Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall: Genesis of a Pairing
For all that he has had many strange and fantastic adventures, there is a lot about the wizarding world that Harry Potter doesn't know. There are a lot of things he has not seen, and a number of people he has never gotten particularly close to. Because the books are narrated almost exclusively from Harry's point of view, we, the readers, aren't privy to any more than Harry himself is. We learn what he learns, see what he sees, know who he knows. Little else.
In the shadows of what sometimes isn't there, in the silence between words that aren't said, I see opportunities, ideas. I see chances, possibilities, a million what ifs. Intuition is my guide, inspiration my map. And who is to say, when I drift about in these dark corners where the light of J.K. Rowling's pen has yet to fall, whether what I think I see is really there or not? Who's to say that it even matters? So it is with the fanfic writer; so it is with writers like me, who see the potential, for whom even the slightest hint of something is often enough to spark a story, a short piece or a multi-chapter saga.
My Emerald and Ebony was one such spark. How it came about is a story in itself. It began as quite a small thing on the FictionAlley Park boards, a crazy little adventure upon which I at first embarked alone. FictionAlley Park is home to many ships, groupings of like-minded people who gather together to discuss all of the relationships amongst the HP characters that exist in canon or can ever possibly be imagined by anyone. We sail about on ships of various types, claiming positions amongst the crews as we climb aboard. And there have been quite a few very odd ships, some even more strange, I thought, than this crazy idea I had quite suddenly one winter afternoon.
* * *
It came out of nowhere in a way I can't really describe; a flash of intuition and it was there. Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall. Hogwarts professors, heads of rival school houses... Not the most often seen of the HP characters, but two, I think, of the most intriguing... And from there this mad leap of reason.
And so the S.S. Emerald & Ebony was born. I started a new topic for the ship, feeling quite proud of myself for coming up with something that I thought was original without being way the hell out there (like the Hedwig/Pigwidgeon ship...) And I waited to learn that I was not alone in considering this possibility, this just maybe. I had a longer wait than I had anticipated. More people thought I was out of my mind than anything else- Mental, as Ron would say. Apparently I missed somewhere a transcript of an interview with J.K. Rowling, in which she said that Minerva McGonagall was seventy years old. This, then, made my little ship idea sick, twisted, disgusting, and last but not least, squicky. Or so they told me.
Frustration mounting, I shook my head and rolled my eyes a lot, and resolved myself to sailing alone on my little life raft of a ship, in the midst of this stormy sea... But I could do it. I could cope. I was, after all, a Slytherin, and we are all, rather like Snape, pretty darn misunderstood. Eventually I decided to do what I usually do when people go out of their way to tell me how crazy my ideas are- I tuned them out and kept going.
I was hit with the idea for the fic sometime after the first round of almost-flames and my mostly failed efforts to explain why I didn't share everyone's opinion that I was crackers. I didn't believe Minerva was 70, and I thought that even if she was, the chemistry was still there. And I had thought, somehow, that having them both the same age (as I at the time firmly believed they were) would be less of an issue for people.
You'd be surprised how many were still squicked out. But, you know... Sometimes life's like that. And gradually they came out of the woodwork, my brethren, my fellows. The misunderstood, the outcast, the ostracized. The Slytherins with their charmingly biting sarcasm, with their wit and intelligence... First one, then two and three... I don't remember how it all went, just the feeling of being terribly alone, and then suddenly- not. One ally made all the difference, but they kept coming.
There were still those who didn't get it, of course. They brought up the interview transcript a lot. I started to hate the thing. Finally I made myself read it, and I realized that it didn't change a thing as far as I was concerned. I get like this with my pet theories sometimes- If something I find out later proves them a hundred percent false, I figure that my theories and I were there first (even if the 'evidence' predates them, I go by when I saw it) I stand my ground and refuse to budge.
Who's to say that it isn't possible, after all? That there isn't a reason when one sees Snape or McGonagall, the other is almost never far behind? Who is to say that they weren't, as I wrote them once and then again, good friends in their student days together at Hogwarts? Who is to say they weren't that, despite anything anyone might have said to turn them aside from one another, because they are both stubborn and really quite impossible to shake loose of something once they've set their minds to it? I had friends like that once; I think I loved them more dearly for all the times I was given lists of reasons why those friends and I were no good to each other, why we were of different worlds and bound to stay in them...
McGonagall and Snape. There is so much potential for them to be rivals, and yet... that depth of animosity is simply not there. Snape hated James Potter; he doesn't hate Minerva McGonagall. And one has to wonder why. You can go off in fascinating directions with such questions as these, and I did so cheerfully. I wanted to see what I could find out there; I wanted to see whether I was right, whether it was possible. Could it work, really?
I saw that, to my mind, it was possible. I saw bonds forged of friendship and trust, established as they came of age, and somehow never broken, never lost. I saw the things they might have gone through together in those days, and how they brought them together in spite of everything. I saw secrets they came to keep together, ghosts of the past they never spoke of, but which were somehow still ever present. I saw a stubbornness, a determination, which had caused them to grow up and go their separate ways, and yet never really lose sight of each other, never really letting go of what they had come to feel in the deepest places within their hearts.
I came to see them as private people who would quite naturally have kept such personal feelings to themselves. It might not even have occurred to them to speak about them to each other; I think both could benefit from some development in the area of social skills. Quiet but strong, indomitable really, and I believe that they have seen each other through thick and thin. Maybe he's tried to push her away; maybe she hasn't let him. Maybe it's been the other way 'round. Perhaps, because they are both really quite bright enough to have been Ravenclaws, they understood that in some desperate, mad way, they needed each other. Particularly in the days when Voldemort was strong. And perhaps now as well, now that he is becoming strong again. Perhaps as more than friends this time, as they are involved in the sort of life and death struggle that usually sees sudden inclinations towards honesty. I think that they would think it through, though, being who and what they are- and that they just might be desperate enough to make the decision, to take the leap, wherever it might lead them.
Love is a fool's gamble. And yet sometimes you still have to take it. Particularly, sometimes, if you don't know what tomorrow holds. That is how I see the philosophy of their relationship.
Battles of wits and wills have always intrigued me, and I suppose that explains what I am doing here. There is, after all, quite a bit of both in the air. And passion! Oh, but I can see the sparks fly, I really can!
As to what's in a name- a ship, a story, a not so minor obsession- Emerald and Ebony simply seemed to fit. Ebony's pretty obvious, since Snape never seems to wear anything else. It's also the color of his eyes. Emerald is McGonagall, who almost always wears green, and who for some reason I have always seen as having green eyes.