When Severus thinks about it (and he doesn't much, he has other things on his mind) he expects Andromeda's whelp to go back to her mousy, pale, wan state. He's proven wrong by the sight of. . .Severus can't come up with an adjective to describe the red of Nymphadora's chosen hair color. Nothing like it exists, not in nature nor in the artificial world the Muggles have created.
As if the color weren't bad enough, there's a ton of it, piled every which way atop her head. Severus is tired and ready for them to just find a Dementor and get this whole thing over with. She says, "Wotcher, Snape," and he bites back, "Has the quality of Aurors fallen so that they need use your head as a beacon to find me now?"
Nymphadora shrugs. "We did just accept Harry into the program."
Severus scowls. Nothing about this exchange is right, not her appearance, not her responses, not her being here. "Why are you here?"
For a second, the length of her eyelashes wavers, the tip of her nose becomes less distinct. Then, almost so quickly that Severus cannot be sure at all of what he saw, she is exactly as she was before. She says, "I made a promise."
Severus knows all about promises. He doesn't ask what hers was.
His Auror guard--the one set to make sure that he does not escape from a prison with more warding on it than Howarts itself--consists completely of ex-Order members. They do not much speak to him, but neither do they abuse their power or taunt him. Severus does not understand, but he doesn't inquire, lest inquiry change his circumstances.
Nymphadora's shift is from mid-afternoon to late evening. She greets him without fail, and even smiles sharply the one evening he replies with a cutting, "Nymphadora."
Her hair that day is Slytherin green and she tells him, "When you say it like that, I nearly want to keep it."
One afternoon, her fingernails are longer than any Auror's should be, and drenched in polka-dots of all things. Severus has been informed that his trial has been postponed once again. His world consists of grey stone and prohibitive magic and Aurors who would rather be anywhere but baby-sitting him. Needing to hurt someone other than himself he hisses, "Have you found someone else to satisfy your needs?" in response to her casual, "Wotcher, Severus."
And there it is again, that. . .shift he saw the first day, a slight softening of her cheekbones, a lengthening of her chin. It's momentary, so momentary. She blinks and things right themselves. Severus blinks, but things stay as they are. She says, "I made a promise."
Severus isn't so willing to be put off this time, however. "To tart yourself up and flaunt it in front of his enemy?"
She laughs at him, laughs. "Voldemort was Remus' enemy. I thought you would have known something about that."
"That certainly makes you special." The word special is snarled, twisted beyond all recognition.
Nymphadora narrows her eyes. "Not as much as you evidently believe."
That cuts off the response Severus had all prepared. He does not gape, but it's a close thing. Her lips redden before his eyes and she smiles. "You'll just have to trust me."
"I can't even trust my sight in your presence," he snaps.
Her hair is brown on the afternoon that she tells him. It is short and flies around her ears messily. Her eyes are hazel, and her nose is shorter than he remembers. Her mouth looks a bit shiny, maybe, but that might be the time of day, and the tiny window behind him, far above his head. She does not look like herself.
She says, "They pardoned you."
For a moment, he doesn't understand. He is too busy looking at her.
Several things fall into place, one at a time, in haphazard, crooked rows. He asks, "Pardoned?"
"Minerva and Kingsley both thought there was something amiss from the first. It was only a matter of time before they figured out what."
"But- proof-" Severus really needs to regain his equilibrium when shocked beyond all ability to use language. He makes a mental note of this goal.
"Don't ask me, I was just the girl making sure you didn't do anything more foolish than you already had."
Just the girl. . . Severus pays more attention then, like he really should have from the first. "This is-"
"Something your eyes can trust," she says, and nothing about her appearance so much as quivers.