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Taxing Courageous Hearts

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Who? What? Where?  

She unwrapped her birthday present from her parents. She took the silver foil wrapping paper off it and was presented with a DVD. Not just any DVD either. It was a DVD of her favourite film of all time. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. She sighed. She looked at the cover and her eyes zoomed to one particular man. The Sheriff of Nottingham: AKA Alan Rickman; the most brilliant, (and in her mind), sexiest actor on the planet. It was this character that gave her the crush she had on Snape. She could easily imagine Alan Rickman playing Snape... she’d want to be taught potions by him any day!

She could imagine Alan’s velvet voice speaking those words of her first lesson... softly shimmering please, she was almost twelve in that lesson; her hormones had already begun to make a show. Snape was the first man to make Hermione realise that one day she’d grow up to be a woman. Alan Rickman made her understand the concept though.

She squealed when she realised it was the extended edition as well. Rumour had it that this little baby had twelve extra minutes of Alan Rickman... that thought alone just made her swoon. She opened the rest of her presents. She was on her own in her room. She didn’t really like unwrapping gifts in front of people, as she knew she wasn’t that good an actress and if it was something she didn’t like she couldn’t pretend to like it.

Hermione smiled as she unwrapped all the gifts presented to her. She liked the scarf that Molly Weasley had knitted for her. It was a beautiful scarf with all the house symbols of Hogwarts on it. She smiled a little at that. 

“Let me in!” her husband said from the other side of the door. “I want to give you my present!”

“In a minute!” Hermione exclaimed. She packed all the presents away and opened the door. Her husband stood in the door frame with his arms folded across his chest.

“What’s the matter, Mrs Snape? All your friends and family want to know what the problem is?”

“Well, Mr Snape, they should know by now that I can’t open presents with their bearing over me wondering what it is I think about them. It makes me nervous.”

He laughed. Her husband was one Severus Snape. He had turned good during the war and the main reason for that was that he said he missed her. The way he implied the word missed showed Hermione that he cared deeply for her. She did not get the wrong end of the wand. They started dating and six months later they were married.

Four years later they had a grown child. That said child ran in the room and flung his arms around his mum’s neck. 

“Happy Birthday!” he exclaimed before giving her a sound kiss on her cheek. “Daddy, have you given her the present?”

“No,” he replied. “I was waiting for you.”

His face fell. “Mummy, daddy said he’d give you the present before I came into the room.”

“It’s all right, Septimus, daddy’s going to give me the present now.”

Severus looked at his wife and son and smirked. He picked his son up and deposited him on the bed and gave Hermione his present. Hermione gasped at the big boxes.

“I know how much you miss Muggle television,” he said. “That’s why I finally conceded and brought you a television and DVD player to go in this room.”

“Oh, Severus,” she said weeping. “Thank you.”

“As long as you turn it off when I want to talk to you,” he said with a scowl. “Your parents tells me that having this contraption in the room is almost as good a contraception as a condom!”

“What’s contaception and condom mummy?” Septimus asked.

“Wait until your older,” Hermione said sternly. Snape smiled. “So, that’s why mum and dad got me this!”

She showed the DVD to her husband and child, Septimus pointed to the Sheriff.

“He looks a bit like you, dad!”

“He looks nothing like me,” Severus replied stiffly. “I, for one, am clean shaven.”

Hermione shrugged her shoulders and smiled naughtily at her husband.

“He’s the main reason why I fell for you, Severus,” she said in a naughty voice. Snape’s mouth fell open.

“Silly girl!” he muttered under his breath.

Hermione giggled and hugged her son to her bosom. “Now, why don’t you play with Sirius and James?”

“Okay mummy,” her son said.

Sirius and James were Harry and Ginny’s identical twin sons. 

“I can’t believe my son is friends with children with those names,” Snape growled.

“Oh, but they like each other. Leave them alone!”

“There is one thing you haven’t unwrapped yet,” Severus said playfully, his dark eyes glinting at her, closing the door and taking his waistcoat off.

Hermione blushed and giggled. “All right."

~*~*~

A few days after Hermione was on her own as Severus and Septimus was visiting Lucius Malfoy. A so-called reformer, she didn’t trust the blond prat any more than she could throw him without magic, but she put up with him as Severus had put up with her friends. She decided to kick back and put on the film. She took the foil off and took it out of its slipcase and put it in the player.

She switched the telly on, and it came up with the advertisement. She waited a few minutes and smiled as the menu options turned up. She then pressed play movie. She might even listen to one of the commentaries. The Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater one sounded interesting... she’d ignore the Kevin Costner one. 

The music started, the titles rolled, she sighed when she saw Alan Rickman’s name come up on the screen. She had to remind herself that she was a very happily married young woman with a child. But, she could dream, couldn’t she? She plumped a cushion lay down on the flat of her stomach twirling her wand in her hands. She didn’t care for the first ten minutes or so, were it not for Morgan Freeman she’d completely forward this scene. She watched Robin’s hand being nearly cut off and wondered why they cleaned him up... Costner was almost sexy like that. The scene changed to Loxley’s father writing to his son, and then HE came on the screen. 

“Join us,” he said after removing his mask. 

“Yes please,” Hermione whispered twirling her wand. She disappeared from the room.

~*~*~

The Sheriff of Nottingham was in a bad mood. He had only ONE person to overcome before he could take control. One of the most powerful Lords of the land refused to join him, so he decided to give him an ultimatum. He had not counted on Loxley’s stubbornness. He had his cousin; Guy of Gisborne kill him. Guy’s bloodthirstiness was the only reason that the Sheriff put up with him in the first place.

He watched with indifference as the Lord Loxley was viciously hacked to pieces before being put in a cage that was hoisted up into the air; then they grabbed the manservant and plucked the eyes out of him for being stupid enough to remain loyal to his dead Lord. The castle was then razed to the ground.

“Isn’t that odd,” the Sheriff mused. “That the expression to burn something down is to RAZE it.”

A few of the sycophants that heard that mutter laughed. The Sheriff blinked trying to wipe the rain out of his face; he polished his mask with his sleeve and smiled.

“That’s a good one, Sheriff.”

“I know,” the Sheriff said smiling at his friend. “I am full of wit.”

The Lords rode away back to their various castles. The Sheriff went back to his with his cousin riding by his side.

“I wonder if the King will return one day, cousin?” Guy asked.

“He won’t bear to be able to be torn away from his precious Crusade,” the Sheriff sneered. “That’s all he cares about. He even allowed his own cousin to fester in a Heathens cell to receive punishment. His sister is lonesome for her brother’s company.”

“You are confident that Richard has no idea what is going on here?”

“Absolutely cousin,” he said.

They rode down the sweeping hills of the Nottingham lands. He looked up at the dark sky and the watery moon.

“Do you think that we should continue to lie low, cousin. We don’t want to arouse needless suspicion.”

“No, cousin, we don’t,” the Sheriff replied. He looked ahead holding his horses bridle. He thought he saw someone in the distance.

“What’s the matter?” Guy asked.

“There’s someone ahead of us,” the Sheriff said. 

He galloped over to where the someone was to see if it was a friend or a foe. He stopped his horse and jumped off. It was a she. He sighed. He bent down on the ground and turned her over. He brushed her hair aside and the moon lit her face. The Sheriff tilted his head to one side and smirked. He looked down at her clothing. She was wearing a beautiful red dress; red was his favourite colour. Red was the colour of royalty.

“What is it, cousin?” Guy asked drawing his horse in. He saw the young woman lying crumpled on the floor. 

“It is a young woman. Cold, and obviously homeless, what say we use our nobility and save the poor thing?”

Guy jumped off his horse to get a closer look. He smirked at his cousin. “Oh definitely, coz. It wouldn’t do to let a poor woman alone not with all the bad things that has been happening recently.”

The Sheriff snaked his hand under her legs and the other under her back. He picked her up effortlessly. He laid her on his white stallion, and he swung back up on the saddle. He picked her up and placed her legs over one side of the horse and held her to his bosom. He stroked her wet hair away from her cold almost blood chilled face. 

“Do you have any idea who she might be?” the Sheriff asked Guy.

“She looks as if she could be related to Marion.”

“A relation of the King?” the Sheriff questioned looking at her. “That would explain the red she is wearing.”

She moaned and rolled her head. The Sheriff blinked and looked down at her. She was still sleeping. He grinned as she continued moaning. She was shivering against him. He wrapped his arms around her tightly to try to keep her warm. It would not do to have her dying from the cold now, would it!

They reached their Castle and the drawbridge lowered to let them enter. Guy hopped off his horse and held his arms out for the girl. The Sheriff handed the girl to Guy before he hopped off the horse. He then snatched her out of his cousin’s grip.

“I think she should be given the room next to mine,” the Sheriff mused out loud. Guy sighed. He was getting a little fed up with his cousin’s greediness when it came to women. He already had that servant girl. He had his eyes on Maid Marion and now this strange girl… he hoped that through his actions this night he might get a reward.

“OI RAT FACE!” The Sheriff roared. A manservant came. “Take this woman and put her in the room next to mine!”

“Yes sir,” the manservant said. He took the woman and took her to the room next to his Masters. Two maidservants had scurried forward. It seemed word had gotten through the Castle pretty quickly that the Sheriff had bought home another woman.

~*~*~*~

“Poor thing,” one of the maidservants said.

“Why?” another asked. “At least she ain’t no servant!”

“She’s indebted to the Sheriff, numb skull; I dreads to thinks what ‘e ‘as in store for ‘er!”

“She’s mighty pretty,” the first one said. “She’s bound to have a nice name.”

“She needs dry clothes,” the second maidservant said.

“I best goes to the Sheriff then,” the first maidservant said. 

She closed her eyes and crossed her breast; she was always nervous around the Sheriff something about him gave her the heebies. She walked down to his study and gulping she knocked on the door.

~*~*~*~

“Come in,” he said.

She entered the room and curtseyed with respect. “If you please, sir, I ‘ave to say that the woman you found, sir, ‘as no clothes.”

“Really?” the Sheriff said, raising an eyebrow. “Well, then that would have to be sorted out tomorrow morning. I am sure you have a spare night robe to dress her up in, don’t you?”

“Oh, it ain’t fit for a Lady like her, sir!”

“Then use one of my shirts. Clear off!”

The maidservant curtseyed and left the room. She frowned at the thought of a woman wearing a man’s shirt. It wasn’t decent but his shirts were in better condition than her only night robe.

~*~*~*~

She walked into the Sheriff’s room and took one of his shirts out his wardrobe and walked through the door that joined the rooms together. When the young woman awakens she’s going to have lock that door, the servant mused to herself.

“Here,” she said to her companion. “The Sheriff said to use one of his shirts for the time being.”

“It’s up to ‘im,” the second one said shrugging her shoulders. She took the dress off the woman and had a full fire blazing. She put the shirt over her head and laid the unconscious woman down on the bed. 

Hermione groaned, shifted in the bed, and turned around. 

“Let’s leave,” the second maidservant said. “She looks peaceful; wouldn’t do to disturb ‘er now, would it?”

The other one shook her head and they quietly left the woman to sleep. There was a small smile on her face. It was a good indication that she had, had a happy life. 

The maidservant sighed. It might be the last good dream the young woman would have.

They passed the Sheriff on their way to the kitchens. They curtseyed as they passed, and he nodded in acknowledgement. They scurried down as quickly as they could. He went into her room to see her. She was beautiful, the way her hair reflected the flickering flames and her skin glowed with warmth made the Sheriff almost think twice about his little scheme.

~*~*~*~

He watched her sleep for a few moments before retiring in his own bed. He slept well until the morning when there was a piercing scream from the adjoining room. He woke up with a start; his blood chilled inside him.

He ran into the next room using the door from the inside of his room.

“Hello,” the Sheriff said to the young woman. He was pleased; she had brown eyes. She looked at him startled. Her mouth was opening and closing; wanting to speak; but not being able to find the right words, and when she did finally find the right words he said, “allow me to introduce myself. I am George Croix Le Saxon. The Sheriff of Nottingham.”

Hermione gulped. “Mrs Hermione Snape.”

“Ah, you must be related to the Yorkshire set. Married to the youngest son no doubt?”

“My husband’s family does come from Yorkshire,” Hermione answered with a frown. 

“Dear friends of mine, and where is your Lord?”

Hermione had to think fast. “He was murdered by bandits. They were going to rape me, but I managed to escape.”

The Sheriff ran over to the young woman. He sat on the bed and took her hand in his.

“Rest assured, my Lady, that the villains who stripped you of your husband will not escape unpunished.”

Hermione nodded. One word zoomed around in her brain at this moment in time. HOW?