A Modest Proposal
"Of course not." As the door closed, and they sat down on the overstuffed settee in the anterior office, Welkin gave Minerva McGonagall a tentative smile. She sometimes got the impression Minerva didn’t quite know what to make of her, and possibly even disapproved of her being here.
"Do you dislike me for some reason?" Welkin asked, with no pretense of small talk.
"Of course not," Minerva protested, taken aback by Welkin’s bluntness.
"Then why do I get the distinct impression that you don’t like my involvement with Professor Snape?"
"It’s not that I dislike it. I am somewhat apprehensive of it."
"Because I am unsure whether you understand how destructive this might be to Severus should you prove to be less than serious. You seem a bit flighty to me," Minerva observed, equally bluntly.
"Well," Welkin considered the criticism, "In some ways I may seem flighty, as you put it, but I do love Severus, and I’d never do anything to intentionally hurt him."
"You would never do anything intentionally," Minerva said with emphasis on the last word. "That is exactly what concerns me - your apparent lack of forethought and intention in many of the things you do."
Minerva had struck a nerve. "You know," Welkin told her, without her customary smile, "All I really care about is what Severus thinks about me. I don’t think I have to explain myself or prove myself to anybody else around here, and I don’t intend to try."
Minerva was hurt at her obvious misunderstanding, but decided to drop it since she could tell that Welkin was becoming angry.
The door opened much sooner than Welkin expected, diffusing the awkward moment, and Dumbledore asked them to join him and Snape in his office. Whatever they had discussed must have been pretty heavy-duty, Welkin thought as they entered, because even more color than usual seemed to have drained from Severus’s sallow complexion and he had his worry frown in place.
"Have a seat ladies. We have a matter of importance concerning you to discuss, Welkin," Albus said. When they were settled, he continued. "As I have mentioned previously, we have discovered that your ancestry does indeed include some traces of witch lineage; however, over the centuries invitations to enroll children from that line at Hogwarts or a comparable academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry in your United States when your ancestors settled there, have gone unanswered. As such, the Ministry refuses to recognize a request that you be allowed to stay at Hogwarts, on that basis…"
"I don’t care what…" Welkin began, cutting in angrily as she leapt to her feet. Snape gave her a stern look that silenced her before she could continue her tirade.
"As I was saying," Albus said with great patience, "The Ministry refuses to allow you to stay on that basis. There is, however, one other condition under which they will allow it."
Severus swiftly moved to stand beside her. "The only circumstance under which they will consider allowing you to stay," Albus continued, "would be if you and Severus were to join in marriage. They have been informed of your relationship through…various sources," he said obliquely, "and have agreed that it would be inadvisable and unjust to separate the two of you if you were to marry."
"I would not be averse to that proposal," Snape announced quickly, looking at Albus as if that settled it.
"Not averse to?" Welkin raised her voice, obviously not pleased with his response. "Oh my goodness, I’m just swept right off my feet by that incredibly romantic proposal. It just makes me feel so very special," she said sarcastically.
"I thought you’ve said all along that I couldn’t leave because the Obliviate Charm wouldn’t work?" Welkin told Dumbledore. "Now they’re kicking me out without it? That doesn’t add up," Welkin said, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
"Anyway, how dare they try to force some kind of…kind of…shotgun wedding!" Welkin sputtered. "Fucking bureaucrats! They’re the same everywhere you go!"
"You do not wish to marry me?" Snape asked, sounding both incredulous and hurt. Welkin stopped sputtering and looked up at him, realizing that she had inadvertently stuck her foot into a large pile of dragon dung, emotionally speaking.
"It would seem that your concept of ‘forever and always’ means something very different to you then it does to me," Snape accused coldly, the hurt in the depths of his eyes quite apparent as he walked away from her.
"It isn’t that…it’s…it’s…it’s just that I don’t like feeling so forced into it," Welkin stuttered, trying to explain. "It’s not that I don’t want to…" she pleaded with Severus to understand her reluctance. She looked to Albus and Minerva for some kind of support, and the ‘I told you so’ look that Minerva gave her said it all. She was out there all on her own for this one. Even worse, they were both obviously siding with Severus.
"I’m afraid you must decide without delay," Dumbledore said, no longer wearing the smile he usually bestowed on Welkin. "No more evasions. You must decide now what is most important to you - your freedom - your pride - or the love you say you have for Severus." Dumbledore folded his arms and stared at her over the rim of his half-moon glasses, obviously not inclined to discuss the matter with her further.
Welkin looked at Severus, who was standing at the edge of Dumbledore‘s desk, arms folded and eyes averted from her. Her heart ached that she had hurt him. When are you ever going to learn to think before you speak? she chided herself. She silently considered what was truly more important to her, just as Albus had asked, and what it was that she was more afraid of losing. "No contest," she at last conceded to herself.
At least she could show them that someone in this room knew how to make a proper proposal. Welkin walked slowly toward Snape and dropped to one knee in front of him. She grasped him by the hand and smiled up at him, in what she hoped was her most charming and convincing manner. "Severus Snape, will you do me the honor of giving me your hand in marriage?" She cocked her head and one eyebrow hopefully at him. "As well as the rest of you, of course."
A tiny smile quirked the corners of his lips as Snape drew her to her feet without hesitation. "The great honor is mine," he replied smoothly, as if he had been assured of the outcome all along. "And yes, I would not be averse to that proposal," he repeated his earlier galling statement. He kissed her to seal the deal, right there in front of Dumbledore and Minerva.
"At last," Albus said with a sigh of relief.
"Well," Minerva was finally smiling without reserve at Welkin. "I suppose we have a wedding to plan."