sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-07 02:42 pm

Tales from the River House: Eclipse

Note: This short story is one of several set during the summer holidays of the Stealing Harry alternate universe. It falls between the second and third years of Harry's attendance at Hogwarts; that would be CoS and PoA in canon, Secret Tongues and Fugitive From Azkaban in the Stealing Harryverse.
Rating: PG (Snape/Tonks)
Summary: Severus has invited Dora to an eclipse party -- and to stay the night. Nobody's very certain about the relationship, but as Ted Tonks says, the moon does funny things to people.
Warnings: None.

First Posted on March 15, 2006.

Also available at AO3.


Andromeda Tonks stood at her window, the one that was charmed to look down on Diagon Alley even though in reality it looked down on a quiet side-street of Grimmauld Place, and sighed.

Severus Snape had just left. She liked Severus, and part of her discontent was that she was sorry to see him go. Most of it, however, was because she'd become oddly uncomfortable with his visits in the first place, though they never appeared awkward on the surface.

It was just...well, her friend Severus looked at her daughter Nymphadora in ways that made her feel as though she wasn't sure where she stood. She wasn't entirely surprised by it, but she was discomfited.

Ever since Andromeda had taken Severus under her wing as a sort of third child, though much older than her biological daughter and adopted son, there had been a hint of something peculiar and competitive between Severus and Nymphadora. It had reminded Andromeda of schoolyard games before boys realised that hitting a girl was not the way to win her heart -- or, in Dora's case, before she realised making pig-faces was not the best relationship-building skill.

No, Andromeda was not entirely surprised by the turn of events, though it did worry her. Dora was very young, and though she'd grown up considerably in the past year -- especially since the first accident, the one that forced her into teaching -- Severus was still much older than her. The weights he carried made him seem older still: some deep grief Andromeda had never asked about, coupled with the sort of social ineptitude she associated with intelligent people who were isolated by their intelligence as children.

He was a good man but not a cheerful one, and he didn't smile or joke like Sirius and Remus did. He loved Harry, that much was obvious, and when after the end of the school year he shyly asked Andromeda and Ted for permission to court Dora, she could see that there was love in the offing. But Dora was a very independent woman, and Andromeda wondered if Severus could make her daughter happy -- or if Dora could ever make Severus anything other than lovesick and miserable. And he'd been her teacher, as well, which added to the strangeness.

Still, she couldn't deny his devotion; he'd saved her daughter's life and she'd seen the state her near-death had put him in. Besides, he had gone about the thing properly, rather than sneaking as if he were doing anything wrong. His utter lack of guilt in the matter reassured her, as did Dora's affection for him. Andromeda worried, but she kept her concerns to herself.

She had often come upon them together at the start of summer, first in the hospital and then in the rooms above Tonks&Tonks where Dora had come to recuperate. She didn't know what they talked about, but she did see Severus smile more than he used to. When Dora was well enough he took her walking in the late evenings, and she always returned wind-blown and beaming, her hair cheerfully blue or pink.

But now it was nearly August, and Dora was fully healed. She'd been through most of her requalifications and was scheduled to return to work -- her real work, her Auror's work -- before Hogwarts classes began again. She'd be around people who understood her work, young people, people who were not the emotional puzzle that Severus could often be.

So she watched, and felt awkward around Severus, and hoped it would somehow come out all right. Once she'd even gone to the Black family mausoleum to think about it, a nice quiet place where nobody ever disturbed her, seeing as she, Dora, and Sirius were the only ones left who even knew how to find it in the ancient London graveyard.

She'd stood by Regulus Black's tomb -- charming, handsome Reg, so like his brother, right down to the cruel streak -- and thought for a moment that Regulus, if he'd lived, would have loved the match. His best friend and his cousin's daughter, what could be better? Reg would even approve of an older man marrying a younger woman.

But Andi wasn't sure that Reg's approval was a good thing. He'd been a Death Eater, after all, and whether or not he'd tried to get out he'd still thoroughly believed in the family party line of Tradition and Superiority.

Come to think of it, Reg wouldn't have approved the match, because Reg didn't talk to Andi. God, that had been hurtful, being cut off from her cousins when she ran away with Ted. Regulus had been forbidden to speak to her, of course, but so had Sirius and when Sirius finally got free of his parents one of the first things he did was look Andromeda up. She didn't think Sirius knew or could ever truly understand how glad she'd been to hear from him, how tightly she'd clung to the idea that her fifteen-year-old kinsman still loved her, that she and Ted had one ally against her family.

"Mum?" Dora asked from behind her.

Andromeda turned from the window, a smile already on her face. "Hello, sweetheart. Did you and Severus have a nice time?"

Dora nodded and dropped down into one of the dining-room chairs, stretching. "Yes, we did. It's lovely to just sit and talk with someone sometimes, you know?"

"You and Severus have a good deal to talk about?"

"We always seem to find something," Dora replied.

She was twenty four. Severus was thirty-three.

"Actually, today..." Dora looked up as Ted wandered in, kissed his wife, and poured himself some lemonade. "We talked about something that I have to talk to you two about."

Andromeda lifted her eyebrows. Ted brought them each a glass of lemonade as well.

"Are you all right, love?" Ted asked. His daughter gave him an uncertain look. Andromeda's mind immediately settled on the most terrifying possibilities -- that she'd been fired, that she was pregnant, that one of them was sick.

"Yeah, I guess..." she said, sipping her lemonade.

"Something you needed to tell us?" Andromeda prompted, trying to sound gently unconcerned.

Dora bit her lip. "I...guess I wanted to ask you something. Not really ask, actually, but not really tell..." she sighed.

Ted sat down across from his daughter and rested his chin on one hand. Andromeda put her hand on his shoulder, unsure if she was reassuring him or herself.

"Yeah, it's sort of..." Dora glanced up at her father, looking unusually shy. "Well, see, there's a lunar eclipse tonight."

"Is there really? Must have missed it in the Prophet," Ted said. "Funny things, eclipses."

"Poor Remus has an awful time of it," Andromeda added. "So Sirius says, at any rate."

Dora nodded. "And I've been invited to Hogwarts to see it -- all the professors are going to watch it from the Astronomy tower. It's supposed to be one of the best places in Europe to see it," she said. Ted gave Andromeda a quick, bewildered look, which she mirrored.

"Well, I think that's splendid, it ought to be quite a sight," Ted said.

"So...because it's late at night and all, and I don't have work tomorrow, I've sort of...been invited to stay at Hogwarts tonight." She swallowed, and her almost painfully honest nature won out. "Severus invited me, that is. To stay at Hogwarts."

"With him?" Andromeda asked, relieved that this was all. Then the implication sunk in, and her fingers tightened on Ted's shoulder.

"Well..." Dora almost squirmed. "I don't think he meant it in any sort of...dishonest way, he's not, he's not like that. But yeah...with him."

Ted set his glass down slowly.

"I wanted to tell you," she added, almost defiantly. "Because I won't be home tonight."

"Oh," said Ted. "Well."

"I'm a grown woman -- " Dora began, but her father held up a hand, and she fell silent. Ted glanced at Andromeda, almost imploringly. He was a good husband and had helped to raise Dora unflinchingly, nothing but love for her in his heart, which not a lot of men would have done. It wasn't easy raising a metamorphmagus, at least those first few years. Still, Andromeda knew he had his limits and he always had fumbled around the idea of Dora and Boys. Mainly, she thought, because he was usually stifling the urge to strangle said Boys pre-emptively.

"I'm sure Severus is quite trustworthy, and if he...well, you're an Auror, you're well able to take care of yourself," Andromeda said. "You don't need our permission, of course, but it's good of you to tell us, so that we don't worry. And you'll have a lovely time, no doubt."

Dora smiled hesitantly. "Good. I...think I will."

They finished their lemonade in uncomfortable silence. Andromeda was doing the dishes before she realised Ted had wandered off somewhere and Dora was still sitting at the table, fingers tracing imaginary designs on the surface nervously. There were things one was supposed to say at this point, surely, about love and making sure he was the right sort of fellow, but the problem was that Andromeda knew, deep down, that Severus was precisely the right sort of fellow. Severus was honourable to a fault; he was a good man with a good job and in his fumbling way he adored her daughter. And maybe he really did just intend that Dora ought to sleep at Hogwarts since it was a long journey back.

But somehow she doubted it, and she knew Dora doubted it too. Dora would never let herself be coerced; clumsy and blunt she may be, but she knew her own mind. If Dora was nervous it was not because she was scared of Severus, but rather she was scared that her parents would disapprove. There hadn't been much room in Dora's life for boys, even at Hogwarts. This was near-uncharted territory.

Ted came back into the dining room, carrying a thin book and looking somewhat apprehensive. He sat down next to Dora and cleared his throat as Andromeda turned slightly, the better to hear.

"I er..." he said, pushing the book towards her. "When, er, your mum and I started...that is, when we were seeing each other, our last year in school, and my dad knew about it -- you know your granddad, he was always interested in Wizarding things, even if he couldn't do a lick of magic himself -- he took me aside and gave me this. I don't know where he found it...but the point is, just in case, he said. So I reckon it's time you had it. Just in case," he fumbled. Dora looked down at the book, then back up at Ted, her eyes a little wider than normal. "It's...preventative charms. Against, er, accidental...things. And disease and all. Not that I think Severus is -- but you can't be too careful -- and it's natural, at your age, your mother and I were married by twenty-four, it'd be hypocritical to say we never -- "

"Thanks, dad," Dora said quickly.

"Right, right...not what you want to hear at all, but just..." Ted studied his hands, and Andromeda added one more item to the very long list of reasons she loved her husband, "...I care about you and Severus is a good chap but I don't want to be a granddad too soon, right?"

Dora's smile was a little wider now, a little less forced. "It's just an eclipse, dad."

"The moon does funny things to people," Ted said darkly. "You read that book now. Just in case."

"Okay. Just in case," Dora repeated, and tucked it into the pocket of her robes. Ted kissed her on the forehead.

"That's a good girl," he said, and fled the dining room entirely.

Nymphadora looked up at her mother to find Andromeda was laughing, silently, cheeks red with amusement.

"Just in case," Dora repeated, and started laughing too.


Dora Apparated to Hogsmeade that evening in time for an early dinner. Severus met her near the post office, their usual place, and allowed her to kiss him hello even though she knew he hated public gestures. She had an overnight bag, which included her father's "just in case" book, though she'd read it over that afternoon and, with typical Auror application, memorised some of the more useful charms. Severus had brought his owl Stryx, an enormous sleek beast which carried the bag back to Hogwarts effortlessly so that they could stroll through town.

She'd been anxious that afternoon, but oddly enough Severus was a soothing presence. He'd certainly been the opposite at school, but he had taught her to work well under pressure and, if he had been demanding, it had been no more than she'd been able to give.

Come to think of it, he had been quite an excellent teacher.

At any rate, his quiet presence leeched away her anxiety, and she could see him relaxing as she linked her arm through his and they went through their usual argument about who should pick where they were going for dinner. In the end he lost and had to choose; he picked a cafe where they could get soup and sandwiches to tide them over -- there would, he said, be food at the eclipse viewing. Dora paid for the meal.

She was never certain how, since neither of them were terribly social, but they always managed to fill their time together with talk. Or, if they didn't, the silence was the comfortable result of the natural ending of a conversation. This time he'd been reading a book she'd lent him, and wasn't enjoying it in the slightest; from a dissection of the book's thesis they moved on to a discussion of Wizarding academia and from there to the evening's viewing party. It was already getting dark by the time they were ready to leave, and they had to hurry to reach the castle before night fell and the grounds became difficult to navigate even by full-moonlight.

Dumbledore greeted them at the top of the Astronomy tower while they caught their breath after the long climb up. McGonagall and Flitwick, Binns, Sinistra, Vector and even Trelawney were already there, most sipping pumpkin punch from a big bowl on a table just inside the viewing balcony. Outside the moon was rising, full and pale, and Dora paused for a moment to hope Remus wasn't having too hard a time of it. She missed her cousin Sirius and his family, especially during the summer when they were at the River House, but there was room for a werewolf to run around in the open there. Perhaps during the eclipse that was especially important.

"There's not a better viewing place in the entire country," Dumbledore said as she leaned on the Astronomy Tower balcony, looking up at the moon. "It was very kind of Professor Sinistra to invite us to view it."

"It's your school," she said with a smile. "Do you have to wait on an invitation?"

"I would not presume to invade her classroom," Dumbledore answered. He looked tired, as if the summer hadn't been easy on him. "Have you tried the biscuits the House Elves made?"

"No -- are they good?"

"Dreadful, I'm afraid."

"That's unusual."

"They get a little nervous around eclipses," he said thoughtfully. "It is rather unnerving, I suppose."

She glanced at Severus, who was speaking to McGonagall about something. "Is it?"

"It makes one feel very small," he replied. "To think that the earth is so large as to blot out the moon, and the moon is so large that it requires the earth's shadow to do so. And yet, we are not so insignificant."

"If no-one existed to witness an eclipse, what would it be worth?" she asked, grinning at him.

"Precisely, young Nymphadora. Precisely indeed," he replied, eyes dancing. "Are you quite certain I cannot lure you back to Hogwarts?"

"Not a chance, I'm afraid," she said. "Have you found a replacement yet?"

"Three candidates have come forward; or rather, two have volunteered and one has been put forward by myself. Do you know Gilderoy Lockhart?"

"Yes -- didn't I beat him for last year's spot?"

"I fear he will be defeated yet again, poor man. Severus has put in his usual application as well, but he is much more valuable where he is."

"Surely, though, if he wants the job -- "

"I would give it to him, but the Board of Governors will not."

"It's a shame," she said regretfully. "Who's the lucky third candidate, then?"

He smiled at her. "You'll soon hear, I imagine. Severus!"

"Headmaster," Severus replied, emerging from the gloom onto the tower's wide balcony. He brought two glasses of pumpkin punch with him, and Dora smiled at him as he offered one almost absently to her.

"Please, arbitrate a debate between myself and Nymphadora, if you would," he said. To her shock, Severus Snape smiled.

"I'm afraid I'm not impartial, Headmaster."

"Alas! Then I'm afraid I must consult Professor Sinistra. Nymphadora, a pleasure to see you again," he said, disappearing. Severus turned to her.

"What was that all about?"

"I've no idea. I imagine it was an excuse to bring you here and leave us alone, the old matchmaker," she replied, turning to lean on the railing again. He stood beside her, looking up. "He says he thinks eclipses make us feel rather small."

"Yes, I've heard him say so before."

"Do you agree with him?"


She glanced over her shoulder. "Really?"

"Well, I don't feel small when I see an eclipse," he replied. "Do you?"

"I hadn't given it much thought. At school it was just another assignment."

"You're really not an academic," he said, but there was affection in his tone. Well-hidden affection, but still present.

"All right, then, Mr. Brains -- "

"I said you weren't an academic, I didn't say you were stupid," he said quickly.

"It's all right, Severus. I was teasing."

He relaxed a fraction. "Of course. What I mean is..." He stopped to look up again. "It's coming. Five minutes or so. HEADMASTER!"

"COMING, SEVERUS!" Dumbledore's reply floated out from inside. The rest of the staff began to drift out onto the balcony. Sinistra ran to her telescope and began making calculations.

"Tell me," Nymphadora murmured to him as the others chattered excitedly.

"It's so fascinating," he said. "That's what I mean; a teacher, even of idiots like mine, finds wonder in things like this. The Headmaster is reminded of his own insignificance, not an entirely bad thing -- "

"Naughty subversive."

" -- and I feel pride," he said.

"Pride?" she asked. He pointed over her shoulder and she turned. The faculty were distracted by the beginning of the eclipse; she felt his arm wrap around her waist, his voice in her ear. "I think of the generations of wizards who came before me for thousands of years, watching the eclipses, recording them, marveling at them. I think of every one of my ancestors who looked up at the sky in awe and tried to uncover its secrets so that I could learn them."

The moon was half-dark. She breathed in sharply as his arm tightened around her waist.

"I think about the clockwork of the universe," he said softly. "The way everything comes in its turn, and how that must mean that -- after everything -- this is where I was meant to end up. And how the magic makes the clockwork worthwhile. Otherwise life's just a machine; the moon's just a ball of white granite on a little brass model in someone's study somewhere. But I know that to be untrue."

Instinctively she turned and closed her eyes and kissed him. Somewhere in the distance, there was a deep indrawn breath as the moon disappeared; all she felt was Severus, arms around her body, head bent over hers to return the kiss.

There was a silent moment, and then someone cleared their throat.

Dora felt herself released suddenly. She turned to see the rest of the Hogwarts faculty, peering at them over their spectacles -- or smilingly and pointedly not looking at them.

"Well?" Severus demanded. "Haven't you ever seen an eclipse before?"

"Too bad Nymphadora missed this one," Madam Hooch said, as Dora blushed deep red. Minerva McGonagall gave them both a wise, approving glance, and went to investigate Sinistra's notes. Everyone slowly dispersed, except for Professor Trelawney (oh gods) who took Nymphadora by one hand, patting it with her other.

"One never likes to say anything, but it is always such a joy when private visions become reality," she said dreamily. Dora glanced up at Severus, whose lips had thinned to a hard line. "If you ever need advice, my dear, you have only to ask."

She floated away, making for her next target, and Dora heard what sounded distinctly like a suppressed laugh from Severus.

"I'm having a vision right now, as a matter of fact," she announced to him.

"Oh yes?"

"Yes. I've been having it since the eclipse."

He looked down at her, dark eyes curious.

"It involves you and me, in your rooms..." she looked up at him, momentarily uncertain. But she'd started this. "Doing things Professor Trelawney definitely didn't foresee."

His lips curved upwards into a smile that she'd never quite seen on his face before. "Do you have a particular date to put to this image?" he asked.

"About ten minutes from now, if you play your cards right."


[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:12 pm (UTC)(link)
WOOOOOOOOOOOOO SAM! It has been AGES! How lovely to have LC once again :D

Ted Tonks is brilliant - bless him and his nerve-wracking 'be careful' speech. You had me squirming with him.

I loved Severus' romantic speech. It is a perfect balance between scholarly and romantic, exactly the right tone to give him. And I smell Professor Lupin around the corner, oho :D

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh this was fantastic XD I love how Tonks brings out this whole other side to Severus, it's really adorable. I love how everyone sees it too and they're so happy for him~ Lovely job as usual. :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:15 pm (UTC)(link)
You know, I was thinking about the stealing harryverse just the other day.

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:15 pm (UTC)(link)
To think it was only yesterday I was pouting at the lack of new HP fic from you...
Thank you! Thank you so much! *gushes*
SO lovely. Made may day indefenitly brighter!
(And gosh how I LOOOVE Severus asking for permission to court! That is just so right!!)
ext_1798: (skellorg/fondofbooks)

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I started sniggering at the book and couldn't quite stop. Bless Ted Tonks, such a sweet man to assume that his daughter by the age of twenty-four would not have learned such spells. :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:28 pm (UTC)(link)
I can't put my finger on it, but this has a wholly different atmosphere from anything of yours I've read before. I love it, but it's so very new and unusual, all at once.

Also, much love for the LCIII teasers you've tossed in. :D

[identity profile] 2006-03-17 03:35 pm (UTC)(link)
I think it's probably so different because it's a fusion of me-two-years-ago and me-now. Writing styles do change, and the clash is probably what's so unusual. :D

What's REALLY funny is that I didn't realise I was putting LCIII teasers in. For me, I just wrote it with a foreknowledge of LCIII, and Dumbledore definitely wouldn't mention who was getting the DADA position ahead of that person's acceptance.

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Yay!!! ::gleeful clapping:: More LC!

Ted and his book were brilliant! My neighbor heard me and had come over to investigate what I was snickering about.
That was just darling, Sam!
Thanks for sharing your stories with us

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:43 pm (UTC)(link)
I love it :D

Just one little thing:

She floated away, making for her next target, and she heard what sounded distinctly like a suppressed laugh from Severus.

was a little confusing. Took me a minute to figure whether Dora or Trelawney was the one hearing the laugh.

[identity profile] 2006-03-17 03:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah! Good point. I'll fix, thank you! :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:45 pm (UTC)(link)
i LOVED this line:

and my dad knew about it -- you know your granddad,

like the father is SO uncomfortable that he had to remind her that, yes, my dad is your granddad.

so wonderful!

i can't wait for LC:III!!!


[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:55 pm (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 08:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Delightful! Your Severus is an unusual fellow but a likeable one: I do really enjoy seeing him.

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 09:08 pm (UTC)(link)
Awww! So cute! Love it.

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 09:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Lovely. :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 09:53 pm (UTC)(link)
*satisfied sigh* I remember stumbling upon bits of this while poking around the index of oojahs. I'm so happy that it's been incorporated into LC.

"...and they went through their usual argument about who should pick where they were going for dinner. In the end he lost and had to choose;"

...I've been doing this for years without realizing I was loosing an argument, but certainly feeling like I lost one.

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 10:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Ahhh, you're pairing him off as well. Nice. He needs someone less serious about life than he is...and who has brains as well. Thanks for posting. I've always wondered if you were going to return to this series.

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 10:27 pm (UTC)(link)
See this grin? *points to mouth* See it? This isn't coming off for the next WEEK.

This is just, just... PERFECT. Andromeda and Ted being all anxious parents about their girl's first boyfriend and Ted's teeth grittingly embarrassing and ADORABLE advice about y'know, *that*. And Dore being all embarrassed and amused at her Dad. And Severus shyly asking to court Dora, so sweet and awkward and yes, *adorable*. Dumbledore being Dumbledore ('nuff said!). And Severus's swoon inducing, cerebral and romantic as hell opinion of eclipses... *Guh*

My crush on your version of Severus Snape is now irreversable. Cheers!

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 10:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Brilliant, I have been waiting for that for ages, I skipped my lecture so I could read it!!

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 10:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Lovely. (And this version of Snape is the only one I can read in a romantic/sexual situation. Normally, Snape + romance/sex = nightmares.)

Though, the little aside about Remus' experiences during a lunar eclipse -- that's a brutal thought. Would he end up suffering transformation twice in one night? Oh, never mind. I'm feeling morbid.

Again, lovely story.

[identity profile] 2006-03-17 03:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I think he's just rather tormented. I never can decide what happens during the eclipse. I have lots of theories :D

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 11:06 pm (UTC)(link)

Ah Sam, it's been ages since I've seen LC and it's like coming home. I really do love Severus and Dora. They're just so perfect together. Looking forward to the new professor. ^_-

(Anonymous) 2006-03-15 11:52 pm (UTC)(link)
love the icon :)

[identity profile] 2006-03-15 11:54 pm (UTC)(link)

finally some laocoon's children updates i was having withdrawls lol
this is awsome i truly like snape/tonks well when you write it anyway it seems you could make just about any pairing barable...yep yep

now i am going to want to read more laocoon's children :P

[identity profile] 2006-03-16 12:18 am (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2006-03-16 12:34 am (UTC)(link)
Heehee, excellent! Ted is so adorable. As are Snape and Dora. :) Loved the hints of DADA professor, too.

[identity profile] 2006-03-16 02:05 am (UTC)(link)

Really, that's all. Apologies for being all fan-girly, but still.


And for all that, one nitpick:

he'd saved her daughters life

Should be "daughter's".

[identity profile] 2006-03-17 03:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Ach! Thanks *fixes*

[identity profile] 2006-03-16 02:12 am (UTC)(link)
I enjoyed this muchly! I think your AU Snape is wonderful -beams- it's been TOO long!!

NEW DADA teacher! -is filled with lovely suspicion-

[identity profile] 2006-03-16 02:44 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, darling Ted! And Andromeda's qualms were very Andromeda. And I like how their relationship is easy and comfortable, even if not truly defined.

Page 1 of 2

<< [1] [2] >>