, even as I write it, I also know I deserved his punishments. The pain he doled out was the least I should have paid for what I did in his service whilst alive, including knowing you were held captive and doing and saying nothing.

 

 

Your father, should he discover this, would be well within his rights to come to the castle and torch me in my frame whilst cursing my name. He is not, I know, a man given to such violence. Still, he well might forbid you to continue our correspondence were he to learn the truth.

 

 

I want you to know that, if he should do this, that I understand, and that I would continue to wish you both well, and that, yes, I would deeply miss your correspondence. That I would miss you, Luna.

 

 

Regardless of what should happen, please know that I am honoured that you consider me a friend, and that the feeling will remain even if you should rescind your friendship in future. It is not, however, an honour I can ever return, much as I wish it was.

 

 

I have only ever had two friends in my entire life, Luna. I was responsible for both of their deaths. I could not bear it were I to become, in some how or some way, responsible for yours, also. Therefore, you can, I trust, understand my reticence to call you friend in kind.

 

 

However, I shall be pleased and proud to think that somewhere in the world there is someone who feels I am a friend, and considers my correspondence something of consequence.

 

 

I pray you forgive my emotive maundering. The hour is late and, despite being a portrait and not truly requiring sleep now, I nonetheless retain enough semblance of prior self as to feel the need for it when I try to stay up past my usual time to retire whilst living. Yet another mystery of the Virtuo Animago which I am starting to believe is less an art form, than a life form of magical making, but I digress.

 

 

As ever, I look forward to your next message... even should it be the last.

 

 

Respectfully yours,

 

 

Severus Snape

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Severus,

 

 

I hope the image comes through! This is my first attempt at using coloured pastilles, but I just had to try to show you how glorious the Currucai's song is. Which is a strange thing to say were you to just hear it, because the actual notes of its song are really rather uninteresting.

 

 

The drawing below the colours of the song is of the Currucai itself. It's rather a silly looking bird for having such a magnificent song, isn't it?

 

 

I wasn't planning to ever stop our correspondence for any reason, Severus. For one thing, I'm of age and Daddy can't tell me who to be friends with anymore. For another, I knew you knew I was being held by the Malfoy's. I knew you were on our side since the one night you had me check the pumpkin patch by Hagrid's hut for Nargles as a detention. So I knew you couldn't say anything for fear of Voldiething finding out. So you see, there really is nothing to forgive-not your actions during the war, and not your letters. They are precious to me.

 

 

One day, I hope you will be able to call me a friend. Until then, I'll just have to do it for us both.

 

 

Now, you didn't answer my last letter at all. Please do. I really want to know if the drawing looks anything like you when you were a boy. Your friend,

 

 

always,

 

 

Luna

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Luna,

 

 

I shall endeavour to earn the astonishing amount of faith you have placed in me.

 

 

Your interpretation of the Currucai Cancionera de Colores may not be picture perfect but it is nonetheless stunningly beautiful. The image of the bird itself, however, does rather resemble a dilapidated Dodo, does it not?

 

 

Since you found my drawing to be more than merely laughable, here is another example, as requested. This is the fireplace in my living room. It's a bit spartan, but it's also very warm when it's cold.

 

 

I was not aware you were a teetotaller. I'm not sure I could have gotten through what little life I did without the occasional drink. Which is not to say I ever allowed myself to get drunk. I would not have gotten through what little life I did by doing that, either. Still, I find a spot of brandy after dinner to be pleasing, and a shot of firewhisky after a walk in the cold remains bracing. I have not tried for mead since I've been here, but this Autumn, perhaps on the first day I spot frost on the grounds, I will so do. I rather miss the tradition.

 

 

It would be another way for me to mark the passing of time, as well, something I fear I am losing track of as it marches relentlessly on. Your correspondence helps. It is something different from anything else, even my lab work that has, ironically, become more like makework to me in my...well, I can't say life, can I? In my existence. Yes. This image existence. Or perhaps it is imaginary. Sometimes I wonder if it is. I certainly never had it so good in my life before. I am remarkably unsurprised to discover I had to die to be able to enjoy the so-called 'good life.'

 

 

So your birthday is in October, then. What day, exactly? I shall endeavour to surprise you.

 

 

Yes, Luna, I do miss my mother. Not in the same way, I have no doubt, you miss yours, but as a part of the previous generation, the bearer of family secrets and obscure knowledge. Witches and wizards normally live very long lives, and so our folklore is not usually lost to us. The last two wars have left their mark on our world in more than one way. So many people died far too young, and so many survived who now do not have elder family members that they can access for their knowledge and experience. Some of this next generation, a generation of which you are a part, will grow up sadly lacking, muddling their way through life without a real understanding of this world.

 

 

Mr. Potter is one such individual. His parents died far too young and I am given to understand his remaining relatives are frightened of the Wizarding World and so never let him learn about it. He is a magically powerful young man with only a scant understanding of this world to which he was born. The sheer level of his ignorance was astounding to me until I learnt the reasons behind it in his fifth year. Would that I had learnt this sooner and discovered that all my hints to him were much too subtle by far!

 

 

While he comes by his ignorance naturally, his stubbornness toward learning, especially toward actually applying himself to his studies was a truly astounding level of willfulness, which caused more problems for Albus and me than any number of other troublemakers, such as the Weasley twins. If he had even ever bothered reading Hogwarts, A History, it might have gone a long way toward correcting many of his mistaken assumptions and provided him with more knowledge to draw upon as he muddled his way through events. Fortune smiles on the foolish, it is said. That can fairly sum up the redoubtable Harry Potter.

 

 

Do not get me wrong-I am in his debt for this peculiar existence in which I find myself. That does not mean I can find in him no fault. Since he chose Virtuo Animago on my behalf, I hope he understands that I retain my own personality, as was present in the latest of the memories I left him.

 

 

Knowing little of the method that was used to imbue my portrait, I would venture to suggest, by way of answering one of your questions, that you write Potter and ask if he still retains any of my memories. If he does, inform him that I give you my permission to view them. Then you will see what I looked like as a boy.

 

 

I am afraid I was not cute, as you say, but rather unprepossessing. My family was not well to do, and until I started school, I was forced to wear my father's old trews, cut for length and belted with an old cord to keep them from falling to my ankles. My father was a rather big-boned man and I never gained his bulk. So even his oldest shirts did not fit me and, to my everlasting shame, I was consigned to wearing my mother's shirts from when she was a girl. The neighbourhood boys, all Muggles, would have thrashed me daily if it were not for an old wrapping coat my father had discarded. I wore it rain or shine to hide my shame.

 

 

My mother, as you can surmise from the above, was not particularly skilled at charms or household spell work. If she had, she might have easily transfigured my clothing, or resized things to fit. Her talents, however, lay in, as you learnt, Gobstones, as well as Herbology, Ancient Runes and Potions. Those and Defense Against The Dark Arts were my top subjects in school.

 

 

Since my mother was not skilled at household spell work, we relied on many Muggle methods for chores, including washing. We washed on Saturdays, all our clothes dumped into a huge wooden vat with soap, hot water and then rinsed in a smaller vat that held vinegar water. After washing the clothes, we washed ourselves. My father would take the first dip in the laundry water, then my mother had me bathe, and then she would take her own bath. We could not afford to draw more water for proper rinsing, so I rarely washed my hair. Twice a month to avoid nits, but I hated the feeling of the soap scum in my hair. The soap and the vinegar also dried my scalp to a horrible degree and by the time I reached adolescence, my scalp rebelled by creating an overabundance of oil. No matter what I used ever after, my hair would be greasy within a few hours of washing, and I gave up any attempt to rectify the situation by my fourth year. So, I come by my appellation of Greasy Git thanks to Washing Day.

 

 

Another aspect of wearing hand-me-down clothes and not being able to wash them but once a week, meant I also did not partake in many of the usual childhood pastimes, such as playing in the snow. I only ever had two pair of trews and two shirts. I would wear the cleanest one after Saturday's bath and trade off again once the clothes dried, usually by mid-week depending on the weather. High Summer was best because my mother would wash both sets of my clothes, although this usually meant I had to remain inside all Sunday as the clothes dried or else go out naked. Once I was required to go out and I wrapped my bed sheet around me like a Roman and told anyone who stopped to question me that I was headed to a fancy dress party for a friend.

 

 

Those who knew me in the neighbourhood knew I was lying through my teeth. For one thing, I was never invited to parties because, for the other more obvious reason, I did not have any friends. Not until I was nine.

 

 

Therefore, I was not willing to go out into inclement weather and get my clothing wet. Or more to the point, if I did go out and my clothing got wet, it would likely remain wet until it dried on me, and as such, I did not willingly subject myself to getting wet and chilled enough that I would likely catch cold. Which answers your question-no, I did not make snow thestrals.

 

 

Nor was I a particularly rowdy boy. Being rowdy would have meant drawing attention and the last thing I wanted as a boy, was attention. Being the center of attention always heralded unpleasantness and the detestation of other boys who were more well to do and had enough personal appeal to get away with being cruel to other boys who were not so well favoured.

 

 

Thus, in all, I was not at all a boy that you would have probably cared to know about. I admit it remains a puzzle to me how much you seem to wish to know about the man. As I am in your debt, and as I have little by means of which to repay it, I hope my answers provide you some measure of satisfaction.

 

 

Your servant,

 

 

Severus Snape

 

 

p.s. - you mentioned George Weasley in the context, I believe, of no longer being rowdy. How is this the case? Did he marry a tyrant?

 

 

p.p.s. - The Muggles call their version snow angels, did you know? Their version only has two legs and the wings span from shoulder to hip.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Dear Severus,

 

 

That is quite a nice fireplace. It looks large, yet cozy, if you take my meaning. I'm glad you have one. It's so nice to sit by the fire and read when the weather is cold.

 

 

I'm sorry to hear you find lab work isn't so interesting anymore. Are you still conducting potions research at all?

 

 

I'm glad you told me about your mother and about you growing up. I don't think you are right, though, about not being the sort of boy I would have wanted to know. It sounds more like you were a boy I would have been interested in talking to and learning more about. Just like you are now, really. Except you're not a boy. I still can't imagine you as a boy, but I wrote to Harry like you suggested.

 

 

My birthday is October 11th, since you asked, but you don't have to do anything. Just birthday wishes are enough. It's so nice of you to think about it at all.

 

 

George Weasley hasn't been the same since Fred died during the final battle. He used to be rowdy, but now he's...well, don't laugh, but he's gone respectable. He's not married, but he's been dating Lavender Brown for two years now. I was surprised you didn't know this, but then I remembered you don't read any newspapers anymore. I'm sorry. I should have thought of that, Severus. I wrote to Professor Flitwick about it. We'll come up with something that can help.

 

 

And thank you for telling me about Muggle snow angels. It must have been very different growing up among Muggles. I'm sorry the other boys weren't very friendly when you were little, and I'm glad you found at least one friend.

 

 

You don't have to feel obliged to answer me, Severus. You aren't in my debt. You're my friend, that's all. Friends talk to each other and tell each other about themselves. They help each other out and they listen to each other. They care, like I care about you. And they miss each other when they're apart, just like I miss you.

 

 

your friend,

 

 

Luna

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

When Snape made his way to his den early the next morning, he found Filius Flitwick studying his portrait.

 

 

"Why hello there, Severus! Miss Lovegood told me of your dilemma. Forgive us for not having considered it before, but then we all thought you would be hanging in the Headmaster's Office and then it would not have been an issue. Ah! I think I've got it." He stepped back and then turned briefly to the portrait again, saying, "Just hold tight, my boy. It won't be long now."

 

 

Severus frowned, nonplussed. He heard the footsteps heading down the corridor before he gained the presence of mind to call out, "What won't be long?"

 

 

There was no answer and he wondered what Filius and Luna were on about. He decided to fetch himself some tea and scones and resolved to ask Luna about it later.

 

 

When he returned to his den, a copy of the Daily Prophet lay atop his desk. He approached it warily, setting down his cup of tea.

 

 

Not long after he had gingerly picked it up, he heard footsteps and looked up to see Flitwick hurrying up to him.

 

 

"Ah, it worked!"

 

 

"What worked?"

 

 

"The Shrinking and Dislocation Charm Luna cobbled up. She did it with a journal, she told me, but I wasn't certain if it would work from a distance, but it's all within the castle from two set points so it doesn't seem to matter."

 

 

"What doesn't matter? What set points?"

 

 

"I've taken the liberty of having one of the staff copies of the Daily Prophet shrunk and sent to you in the morning. The elves place them on the table in the same place every morning, as you know. One will come here. When you are done with it and, if you don't wish to hold onto the paper for some reason, you can send it back by tapping it with your wand and saying 'Circuitio!' In fact, please do let me know if there are any periodicals you'd care to read. I shall perform the same spell from the library and inform Madam Pinch. Those, of course, would have to be returned but you could always make yourself a copy if you felt it was need- Severus?"

 

 

Snape had his hands over his eyes, as if he had a headache.

 

 

"Yes, Filius, I'm... quite well. Thank you. For everything. And yes, I'd like-" He cleared his throat before looking up with suspiciously bright eyes, "-copies of Ars Alchemica, Potions Publica and the Herbology Medica, please."

 

 

Flitwick beamed. "Nothing simpler!"

 

 

He rushed off and Snape was glad. He did not think he could hold back the happy tears, or what he suspected was a very silly grin, any longer.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

2009

 

 

One day he woke to discover that he could no longer see the slightly singed grey stone of the corridor wall opposite his painting.

 

 

He was startled to discover his own "painting" of the outside world reflected a sitting room, reminiscent of the one he'd enjoyed the year he had used the Headmaster's quarters. He frowned.

 

 

Perhaps Minerva had seen fit to place him there. It hardly seemed her style of decor, however, and he forbore guessing whose it might be.

 

 

"Hello? Is anyone there?"

 

 

His call elicited nothing, and he resolved to remain there until he could ascertain his new situation.

 

 

After a very long and boring morning, he finally went to fetch himself some tea and a bite to eat. He did not get peckish, precisely, but his memory of internal time, imbued into the very fibre of his portrait, seemed to relate to his "body" within it. He knew he needed to eat and so he ate, although, he had discovered that missing meals did not result in any negative side effects aside from making him, ironically, lose his sense of time. Therefore, he ate as he normally would have and had ceased to think about how absurd it might be many years ago.

 

 

He read a book at his desk chair, waiting, but nothing changed aside from the shadows in the sitting room lengthening with the sun's rays. The room, it seemed, was in the rear and center of the school, somewhere high up enough that he could not see any view of the grounds out the portion of window he could see.

 

 

Then a knock sounded at his door and he frowned. No one had ever knocked on his door before!

 

 

He set his book down and rushed over in a peculiar state of agitation. He opened the door, and then gawped.

 

 

"Severus, my boy! Hello!"

 

 

"Albus, good afternoon," he said automatically. Then he found himself being heartily embraced. It felt the same as he remembered; the few times he was ever hugged. The last one he had received had been from this man. He found himself automatically returning it, thinking how good it felt before moving back.

 

 

"H-how?"

 

 

The old Headmaster beamed. "Ah, yes, but wouldn't my explanation be better over a spot of tea and some biscuits, my boy?"

 

 

"Oh, yes. Please come in, Headmaster." Severus stepped back to allow Albus in.

 

 

"Oh, pish posh. It's Albus, and you have a lovely cottage, my boy."

 

 

 

 

 

"Did you say Professor Lovegood?"

 

 

"Indeed! Our new Charms professor," Albus explained, pouring himself a cup and snagging a gooseberry tart. "She's taking over the upper term classes for Filius for the next two years. Once he's satisfied with the students' test scores, he plans to finally retire, and she will take over Charms, as well as be installed as Head of Ravenclaw."

 

 

"I see."

 

 

Albus frowned. "Oh, dear. Were you not informed, Severus? I can see you're a bit disquieted."

 

 

Snape scowled, refusing to acknowledge the hurt he felt that Luna had not told him. They still corresponded after all this time. They were both on their fourteenth journal since the first she had given him. He sighed now.

 

 

"I am not disquieted, merely... displeased I was not informed of this move, and rather uncertain as to why I was moved here in the first place."

 

 

Dumbledore beamed again. "That would be by Miss Lovegood's own request. She could not arrive early to prepare, so she and Filius have been corresponding heavily to apprise her of the schedules and such. She arrived late last night and today was start of term. I guess you cannot hear the clatter of arrivals from here."

 

 

Severus shook his head. "No. I assumed the sorting had gone as it usually does. The Baron usually drops by to apprise me of the new crop of students. Although, I guess he cannot do that anymore. Actually, I have not seen him for quite a while."

 

 

"Ah, yes. I am afraid there was a bit of a kerfuffle with the Grey Lady. The Baron has been recuperating."

 

 

Severus nodded. Recuperating, for the Baron, meant sulking in the deepest bowels of the castle.

 

 

"You have also been noticeably absent of late, Albus, in the portrait in my den."

 

 

Dumbledore sighed. "I'm afraid dear Kingsley has commissioned a painting of me for his office at the Ministry. He's been monopolizing my time."

 

 

"What on Earth for?"

 

 

"It seems he wishes to attempt a restructuring of the entire DADA system. He even proposes a change in name to Defensive Magic, removing the onus of Dark Arts from the curriculum."

 

 

"I see."

 

 

"Yes, but that's not so important as the fact I can see you face to face again, my boy." Albus beamed.

 

 

"You never did answer how this is now possible."

 

 

"Oh, yes, well, when I tried to appear in the portrait in your den, I discovered myself slipping out of my own portrait and investigated. Quite soon, I found myself by your front door. I figured it was your cottage based on the view of the yard. I am of the opinion I was able to traverse here, because Professor Lovegood chose to hang you in her living room, and with this choice, the castle had to accept you, as it were, as a legitimate portrait within the castle environs."

 

 

"Bloody took long enough," Severus muttered bleakly.

 

 

"Now, now, my boy. Buck up! You have a new view. Moreover, you will have increased company. Surely this is a positive change."

 

 

Severus finally nodded.

 

 

"Now, are there more of these gooseberry tarts? I haven't had one quite so nice in many a year."

 

 

 

 

 

It was not until night that Luna came to her quarters.

 

 

Severus had not seen her in several years, and he was forced to concede that the years had been kind to her indeed. He knew he no longer aged, forever frozen at the 38 years he had managed to achieve, but the same did not hold to the living.

 

 

At 30 years of age, Luna Lovegood was stunning. Petite, with her large blue eyes and gamine features, she had gained something, a quality he could not quantify, on her expeditions.

 

 

Wearing an incongruous, but lush and beautiful set of silk robes whose origin was clearly the Orient, she no longer wore her wand behind her ear, but in the complex knot of her hair behind her head.

 

 

Considering the size of the knot, Severus figured her hair must be quite long, indeed, and he found his fingers clenching briefly. He cleared his throat.

 

 

"Luna."

 

 

"Oh, hello Severus! I'm so glad to see Mippy put you there! It's perfect! I wanted to surprise you. Were you surprised?"

 

 

Her smile was radiant and Severus felt himself nodding, instead of speaking. He was not sure he could speak at the moment, her presence was rather distracting.

 

 

"Not to worry about the fire. I'll put a temperature charm on your portrait. Caminus Aegis!"

 

 

To his surprise, he felt a tingle of magic swirl throughout his abode, and then dissipate.

 

 

"There. Now I can use the fire without worrying about your frame and you shouldn't feel any discomfort." She beamed. "How are you?"

 

 

"I- I'm quite well, thank you. And you?"

 

 

"I've missed you, Severus. Truly I have." She fixed luminous blue eyes on him and inquired, "How is your herb garden?"

 

 

* * * *

 

 

It took several days before Severus got around to asking why Luna had seen fit to place him in her rooms. By then, it had become self-evident, although he still asked when the opportunity arose.

 

 

"I told you the first day, Severus. I missed you."

 

 

He nodded, trying to ignore the distracting vision of Luna literally tying herself up in knots, performing some form of Muggle calisthenics she called Yoga. He was not sure if he was more distracted by the fact one leg was twisted behind her neck, or the extremely form-fitting and abbreviated outfit she wore.

 

 

"You know," she added now. "You should try this. You have such a lovely straight back, but you also look so tense sometimes. Yoga helps maintain your flexibility."

 

 

He rolled his eyes. "I'm hardly likely to gain or lose flexibility any longer, Luna. I'm a portrait."

 

 

"That may be, but don't you like learning new disciplines? This may not be as exacting as Potions, but it's still a worthy subject. In fact, Yoga is considered a mastery of bodily control."

 

 

"Is it?"

 

 

"Oh, yes!" She paused to hoist her other leg behind her head and stared at him from the oval of her two lithe, trimly muscled legs.

 

 

Severus gave up on his question for the time being.

 

 

 

 

 

Luna's presence was a landmark event, and not just because of the change in scenery for Snape, but because he was now more directly tuned in to the rhythms of the castle. Even more than his interactions with the reading group, which had been momentarily thrown into confusion with his portrait's abrupt disappearance from the corridor, but which had been reinstated, with Luna's permission, once again, every Wednesday evening. Severus made sure the group broke up before Luna returned, not wanting to infringe on her privacy and hospitality.

 

 

Severus and Luna shared breakfast and, sometimes, lunch together, and it made his lonely dinner far less lonely when he knew she would appear later and share the day's events with him.

 

 

She was unfailingly polite, always asking about his own day, although his days rarely varied.

 

 

With the ability he had to view the periodicals he chose, he had continued his potions research years ago with a vengeance, soon adding Arithmantic publications to his roster and engaging his lively mind with varied calculations that helped him focus.

 

 

He had no idea how he retained the knowledge, but then he knew even the regular school portraits retained full awareness of the students and the past generations that had gone by.

 

 

Either way, his days were now pleasantly occupied and his nights were also more pleasant, although he could not remember ever having to wank quite so much before.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

It was not long after Luna's installation as Head of Ravenclaw, two years later, that a commotion outside Luna's quarters roused Snape from some late-night reading.

 

 

Luna had already bid him good night, an achingly sweet event that left him rapt as she always, without fail, gently brushed fingertips over his cheek.

 

 

Without fail, it also left him utterly unable to sleep. Severus had long refused to wank whilst thinking of her. It would not do. She considered him a friend, nothing more, and it was futile even if she did think of him as more. He was a portrait and she was a living woman. It was likely she would, in time, find someone and then he would be bereft. Therefore, he did not give in to his body's temptation. Instead, he chose to read until he tired.

 

 

On this night, when he heard the pounding at the door, he began to call Luna as well, although he doubted she could hear him from her bedchamber.

 

 

Suddenly, she burst into the room. Her long golden hair was unbound, reaching her bum as it flowed behind her. She was still slipping into a silky robe, revealing, what looked to Severus, like veritable acres of pale, smooth ivory skin, scarcely decent in an equally silky-looking nightgown with thin straps that revealed a lot more cleavage than Severus had seen in many years, and ending a few scant inches below her crotch.

 

 

He had a few seconds to gaze on this stunning vision before she got the robe on and belted. He remained in a stunned silence as she yanked her door open to reveal a tall black-haired boy in a Prefect's robe.

 

 

"I'm sorry, Professor, but there's a fire in the common room!"

 

 

"Oh, for pity's sake-"

 

 

It was all Severus heard before the two hurried off, the door closing behind them.

 

 

It was several seconds before he broke from his contemplation.

 

 

That was the first night he gave in and relieved his urgent need while thinking of Luna. He had scarcely made it to his lavatory in time and when his body shuddered out its pleasure, the power of it was staggering.

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, he could barely meet her eyes, feeling deeply ashamed of himself. Luna did not seem to notice.

 

 

She smiled brightly at him as she poured tea.

 

 

"I've been thinking of last night. I'm so sorry that disturbed your rest."

 

 

He shook his head. "One of the hazards of being Head of House, as I well recall."

 

 

"Yes, well, I'm thinking it might be best if I got another portrait for my bedroom, so you could go there if need be and I could hear you."

 

 

Severus was startled to discover he could still blush. He shook his head to hide his bright red cheeks.

 

 

"I don't think that's such a good idea. You need your privacy, Luna. It wouldn't be right."

 

 

She considered him. "Maybe you're right."

 

 

He felt his cheeks cool and relaxed.

 

 

"But I need to be able to hear you. I'll think about it."

 

 

That evening she came rushing up to his portrait as soon as she entered her quarters.

 

 

"I've got it, Severus!"

 

 

He lifted a brow. "Oh?"

 

 

She held up a Sickle and he stared at it.

 

 

"A Sickle?"

 

 

"Yes. With magic, intent is the most important issue, but sometimes you need to utilize the best material for a particular spell. Like casting Inflammare won't work well against metal, but if you cast it on cloth it will burn."

 

 

He nodded his understanding.

 

 

"I had to double-check in the library. There is a lot of material from Muggle Studies, oddly enough, that says metal conducts sound quite well. The best material is something the Muggles call optical fibre, but since I don't have anything like that and don't know how to get it, metal will have to do." That said she pulled her wand from her hair and tapped the Sickle, then, to his surprise, she also tapped it against his throat. "Induco Internos!"

 

 

Then she smiled at him and walked into her bedroom.

 

 

"Can you hear me?"

 

 

He jumped as Luna's voice seemed to sift from the air around him.

 

 

"Yes."

 

 

"Good."

 

 

She came back into the room.

 

 

"Now I'll be able to hear you when I'm not in here."

 

 

 

 

 

That night, Severus was about to head to bed when he could suddenly hear Luna. The sound was distinctive, and he knew she was speaking via the Sickle.

 

 

"Severus?"

 

 

"Yes, Luna?"

 

 

"I wondered if you were asleep."

 

 

"Not yet. Is there something you need?"

 

 

She giggled. "No silly. I can't sleep yet and I kind of wanted to talk."

 

 

"Very well. What did you wish to discuss?"

 

 

"Well, I know it's a bit late to be asking, since it's been over two years now, but I'd been wondering and it was on my mind. You haven't said yet whether or not you like being in my quarters. I thought you would tell me, but you've never said anything at all. I've been hoping that meant it was okay. But I was just thinking it might not be. I would hate to think you weren't happy, but weren't saying anything so as not to hurt my feelings."

 

 

He was surprised. "Not at all. It was fine. I was a bit startled at first, but the benefits far outweigh any disadvantages."

 

 

"Oh, good! I'm so glad!"

 

 

"Frankly, being able to see Albus again has been a welcome change."

 

 

"I'm glad, Severus. I want, more than anything, for you to find some happiness."

 

 

He fell silent. They'd had one of their rare, but serious discussions, followed by an even rarer and briefer debate, some years back after she had finally seen his memories. The one theme she seemed to keep returning to was her desire to see him happy. He gave her his usual response now, as he had then.

 

 

"I scarcely know what that is, but I'm content enough, Luna. Truly."

 

 

"Hmph."

 

 

There was a silence and he ventured to speak into it after a moment.

 

 

"Was that all you wished to discuss?"

 

 

"Yes. Sweet dreams, Severus."

 

 

He found his lips quirking. "Good night, Luna."

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning he woke early, hips gently, but insistently, pushing his erection into his mattress. He groaned.

 

 

Rolling onto his back, he suddenly realized he could hear the soft sounds of Luna's deep and even breathing as she slept. He frowned. How could he possibly wank now?

 

 

His erection felt like an iron bar pushing up his bedcovers. He groaned again. Damn that girl and her charms!

 

 

He waited for a while, but his erection refused to die. He sighed and reached for his wand, casting a silent Muffliato, before shoving his hand under his blanket and grasping himself firmly and tugging without preamble. He needed to come now!

 

 

Sooner than even he had expected, it pulsed from him, saturating his blanket, but the soft nubby cloth felt incredible against his sensitive skin as he thrust his hips and moaned out his pleasure.

 

 

Replete, he fell back. He would have to change his bedding, but the intense relief from his orgasm was worth it. Ever since he had seen Luna in her small, silky nightgown, long hair also like golden silk flowing down her back...

 

 

He groaned as his cock twitched with renewed eagerness.

 

 

No, he told it sternly, before sliding out of bed and bundling the bedclothes, and heading for the lav. There he used the facilities and stuffed the soiled bundle into the cabinet and closed it. When he opened it again, a fresh set of sheets and blankets was within, this set a vivid russet and orange that brought Autumn to mind.

 

 

Every time he changed his bedding, he usually got a soft pastel colour, except on holidays or with the changing of the seasons, when, he had noted, the cabinet seemed to provide him with what it felt was appropriate colouring. Apparently, it had decided Autumn was upon them.

 

 

He dropped the Muffliato once he was done in the lavatory. A flick of his wand remade the bed, and Severus headed to his kitchen to begin his day.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

One night after Luna had headed for bed, Severus found himself nodding off earlier than was usual over his book. He put a place marker in it and headed for bed.

 

 

Not long after he had turned down the bedclothes and slipped between the sheets, he heard an odd sound from Luna.

 

 

It sounded almost like a moan and he nearly asked if everything was all right, but opted to wait and see if she said anything else. It was possible she was dreaming.

 

 

Then she moaned again and he realized, as a furious rush of heat warmed his face, that she was pleasuring herself.

 

 

She must have forgotten to use Muffliato or else forgotten that he would be able to hear her. His cock twitched and began to lengthen and grow warm. He bit off a curse and reached for his wand to use a silencing spell.

 

 

Then she whispered, "Oh, Severus..."

 

 

He froze in place. Was she speaking to him? Did she expect him to respond?

 

 

"Oh, yes, Severus."

 

 

Dear sweet motherless Merlin! She was wanking to him!

 

 

His face grew even warmer as his cock surged to full hardness. This was sheer madness!

 

 

"Oh, yes. Oh, please. Oh, Severus," she whimpered.

 

 

He could not help it. He wondered what exactly her fantasy of him entailed. What did she have him doing to her? He would do it, he knew, if he could.

 

 

This thought brought the heavy weight of reality crashing down and he savagely whipped his wand out, casting a non-verbal silencing spell and damning himself for being a weak fool.

 

 

No matter what she felt, no matter how much he wanted her, any relationship was utterly doomed. It could never be. It was best he accepted this.

 

 

He curled up, closed his eyes, and tried to sleep, but after a few moments, he swore softly and got out of bed. Stalking to the loo, he cast a brief and non-verbal Muffliato and unceremoniously pulled up his nightshirt to reach his raging erection. Deliberately blanking his mind, he made a ring of his fingers, then thrust artlessly into his fist until he achieved a nearly agonizing release, which he aimed into the bowl. Afterward, he found he was still unable to sleep, but at least his body was no longer a torment.

 

 

The torment was now in his spirit...and his aching heart.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

The next few days, Severus avoided Luna as much as was possible, and when he spoke to her, his words were brief and perfunctory.

 

 

"Is something troubling you, Severus?"

 

 

"Not at all," he replied, not looking up from his writing. "I'm merely busy with this new formulae. It's quite intricate and I'm attempting to apply Arithmancy to the dosaging."

 

 

"Oh."

 

 

She watched him a bit sadly for a moment, before heading toward the door.

 

 

"Well, have a pleasant day, then, Severus!"

 

 

He merely grunted in reply.

 

 

Once she had stepped out of the room, he flung his quill from him in disgust and sank fingers into his hair, the very figure of despair.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

It happened again that evening and, cursing himself ten times over for a depraved fool, he listened as he sat at his desk.

 

 

He did not touch himself, but merely listened as Luna pleasured herself using his name. It was sheer agony, his achingly hard cock twitching hopefully with every soft utterance from her.

 

 

She took her time about it and slowly climbed the heights of passion, and when she finally cried out his name in ecstasy, Severus bit back a fierce groan as he felt himself pulse out his own climax, utterly untouched and utterly bereft.

 

 

Then, as she drifted into the sweet oblivion of sleep, he went to undress and wash himself of the evidence of his transgressions.

 

 

 

 

 

He was riding her, thrusting deep within, his whole body exulting in the sensations so long denied him.

 

 

His elbows held him above her, one arm under her beautiful neck, the fingers of the other tangled in her hair as he loved her, worshipped her.

 

 

"Oh, Luna!"

 

 

Severus woke as he ejaculated, feeling spurt after warm spurt drizzle one of his pillows that he had somehow trapped between his thighs as he slept, his nightshirt rucked up to his waist. He groaned.

 

 

"Severus?"

 

 

He froze.

 

 

"Are you all right? I heard you call me."

 

 

Damn that blasted Sickle and damn her for putting us into this situation and damn me for being such a bloody hormonal fool!

 

 

"Did I?" He managed to ask in a raspy voice. "I'm sorry. I was sleeping."

 

 

"Oh. Well, I'm on my way out. I have an early morning staff meeting. See you later!"

 

 

He said nothing, merely waited until he heard the door shut before turning his face into his pillow and silently screaming.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

That night, when he heard her, he immediately drew his wand and used a silencing spell, then deliberately focused his attention on his work, refusing to even think of what she was doing.

 

 

When the clock in his den chimed midnight, he set down his work and headed for bed. He fell asleep almost immediately.

 

 

The next morning, Severus woke, as per usual, with a very stiff erection, the result of another heated dream of Luna. He sighed and listened, but did not hear her, which probably meant she had already left for classes.

 

 

Thus assured, he closed his eyes, fisted himself and thought of a parade of various women he had once found attractive. When Narcissa Malfoy's face flitted past his mind's eye, however, her blonde icy looks transmuted to another, warmer blonde. He could see Luna's cornflower blue eyes and her sweet, beguiling expression.

 

 

He groaned as his climax struck, shuddering through it until, at last, the feelings ebbed. He sighed.

 

 

"Oh, Luna..."

 

 

He sighed again. Then he got up and began to get ready for the day.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

That evening, Luna came back to her quarters early.

 

 

He was startled to see an expression of concern on her face, and even more surprised when she hurried up to his portrait and began to speak, except that he could not hear her.

 

 

With chagrin, he suddenly realized he had never discontinued the silencing spell from the night before. Some spells, charms and enchantments were self-limiting, but most required either a magical reversal of some kind, or else a silent act of will, usually combined with the use of a wand. Silencing spells were never self-limiting unless a time limit was set at their creation.

 

 

He reached for his wand and cancelled it.

 

 

Luna had stopped speaking at some point, watching him with interest, but now she spoke and her tone was one he had never heard before.

 

 

"Why did you use a silencing spell? That's a bit silly, as it totally defeats the purpose of the listening charm."

 

 

She sounded like a hurt little girl, in a way he had never heard from her, even in all the years she had attended Hogwarts and been teased and jeered at by cruel and/or unthinking schoolmates about her quaint ways and unorthodox beliefs. She had always simply ignored the gibes. Thus, her reproach made his stomach clench with guilt, which, in turn, made him angry.

 

 

"I told you it was a bad idea for the sake of privacy!"

 

 

She blinked. "No, you said a second portrait was a bad idea for the sake of privacy. You never said anything about the listening charm."

 

 

"I shouldn't have to. Any fool could see it was a disaster waiting to happen."

 

 

Luna looked a touch nettled. "There's been no disaster. I only wondered why you weren't answering me when I spoke to you. Especially after this morning, when you sounded like you were having trouble breathing and then called out my name."

 

 

Snape grew scarlet. He had forgotten the dream, as well as the fact that a silencing spell kept him from hearing Luna, but did not prevent her from hearing him. He could feel the heat in his face increase as he recalled how, not hearing Luna, he had assumed she was still asleep and opted not to use Muffliato as he usually did.

 

 

"That was really rather impolite, as well," she continued. "I answered you, but you just ignored me. You've ignored me all day, but at least now I know it's because you couldn't hear me."

 

 

He nodded, and she drew closer, one fingertip touching his arm. He could feel a tingling pressure on his forearm and looked up at her.

 

 

"Why Severus?" The gaze from her limpid blue eyes implored him. "Why did you shut me out? Why have you been so distant?"

 

 

He looked stricken. She was stroking along his arm and, despite himself, he began to get hard.

 

 

"I...It wasn't...I...Luna, please stop that," he finally requested. She pulled her hand back and waited.

 

 

Severus hung his head, closing his eyes. When he spoke, his voice was hollow.

 

 

"I heard you. I could hear you, at night...in bed. I...I couldn't bear it anymore, so last night, I used a silencing spell."

 

 

Luna said nothing for so long, that Severus finally risked looking up. She stood very close, and her expression was the same one she held whenever she thought he had done something dear.

 

 

"Oh, Severus. I knew you'd be able to hear me. Did you think I hadn't thought of that?"

 

 

Snape was dumbfounded. "What?"

 

 

"I love you, silly. Of course I think of you when I perform clitoral massage. I don't mind if you know that."

 

 

He blinked rapidly as he suffered a flurry of conflicting feelings-mortification, arousal and dismay. She placed her finger against his cheek as she spoke.

 

 

"I was sort of hoping you might respond in kind some night, but I haven't heard you masturbating. Do you masturbate, Severus? Or are portraits different? I'm afraid I don't really know, you see."

 

 

"Ah-"

 

 

"If you do, if you'd like, maybe we could do that together some night."

 

 

"Luna!" Severus finally broke free of his inertia and pulled back from the desk, wincing as his erection pressed against his trousers and was revealed to her observant Ravenclaw eyes.

 

 

"Yes?"

 

 

"This is all highly inappropriate. Not to mention rather sudden. W-what brought this on?"

 

 

She had pulled her finger back and considered what he said.

 

 

"I don't think it's inappropriate. We've been friends for years, so it's not really sudden. I know so much about you like you do about me, and I love you. I think you care for me, too. Don't you?"

 

 

He managed a tight little nod.

 

 

"As for what brought this on, well, you hadn't mentioned my masturbating so far, at least until the issue of the silencing spell came up, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about it."

 

 

He stared at her, still conflicted and she smiled gently.

 

 

"You said you heard me and you couldn't bear it."

 

 

He nodded warily.

 

 

"Why?"

 

 

He closed his eyes and fought a groan. This just simply could not be happening! He opened his eyes to see Luna watching him expectantly and sighed.

 

 

"I...last night...hearing you..." He swallowed past a tight throat and forced himself to finish. "It was very arousing. Since we cannot actually interact physically, I decided it was best to avoid the situation. So I began to use a silencing spell."

 

 

"Last night."

 

 

He nodded.

 

 

"So you listened to me before?"

 

 

He grew scarlet, but nodded again.

 

 

Her finger returned to his cheek and he groaned.

 

 

"And what did you do before?"

 

 

The tingling sensation of pressure on his face moved down to his shoulder as Luna stroked along his portrait's surface. Heat trailed in the wake of her touch and he began to breathe faster.

 

 

"I...I t-touched myself," he admitted in a tight whisper.

 

 

"But not last night."

 

 

He shook his head, and then forced himself to utter the damning words. "I did this morning. I woke from a dream of you."

 

 

He could say no more. His cock was an agony of need and when Luna gently began to stroke her finger along his shoulder, he fought down a gasp.

 

 

"Tell me, Severus-do you care for me?"

 

 

He gazed at her intently. Finally, he murmured, "Yes, Luna."

 

 

"Would you like me to touch you?"

 

 

He groaned and moved before the desk, closer to the surface of his portrait. It was soundless affirmation and Luna gazed on him tenderly. Then she stroked her finger down from his shoulders and he cried out, his hips jerking helplessly.

 

 

When her lambent finger finally reached his groin, it only took two gentle caresses over his bulging trousers before he came apart before her, experiencing a climax of an intensity he had never known in his life or since.

 

 

When he recovered, he found her watching him, an adoring gaze on her beautiful face and he struggled to smile.

 

 

"Luna."

 

 

She beamed at him.

 

 

"I'm so glad. Was that good?"

 

 

He groaned, but nodded, still feeling a bit ashamed of himself and his lack of control.

 

 

"Then would you like to come with me to my bedroom? To watch me?"

 

 

He groaned again.

 

 

 

 

 

She had levitated his portrait to her bedchamber, placing him on the wall by her bed and he studied the room. It was similar to his own from his days as Head of House. Then he looked to her and swallowed.

 

 

Luna was undressing. There was no artifice to it, she did not try to tease or titillate, merely removing her clothes and carefully laying them atop her dresser.

 

 

Once she was nude, she smiled at him.

 

 

"Would you like to undress, too? Aren't you sticky? Or do portraits not ejaculate?"

 

 

He was still transfixed by her lithe and beautiful body. The tips of her breasts were coral-tipped, and her pubic hair looked like golden silk. When his mind finally focused on what she had asked, he fought yet another groan.

 

 

"I usually take care of it with a spell," he admitted. He found his wand and waved it over himself. Then, studying her, he began to shyly disrobe.

 

 

Soon, he was down to his soft linen boxers and he hesitated before slowly lowering them and baring himself to her gaze.

 

 

She eyed him with a gleam of mingled appreciation and anticipation. She smiled at him.

 

 

"Tell me about your dream, Severus."

 

 

He shrugged. "There's not much to it, I'm afraid. I dream I'm...I'm atop you...making love to you."

 

 

"You don't dream about the details before?"

 

 

He shook his head.

 

 

"Would you like to know what I imagine?"

 

 

He nodded, feeling his breathing speed up.

 

 

She stood before him and began to speak as if she was reciting before a class.

 

 

"First, you undress me. You stroke my skin as you do," she said, suiting word to action and running her hands along her arms and down the sides of her torso. She lingered over the curves of her breasts and hips. "Then you lay me back on the bed."

 

 

Severus nodded as Luna lay down, turning so she could watch him. "You kiss me, on the lips and cheeks and neck and shoulders and then you reach my breasts. You kiss and suckle and caress them, tugging them a bit, oh, yes."

 

 

She was touching both her breasts now, tweaking her nipples and lightly pinching them, gasping.

 

 

"Then you move down, kissing and licking, until you reach my groin." She spread her legs before him and he moaned a little, taking his hardening cock in hand. "You perform cunnilingus. It's marvelous."

 

 

He watched as she licked her fingertips and then began to touch herself. "Luna..."

 

 

"When you've had your fill, you slide up along my body, and press your erection inside me," she related, the fingers of one hand slipping inside and beginning to stroke in and out.

 

 

Severus began to stroke his aching cock, panting now and moaning a little as he watched Luna's gyrations.

 

 

"I'm so wet, Severus," she whimpered.

 

 

He nodded.

 

 

"What does it feel like for you?"

 

 

He swallowed.

 

 

"Hot...tight...so good..."

 

 

"I'm still a virgin," she admitted, and he groaned. "Have you been with anyone?"

 

 

Despite himself, her question impelled his honesty and he shook his head. "Not really."

 

 

"I want you to be my first," she whispered, then convulsed, crying out his name.

 

 

Severus whined and his strokes became rapid and he joined her, drizzling his belly as he gasped out his climax.

 

 

When he opened his eyes, he found Luna smiling at him beatifically.

 

 

"See? Wasn't that nice?"

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

A few days later, Albus dropped by for his usual weekly tea with Severus.

 

 

"How are you, my boy?"

 

 

Severus smiled a bit distractedly, but nodded. "Well, Albus, as I hope you are. I trust the Headmistress is, also?"

 

 

"I'm fine, dear boy, and Minerva is quite hale and hearty. I think the office suits her." Albus settled at the table and took a biscuit as Severus poured him tea. "So, what is your news, Severus? You seem more relaxed, and yet you look troubled."

 

 

He shrugged. "I don't know that I wish to discuss it, Albus."

 

 

"Something is troubling you then?"

 

 

"Perhaps."

 

 

"It is Professor Lovegood, is it not?"

 

 

Snape sighed. "Is it that obvious?"

 

 

Albus smiled. "It is nothing on your face or about your person, my boy. Miss Lovegood's latest assigned detention was making the students write an essay entitled 'Severus Snape, Secret War Hero'. The day before she made a student take lines: Professor Snape was not an evil, greasy git, and he stood up to Moldy Warts since before I was in nappies. She assigned him three feet and insisted on writing no larger than a centimetre high."

 

 

Severus groaned, shaking his head, which was buried in his hands.

 

 

"There are worse things in life, my boy, than to be loved."

 

 

Snape lifted his head to glare at him.

 

 

"That's just it, Albus! I'm not alive. I'm dead. This...infatuation of hers is doomed. I can't believe I've let her-"

 

 

He cut himself off with a grimace and buried his face in his hands again. His voice, when it emerged from beneath the tangle of his hair, was small.

 

 

"Even in death, my life is a mockery."

 

 

"It needn't be. You never allowed yourself the opportunity in life. You closed your heart the first time it was battered by life and you never found it in you to let it open again, to experience more than just anger, despair, doubt and futility." Albus dared to lay a hand on Severus's shoulder. "Are you going to allow this afterlife to be the same? Harry did not mean this gift to you to be a torment, but an honour."

 

 

Snape looked up, scowling now.

 

 

"He never asked me what I wanted-if I wanted to go on in this pseudo-existence, trapped in a portrait. He has never even spoken to me, Albus, so I hardly think it any form of honour. Just a means of expiating his guilt. He had me painted so he could forget about me, consign me to the depths of his memory and thereafter think only of his own deeds, ignoring those who paid the price to assure he was able to carry out his duty."

 

 

Albus studied him for a long moment, until Severus felt compelled to demand, "What?"

 

 

"Severus, you have never been to visit me. I think I should very much like you to visit me tomorrow for tea."

 

 

"I don't think-"

 

 

"I do. You have avoided the Office of the Headmaster long enough, dear boy. I insist."

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

That night Severus tried to demur when Luna began to levitate him from the living room to her bedroom.

 

 

"We needn't. Not every night," he said, feeling his face heat. "It's hardly reciprocal, either. I can't touch you, Luna, much as I wish to."

 

 

She continued to manoeuvre him to her bedroom and lay him flat on the bed. She undressed as she spoke.

 

 

"You said once that you'd never be able to call me a friend. Do you remember what I said?"

 

 

He trembled, beginning to slip out of his own clothes as he answered, "You said you'd have to do it for us both."

 

 

"Well, until we figure out a way we can be properly together, I'll just have to do this for us both," she said decidedly.

 

 

Once naked, she stretched out beside his portrait and lost no time in stretching out her hand to lovingly caress him.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

The next afternoon, Severus found himself leaving his cottage with some trepidation. Albus had explained the process, which was akin to Apparating; one had to just do it, in order to experience it. Unlike Apparating, there was no chance of being Splinched, merely of not going anywhere.

 

 

He focused his will on Albus and took a step forward...and into the small study of Albus's private chambers. He blinked in astonishment.

 

 

"Severus! I'm so glad you came. Please come meet my namesake," Albus beamed at him, putting an arm around his shoulders and pulling him forth and toward a window-like image that revealed the Office of the Headmistress. A familiar, bespectacled face was watching him. He felt a touch of trepidation.

 

 

"You scheming, old codger," he muttered under his breath to Albus, who merely chuckled.

 

 

"Good afternoon, Professor," Harry Potter greeted him as he stepped up. His tone was perfectly polite, not one hint of resentment or censure in his voice.

 

 

Snape nodded. "Potter."

 

 

"Bring the boys closer, Harry," Albus requested.

 

 

Harry nodded and waving his wand, he levitated a small, sleepy boy off of a lounge closer to the portrait. "This is James."

 

 

Severus fought to keep his eyes from rolling, merely studying the boy, who appeared to be about five or perhaps six years of age.

 

 

Harry settled him back on the lounge where the boy curled up, undisturbed. He then approached a smaller boy that Snape had assumed was asleep, but who lifted his arms up to Potter. Harry smiled indulgently and picked up his son, balancing him on one hip and stepping near the portrait. When the boy stared sleepily at him, Snape swallowed.

 

 

Harry beamed. "This is Albus Severus. Albus Severus, the gentleman next to Uncle Albus there, is the other man I named you after. Can you say hello?"

 

 

The green-eyed boy murmured a sleepy, "'lo."

 

 

Potter had named a son after him? Snape's response was automatic, despite feeling stunned.

 

 

"It's good to make your acquaintance, young man."

 

 

Albus Severus blinked at him uncertainly, then put his head on his father's shoulder and hid his face. Harry smiled a little, and went to put his son back down on the lounge. The boy curled up facing away from the portrait.

 

 

Harry returned, speaking quietly.

 

 

"I'm really sorry I've not been by sooner, but...first I was in training, then Kingsley kept sending me all over the world tracking down what was left of the Voldemort supporters." Potter paused. "And I have to admit I wasn't sure you'd want to see me."

 

 

Snape swallowed. "Truthfully, I felt the same in reverse."

 

 

Potter looked pained, then sighed. "Things change, I guess. I wanted to be an Auror to help people, but my position is less policing, than political, and the fact remains that no one else can do it. Kingsley relies on my expertise and presence to help make people feel safer. It's not exactly what I wanted, but it's what I have. So I make the most of it."

 

 

Severus nodded, surprised to hear himself admit, "Indeed. I feel much the same way."

 

 

"Yeah, well. My wife wants a career of her own, but the work never stops. Every week I try, and every week I end up putting in more hours at work than at home. Ginny keeps threatening to leave me if I don't work saner hours now that we've got the boys."

 

 

"It's a wife's prerogative to want her husband close, Harry," intoned another voice, as Minerva McGonagall entered the office. She beamed at the portrait. "Why Severus! So good to see you here again."

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Severus developed a familiarly fatalistic mindset as the weeks went on and his relationship with Luna deepened. There was nothing he could do. Doom was approaching. They could not avoid it. He would have to deal with it as it came, just as he had in his life.

 

 

Sure enough, one day, Luna did not return to her quarters and there was a knock on his door late that night as he waited. Filled with dread, he opened it to Dumbledore's sombre face.

 

 

"My dear boy...I'm afraid I've very bad news."

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

In the wake of Professor Lovegood's untimely death, Severus requested and was granted a return to the corridor, where Luna had first placed him, near the Room of Requirement. The castle seemed to accept him now, and he still went to visit Albus on occasion, and to speak with Minerva, but his presence was a taciturn one, at best, and when he returned to his own portrait, he left two concerned-looking colleagues behind.

 

 

"Ought we to tell him?"

 

 

Albus shook his head. "It was her dying wish. Just in case her plans did not work, she did not want Severus to be tormented by false hope."

 

 

"The poor lad," Minerva sighed. "Tragedy seems to follow him, even in death."

 

 

"Well, at least this time we may hope he will have the happy ending he so richly deserves, my dear."

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Snape had cancelled the reading group indefinitely. The ghosts all conveyed their personal condolences on his loss, Nearly Headless Nick opining how very tragic it was for such a lovely young lass to have been bitten by Acromantulas as she searched for Gurdy Roots in a corner of the Forbidden Forest.

 

 

She had, he told a stricken and silent Severus, fought valiantly in the Infirmary, but the venom had been too strong and she had been bitten too many times.

 

 

She had, the Bloody Baron assured him, loved him very much. He could find comfort in that, at least.

 

 

Finding him unresponsive, the ghosts left their friend to his morose contemplation of the future.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

Six weeks later, Severus was roused from a book he had opened to read and was, in fact, simply staring at sightlessly, when there was a knock on his door. Glancing at the time, he realized it must be Albus come for tea.

 

 

The image on the other side of his door rendered him momentarily nerveless.

 

 

Luna stood there, brightly smiling, looking up at him with great joy.

 

 

"Oh, Severus! I'm so glad to see you again!"

 

 

She hurled herself into his arms and he regained his senses.

 

 

Trembling, he held her to him, delighting in the feel of her in his arms, the scent of wild apples that emanated from her hair.

 

 

Was he gone mad? Suddenly, Severus did not care. Better to be insanely happy than miserably sane.

 

 

"Oh, Severus, I'm so glad it worked!"

 

 

He pulled back from her to gaze into her dear face.

 

 

"What?"

 

 

"Well, I knew it wasn't likely I'd survive the Acromantula bites, so I had Madam Pomfrey take some memories of mine. She and the Headmistress witnessed my last wishes and agreed to make certain they were followed. Most of the proceeds from my estate were used to pay the portrait artist Harry used to create your Virtuo Animago, and make one for me."

 

 

He stared at her, stunned. She smiled up at him and stroked his cheek. This time it was not just tingling and pressure, but he felt the distinct warmth of her fingers as they stroked his stubbled face.

 

 

"Oh, Severus, how I've longed to be able to truly touch you."

 

 

"Luna..." He crushed her to him; still afraid to learn she might be an illusion.

 

 

She let him, then pulled back and took his hand in hers. "Come with me."

 

 

"Where?"

 

 

She pointed along a path by his house. "My cottage is next to yours, silly, and I want to show it to you."

 

 

He followed willingly, but he scarcely took in the dwelling, having eyes only for its occupant.

 

 

When she noted his expression, she smiled dreamily and led him to her bedroom. There he undressed her and she undressed him, and they gave each other the gift of their virginity amidst the soft silken sheets, finally joined as both had yearned to be for so very long.

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

The next morning Severus began to rouse from sleep, but fought it. He did not want to wake, just to learn it had all been a dream. It had been a lovely dream and he wanted to savour it.

 

 

The warm hand cradling his genitals made him open an eye, and the warm, wet tongue that licked across his cock head made him gasp. He looked down to find Luna smiling up at him sweetly, holding his morning erection in one small hand and extending her pink tongue to lick his glans again.

 

 

"Luna..."

 

 

She slipped the head in her mouth and gently sucked him and he fought to keep from thrusting.

 

 

"S-stop."

 

 

She did, letting him go and he pulled her up to him. He gazed at her, taking in her slightly sleepy features and long disheveled hair.

 

 

"Sweet Merlin, you're real."

 

 

"Of course, I am, silly. I told you yesterday, I-"

 

 

She got no further as he kissed her hard, trembling in his desperation. Luna gave in to his need and let him do what he needed to.

 

 

Severus kissed and caressed her, worshipped her, with lips, tongue and hands. Luna gasped when he suckled her breasts, and writhed when he spread her legs and licked and sucked every millimetre of her moist, fragrant folds. He could not get enough of her, would never get enough of her. He had wanted her for so very long.

 

 

Then he leaned over her and shuddered as the head of his cock slid through her folds to find her entrance.

 

 

Yesterday, he had been so shocked, both at finding he had not lost her forever, as well as at finally being able to be with her, that their lovemaking was a tangle of emotion-charged imagery. Now...now he wanted to savour it, to savour her beneath him.

 

 

"Luna?"

 

 

She smiled up at him and stroked her hand along his cheek.

 

 

"Make love to me, Severus."

 

 

He groaned and pushed his way inside her and they both cried out at the wonderfully fulfilling sensation.

 

 

Severus could scarcely believe she was truly here, and that he would not lose her, that he would never lose her again. Luna could scarcely believe their love-making was even better than it had been before she died. She had been willing to accept it if all they could ever have was what they'd experienced when he had been a portrait and she had been alive. It had been wonderful to be with him in any way, but this, this was so much better than she had even dreamt.

 

 

She held him closer to her now as he began to pant and his thrusts became erratic. The change in position made his shaft slide over her clitoris and, even as he reached his peak, she called out his name and clenched tightly around him.

 

 

Soon, they fell back onto their sides, facing each other, replete. He smiled at her even as she gazed at him adoringly.

 

 

"I love you, Luna."

 

 

She beamed at him. "I know, silly."

 

 

She slid into his arms and he held her tightly to him.

 

 

It was, Severus felt, very near what he had once thought of as heaven.

 

 


* * * * * *

 

F I N I T E

 

* * * * * *