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Men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage -
they've experienced pain and bought jewelry.
- Rita Rudner
Saturday, June 23 ~ Afternoon

Roger was having his first good day in weeks - hell, in over a month truth be told. All thanks to Severus Snape. (And Poppy, but Snape was the initial cause and didn't have access to his body if he were to meet with some horrible accident so he'd stick to blaming the one that might not be in control of saving his life someday, thanks. At the very least she had control of the pain relievers.)

The sadistic bastard had to pay.

Roger was determined to find a way to turn Snape into a woman for a month by his next birthday... Well, maybe a week. The idea of a female Snape with the mood swings that usually occurred during that time period was just too scary. He'd level the whole town!

After having slipped from his birthday picnic at The Phoenix, Roger had made haste up to Hogwarts to see Poppy. He was rather relieved the woman had had too many patients (and may have been just the teeniest bit upset with him at that as well - it's not like he had encouraged them to do it... just let them know that it could and had been done before) to slip away for the party. He really didn't want to have ended up at St Mungo's, probably suffering from a unknown potion that he didn't have proof he had ingested - but for crying out loud! This was Snape - of course he had!

And oh boy, had he.

After several tests, dosing, spells and what Roger was fairly certain were totally unnecessarily embarrassing questions, Roger had been given his answer.

And never been closer to homicide in his entire life!

The man had - had - and she...

Although Poppy had seemed contrite enough (through her giggles) Roger wasn't exactly convinced. What should have lasted a week had lasted more than a month instead due to the interference of what she had shoved down his throat! Either that or the spells - by the time he had left the hospital wing Roger was too upset to differentiate. He had had plans for the night! Plans that included champagne and flowers and a ring and hopefully-pretty-sure a yes!

And sex.

He'd never gotten engaged before but was sure there was to be sex in the mix! And he wanted the sex! Especially when he realized that he was incapable of having it! Oh - he wanted it and the thought of it was enough to send the blood racing in his veins, he ducked into his room and took a half-hopeful peek down his jeans...

It was enough to make a grown man cry.

Roger's quarters had been cleared - he'd wait to ask until he could have the sex - and Roger had sat down to try and figure out how to explain this to Vera. He had to make it clear to her that it was the potions influence, Vera was completely and utterly under-confident about her sexual appeal and if Roger ever came face to face with the person that had made her doubt herself, he really would end up in Azkaban. He was afraid of tripping over his words and her somehow gaining the wrong impression... But then an even more horrifying thought had occurred - what if she didn't believe him? What if - if she thought he was trying to cover-up an embarrassing case of impotence with an outlandish story?

Not only would she be pissed beyond belief - but who would marry a man who.. wasn't really a man?

Right then and there Roger had decided to somehow keep it from her.

Life had been surprisingly helpful in that respect - Vera's mother had broken her hip (not that it was a good thing, not at all - merely... convenient) and then the students had descended. All panicking and cramming to ready for their end of year exams, then the actual sitting and, for their Professors, grading of the exams followed by the last minute pleading/threatening/attempted bribery and other things they thought would be successful in raising their grades those few points. Hardly.

When Roger had awoken this morning to a sorely missed morning surprised, he nearly had sobbed in relief. Resisting the temptation to work out a month's worth of tension all in one morning, Roger had hurried to dress and leave the castle. He was a man with a mission!

He was going to do this and he was going to do this right. Which led to him arriving at Vera's parent house to ask for their daughter's hand in marriage. (He still intended to marry her regardless, providing she said yes, but it couldn't hurt right? Ha.) Hours later, his head swimming with the suspicious questions her father had put him through and her mother's ongoing comments about the length of his hair, Roger had emerged victorious. (Her father had been a bit grudging and her mother thrilled, but they had given permission and that was all that mattered. That and finding a headache potion.)

Now he just needed a way to do it. Originally the plan had been to just ask, celebrate and then the sex - which was very much a part of the plan now (oh, come on, it had been a month people!) but it felt as though after this it should be, well, spectacular somehow. Roger wasn't entirely sure she'd be thrilled if he proposed in front of everyone (oh gods, and what if she said no - that idea was straight out). So back to the idea of a romantic dinner it was.

Plus with the school year ending and teachers taking off for the year, he'd have the whole summer to spend in an alcoholic haze while hiding out to lick his wounds.
Vera sat and cleared her desk, reading once more the thank-you note from Redmonds, her favourite student. He'd been highly recommended by her for a prestigious summer fellowship in Arithmancy, and upon acceptance the poor boy had been over the moon, bubbling over with plans for all he'd accomplish this summer.

The summer.

School was over and done with, and yet Vector found herself dreading the break.

The flurry of teaching was over, and the rush for preparing for Remus and Izabel's wedding would also soon be gone, and that would leave time. Time for Roger to tell her exactly what had gone wrong.

Vera didn't know precisely what it was — in the all-too-brief moments they'd manage to catch together for the past two months things seemed almost normal, when it was painfully clear they were not. Every time she'd made an effort to try to ask, it had been evaded with the same skill Roger showed on the Quidditch field.

After a while, she'd stopped wondering and began waiting. She even thought she'd figured it out. She hadn't consulted anyone else — Izabel and Daphne were both busy, both happy, and Vera didn't want to bring a shadow over that any more than she really wanted to watch them with their respective men. (She didn't want to be that sort of person‚ but ... if she were honest, she was, at least a little bit.) Vera'd gone to Rose's flat a couple times, to see if she were available to chat, but that option never seemed to be available either.

So she didn't have anyone to mull over the idea that Roger had found someone else — Someone younger, more carefree. Someone who could walk into a room and immediately become friends with anyone. Someone who'd be a better match for him. — and was being considerate enough to wait for the summer break, and that time apart, to lower the boom.

The temptation had been there, so many nights, to Floo to his quarters, which now contained very few traces of her, and force the issue. Get down on her knees and beg — Hecate knew the rewards would be worth it if things went well. But she had enough stiff-backed pride not to want anything that wasn't freely given, and so Vera'd stayed where she was.

Maybe Anne, whose advice had seen Vera through some dark days indeed, could have helped, but before Vera could bring herself to leave the castle something had happened to put her worries in an altogether different light; nothing like a near-death experience to illuminate priorities.

No one had promised her a faerie tale.

In fact, if they had, at this point she would have run screaming. Human or no, the man she'd encountered a couple weeks ago had spooked Vera deeply, and it was only more unnerving that no one else seemed to have encountered him. If there hadn't been an Auror report she might think she was going mad.

But she wasn't, and the solstice had passed without incident, and all was well.

Vera placed the final scroll of parchment in her desk and waved her wand at each of the charts lining the classroom. The ink faded and the charts rolled up, to wait for the autumn when they'd be unrolled again, as fresh as the day she'd drawn them up.

Life would go on, she told herself as she left the room and began walking the student-free halls.

And she'd be ready to face it, no matter how much it hurt right now.
"There you are!" Roger exclaimed as he spotted Vera and hurried over to her. Roger gave her a rather restrained kiss - half afraid he'd jump her right then and there if it was too much. "I've been looking for and dodging Peeves - apparently he didn't get enough of the students yesterday to satisfy him for the summer and has decided to torment the Professors."

"What do you want to do today? Anything at all, we can worry about packing tomorrow," although hopefully they'd be doing more important things than that. "I want today to be perfect - anything at all." Roger grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. "Of course if you just want to spend all day in bed I wouldn't object to that either."

Sex! Sex! Need sex!
Vera pulled slightly away and looked at Roger strangely, completely confounded by the turnaround. Was he that eager to get away? One last perfect day in which to say good-bye, perhaps?

"I'm already packed. Tavi and Grace are meeting me tomorrow in London to set up the flat for the summer."

She shrugged her shoulders slightly, trying to stay impassive.

"So I suppose I'm free for whatever you'd like."
What he'd like was, well - the skin between Roger's eyebrow's furrowed as he fought to keep from frowning. Vera didn't seem very enthused and that was definitely not on. And there was the mention of the flat - hopefully by the end of tonight either it'd be up for subletting again or Roger would be going with her.

She's going to say yes.

She has to say yes.

"Come on,," Roger cajoled. "This is your chance for anything. Picnic by the lake, see how kinky the Room of Requirement lets us get," Roger added with a slight leer, "drag me off to the Opera! I'd even let you abuse me the way you do Colin, Curlers and all. But we can do something else," he hastened to add.
"Oh, Roger." Vector sighed and moved away to look out one of the windows that illuminated the hallway with summer afternoon sun; it was easier that way.

"I'm not sure what you're doing here," she said tiredly. "Giving me one last hurrah before saying good-bye, is that it? Or is this some sort of an apology — in which case I'd really just like to know what happened to us."

She wasn't sure which would be worse, whose failure she was more afraid of. A ball of dread lodged itself in her stomach.

"I haven't been sleeping well lately, so if you'd just tell me so I could move on, I'd appreciate it."

Of course, if the answer involved another woman it would be remarkable how quickly her energy would return.

Last hurrah? Move on? What the hell!

Hell no!

Roger was across the hall, grabbing her shoulder and turning her to face him before he knew it. "What the hell!?" Roger practically shouted. "I'm trying to propose and you're dumping me before I can even do it?"


Crap. Kind of blurted that out there.

"Errr - I mean, oh fuck it!" Roger kissed Vera again - this time holding nothing back and clutching her in desperation.

Oh gods, she can't leave me!
Let me go, damn it ... you're what?

Instinctively, Vera had started to struggle — until Roger's words momentarily shocked all of the fight out of her.

Proposing? But ... but ... oh, god, I've missed this.

Her hands starting to creep up to hold onto him brought her to her senses. Vera stopped simply standing there, kissing and being kissed, and began fighting back in earnest, hammering at Roger's chest with her fists until she was free.

"I'm not dumping you, you idiot, but if you're not dumping me, then what the hell has these past weeks been about?"

She'd deal with the "p" word in a moment. It was simply too immense for her to wrap her mind around right away.
Not dumping me! Yes!

"You gave me a heart-attack!" Roger exclaimed, sagging in relief. New found tension then found him as the rest of her statement sunk in. "The last few weeks?" he asked shiftily, more to stall for time than anything else. "What do you mean? I know we haven't had as much time together, but that's just the end of the school year. The exams have been made taken and graded, the students are gone and we're free!"

And she hadn't said anything about the blurt - that was worrying.
Ohh, no you don't. Vera wasn't about to let him evade her any more.

"Free? Free for what? To be ignored and brushed off for weeks on end again? Don't use the students as an excuse."

He was talking about marriage — well, he'd alluded to it, in any case — and before she was going to let herself get caught up in the whirlwind of emotions that entailed, they were going to get things cleared up.

"How can you expect to trust me with the rest of your life when you don't trust me now?"
"Vera! It wasn't - I wasn't-" Roger let out a frustrated sigh and grabbed her hand, pulling her into an empty room. He really hadn't wanted to tell Vera why he had been avoiding her lately - but it appeared he had no choice. "Fine! Fine - I'll tell you."

Locking the door behind them, Roger threw up the best wards he knew and hoped it would be enough to keep everyone out - Merlin knew he and the entire school would be hearing about this for years if Peeves caught wind of it.

Roger vaguely wondered if Vera would be willing to wait for him to grab Remus to set up stronger wards but rather doubted it. Reluctantly turning to face her, Roger felt his earlier fears return. "First off - it was nothing wrong with me. It was entirely Snape's fault. And then Poppy's - but I'm sticking with blaming Snape 'cause if you don't believe me we're damn sure going up there to get confirmation."
Snape? Snape and Poppy?

Bewildered, Vera searched Roger's face.

He looked ... worried. But not "I've just lost interest and I want to tell you but am afraid you'll get hostile" worried or "I'm about to tell you that I've spent some time with someone else recently but decided to come back after all" worried, which had seemed to Vera as the most logical explanations, so she didn't see what else it could be.

"Of course I'll believe you, but what is all this? Was there an error with a potion?"
Roger gave a bitter laugh and ran his hands over his hair agitatedly . "Oh no. It worked just how Snape wanted it to - and then some. I - damn it! Okay, I'm just going to start at the beginning. During the picnic on my birthday - I don't know if you saw Severus was there for a bit? Anyway, he had a gift for me and only me. A word of warning about watching what I ate or drank. Which of course completely screwed up my plans for that night but I didn't know that until I went to see Poppy. But in the process of figuring out what he had done - I mean this is Snape, it wasn't likely to be an idle threat," Roger was well aware he was babbling and didn't care, "was it? Anyway, she somehow made it worse - not sure how I was pretty upset - to put it lightly - and had to go clean up my rooms before you saw everything because I couldn't do it then could I? I'm sure that's a part of the process - and I didn't know what you would think and that freaked me out a bit so I didn't want to tell you because it's embarrassing as hell. The man is dead - his next birthday is going to go soooo far beyond a few photographs, I can tell you that right now. What kind of a man does that to another man?!?! Seriously - that's messed up!"

Roger was aware he was ranting a bit now and cleared his throat. "But yeah, I just - I didn't want to tell you until the... issue had been resolved. And it has now! So - marry me?"
Sometime during the ... explanation Vera's mouth had dropped open, and only after Roger cleared his throat did she become aware that she might look a bit foolish.

Which only was an apt match for how at-sea she felt; she still had very little idea about what had happened. Something "embarrassing as hell," yes, that was clear, but — she'd had some excruciatingly humiliating things happen to her, and it had been difficult, but she'd learned to bend her pride and let Roger help. True, it had taken nearly a year to get to the point to talk openly about it, but they'd gotten there, hadn't they? So why was this so different — or had he in fact been perfectly clear and she just lost the ability to think utterly, thanks to the absolutely petrifying upsurge of emotion that inundated all her critical facilities?

Roger was proposing. And, she realized in bewildered amazement, had been planning on doing so since his birthday.

And she'd been standing there gaping at him more long enough for the silence to bring her somewhat to her senses, although putting one word in front of another was completely beyond her capability.

Trembling, Vera reached up to smooth a bit of the hair Roger had mussed up, then let her hand drift down to cup his jaw. She closed her eyes and stretched upward to meet his lips with hers.
There was toughing and touching was good - and then Roger met her lips half-way and kissing was even better. She believed him! And ohh - yes, it hadn't been a fluke, everything was in perfect working order now. If not a bit eager, but really, who could blame him?

Roger was fairly certain that this was a yes also - it had to be!

Didn't it?

Roger reluctantly broke the kiss - though not the hold that the arms that had come up around her at some point. "That's a yes right? I mean - it feels like one, but I've been thinking about this since the winter staff party and tested the waters a bit and then I made up my mind to ask you months ago, but stuff kept happening so if you could just say yes, I'd really appreciate it."

Roger had the feeling that something was missing and started to fumble in his pockets. "Ring! There's a ring - I was going to give it to you later tonight - if you don't like it, we can change it so don't say no if you don't."
Tears were streaming down her cheeks and she had to get those under control. Vera wiped ineffectually at them and nodded until she could speak.

"Yes. Yes! I still don't know what's going on, but I don't care. Yes."
She had actually said yes now - and that was all that mattered. Roger let out a whoop, picked her up and spun in a circle. "Mine. Never letting you go," Roger stated, voice thick with emotion. After pressing a kiss to her lips and wiping away the tears on her cheeks, Roger took her hand and fell to his knees. Grinning (his face was threatening to split at any time now and Roger knew it)up at Vera - his fiancee - and slid the ring on her finger.

"Good thing you said yes. Your mother was all for it - your father was a bit harder to convince, but he said yes. Wouldn't have stopped me though." Pulling her hand closer, Roger kissed the smooth skin on the back of it before releasing it and standing, motioning to her finger. "So what do you think?"

And hey, if the ring took her mind off of what she wasn't clear on - so much the better.
Vera sniffed and looked back and forth between the man she loved and the ring he'd just given her.

"It ... it's beautiful. We're not changing it for anything — it's perfect."

Her hand curled into a fist, as if to prevent anyone from coming along and slipping it back off her finger.

"You met my parents?"

She could only imagine what Mother would have had to say. That her father had chosen to be a bit balky was disappointing, but he would just have to see them together, Vera was sure. She'd have to contact them, but not tonight, no definitely not. Tomorrow would be soon enough.

It was all becoming real, and with the increased confidence that this all wouldn't vanish on the next moment, she fully recovered the power of speech and even began to babble a bit.

"I can't believe you've been planning this at the same time I've been thinking ... Oh, Hecate, there were a million and one things I thought of that might have been what was wrong and I feel so foolish now. I think that meeting with what I thought was Vasily did addle my mind a bit."

Vera laid her head on Roger's chest and hugged him tightly.

"I can't believe I'm going to get to be your wife."
She liked the ring and that was great - but then there came the guilt. Vera was going to be his wife (Roger had to grin again at that) and as her soon to be husband - he had put her through a lot of worry and strain.

Not as much strain as wondering if you were going to be impotent for all time, Roger was fairly certain - but they had talked about issues long past due before and - well, that wasn't good.

Which meant that despite being able to talk his way around it, he had to tell her.

Damn. Best to start out as you mean to carry on.

Roger hugged her back tightly. "And I get to be your husband. Vera, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to let it go that far."

Leaning back to look her in the face, Roger gave her a wry smile. "Call it a guy thing. Admitting that you've been rendered temporarily," Roger stressed the word as much as possible, "impotent isn't exactly easy. Don't tell anyone!" he rushed to add.
Vera's mouth dropped open in disbelief.

"They did what to you?!"

I'll kill them.

No, damn, Bellatrix already tried.

She could hardly do or say anything to a severely injured man in return for this past month without coming off looking like a complete monster, so Vera pursed her lips and returned her attention to what was, after all, more important.

"God, you poor thing. You should have told me." Vera ran a comforting hand along Roger's jaw. "Of course I won't tell anyone. And you're sure you're all right now?"
Roger felt like letting out a loud, "Exactly!" at Vera's shocked reaction but refrained. Then she was being all close and comforting and close-

Did Roger mention how very long it had been?

Roger snuggled her close and let out a needy sound, running his hands over her back. "Everything seems to be in working order as of this morning. I got so excited that I ran out to ask your parents permission that I haven't even had a chance for a solo test and I wasn't about to go see Poppy again." Roger let out a slight shudder in fear of what effects further 'tests' might have.

"I think this calls for your expert examination."
"I think you're right."

Vera started kissing Roger, while one hand slipped between them, just to ... check on things.

"Shall we move this upstairs? I think this is going to take all night — I want to do a thorough job."
"Very thorough," Roger nodded eagerly while taking down the wards on the room and opening the door. He began to sprint down the hall before skidding to a halt a short way down. Hitting himself in the side of the head with one open palm, he ran back into the room to grab Vera's arm.

"Come on!"
Roger had left in such a rush Vera's head was spinnning, leaving her wondering if maybe she'd squeezed too hard, or if after all something was still wrong ... when he came back.

"Eager, aren't you?" Now that she figured out what was going on, she almost wanted to laugh.

"I'd ask you to carry me up to our quarters, but —" Vera hastened to add, "I want you to save your strength. Let's go!"

And for the first time in her life, the respectable and well-behaved professor of Arithmancy ran down the hallways of Hogwarts.