"You know Minerva, that reminds me of the time Harry Potter and Hermione Granger…"
Albus was launching into another story featuring those stupid ruddy little twits known as the 'Dream Team' to some, just the trio to others and a pile of dunderheads as far as Snape was concerned. The staff of Hogwarts was in the staff room around a long narrow table, getting ready for the new semester when McGonagall had mentioned something about a polyjuice potion.
"Could we for once, not compare everything to those little twits?" Snape interrupted, shooting Albus a meaningful glance. Albus raised an eyebrow in warning at the man’s tone. When startled looks shot out at him from around the large table in the swirling around from the group and out of the staff room he sighed heavily and stood.
"It doesn't matter that Potter and his ilk have graduated almost three years ago, " he spat looking to Albus and Minerva, "you all never stopped talking about the bloody boy and remarkably tiresome friends."
With that, the enigmatic Professor whirled and strode out of the staff room, not caring that all the staff of Hogwarts was now whispering about him upon his departure. Seemed the meetings were always ending with him rushing off whenever Potter and his friends were mentioned.
Albus and the rest of the staff looked to the miserable Professor's departure, wondering why the man was so engulfed in misery. Everyone knew that Snape was miserable, that was his character that was who he was.
"I don't know what's wrong with that man," Minerva commented looking to Albus with a small frown. "I only brought up Potter and the lot of them because that's the last time I can remember Snape being, well, not so horrible."
"I know what you mean," Albus said scratching his chin through his long, white beard. "It seems that after that whole lot graduated he became even worse."
"Strange though," Minerva said, "I mean he didn't even like any of them. "
"Perhaps we do talk about them too much," Professor Sprout offered, her chubby hands placed over her notebook as she looked to them inquiringly. The rest of the staff echoed a reluctant 'maybe' behind her.
Madame Hooch suddenly looked to them incredulously, "Perhaps I'm the only one who remembers that Harry Potter and his group saved us from bloody Voldemort! Or have we all forgotten that small tidbit?"
"Severus did his part too and Lupin," Madame Pomfrey called from near the end of the table, her large eyes blazing as they remembered the fallen professor. "That's the part everyone's forgotten."
"Ladies," Flitwick offered gentlemanly, smiling to them both, "we all know that Harry, Hermione, Ron and most definitely Snape and Lupin are to be thanked for the demise of Voldemort. “
"There is something else bothering Snape," Professor Trelwany spouted as everyone in the staffroom groaned. "His heart is in grave danger."
Everyone at the table either groaned or laughed at that one. Snape's heart in danger?
"Oh shut up you old quack," Madame Hooch said exasperatedly, as Sprout stopped her from throwing a paper airplane at the meditating witch.
"All right," Albus offered, trying to sooth Madame Hooch and keep the peace. "I think we should all calm down and stick to the matters at hand."
Madame Pince shrugged her bony shoulders until the blades almost met and looked to the group. "I require more funding for the Library."
The rest of the staff got down to business talking about funding and so forth while the infamous Professor Snape was soon forgotten. No one really guessing that Professor Trelawny's warning may just be correct.
* * *
"Idiots," Snape murmured sulkily, pouring another glass of red wine and standing at the window, looking down at the Quidditch field. He recalled a time when he used to referee for such a game, now he claimed he hadn't the time.
He never really admitted to himself why he had become so much more miserable, or why he was slowly drawing away from Hogwarts society. He could often be found reading in his study or marking papers, and no one really wanted to bother him not even to ask him to referee a game or host detention.
He hadn't changed at all over the three years since Potter's departure; his hair was still an iron black which hung above his shoulders. His skin was still pale, his mouth still a solid frown. He still deducted points with the same vigor, still attended meals in the Great Hall and still taught Potions with that same intense passion that other's feared. Most. After all, it had only been three years.
Three long years.
Suddenly Snape’s attention was drawn to a large black raven that soared through the open window of his chambers. He immediately recognized that bird, knew whose it was in an instant. That same stupid bird that had been the constant pain in his side. He took a large swig of his wine, draining the glass of its rich remnants and drew closer to the dodgy bird.
"Good to see you Chansy," he murmured, suddenly placing the large wine glass on the raven's head, and twisted it ensuring it wouldn't come off.
The bird battled with it a moment, his clawed feet trying desperately to pop it off. No luck. After a flurry of squawking and feathers Chansy finally stopped, looking to Snape furiously through dark eyes.
Snape smirked darkly and made his way over to his favorite chair by the fire. After pouring himself another glass of wine he reluctantly opened the scroll.
Severus sighed, he knew exactly who it was. From the messy writing on the parchment to the nickname he'd obtained far before Black and Potter. He frowned, it was Austere.
Austere was Snape's younger pain in the ass brother who himself hadn't gone to wizarding school like his older brother. He instead proved to be quite 'Muggle-brilliant' as his family claimed, and gone onto some prestigious University and graduated top of his class in medicine.
Snape felt his stomach churn as he recalled the day his parents had told him he was to have a little brother. He had been almost sixteen at the time, and very much into the dark forces. He had frowned and left the room without a word, his mother's concealed sobs emitting from behind him as he shut the door to his room.
His heart tugged at this memory a bit. Austere was such a saving grace for them, his stomach lurched again. Must be the wine.
Snape never really got past the feeling that Austere was their replacement for him, the right son. This may have been the reason he had ostracized him so readily, that he never really spoke with his brother. No matter.
But why was his younger brother writing to him at all? They usually only corresponded when holidays came around. Snape rarely went away for holidays, and Austere knew this. Always tried to force him over to the family manor for Christmas dinner and so forth.
Little prat, Snape thought miserably, not paying attention to the scroll and lost in past memories.
Suddenly the raven cawed behind him, muffled in the glass and obviously wanting release along with something to eat or drink. Snape's eyes narrowed as he stood, and grasping Chansy by the neck, tugged off the wine glass and promptly threw the damned bird out the window before he shut it soundly.
Chansy dropped a few feet and then with a muted call, flew off in the direction of the Snape manor. Severus sighed and strode over to the hearth again, opening the scroll and preparing for the worst. Sadly even that never could have prepared him.
How are you dearest brother? How are the drafty confines of Hogwarts? My days are greatly brighter now that I have found the love of my life. Yes, I Austere Snape have found true love, and am cordially inviting you to the wedding to be held at the family home in three weeks time. But, I also ask of you to be my best man.
Snape rolled eye eyes, this sounded all too much like his stupid, younger brother. Another sip of wine and a groan later he wondered aloud who the woman could have been. Austere was not a man to be easily won over, he was already 30, and not surprisingly hadn't shown any interest in marriage. The woman must be phenomenal in many ways. Snape read on darkly, jealousy and anger consuming him.
I would like it if you could come two weeks in advance, to help me (Mum's going quite overboard!) also being best man entails that you may help with run throughs and organization etc. You always were splendid at that. As for my fiancée, She was a student at the very school that you taught, and she is the light of my life. I hope that you may become good friends and perhaps your time over holidays will be spent at our home. I know this may be asking a lot but I hope you agree. Please owl me as soon as you possibly can. I hope to see you on Saturday.
All the best dear brother,
P.s. Also Severus, my fiancée ensures she knows of you, but guarantees that you shall have forgotten her. I told her that this was absurd, that you have a mind like a steel trap. Surely you recall a certain student named-
Snape's heart leapt into his throat as he viewed the girl's name, he read it over and over to make sure it was right. No, it couldn't be her. Of all the witches in the entire world, why her? Finally the paper fell to his lap and all he could so was gaze at the name staring up at him.
Chapter 2: A Reply
"Do you really think he'll come?" Hermione asked Austere as she made herself some eggs on the stove. "I mean he's never been that fond of me, and from what you've told me, you're not exactly his favorite person."
It was Friday morning and she and Austere hadn't heard anything from the elusive Severus since they sent out their announcements on Tuesday. They had recently arrived at the Snape family home on Spinners End, getting wedding preparations in order and getting to know Austere's mother better.
Austere looked to his fiancée over his shoulder as he help the newspaper in his hands at the kitchen table, "I hope he comes," he paused, "you know we have maids for that sort of stuff here, Hermione."
Hermione shrugged, that was the thing about Austere that grated her nerves at times. Even though they'd been together almost a year, he was still treating her like she had trouble grasping Muggle concepts.
"I know," Hermione said stiffly, turning the eggs expertly in the pan, "I happen to enjoy making eggs."
Austere nodded from his seat and suddenly dropping his paper he stood, coming up behind her and sliding his arms around her waist whispering, "I'm sorry darling, of course you do."
He kissed her neck and she couldn't help but giggle a bit and oblige him as he leaned in for a kiss on her waiting lips. His kisses were soft and pliable with something more hidden within them. She smiled against his lips as he made his way out of the kitchen, claiming he was going to take a shower.
Austere Snape was most definitely Severus' brother, both had that sarcastic undertone to everything they said and both had captivating gazes, but Austere was a far gentler human being. He cared about other person, that’s part of the reason Hermione had fallen for him. Both were brilliant, very analytical and in truth, both were darkly sexy.
Austere wore glasses when he read, although the things he read often had Hermione shaking her head. Austere's nose was a bit smaller, his eyes a bit bigger and lighter, and was a bit shorter than Severus. He had dark black hair like his brother but whereas Snape kept his just above his shoulders and in questionable condition, Austere had it trimmed constantly in a fashionable look and never below his collar.
Severus did outmatch his brother in one quality (that Hermione knew about) his voice. That smooth, creamy purr that had girls in all houses ogling over him despite his severe demeanor. Austere had a slightly higher pitch, not as smooth as his elder brother but still quite amiable.
Austere loved and was good to her and to Hermione that was all that mattered. He didn't have to be handsome or brilliant or rich (Although he was) to be perfect for her. All that mattered was he was sweet and he loved her. What more could a girl ask for?
Hermione smiled wistfully to herself and went back to the eggs, minutes later they were done and she set them and some toast onto a plate and took it outside on the veranda. Even though it was late January she had cast a warming spell around the veranda, and she could sit out there pleasantly, looking to the snow and enjoy her morning breakfast.
The Snape family home, according to Austere had changed greatly over the years. It had started off a simple, plain little hovel on Spinners End. But with the death of Tobias Snape and Eileen Snape’s remarriage to a weathly wizard named Barban over fifteen years prior it had been expanded greatly to accommodate a large palatial estate, beautiful grounds and many house maids.
Hermione was not used to such extravagance and truly, it made her uncomfortable to see the maids they employed working so hard to please them. It reminded her far too much of S.P.E.W. being waited on hand and foot. At least the workers were permitted to leave on their own accord.
Due to Lady Snape's rather old fashioned theories, both she and Austere two had separate rooms in opposite sections of the large home.
"I'm sorry darling,” Austere had said hushed as the followed the butler to their respective rooms, "my mother has certain beliefs about marriage."
Hermione had kissed his cheek gingerly and giggled, "I understand Austere. Don't worry."
Hermione's room had been in Gryffindor coloring, red satin sheets covering the large four poster bed. A mahogany desk set with matching armoire. A fireplace with a large red upholstered chair in front of it and rows and rows of books.
"I told mother of your affection for reading," Austere had said before being whisked off to his own room. Hermione had unpacked and spent the evening reading before her presence was requested for dinner.
Dinner itself had gone splendidly. Lady Snape was as kind as she was strict and Hermione respected her for that. Lady Snape had a certain aura around her that exuded quiet power. She had a small thin and pointed nose, dark beady eyes and maturing skin, she looked quite good for her age. Her long black and silver hair was constantly pulled up in a large bun that sat atop her head held by one small emerald clip.
Lady Snape found Hermione delightful though; charming and smart as well as kind and she didn't hesitate to say so. So found Hermione blushing and thanking her constantly. Lady Snape had praised Austere that he was a lucky young man.
Now this Friday morning Hermione found herself eating eggs out on the warm veranda and wondering why Snape hadn’t answered them. Suddenly the door to the patio opened and she turned, expecting Austere coming back from his short shower.
Instead it was Lady Snape, her dark cane in hand and a solemn smile on her aging face. Hermione stood respectively.
"Good morning Lady Snape."
Truth be told, Hermione's stomach dropped every time she saw the woman, she was frightening even if she didn't mean to be. She may be older and sweet, but she was still Severus Snape’s mother! Lady Snape smiled gently, moving to the seat near Hermione
"You needn't stand up on my account, Hermione. And please, call me Eileen."
"Of course," Hermione said, uneasily adding; "Eileen."
EIleen smiled and looked out at her land, covered in snow and rather breathtaking this early in the morning. Without looking to the gingerly eating Hermione she spoke.
"My son Severus, he hasn't yet replied?"
Hermione swallowed the dry toast roughly, wincing as she did so. "No Ma-Eileen. Not yet."
Lady Snape turned a small frown on her face, and a stray tear in the corner of her left eye.
"Hermione, you make my son Austere so happy," Hermione smiled in thanks and Eileen went on, "but, I honestly wish Severus could have found someone like you."
Hermione looked askance at this comment, rather taken aback at the thought of being matched with the elder Snape brother.
"Severus is very lonely, a mother knows these things," her frown deepened.Hermione frowned herself at this thought. She had always believed Severus to enjoy his solitude. She voiced this thought and Lady Snape looked taken aback.
"He may at times, but I know he is lonely. My poor Severus. If only he had found a woman like you to make him happy perhaps he wouldn't-" she trailed off, looking haggard.
Hermione reached a compassionate hand over the table and placed it gingerly overtop Lady Snape's. The older woman looked surprised a moment, and then smiled solemnly. Lady Snape sniffled a bit, blaming it on the weather. This was an obvious lie as they were under the warm confines of the enchanted veranda.
"Severus, I fear has always believed his father and I never cared for him as much as we did Austere."
Hermione frowned, "why would that be?"
Lady Snape was about to answer when a large raven, Chansy flew overhead, looking a bit dizzy and disoriented. He flew into the welcoming arms of Lady Snape and held out one tired limb. Lady Snape took the scroll from the raven and unrolled it, peering at the scrawled script of her son.
Hermione recognized the seal of the letter instantly, feeling her stomach tilt a bit. Professor Snape had always sort of scared her a bit, and even though he was miles away, this didn't change her apprehension at the sight of his spidery scrawl on the parchment.
Lady Snape sighed and handed the scroll to Hermione, "would you mind reading it aloud for me Hermione? I've forgotten my spectacles."
Hermione nodded, swallowing the egg piece in her mouth and taking the scroll gingerly, looking over the words and attesting that Snape was always straight to the point with everyone, including his family. She spoke the words aloud, trying to make them sound softer, less cold. She excluded some of the stiffer and unneeded words.
I (grudgingly) accept your offer. I will be your best
man, (due to family obligations.)I shall arrive at the
family home by nine p.m. on Saturday
(Do not wait up for me if I am later.)
P.s. I do remember Miss Granger.
Hermione set the paper down, looking to the suddenly brightened Lady Snape. She smiled, looking off into the distance. Hermione felt a strange and unprecedented feeling engulf her. Surely she had been joking about him remembering her, but the mere fact that he had written so; best not think about that. She looked to Lady Snape once more, and in a small voice offered;
Chapter 3: The Arrival
"Hermione, stop pacing," Austere said grimly, looking to his young fiancée pacing about the living room, her hair perfectly brushed, her dress beautiful but her mouth in a small frown.
Hermione turned about, "I'm sorry, I'm just very nervous."
"Plus,” Austere added with a mischievous smile, “he loves it when the maids and the butlers get all worried about when he'll arrive. My brother loves to create a scene."
"How could a sweet man like yourself have such a brute for a brother?"
"Do you think he’ll be more civil to your Mother?"
"And that's why he hates you? Because you were born?"
"This morning. On the patio."
Austere gave a faint smile and stood, walking over the dark figure that leaned against the doorframe.
Chapter 4: A Brilliant Mind
"Hello Austere," Severus said shaking his brother's outstretched hand, his eyes trailing to a still seated Hermione. He felt his breath catch in his chest as he saw her.She wasn't much older now but she appeared more sophisticated. Her dark hair fell in long waves down her back; her dark eyes were more pronounced but still full of questions he guessed. Her frame was slightly fuller, she seemed more comfortable in her body.She must have noticed his staring because she now looked directly to him and he quickly shifted his gaze back to Austere who met his brother's penetrating eyes evenly.
"How is Mother?" Snape mumbled, his dark voice filling the room. Hermione busied herself with looking at her wineglass. She took a deep breath, feeling flushed at the sight of her former professor. Still the same lean frame and lank hair. Still the same sonorous voice and commanding presence.
Austere shrugged looking cheerily to his older brother, "she's tired, and she's missed you terribly. She'll be down for dinner shortly. Why didn't you return for Christmas dinner last year?"
Snape's eyes went to Hermione a moment and then back to Austere's before he answered.
"I had prior obligations."
"I understand," Austere ran a hand through his cropped hair and offered a weak smile. So far so good. He looked over his shoulder and gave out a bellow, "Charlotte? Would you mind bringing out some wine? My brother is finally here."
Charlotte appeared suddenly from the door and Hermione waited for the traditional once over to occur from Severus as she swept past him. He didn't bat an eye and Hermione found this all too intriguing an altercation. Perhaps Harry and Ron were right, perhaps Snape did prefer the company of men. She had never seen him interested in any girl that she could remember. He was a fairly good dresser, polished to some- if you didn't count that dreadful hair, although now it appeared a bit softer. She decided that it must be on account of the soft lighting.
Charlotte set her tray down by Hermione dramatically pouring from the wine bottle into the sparkling glass. The rich, ruby-colored drink poured in as she swirled it a bit to give it some air. Hermione frowned slightly, thinking over the option of Severus being into men.
"Here you are sir," Charlotte said sweetly to the newcomer as she passed him the drink, her eyes batting flirtatiously. Austere grimaced and Hermione rolled her eyes from the couch as she took a long sip from her champagne glass.
Severus took it roughly, nodding to her as if dismissing her. Charlotte looked a bit taken aback by this reception but nodded back and left the room, looking a bit miffed. Despite herself, Hermione stifled a giggle. Taking a sip himself Severus still leaned against the door frame, looking surprisingly casual. Hermione supposed his bags had been taken up to his room already. He and Austere talked back and forth a bit, quietly so that Hermione was excluded, she noticed. She took this time to observe the both of them. Her dark eyes intent on finding similarity.
Severus was a good inch or two taller than Austere, and looked to his younger brother severely. His lips barely parted when he spoke in hushed tones, his dark eyes flicking back and forth as if searching Austere’s. Austere however had the upper hand of youth and Hermione had experienced him first hand in bed. He was surprisingly talented in that area as well. He always seemed to enjoy himself and Hermione had to agree she never fell asleep unfulfilled. She looked to her lover then, smiling wistfully as images of their wedding flew into her head. He'd look splendid in a tuxedo.
Austere himself shifted back from foot to foot, looking to Severus with almost a look of intimidation. He was slender like Severus, but had a certain rogue charm about him that eluded Snape. Austere was sweet and charming, Severus was darkly sexy.
Hermione surprised herself thinking that specific description; she hadn't really thought of Snape as sexy until her seventh Year at Hogwarts after the defeat of Voldemort and her Professors’ valiant fight. They’d thought he’d been killed by Nagini, but thanks to some quick thinking on Madame Pomfrey’s part, they had revived him. He’d taken months to come back but he did in fact survive. He had gone back to his Potions post, having cited that Defense against the dark arts was something he no longer felt compelled to teach.
The war hero status had suited him and Hermione had not been the only girl in seventh year to give him a second look. But a look was all she wanted to give him. He terrified her then and even now she felt a quiver of fear run through her at just being in the same room. She couldn't deny that at times she had been caught up in the fact that past his rude facade he had to be clever and powerful to be a double agent. The more she thought about her emotions pertaining to Snape in her last year at Hogwarts, the blurrier things became. She supposed it had to be the champagne and she set aside the glass with a clink.
"And how is the Muggle medicine game Austere?" Snape asked bitingly after a long sip of wine, his voice loud enough for Hermione to hear and with a hint of cynicism. "Still a nurse?"
Austere's smile faltered as Snape made no attempt to bite back a smirk, "I'm a doctor Severus."
"Of course. Must've slipped my mind."
Austere shrugged, knowing full well he shouldn't push Severus for the man was volatile. Hermione suddenly feeling quite left out gave a small cough to remind Austere that she was still there. Austere and Severus looked over to the fetching fiancée and smiling widely, Austere motioned for his brother to follow him.
"I wrote to you of Hermione, my fiancée," Austere said, as Snape and he made their way over to the brooding young woman. She stood, taking his hand and faced her old Professor. He was just as intimidating as he had been three years ago when she had graduated.
"Do you recognize your old student?" Austere said playfully, holding Hermione's hand as she forced a smile, looking uncomfortably to Severus. His bottomless eyes drank her in and finally he spoke darkly.
Their eyes locked a moment, black on brown and she suddenly felt very flushed. She couldn't directly recall why she was feeling so flustered all of a sudden. Feeling herself being watched by Austere she held out her hand to shake Severus' and softly spoke.
"Hello Professor Snape."
His eyes did not leave hers as he dismissed the hand she held outstretched to shake. Gods she had grown up to be quite lovely. His voice was as even as hers when he replied.
Austere bust out laughing then, his dark rumbling chuckle reverberating off the roof of the polished room. Hermione and Severus broke the gaze to look at him. Finally after wiping the tears from the corner of his eyes he looked to the both of them.
"Professor Snape? Miss Granger?" Austere started snickering again, "honestly. We're all grown adults here; I believe using first names would prove to be less awkward."
Hermione immediately disagreed. The mere thought of calling her old Professor, 'Severus' was bizarre and remarkably surreal in the worst of ways. She could see his dark eyes reading that he agreed entirely and so the matter was at a rest.
"And how are you Miss Granger?" Severus drawled, his dark eyes looking to her own somberly. Up closer to him she could detect the fullness of his lips. His familiar sandalwood scent wrapped around her like a heavy blanket as memories of Hogwarts flew before her eyes.
"Fine thanks," she brushed some stray hair from her face and going slightly pink added- "and yourself?"
Snape shrugged lazily, "tolerable."
Both shifted their eyes to the ground, feeling considerably awkward. Austere noticed this, looking to them curiously. Suddenly Charlotte appeared from around the corner looking to Snape in particular as she spoke.
"Dinner is ready."
* * *
To say that a meal with the Snape family is friendly and warm would be a very large overstatement if not a full out lie. Hermione and Austere were on one side of the long table, while Lady Snape sat the other with Severus across from Hermione. The chair at the other end of the table Hermione guessed was a reserved for the forever absent husband of Eileen. While the company may have been lacking in warmth, the dining room was in fact magnificent. Candles positively filled the table, along with every food possible. Butlers and maids from all over came to give Hermione her courses and she couldn't help feel as if she were being scrutinized.
It didn't help that Snape was being considerably cruel to his own mother, ignoring her as he buttered his bread and drank his wine.
"How are you enjoying your teaching position at Hogwarts son?" Lady Snape had started out, looking to him cheerily. She had been seated at the table when the three of them arrived. Her eyes had brightened the moment that she laid eyes on her phantom son.
"It's tolerable," he answered, giving Hermione a sudden dark look. She was too busy trying to avoid his eyes and that she knocked over her wineglass. She blushed embarrassed and apologized profusely to the maid that came to clean the mess up.
“Don’t worry, I’m happy to clean that up.”
"Thank you," Hermione said handing the woman her empty wine glass. Charlotte nodded, giving Hermione a large smile and scampered off towards the pantry.
Austere suddenly spoke up, a bit embarrassed at her behavior it seemed.
"So Severus, found anyone special to spend the rest of your life with?" he emphasized his words with a hearty laugh that no one joined in on. Hermione saw Snape's knuckles go white as he gripped his fork. She herself almost choked on a bread stick at the comment. Snape's furious eyes swept to Austere's; the candlelight giving him an unearthly glow in those orbs of his.
Hermione winced at the coldness in his voice, her stomach churning as she tried to eat. Why did he have to affect her this much? Most of all why was he still so bitter after all these years? Voldemort was dead! This should be a world of celebration! Perhaps a man like Snape didn’t know how to celebrate or be cheerful. Another sip of wine and a sigh later Snape spoke.
"Do you still correspond with Potter and Weasley, Miss Granger?" Snape asked her, looking to his own dinner plate. Eileen raised her own eyebrow at the use of the term, 'Miss Granger' but didn't say anything to oppose it.
"I do,” Hermione said casually, "they're attending the wedding, actually."
Snape grimaced. "Of course they are."
Despite that Snape and Potter had mended their ways as it would seem, didn’t change Snape’s mind on the thought that Potter was still an arrogant young man. An uneasy alliance settled between them, but he would never seek out the boys company.
"That reminds me dear," Eileen said dabbing the corners of her mouth with a napkin, "who is to be your maid of honor?"
"Ginny Potter. Ron's sister."
Snape grimaced again; the whole Weasley clan bugged him. And now to think, she was married to Potter. He prayed their offspring would never be accepted into Hogwarts- perhaps he would luck out and they would be Squibs.
"Ahhh what are the elusive Potter and Weasley up to now? Besides marriage of course."
"Well, Ron's not married, he's on some famous Quidditch team, and he's always dating supermodels," she saw Snape smirk as she rolled her eyes. "And Harry, well evidently he and Ginny got married and he's become Auror."
Snape nodded, watching her as she spoke. Austere ended up breaking in about some story from the office where he had saved a woman who came into surgery. While Eileen seemed to be at rapt attention at her son’s story, Severus noted Hermione was looking boredly to her dinner plate. He looked to her quizzically, ignoring his brother's engrossing tale. Shouldn’t she be preening at this? Her husband-to-be so prominent in his field? Finally manners getting the better of him he looked to Austere and feigned interest until they all lapsed into an uneasy silence. Only moments later Eileen broke the silence that had suddenly fell upon them with a small clap of her hands. The three of them looked to her curiously.
"Austere, Hermione," she said dramatically, "do tell Severus of how you two met. I don't believe he's heard the delightful story."
Hermione blanched, gripping the edge of the table as Snape gave her a quizzical look.
"Oh, I don't think he'd really be interested, I me-"
"Come now dear," Eileen said grinning widely. Hermione wondered what Severus looked like if he smiled. "Don't be shy."
Hermione winced and before she could clumsily reply Austere had already launched into his version of the tale.
"Actually we met in Diagon Alley," he saw Snape's surprised look and smiled, "I know I know, you're wondering what I was doing there, being a chosen Muggle. But I find, that if I use certain magical elements in my medicine for my patients, they heal much quicker and Diagon alley has the best of supplies."
Snape frowned deeply, obviously this comment upset him. It had struck a strange chord with Hermione as well. "And no one in the Magical community has opposed this? No one has questioned any of this at all?"
Hermione looked to Austere suddenly curious; he had never really mentioned anything past the fact that he had healed so many. She had been so happy for him when he healed his patients she hadn't really questioned how he did it. She just assumed that he was extremely talented at his job. Was it now that Snape was here that she was looking to Austere with a more critical eye? Austere looked nervous a moment, his gaze shifty.
"Well, no one has come to me about it if that's what you're implying."
Severus went to speak more about this when Eileen urged Austere to continue with how Hermione and Austere met. Austere looking relieved at the digression he smiled and while patting Hermione's hand on the table continued.
"We bumped into each other at Diagon Alley, me buying supplies and Hermione as well. She apologized again and again and helped me pick up my parcels. I was dumbstruck. Here was some young, beautiful witch and she was being kind to me despite my clumsy encounter!"
Hermione smiled sweetly as he looked to her fondly. Severus tried to contain the urge to gag. Down went another gulp of the wine. He was growing more and more furious with every passing minute, something he didn't know was pissing him right off. Austere was still babbling.
"I told her I had to make my clumsiness up to her and asked her out for a drink. I remember she was wearing a light blue blazer, and her hair was down all about the place.”
Hermione winced a bit, the smile still on her face. She had been wearing a gray coat at the time, but never mind. Severus rolled his eyes, finishing the last of his drink.
Gods just stop talking.
"I introduced myself to her and she looked a bit surprised. It was then that I learned she had been a student of yours Severus. She didn’t even know you had siblings! I asked her to have a drink with me and after a bit of cajoling she finally agreed, although I tell you it wasn't easy and I blame you, Severus for that."
“Well the Snape name scared the girl!” Austere said with a merry laugh.
Hermione blushed a bit and Severus saw his brother and she had their hand intertwined. Snape felt a bit queasy and wished his brother would stop talking so that he could go to his room and sleep; all of this was quite dull and annoying to him.
"So eight months later I proposed."
"Quite quick wouldn't you say?" Severus said darkly, drumming his hands atop the dinner table. Hermione noticed he had barely eaten anything. "The proposal. I mean."
"Well," Austere said grinning and looking to Hermione momentarily, "when you know you love someone, marriage seems next step. I want to spend the rest of my life with Hermione. So why wait?"
After that sappy comment Snape went back to picking at his dinner, not meeting anyone's eyes. Hermione noticed that he still had that rigid posture and that almost permanent sneer transfixed upon his face. Some things never changed. Eileen smiled a bit and then looked to Severus smiling gently.
"Well Severus, I hear that Hermione was one of your students. How coincidental."
"Quite," Snape looked to Hermione bored a moment and then back to his Mother. "She was a silly know-it-all friend of Potter's. Always had her hand up in the air that just regurgitated text. Annoyed me to no end. And that’s not even going into her obscenely long essays."
Hermione's eyes blazed and she quickly interrupted, "and he was a miserable sullen Professor with a penchant for deducting points from any house that wasn't Slytherin."
Austere and Eileen’s eyes widened a bit as Severus and Hermione's eyes locked, both furious for some strange reason. Soon the two of them were almost leaning over the table, snarling at each other and tossing back memories.
"She never shut up for a moment!"
"He never stopped sneering and glaring!"
"She snuck into my private storage."
"He made fun of my teeth!"
"WELL," Austere suddenly interrupted loudly as Severus and Hermione looked to him breathlessly. "I think some tea would be lovely. What say you all?"
* * *
"Well that was embarrassing tonight,” Austere said, as he and Hermione were in her room. "Honestly, getting into a screaming match over dinner? And then humiliating each other during tea?"
Hermione shrugged, quite angry that Austere was automatically taking Snape's side. She started to unzip her dress, quite ready to retire for the night. Snape had been completely unreasonable. Rude and condescending and trying to bait her even as they drank tea in the sitting room! Stuck with Severus Snape for two weeks and he was overly spiteful. She was really beginning to loathe him.
Austere looked to his young love and sighed, "I'm sorry darling. Thank you for putting up with Severus tonight. I know he can be quite beastly."
Hermione shrugged and pulled a nightdress from the dresser and began undressing.
"It was fine. Dinner was lovely."
Austere looked to his young future bride and frowned, "But?-"
Hermione looked exasperated, "but, I think it was horrible the way that Severus treated you and your Mother tonight."
"Hermione you don't know him like Mother and I do. Severus has always been this way. You'll come to accept it in time."
Hermione frowned, folding her newly doffed clothing, pulled on her nightdress and looked to Austere confused, "I don't want to accept it Austere. He's horrible to everyone."
Austere sighed heavily, loosening his tie and looking to Hermione tiredly. "Listen Hermione, he's not going to change for anyone, especially not for you."
He hadn't said this comment to hurt Hermione, it had been a way of saying that Snape simply wouldn't change, not for any newcomer in the Snape-clan, not for anyone. But he saw the hurt in Hermione's eyes and tried vainly to change the subject.
"Anyway I think we should set Severus up with Charlotte. Try to get him a bit more cheery," Austere said a stupid grin on his face as he gave her a look that read, well? Whadda ya think?
Hermione didn't know why but this idiotic suggestion pissed her right off. She supposed it was her jealousy of Charlotte's beauty, or the way that Severus had treated her this evening or even the way Austere had been gazing at Charlotte when he believed Hermione hadn't been watching.
"I think that would be a truly stupid idea Austere."
He looked to her darkly, his eyes brooding and suddenly Hermione saw him not as Austere, but as Snape's brother. "That doesn't really sound like you at all 'Mione. Normally this sort of thing would excite you, a project of sorts."
"Your brother's loneliness is not a project Austere," Hermione spat angrily, pulling on her nightclothes and disconcerted at how irritated she was all of a sudden. "And you'd be cruel to force Charlotte on him."
Austere was looking at her queerly, trying to place just what the hell had transpired in the last four hours. "Since when do you know anything about my brother? Or of Charlotte for that matter?"
Hermione sighed, how typical. Snape had made her schooling life hell and now he was here to do damage to her adult life. Great.
"I only know that your brother is a solitary man. And Charlotte, neither of us know anything about her."
Austere looked to Hermione angrily, not knowing why exactly but more for the fact that she was right. She crawled into the bed and looked to her fiancé exasperated. How could one family be so distant from one another?
Austere flicked off the light for her room and shutting the door behind him offered a solemn.
"Good night 'Mione."
* * *
Hermione had just settled down in the bed, still a bit angry at Austere for all his lack of tact this evening, and wondering why the hell Severus had been acting the way he was when she rolled over onto her back and looked to the ceiling.
Austere was on the opposite side of the manor and she contemplated sneaking out to go and see him. She frowned, dismissing the thought a moment later. If Eileen caught her- she didn't want to think about getting on her bad side as well as Severus'
Just as that thought flew into her mind, she heard a loud 'popping’ sound and suddenly the infamous hated brother Severus himself was standing in her room, muttering to himself in an embittered tone.
His back was to her in the dimly lit room, he looked rather exasperated from the way he began to fiddle with his cloak and finally dropped it on a nearby dresser. He was sighing and muttering to himself again, but Hermione's attention was transfixed as she realized he was unbuttoning his shirt.
Wait. He's unbuttoning his shirt! DO SOMETHING! THIS IS PROFESSOR SNAPE!
Her mind screamed at her to say something out loud. To stop him before it went too far and they were both embarrassed. But all she wanted to do was see what he looked like, and so she sat in the bed hidden in darkness and watched him.
When the buttons of his shirt had been undone he gently slipped it from his shoulders and onto the floor. Hermione silently gasped and took in the milky color of his skin, believing it would be smooth to the touch. His dark hair looked so dashing in contrast, and she found herself gazing at his form with lust.
Here he was, feared Potions Master half naked and really quite delicious. She felt her lower abdomen flipping as she observed that Austere most definitely wasn't this...delicate. That was the word for his smooth, porcelain skin. Delicate.
Suddenly she heard faint clinking and realized that he was fiddling with his belt to his trousers. Alarms began to go off in her head now. She pulled the blanket around her tighter and in a voice stronger than imagined she finally spoke.
In all her life, Hermione had never seen a man jump that high before. He jumped a good foot in pure shock before reeling around on his heels squinting in the dark room towards the direction of the voice, picking up, pulling on and doing his shirt up quickly.
"What the hell do you think you're doing in here?"
Hermione gaped at him, had he just barged into her room and asked what she was doing here? Was he drunk? He awaited her reply, his figure almost invisible in the room that matched his attire.
"Excuse me?" Hermione said angrily, "this happens to be my room."
She heard him shuffle a bit in the dark and suddenly the room was alight with a soft “lumos” He was there only a few feet from her, holding his wand up to view her. She squinted at the new light and pulled the blanket around her shoulders until she was sure she was covered respectfully. He caught a glimpse of her breasts under her nightshirt before she pulled the blanket around her. He felt a familiar tingling in his groin and sighed darkly. What the hell was she doing here?
Snape himself had left the two top buttons of his shirt undone. This alone was causing Hermione to become unnecessarily disconcerted and she tried to stop it. They hated each other quite openly. Snape was looking to Hermione crossly as he stood, arms overlapping and giving her a look that surely entailed death.
"Actually Miss Granger," he said darkly, "this happens to be my room."
Hermione frowned at this comment when she noticed as Snape's attention was drawn from her body to around the room and he shook his head. He looked utterly furious and completely helpless at the same time.
"Gryffindor colors, I should have known."
Suddenly rapt attention was drawn to the young girl in his bed. Hermione felt suddenly scared to death, looking to his dark eyes.
"You're not even her blood relation and she gives you my room," Snape spoke slowly, and to Hermione sounded like a spoiled little boy who didn't get his way. "Shows how much I'm appreciated around here."
He narrowed his eyes at Hermione, daring her to speak. Not one to back down from a challenge she obliged. Evidently Eileen had put Hermione into Snape's old room and his feelings were hurt. But that gave him no right to barge in on her in the middle of the night and get angry with her!
"It's not that you're not appreciated sir," she said respectfully, knowing full well that she could call him Severus if she wanted to- which she most certainly didn't. "You don't seem to appreciate anyone yourself. You're own Mother longs to be closer to you and you push her away. You're brother offers friendship and you dismiss it. Are you so in love with your own isolation that you don’t even want to try to connect with your family? That you won’t open yourself up to the possibility of being cared for? Loved?"
She saw his eyes harden with every true word spoken and she noticed his hands balled at the sides of him into tight fists, almost shaking with anger.
"Not that it’s any of your business, Granger, but I did care for someone. Even a monster like myself can love. Although unlike you I am not blinded by it."
Hermione gaped at his response because she certainly hadn't meant to insinuate that Snape never loved. He was a human being after all and she longed to say something, anything, that would ensure he understood that.
"I-" Hermione started, a loss for words for the first time in her life as he stood staring at her from the foot of the bed.
He seemed angrier than she had ever seen him and in a suddenly fluid motion he had waltzed over to her, grasped her arm under the blanket and dragged her from the bed. In complete shock she allowed herself to be dragged until she realized he was walking her to the door. She tried to cover herself and looked to him in shock, still disoriented from seeing her former Professor undress and not look half bad was causing her to be a bit slow.
"I won't have some know-it-all Gryffindor sleeping in my room. In my bed no less and accusing me of something she knows nothing about."
Hermione didn't know why that comment suddenly sealed the fact that she was being thrown out. You'd think him pushing her to the door would have been the obvious give away. She tried to pull from his tight grasp but he was proving to be much stronger than she ever gave him credit for.
"But, I've nowhere to sleep,” she offered weakly, rather dizzy at being pulled from her bed and shoved to the door of the warm room. Snape scoffed at this, opening the door and shoving her into the cold and dark hall gave her a sickening smirk.
"You seem to know everything Miss Granger," he said darkly, his eyes capturing her own, "so let’s see if your brilliant mind can find you a room to sleep in."
With that the large oaken door slammed in her face and Hermione suddenly understood why it was so easy for people to hate a man like Severus Snape. She was becoming one of them.
Chapter 5: Bringing Out the Worst In Her
Ouch,damn that stubborn prick.
Hermione rubbed her sore neck, sliding off of the large couch in the living room of the Snape home. She had been so tired and groggy last night that finding Austere proved to be near impossible. She had gone up several corridors and hadn’t even a glimpse of the room that he dwelt in. So she in tired desperation had stumbled across the living room and seen the couch was inviting as anything else. She’d woken up this morning with a pounding headache and a crick in her neck that pained her to touch.
Damn Severus Snape. Damn him to hell.
She stumbled clumsily to the table across the room and grasped her wand. Showing a large green light atop of her she was dressed and clean and the crick in her neck was diminished. She still wore the angry and contemptible scowl of moments before hand though.
A sudden chime flew around the room from the grandfather clock she had stumbled into in the dark the night before. She grimaced, covering her ears and mentally counting the chimes. Seven.Seven o’clock in on a bloody weekend morning. She did feel a flicker of hope at the notion that Ginny would be arriving soon. Perhaps her friend could save her from the abominations of one Severus Snape. She shook her head at that, even though they’d both graduated Ginny still feared and secretly loathed the Professor. Although if you asked Hermione it wasn’t all that much of a secret.
Standing and stretching angrily then, she shook off the morning chill and smoothed down her skirt and shirt. She took a deep intake of air that filled her lungs until her ribs stung, and then slowly released.
She bounded along the corridor she recognized all the way back to the room that she had been so gracelessly thrown out of only hours before. She eyed the oaken door contemplating her words. She always had a plan that was reliable and deliberate and usually effective. But when around Severus Snape all previously planned insults and scathing comments usually turned into loud ugly screaming matches.
The door flew open as if he had been expecting her. He was clad in a mere black robe, looking at her through tired eyes. When he realized it was she, he straightened up, looking down on her superciliously.
“What do you want?”
“So civilized Severus,” she said, taking the advantage of leaving formalities. She eyed him trying to make him uncomfortable, but to her dismay he seemed to be doing the same to her. She folded her arms and tapped her foot impatiently as he spoke.
“I take it you found your dear fiancé’s room?”
Hermione glowered, “for your information I did not. I got lost and had to spend the night on a horribly lumpy and uncomfortable sofa thank to you.”
She saw the beginnings of a smug smirk, the telltale bemused look on his face still shadowing over him. He leaned against the doorframe, something Hermione noticed he did a lot. She wondered if she ever noticed him doing that in school? No, he’d always been so rigid hadn’t he? Memories of Snape in school were quickly fading and she wondered why.
Why remember such unpleasantness?
Hermione agreed with her internal speech, looking to Severus with obvious anger. “Would it have been too much for you to have shared?”
Snape shrugged airily, “no, I suppose not.” There was a dramatic pause before he went on. “But you see Miss Granger, I didn’t feel that sharing a bed with you would have been appropriate since you are engaged to my younger brother, are you not?”
He let that sink in, seeing her dark eyes scan his own before her saw the narrowing of her own. “You know precisely as to what I was referring. I’m asking why you couldn’t have just gone to another bed? You know this place much better than I.”
Snape still smirked, raising an eyebrow, “I suppose I’m just a selfish, greasy git, overgrown bat.”
For some reason this comment seemed to familiar to Hermione that she tried to recall when she had called him that. But she couldn’t. Not even behind his back had she referred to him as that. She always had quite a bit of respect for him, even when he had terrorized her. She had been a good student, no detentions, always had work done, graduated top of her class. But then why was that jeer so familiar? A sense of de ja vu suddenly washed over her and she saw him look a bit uneasy.
Hermione scowled, “I suppose you are.”
Snape shrugged, waiting for her to make a point. She became flushed, not knowing why she had come to see him in the first place. Seemed almost pointless now that she stood there staring at him and searching for something to say.
“I don’t know why you hate me,” Hermione said darkly, her voice dropping, “but I wish you’d stop. In little over three weeks time I am to be your sister in law. We’re going to see a lot of each other whether you want to admit it or not.”
Snape frowned, “I barely see my brother as it is now. What makes you think your intrusion would be reason for me to rectify that accommodation solitude has presented to me?”
Hermione shrugged, “I suppose I thought that now that you’ve seen and spent a bit more time with your brother that perhaps you’d see more of him from now on. Perhaps become closer.”
Her eyes were downcast until he leaned closer, his warm breath against her forehead and she was suddenly entranced by the deep black of his glittering eyes. She tried to will herself to breathe but found it most impossible when she was this close to him.
“Is that what my brother wants?” Snape drawled silkily, a hand finding its way around her wrist and drawing her closer. She was an inch away from his lips and she felt her pulse quicken. “Or what you want?”
Hermione moved back a step, untangling her wrist and looking to him with furious anger and disbelief. “Just what are you getting at?”
Snape gave an aimless shrug, and suddenly his eyes were cold and black again. “Nothing Miss Granger. Nothing at all.”
Hermione scowled, looking to him warily and in genuine confusion. She thought Snape’s anger had always rested with Harry, but now as he spoke to her there was a cruelty in his tone. A harshness that she didn’t remember from before.
“I don’t remember you ever being this cruel to me in school. Why now of all times?”
Snape looked suddenly on edge then, as if something she had said had struck a nerve. He leaned closer to her once more peering and giving her an obviously malicious frown. A look that Hermione with all of her Gryffindor pride and courage refused to back down from.
“It would seem that there are many things you don’t remember Miss Granger.” He said her name harshly, his dark eyes flashing as his lips curled into a sneer. “Best keep it that way.”
Hermione was about to question what that cryptic comment meant when Austere suddenly strolled by, newspaper in hand and looking to his fiancée and brother in surprise and suspicion. Hermione gave him a weak smile as Severus glared at him from the doorway.
“’Mione, darling,” we said, walking over to his brother and her and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. He gave Snape an ambiguous look. “What are you doing in Hermione’s room?”
Snape rolled his eyes, looking at the moron in front of him. “Honestly Austere. She was in my room and I asked her to leave.”
“Asked me?” Hermione cried outraged, “you bloody well threw me out!”
“You took over my room you spoiled little-“
“Severus, Hermione,” Austere said, trying to break the screaming match that had erupted. Hone one and Severus stood, inches apart, noses almost touching while Hermione stood up on her tiptoes, her face going red.
“Took over your room? I was placed in this room! And trust me; there is nothing of interest in it for me. I would have gladly switched.”
“You little- You’ve probably been sneaking about in my private drawers and such. Once a thief always a thief.”
“I barely stole anything you git! If I did it was for the good of Hogwarts!”
“Oh yes, a polyjuice potion really defeated the Dark Lord, I must have forgotten.”
“My goodness you are an imbecile sometimes!” Hermione exclaimed.
“Oh very clever Miss Granger,” Snape bit back. “Just as brash and quick to anger as you were when you were a student.”
“THAT IS IT! I am NO LONGER YOUR STUDENT SEVERUS SNAPE! So stop treating me like one!”
With that Hermione swept from the echoing hallway, past the maids and butlers that gave her almost impressed looks.
“I apologize Severus,” Austere said grimly, looking to Snape as he glared after Hermione’s diminishing figure. “She’s got a bit of a temper, but you know that of course. You just seem to bring it out in her.”
Snape sighed and then drew his eyes to meet those of his bumbling brother. “Obviously,” he hissed.
“Severus,” Austere suddenly burst darkly, looking to his older brother with interest. “I’d appreciate it you would join me for drinks tonight around eight. In father’s old study.”
There was an awkward pause as Snape seemed to contemplate this and Austere spoke lowly, and air of secrecy about him.
“It’s about something rather important.”
Chapter 6: A Brilliant Plan, a Dirty Dream
She sat on the edge of a stool, writing something hurriedly in her scratchy handwriting with the quill brushing the air around it. She seemed quite intense about it, just as she always had been in school. She was in the Potions lab, she could see the cauldron simmering to her right and she seemed momentarily entranced by its bubbling rich, light amber color.
Her legs dangled down off the stool, her feet barely reaching the ground as her toes tapped against the stool to an unknown rhythm, the smell of ingredients from various potions encasing her. It was late, the lights from the large window missing and that familiar mid-evening chill settling into the cold lab.
It was then that the tall dark man out of the corner of her eyes came slowly over behind her, thinking he was almost unnoticed by her as she hurriedly scribbled down more notes onto the parchment. Her heart beat heavily as she feigned ignoring him, her lips curving into a hidden smirk.
A finger of his delicately made its way up her spine, as she suppressed a shiver. She regulated her voice, trying to show her competence. “I’m trying to work Professor.”
There was a low chuckle as he stood behind her. A shiver broke out, causing goosebumps to rise under the tapered fingers that made its way up to the back of her neck, stroking gently. He brushed the heavy mane of hair that curled down her back, and it fell over her shoulder, leaving her neck exposed to the cold air, pricking at it.
“It’s due tomorrow,” she offered weakly, feeling his frame pressed against her back, still slowly dropping his hand along her collar bone, tracing unknown words upon her as she felt her knees buckle.
“Perhaps it could wait,” sis murmured voice offered a statement, not a question. She didn’t answer though, only licked her lips and dipped her quill into the inkpot dragging it back over to her parchment and continuing. His breath still fell in soft waves over her bare neck and she tried to concentrate. If she didn’t finish her work now, it would only mean more work to be done later.
He leaned forward a bit, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and unbuttoning her blouse from behind her. Immediately at the contact her nipples pebbled and contracted painfully with every button that became undone. He kissed her collar slowly, gently and relished in the soft whimper that escaped her throat.
The opened blouse was then brought down over her shoulders and it lay in the crook of her arms. The air hitting her still clothed breasts and involuntarily raising her nipples further, she winced as they hit the rough fabric from her bra, aching for release. She didn’t see his eyes, but she knew they’d be gleaming and his mouth in a predatory smile.
His mouth slipped up the side of her neck, kissing gently as she tried to see over his dark head to her paper. It proved to be impossible and she gently let her quill slip from her fingers, leaving a large dark pool of ink over her parchment. She noticed this and sighed as she tried to get angry at him.
“Now I;ve got to start all over again,” she said darkly, wondering if he’dd continue. He chuckled lowly, and did.
He cupped her breasts in his hands, his thumbs brushing over the hard nipples through the cloth while she groaned lowly in appreciation of the contact, her head lolling back and resting on his shoulder. Watching him through slightly closed eyes, Hermione growled deeply in his throat, as he dropped the straps of her bra, lowering until her breasts were exposed to the classroom’s chilled air.
’t even a chance to see what they looked like in the dim light of the cold classroom, because as soon as they met the air, Snape
’s mouth was over one of them, sucking and tasting as she groaned delightedly while he played with the other, worrying it between his fingertips.
“Ohhh , oh God ,” she moaned, feeling as his hands and mouth continued expertly; leaving her shaking and never wanting him to stop. She whimpered as his hand and mouth finally did pull away, and he pulled up her bra over her shoulders, her blouse forgotten on the crook of her arm. Her head still lay on his shoulder, inhaling his hair and the scent of his skin.
“If your certain you have to continue with your work, Miss Granger,” he purred in her ear from behind her, nipping at her earlobe softly. His hands suddenly on her thigh, moving her skirt slowly up as her legs shuddered. Slowly his fingers moved their way to her panties, relishing in the heat that he encountered there. “Then I suppose I have no choice but to leave you to it. ”
He pulled back from her, his fingers stroking her gently a moment and pulling away as she moaned. He had to be joking. She looked to him in disbelief as he prepared to leave, already to the door. She stood, knocking the inkpot and parchment from her desk. They both landed on the floor, the inkpot smashing and causing him to turn.
“Miss Granger,” he said darkly, moving back to her playfully with a look that was obviously aroused but feigning anger. “You ’ve made quite the mess of my classroom, after I was kind enough to offer it to you to study in. That is quite unforgivable. ”
There was a small chuckle from her and he raised an eyebrow in question. “Not only have you interrupted me everytime I ’ve tried to work, Severus Snape,” she said, tossing her blouse to the floor, and beginning with her skirt, “but now, you intend to leave me in such a state of desire that you only you can fulfill. That, my dear Professor, is unforgivable. ”
She slid herself onto the table, her ankles overlapping as she swung her legs back and forth over the side casually. She looked to him as she undid her skirts last latch and it fell open to reveal white cotton panties. She watched parted her legs ever so slightly and gave him an inviting smirk before crossing them primly once more.
He walked slowly over, making his way to the desk where a very alluring creature sat atop of it, giving off more sexual energy that he had ever encountered. Quickly he was in front of her and uncrossing her legs with his slender hands, his eyes locked with hers and never leaving. He parted her legs generously as she blushed and he walked in between them, grasping her bare shoulders under his arms and kissing her reverently on her aching lips.
Moments later she pulled away, giving him an haughty look. “Honestly Severus, we should stop. I really have to finish this paper for Charms!”
“I’ll write it for you,” he muttered, his hands travelling over her enticing body, enjoying every sigh she emitted with his caresses. He kissed her lips again, his tongue sliding into the mouth he had kissed so many times before but always managed to set him alight.
“No,” she said, breaking from the passionate gesture, and crossing her arms. “That would be cheating. And very un-Gryffindor. ”
“I prefer to think in a much more Slytherin manner,” he murmured into her hair, kissing her neck then and moving slowly downward. “It’s much more fun.”
Again she broke away from his lips, pushing him slightly but he couldn’t help but notice that all her opposition seemed to be leaving her.
“I really must be leaving Professor,” she said, unconvincingly. She prepared to move off of the desk when she felt his strong grip around her shoulders, looking to her and pushing her back onto the desk.
She felt the hardened bulge of his trousers rubbing against the entrance of her damp panties and she moaned softly; loving every encounter she had with him. He leaned over and spoke into her ear darkly, his mere tone and timber of voice sending sparks off inside of her.
“You Miss Granger, are not going anywhere.”
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” Hermione awoke from her daytime nap, gasping and looking around the room in horror. “What the hell was that?”
Had she just been having a sex dream with Severus Snape as the object of fantasy? Him of all people? She bloody well hated him! HATED. She was supposed to be having sex dreams about her fiancé Austere! Not his ruddy git of a brother!
“What’s wrong with me?” she moaned, grasping her head in her hands as she sighed heavily, her head whirling and her mouth tasting dry and cotton-like. She had laid down perhaps an hour ago in hopes that she could gain back some of the sleep she had lost on that horrible sofa the night before.
She had been moved from “Snape’ s room” into the one directly across the hall earlier that day. The maids claimed that the empty rooms in the other wing had already been prepared for Harry, Ron and Ginny’s visit, along with several Snape relatives coming in later for the wedding reception and so forth.
Her clothes had been sent in, and she detected that they faintly smelled of Snape’s cologne. Did he wear cologne? Or that was just that smell from his various experiments? Whatever it was it was delicious, and distracting. She had ordered them to be washed at once.
The room she was in was just as splendid as Snape’s, perhaps even more so. Hermione hadn’t minded moving, only minding her nearby neighbor. Not that she believed she’d be seeing much of him anyway. She suspected that Snape took the other room from her for her mere torment and worry that she may come across something in that room that he might hold dear. Or, her mind offered, He may just be hiding something.
This did seem feasible, but now she was feeling most uncomfortable. Sticky from sweat and a strange tingling in her stomach. That dream about Severus had been most impromptu and almost familiar, as if she recalled it. Not that she did obviously, she barely spoke to the man during classes and the odd occasion she had run into him outside of school. That was, not counting when he mocked her teeth or her ‘relationship’ with Harry.
She stood shakily, making her way into the bathroom and looking at her flushed complexion. She turned on the brass sink, dipping her finger under the tap until it was cold enough to be considered freezing.
“At least Harry, Ron and Ginny are coming tonight,” She muttered to herself, splashing the cold water on her face and shivering as some of the droplets landed on her chest and slid down her sternum, sending back memories of the dream.
What a dream.
She dressed, brushed her teeth and made her way into the hall just as a Severus shut his own door behind him. He looked to her in momentary surprise and then set his features again harsh and unrelenting.
She flushed, recalling the dream. God, how could she even look at him every again?
They stood in silence, arms crossed and shooting grimaces and glares at one another before he spoke, not wanting to stand alone with her any longer she supposed. His voice was low and deliberate; he always gave such thought to his words whether they be long or short. She could still recall the first speech he gave from her first year, that memory of him was quite clear.
“I’m to have drinks with Austere later this evening,” he finally said with a dark frown, “He said it is to discuss something most urgent. Have you any idea what that may be?”
He looked to her inquiring, almost trying to read her eyes. She shot him a look of complete ambiguity, how should she know?
“No, I don’t,” she answered as she noticed his almost crestfallen look. She narrowed her eyes on him, a look she knew was much too Snape-like to be her own creation. “Do you know why?”
He looked somberly to her, “no. But I wondered if perhaps…”
“Perhaps there was additional news you wished to share,” Snape said with a sour look on his face. It took Hermione a full moment to register what he was suggesting.
“What? No!” Hermione insisted, trying not to sound too horrified. But imagine her a mother! “No, no I can assure you that a baby is not the case.”
Snape didn’t respond to that, as he was now quite rudely staring at her, that penetrating gaze of his never giving her a minutes reprieve. It was maddening. She felt her face beginning to flush as she recalled the heated dream. And she wondered if Snape was trying to read her mind as he had with Harry. But then she realized that she would have noticed.
Honestly Hermione, grow up.
“You had a pleasant nap I take it?”
“It was fine,” she faltered, trying not to look at him as she spoke and his dark eyes glittered malevolently. She thought she saw a small smirk starting on his lips. What an odd question. She was about to question him on it and that strange comment from yesterday when there was a soft voice from her right and she suppressed a groan.
“Hello Miss Granger, Master Snape.”
Charlotte stood, clad in her maid uniform and shooting Snape small flirtatious glances from behind impossibly thick lashes. Hermione rolled her eyes, looking to Severus whom she expected to be giving Charlotte quite interested glances. To her surprise he wasn’t, he was still staring at her openly.
“Master and Mistress Potter and Master Weasley are here,” Charlotte said, her voice tinkling and making Hermione feel quite awkward. Charlotte had a beautiful speaking voice, and Hermione often found her own to be a bit screechy at times. Charlotte was delicate, taller and willowy than Hermione. Hermione was shorter, plumper and was constantly speaking, questioning, she knew Austere hated it when she did.
“Thank you Charlotte,” Hermione said, trying to make her voice a bit softer. Snape looked to her in surprise when she did so, noticing the hitch in her voice. “I’ll be right down.”
Charlotte nodded, giving Hermione a respectful smile and shooting an oblivious Snape a look that meant only one thing. When Charlotte had gone on those impossible long legs of hers, Hermione turned back to Snape and sighed, brushing her hair behind her shoulders. Now that Charlotte had left she felt a bit more confident. And knowing that her friends had arrived made her feel less scared about dinners with Snape.
“I suppose I’ll see you at dinner then,” Hermione offered. “I hope drinks with Austere go well.”
Snape didn’t answer, only stared after her as she continued walking down the hall briskly and coldly. Then she stopped, whirling around to see him still leaning against his doorframe with a raised eyebrow. She walked over to him again, her hand wringing nervously together as she did so.
“Professor?” She frowned at her cowardice and his strange formality that hindered her to call him by his first name. “I don’t know what I’ve done to offend you in the past. I just wish to move beyond this unpleasantness. I care for Austere deeply, and if there’s anything terribly wrong with him you’ll tell me won’t you?”
He didn’t answer, his eyes only narrowing as she spoke. With every word she spoke he seemed to get angrier and angrier. His hands had now turned into clenched fists at his sides, and she only assume his teeth were clenched as well. He still didn’t answer her; opting now to open his door walk in and slam it in her face.
She sighed and walked on, ignoring the unsettling feeling in her abdomen. The man was bizarre. She just couldn’t understand him. What was wrong with him? Why did he want her out of his room so quickly? She just couldn’t understand him at all.
She was halfway to the hall when it suddenly clicked. Obviously there was something in Snape’s room that he didn’t want her to see. That was why he had so rudely ushered her out without a valid explanation. But what could it be? Her curiosity was rushing around her, sending her almost toppling down the stairs that led to the hall where she could see Harry, Ron and Ginny excitedly talking back and forth.
A smile came about her face, not only from her friend’s arrival, but the fact that she would soon have Severus Snape being civil to her on a regular basis.
Drinks with Austere would prove to be most convenient and in that time she would plunder Severus’ room, search it, clean it again and be back to spend time with her friends before the night was out. The only hurdle was to not get caught.
What could go wrong?
Chapter 7: A Little Talk
There was a pregnant pause as with his intense glittering eyes Severus surveyed the dark wine in his brother’s outstretched hand; the rich color quite entrancing in the dim light of the fireplace a few feet away.
Severus Snape’s languid voice had the gift of either having undeniably ambiguous tone of boredom or contempt for everyone except himself. Right now he was exhibiting a bit from both categories as he slunk around the study, his eyes peering into the bookshelves cramming to the brim with novels ranging along all subjects.
"That will be adequate."
His words were crisp, sotto voce and poignant. Nothing else need be spoken as his younger brother poured the wine into the glass, occasionally looking to old older brother with keen introspect and interest. Severus had always been the dark and misunderstood one in the Snape family, the black sheep as it were. While Austere himself had been going off to a prestigious Medical school in London, Severus had been in cahoots with one of the most powerful dark wizards of all time.
Severus didn’t like the idea of being in their fathers’ study; it felt wrong. He had no delusions that the elder Snape ever held his elder son in any regard other than an annoying burden. He was sure his mother saw him as a disappointment and who could blame her? Severus had gone off after being handed a paid education and joined the dark army leaving his mother to pick up the pieces. It hadn’t mattered that he came back because by that time he had been replaced with Austere. Their perfect little Austere.
It culminated the final night of Severus’ departure to join the dark lords army he had left a short note quite to the point and openly claiming that his father had been the very source of his inner torment. He recounted arguments between his parents that he had been the frequent surveyor of. He told of the feeling of abandonment and the fear when his father’s violence turned to him. And that was all his parents had left of him; a single scrap of parchment with Severus’ cramped writing that his father so often ridiculed.
Now Austere broke him of his unlawful nostalgia which he eagerly took part in dismissing. The study smelled of old books now, he assumed his dear mother hadn’t gone to the trouble of cleaning it herself. Too much work for her aching back that she so often complained of, he mused bitterly taking a small sip of the drink and savoring it slowly.
"So Severus," Austere said jovially, taking a large gulp from his own glass and motioning to the dress robe that Severus still wore even though it was a casual setting. "Still wearing those goofy dresses are you? Why don’t you buy some nice, complimentary clothing. I could order you some of my favorite splendid suits, a John Phillips."
Severus didn’t bother lowering himself to answer that ham-fisted segue into a conversation; they were both above polite conversation. He wanted to know why the hell he was down here in the first place and why Austere looked so jumpy.
"Why did you call for my attendance to this?" he threw his fingers around the room for emphasis, "unscheduled and obviously unneeded little meeting?"
Austere was a man that on any other occasion would have told the bugger in front of him to stop acting so high and mighty and listening to what he had to say. But this wasn’t just any bugger, this was Severus.
“I was thinking Severus,” Austere said with an earnest look, leaning against the fireplace. “It’s about Charlotte.”
Snape grimaced; the horrid little tart had been skulking after him all day. If she wasn’t topping off his drink every five minutes, she was leaning over to tell him dinner was ready, or that he was needed somewhere. And then she’d accompany him down to the destination, chatting his ear off and further proving her ignorance. He’d been snappy with her each time trying his best to ignore her at every opportunity, but nothing unnerved her. And so he would lapse into annoyed silence, all the time wishing she’d just shut up. He’d gone to finding certain passages in manor, hiding behind a certain sculpture if he saw her heading his way.
It had been earlier that afternoon that he’d seen Charlotte out in the open with nowhere to hide. He saw her unrelenting smile from across the hall as he tried to leave without making a large ordeal, but it was futile. He’d already passed his door to his rooms and all other doors were ahead of him and so it would be inevitable to pass her.
Oh for the love of-, he had scowled irritably, folding his arms over his chest hoping she got the message. She of course didn’t. Her honey blonde hair bounced as she cheerily made her way towards him, waving slightly and grinning. Just go away you stupid lit-.
“How strange to see you up and about Professor,” a small voice had said from behind him. “I thought vampires usually slept during the day.”
Snape groaned internally and looked to the pompous, smirking little twit at his side, a book in her hands, looking to him with utter delight in her eyes. He gave her a curt nod out of courtesy, Charlotte still coming at them full throttle.
“Blast,” he muttered darkly, as Hermione followed his eyesight, grinning mischievously as she surveyed her old Professor, he looked almost nervous.
“What’s the matter?” Hermione had muttered looking to him intensely, trying not to laugh as Charlotte bounded down the hall, glaring slightly at Hermione. “You don’t fancy pretty girls?”
“Not ones that think Einstein really should have done something about his hair,” He mimicked, rolling his eyes as Hermione smirked and then let out a small laugh in surprise at the joke, which she immediately regretted for now he had the upper hand.
They were standing quite close, so much in fact that he could make out the almost unnoticeable sprinkle of freckles on her cheeks. He could see the way her lips slightly curled down in the corners. The natural deep pink of her lips. She had noticed his gaze and finally drawing her eyes to look at him she spoke softly, a bit envious. “So you do find her pretty then?”
There was an awkward pause as Hermione’s face had flushed a bit as Snape had raised a questioning eyebrow. “I mean because perhaps I should set her and Ron up. He likes his pretty girls you know.”
Snape had spoken slowly, deliberately trying to make his words masterful; it worked for her had Hermione’s full attention.
“There is something much more attractive about a woman with a good mind, Miss Granger which far outweighs fading beauty.”
Hermione had nodded; seemingly embarrassed from what he had just said and he could see the look of confusion that passed her face. He looked to where Hermione viewed Charlotte, and seeing the glare Charlotte shot at the brunette across from him he had turned to face Hermione so that Charlotte couldn’t bother him. Snape decided the only way she’d leave them was if he appeared to be engrossed in a conversation with Hermione. Easier said than done, she was already preparing off down the hallway looking puzzled.
“I heard the Potter clan and Mr. Weasley arrive.”
Hermione turned slightly, walking over to him and surveying his stance. “Yes. What of them?”
“Nothing much,” he already looked exasperated and he hadn’t even seen them yet. “I’m only warning you in advance to keep them out of my sight.”
Hermione was closer, and Snape was overjoyed. With every step Hermione took closer Charlotte seemed to back away. He smiled inwardly, noting the dynamic.
Yes go on, get furious with me. Just don
’t leave me here alone with that
“I don ’t know if you ’re aware of this, Professor,” She drawled angrily, pushing back the hair that fell rather undignified into her eyes, “but I am not your little servant to do your bidding. There my friends and I demand that you show them some respect. ”
“When they earn it they will receive it. ”
How much more could they do to earn it?! They’d defeated Voldemort for goodness’ sake! But no, no matter what Harry did or sacrificed he would always be the annoying thorn in Snape’s side. The continual reminder that Lily Potter had turned him down, and the knowledge of this made Hermione’s blood boil.
“You bloody pompous-“ Hermione trailed off, looking furious before breathing slowly through her nose before speaking. “I’m to meet them in the hall in a few minutes. They’ve probably finished unpacking by now.”
Snape had shrugged, seeing that Charlotte was now gone from the hallway. Good riddance. He was about to tell Hermione in a firm tone to keep them out of his hair when she beat him to it.
“If you don’t want to see them then don’t come out of your room for three weeks.”
‘”What are you thinking about Severus?”
Snape’s attention was suddenly cut back to the confused face of Austere, shining with nervous sweat. He was blinking and Snape felt a foggy sort of daze as he tried to recall what he had been speaking to Austere about? Ah yes, the mad woman.
“Why do you bring up Charlotte?”
“Well,” Austere rubbed his hands together absently, “I was thinking it would be quite a nice thing to set you two up. She’s very keen on you, you know.”
“I wasn’t aware,” he lied darkly, sipping his drink and placing the empty glass on the table next to him.
“Are you blind?” Austere said chuckling, “she’s mad about you.”
Snape was staring at him, brooding with an utterly disenchanted look on his face.
“Isn’t it a little strange to be mixing about with the help, Austere?”
Austere laughed nervously shrugging his shoulders airily. “I don’t see why Severus. You’d be a fine match. She’s only working here a bit, for the wedding and all, you could see each other after if it’s such a trying ordeal.”
Snape turned slowly, his height suddenly much more imminent now that Austere was sitting. His eyes were glittering, and every word spoken was clear and penetrating.
“Actually Austere, I was referring to you.”
* * *
"My my my," Hermione whistled lowly to herself as she walked into the room that had been so callously taken from her nights before. She looked the impressive suite that she had once been a the guest of and felt a bit insulted at the readily torn down wallpaper, replaced with a forest green and black trim.
Hermione had slipped into Severus’ room as soon as she saw him leave it. Ginny, Harry and Ron had been quite tired from a day of travelling and had eagerly attested that a good nights’ sleep was in order for them to be in top shape for helping with the wedding plans.
“Wedding plans,” she told herself darkly, as she got used to the dim light. “That’s what I should be working on the placements of guests, flowers, bridesmaid fittings, not this moronic escapade into the dark underbelly of my soon to be brother-in-law’s most private lairs.”
At the thought of brother in law, Hermione couldn’t help but wince a bit. It seemed almost foreign to think that in a few short weeks she would have the last name of her archenemy and perhaps see him on social occasions with her husband.
It hadn’t been hard to get into the room; Severus had put on a ward that Hermione found all to simple to break. Her mouth and voice had automatically formed “Hobson’s choice” and her wand flicked so knowingly as if she had done it for years. She had been pensive about waltzing into his quarters, thinking perhaps that this was a step too far.
At that moment of indecision though Hermione had heard the clicking of Charlotte’s heels coming around the corner and scurried inside with a tremor in her heart, shutting the large door behind her and nodding as she heard the expected click as it locked automatically and Charlotte’s heels passed safely by.
It was then that Hermione surveyed the room of her former Professor as she made her way delicately over to his closet.
If I was to hide anything of importance, it would be in a closet, she thought resolutely going into the large closet and surveying the various cloaks and trying to ignore the fact that it smelled all too tantalizing in there. She had dug around in the corners and above on the wooden shelf above the cloaks. Nothing.
To her grim dismay all she had come across in her venture were dust bunnies and a rather large spider that she had pushed off her arm and rushed away from across the room. After many moments of searching the closet and coming up with nothing Hermione stepped out from the closet with a disappointed look on her face.
The man is a shrewd calculator who likes his privacy, it was stupid to think he’d hide anything of value in here.
She was already halfway to the door when fate decided to give a hand and she suddenly saw the spider again, creeping menacingly towards her. She didn’t like spiders any more than Ron had, and she had felt her heart beating like a jackhammer as she gasped shrilly before stumbling back and tripping over a hidden footstool. She felt to the floor with a great lumber and ‘whoomph’ as her body hit the plush carpeting.
This is what comes of sneaking into the quarters of a mad man, she thought to grimly to herself, rubbing her temples as she looked dizzily as something just out of her view caught her eye. She squinted, rolling on her stomach, the spider forgotten.
Snape’s bed had obviously been haphazardly made. She supposed he had ordered Charlotte never to come into his room to clean. That however wasn’t what had her attention; what did was the large book squished in-between the two mattresses of his large king sized bed.
She slid over to it, crawling until she reached the bed, kneeling and taking the large book from its holdings. It was black and weathered and as she pulled it out she noticed it was quite heavy and large. Her pulse sped up with the finding and she smiled to herself in silent victory.
Hmmm, perhaps a journal?
She set the large volume down before her on the ground, deciding she’d just skim it for evidently this was a book he had had strong affection for. He’d surely notice if it went missing, even overnight. So she would read just a bit, perhaps night by night. She just need a distraction.
She had just flipped it over to face its title when she stifled a small stutter of surprise, pressing her hand over her trembling lips while her dark eyes gazed at the cover over and over.
Engraved rather delicately upon its delicate cover were four simple initials.
S.S. & H.G.
* * *
There was silence, then a nervous laugh from Austere as he gaped openly at Severus, his jaw slack before he blinked and turned a light shade of pink. “Just what are you playing at, Severus?”
“Oh nothing,” Snape said patronizingly, shrugging his lean shoulders with ease. “Ignorance is bliss as the muggles always say.”
Austere stood angrily, trying to stop the bubbling anger that seemed so ready to erupt at the surface. “Obviously you haven’t changed. Still suspicious, still a loner that nobody can stand. Do you never grow weary of being wrong and hated all the time?”
Snape didn’t answer, he looked at his brother levelly until the man was now slinking back into the chair, never taking his eyes off that of an obviously riled up ex DeathEater.
“Tell me why you really dragged me down here.”
Austere was nervous, anyone could see the shifty eyes that looked everywhere but the older man’s face, the fingers that incessantly drummed upon the side of the chair in which he currently dwelled. But his voice did not show it.
“It’s about the family fortune.”
Severus sighed wearily, looking skyward and frowning slightly. Of course, how could he had assumed it would be anything but the family fortune? “And how does this concern me?”
“You know exactly how it concerns you.”
Snape smirked slightly, giving his brother a haughty look of utter and total power. So dear brother, this is what your true intentions are. He may have cared for Hermione deeply, but love always has a price doesn’t it?
“I believe,” Severus drawled, enjoying his brother squirm about in his chair, “Its something along the lines of; Both Snape men are both to be bound to marriage and must produce one male heir before the Snape trust is passed down to both. If neither man marries the money shall go to some Muggle foundation Father was so fond of; British Red Cross was it?”
“And?” Austere said impatiently tapping his foot. Snape frowned at his childish behavior and sneered for he knew what was coming. Austere knew the contract just as well as anyone, they’d both been sent a copy when their father had passed, leaving behind a fortune that he’d inherited from his own father.
He’d assumed that it was a cruel joke from their father who had been convinced he’d been slipped a lust potion to be married to Eileen as long as he had been. A final job at them, being stuck in loveless marriages for the hope of fortune. Severus had merely thrown the letter in the fire, knowing exactly what his father had been hinting at. He spoke slowly, making sure Austere heard every crushing word
“If only one brother marries the contract is void and all money shall be given to charity.”
Austere groaned, looking to Snape through anguish filled eyes. His lean hands were balled fists and he pounded the sides of the chair sporadically.
“Why would Father do this?” Austere moaned, cupping his face in his hands. “I knew he didn’t care for you much, but me? The long talks I had with him, the common bond we shared. Why would he sentence me to this?”
Snape shrugged, ignoring the blatant insults shot at him. “He believed that marriage would make real men out of us. Produce heirs. That’s all he cared about; passing the Snape name down no matter what the cost.”
“Pompous prat,” Austere sneered into his cup. “Didn’t he understand you’d never marry?” Austere cried out to no one in particular, “Didn’t he care about my welfare at all?”
Severus again ignored the verbal slaps, instead a more pressing matter at hand. He peered at his distraught brother in confusion, “But why do you even need the money? Evidently you’re making strides in your research using magic and medicine,” he gave a disapproving look to Austere. “Why the urgency?”
Austere shrugged aimlessly, looking a bit peaked. “ I need more funding for research. Anyway, its none of your affair why I need it. Perhaps I want to buy Hermione and I a nice home instead of the flat we’re in now. London is an expensive place. I mean eventually we’re going to have children.”
Snape was almost to the door before Austere heard the words spoken from him. Austere rose from his seat in sudden misguided anger and confusion. “Where the hell are you going? This isn’t finished.”
Snape sighed at the door, shaking his head. “Yes it is.”
“Before you go,” Austere said looking after his brother who was already twisting the doorknob. “I have a rather pressing matter I need to discuss with you for just a moment. I won’t keep you long.”
Severus groaned lowly, twirling roughly around as his cloak swirled at his feet. This was so typical of the little wanker. Everything had to be on his terms and he was really beginning to remember why it was so easy to leave home.
“And what could that possibly be about?”
There was a sour expression on Austere’s face now, no longer the pensive worry that had been there before. He spoke in dark tones, full of intensity, as his eyes seemed to cloud.
“Actually, it’s about you and Hermione.”
Chapter 8: Oh Bugger
Her blood was ice and her eyes widened in terror. Hermione had read somewhere that people's differing facial expressions were actually made for a useful purpose. At this instant the widened eyes were used to view the entire book and her surroundings as her blood rushed in her ears.
S.S. & H.G.
There were only two people with those initials that came to her mind and Hermione didn't need to double check.
How will I ever explain this to Austere? Why does Snape have this book? Why is everything getting buggered up? WHY WHY WHY?????
She growled softly to herself, looking over her shoulder in habit to make sure she was safe from scrutiny from an outside party. Then, grasping the boot clumsily she streaked into the closet she had searched before.
She snuck into the closet; pushing back the Severus scented cloaks and burrowed into the corner, shining her wand with a small ‘lumos’ above the large and not very dusty tome on her lap. Surely the initials were coincidence? The book was unnaturally heavy she realized then. She was very uncomfortable crouched in the closet but she was determined to unveil Snape’s weird little secret.
You, Severus Snape will be shown no mercy, she smirked devilishly, You won’t ruin my wedding you overgrown bat.
She looked to the cover of the dark book again; it had black binding and the most interesting Serpent design on the cover. She wondered why she never saw Snape with it during school. Then she recalled the initials and rolled her eyes at her own stupidity. Why would he be carrying around a book with their initials? The initials are probably something completely irrelevant. But it wouldn’t do well to have a personal book with the coincidental initials of a certain know-it-all student.
My, what a horrible coincidence, she could practically hear the Slytherins jeering her now.
She opened the creaking book, detecting a familiar smell. Strange, she knew it but couldn’t seem to place it. She squinted in the dim light of the wand and looked at the first page in curious interest. She scanned the small dedication a moment and shut the book again, her heart pounding as she stifled a gasp.
No. I read it wrong. It didn’t say that. It couldn’t have.
Trepidation of fear encased her as she slowly peered back inside the book as if something was to jump out at her and kill her. Slowly she flipped back to that first page, the page in which Snape in his own scratchy handwriting had written something quite intimate in nature.
To Severus Snape,
All my love.
* * *
“What of myself and Miss Granger?”
Austere gave a small, dejected sort of shrug, retiring to his seat once more and pouring another glass of Merlot. He paused and expressively looked to the still standing Severus. “Severus, are we that far gone? Can we never be friends?”
Snape rolled his eyes, “Enough saccharine sentiment,” he felt himself actually growing pensive, why was Austere being so cryptic? Something was definitely amiss between his brother and Hermione and he wanted no part in it. Best get things over with so he could retire to his room. “What of Miss Granger and I, Austere?”
Austere gave another mighty sigh and gulp of wine before looked to Severus with almost a pout. “Hermione says that it was mighty stupid of me to even suggest setting you up with Charlotte.”
Now that was not expected. If anything Severus had assumed Hermione would be shoving the tart into his face constantly if it meant he’d be away from her and her precious friends. Yet, she’d actually come to his defense. What was the world coming to?
“I see,” Snape held in a small smile. Well done Miss Granger. Austere sat patiently looking to his older brother.
“Well? Aren’t you going to explain your cryptic little speech about Charlotte and I?”
Snape leaned over his baby brother, a deep look of intensity in his dark eyes. Every movement he made was fluid and surreal, as Snape seemed to read Austere’s unwilling mind. But he was not un-used to Snape’s legilimens and easily brought up his own occlumency, clouding his mind and causing Snape to retreat. Finally Austere heard his silken voice creep into his own ears and fell under its spell.
“Even if you haven’t done anything with Charloette, Austere,” Snape murmured, “you’ve thought about it. And you’d better stop. She;s a sweet girl, and very much attached to you.”
Austere scoffed openly, breaking the spell that Snape had over him. “I don’t know what you’re on about Severus,” he sipped from his wineglass again as Snape backed up, heading off. Austere whipped around looking suddenly bleary eyed. “You know what else?”
Snape turned at his brother’s inquiry, his hair whipping into his face and making him seem even more distant. Austere didn’t care; he was a man that cared very deeply of what affected him. Everyone else came second to what he needed. “She even went so far as to exclaim that she knew you better than I. Me, your own brother!”
Snape looked to Austere with a malicious expression of disdain. This pompous little prick knew nothing of him. A person on the street would have a better and more accurate opinion of Severus Snape if they ever ran into him. Austere was a twit who cared only for himself and his own interests.
He walked darkly to the door, hearing as his brother squirmed in his seat waiting an answer, or just watching him leave. Snape looked over his shoulder at his brother one final time before speaking dimly, his gruff words cutting into the silent study.
“That’s because she does Austere.”
* * *
All my love? What the holy hell?
She wondered briefly if someone had made a Polyjuice Potion and taken her body down Mt. Snape and set up camp. No, surely she would have noticed another bushy haired girl rushing about to Snape’s chambers. And Snape,well, he would have let things slip up somehow. An inappropriate caress, a small smile. Everything that was anti-Professor Snape.
Sure there was tension, but she doubted it was due to some student prank. This was even her handwriting! Hmmmmmm. All my love? That was the strangest thing she’d ever seen. It was if she’d lead a double life. It struck her, an ice cold grip around her heart.
Oh God, what if I’ve got a split personality and I just don’t know it? One side of me is in love with Snape and the other side is in love with Austere? Oh no, this is too horrible, but I think Austere or Snape would have noticed if I did have a split personality, right?
She absently turned the page as she thought this inner monologue in her head, going over all possible scenarios. Suddenly light from the pages below entranced her and drew her eyes downward.
There were silver swirling squares, about four boxes on each large, thick page. Their strange beauty captivated her, they were breathtaking. They were boxes spread out over a page of the book, She squinted, trying to see into the light that shone from the page. She saw the little swirls contained something inside of them...words.
She squinted further, trying desperately to read the phantom script that swirled lazily around the small squares on the page, the light reflecting in her dark brown eyes. The words were thin, cramped and white in the silvery pool, and in turn a bit hard to read. Looking into the first box she deciphered that the word contained in that specific one was...
She sighed darkly; of all the bloody languages! The words were in Greek. Greek of all languages! A language even she hadn't bothered trying to learn during her time as a student and scholar and she was a bright woman! The real question was why would Severus Snape of all people have a book dedicated to herself and him? It made no sense. He hated her through school, she barely interacted with him outside her time with Harry and classes. She couldn’t even stand the man.
Perhaps this was confusion, perhaps some strange and elaborate prank. He knew that she was curious by nature. Perhaps he’d set this all up knowing that’d she’d come in here completely intrigued. The prick. No, something about all of this rung too strange to be a prank. The inscription, the dedication, the insignia on the cover, the swirling boxes. She longed to touch one but feared the repercussions.
What the hell did the words mean anyway? How would she ever figure that one out? The anger seemed to fade a bit as she found herself being pulled to the boxes that beckoned to her. They begged to be touched and she too was seduced by their muted calls.
She was about to tentatively lowered her index finger into the swirling mass of silver when she heard the door to Snape’s room unlock and open, and the man himself strode into the room.
Chapter 9: Reaching Out
"Are you even listening Harry?" Ginny asked as she lay in bed with her husband, looking to him intensely as she rolled over to face him. His brilliant green eyes fell upon her, and in them she saw the boy she had fallen in love with so many years ago.
"Yeah, I'm listening."
"Good," she snuggled against him under the warm blankets in their large four poster bed. It's exactness to detail, its roaring fire and rug in front of it had enticed them to no end earlier. Empty wine glasses had been set precariously on the floor as they had made their way shakily to the bed.
Now hours later they were still awake with the final crackling of a fire soon to be dimming. Ginny wrapped a comforting arm around Harry and kissed his cheek gently. "I want to know what you think of Hermione and Snape."
Harry stroked his wife's hair gently, shrugging airily. "They seem to hate each other don't they?"
"Very much indeed," Ginny paused looking contemplative. Harry was entranced by the way the firelight made her red hair shine with golden threads of highlights throughout. The result was almost hypnotizing. "Tonight at dinner was awful."
Harry could only nod.
Dinner had been awful, all on account of the horrible mistake of Hermione and Snape being seated next to each other at dinner. It was a most unfortunate coincidence because both looked ready to scream at the other at any given moment.
Hermione had informed Ginny earlier to be wary of the hook-nosed git, that he was in a foul mood as usual and would look for any reason to take it out on any ex Gryffindors. Ginny and Harry had been seated across from them both looking dreamily to one another as Hermione and Snape grimaced in unison.
"Seems marriage is a popular 'thing' this year," Snape had said offside, stabbing his salad viciously. Charlotte had stopped by to top of his wine and he hadn't even looked in her direction.
Austere had laughed, looking to his brother with wary humor at the comment. Seveus had had been rude all night, and he had reached the final conclusion that all Austere could do was laugh at his brother's abstinent lack of tact.
Eileen had been sitting near the end of the large table, looking at her guests with a merry twinkle in her eyes. She loved company, loved being the hostess. Sadly, her time doing that had been limited and was now being ruined by Severus’ sour mood. Ron himself sat in between Austere and Eileen, chewing thoughtfully and glancing at Snape and Hermione warily on occasion. Hermione sat in between Austere and Severus and in all honestly it was quite unnerving.
"Well, I wouldn't call it a 'thing'," Harry had said with polite defense as he saw his wife's face fall beside him. Ginny was petrified of Snape, and his cruel tendencies were doing nothing to persuade her to think otherwise. "We were very much in love and decided that marriage was the next step."
There was a snort as they all glanced surreptitiously to Severus. He chewed the salad thoughtfully a moment, gulped it loudly and spoke once more with disdain, placing his fork on his plate.
"So let me get this straight," he had locked eyes with Harry and Ginny as he spoke, "you two meet, hormones are on full blast, fit of all lust, desire and more. I'm sure you two know enough about it-"
Harry and Ginny blushed madly, trying to think of something witty and cutting to say, but it was too late as Snape appeared to be on a tirade.
"-So you stay together what was it, a year? And you decide to walk down the aisle because you claim it’s the inevitable 'next step'. You barely know each other, yet you assume your lust is love. You don't even give consideration to the fact that you two happen to be thrown together because of horrible coincidences which you probably sum up is 'fate'. You don't even try to see that being with someone long enough will cause certain emotions to be misconstrued with love. No, you two fall into bed call it love and get 'hitched'. How romantic," the last word was said with sneering sarcasm.
Harry and Ginny looked to him in shock whilst Hermione looked beyond angry. Eileen herself looked ready to walk out of the room having gone suddenly pale and helpless looking. She tried to smooth things over.
"Austere and Hermione have known each other less than that Severus," Lady Snape had offered politely, looking to her son severely. Snape glared at her, and then gave a look of dissatisfaction at the soon-to-be Austere Snape sitting to his right.
"So they have."
"I'm not sure you'd be familiar with the aspect of 'love,'" Hermione had interjected, seeing the hurt look on her friend's faces and feeling the penetrating gaze of her old Professor. "But it is quite a common occurrence Professor."
"Love, Miss Granger is nothing more than certain chemical malfunctions in the brain that have been imbedded in us since birth for the mere need for reproduction."
"Why are you being such a git?" Hermione's face had gone a deep shade of angry red and Snape out of the corner of his hooded eyes saw this. "You barely even know Harry and Ginny and you're horribly rude to them."
"Hermione, it’s okay-" Ginny had started, only to be cut off from an oblivious Hermione. Lady Eileen looked to Austere who sighed shrugging and stick a fork into his last piece of steak.
"You're rude to everyone who tries to be kind."
"That's not true, I'm rude to you."
Hermione rolled her eyes, shifting so that she was directly looking at the man who happened to take immense satisfaction in ruining her life. "Enough! I don't know why you're trying to ruin this wedding but you will not succeed. I care deeply for Austere, Ginny and Harry care deeply for each other, your own Mother cares deeply for you and you're so blinded by anger and self-loathing that you can't even see that."
She was breathing heavily as he stared at her with an unreadable expression. "You know nothing of love Severus Snape, you hate the world and the world in turn hates you. You are the cause of your own misery."
"Ah yes, what would I know of love?" Snape had muttered into his wineglass. "I'm just a miserable git everyone's glad they don't have to see anymore, save for this sham of a marriage."
He had shot a meaningful glance in Austere's direction before throwing down his napkin and pushing back his chair. "Since I'm assuming no one will miss my company, I bid you all a good evening."
With that he had strode from the table leaving an uncomfortable silence in his wake. He was heading towards the Library.
Now in bed Ginny and Harry reflected on this, sighing and clinging closer to one another. "Why would he say all of that?" Ginny wondered aloud, trying to hold back tears and failing.
"Don't cry luv," Harry cooed, kissing away the tears that had fallen down her burning cheeks. "He's just a bitter, lonely man."
"I know." Ginny choked out, brushing away the tears that continued to fall. "I suppose I just feel sorry for him. Always alone, always so mean.”
"It's his own fault Gin."
"I know," she paused a moment, sniffling and looking to Harry's reassuring face. She clung to him in a moment of loving abandon, as if she were afraid he was a dream that would leave her soon. "I'm so happy we found one another Harry."
Harry returned the look, kissing his wife with gusto before wiping the remaining tears from her cheek.
Harry nodded, "It'll happen for Snape too. Don't worry."
Ginny could only give a feeble nod and utter a hollow. "I hope so."
* * *
HE'S GOING TO KILL ME!
Hours after that fateful dinner Hermione's eyes widened as she backed further into the closet, her heart hammering as she tried to breathe quietly. She had snuck into his room after dinner thinking that he would still be in the library. He was usually there for hours, not coming out even when his mother asked him to join her for drinks.
"Bloody contemptuous moron," Snape muttered as he flicked on the light to his room, right now he wanted nothing more than to hex the little bugger.
Hermione saw this from the confines of his closet, peering out at him as he moved to his chair and desk. He scribbled something on a piece of parchment and when the ink had dried he blew on it one final time, and put it in a drawer to his left.
Hermione didn't care too much about this, she was petrified that he was going to come over and grab his cloak or something worse from his closet. He'd find her surely and she couldn't find her wand in the darkness without shuffling and making noise. As soon as he had entered she'd dropped it in panic and slid further into the dark confines of the closet.
She still clutched the book though; she needed to know what was inside of it. There was a mystery here, one that she may have been privy to but now couldn't even fathom. She peered out of the small crack in the closet door and held in a gasp. Snape had doffed his shirt now, waltzing around his room without it on and Hermione felt her breathing becoming shallow and hitched.
My, what a strangely beautiful body.
It was true, Severus did have quite a nice torso, toned in all the right places. It was strangely beautiful because Hermione had never thought of a man's body as beautiful, but here he was. Milky white skin offset in the moonlight filtering through his large windows. He was beautiful in his own strange way.
Austere himself wasn't that pale a man, he was more muscled, more dashing sort of handsome. Hermione often found herself thinking him a bit bulky at time, but then things would get heated and all of that was lost. And now in the suffocating confines of Snape's closet, Hermione Granger in a gradually increasing aroused frenzy wondered what it would be like to shag the senior Snape.
He stood with a book in his hand, reading out of it as he paced the room. The man never stopped hovering, not even in his own room. She imaged he'd be rough, demanding but explosive. He might be tender if he cared for her at all, but she needn't worry about that. She came to the surprising unfounded conclusion that Severus Snape may just be a beast in the sack.
You're getting married in less than three weeks Hermione, her mind scolded as her body led her on. You're marrying his brother! Stop ogling and look for your wand!
But Hermione wasn't listening, her lips were slightly parted as she gazed at the man she once found so intimidating but now could only find erotic. She placed the heavy book beside her and leaned forward, trying to glimpse at anything that may attest to her fantasy. Her knuckles brushed something thin and rough and she realized it was her wand.
Suddenly Severus took a detour from his carefully planned route of walking from the windows to the fireplace and back, he was now headed straight towards Hermione in the closet, mumbling under his breath.
Hermione in a fit of utter blind panic swirled the wand over her head and the word "evanesco" passing on her lips, she was gone, leaving Snape to whirl open the closet door and find only his large book in the closet.
* * *
Hermione fell onto her bed, feeling her heart hammering madly. What had she just done? Snuck into the poor man's quarters, rooted around until she'd dug even deeper into a mystery she could never understand and then rushed out and left the incriminating evidence behind.
He'd be sure to find it. She could almost see his face as he whirled open the closet door and saw his book. He'd wonder how it came to be there, he'd know he hadn't left it there. What had been in that book? Why were their initials on it? Why was he being so unnaturally cruel to all of them? So many questions whirling around in her fevered mind.
Hermione could have cried but refused to do so. Tears weren't going to save her now. She'd only have to look confused and offer to Snape that perhaps Charlotte might have moved it during cleaning if he asked around. That was a wrong thing to do and she knew it. But it was her only chance at salvation. If Austere ever found out...
"I can't believe I did that," she muttered to herself, throwing her clothing into the laundry basket and pulling on a sheer white nightgown. An early wedding present from Ginny. She looked at herself once over as she twirled in the mirror. Hmmm... a little revealing Gin.
No matter. She had already prepared to go to bed, get a nice long sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to face the reincarnation of Satan himself. She had just slipped into the warm and soothing confines of her bed when a knock sounded at her door. Hermione slipped up in the bed, throwing the blanket over her head and almost screaming.
Oh God, he's here and he's going to hex me. Please no. Her eyes squeezed shut as she willed him to go away.
Wait, Snape didn't call her Hermione. He called her "Miss Granger" or "Silly little girl" or "know-it-all". She gave a tentative toss of her covers off her head and ventured a response.
"Who is it?"
Oh that really helps.
"Hermione! It's me, Austere. Open the door quickly."
Hermione sighed and picked up her wand from its place on her side table. She swirled it and offered a gentle, "lumos" and sighed relieved as she recognized Austere faintly in the darkness. Austere slunk towards her bed, squinting.
She heard him shut and lock the door before clumsily stumbling over to the bed.
Oh splendid, he's drunk.
Austere wasn't a man that could really hold his drink. He was a social drinker and she supposed that tonight with his brother had set him off. Suddenly his looming presence was behind her, breathing on the back of her neck. She heard him chuck his shoes to the side and crawl in next to her. She felt his hands on her thigh, making his way slowly upward. He smelled very strongly of Merlot.
"What about your Mother?" she teased.
"Forget about her."
He kissed her neck gingerly, swirling circles as he groped around for her breasts through the thin fabric. He was an expert at what he did, but she wasn't feeling that same magic as usual. Snape suddenly popped into her mind.
"How did it go with Severus?"
Hermione couldn't resist knowing what had transpired that evening between the two brothers, but Austere didn't look very interested in talking. He offered a rushed, "we can talk about it in the morning." before he rolled on top of her and began his ministrations.
Hermione wished she could say that she was more into it, but after seeing Snape without a shirt Austere seemed a little less enticing. Austere was the only man she'd ever been with and so in turn was very special to her but she couldn't hide the knowledge that across the hall was a very-
Enough, the voice in her head commanded as Austere slid her nightgown over her shoulders. Enough thinking about Severus. You're marrying the man right in front of you. Stop thinking about Severus Snape.
She saw that Austere had dressed down to his skivvies, and was currently tossing her nightgown over his shoulder. She smiled up at him as he kissed her lips gently. Suddenly he had thrust into her, causing her to gasp and cling to him. Austere wasn't really one for foreplay when he drank. He began slowly, then began pumping into her as she writhed about under him in the bed.
She closed her eyes and for whatever reason all she saw was Severus atop of her, thrusting into her and whispering delightfully dirty things in her ear. She felt Austere nipping at her earlobe and as the fantasy Snape in her dream did the same she moaned and clutched tighter to him. His white chest shone in front of her closed eyes, and she saw Snape smirking delightfully sexily at her.
She arched off the bed as Austere/Severus went deeper, Snape's image and Austere's services were proving to be quite the turn on. Soon she was more into it than ever, hissing "Yes" and moaning as Austere suckled each waiting nipple.
She moved her hips upwards along with his, wanting to go faster and faster. He was moaning and Hermione imaged it was Snape groaning in her fantasy. Her thighs squeezed tightly as she shuddered when Austere/Snape hit that spot that always sent her over the edge.
She didn't even see as the real Snape apparated into her room.
He looked as if he had something urgent to say at first but then as he viewed Hermione and Austere writhing about in the bed, his scowl turned into a grimaced with a look of utter forlorn disgust. He heard her moaning and squeezing her eyes shut as she begged him to go faster. And so in turn she would never know that with the large black book under his arm Severus Snape silently apparated back into his own room.
Chapter 10: Coffee Confessions
When morning came, and it did in all of its shimmering splendor, Hermione Granger lay in bed, refusing to open her eyes. She could hear the birds chirping on her window's ledge. She could almost see the light filtering into her room through her closed eyes, and onto the bed where she now lay alone. Austere had crept back to his own room hours ago. And now in the silence of her room, her mind couldn’t help but be drawn to one Severus Snape.
She groaned and rolled over onto her stomach, burying her head in her pillows. Thinking of one Severus Snape was not the right way to start off a morning. If anything, that was probably the worst way to start off a morning considering last night's occurrence.
In the immense throws of passion in which its customary etiquette to call out your lover's name when the overwhelming moment presents itself, you're really expected to do just that. Call out your lover's name. Sadly this hadn't been the case for Hermione.
As Austere with Snape's body and voice had been driving home, and images of the surly Potions Professor had clouded her mind she had called out his name instead. Sure it had been a muffled murmur of aroused frenzy, but still it hung over Hermione like a cloud.
It had been an awkward exchange as she felt the muffled word "Sevvvss" not quite a name, escape her throat and lips she had tensed, waiting to see if Austere had stopped as well. He hadn't. He had gone right along, pounding and groaning himself until he was spent. This was a good thing at the time, but now hours later she was racked with guilt.
"Of all the people," she moaned aloud, "why did it have to be him?"
And true, why did it have to be Severus Snape? Why was it he that she was drawn to against her better judgement? Why did she feel the overwhelming need to either mouth off to him or run from him? Or in this case, fantasize about making love to him while her fiancé sent her over the edge?
Austere, dear Austere; he was such a kind, good man. Hermione had fallen in love with his sweet disposition almost instantly. When she had found he was Snape's younger brother something besides disgust had been a party to her emotions. She still didn't know what it was but she remembered during that first evening together she had fallen for him hard.
She groaned once more as pulling herself up and out of bed, her bare feet smacked against the floor as she struggled not to topple over due to her dizzy fatigue.
No more thinking about Snape.
The mere thought of that man ran shivers up and down her spine as she imagined it was his expert fingers causing these sensations.
For goodness sake, follow your own advice.
The cool water from the tap that splashed onto her face was a welcome solace from intruding thoughts. Then as she was brushing her teeth and Snape's toned torso and voice crept into her mind, it was decided that a cold shower might be a good idea as well.
* * *
"Good morning, or should I say afternoon?" Ginny's cheerful face greeted her as she made her way down to the table. She placed another cup of steaming coffee in the seat that she assumed Hermione would occupy shortly. But as her old friend sat and gripped the coffee cup until her knuckles went white, her own look went from surprised amusement to worried concern. "What's wrong Hermione? You look near tears."
Hermione blinked back the said tears and seated herself down at the table looking disconcerted. "I'm just worried about the whole wedding," to take the attention off of the latter speech she added hastily, "where are Ron and Harry?"
Ginny smirked and rolled her eyes, "they insisted on finding a suitable place for a bachelor party."
Hermione laughed out loud at that one. Austere at a bachelor party? He'd sooner run off to Hogwarts and claim he felt the desire to go into Potions. However Ron and Harry running wild like they were teenagers again? Not so shocking!
"Figures. Have you seen Austere?"
Ginny looked askance, "I think I overheard Snape taking to Austere about going to Hogsmeade. I was passing thr-"
Hermione immediately stiffed at Ginny’s words. "Snape's leaving?"
Ginny looked to Hermione in surprise as the girl interrupted. This was quite unlike her friend, if anything she thought Hermione would take this as a welcome reprieve from everyone's last favorite person, especially given that huge explosion of an argument last night.
"Only for the afternoon , Hermione."
"Right,” Hermione nodded, heart pounding as she shrugged, trying to play off her last comment as Ginny gave her an incredulous look. Where it had come from was beyond her. It was the strangest feeling she had around Severus. It was if it were de ja vu all the time, and familiar feelings came back to her and she didn't even know what they were from. She'd feel angry at certain things he'd said like she'd heard them before.
"So, which part of the wedding are you worried about?"
Ginny smirked at her oblivious friend, obviously lost in thought. "You just said you were worried about the wedding. Which parts?"
Hermione tried to wrack her mind for something that seemed bride-y.
"Erm, you know, flowers, dresses all of that."
Ginny's face relaxed and she nodded, clasping one hand over Hermione's. "Well my dear, that's why I'm here. In fact, I've already booked your dress fitting today and ordered the flowers you discussed with Austere. He gave me a whole scrapbook full of ideas."
"The scrapbook," She smiled fondly and looked to her beaming young friend. "You helped me with it, remember?"
"I remember it," Ginny leaned over and fiddled about with her bag, and grasping the large book in her hands she dragged it up onto the glossy tabletop letting it down with a resounding thud. "He said you'd been carting it around forever."
Hermione looked at the familiar book, her tears now slipping freely down her cheeks. At least now she could play them off as tears of nostalgia. Her "Yes," came out in a breathless whisper of emotion.
She had been carrying this book around forever, or what seemed like it. In reality it hadn't been more than four years. It was a medium sized scrapbook, not too thick but heavy. It was a Gryffindor red on the cover with gold binding, a present from Ron for Christmas. She had received it in her seventh year from him, and for some reason that she couldn't recall had eagerly decided it would be her, Wedding book.
"I remember this," Ginny said grinning, "I actually remember sitting up in your Head Girl chambers for hours at a time, searching for the perfect dress or flowers." she smiled wistfully, "we'd be cutting and gluing for hours, sometimes forgetting dinner."
"Ah, but Ron was always there to remind us."
The two girls erupted into familiar giggles that hadn't reached the air in a good couple of months. Hermione grew solemn, catching her friend in a small embrace across the table.
"I've missed you Gin. You and Harry and Ron. It feels like I never see you anymore."
Ginny didn't answer, merely hugged her friend back. After Hermione had become so involved with Austere months ago their relationships had been strained. No longer was Hermione the adventurous know-it-all they had come to depend on at all times. But now she was different, she had certain obligations now, Ginny supposed.
In all truth, Ginny wasn't sure she liked Austere at all. She didn't much care for the ‘Snape Manor’ they were in either. It was like the eldest brother that bore its name: Cold. She hated the maids and butlers and on occasion, house elves scurrying about, as if hiding some horrible secret. She hated the whispers and looks as she passed them to get to Hermione's room. She had come to the conclusion that Austere most definitely didn't like Hermione's friends, and wasn't being tactful about it. He’d made no attempt to speak or get to know she or Harry.
"Well, we'll have to change that," Ginny offered diplomatically, smiling warmly at the nodding Hermione as she shivered in the coldness of the kitchen. "You and Austere must come out to The Burrow sometime."
Hermione forced a smile and nodded. In actual fact she had pitched the idea to Austere on more than one occasion and time and time again he had declined saying he had work. And just when she'd get furious at him he'd go and buy her flowers, or take her to dinner as an apology. He was the best sweet talker around and Hermione fell victim every time.
"Do you still have yours?"
"My wedding book?" Ginny shook her head laughing slightly. "Why would I need it? I found my match,” she nudged Hermione playfully. "And now so have you, even if it is a Snape."
She noticed as Hermione's face scrunched up at the word 'Snape' and felt at a complete loss as her companion burst into sobbing tears and lay her head down on the table, tears falling gently onto the tabletop as Ginny stared.
"Hermione, what's wrong?"
Hermione tried to stop the tears and loud sobs that racked her body and made it impossible to speak. "I-I can't, I-I th-think I-."
"Stop," Ginny cooed, smoothing her friend's hair comfortingly. After a good three minutes of sobs that sounded out around the empty room Hermione wiped her eyes, and with shaky breaths explained her dilemma.
"I don't know if marrying Austere is the best idea," she saw as Ginny's face went to concern as the younger girl patted Hermione's hand gently. Ginny gave Hermione an imploring look before speaking quietly.
Hermione blinked back the tears that were building behind her eyes, waiting for her to release another waterfall. "I've been having these d reams and, thoughts that are very un-bride like."
Ginny giggled at this and looked to a blushing Hermione, her normally staunch and serious friend. "You're allowed to fantasize Hermione."
Hermione looked a little nervous as she spoke next, and did so in hushed wary tones, concerned that someone may be listening in. "You see Ginny, these thoughts aren't about Austere."
"Who are they about then?"
There was a collective pause as if Hermione knew this was a fork in the road of friendship. Once she uttered the name on her lips there was no going back, even if she wanted to. But one small encouraging nod from her old friend was good enough to seal her fate.
Ginny's eyes widened as she looked to Hermione in disbelief. "Professor Severus Snape?"
Hermione blushed and hung her head in shame, nodding as she did so. Ginny looked as if she were trying to piece together a very intricate puzzle in which Hermione, Austere and Snape were a part of. Where they all fit in was the mystery. Hermione hurried on, telling Ginny of her strange dream and awkwardly informed her of the minimal details of last night’s “threesome”.
"Do you think," Ginny paused trying to find the exact right words looking skyward before focusing her light eyes of Hermione. "Do you think you may be marrying Austere because he's the only Snape you can get?"
Hermione wiped the tears from her dark eyes and gaped at her friend. Surely Ginny was jesting? What kind of a theory was that? She had hated Snape all her life! How was she trying to marry a ghostly version of him?
"Have you had feelings for Snape all this time, since school and decided that Austere was as close as you were ever going to get?"
Hermione couldn't speak, only offer a small 'o' of surprise on her mouth and eyes the blinked rapidly before settling on a wide shocked stance. She sat in her chair, slightly slumped forward and thunderstruck.
"What are you asking me Ginny?" She asked this even though she feared the answer for she knew it herself. Ginny pursed her lips into a thin line and looked tentatively to the brunette across from her.
"Did you pick the wrong brother, Hermione?"
Hermione's heart leapt into her throat as she struggled to breathe. It was if a cinderblock was placed on her chest and she was slowly losing air. She went pale and began swaying in her chair offering a weak, "I don’t know what you mean.”
"Or perhaps," Ginny jumped in seeing that Hermione looked ready to faint, "do you think that this is all just a manifestation of cold feet? Nervousness about the wedding? Are you just making up barriers because you're afraid of commitment?"
All Hermione could do was nod at her friend's leading and covering up question, although she could see in Ginny's eyes that her friend knew the truth. But, she hadn't cared for Snape ever! Remembering him from school was so hard up until her sixth year everything was crystal clear, but near the beginning almost to the end of her last and seventh year, he was fuzzy...a blur. She barely even remembered seeing him in classes; she had been so stressed about her OWL’s.
"Yes," Hermione said, her color returning to her face, “it’s completely cold feet; I suppose I'm just nervous. Thank you Ginny!"
Ginny nodded, pasting a phony smile upon her lightly freckled face. She could tell Hermione was lying, but didn’t want to stress her friend out more. On the other side of the table Hermione sat and envied Ginny; she was younger than Hermione but already had her life set out for her, and a husband she could depend on.
"Now c'mon," Ginny said helping her friend up from her chair as Hermione nodded and stood on her own,"we've got dresses to look at. The tailor'll be here at seven."
Hermione nodded, standing as they prepared to get her ready for a day of wedding plans. But in the back of her mind couldn't shake the feeling that they had been spied upon moments before. And perhaps still were.
Chapter 11: Are you alright?
"Have you seen Austere at all?" Hermione was curious as she and Ginny made their way to the ballroom later that evening, a bit nervous about the whole affair.
"I don't know," Ginny shrugged absently, "probably out getting a tux I suppose, or has he bought it yet?"
"I'm not sure," Hermione said, "seems I haven't talked to him much lately."
"Didn't you say you two were together last night?"
"Yes well," Hermione went pink as she broke the connection with Ginny's peering eyes. "Well, we didn't do much talking."
Ginny gasped and clutched her chest as if she had never even heard of sex before in her life. "Hermione, you tart!"
The girls collapsed into laughter as Hermione shoved Ginny playfully, almost tripping down the large staircase. Suddenly a thought occurred to Hermione, one that she had been tossing around in her head the past few days thanks to her Mother's stupid Muggle traditions.
"Do you think it’s really proper I wear white then?"
Ginny paused giggling and looking as if she were actually contemplating the question. Her eyes probed Hermione, the older girl still refusing to meet her inquiring eyes. "He was your first right?"
"Yes," a tug at her heart puzzled her, "he was."
"So then," Ginny gave a careless wave of her hand as if to dismiss Hermione's worried thoughts, "its fine. He's the man you're going to spend the rest of your life with; it's practically the same thing."
Hermione snorted at her friend's answer and let herself be lead to the room where the tailor was waiting for her. Ginny beamed, looking herself as if she were on cloud nine, the whole wedding probably reminding her of her own.
"The dress is going to be so beautiful," Ginny gushed, her eyes shining, "and you'll feel like the prettiest woman on Earth."
Hermione nodded, not speaking. Her mind was constantly drawn to that book in Snape's room. Perhaps if she was quick enough in her fitting she could sneak back into Snape's room and take a quick peek and be back before tea with her friends later on. Snape wouldn't be back for hours she assumed; Hogsmeade had a way of stopping time.
"Austere wanted a Muggle tailor, just to tell you," Ginny said sighing, throwing her hands up in the air as if in the throes of despair. "God knows why. But I brought in a magical one just in case.”
Hermione giggled, "I'm sure he was convinced a wizard tailor might try to cheat him."
The two young woman laughed as they conversed about Austere and his penny-pinching ways and Harry in his grandiose spending on lingerie that Ginny positively hated.
"Seriously, this sheer little red two piece he likes me to wear on his birthday is the worst," Ginny was pink from laughter as was Hermione as she struggled to stand upright. "Men and their house colors."
For some reason Snape flitted into Hermione's mind as Ginny spoke this and that was when everything went a bit out of focus. They were still a few steps away from the ballroom where the tailor was and Hermione felt as if she was paralyzed and she reached out her hand to her friend weakly.
"Ginny," she breathed softly, "stop a moment."
Ginny looked to her friend as she fainted, rushing over and catching her just before her head smashed against a nearby step. She was barely breathing.
Oh, he's going to hate me for this.
She lit the last candle and pegged it into the top of the small green icing laden cake she placed on a plate. It wasn't very big; she knew he couldn't eat too many sweets.
Happy Birthday Severus glistened on top in black icing as a Slytherin symbol laced its way around the 'S' in his name. It had taken her almost all morning to do because she had refused to use the aide of magic.
Sighing deeply until it almost pained her lungs she licked her lips and smiled into the darkness. It was still early, she had wanted the advantage of a surprise attack.
Hermione holding the cake plate in her hand tightly, tentatively walked through the kitchen of Snape's chambers, a drizzling February morning on the way to his bedchambers. Her brown eyes danced merrily as she imaged his face when he woke up.
The coldness of the dungeon was creeping over her, goosebumps forming from that as well as the exhilaration as to what was soon going to occur. She slipped off her shoes quietly and left them by the door, trying madly to stop the giggle that had built up in the back of her throat. Her heart was beating madly, not from fear but more from the delicious anticipation.
She strode quietly into his bedchambers, clad in her school uniform and a small cake balanced precariously in her hands as she gingerly tiptoed over to the right side of the bed, for he always slept on the left. Wordlessly she lit the candles on the cake with her wand and bit her lip to keep from giggling in excitement.
She peered over her side of the bed and held in a small sigh. Severus always did look so sweet when he was asleep. That curtain of hair always falling into his face, causing him to make an angry grimace in his sleep. He lay on his side, one arm draped over the side of the bed, the other hidden under the covers as his chest rose and fell lightly, almost hypnotizing her. She couldn't see his eyes for that unruly hair fell over them in an inky blanket, but she could imagine them. Soothing, calm with lovely thick black eyelashes framing them.
She longed to kiss the open cheek that she had kissed so many times before but now refrained. This whole affair had to be perfect. He deserved perfect, actually he deserved more than perfect.
Feeling ready she opened her mouth, the sides of her lips curled up in an excited smile. She was about to speak when he suddenly whirled around causing her to gasp, jump back in fright and in the process drop the small cake she had been holding.
"Sneaking into my chambers are you?" he growled playfully, eyeing her with a smirk as she frowned back at him. Suddenly he saw the small piece of pastry on the right side of his bed, icing down. Blast.
"Oh,” she was crestfallen as she viewed the small cake she had spent all morning making for him as it landed splat beside him on his lovely bedcovers; the icing making a horrible squishing sound. All that work. Suddenly a small flame ignited on the bedspread from the candles and she saw Snape's eyes grow anxious as he viewed his bed being slowly burned to the ground.
"Dammit, these are new sheets!"
He leaned over to grasp his wand not noticing as Hermione on the other side of the bed gasped and grabbed the vase on the table next to her. It was full of black roses; another birthday present for him. Throwing the flowers to the ground she quickly turned the vase over the small fire, she doused the small flame and in the process, her lover.
He gasped harshly as freezing water splashed him and blinked while droplets fell down his face. She frowned deeply, looking at her hard work and placing the vase next to her on the floor. With a woeful glance in his direction, she sat on the edge of his bed sulkily.
"I could have used my wand for that you know," he offered.
Hermione didn't care to answer. All morning spent in doing something special for the man and it all buggered up. She never had the upper hand on him; he always knew what was going to happen. He looked a bit guiltily to her, seeing how unimpressed she was.
"Hermione I'm sorry, I thought you were," he trailed off seeing her trembling lips, he tried to explain himself without making her feel poorly. "You know I hate celebrating my birthday and surprises."
Hermione nodded, holding back tears showing that she understood. She had wanted it to be immaculate. Being a perfectionist did that to her, and when everything fucked up as it usually did she was always at a loss, never knowing how to fully recover. Slowly a small tear slipped down her cheek as she was fixated disparagingly at the small upturned cake.
He tsked lowly under his breath as he saw that lone tear escape down her cheek as she brushed it away angrily, refusing to look at him.
Throwing the covers off of him he moved his way over to her slowly on the edge of the bed. She felt the weight of him slinking over to her from behind her on the bed and she sighed angry at him for being so suspicious, even though he had every reason to be. And she was upset at herself for getting too riled up about everything. He sat behind her, tracing a knuckle lightly up and down her spine gently.
She didn't move at first, only grew drowsy at his ministrations. Slowly but surely the back of her head found his chest, and she was soon lying up against him as she felt his hand on her arm, rubbing up and down soothingly. It was a few minutes in this relaxed reverie before she wiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand sloppily.
"Why do you always have to be so suspicious of everything?"
There was a low sigh and she felt the vibrations through his chest as he spoke, his eyes fixated on nothing in particular.
"It's hard not to be."
She knew what he was referring to, and she didn't care to press him. Enough sad nights had been spent talking with him about his past and the dark army.
His arm now lay lazily across her lap and she traced the whisper of a dark mark absently. He no longer flinched when she did. He himself brushed his fingers lightly across her cheek, turning her face to meet his as he kissed her gently.
"I'm sorry," she finally uttered grimly, "I just wanted your birthday to be something nice. Something you could look forward to. I wanted to make it special."
"But it already is Hermione," he rushed on before he could get embarrassed at his own speech, "you're here with me, and that's really all I want. Honestly."
Hermione marveled at his taut features as he waited for her to laugh at him for being so sappy. It was strange, from anyone else that comment would seen contrite, redundant even, but from him it was tender, sweet and convincing. Severus Snape was not prone to flights of verbal fancy. She gripped her wand from her pocket and looked over her shoulder at him with a shy smile.
"Then Happy Birthday and I have one more present for you."
She whirled around, pushing him to the bed and smiling as she leaned down and crushed his lips to hers, a quick sweep of his tongue on her lips signaling interest. She quickly parted her own lips, slipping past his own eager tongue and delving into the delicious recesses of Severus Snape who was quite enjoying himself.
Before he could get too comfortable she leaned back, straddling his torso. Muttering a small incantation and a flick of her wrist, she was clad in an emerald green bra with lace black panties. It was simple and demure and completely Hermione. She flushed under Severus’ eager gaze raking over her body in delicious anticipation.
“Happy Birthday to me,” he murmured as he pulled her back onto the bed, Hermione giggling as Snape tried to unclasp her bra quickly, their mouths still hungrily moving as she closed her hands over top his own and helped him in his venture.
Soon they were back to kissing, both bare-chested as he kissed her collar gently, nipping at it and moving back to her lips, his hands palming and kneading her eager breasts as she moaned, pressing against him as things slowly grew heated.
He slowly maneuvered until he was atop of her, moving his deft down mouth between her breasts and causing her to moan gently. Her hands slipped into his dark hair, weaving there absently as she felt his hands slip under the waistband of her panties and pull them off roughly. Soon his soft lips were trailing over her stomach, and then to her hips, placing gentle kisses there before his lips whispered against her aching quim. She felt her hips jerk involuntarily, desperate for his mouth to be on her.
He glanced up to her in amusement, gripping her hips tightly with his hands. Her flesh was pliant and soft under his touch and he couldn’t help but grin darkly at the sight of Hermione clutching the blankets and writhing with each huff of his hot breath on her entrance.
“Eager are we?”
Hermione could only whimper in response as his tongue slowly flattened and began gentle laps within her quivering core. Slowly dragging and circling and driving her completely mad with delight. She wanted to make him stop, to remind him that it was his birthday and he deserved to be spoiled with this kind of attention. But Severus didn’t seem to mind lapping in between the trembling legs of his darling Gryffindor.
She felt herself nearing the edge, feeling as Snape’s masterful mouth continued between her thighs. She could hear his soft groans of arousal, vibrating and sending the most delightful shivers all over her body. She gasped as she felt his hand grasp her wrist tightly, his finger slipping over her wrist sensually; silently urging her to let go and surrender against his mouth.
At his touch she felt herself release; her cry echoing and her eyes clamped shut tightly. Utter pleasure rippled through her body, her quim pulsing as the contractions of her orgasm rocked her.
When she could open her eyes she glanced down the length of her body to see Severus glancing up at her in adoration, his cheeks flushed and his hair in all directions. Hermione found him completely sensual and she reached down to him.
“I want you,” she whispered. He grinned, crawling up the length of her body slowly. She arched against him, feeling his hardened cock brush against her during his ascent. She didn’t have to wait long before his cock was there at her entrance, his mouth giving her another crushing kiss before swiftly entering her as if it were habit.
Hermione groaned at the deliciously full feeling of his cock buried with her. His hips slowly began to rock against her, his cock thrusting further and further into her slick quim. She groaned as he nipped her neck delicately, placing small love bites and marking her as his. She could feel his ragged breathing against her cheek and she turned to meet his intense gaze.
“Come in me,” she whispered against his mouth, groaning as he did just that. She felt him tense before he began pumping into her furiously and then finally she gasped at the feeling as he came, her thighs trembling as he spent himself inside her.
Moments later they both lay breathless next to each other, Snape clutching Hermione under the new blankets he had brought out, muttering that he never liked the other one anyway. He kissed the tip of her nose softly as she smiled at him, a long finger of his brushing the strands of hair that stuck to her flushed face behind her ear.
"I'm sorry about the cake," he murmured in her ear gently. She finally felt that she could laugh at the whole affair and did. Tears of laughter finally fell down her cheeks and he graced her with one of those smiles that he held in reserve only for her. Finally with one more kiss she looked longingly to him and smirked.
"I'm sorry about your sheets."
The voice that greeted Hermione was not that of a smooth, low tones of a Professor she had suddenly grown attracted to, these were the frantic wailings of a friend feeling helpless and worried. Hermione's once glazed over eyes soon came into focus as she looked up to Ginny, confused and disoriented as the blurry girl came into view before slipping back into a mass of colors.
"Hermione, are you alright?"
Hermione looked up to her friend once more, blinking over and over until Ginny finally came into steady focus. Ginny was frowning, holding Hermione's face in her trembling hands.
"What happened? What were you dreaming about?"
Suddenly the whole vision came back to Hermione, almost smacking her backwards as a whirlwind of thoughts passed through her, her eyes fluttering as they took over her. Severus. Severus Snape and she celebrating his birthday in his bed. He ruined his own birthday cake. She was wearing her school robes, making love, coming against his talented mouth.
What the fuck?
"Dreaming?" Hermione was suddenly suspicious, slowly raised herself up off of the ground and looked to Ginny in strange awe. Could Ginny read minds? Is that something she had been practicing on her time off? Oh no, she'd know ever-
"When you passed out," Ginny uttered softly as she bit her lower lip, a trait she had picked up from Hermione herself, "you were mumbling a bit. Whose birthday were you talking about?"
Hermione froze at that, looking as Ginny clucked her tongue aimlessly, helping her friend up and looking to her strangely, not bothering to observe how guilty Hermione looked at this very moment. In truth all she cared about was that she was okay.
"You sure you're alright?"
"Yes yes," Hermione stood shakily, brushing the dust off of her skirt, "enough fussing, I want to go make my wedding dress. Doesn't happen every day you know."
"Unless you’re Pansy Parkinson."
They both offered weak giggles at that. It was common knowledge that Pansy Parkinson had become quite the gold digger after her family went bottom up. She had in her short lifetime been married five times, setting memory charms on her beau's and taking them for everything they were worth. Then charming them to make it seem as if they had kicked her out and kept her quiet with some large sums. Quite ingenious actually.
"So you're alright, for sure?" Ginny's light eyes were still those of concern as Hermione offered a weak and what she hoped to be, reassuring smile.
"Yeah," Hermione nodded, pausing. "Did I say anything else in the 'dream'?"
Ginny shook her head, not meeting Hermione's eyes thought as they both pushed the doors to the ballroom open.
Hermione's blood chilled; images of Umbridge filled her head, but were quickly displaced as they viewed the wizarding tailor in front of them. Ginny smiled warmly at the small, squat miserable woman that stood alone in their, mirrors and material all around her as she tapped a fat boot up and down on the shining floor.
"Sorry we're late," Ginny offered as she Ginny raised a speculative eyebrow and cocked her head towards the graying, frowning woman in front of them. She expected for Hermione to say something to attest to this, but instead understandably she seemed a bit out of sorts. "My friend had a bit of a fainting spell a few minutes ago."
"She did, did she?"
Hermione nodded, her thoughts going from Snape and her dreams to Austere. The man she was about to marry. She had to speak to Severus, she had know what was happening. What was in that strange book? Why was she having these bizarre visions? For some reason she was sure the book held all the answers and she looked to Ginny in a daze.
“I just have to dart off for a moment.”
"Hermione, this is Fanny Brighton, the tailor remember?" Ginny emphasized the important word with a hiss, giving Hermione a very obvious glance. Hermione blushed, embarrassed at her sudden lack of tact and memory.
"Of course," she extended a polite hand, "pleasure to meet you Fanny."
Fanny was no larger than 4'11 and had a surly sour expression on her face; obviously one she continually wore for her face bore many wrinkles around her mouth. She did not bother to shake Hermione's hand, leaving Hermione embarrassed as she lowered the offending appendage.
Hermione couldn't help but wonder if Professor Snape wasn't somehow related to her, both cross, both miserable and trying to embarrass everyone.
Snape, Snape, Snape. I need to stop thinking about him.
But why these visions including him? Why were they laced with a feeling of such strong recollection? She knew exactly what she was going to say in those dreams, remembered every caress as if she had encountered them before.
Hermione shook her head, looking to Ginny who continued to look at her confused and slightly embarrassed.
"Ready to start?"
Hermione nodded, shooting a nervous look to Fanny; all thoughts of one surly ex Professor gone from her mind at the moment. Perhaps everything would be fine. This was something she had dreamed about since she was a girl; her dream wedding dress!
It was definitely possible that she was so stressed and nervous that she was projecting her fears and Snape being the only other man in the house just unwittingly became the figure she fixated on. She knew she was lying to herself but she also knew that she was to be married very soon.
Fanny cleared her throat in irritation and Hermione snapped back to the present. Perhaps she just needed to give poor Fanny a chance. The tailor's yellowed teeth glinted off the chandelier light as she spoke crossly
"Let's not waste any more time, I've got a deadline."
Then again, perhaps not.
Chapter 12: Something doesn't fit and it isn't the dress
"It wouldn't hurt if you didn't move so much Miss Granger."
"It also wouldn't hurt if you stopped poking me with your blasted needles."
Hermione crossed her arms angrily, looking furiously down at the tailor, stubborn crass old woman. Apparently she had been brought up by non-magic parents and had learned the tailoring trade the “muggle” way. Which meant Hermione had to stand there on a stupid pedestal wearing layers of fabric while the witch to her side made changes before using her magic on the details.
The miserable fossil was telling her that she simply had to wear a strapless dress. Because of her shoulders. Hermione hated to be ordered around, but after a moment of relenting did find that a strapless idea was even better than her original plan of half sleeves.
She didn't dare turn to see what she looked like in the mirror, but Ginny's readable face assured her that all was well. Fanny was in a sweat, they had been working for a good two hours without a break. But she was extremely focused, waving her wand over a piece of fabric here and there before pinning it in place.
Hermione looked off into the distant space of the ballroom, thinking of how it was soon to be filled with guests that she knew so little of. She thought how thankful she was that her parents weren’t able to make it to the ball due to a dental retreat. Hermione would have been pulled in all directions if they’d been there.
They were to have a dance in the ballroom the night before the wedding, it had been Eileen’s idea. Apparently it was a tradition of her family that dated back several thousand years. Even she and Tobias had had one.
I wonder if Snape'll come. He probably won't dance if he does.
Those horrible needling thoughts hadn't stopped since she let Fanny stick pins into her side on occasion. Severus Snape, in all his brooding had managed to invade her mind and she was sick to death of it. Since when could she even stand him? The worst part was what were all these dreams about? Why did she remember their detail as if they were memories?
She was plagued by these onslaughts of perversions every night, and the most disturbing part was she was quite addicted. Sexy Snape dreams were becoming quite enjoyable, she had to admit to herself with shame. Perhaps it was cold feet, manifestations of fear and anticipation. That's what it had to be. And there was only one way that she could stop all this idiocy.
She just had to avoid Severus.
Good plan. Decision made, Hermione nodded resolutely to herself, looking at Ginny and smiling. Moments later when the pins had finally been taken out, and the dress magic-ed in all the right places, Fanny turned Hermione around to face the mirror. Hermione felt her face flush as she felt Fanny and Ginny's eyes on her...they were both looking at her in awe.
The dress was a creamy white, almost invisible design on the trim of the strapless gown. It's shimmering silky overtop flowed magnificently down her legs and stopped at the base of the stool. It was so regal looking and Hermione looked so elegant in it. She couldn’t help but tilt her head a bit in observation of the woman staring back at her.
Perhaps it was the dress set off her wavy hair, or the way her face was flushed and her eyes sparkled. Whatever it was Hermione no longer looked like the bushy haired know-it-all that everyone knew; she looked beautiful.
"You look wonderful, Hermione," Ginny gushed, clapping her hands excitedly. Even Fanny looked impressed. Hermione smiled serenely about to speak when she heard her name being called from behind her.
"Hermione, darling you love marvelous!"
"Oh," Hermione steadied herself and looked to the mirror, seeing Eileen slowly making her way over to her. "Thank you, Eileen."
Eileen hobbled closer, looking into Hermione's eyes as she looked down from the stool. For a moment Hermione's heart stopped and she couldn't find words. When she stared into the bottomless eyes of Eileen, emotions and feelings began surrounding her, suffocating her until Ginny spoke.
"Have you seen Austere, Lady Snape?"
The eye contact was broken as Eileen smiled and shook her head at Ginny over her shoulder. Hermione's stomach returning to normal.
"No dear, sadly he and Severus have gone to Hogsmeade."
Ginny nodded, squinting a bit. Didn't Severus tell Austere that he was going to Hogsmeade alone? Hmmm, perhaps he was scouting out a location for a bachelor party after all, which reminded Ginny that she needed to get cracking on Hermione's. But should she really bother, considering what Ginny believed to be true?
Hermione swiveled a bit; ignoring the pearl pins that held the dress at her collar. She felt like a princess in it and it showed. Eileen smiled up at her daughter-to-be and asked Fanny to accompany her out into the hall to speak about prices.
"Oh no," Hermione insisted, "I'm paying for my own dress. You and Austere have been more than kind."
Eileen had smiled and winked back, still leading Fanny out the door and leaving Hermione smiling but feeling a bit guilty about taking such advantage of their good will. Strange, Austere was a man very much concerned about money, Eileen on the other hand was so giving that coins seemed to slip from her fingertips with ease.
When Fanny and Eileen had left, closing the door behind them, Ginny walked closer to Hermione, smiling at her dress and then looking to her with a question in her light eyes.
"Hermione, do you feel you're ready to settle down with Austere. I mean really commit yourself?"
Hermione contemplated this a moment, nodding slightly as she spoke. "Well yes. I have always been one to stick by my word."
Ginny winced at her insipid response, "Surely you're joking," she drew nearer, "Hermione, marriage isn't an obligation."
"I said yes to him Ginny. I made an oath and I care for him."
Ginny suddenly very much resembled the Quidditch player of their youth. Her shoulders straightening in displeasure and her normally sweet countenance suddenly growing dark.
"You didn't sign your life over to him Hermione. Do you want to be trapped in a loveless marriage for the rest of your life?"
"I love Austere."
"You love Severus."
Hermione felt as if she’d been slapped; the words hung between them like rope. Silence descended quickly, and harshly. Hermione felt her teeth grinding as she looked to Ginny with unbridled fury whilst the younger woman shrank back under the stare.
"You don't know what you're talking about Ginny."
Ginny gave a small snort, "oh come off it, Hermione. I've seen the looks you shoot at each other when you think the other isn't looking. You think I've missed the way you look when you talk about him, or the way you try not to smile when you're fighting with him. The way you dream about him and blush when he walks by you?"
"That doesn't prove anything," Hermione retorted, crossing her arms angrily. Ginny stamped her foot in disbelief; didn't this know-it-all know anything outside of books?
"It proves everything you dolt!" Ginny hissed, not wanting the outsiders to hear, "you're in love with Severus Snape, Hermione. You picked the wrong brother and now you're going to be trapped in a sham of a marriage. Now, I don't know what went on with you and Severus bu-"
"Nothing ever went on," Hermione said halted, her dark eyes shooting daggers at her young friend. "I don't care for him. He's mysterious and I am curious. That is all. It’s cold feet."
Ginny shook her head, trying to think of words that would convey what she needed to say to the deluded young woman. Hermione and Austere; Could there be a worse match? Hermione needed to see the real Austere, the one they all could; was she so blinded by love? Confused? Or just afraid?
"Why are you being so thick about all of this?" Ginny finally asked in the silent room, immediately regretting her choice of words. Hermione winced at her harsh speech and shook her head, finally dragging her eyes to meet those of the indignant woman before her.
"I want to be alone for a little while Ginny," Hermione finally uttered darkly, motioning towards the closed ballroom doors. "Please...I'll speak with you later."
Ginny sighed, nodding as she tried to wrap her mind around the fact that Hermione was being so stubborn. She always had been and hated to be proved wrong. But was pride worth all of this? And worse, would she even listen to Ginny or would she over serve to push Hermione away? She let her eyes fall to the ground.
"Alright then. I'll see you tonight."
She slipped out the door, shutting it gently behind her, she had to find Harry. The moment that she left Hermione broke out into a loud sob, the tears nearly bouncing off her face.
She couldn't even look at her dress in the mirror anymore, instead she covered her face with her hands, stopping the tears. No point in crying over something so stupid.
When she had finally composed herself she stood upright once more and wiped her eyes until they were a bit glassy and she sniffed slightly, blinking away the excess tears.
She looked to her reflection once more, no longer feeling as beautiful or as elegant as before. Her hair fell from its loose bun, her eyes and cheeks a bit red. Her lips were darkened from being pursed together.
So much for glamour.
Ginny must be furious. Hermione looked to her hands, clasping them together as she shut her eyes, thinking of a way to make it up. Ginny after all had only been trying to be helpful.
“Is that really the appropriate color for your wedding dress, Miss Granger?”
Hermione whipped her head up, looking in the mirror and nearly gasping as she viewed Snape's lanky frame, leaning against the closed door reflected behind her. They were alone. Their breathing was the only sound in the room until Hermione broke the unknown hypnosis.
“I’m not in the mood for childish bantering.”
“Good, neither am I.”
He moved closer to her, his dark eyes dancing, as he looked to her mercilessly, his dark hair swinging in his face as he finally stepped forward from the shadows. His robes danced out behind him, his cheeks were tinged with slight pink having just come out from the cold. Hogsmeade she supposed. Why would he apparate here of all places?
"No." Hermione answered primly, "Just thinking."
"Don't strain yourself."
Hermione sighed, looking over her shoulder and truly facing him then. "Why don't you just leave me alone?
Snape looked genuinely taken aback, his eyebrow precariously raising and falling as he drew closer to her, his shoes making soft clacking sound on the glossy hardwood. She could never gauge what he was going to say, and when he did speak it was always the last thing she expected.
"Hmmm, quite hot tempered this evening. Could this be the infamous Muggle disease, ‘cold feet’?"
God, she wanted to wipe the supercilious smirk right off his pale face as he smirked at her.She noticed as his eyes trailed over her, looking at her with intensity, stopping on her bare collar a moment before coming back to rest on her eyes.
"No," she replied tersely, "I'm just agitated is all."
"And why would that be?"
Oh if you only knew.
"Nothing of your concern or interest."
Snape chuckled deeply and darkly at this, still eyeing her naked forearms, able to smell the fresh citrus smell emitting from her skin. He stood beside her, looking to her with arms still crossed. As she was standing on the stool and he beside her, she was for once able to sneer down at him, and did so.
“Perhaps it is,” he murmured silkily. He noticed as the skin on Hermione’s left arm stole into goosebumps at his close proximity and he hid a smug smile as he looked to her. “What’s the trouble?”
Well you see Professor, Ginny is convinced I’m secretly in love with you but marrying your brother because he’s the closest I’ll ever get. At first I thought it sounded like a horrid Muggle drama but then I realized; what if she was right? So, whadda you say Severus, shall we hop on the good foot and do the bad thing?
Oh yes, that would go over splendidly.
“How was your trip to Hogsmeade?” Hermione rattled on trying to switch subjects, adjusting her ball gown and looking to him airily. “Eventful?”
Snape tsked under his breath, looking up to her face as she tried to still the constant hammering of her heart. “A sloppy change of subject if I do say so myself, especially for a know-it-all like yourself.”
Just go away.
She put her hands on her hips, the crinoline from the dress crinkling under her fingertips. She was looking grimly to him and frowning. “Either we can make polite conversation for both our sakes or you can get the hell out. I’m to be married in less than a week an-“
“Yes, you keep saying that,” Snape interrupted smoothly, his eyes holding a sudden predatory gleam in them. One Hermione found to be unnerving and quite arousing. Hermione broke from his eyes, nodding and adjusting her gown again. She couldn’t look at him, so much for her brilliant plan of avoiding him.
“I’m tired, I think I’ll go to bed for a nap.”
She waited for him to move, to leave so that she could have some solace. Instead he stood in her way with a look that clearly stated, Not so fast. She grimaced at him and waited, bloody drama queen always had something to say.
“Why are you here?”
Snape didn't seem fazed, only intrigued by her actions and words. He gave a dejected sigh of impatience, and crossing his arms across his chest he spoke. “I came to ask a question.”
“Well then?” Hermione said raising her eyebrows impatiently
Snape’s eyes darkened at the tone she took to dismiss him, in his own home. Little wench. But he paused, seeing the worried look on her face, the circles under her eyes that had been sloppily covered with makeup. Perhaps he should lay off.
Then again, he was Severus Snape.
“Miss Granger,” he started, looking to her with hidden exasperation and anger. His words were slow, as if relaying them to a child, and when he spoke his last sentence she felt her flesh crawl with pure unadulterated fear.
“You didn't happen to see who snuck into my private room last night, did you?"
Chapter 13: Is Ignorance Bliss?
A wide eye peered through two small eyeholes in a muggle painting, spying in on the two that stood in each other's uncomfortable presence in the ballroom.
Severus doffed his robe, feeling heated in the room and stood with traditional arms crossed and a sneer placed upon his pale face, in his dark eyes he held a shrewd calculating look as he stared, no, bored his eyes into that of Hermione's Granger's back. She refused to look at him.
Hermione herself had stood on the stool and gulped softly, finally lowering her eyes to him as her reflection in the large mirror before her did the same. Severus nodded and glared, as if attesting to her lies.
"Because," he drawled lazily, "a certain book of mine was misplaced." He was circling her on the pedestal again, peering at her and frowning deeply.
"Yes. I found in it my closet. Strange wouldn't you say?"
He was angry now; she could tell it by the way his nostrils flared a moment and how he swerved on one heel to completely face her. She felt her breath leave her, and she internally prayed for someone to walk in on them.
She hadn't even a moment to speak again when he suddenly countered and grasped her wrist, dragging her off the stool and down to his level, where he could properly glare down at her. Her dress ripped in the process and she struggled further, looking at him with utter hatred.
"Let go of me!"
He had pulled her close, so close that with every warm breath of his upon her cheek he brushed away stray strands of hair over her face. His voice was laced with something icy; something of a warning.
"Not until you tell me what you saw."
Her heart thudded painfully as she stared up at her captor, her dark eyes widening as she realized that he wouldn't let her go until she confessed. Which she of course could never do.
Sir. The word kept popping into her mouth, she felt so helpless. It was like she was back in Hogwarts and getting a sound earful from her despised Professor during a Potions class.
She felt his anger as he gripped her wrist tighter, his knuckles turning whiter if possible in contrast to the already whitened skin, she whimpered feeling his torso against her own as he held her close to him.
The eyes in the portrait widened as the spy wondered whether or not to intervene. In the end perverse curiosity won over reason and compassion and soon the spy was peering closer, wanting to see more.
If it were at all possible, Snape’s eyes darkened and this did nothing to ease Hermione's already downhearted spirits. She was trembling and he felt it as her body was drawn to his. He was staring at her, into her eyes. Seeing past her eyes and shifting about in her mind, she felt it; him mixing about in her memories and she squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head to get him out.
He scoffed at her, "what?"
"Don't," she paused, wondering whether or not to venture her speech, "don't read my mind."
"You have something to hide then?"
Hermione looked to him indignantly clenching her teeth and cursing him in her mind.
"No. I haven't anything to hide. I just don't wish to have strangers rooting about in my mind."
She again tried to pull her wrist from his grasp, using her other hand to push against his torso in the process. In a fluid movement he had grasped her other wrist in his smooth hand and held her with strength. She knew where he had acquired such strength.
"I'm a stranger then?"
His voice was light, but she knew the words held meaning. Suddenly a reason leapt into her mind, it was the piece that made the whole puzzle come together...and in a flash his eyes were permeating hers, and it was gone.
"Your as much a stranger as anyone else," she still struggled, refusing to meet his eyes again. "You're deliberately cruel. You're horrid to me when I try to be kind. You're worse than a stranger; at least a stranger would have some empathy and tact."
"I saved you and your pitiful friends from Voldemort."
This was true, partly. Her friends were certainly not worthless in the final battle, but Snape had played a large part in her survival. She really didn't wish to go into this whole tirade and simply shrugged with a nod.
"I suppose you did."
There was silence, and in a disgusted movement and sigh he dropped her wrists, having them fall to her side. She was still close, and he peered down at her, leaning closer.
She backed away, not noticing the hurt look on his face that he masked almost instantly. Again his lips were set into a scowl and again his arms were crossed and again he was cold.
"Tell me now," this was said in a dangerous tone, "when you took the book, what exactly did you see?"
Why bother with more lies?
Evidently he'd hound her until it built up into one giant confrontation that surely Austere would get involved in, Lady Snape as well. She couldn't put the ones that had been so kind to her through that.
She licked her lips, trying to gauge his reaction. Not that she had seen anything of interest.
"I didn't see what the little gray boxes were,” Hermione said grimly, hearing the air that whooshed past his own lips. From relief or anger she couldn't quite tell. "They were in a language I didn’t understand. So you really haven't anything to worry about."
"Ah, but I do," Snape sneered, drawing closer to her. "If you recall, you silly little girl, there was an inscription."
Hermione blanched, she had hoped he had forgotten about that. S.S. & H.G. The thing was, she wasn't sure she really wanted to know about it. Perhaps what lay beyond it really wasn't worth losing Austere over. She loved him.
A thought occurred to Hermione then that Snape was surely doing this to ensure that Hermione didn’t join his family. He was deliberately trying to make things hard for her and her fiancé! Well, she would not fall for such an easy, cruel trick.
She tried to play dumb, looking to Snape with an incredulous look.
Snape rolled his eyes, "honestly Hermione, I'm disappointed in you."
Did he just call me Hermione?
The voice was velvety, almost inviting and Hermione almost felt drowsy from the way it sounded when it rumbled from him like that. She stared at his clothed chest and gulped again. Should she ask him about the dreams too? No, he wouldn’t know anything of them.
"I'm afraid I didn't really understand it, sir."
He 'hmphed' at that, scowling deeper if possible and glared down at her with unmistakable look of contemptuous anger.
"What did it read?"
Hermione shifted from foot to foot, uneasily looking down at his shiny boots. Did he have house elves shine his boots? He really shouldn't. Thoughts of S.P.E.W. clouded her mind a moment before his cough brought her back.
Her head snapped up and she felt their eyes lock. "It read something like to Severus, goodbye. Hermione. Why did it say that sir?"
The spy behind the portrait noticed the passing in time, their eyes trailing interestedly over Hermione and Severus before resignedly placing the false eye cover back behind the picture and leaving silently out the trap door.
Severus was staring at Hermione and didn't seem to note that she had left out certain words, mainly 'all my love.' Didn't really seem appropriate. He was looking quite uneasy himself, and he didn't seem too impressed with her ambiguity.
"Well, what does it sound like?" he ventured, coming closer until Hermione had almost backed up against a wall. "Can you think of what must have happened Miss Granger?"
He sighed, rolling his dark eyes as gazed into her eyes, wanting to tell her something but not finding the right words. Finally he let out a heavy sigh, looking away from her a moment. "I should have known. The spell…” he trailed off and Hermione looked suddenly very intrigued.
He looked to her dimly and was about to go into more detail when the door to the ballroom opened and Fanny and Eileen walked in, the latter looking to Snape in question, wondering why he was here.
Fanny on the other hand looked to the statuesque man and blushed pink with pleasure. Evidently she was a fan of tall, brooding men. The same horrid woman that had been poking Hermione with pins suddenly came over, looking to Snape with interest.
"You must be the infamous Austere," she went on before the three in the room could object, "I can tell right away. You two have a sort of aura about you. You believe in auras? No matter, you're simply a darling pair. Where did you two meet?"
Hermione was blushing madly, sputtering with a response as Snape glared at the woman and promptly stalked out of the room, not listening to his mother who informed him he had left his robe behind.
Fanny looked to Hermione in question, the scowl back. "Not very talkative is he?"
Hermione frowned, shaking her head and explaining to Fanny that Austere was the brother of the sullen looking creature that had just departed from their company.
Fanny tsked as she looked at the newly acquired rip in Hermione's gown from when Severus had dragged her off the stool, frowning and muttering that she hadn't done the pins right. That was a relief.
Still, Hermione looked past the curious looking Eileen, to the door where Severus had just left. As much as she was curious, and heavens knew she was, she didn't really want to know what lay in that book.
She was to marry Austere soon! She loved him! As for Severus Snape; this was all probably a ruse. He was trying to ruin her wedding. This is what came of his hatred for Austere!
She would do everything possible to stay away from Severus Snape.
Chapter 14: What is going on?
Staying away from one Severus Snape at first didn't seem like much of a challenge. At first it had been alright after that horribly confusing and terribly awkward conversation during her dress fitting. She had gone a good five days without having to put up with his scowling, miserable face.
He was barely around recently; he didn't eat at the table with the rest of them, and if she did see him in hall halls passing to her room she merely looked away, her dark eyes finding something else to stare at. Often she felt his own stern gaze wash over her, but she refused to succumb to it.
She felt Eileen’s change in disposition as well. At first the woman had been kind, cordial and now she acting a bit more withdrawn. Hermione really couldn't understand it at all. The dreams had stopped as well, which was a relief and a bit of a disappointment, (not that she'd tell anyone.) Austere had been acting a bit strangely as well.
On the night in question she lay on her back, looking up at the ceiling thinking and frowning. She found she was doing that a lot lately. Thinking and frowning.
Austere was to meet her, another late night rendezvous. She just wasn't much into it, to be honest. The mere thought of deceiving him again was too much. Having sex with Austere wasn't the same reckless passion anymore. She now thought him to be too quick at times, only interested in fulfilling his own needs.
She was angry at this, angry that she only thought of this because of Snape. After that night, she hadn't been the same. Thinking of Severus as her own fiancé drove her to pleasure. But would he have if Snape hadn't been burned into her mind?
That was a question best left unanswered.
Soon she heard him creak the door open, shutting it lightly behind him. She could almost see Severus, striding over to the bed and coveting her mouth wit-
Austere would come striding. No, more just walking over to her. Give her a kiss. Then of course sex, not much foreplay if he’d been imbibing.
It was strange now that she had someone actually questioning her affections that she saw how many faults Austere had. She couldn’t fool herself into thinking she was perfect but Austere certainly wasn't the man she thought he was.
He called her name then in the darkness, a name that sounded so less enticing coming from his lips when she had the pleasure of hearing it upon the elder brother. Severusss...the name hissed in her mind, never letting her rest.
Merlot and a heavy, sugary scent surrounded her as he grew nearer, calling her name softly and reaching for her, groping on the covers. He was closer, and she wasn't even the least bit interested. Finally a hand found her thigh, crawling onto the bed and under the covers.
She sighed, feeling as his hands traveled up her thighs, moving towards her stomach and then her breasts.
The sugary smell swept around them in another wave, almost choking them in the suffocating room. He’d obviously been tasting some of the wedding cakes as well as his lips were sweet.
She wished he'd go away, she was so confused about everything at the moment, and Austere groping her like a fourth year Hufflepuff was doing nothing to soothe her.
She didn't really know what to do, he was kissing her neck and groping her breasts through the fabric of her nightgown as she lay motionless under him. Undaunted he groaned, trying to burrow between her legs as she felt utterly repulsed.
You're going to be married to him soon Hermione. Why are you repulsed at his touch all of a sudden?
Austere was muttering something in her ear again, and she felt her stomach turn. She couldn't confront him about her feelings towards Severus. Austere had a terrible temper sometimes. Especially when he'd been drinking.
"Let's not," she said softly, pushing him as gently and inoffensively as she could muster. He gave her a sloppy kiss, and turned on his side, his back to her as he fell into a deep slumber.
Beside him, Hermione did not.
* * *
It was the next morning that things really began to fall into place. Hermione and Austere still had caterers, waiters, florists, and all that weddings entail. (no Muggles mind you.) Her wedding was suddenly becoming so much more real. She was to be married. Concrete. No going back.
Although Austere didn't believe in wizarding practices, his mother had insisted that since Hermione was indeed a witch they go through with the traditional wizarding wedding ceremony.
“I don’t see the difference,” Austere had observed with a shrug.
“It means divorce is not an option,” Eileen explained, fixing them both with a firm stare over tea one afternoon. Hermione swallowed thickly before agreeing to it.
She was to be married to Austere in less than three days now, and she felt the familiar flip of panic hit her stomach. She was to be Hermione Snape. No, Hermione Austere Snape. Oh God.
Thoughts of a certain ex Professor soon pushed forth through the barrier of resentment and blocking that she had put up.
She had resolved not to even think about him for a full second when her thoughts became muddled. It would do her no good to torture herself. She was to marry Austere Snape, they would live happily ever after, the end.
Hermione was making her way into the kitchen with Ginny at her side, yammering about plans and trying to get Hermione as excited as she felt. Ginny had been feeling awful since their row in the ballroom and she had decided if Hermione was happy, she would support her.
Since then, Ginny had been splendid and told Hermione that Ron and Harry had indeed been working on Austere's infamous bachelor party. In seeing Hermione grimace a bit at this she had laughed and patted her old friend on the shoulder.
"Trust me Hermione, I made him promise nothing too dodgy."
Relief fell over Hermione’s face, although to be perfectly honest she wasn't thinking about Austere at all. It was Snape she had been focused upon. She didn't really like the thought of Austere being surrounded by dodgy women all evening but Snape; that just seemed even more wrong.
She wasn't in charge of Snape, she had nothing over him. They had been nothing but acquaintances. Funny, the book that had burned into her mind before was slowly starting to fade; she couldn't even really recall why it had been so important to her.
Amongst the wedding plans and all, she wasn't even bothered by it. One less thing to worry about.
Hours later, she made her way up to her room where she would try on the dress one last time. Fanny had been tolerable for her last two fittings, not mentioning her infamous faux pas with her and Severus.
She made a horrible, irreparable mistake though the last fitting. She had given Hermione the dress and gazed into the girl's dark eyes, the light catching her own in such a way that Hermione felt compelled to stare back.
"That older brother, the one who you were with the other night,” Fanny said lowly, for they were alone in the hall again. "You care for him deeply. I can see it in your eyes. Your eyes that have almost a veil over them. I can see your compassion towards each other in your aura's."
"I don't believe in aura's," Hermione had scowled, feeling like she was in Trelawney’s class all over again. She took the dress from Fanny and scoffed at her. "I believe you're mistaken again. I care for the younger brother. Austere. My fiancé."
"I think not," Fanny said darkly, "you love that he bears the same name as the brother you truly love."
Hermione was speechless, glowering at the woman and trying to appear taller than she really was. "I do NOT love Severus Snape, I love Austere."
Fanny had tried to calm the shaking Hermione, but only seconds after her pudgy hand fell upon Hermione's shoulder the younger girl jerked it away, rushing to her room.
The spy behind the portrait drummed their hands absently on the wall, thinking that perhaps their plan should not go undaunted after all. Hermione had to know the truth. But when to act? When was it a meddling and when was it aid? Did Hermione truly care for Austere?
Now Hermione was halfway to her room and viewed as a tall, dark figure made his way from his own room, shutting it and locking it behind him.
Oh please, Hermione internally sighed, please...don't make me talk to him.
Hermione ventured a gaze to him; he was walking down the hall in his traditional robes towards her, looking to her intensely.
She nodded to him a bit, trying not to look as terrified as she felt. She wished he'd go away; all those looks and tones in his voice were sending her off, and she didn't know why.
Why did he have to ruin everything? Her one chance at happiness? Did he hate her and Austere that much?
"I haven't seen you at meals," she finally sputtered, and he gave her a calculating look. He strode nearer to her, she felt the brick against her back. Her lips fell to his mouth inadvertently.
She longed to kiss him then, like she had done in all of those dreams. Seeing those lips of his were doing nothing for her sanity, and she wondered if he looked this seductive on purpose. Did he practice his brooding looks in the mirror?
"I felt it would be prudent if I stayed away from you a bit," his low, rumbling answer surprised her, and in his eyes she saw him release a sort of tender look at her before going stoic once more.
She parted her lips to speak, and he looked to her as if he would cling on to every word she said when a syrupy voice interrupted them, accompanied by a tinkling little laugh.
"Dinner is ready," Charlotte offered, giving a small smile at Snape and a nod at Hermione. Hermione looked to Snape who was still intently staring at her, and flushing a bit she turned to follow Charlotte.
Halfway down the hall she realized he wasn't following, that he had gone back into his rooms. It was also about that time that Hermione noticed that familiar sugary scent from the night before.
“Charlotte, do you smell cherries?” Hermione offered in a wavering voice.
“Why yes,” Charlotte answered with a small smile, “it’s the flavor of my lippy.”
Hermione nearly tripped in the middle of the hallway, Charlotte's golden ringlets bouncing around her head as she cast Hermione a false and sickening smile.
Hermione could have gagged. Not only on her phoniness, but that horribly familiar smell; cherries. The same taste and smell that had been on Austere’s lips the evening prior.
It wasn't only her husband's supposed infidelity that truly hurt her, it was that he had been cavorting about with this whore and still had the horrible tact and conscience to crawl back into bed with Hermione time and time again.
No, this can’t be happening.
True, she had often said that if she ever had a husband that cheated on her she'd leave him instantly. But this was different; she really hadn't any concrete proof.
Perhaps this is just a mistake. What if Charlotte and he had simply shared the same fork when eating? She could have brushed up against him while serving? I’m overreacting. Austere has never done anything like this to me. Its silly to jump to conclusions.
She was truly convinced that this might have been a mistake; perhaps Austere had just been spending too much time drinking with Charlotte there to wait on him. Hermione fully expected that anyone who stayed around with Charlotte for long enough would reek of her cheap scent.
The other part didn't care mainly that Austere may have cheated, more to the fact that if Severus ever found out, she would be mortified. He would have mocked her or worse, pitied her.
That's what it seemed to be, an eternal game that Hermione needed to have the upper hand on. She needed to prove Snape wrong, for whatever reason. That she and Austere would live happily ever after.
Perhaps it lay in her childhood and his cruel tendencies, but for whatever reason she wasn't going to confess anything to anyone. The walls seemed to have ears.
* * *
"Have you seen my son?"
Hermione shot a look to her friend's across the table before shooting a small glance towards the older woman that had just spoken.
"No I know where Austere is. He won't be here for dinner," she shook her graying head, "I was referring to Severus."
There was a hushed silence, and Ron glanced at Hermione curiously. She almost felt his penetrating gaze as she ate her soup quietly and refused to look up as she spoke.
"I believe he's in his room."
Eileen sniffed in response, and then gazing at the young Hermione a moment spoke again.
"I wish Severus had found someone like you Hermione."
The spoon in Hermione's hand felt from her trembling grasp at these words and clattered on the table, causing everyone to look at her in surprise. Why was she always saying strange things like that? Was she getting senile?
Ron was looking the most interested and shot her a wary smile before smirking in delight. "Why do you say that?"
Eileen stiffened as he addressed her, it was common knowledge that she hated Quidditch players. Ron was Hermione's friend though, and so she felt obligated to be civil with him.
"Because," she sipped her drink, "Austere is younger, he has the disposition for woman. Severus has been alone for far too long."
No wonder he hates you so much, Hermione thought irritably, Always telling strangers how lonesome he is. No wonder the poor man has a complex.
Eileen was still talking, and what she said actually pertained and interested the curious Hermione. Eileen winked at the flustered young girl with coy knowledge.
"You see, Hermione's the only woman he can stand. It seems that she would have complimented him."
"Really?" Ron drawled, looking dramatically to Harry as they both exchanged surreptitious looks of disgust. Snape and Hermione? Ugh, it was bad enough she was going to be stuck with Austere.
"What do you mean I'm the only woman he can stand?" Hermione was near laughing at this, "you've seen us together; we can't even hold a civil conversation."
Eileen was about to speak again when Severus himself strolled into the room, glaring at his ex students, and letting his gaze fall on a flushed and ignoring Hermione Granger. He knew they had been talking about him, that much was evident by the way that they had hushed the moment he had appeared at the doorway.
His eyes lifted and settled on his mother who gave him a knowing wink. He frowned and took the only seat available, next to Hermione.
She shifted in her seat, suddenly wishing that she had rushed from the table before he had even come into the room. Now she had to suffer, hearing his voice was exquisite torture.
"Pass the bread," he ordered to a wide-eyed Ginny who did so with a scornful look at Hermione. Hermione was too busy buttering her bread to take notice, not even seeing as Snape shot her a look out of the corner of his eyes.
Oh God no.
Charlotte came over, her voice tinkling as Hermione suppressed a groan. The mere scent of that lipstick was making her sick, and she wanted nothing more than to bolt from her seat. But then they'd get the wrong idea and think she was leaving because of Severus.
What am I going to do? I'm going to go mad in this house. Crazy mother-in-law's, horribly trashy maids, friends acting bizarrely.
Then there was the matter of Snape sitting next to her, breathing and talking to Harry in that sonorous voice of his. He was trying to be civil at least this time; not mentioning Harry and Ginny's young love.
Hermione took a long sip of from her wineglass, watching as Charlotte opened a new bottle and offered Snape a glass.
Snape nodded, not paying attention to Charlotte but more immersed himself in his dinner, shoveling potatoes into his down turned mouth. Hermione was breathing shallowly, the room was starting to spin. Charlotte backed away, not so intent on impressing the elder Snape.
And why should she? She's got yours.
The food tasted rubbery, the smell of the chicken intermingling with that horrid scent of cherries was beginning to make her sick. What had Charlotte done, bathed in it?
Harry was still chatting with Snape, trying to be polite as Ron and Ginny whispered to one another, looking from Hermione to Snape and nodding.
Hermione knew none of this, the world becoming groggy as she felt. She was being played. Austere, her fiancé, he had slept with Charlotte of all people. Hermione just knew it. Why wasn’t she doing something to intervene? Why didn't she care enough? Wasn’t it strange that her pride was wounded but not her heart?
Snape's arm brushed her own as he reached for his wine glass and she shifted her arm closer to her side. She did this to protect herself from more contact as he openly looked to her and then away once more. He was watching her. She gripped her fork tightly in her hands, feeling the cool metal bite into her palm.
"Are you quite alright Miss Granger?" came the velvety voice at her right, causing her to stir a bit. "You look quite ill."
Hermione struggled to stand, the people and world before her spinning at the knowledge that everything she had held sacred was quickly unraveling. She knocked over her chair in the process and didn't notice as Snape was preparing to stand as well.
"I don't feel very well," she mumbled to her friends, finally standing fully and feeling the room start to spin.
Her head grew tight and her knees felt like jelly. She glanced over to Snape who had stood at her side and was looking down at her severely. His dark eyes were the only thing she could focus upon, and soon she couldn't even make those out as it was all becoming a spinning blob. She was about to cry out for Harry to catch her when it all went black.
Moments later she was being talked to, her eyelids fluttering with each syllable. Smooth and velvety was the voice; she needn't open her eyes to see who it was. She felt the covers of her bed underneath her and she grasped them to make sure this wasn't a horrible nightmare.
Sudden a heavy hand was upon her shoulder, gently shaking her as he spoke lowly, her eyelids finally darting open to see Snape looking down at her over his long nose, eyes narrowed. Fear suddenly clutched her as she darted up on her elbows, blinking and feeling disoriented.
"You haven't been reading my mind have you?" she blurted out in the quiet bedroom, not seeing the hurt that resided in those darkening eyes of his.
"No," his voice was stern and steady. "I was a bit preoccupied in catching you before you fainted and cracked your head on the hardwood floor downstairs."
Hermione's breathing hitched, Snape had held her against him? He had carried her upstairs? She was feeling faint again, and she put a hand to her forehead, leaning back onto the pillow not meeting his inquisitive eyes.
"I don't know why I fainted."
He didn't answer this, only gave a short not that proved he had heard her. She noticed now, her eyes getting used to the dim candlelight that they were indeed in her room. He was sitting on the edge of her spacious bed, closer than needed.
"Thank you for catching me."
Again no words were spoken, but his nod gave her all the words she needed. A small smile of thanks was upon her lips before leaving with thoughts of Austere and Charlotte. She frowned as he spoke.
“Are you happy with Austere?”
Hermione blinked at him in surprise. She felt the flush of wounded pride cross her features before schooling them. She didn’t need Snape mocking her for being so unlikeable that his little brother had run off with the help. She forced a small smile on her pale face.
“Yes, of course.”
"Miss Granger," Snape suddenly said darkly, his voice low and quite frightening in the dar. "I think it would be best if you and I didn't converse anymore. At all.”
Hermione looked to him in confusion, she didn't know why but these words angered and saddened her, although she knew that this was the most practical thing. The way she was starting to feel around Snape wasn't healthy, not for a woman about to marry his brother anyway.
"For your best interest," He looked paler than usual, his eyes blinking rapidly a moment before stopping and his words spilling from his full lips. "I don't need a reason. Just obey my words and all will be fine. I promise."
He stood then, preparing to go to the door with Hermione sputtering about on the bed. When she finally saw his hands on the doorknob she shakily threw her legs over the side of the bed and made her way over to him, pushing his shoulder angrily.
"Enough of this cryptic nonsense!” she cried. He whirled around, peering at her, his lips thinning and twitching a bit.
Hermione had gone too far to back down now, and she felt her words tumble from her lips before her mind had a chance to catch up.
"I said enough," Hermione's eyes were flashing. "I want to know why you're being like this. Why I'm having these dreams and-"
"Dreams?" his voice was scarcely above a whisper, and she felt her stomach bottom out at the sound.
He paled even more, clutching the knob to the door and looked away from her momentarily, looking to the door and muttering under his breath something like; "this is completely unacceptable."
Hermione sighed, looking up to him and really seeing him. The years at Hogwarts hadn't done much to change him, same hair, and same scowl but in his eyes there was something more.
He was so close to her in was almost suffocating, and all that was heard was their breathing in the cold room. He hadn't made a motion to move from her presence, and she realized with a dawning unease that she didn't want him to. She was so terribly confused; everything was changing in her life except Snape. He was always crass, always miserable and always the same.
Thoughts of Austere and Charlotte soon filtered into her mind, and perhaps that's what made her do what she did next.
Snape was still standing, gazing at her, his pale hand carelessly on the doorknob almost preparing to open it. Hermione felt her stomach bottoming out, her body trembling with something that wasn't quite pleasure or fear.
His lips weren't too far, and in a sudden confused motion she had stood on tip toes and pressed her mouth against Snape's. She went tumbling into him as she leaned into the kiss, her fists against his chest as she felt his lips tighten a moment before he responded, pulling her to him as if it were habit.
She pressed against him softly, his arms around her waist and shoulders. This was nothing like kissing Austere; it was if her own lips had been perfectly molded to fit Severus’. She moaned as his tongue slid through her parted lips expertly, the kiss deepening as he ran his hands down her side, rubbing his pelvis against her own in the darkened bedroom.
No. This is wrong.
Even though these thoughts rang through her head, she continued kissing him; clinging to him for dear life. His tongue flicked against her own and her nipples hardened at that sensation. Don’t stop.
She felt his palm travel upward to cup a swelling breast as he tasted her mouth, her arms suddenly around his neck as she tried to keep up with his masterful tongue and soft yet commanding lips.
This was wrong.
"No," he suddenly cried out shakily, pushing her away slightly as she gulped and ran her tongue over her lips a moment. "This was never to be."
What was he on about? She took a few steps back, her face reddening as she looked to him.
"Never to be?" she asked breathlessly, squinting at him in the darkness and concealing a small whimper. "What are you talking about?"
She had wanted him right there by the door, she wanted him, not Austere. This couldn't just be cold feet, this was full out lust for a man that prior to five minutes ago despised her and told her he didn't want to converse with her anymore. But she realized she gladly would have gone to bed with him. Where did these thoughts and yearnings come from? Why did she long for him so? Why did it feel so bloody right?
"Remember what I said about keeping distances," he finally muttered, pulling to the door and giving her one last longing look. His stance stiffened his eyes colder. "And just forget everything else."
She hadn't time to question his uncharacteristic confession for he had already shut her door quietly behind him, leaving her alone in the room, confused and heartbroken.
* * *
"You look lovely."
Hermione stood in front of the mirror, twirling femininely about in her black ball gown and trying to enjoy the way it swished around her feet. It was hard. This entire experience was turning into a disaster. She grasped the glass of champagne that had been left for her and emptied it quickly.
Although she hadn't proof that Austere and Charlotte had been up to anything, she wasn't going to completely turn a blind eye. It hurt her, deeply. She would be keeping an eye out, but in the meantime – he hadn’t actually done anything wrong had he?
He's the best thing that's happened to you...don't blow it on suspicion and cold feet.
Perhaps she had just grown so dependent upon Austere that she was afraid to be alone. That was something Hermione hadn’t wanted to observe in herself. Harry and Ginny had each other, Ron had, well his legion of fan girls and she, she would be alone. She had considered herself lucky to have a man as intelligent and as handsome as Austere could love her.
"I've got to go downstairs for something," Austere said, rising from her bed and giving her a smacking kiss against the cheek as she nodded, smiling faintly. “You’re going to knock everyone out in that dress tomorrow night.”
Austere had been up in her bedroom, seeing if she was all right for he had gotten wind of the fainting spell. He hadn't noticed the flushed complexion to Hermione, thank goodness. She had tried to turn his attention to something else, quickly scrambling into her ball gown.
He gave her a small smile and wink and headed out the door, leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts.
She'd gone and kissed Severus, Austere's brother for God's sake! He'd never forgive her. He mustn’t find out. A knock from behind her on the door suddenly stirred her from her thoughts and her heart nearly stopped.
She held her breath, waiting for Severus to stroll in and yell at her for whatever reason. It seemed whenever she thought of him he would just appear. Her relief was immediate when it was Harry that waltzed in, looking at her with tender emotion.
Hermione, not used to such attention from Harry looked down at her dress, thinking there must be a snag or such. She looked up to those brilliant green eyes once more, blinking rapidly.
"Is there something wrong?"
Harry chuckled, shaking his head and making his way over to her bed, lying on it and watching the women about to be married, in reality the closest thing he'd had to a Mother and a Sister combined. Always had his best interest at heart, willing to do anything for him. He smiled at her genuinely.
"No 'Mione, you look beautiful."
Hermione blushed humbly, thanking him softly and turning back to the mirror to check her hair. "Should I wear it up or down?"
Harry shrugged, as most men would at such a question. "Erm, I-"
Hermione rolled her eyes good naturedly, "don't worry about it," she paused, turning to face him. "What's the problem? Why are you here? Not that I don't love the company."
Harry smirked, his hair ruffling a bit as he shrugged, yawning a bit. "A chat I suppose."
He grew solemn then, a rare thing for Harry lately. His eyes almost seemed to dim as he threw a scrupulous look at the soon to be Mrs. Snape.
"Hermione, do you really, truly love Austere?"
The words finally came, choked and false sounding.
"Of course I do."
"I don't see it."
Hermione sighed heavily, "he's the best thing to happen to me Harry. And as one of my best friend's I need you to know and accept that. I love him Harry. I do."
Harry nodded, leaning back and rocking a bit before speaking again, looking to his childhood friend with large eyes imploring.
"You're sure about this?"
"Yes Harry. I am."
Harry was silent again, his lips in a curvature of a small frown. He spoke, changing the subject instantly as he viewed Hermione's nervous wringing of her hands.
"Are you nervous?"
Hermione stiffened at this for some reason, turning and raising a quizzical eyebrow at Harry. He broke into a fit of laughter before speaking again.
"God, don't do that. You look just like Professor Snape."
Hermione laughed a bit at that, wondering why it sounded so forced. Truth be told, thinking about him at all sent her out of sorts, especially after tonight's little make-out session. He really was gifted with that tongue of his.
"The insult of all insults," she choked out as Harry's smile lessened, his eyes still trained on Hermione.
She felt the need to speak again, the silence growing deafening in her own ears.
"I'm just glad I never had a detention with him,” Hermione smirked, fixing the hem of the dress once more absently. “Can you imagine?”
When Harry didn't laugh back at this bizarre sounding scenario she looked into the mirror and caught Harry's befuddled expression staring back at her. She turned to look at him with an eyebrow raised.
"What is it Harry?"
He looked puzzled, almost angry at his confusion. He parted his lips to speak, then slammed them shut again. Then suddenly he spoke, quietly confused.
"But Hermione, you had loads of detentions with him.”
Chapter 15: Tunnel of Confusion
This was the last bloody straw.
"Are you joking?"
Harry's eyes were wide and he raised a dark eyebrow, as if it was she that was jesting. But the look of total helpless confusion only affirmed that she was oblivious to his prior statement's meaning. But, she had had many detentions with the git. Harry remembered it,
"No, I'm not joking. You had one almost every Friday night in year seven. You always managed to do something stupid in class that Snape gave you detention for. Then, well, near the end of the year they just stopped."
Hermione was white as a sheet, looking to her childhood friend as she raised a trembling hand to her lips. "Why don't I remember any of this?"
Where had these memories gone? Why? Hermione shook her head, grasping Harry by the scruff of his collar and dragging the tall, lanky to the door. He was voicing his complaint, the confusion etched on his brow.
"I need you to go Harry. Now."
She opened the door and thrust the young man out of her room. She followed Harry out of her room and down the hallway, her ball gown floating behind her as she saw him safely to his room before doubling back.
She was going to see Severus.
She stood outside his door, shaking with fear and anger and anticipation. This was it; Severus Snape was going to tell her what was happening. She was sick of all this confusion, all this misguided passion and anger. She was going to get an explanation
* * *
He hadn't been expecting a knock at his door near midnight and so he resolutely ignored it. He had indeed been awake, shifting through a dark black book a sad look upon his pale face. He didn't wish to be interrupted and besides he was sure it was Charlotte trying to gain his favor.
The knocking on his door suddenly grew urgent and a muffled voice from the other side drew his attention.
"Open the door. Now."
His eyes had darted from the large volume which he gracelessly shoved betwixt his two mattresses and strode to the door, the scowl already on his face as he recognized the voice. After all he had said about staying away, she was here!
He flung the door open, glaring openly at the young woman before him, decked out in her resplendent ballgown. He tightened the belt of his robe, glancing down at Hermione with a severe look.
"What may I ask is the emergency?"
She didn't answer, merely shoved him to the side, much to his shock and strode over to his bed. He was about to object when she leaned over and grasped the spine of the book from in between the two mattresses and dragged it out. It landed with a large thud onto the floor and Severus felt his panic spike.
"If this is about the kiss Miss Granger, I agree that it was an unwise venture."
Nonplussed and ignoring the increasingly frantic Professor, Hermione grasped the heavy book again and walked over to his writing desk. She opened the book, her dark eyebrows furrowing as she read the inscription once more. Severus had been quiet during this entire exchange, and only now spoke darkly.
"What exactly do you think you're doing?"
She went back to the book, turning another page until she had reached the first of the swirling gray boxes again. She didn't see his eyes widen and instead licked her lips in anticipation.
No more mystery.
She suddenly raised her forefinger and prepared to stick it into the swirling masses. She had just skimmed the cool surface of one of the milky gray boxes when she was faintly aware of Severus rushing over and yelling at her.
"Don't touch that you silly littl-!"
He grasped her forearm, trying to tug her out, but it was too late. Already a clear liquid had spouted up her arms, and now latched onto the livid Professor's. They shook at the cold contact and were suddenly encased in the trap.
In a matter of moments they were rigid, eyes squeezed shut and traveling through a hazy mist. Hermione felt her stomach churning and suddenly she opened her eyes, seeing the mist around them as she stood shakily on the cold ground. It was dark, cold and silent.
The question was where were they?
* * *
Ginny looked up from her bridesmaid dress, fixing a stray button on the lavender dress, her large eyes were now though focused intently upon the young man that had come blundering into their room.
She had been hurriedly working on this for some time, wondering if this wedding should even continue. She had her suspicions about Austere, and now he was conveniently missing? She didn't trust him as far as she could throw Harry..
She looked up as Harry had rushed into the room, his hair even more askew than normal and a look on his face that was a mixture of confusion and total, utter panic. Ginny felt her features drop as she viewed her lover looking so terrified.
"What is it Harry? You look as if you've seen a ghost."
That was a laugh; Harry shook his head, his bolted scar peeking out behind his fringe as he did so. He was uneasily making his way over to Ginny. "No. Much worse than that I'm afraid."
She stopped her sewing. "What did you do Harry?"
Ginny was extremely worried her husband had done something completely stupid and gone and told everything she had told him in confidence to Hermione. She'd never forgive her if she found out her true opinion of Austere.
Harry's convoluted words were shaky and halted, as if he were searching for the right words and just not finding them. "I mean, didn't Hermione have detentions all the time in seventh year? With Snape?"
Ginny wrinkled her brow giving an off handed shrug as she looked to the worried Harry. What had detention to do with anything? Hermione had turned quite clumsy in Potions class in her seventh year. When Ron had relayed the information to his younger sister, Ginny had confronted her about it. Hermione had shrugged, claiming that her upcoming O.W.L.’s and Snape’s presence was intimidating her. The topic was resolutely dropped and eventually the detentions ceased altogether.
"Yes, so? Why's that a problem Harry?"
Harry was silent a moment, drawing nearer to his wife. He was very confused and had a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach. Surely something was amiss here, something terribly wrong.
"Well, when I mentioned it to Hermione she looked like she'd seen a ghost. She doesn't remember anything of it. She claims she never had a detention with the man in all her life."
Ginny dropped her sewing project. "I don't believe it."
"Yeah well, she and Snape have been acting so strangely towards one another, almost like they know each other really well. I mean, I don't remember Hermione ever yelling at Snape in school and now here she is at the manor and they’re in screaming matches," he drifted to their bed and lay upon it, eyes transfixed on the ceiling as he spoke.
"And now she's gone to confront him about it all."
Ginny was walking around their room and looked scrupulous. She was muttering to herself trying to decipher this mystery.
Acting strangely towards one another, school, clumsy, detentions.
Ginny suddenly realized the answer and her eyes settled into wide saucers as she whirled around to face her love on the bed. He looked to Ginny in surprise, propping himself up on his elbows. She knew what had happened.
* * *
Hermione opened her eyes and saw that they were what appeared to be, in the middle of a long hallway with a sharp light in front of them. Hermione looked around in the darkness and noticed that she wasn't alone in this strange place; Snape was standing next to her and looking furious. It was getting colder where they were, and she shivered looking regrettably over to the older man.
She felt rather stupid standing next to Snape in her ballgown, and crossed her arms over her chest, trying to look menacing. He looked none too impressed, in the exact same stance glaring at her. She had to ask him, but she feared his answer.
"Where are we Professor?"
He was silent a moment before his solemn voice drifted out from the darkness, in a weary sort of sigh. "In the book."
"The book with our initials?"
"Brilliant deduction Granger, it’s a wonder you weren't sorted into Ravenclaw."
Hermione ignored the sarcasm from his voice, having heard a noise from in front of them. She moved closer to the light at the end of the tunnel and noticed he was grudgingly moving alongside her.
"You don't have to come with me, Professor."
"I haven't much of a choice Granger."
Hermione winced and looked ahead of her, the light dimming a bit now that they were close enough to it. Hermione peered ahead and noticed that there was a small silvery hole.
"What the-" she uttered as she stepped near it, about to poke her head through it. She was halfway there when his hand fell heavily upon her shoulder and dragged her back.
"Don't do that."
"You have no power over me," she dragged her shoulder from his grasp as he frowned, stepping in front of her, "and I'm no longer your student."
"You don't understand,” he said as she protested, "I've continually tried to keep this from you. All of it. For a damn good reason. After you see this you can't just forget. You won't be able to forget. Just step back and perhaps we can still go back."
Hermione peered into his face, confused at the emotions playing upon it. He looked both upset and exhausted all at once. But Hermione had to forge ahead; this was it, either she could go back, marry Austere and pretend she and Severus never had anything- Or she could find out what he was hiding.
"I don't want to know," she said dimly and he breathed a sigh of relief before she spoke next. "I need to know."
With that, she gave a great mighty shove and stuck not only her head into the silvery hole but her whole body, leaving Snape standing alone in the dimming hallway and debating whether or not to follow her.
* * *
Ginny rushed down the hall with Harry after her, calling and telling her he needed an explanation.
"I haven't time to explain it now Harry!" Ginny exclaimed, rushing ahead.
"GINERVA WEASLEY You stop right there!" Harry shouted, his face turning almost purple as he ran to catch up with her, her slippers patting against the floor of the manor. He looked around, recognizing the hallway. They were heading for Hermione's room. Ginny whirled around, her hair in a mass of red as she glared at him.
"Don't you understand Harry? This is more than just an innocent affection," at this Harry raised an eyebrow and she continued. "Hermione's going to be trapped forever in a loveless marriage...a sham of a marriage."
"And as her friends it’s our duty to help her. We have to stop her before she does something stupid."
"Ginny, luv-“ he reached out an arm to hold her back.
"Harry enough stalling; do you want Hermione stuck married to prat Austere? I certainly don't!"
She had just whirled around once and landed smack into the clothed chest of one angry looking Austere Snape.
* * *
Hermione stepped through the hole, marveling at it a moment as any know-it-all eager for knowledge would. She ran her hand over the filmy substance before standing upright and looking behind her.
She saw Snape crawling inside behind her, growling at her to come back before it was too late. Hermione sighed, looking to him uneasily and not sure whether to listen to him.
You're never going to get answers if you keep running from the truth, Hermione.
With that determination she ignored him, turning and nearly gasping. She looked around the still and dimly lit room that they were encased in. Its familiar walls and coldness causing tight goosebumps along Hermione's bare shoulders.
Cauldrons sat, messy and haphazardly strewn on top of several desks in the classroom. Something about this was familiar to Hermione, but she chose to watch passively and not exercise her memory unnecessarily.
When she realized where they were exactly there was no denying she felt her heart going like a jackhammer. Her eyes widened as she took in the scene and heard a small noise from the other side of the door. Her eyes darted to his stoic face as he clenched his teeth.
"We're in your classroom, Professor."
He didn't speak, only gave a vague nod that showed he heard her and that she was indeed correct. His lips were in a thin frown and he didn't appear too comfortable. Hermione suddenly felt her stomach lurch and she winced at the fear washing over her. Something serious was about to happen, something that Snape didn’t want her to see.
As if in habit, she clutched Snape's arm in worry and looked to him with an anxious look of fear in her dark eyes. He looked at her briefly and to her relief didn't recoil in disgust, he just simply didn't move.
"Let's go back," she offered, suddenly frantic as the doorknob began to jangle, its clinking making her even more worried. Someone was going to catch them, whatever was on the other side of the door was most definitely not happy.
“You were right."
He frowned, sighing as he shook his head. "I tried to warn you Miss Granger. I gave you every opportunity. Now we cannot return until this is whole ordeal is over."
"What? Until what is over?"
He didn't speak, merely pointed over her shoulder as she followed his long forefingers, and held in a gasp. The door was suddenly opened with a bang, and...
There was she and Severus.
But, it appeared this was her Seventh year. She was wearing her Head Girl badge on her cloak, and she could glimpse the knee socks that poked out of the bottom of the robe as she walked disparagingly into the classroom after the miserable Professor.
Professor Snape moved from her and sat at his desk, pointing to the direction of the cauldrons before grasping a quill in his hands and writing. He was muttering to her as she nodded, her chin trembling as she tried to maintain her dignity.
I'm about to cry.
Hermione was at a loss for words, and looked to the sullen Snape in shock. How was this happening? When did she ever have detention? She had no recollection of ever getting into so much trouble with him.
"They can't hear you and you can't touch them,” Snape confessed in a surly tone, his arms crossed and her hands dropped from his arm as a harsh look of emotion washed over him.
Hermione nearly jumped at the sound of her own voice as she watched her former self. The jump in her step, the light in her eyes, even the way she talked was lighter. She seemed freer. She wasn't the woman she was now and she found she envied her younger self.
"What is it Granger?"
Hermione looked to the image of Severus and tried to hold in a confused laugh, he was looking, well, identical to what he looked like now. Sullen, miserable, angry.
"Did you say I was to clean every cauldron without magical aid?"
Hermione looked to herself and shook her head, silly little girl. She should never question Snape's orders. Everyone knew that! She felt her own heart pounding as she watched her former self looking to the professor.
"Are you deaf, Miss Granger?"
"Then I assume asking me to repeat my orders is just a confirmation of your own ignorance?"
Hermione saw her former self clench her fists at her side, looking to him with a furious look in her dark eyes. Snape was busily writing something down on parchment, looking quite pleased with his latest insult towards the head girl of Gryffindor.
Hermione wanted to reach out to the girl, tell her not to say anything but that wasn't really Hermione Granger's style, even at eighteen.
"No sir,” the tone was scathing and Hermione could have laughed at the way Snape's quill suddenly stopped moving and he looked up to her with a look of surprised admonition.
"I said, no sir," she was gulping now, showing the fear that she had managed to suppress until that moment. "I just wasn't sure that I heard your orders as you mumbled them when we walked in."
I accussed Professor Snape of mumbling? Did I have a death wish?
"I assure you Granger," he said in a faintly bemused tone, "I don't mumble. If you weren't so preoccupied in thinking of other ways to sneak into my private storage listening to simple instructions wouldn't be a problem."
So that's what I did. I stole something from his storage. Hermione was impressed with herself, But why?
"I didn't steal it," the young Hermione responded indignantly, "I left two sickles on your desk for it. You're the only one who carried the supply that I knew of and I knew you wouldn't just hand it over to me."
He was furious now and standing behind his desk as he placed his palms upon the smooth surface.
"You think leaving me behind sickles is perfectly acceptable for coming into my storage after hours under the confines of an Invisibility cloak and taking supplies?"
"It was only one dragon's tooth."
"The dragon's tooth," Hermione murmured to no one in particular as she stood, shivering in the cold. "I forgot where I obtained it from. I got it from your storage? I always thought I got it in Hogsmeade."
Snape didn't answer, just watched the scene still going on before them, a small look of forlorn pity on his face for the younger Granger.
The image Snape was turning red with anger now, coming over to her and positively shaking. Hermione now could see how tall Severus really was compared to her. He was almost a good foot taller than her, no wonder she'd been so petrified of him. He leaned down, peering into her face until they were eye to eye and Hermione was trembling.
"Listen here you silly little girl," his eyes were flashing as she looked to his face with passionate fury, "you're lucky I didn't have you expelled for your frivolous little experiment."
She was quiet, her voice almost silent in comparison to his booming one. He was still in her face, a few more inches and their noses would be touching. "It's for an important project Professor."
He stood straight once more, a sneer upon his face as he openly mocked her with that steely voice of his. "Oh, and what could that be?"
Hermione now looked to the image of Snape who looked decidedly uncomfortable. The Snape at her side wasn't watching, more looking off to the side with a wistful look in his eyes.
"I can’t tell you, sir."
He let out a small choked snort as he shook his head in disgust. He made his way back over to his desk, collapsing into the chair and leaning back, something rare for him. He peered at the girl who now turned from him and sneered at her back.
"Ten points for idiotic ambiguity Granger, and another detention next Friday."
Hermione didn't answer, only went back starting on the cauldron's, under the careful scrutiny of Snape.
Hermione at the side of the room felt her dark eyes filling with tears. "What is all of this? Why would you give me detention? That dragon's tooth helped to create the potion that saved you from Nagini’s bite."
He flinched at the name, looking distant. His rumbling voice was cold, and quiet, a mere murmur. "How could I have known?"
Hermione felt at a loss for words and merely nodded, standing next to him as she watched her former self cleaning. The hair that had been her torment during school had smoothed, not as haphazard as years prior. Her teeth were smaller, she was taller and she looked not too bad in the senior Hermione's eyes.
Hermione could see the determination in her younger self’s face. The intensity and dedication she had towards such a menial chore. One she was sure Snape had been waiting to give her as strict punishment for touching his stores.
It must have been a good half an hour later, after current Hermione circled the room, looking at the two figures and trying to touch them. Just as Snape had promised, they couldn't hear her, nor could she touch them. Her hands went through her own stomach as she looked to it in horror.
Severus still hadn't moved from the shadowy bookcase that they had entered by; he was watching her, calculating. Forever a Slytherin. Hermione walked back, looking to the room and remembering bits and pieces as she did so.
"Harry and Draco got in a fight here," she said absently, "Draco ruined Harry's spectacles and Harry ripped out a good chunk of Draco's hair then I intervened, tried to pull Harry from Draco and you gave me detention. Why didn't I remember that before?"
Snape didn't answer, his eyes were suddenly transfixed upon the young Hermione, whose shoulders were now shaking as she cleaned, small sniffled emitting from her.
Hermione stole a look at Severus wondering if perhaps he would give her an explanation. Instead he was looking over her, to the image Snape who looked utterly perplexed, his arms folded.
The sullen Snape at the desk was now standing, leaning over his desk as he watched Hermione's shoulder's shaking. She didn't answer, only continued scrubbing. He looked angry and perplexed.
Why am I crying?
Her eyes were solemn as she watched her former self furiously brushing back tears on the back of her hand, sniffling before answering shakily.
"Some dust got in my eye, sir."
Snape didn't appear to believer her, and instead had a sudden worried look on his face. Hermione calculated that he probably thought she had cut her hand, under his care and that Dumbledore would be furious. He never really approved of Snape's harsher detentions.
He was at her side in a matter of moments, seeing the last of the tears spilling before she caught sight of him and stopped, her breath shaky and her eyes watery. Snape looked completely taken aback at the sight.
"You're crying Granger."
"I'm not, sir."
"Yes you are. What's the trouble?" he must have realized how un-Snape like that sounded because he immediately followed that with a sneering, "worried you'll get less than 100 percent in all your classes?"
Hermione suddenly glared up at him, looking more furious that she had ever seen herself. She threw down the soapy rag that he had so kindly left for her and stood, looking to him in anger.
"Why do you even care? You, you greasy overgrown bat!" The words were loud and sputtering from the young woman that Hermione had been, her dark eyes flashing as her Professor looked to her in shock.
"What did you say?" The former Snape whispered, looking livid. His eyes darkening as he stalked towards his prey, his furious, know-it-all prey.
"You heard me!" she shouted, throwing her hands into the air in exasperation. "You're always so cruel to me, when I do nothing but try to help you! You’re constantly berating me, trying to get me to fail and I'm sick of it!"
Snape grasped her by the upper arm, dragging her to him as he glared at her. "Evidently the potion fumes are going to your head Miss Granger. Surely you as a top student and Head Girl wouldn't be so stupid as to actually insult a Professor."
Hermione tried to release from his grasp, but it was hard and she finally had to meet his imploring dark eyes, speaking in a smug tone that matched her smirk. "I believe I just did, Professor"
There was a pregnant pause as Hermione watched herself in the harsh grasp of one Professor. It was what one would define as 'too close' given the circumstances. Hermione could see the huff’s of Snape’s breath blowing the hair at her temple, the way young Hermione’s dark eyes were darting from Snape’s mouth to his eyes and back to his mouth.
No. I wouldn’t.
Hermione watched as her younger self took a deep breath in a hurried motion Hermione had pushed her mouth against Professor Snape’s – much like Hermione had done with Severus only a few days before. She watched with her jaw dropped as Snape’s eyes narrowed on Hermione and her eager mouth. He pushed her off of him, his hands flying to her shoulders.
“What on earth are you doing, Granger?”
Hermione was panting, her face red and her mouth reddened from the harsh kiss she’d given her professor.
“I don’t know,” young Hermione offered looking shattered, “I, I suppose it’s just with Voldemort invading we could die at any time and… I’ve always wanted to kiss you, Professor. And I considered that this was my only chance.”
Snape gaped at the young woman before him, trying to calculate what he should say. Hermione Granger wanted to kiss him? He searched her face for any chance of falsehood, capturing her eyes with his own.
He’s reading my mind, Hermione observed from the other side of the room. He doesn’t believe me.
There was silence as the man presumably read the girl’s thoughts. Hermione couldn’t move, fixated in space by the man’s intent gaze. And suddenly, without warning, Snape’s mouth had captured hers.
Moaning into each other's mouths, Snape gripped Hermione’s shoulders more tightly. He crushed her lips under his as he snaked an arm around her waist, drawing her close as she wrapped her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss.
"Wha-?" the older Hermione admonished, looking to Severus who looked utterly destroyed beside her. "Why are we kissing? Is this some perverted fantasy book of yours?"
The kissing was continuing, Snape having just backed Hermione into the wall near the edge of the dungeon, kissing her until she was breathless. She moaned deeply as he pinned her to the wall with his torso, his tongue seeking entry into her eager mouth. The younger Hermione was kissing him as fast as he was her; not minding in the least as he pressed into her, emitting small whimpers from her as her eyes slid shut and she succumbed to his powerful lips.
"We have to stop."
The older Hermione suddenly jerked her head to the scene before her and felt her heart stop as the image Snape uttered these words. He had pulled away from her former self and was looking utterly confused as to why he had kissed her back.
"I'm sorry Professor," Hermione was red, wiping her mouth with her hand as she stood shaking before him. "I don't know wha-"
"No apologies are needed Miss Granger," he was paler than usual and looking a bit disoriented as he gazed at her. "We'll just put this behind us, instantly."
Hermione was still red, and nodding. "Right. Of course."
Snape was still standing close to her, still watching her from behind hooded eyes. There was passion there. "You may leave early Miss Granger."
"Yes sir," Hermione grasped her bag and headed to the door with Snape trailing behind her. Suddenly she whirled around, meeting his eyes and trying her best not to blush. "I'm sorry for taking the tooth without your permission."
Snape didn't answer, just watched as she reached for the door handle and twisted it, sighing lightly as she did. Snape must have heard her because he suddenly unfurled his arms and moved closer to her.
"Miss Granger," Snape suddenly said, grasping her wrist on afterthought. He drew her to him again, and she didn't struggle. Again his lips were upon her own, gently and then parting her lips for his tongue to slide into a welcoming mouth.
Hermione felt herself blushing as she stood next to Severus, watching as the two of them were kissing passionately, grasping onto one another as if their lives depended upon it. Their small whimpers and moans were the only things heard in the silent room.
Suddenly they broke apart with Snape, still holding her to him. He looked completely horrified with himself at his actions.
"I must apologize again," he began, trying to speak as Hermione shook her head, placing a small hand over his lips. She gave him a small smile, showing she understood his distress.
He nodded, going rigid as he let her go. She grasped her bag from near her feet and looked to him tenderly a moment. She looked confused, aroused and most of all understanding. Snape was standing by the door, watching as she was leaving. Suddenly Hermione saw on his face that he needed to say something, prove to her that he wasn't cold.
"I'll see you for your detention next Friday then."
Hermione looked to him, seeing no malice in his words only compassionate worry. Would she return to him?
The older Hermione watched this, her own heart pounding as she watched them standing awkwardly in the doorframe, Hermione looking confused a moment. Say yes you idiot!..Say yes!
"Of course Professor," her smile was genuine and looking a bit nervous she added in a soft afterthought. "I'd love to."
She looked up to see his eyes flood with relief, and his stance relax. He nodded, a whisper of a smile upon his lips. Hermione peered around the corner a moment and then suddenly pressed her lips to his, giving him a small kiss before pulling away and rushing out the door.
The swirling hole behind Hermione and Severus was suddenly growing larger, not that Hermione noticed. She was watching her ex. Professor closing the door and was that an actual smile on the overgrown bats face?
She hadn't time to care about that as the Severus to her immediate left had grasped her arm and was dragging her through the hole until they were again in the hallway. It was silent, and considering what they had just witnessed together, it felt quite intimate.
Suddenly a swirling white light was above them and Snape grasped her, bringing her into his arms as she obliged without question. Their eyes shut immediately as the light brightened and when her eyes opened again, they found themselves back in Snape's room, still holding onto one another. Hermione looked to him and he let her go, moving across the room. She watched him, feeling a faint blush rise to her cheeks as she spoke.
"I gave this book to you?"
"Why would I give you this book of dreams or fantasies? The-"
“They aren’t fantasies,” Snape cut her off with a small grimace, looking to her as if she were about to learn the biggest secret of her life. He strode over to her and grasped her shoulders, looking into her eyes so that his words would be taken quite seriously.
"They are memories Miss Granger. Our memories."
Chapter 16: Exploring Further
Her voice was barely above a whisper as she looked incredulously at her ex Professor, her eyes widening as the realization dawned on her. He pulled away, worried by her actions. By all accounts he had been expecting her to slap him, accuse him of lying and scream at the top of her lungs. Finally it seemed to register in the depths of those lovely eyes of hers.
Hermione suddenly did a double take almost knocking over a stack of books by his bed. She crossed the room where he stood leaning against the back of his chair stiffly.
"Our memories?" she finally shrieked in disbelief. "WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?"
He was a bit exasperated, this having been quite a long and trying night. Her screeching was doing nothing for the headache that had just sprung up, and he rubbed his temples irritably.
"Surely you know what memories are, Miss Granger."
"I know what they are you git," she spat, looking at him venomously as he watched her with even boredom. "It's just a bit strange, you know, you saying that they're 'our' memories and all. Excuse me if I'm a bit confused."
He seemed to take her answer under consideration and walked to his side table, placing the large black book upon it. He glanced darkly at it a moment and surreptitiously took a glance at Hermione who looked at her wits end. She was pacing, her dark hair flying out behind her as she muttered to herself. What had just happened? They were their memories? It made no sense.
He whirled around, "excuse me?"
"This is all just a trick, to get me from marrying Austere," she was convinced and placed her hands upon her hips. Snape on the other hand looked ready to backhand her.
"Why would I ever feel the compulsion to do such a thing?"
Hermione was silent a moment, her brain on overdrive, "You just don't want me or Austere to be happy, because you hate him so much."
"You would too if you understood the circumstances," he snapped, looking at her harshly, something he was growing quite used to. "He's a backstabbing arse and you're better off without him."
"So you admit you've made all this book thing up?"
He shook his dark head in exasperation. "I never said that. I merely said you could do better than Austere."
Hermione snorted in a very un-ladylike manner, "like who? You?"
Her words hung awkwardly in the air as she saw his face darken, his eyes boring into hers a moment before looking to the space by her shoulder, his arms crossing in a very shield-like manner.
"I understand you’re confused and hurt," he was quietly speaking, his eyes having found a brick in the wall that captured his attention, "and I've tried to explain everything."
Hermione rolled her eyes, drawling her words sarcastically. "Oh yes. Everything is completely clarified for me now."
He peered at her, and stole a few feet closer to her. She was stewing about in biting back tears and anger. When he spoke she felt compelled to meet his entrancing eyes.
"I can just do what I did before," his words were quiet, solemn, as if he hadn't really wanted to offer but felt obligated. Hermione looked to him, the tears now running down her face.
"And what exactly would that be?"
His eyes were bottomless, as if they could swallow her whole. His alluring lips were curved into a thin line and moved only slightly as he spoke, entrancing her with that beckoning voice of his.
"I could obliviate you."
* * *
Ginny was almost silent in the hallway, gazing up at Austere as he glared at her and then at Harry. Austere was a bit taller than Ginny and she felt her stomach flipping in anger and concern.
"Where did you come from?"
"I was just walking around a bit, getting some air," his eyes were glittering malevolently as he viewed the two pathetic creatures before him, grinning at their fear.
"Oh, well," Harry bumbled awkwwardl, "we were just on our-"
"Why don't you care for me?" his voice was light but mocking, ignoring Harry and focusing directly on Ginny as he spoke next. "Are you that afraid of me?"
"No." Ginny was trembling with fury, "We hate you, plain and simple."
"You hate me?" he pointed to himself as if he couldn't believe it.
"We hate you for what you've done to Hermione."
"And what would that be?"
"You've changed her. She's devoted to you against all odds, she doesn't see who you truly are you bloody prick."
He tsked, looking to Ginny with false pity. "Ginerva,, do you honestly believe that?"
"Yes. You've done something to her."
"I've done nothing but be the perfect model of a soon-to-be husband."
"I know you're cheating on her," Harry finally blurted out as the two looked at him with interest. "You’ve been with Charlotte all this time. You stink of her perfume and lipstick."
Austere was quiet, contemplative as he paced around the two, clinging to each other for protection. "You have no proof. Even if you did, Hermione still wouldn't believe you."
Ginny was irritable as she realized he was right.
"She's blinded by her love for you," she muttered, not looking anywhere but him, hoping he felt as bad as he should for treating Hermione the way that he was. Austere looked down his nose at Ginny, a look of victory on his features.
"As she should be."
"What do you mean?"
"You think a smart witch like Hermione would ever fall for a man of the world like myself?" he was almost laughing. "Are you that stupid?"
He stepped closer to the two, making sure his eyes were trained on them both. He looked a bit drunk, surely on Muggle wine. He seemed to indulge in that far too often. He gave Ginny a once over as Harry bit back the urge to throttle him. They'd be of no help to Hermione if they were banished from the estate.
"I need that inheritance money and Hermione and Charlotte were supposed to be that link," he was almost pouting as he explained his dilemma, "I tried to set Charlotte up with Severus then everything would have been perfect. We'd be rolling in money. But no. Nothing. They were repulsed by one another. So of course I felt responsible, it was really my obligation to see she stayed satisfied as well as Hermione of course."
Ginny suddenly moved forward and with a large whirling motion she slapped him across the face, glaring and spitting at him as Harry dragged her back from Austere's oily smile. "How could you do this?"
Ginny was shaking with anger, her face as red as her hair as she viewed the cretin before her, sneering and looking so very calm about the whole affair. "You disgusting bastard." she was positively growling now, "How doesn't Hermione know about all of this?"
Austere grinned, looking at her with a look that conveyed the smug superiority he felt at this moment.
"A little thing I like to call a love potion."
* * *
"Do you repeat everything you don't understand Miss Granger?"
"No. It's just..."
He sneered, waiting for her to go on. When she suddenly moved to the book again he grew panicked. She threw the book onto the bed and motioned for him to sit next to her.
"I want to remember all of it. Right now."
Snape was wary, making his way to stand next to the bed with her placed upon it, the book opened on her lap. It was true, he had gone through that book a thousand times, constantly replaying their memories. But having her angry here with him, why would she even want to remember such things? She hated him!
She wants to remember.
He wearily sat next to her, his arm grazing her own as he did so. She didn't flinch. She opened the book to the second page and peered at the boxes, then looked to her. She was tracing the outline of one of the grey boxes.
"Now, I noticed these words at the side, they’re in Greek."
He gave a whisper of a smile. "You knew I liked Greek."
"Yes. It's in here somewhere," he flipped a few pages, "we had a whole talk about it."
"So this book," she pointed to it, careful not to touch a swirling box. "Is all our memories?"
"Well, when we were together."
Snape and her, an item. Would wonders never cease? She gazed up at the lined face of the man beside her, the bracketed mouth and the sharp eyes. She pointed to a box at bottom, squinting at the words at the side that had her forever curious. "What does this one say?"
Snape squinted at it, looking at the words around the box and offered a reminiscent "halloween party."
"There was a party evidently," he tried to be patient when he saw her scowl. "A masquerade Halloween party."
"And you came?" she viewed his nodding, "but you hate dances."
"I was in disguise, obviously," he was grinning a bit at her surprised face. "No one knew it was me except for you of course."
She grinned a bit back at him, in awe at the fact that she and Severus had had some strange little world that only she and he knew about.
"Strange to believe isn't it?"
She nodded, squinting and seeing some of the swirling boxes had a small red thread running through them. She peered at that and was drawn to it. She glanced at the side of the box and could barely make out anything.
"What does this one say?”
He flushed a bit, preparing to close the book. "I think that's enough for one evening."
Hermione glanced at his pinked cheeks and tore the book from him, prying it back open and looking to the infamous box. Well, actually there were several with red thread running through it.
"What does it say? Stop being so secretive."
Snape grimaced and when he spoke it was quietly. "It's your eighteenth birthday."
Hermione felt her brows knit in confusion. "But I went to Hogsmeade with Harry and Ginny and Ron. It was fun; I had my first taste of fire whiskey."
"You didn't like it, did you?"
"No, I-" she stopped, "I take it you know that already?"
"I do," he smirked a bit, nodding. "You did indeed go to Hogsmeade with your friends during the late afternoon.”
Hermione saw he was getting flushed again and now her interest was piqued beyond imagination. She looked to the swirling box again, smirking up at his worried face.
"I want to see my birthday, a girl doesn't turn eighteen every day you know," she argued, moving his hand from turning the page.
He looked rather embarassed, shaking his head and pushing her hand away again. "No you don't need to see this."
"Yes I do."
“Will you just trust me for once, Hermione?”
Hermione hadn’t time to heed his inquiry because before he could intervene she had already shoved her hand into the silvery swirl, seeing as he backed away from her and shook his head, obviously not wanting to follow this time. She felt her stomach lurch as she disappeared into the mist, wondering what could have Snape of all people so worried.
She ran down the familiar tunnel, sticking her body through the hole at the end and looking at the unfamiliar setting that greeted her on the other side. Before it had been his classroom, now it was different; dark and musky smelling, like a good potion.
She felt a bit of worry fall over her when she recalled Snape’s almost desperate plea for her not to see this memory. Why was she always so stubborn? Why was she always going against what Snape said? Didn't he always have her best interest at heart? It was her damned Gryffindor pride; always had to have things her way.
She realized with dawning clarity that she was in his bedchambers. Strange, she'd always expected him to be so boring...green and boring. No, viewing his chambers she saw he had quite the taste. Landscape paintings covered the room, an antique writing desk near a window, spilling in the sunset of the evening. Decorative pieces met her eyes, and a large looming mahogany bed, one with silken black sheets. Now, that was very Snape-ish.
The room was covered in candles, flickering gently in the light. Hermione noticed a small tray of chocolates at her side on the table, accompanied by a large bottle of red wine. Hmmm, romantic.
Suddenly the door swung open and Snape walked it. Well, actually Hermione walked in with Snape behind her, she was blindfolded, flushed and giggling as she tentatively took a step into his chambers.
"Where are we?"
His voice was silken and he looked impossibly different in his black trousers and green sweater. Did the man own any other colors? She noticed he looked so tall behind her, his hands on her shoulders as he guided her gently to the bed.
When she felt the covers under her hand she raised an eyebrow, "Wait, is this your bedchambers?"
"Good job, Granger."
She grinned, grasping onto his forearms behind her, leaning back into his chest as he smirked. "But, we never come in here. Why now?"
Hermione sat on a nearby chair, watching the whole ordeal with a fluttering heart. She could see what was unfolding. Things were suddenly sliding into place and memory as she watched the exchange. Suddenly she knew why Severus hadn't wanted to follow her this time. This wasn't a normal, sweet little memory.
SSnape whipped off the blindfold and held Hermione round the waist, peering over her shoulder to see her face. She looked at the hundreds of candles all around her, her eyes wide.
It was beautiful, she viewed the chocolates and wine, the candles all around, the small card on the table. It was all so thoughtful and dramatically romantic. She felt Snape's anxious breathing behind her, surely wondering if she liked it or not.
"Oh Severus, thank you," she breathed, grinning madly and kissing him a minute before looking at the lights again. He was gazing tenderly at her, as she whirled around and hugged him tightly, as he hugged her back, burying his face in her hair.
Present Day Hermione watched the two, hugging and clinging to each other and felt a small stab at her heart at the sweet display. She wanted this, she realized, she wanted him.
"Come,” said Snape quietly, taking her hand as she giggled, blushing as he lead her to the bed. She looked uncertainly to it a moment before he suddenly picked her up in a very chivalrous manner and seated her on the edge of it looking at her longingly a moment before grasping the chocolates and wine and bringing the them over on the tray.
She was smiling so much her cheeks were hurting as she looked curiously at the chocolates. He placed the tray over her knees and watched as she looked at the wine diplomatically. She hadn't had ever wine before. She’d never really found alcohol to be that alluring.
She brought it to her nose, sniffing it a bit as he smirked at her. She playfully shoved him for mocking her inexperience and took a small gulp.
He saw her wince a bit as she tasted it, swallowing it fully and placing the glass back on her tray. She looked to the bemused Snape and gave him a weak smile.
"It's really good."
"Yes," she wiped her mouth and tried to rid her mouth of the taste, "A little strong but good."
“Well you’re not supposed to drink it all in one gulp,” he laughed then, dark chuckles as she blushed, feeling stupid for saying it. He brought a hand up to her cheek, stroking it a moment tenderly. Hermione leaned forward to kiss him, he eagerly leaned forward and was about to kiss her waiting lips when there was a knock at his door.
"Honestly," he looked to her a moment, "I'm sorry. Just give me a minute."
Hermione looked a little peeved but nodded, waiting for him on the bed as he exited in a huff, muttering obscenities under his breath. She leaned back on the pillows and listened intently to the voices in the next room.
"Headmaster, what a surprise."
"Well Severus," there were sounds of bumping as Dumbledore walked in. "You left after dinner in such a state I was worried. You were positively trembling."
Hermione on the bed smiled tenderly a bit, looking to the closed door. She heard the impatience in her boyfriend's voice. Yes, her boyfriend.
"I was tired. And not surprisingly still am, so if you wouldn't mind. "
She heard the surprise in Albus' voice as they mumbled a bit more, something Hermione couldn't hear and then Albus finally admonished, "Oh, I'm sorry m'boy, I hadn't realized. Well, I suppose I'll be seeing you tomorrow. For the meeting."
"Yes sir. Goodnight."
Hermione suddenly leaned back on the bed, shaking her loose curls over one shoulder and unbuttoning her blouse a bit. She pressed her lips together soundly and then licked them as she awaited his return. He walked into the door, shutting it behind him she spoke.
"What did he say?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, "Dumbledore."
"Oh, he said for me to enjoy myself."
Hermione looked decidedly eager as she gazed up at him from the bed. "You mean you finally told him about us?"
Snape looked to her surprised, "No. I told him I was entertaining 'someone' in my chambers. He got the idea and buggered off."
Hermione looked crestfallen a moment and then nodded, looking to him with a small smile as he crawled upon the bed and gave her a gentle kiss on the lips.
"Now," he said grasping a small chocolate in between his thumb and forefinger. "Open wide."
Hermione reluctantly parted her lips enough for him to slide the chocolate into. She bit into it, relishing its strawberry coated flavor. Her tongue slid over his finger as she viewed his shiver and ragged breathing.
Present Day Hermione sat on the chair, watching this whole exchange growing decidedly aroused herself. Surely this wasn't real? Snape and she celebrating her birthday? For some reason she deeply wanted it to be real. She saw Snape getting flustered and suddenly he broke away from Hermione's gaze and exquisite tongue, reaching over the side of his bed and coming back up with a small package which he presented to her with a small grin.
"And now for gifts."
Hermione nearly squealed, taking the small package from him and holding her breath. She gave him another brightening smile as she gently tore away at the paper, coming to a small box. Her hands slowly opened the box to reveal a small silver necklace with the initial 'S' on it. But the S was created with the design of a serpent gracefully curling. Her eyes widened as she took in the delicate piece.
"Oh my, it's beautiful. Thank you."
"I don't want you to have to explain to your friend,” he said, moving around her head with his arms to clasp the necklace," so I've made the chain long. You can wear it under your school blouse. No one will ever have to know."
She nodded, looking to the ornament again, running her hand over the small letter before she shot him a playful smile. “An ‘S’? Really?”
"So you know that you belong to me," his smile was wicked and Hermione sighed good-naturedly, pushing him a bit as he chuckled and leaned in for another kiss. This time it was Hermione who pulled away grinning mercilessly.
“I do have one more gift,” Snape said, his face turning sober. He gripped the girl’s hand in his own, his thumbs trailing over the girl’s knuckles. Hermione looked up to his face, momentarily taken aback at the seriousness etched there.
"Well?” Hermione finally offered with a nervous smile, “don't keep me in suspense."
"Just a moment,” he grasped the blindfold and looked back to her, "I can't say it with you staring at me like that."
Hermione laughed softly as Snape tied the blindfold loosely around her eyes and then leaned back, looking to her and gazing. Hermione at the side felt her own heart melting as she saw them together. Snape was looking to her younger self so adoringly, with an unguarded look she’d never seen before.
"I truly care for you, Hermione, you know that."
Hermione nodded, groping around and then placing a hand upon his own to see he was shaking a bit. Nervous as to what he was about to say next. He was so very out of his element, for once it was he asking questions. When he did speak his voice was stern, commanding in the only way he knew how.
“I want to give you something you’ve been hinting at,” Snape said with a smile. “Something that until now I didn’t think I should.”
Hermione was blushing, her mouth hanging open. She slid the blindfold up onto her forehead and seemed in total disbelief as she stared at him.
"You mean it?"
He nodded, moving closer to her on the bed and taking the blindfold off of her head with a small tug, letting it lie beside them on the bed. Hermione was trembling as she beheld him.
"But after the fall of the Dark Lord, when I almost lost my life," he was lurking closer, "I realized that I don’t want a half life. I want to live truly and fully and I want to do that with you.”
Hermione beamed up at Severus with a look of complete and utter trust and adoration. She lifted a hand to his face, almost sighing aloud when he leaned his sallow cheek into her soft palm.
Present Day Hermione was blushing madly, watching as he crawled closer to her on the soft bed, the world spinning before her. She was going to actually have sex with Snape? She whirled around, refusing to watch this spectacle.
"I'm ready," Hermione whispered, her voice thick with desire.
Why oh why am I such a tart?
Present Day Hermione was positively glowing with heat from the blush on her cheeks. She heard them behind her; there was kissing that much she could hear, a few mutters incoherent. She pressed her face to the wall, she couldn't see this. She'd never be able to meet Snape's eyes again.
"Undress me," his words were mumbled, but intensely erotic and she felt her knees wobbling. One little peek wouldn't kill her. Slowly turning she held in her breath as she saw them, kissing on the bed and moaning into each other's mouths.
Hermione was trying to unbutton his shirt whilst still kissing him madly. He was grinning into the kiss and playfully batted away her hands as he ripped the shirt off himself. Hermione fanned herself as she saw this primal action from the normally conservative man.
"Oh," the younger Hermione whispered, looking to his lean body in awe. He was so finely sculptured, so beautiful in a manly sort of way with that creamy white skin against black eyes and hair. He grinned and kissed her again, his hands moving under her blouse to the breasts that awaited his fingers.
She had foregone a bra this evening, much to his immediate surprise and delight. A surprise Hermione felt, hot against the outside of her panties. She was a bit nervous, her chest heaving as she watched his ministrations, she couldn't look away from him; he was exquisite.
He slowly unbuttoned her blouse, helping her out of it and throwing it to his side before lowering his head to the breasts that moved up to meet him, his breath warm upon them. Hermione moaned lowly as his lips brushed on erect nipple, moving his hands along her thighs. His hands slowly moved to her panties which he pulled down slowly, pleasure flooding her as the air from his room hit her most sensitive of areas.
“Oh please Severus,” she groaned against his warm mouth, parting her legs widely. Snape took in this motion and felt his cock begin to throb. His mouth quickly trailed down her stomach, his eyes on her face as she writhed under his mouth. Without thought her knickers were slipped over her hips and down her calves where they then lay discarded with the rest of her clothes.
At this, Present Day Hermione had to look away. She was mortified with the desperate wantonness of her in those moments. The intimacy between herself and Snape, a man she still could barely rectify as someone she’d surely had sexual congress with.
I need to get out of here, she reasoned with herself, knowing that she couldn’t actually do so. Behind her she could hear the sound of rustling fabric, the sound of Snape groaning deeply as Hermione assumed she did something he enjoyed.
Present Day Hermione felt her abdomen do a remarkable flip as she heard the lust-filled voice of Severus Snape moaning her name. She supposed it was that which eventually caused her to look back over her shoulder.
They were both fully naked now, Snape’s lean body atop Hermione’s on the bed. His hips were nestled between her welcoming thighs. She saw his eyelids fluttering as he groaned into her mouth, grinding against her glistening mound.
“Please come in me,” she whimpered, pushing his hair from his face. “I’m so wet for you.”
Snape groaned at the words and with that incentive he slid into her, slowly. She moaned lowly, her legs spreading wider, demanding more and more of him. He inched in until he was rested in her and suddenly Present-Day Hermione remembered this moment. The searing pain and then the extreme, exquisite pleasure of his cock filling her. White heat seared her abdomen sending waves of pleasure through every fiber of her body. Small tears fell down her face but she didn't look away from the two figures on the bed.
"I love you," Hermione whispered as he pushed himself deeper inside.
He nodded, his teeth gritted and suddenly moving about in her as she winced. She tried to pull him closer, send him deeper as he gazed at her and with every thrust gave her a small kiss on the lips. He was looking at her as if she were some unbelievable goddess. His arms were on either side of her as his thrusts went deeper, shaking the bed as he watched her face through almost closed eyes. She was writhing below, almost purring for him.
Hermione could actually feel the emotions in this scene and now she watched Snape gazing at her face as she clutched him tightly to her.
He went faster, waiting for her, begging her with his eyes for her to shout out his name. Her cries were becoming inarticulate, punctuated by a loud moan or an attempt to form his name with her mouth.
Perhaps that would have to do, he felt himself slowly losing inhibitions, his thrusts slowly and becoming more pronounced and more reckless. Yet he tried to hold back, he didn’t want to harm her. Suddenly her own hips met his and her back arched.
He felt himself suddenly spill into her, his head falling into the crook of her arm as she hugged him to her. He kissed her collar, panting lightly as was she. He could hear her rapid heartbeat through her heaving chest.
"I love you."
Hermione saw herself smiling into his hair as she splayed her fingers within it. She didn't need to answer; she had already made her emotions known moments earlier. He rolled over and out, bringing her into his arms and kissing her gently once more before offering a small "Happy Birthday" as the two fell into a light slumber.
Hermione knew that this memory would soon be over as the silvery hole was now expanding and so she left quickly, looking for the white light to lead her home. Home to where Snape would be standing, cross and embarrassed. Suddenly a horrifying thought occurred to her as she stood, waiting for the white light to encase her, and word were almost silent in comparison to the screaming pleasure she had just witnessed.
"He was my first."
Chapter 17: The ugly truth
When the mist finally cleared and Hermione was standing upright in the room, she was acutely aware of Snape standing and waiting for her with his arms across her chest. She was aware at how tall he was, and how tense the air was around the two of them. All that was bouncing around in her mind were the memory that was now a constant loop in her head, slowly down at the most tantalizing parts.
She couldn't take her widened eyes off of Snape as he raised an eyebrow at her, not in question but in surprise. He had fully expected the woman to come back, blushing, stammering and yelping as she tried to make her way out of the room.
Instead she looked frightened as if he's stride over and strike her. Her dark eyes were also glassy as she stared at him, blinking slowly as she teetered a bit. Instinctively he moved to catch her and she swiped his hands away, steadying herself. It was then in her eyes that he saw anger. True, livid almost blinding anger.
"I don't believe it," she was firm, "we never..." she trailed off, not even able to say the words in front of the former faculty. Sleeping with Snape? In her seventh year? She was supposed to believe this bollocks?
She felt the Earth tilting in front of her and blurrily viewed his lips firmly set in a thin line of displeasure. She looked to the thinning lips and held in a whimper, she had kissed those lips. Those lips had kissed. Oh Merlin.
She then felt her face burning as his cheeks reddened slightly. He gave an awkward cough and reluctantly started, that familiar mumbling of his voice making his humiliated words slightly incomprehensible, but Hermione caught them. "Well, we did."
"You're a liar," she was furious now, nearly trembling from her exaltations. "I would never...be that way with you. We would never..." she couldn't even say the words with him staring at her like that. "This is some perverse little book of fantasies. Merlin knows why I'm in it. You hate me," she seemed to want to convince herself, "you've always hated me, ever since school and-"
He tilted his head slightly, pursing his lips together in thought as his eyes narrowed slightly and she felt her voice halting.
"I never hated you Hermione."
Hermione didn't know what to say to that, especially since he had used her first name again, and instead decided that standing in uneasy silence would be easier than if she did speak and open another topic of discussion.
"Well then...why were you so mean to me?"
"Honestly," Obviously this must have been a boring subject, as they had already been through it once, although Hermione of course didn't remember. Snape rolled his eyes, taking a deep breath as he prepared into his speech.
"First of all, you were a know-it-all in classes, from the first day. You were the bane of my existence, every time I had a question there you were with your bloody hand up in the air. You regurgitated books without any critical thinking and your essays were always two feet of parchment too long."
Hermione tried to hide a shy smile from that comment, for it was all too true. Snape gave her a small sort of smirk before continuing as they both sat at the nearby table.
"However, I saw beyond those annoyances. I knew I needed to challenge you or you wouldn't reach your potential in my class of dunderheads. In essence Miss Granger, I never made it easy for you because you were capable of so much more. "
Hermione was puzzled, "so, you were cruel to me because I wanted to learn more?"
Snape was momentarily askance a moment as he glanced at her darkly a moment, knowing that his answer was horribly mundane and really quite pathetic. "I knew no other way to get through to students."
Hermione nodded her heart hammering suddenly as she looked to him with bleary eyes. It was late, and as well as being physically exhausted, emotional exhaustion was catching up, but she was compelled to know more.
"Well, I just don't see how we could have ever had a relationship," he moved to the seat next to her as she continued, "I mean. Look at us these past few weeks – we’re constantly arguing."
"We did argue, often," he was stiffly sitting now, looking at her on occasion as he punctuated his hypnotizing words with emphasis. "But beyond that was indescribable passion."
Indescribable passion? Hermione felt her heart fluttering and tingles starting all over as she snuck a peek at his face to see if he was blushing. He wasn't. Her eyes again surveyed the floor listening to him speak.
"I know it's probably farfetched, you don't believe it and why should you?" Hermione looked curiously to him as he went on with his rehearsed speech. "And I completely understand if you want to put this out of your mind forever. I can do that."
"Like you did the last time?"
Her words were cutting, and he didn't see how he deserved it. He had been nothing but forthright and he felt his temper rising.
"Listen here," her eyes were upon him, "I've offered nothing but answers and explanations. I've been more than obliging. I don’t need any of your cheek."
She was off though, lost in thought as she mulled over her predicament. "Why wouldn't I remember it? Why wouldn't I even have a clue about being obliviated? It just doesn't sound like me. I'm usually so logical."
He was sullen, like a spoiled child. Or, an embarrassed ex. Professor. "I gave you a potion. One that would ensure you wouldn't even want to remember. That would make you repulsed by me, just in case there were lingering doubts."
Hermione looked ready to punch him right in that hooked nose of his as he said this, "one that didn't work obviously."
"I am a Potions Master," He stood from his seat, glaring down at her, "and a good one at that. It’s not my fault you're a little bloody spy. You think I wanted you to find that book? Is that why I had it hidden in my room? Hmmm? You think I wanted any of this to happen? I wanted nothing but for you to be happy-"
He stopped, seeing that he had confessed far too much. Instead he returned to the prior topic.
"You asked me to obliviate you," the words tore at him, she could tell, she saw the shadowy look of displeasure crossing his features. "And I had no choice but to oblige."
Hermione felt anger welling in her stomach, quickening the pulsing blood in her veins as she stared up at the piteous face of Severus Snape. Hermione felt her eyes welling with tears and she wanted nothing more than to understand but she was struggling.
He looked over to her casually, his face set in a cold, stoic expression.
"Why did we have a falling out to begin with?"
He obviously didn't want to go on, and she could tell with the way he was shifting from foot to foot, something he only did when vexed, showed he truly didn't want to delve deeper into this Freudian nightmare.
"You don't want to know Miss Granger. For once just listen to me," he was solemn as she looked to him curiously. "If show you more memories than your ready for, there's no guarantee I can ever effectively obliviate you forever. You’ll be stuck with all of this knowledge for the rest of your life."
"I don't care," Hermione barely paused to think, "I want to know what happened."
Finally with a resigned sense of duty he offered a nod, and grasped the book in his hands, opening it on the bed and flipping the pages until they reached the last page, and the last swirling gray box. It was then that he looked up to her in question, offering her one last chance to forget everything.
"Yes, quite sure."
He nodded silently, and motioned for her to step nearer to him. She hesitated, not really trusting him. Finally and dejectedly she strolled uneasily to him, seeing as he held out a hand.
"Why do I have to hold your hand?"
She saw a grimace pass over him as his hand dropped to his side in a rushed movement of humiliation, the same cold voice was back, laced with cutting sarcasm.
"We have to be touching for this escapade to work. I assumed holding hands would be most convenient."
Hermione blushed, embarrassed for him and for her impertinence as she nodded. "Right. Sorry." She grasped his hand, feeling it slide into his own as if it were normal. He nodded, squeezing her hand a bit before placing his own hand into the swirling gray boxes.
They were back at the tunnel and the light shone brilliantly from the end, shooting one final look of worry at Snape, Hermione and he surged forward towards the light, not even noticing that she and Snape were still holding hands.
* * *
Ginny and Harry stared at the smirking prick in front of them, resisting the urge to throttle him. Ginny was the first to speak as her husband glared at Austere, who looked entirely too comfortable.
Austere gave a shrug, "She was brilliant, charming, powerful witch, not bad in the sack and..." he drawled, leering at them before answering, "...She was in love with Severus."
"How did you know that?" Ginny ventured, "you never speak with Severus."
Austere smirked, looking a bit like his brother as he did so. "But Mother did."
There was a collective pause before Harry had to quietly question this seeming conundrum. "I thought he hated her."
Ginny and Harry glanced at each other in confusion. "Why would he write her then?"
"To tell Mother that he was going to propose."
Ginny felt her heart stop, poor Hermione and Snape. For a strange moment she really felt truly sorry for Snape, for he and Hermione's one chance at happiness, even if she did think her former professor a git. She was furious, dots of red clouding her vision of the smug bastard in front of them who looked all too at ease. Harry was still confused, still needing to understand what had gone on.
"What could go wrong then?"
Austere gave an impressed chuckle to himself, "you see Severus is very big on privacy. He didn't want me to know of anything. When he wrote mother explaining he had found someone he could consider really being committed to, that he wanted the family ring, he broke the old grudges against Mother. I'm sure this was due to Hermione's eternal nagging. As a naturally curious young man I saw the owls arriving and I read the letters Mother was getting almost daily when she went to bed. I couldn't have Severus' swooping back and having his big nose in everything over here. Everything I had worked so hard for."
Ginny watched as Austere's face went into a twisted, maniacal grin, giving his face an almost unearthly effect, and in turn Ginny actually felt her stomach lurch in fear. She clung to Harry's arm as they watched the sickness unfolding in the man before them as he continued calmly speaking.
"When I wrote Severus explaining to him that Mother had slipped up and told me everything he was furious. He was always convinced that I was trying to foul things up, but he was angrier at Mother for betraying him. So of course he severed ties with her and reluctantly began to correspond with me. In turn of course I heard of Hermione and he, and-"
"You decided to take away their one chance at happiness, you sick son of-"
"Watch it," he gave a withering look at the outspoken Ginny as Harry clamped a hand over her mouth, "As I was saying. I couldn’t have Severus coming back here and taking that ring. The one family heirloom my ridiculous mother had kept in her possession. Passed down from generation to generation.”
“Why does it matter?”
“Not for sentimentality if that’s what you’re getting at,” Austere rolled his eyes. “No, it has more to do with the large emerald in the center. Its worth a pretty penny in the muggle world and I was determined to have it for my own. Soon my all consuming thought was how to make them miserable."
"What are you getting at?"
Austere gave a small smirk, "who do you think broke the two of them up?"
Austere gave a mighty snort, "you think those sickening love birds would have really broken up if it weren't for me? Gads, Severus probably would have proposed to the mudblood. It’s sickening really, marriage, the whole ordeal."
"So you broke them up? How?"
"I simply wrote a small letter to Snape, laced with a certain 'suspicion spell’ that had him doubting if his feelings for Hermione were true. The stupid git never suspected that I may have read up on the subject. A few days later I got a letter from Snape explaining that he had broken it off with Hermione and oblivated her."
"Why, why would you do that?" Harry ventured, trying to understand the motivations of the twisted creature in front of him. "Your own brother..."
"Because I loathe him."
"Why?" Harry's eyes flashed. He had never cared for Snape, not one ounce. But to hear of such blatant hatred one needed a reason, and Austere wasn't really offering. The older man's eyes dimmed as he spoke next, coldly and lowly.
"Because I was born into a trap,” Austere snarlwed. “Because Severus was the bastard son who marched off and joined the dark army whilst I had to stay behind, the good, perfect son. You don't think I ever WANTED to be a wizard? You think I never wanted to go to Hogwarts and learn magic?”
His voice was cutting, saliva globs flew from his mouth, "YOU think I WANTED to be a muggle? Go into boring bloody Muggle medicine? My parent's wouldn't LET me go to Hogwarts because my bastard of a brother. I had to stay behind because my parents were worried that I'd turn out like him. That I’d follow in his dark footsteps. Because of his selfishness, my life was ruined."
"So you're taking Hermione down with you?"
Austere gave a shrug, "Why should I care? She was supposed to be my leverage. The money was the one stupid thing that was going to make this bloody life bearable. We would be rich, Severus would be miserable. Life would finally be just as it should be."
Austere had a crazed look in his eyes as that speech stopped, and Ginny felt herself tremoring at the eerie calmness about his sickening face now. Suddenly Harry's deep voice sounded out from the darkness of the hallway.
"Well Austere, evidently you didn't learn enough."
"We know about your moronic plan," Harry said darkly, "and you can be sure we're going to tell Hermione. You can act smug about her being stupid and that she won't catch on. But you know what? There's a failing to your little plan."
Austere's smile momentarily faltered as he regained composure, "Is that so?"
Ginny tugged at Harry, and tried to silence him but he was going red as he tried to say everything that came to his mind to verbally beat down Austere, "Hermione's fallen for Snape all over again."
Suddenly as if he had been expecting their follies, Austere smiled widely. "Hmmm, I suppose I'll just have to take care of that then won't I? Slip some more forget-me- not potion into her wine at dinner? I admit with all my fun with Charlotte I’ve become a big negligent in that regard. No matter, I’ll see to it immediately."
With that he removed a wand from his pocket, his eyes dancing upon the two figures in front of him. Ginny and Harry narrowed their eyes on the wand, their hearts thumping. They hadn’t thought to bring their wands. Running was futile and no one would hear them scream. Austere was almost laughing at their idiotic slip up, and moved forward with ever step they took back, basking in his deceit.
"As you're about to discover, I've learned some things from my dear brother," he sneered, pointing the wand at the two of them and with a flick of his wrist he hissed the immediate spell that came to mind.
* * *
Hermione and Snape walked into the Potions classroom, the lack of light making it easy to decipher that it was night. Suddenly at the same time, noticing that they were both holding hands they quickly dropped the offending appendages.
Snape of the past sat at the desk, writing something hurriedly with his quill scratching against the parchment. Hermione was no longer pensive of being heard and quietly sat down on a nearby stool, looking back to the real Snape.
A small knock at the door jarred Hermione's attention, and Snape needn't speak. She saw Snape's eyes fall reluctantly on the door before he sighed heavily.
Hermione boisterously walked in chatting away, "I went to Hogsmeade last week."
She was making her way over to Snape's desk after closing the door behind her. He didn't look up until she was standing next to him expectantly. She didn’t seem to notice or if she did, it didn’t bother her.
"I've brought something for you," she gushed as she kissed his cheek gently, looking to him with admiration shining clearly in her dark eyes, "A sort of engagement present if you will."
"How come I can't see the ring?" Hermione asked, looking to her former image's ring finger and seeing it blank. Snape walked over, whispering although they really needn't bother.
"You were still in school. Our engagement was a secret. Besides, I hadn't gotten the ring yet."
"Oh, of course."
The former Hermione didn't seem to notice her lover's distance because she quickly grasped the large black memory book from her bag and lay in next to him. Hermione of course from the side, immediately recognized it and held her breath. Finally, things were begging to fall into place.
"I've had our initials engraved into it," She traced her fingers along the cover, "It's a book of our memories. Took me forever to find and put together. I’ve even had them label the memories in Greek, your favorite."
She suddenly registered her fiance’s lack of interest and peered at him, seeing he was busily writing. "Severus?"
"I'll make this short for both our benefit," his words were low and cutting, "I think it’s about time we called this charade off, Miss Granger."
Hermione didn't speak at first, a small smirk on her face as if she assumed this was one of Snape's twisted jokes. When she saw he was past jesting she felt the real twinge of anxiety cut at her. "Excuse me?"
Hermione felt her own heart breaking as she viewed her younger's self's face falling, her hands dropping to her sides and cheeks burning.
"You heard me," he didn't bother to look up, and went back to writing. "It’s over. You may leave now. Forget any of this happened."
"I can't do that," she was trembling, "I'm in love with you Severus Snape, and you're in love with me whether you want to believe it or not. What’s changed?"
"My opinions," was the crass reply, "Someone merely shed the light on my prior faults. I don't know what I could have been thinking; relations with a student. A student who is the bothersome friend of Potter and someone who has quick connections with Rita Skeeter. Did you think you’d humiliate me in the local papers? Have them strip me of my teaching position, hmmm?"
Hermione was shaking, from anger or anxiety it was hard to tell. She grasped the side of his desk and looked to him in hopeless confusion.
"Where did all of this come from, Severus?"
"Professor Snape,” he replied boredly writing as he spoke, "I received a letter from an acquaintance, outlining that this entire engagement was a ridiculous endeavor. Not only is your motivation for continuing relations with me quite suspect, Miss Granger. It’s also the matter of my own selfish behavior.”
"Selfish?" her voice was barely above a whisper, "How were you selfish?"
Hermione was very aware of Snape's past, and it was hard for her to comprehend how someone like Snape - who had devoted a large portion of of his life to preserving lives - could ever be considered selfish.
"Yes. Selfish. He informed me to think of your benefit." he began counting off on his fingers as he listed the points, "You're young, bright, and it would be selfish of me to hold you back from your potential. And I was more than inclined to agree. Even if you are plotting to humiliate me to the entire wizarding world. It would be unfair to continue on with you, since I’d be benefitting much more. A young witch who adores me, who’d fuck me anywhere I desired. You see you’re nothing more than a puppet, Granger. That’s why this must stop. Having some pride."
There was a moment of sickening silence. All four figures were completely stoic, aware that a line had just been irreversibly crossed. Young Hermione’s face was pale and wan and she looked like she was going to be sick. She looked to the still form of Severus Snape and held back a scream.
"Excuse me?" he hissed, glaring at her impertinence.
"You heard me," the sobs were coming out in her words now as she struggled to maintain composure, "You. Are. A. Coward. Being loved is just so foreign to you that you can't comprehend it. You're afraid of it."
"Get out NOW Granger," he pointed to the door, bellowing at her furiously.
"We were so right together," he glanced up at her, their eyes locking a moment and flooding with emotion before she desperately gripped his arm. "I don't know why you're doing this but it’s not fair. To either of us."
He whipped his arm from her grasp, glaring at her openly now as she recoiled in shock. Those glares were never meant for her. She had shared so much with him.
"We've been together a mere seven months Miss Granger. Did you really think this was going to continue? Honestly? We were just so caught up in the intimacy that we got carried away."
Hermione was trembling, her eyes squinting at him as she held in a sob, "But I love-"
"Enough," he held up a pale hand, "enough. We've both said it enough for it to have lost all true meaning."
Hermione suddenly stood, looking at the dejected young girl. She felt her body shaking and suddenly launched herself off of the stool towards the cold prick that wrote on wordlessly as Hermione stood, holding in tears.
"You bastard!" Hermione shrieked rushing at the image Snape and preparing to smash his face in. She was halfway there when she felt the current Snape's arms around her.
"Miss Granger, I told you they can't hear you. You can't touch them."
Hermione was shaking, the tears falling down her face. In reliving this she felt her every heartbreak all over again, the pain, the tears, the feeling of total worthlessness. She sobbed into his chest as he held her.
"Why? What did I do to make you hate me so much? How could you ever say those things to me? You were supposed to love me! I TRUSTED YOU!"
"I'm sorry," he muttered softly into her hair, sure she couldn't hear. “You have no idea how sorry I am.”
She clutched against him as he led her over to the silvery hole, waiting for it to grow wider so they could go through, but that would only happen when this horrible memory was over. They stood resigned before glancing back at their projected images.
"I don't understand," Hermione was still standing beside Snape as Severus, her voice hollow. "but if that's the way you feel then I’m done. I don't deserve to be treated like this."
Snape didn't answer, only glanced down at his paper, busying himself with whatever he could find. Hermione turned, then her eyes searching the room as if waiting for an answer she turned around and looked at him with pain in her eyes.
"I'll never bother you again Professor. But in return you have to do something for me."
Snape finally raised his eyes darkly at her, sneering. "What could that be?"
She was quick in speaking, and when the words did hit the air they both looked equally taken aback. "I'd like you to Obliviate me. And then I want you to make a potion that ensures that even if somehow I manage to remember you, remember us, I never can."
Snape looked interested indeed, and across the room Severus and Hermione, still clinging to each other looked over at the unfolding. Although Snape had witnessed it a thousand times he never was able to draw his eyes away.
"Are you sure, Miss Granger?"
"I don't want to remember this pain." Hermione said dy, my, motioning to both of then abd the air around them. "Nothing of us. I want my old life back. Before us. Before you."
Snape was silent, looking at his student uneasily, and Severus knew he had been wondering if he had done something so stupid that it was unmanageable. Snape was uneasy, just stewing about in his remorse. The grief evident in the way his eyes had nearly glazed over when he spoke to her. But it was too late; he had his pride and his letter from Austere convincing him. He was doing the right thing.
Raising the wand that he had retrieved from his cloak Snape stood, looking to her severely. She was shaking a bit, the tears slipping down her cheeks as she sniffled and nodded, telling him this was the way it had to be.
"Goodbye Severus." her voice was choked.
His words were barely heard, but the green flashing lights surrounding her as he murmured, "Obliviate." gave off clarity to what soon ensued. Hermione was knocked back a bit on her heels, her eyes shut and then opening as she blinked rapidly a moment, shaking her head and looking to Snape in curiosity. She was frightened, that much was clear.
"Professor Snape?” she glanced around to see she was in the potions room, but she didn’t remember coming down here. “Sir, I apologize, I can’t seem to recall arriving here.”
Hermione didn't get a chance to hear the rest of that because the swirling hole had grown larger, and now more than ever she wanted nothing that to leave. Her heart was broken.
* * *
"Why would you have our fights in here?" Hermione almost whimpered, rubbing the angry tears from her cheeks and motioning towards the closed book on the table as they stood in the room. They were back in this horribly twisted world, where nothing made sense anymore.
“You obviously added that memory to the book,” Hermione said with a confused look. "why would you want to remember any of this?”
She tried to break away from him then, suffocating in his presence. She was angry, confused and heartbroken. At this Severus could only give a loud sigh, not releasing her from his embrace.
"I. . ." he seemed to be searching for the right words, and finally decided on a; "I wanted to remember all of you. The real you. Not just happy little moments in our time together, I wanted it all. When I looked at it months later I couldn’t understand where my anger had come from, when this desire to push you away had occurred. I realized I’d made a mistake."
There was a reserved moment of contemplative silence as Hermione weighed his comments uneasily. This was all becoming so familiar, all the smells the feelings the emotions. She pushed away from him and now he released her, looking uncertainly to her. Hermione couldn't believe that this was happening; surely she wouldn't have been so easily swayed. This didn't seem right at all. Snape was licking his lips darkly, looking to her in haste as they broke away even further.
"You understood me."
Hermione could only nod, looking to him in surprise. Had she really connected with this man? Yes she had. She had been intimate with him; she had shared emotions and tribulations with him. She had shared it all with him. And for some reason, the mere fact that he had tried to hide it all, that she had gone along made her furious. Her hands were soon upon her hips and Snape knew what was coming as he braced himself and backed away.
"So you just made that decision for me? Not caring that I may have wanted to stay with you?"
"Even if you had, it would have been a bad decision."
"Are you daft?" Hermione was incredulous, "you saw what happened? Are you still as obstinate and stupid as three years ago? We were in love."
"What would you suggest I do then Hermione? Hmm?" he spat furiously, angry at everything. "Get down on my knees and propose? Tell you I can live without you? Well I'm sorry, but what's done is done, there’s no going back."
"You're still scared," Hermione snapped, “You’re afraid of what we had. You were afraid to commit forever. Oh, it’s fine to shag me senseless, to say you love me as long as there’s no real commitment.”
“You don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh but I do. I’m starting to remember a lot more than you think,” Hermione gave a disgusted clearing of her throat. “I remember you not wanting to tell Dumbledore about us, I remember you still being cruel to my friends.”
“I had to keep up pretences,” Snape replied evenly. “To be caught engaged to a student would have been a large embarrassment. I had Hogwarts to think of. Of your future – how would it look to any magical university knowing that you’d been shagging your potions professor?”
Hermione faltered and Snape shook his head, trying to ignore her logic, waving his hand as if dismissing her inappropriate conversing.
"Enough. What's done is done."
"How typical. You’ve decided that we’re done so we’re done. That seems to be a pattern of yours.”
Hermione stared up at him, at his darkening face and his twitching lips. She realized that she had been insane to fall for this man; for this beast who cut and hurt. What had she been thinking?
“That's it," Hermione said looking at him furiously and rushing from him to the door, "I'm going to be married in two days time, to your brother. A man who loves me, who cherishes what I give. I haven't time for this, for this madcap journey with you. I- I wish I hadn't ever gotten involved with you in the first place."
She had just finished her crushing shot at the enigmatic Professor who gave her a surly frown as she whipped open his door, glaring at him one last time before walking out.
Coming face to face with Austere
Chapter 18: Cinderella goes to the Ball
Think Hermione think. You're not done for yet.
Austere looked at the long fabric around her as she bunched it up and gave a small nod, obviously this was a good enough reason for him to stand.
"I see. It's just strange as I didn't think you two could stand each other."
So that was indescribable passion he’d been referring to. She had seen them making love, (God there had been tons of those ones. She only hoped she hadn't been screaming in her sleep.) She saw so much.
When he had sat them both down on a large rock she had been then convinced he just wanted to talk. And when he had gotten down on one knee before her and claimed his love for her and asked for her hand in marriage, she had been sure she was dreaming. She had of course jumped into his arms, sending him almost backwards as she covered him in kisses taking breaths to say, "Yes. Of course. I love you."
* * *
"Remember when Harry and you snuck down by the forbidden forest for your three month anniversary?" Hermione chortled through her glass, almost choking as she laughed. "A-And McGonagall and Dumbledore caught you, snogging and carrying on?"
"I'm coming I'm coming."
"I'm being a prat," Austere said after a moment, regarding his soon-to-be-wife with a loving gaze. "Forgive me, darling."
He pressed an urgent kiss to her lips before breaking and giving her a boyish grin. They were ready. She plastered a large smile on her face as the doors opened and she and Austere were swallowed up in a sea of people. All around her she heard voices, talking to her and Austere who seemed to be taking it all well in stride.
:"Austere, you charmer!"
Her parents hadn't exactly been overjoyed at the idea of their only daughter getting married so young. And while they hadn't outright refused, they were also pulling back a bit. They hadn't been present for any of her traditional things, citing that she was rushing this wedding and they didn't know why. Hermione felt her stomach drop, thinking that perhaps she had rushed into things when suddenly Harry appeared at their sides, staring at Ginny openly as he handed her a drink. Ginny sipped it and then flushed as Harry asked her to dance a moment later, mouthing the words 'thank you' to Hermione as Harry dragged her to the dance floor.
Snape had decided to doff the traditional robe he usual wore and gone for a more ornate black one, this one with exquisite cuffs and a higher white collar. He looked really quite desirable. His cologne was drifting towards her. She remembered it had been her favorite. It was at that moment she saw he was waiting to be offered a seat and she clumsily pointed to the one across from her.
"Please, sit down."
“Why would you say that?”
Hermione shot one last hateful glance at Snape who was looking anywhere but her, and left with Austere. Hermione suddenly felt like a trained monkey as Austere led her away from Snape, her mind whirring about what he had said, to the large mass gathered around the dance floor.
Finally the excruciatingly long dance was over, and Hermione giving one last chaste kiss to a waiting Austere and audience, she let herself be dragged over to see more people to mingle about with, with every person there was a swig of wine gone from Austere's glass. Soon Austere was getting a bit loud, and a bit flinty. He was a sloppy drunk.
“I want you to get along, for me," Austere pleaded. "Now dance."
He spun her and pulled her back, her hands clenching into his, She suddenly had the sneaking suspicion that Snape had sent her the rest of her memories via his mind control. Sneaky git that he was.
“All Professor Snape makes you do is cry," She gave Hermione a small grimace, "And Hermione, it's not like he wants to marry you," she saw Hermione's face fall, and she quickly went on. "But Austere does. Austere loves you."
Chapter 19: Any Objections?
That was how she looked; tired.
She hadn’t gotten much sleep last night. Nightmares of being alone forever were haunting her. Nightmares of being alone and scared, and sad and. . . What did it matter? She wasn’t any of these things. She was going to be Austere’s wife in a few short hours!
The large engagement ring on her hand felt heavy, and she frowned a bit. Recalling Snape’s earlier mention of how there’s had been a secret. Special. She remembered that night and smiled wistfully.
“No!” she said aloud as she shook her head, openly berating her childish behavior. She was a woman now, not the silly little girl from so long ago, questioning everything, being suspicious of everything. She had matured. There was a knock at her door and she opened it to reveal a house elf, holding a small ornate glass.
“Mister Austere says good morning to his lovely bride. He cannot wait to be married to you. He asked the kitchen to make something special.”
Hermione beamed down at the small elf, taking what appeared to be a mimosa and drinking it gratefully. A small part of her was desperate to feel something, even if it was a fuzzy warmth of drunkenness. The house elf smiled before taking off down the hall, leaving Hermione alone once more.
She drew back over to the mirror, glancing at herself critically. Her eyes were wide as she looked into her reflection, her dress perhaps making her paler than usual. Its creamy white color and fabric swung out all around her, so elaborate, such visual decadence. She looked breathtaking, but she felt nothing.
No exhilaration, no worry. Nothing.
It was if all emotions had suddenly shut off to her head, body and mind. She was now a shell of what Hermione Granger once was. What had happened to the young girl so alive with questions? The young girl who wanted more in life than a station as someone's wife? She knew Austere wouldn't object to her pursuing an education, but she often felt she wanted to be near him all the time.
Like right now, she mused. She wished Austere was with her! Holding her and whispering sweet nothings in her ear. She wanted his strong arms and his sweet mouth against hers! She sighed deeply, her body yearning for his.
It was a familiar feeling, it had happened really the first day she had met him. At first it was politeness that she had offered to get a drink with him. She had bumped into him looking absently around her and as his parcels went flying she followed along with him onto the ground. She had instinctively bent down to pick Austere up by the arm and apologize.
The first thing that had gone through her mind was how much this man in front of her reminded her of Professor Snape. It was actually a bit disturbing. He had introduced himself as the brother of the said Professor, and when she told him her name in return he had offered to buy her a drink for her troubles. She had been reluctant to go with him, but had decided that it was the least she could do.
What transpired next at the pub between Hermione and Austere was strange to explain. She was in the middle of a yawn as he continued with another dull story about whatever he did, she barely remembered. All she remembered was feeling all too tired to sit around and listen to this dullard drone on and on. However she also couldn't stop gaping at the similarity between he and Snape which was minimal but striking enough to garner her immediate and rapt attention.
She had excused herself to go to the washroom a moment, leaving Austere and their wine alone at the table as she left. She had fully intended on going to the washroom and then apparating the hell out of there. But sadly, she hadn't the guts to leave the poor man all alone waiting for her, for it was quite evident he fancied her. She was also the tiniest bit afraid that Professor Snape might hear about it. It didn't matter than he wasn't her Professor anymore; the thought of him having another grudge on her was worrisome. No need to have an ex Death Eater who hated you!
So she had taken a deep breath as she stood outside the washroom, coming through the doors and had sat down next to Austere once more, preparing herself for another story. She had tentatively taken a sip of her drink and moments later Austere had suddenly become more than entertaining; he had also become a bit more handsome. Although, he hadn't really been ugly in the first place. The more they talked the more she found they had in common, and she silently berated herself for judging so quickly.
And so she had fallen for him, right there in the pub and from that day forward knew she was destined to become his wife. But ever since Severus had arrived, she had had this horrible sinking feeling every time they were intimate. Snape had always been there at the back of her mind, always there and now she knew why. He had been such a large part of her past, even if she hadn’t been aware.
She suddenly shook herself awake from this horrible nightmare of Snape and her past life, her dark eyes falling on the mirror in front of her as she fixed a loose tendril of hair. Austere had claimed it would have been lovely up but she had wanted it down, and won. Snape always enjoyed her hair dow-
Forget. Severus. Snape.
She was done with Snape's apathy towards everything and everyone. She was sick of feeling so damned confused. She was sick of looking into Severus’ eyes and instead of feeling revulsion for the cruelty he had committed, feeling lust that burned inside her. The worst though was looking into Snape's eyes and seeing the lover that she had left not so long ago. She was sick of having his touch send her at all loose ends, and having his lips beckon her constantly. She was sick of the way his voice caught her attention, demanded it. She was sick of wanting him.
"Hermione, you look beautiful."
Hermione stopped sulking a moment to turn slowly, looking to Ginny with a faint smile on her lips, a small one indeed. Ginny stood a few paces back, looking to her with a small grin on her face.
“Thank you, Ginny.”
Hermione was quite a moment, giving an offhanded shrug before looking to Ginny as if she were a completely new person.
"Is it almost time?"
“Yes actually,” Ginny gave a curt nod, grinning and squeezing her hands together with Hermione’s. "Lady Snape wanted me to come fetch you.”
“C'mon, wouldn't want to be late for your own wedding. Very un-Hermione like."
Hermione offered a faint smile, nodding as she looked to the redheaded woman beside her. Ginny suddenly noticed the lacking of the veil and dropped her purse onto the bed, moving to grab the veil.
“Come stand here, facing the mirror. This is the moment you’ll really feel like a bride.”
Hermione did as she was told, standing boldly in front of the mirror. Ginny came up behind her, placing the veil over Hermione’s head and marveling at how beautiful her friend looked. Her eyes were suddenly caught with Hermione's own glazed ones and she paused, giving her friend a look of utter confusion. Hermione gave her a watery smile before speaking in a croak.
"How did you know Harry was the one?"
Ginny held in a groan, knowing full well this was just Hermione's cold feet. For a woman like Hermione who always had things under control, always planned she was sure that this was just one thing Hermione didn't know the end to. And who could determine everything with marriage? It was impossible. But her friend was asking her a question and so she acquiesced.
“I just knew,” Ginny offered feebly. “Every time he looked at my I’d go weak in the knees. I loved spending time with him. When we were together it wasn’t boring or predictable. And in the quiet times I loved just being in the same room as him. Reading together, talking about Quidditch. . . “ She ran through a small list of whatever came to mind as small giggled spurted every now and then. Hermione seemed to be taking it all down in her head, making mental notes.
“I was happy,” Ginny concluded, giving Hermione a meaningful look. Hermione nodded, a bit out of sorts as she offered a feeble nod and smile. Not a relaxed one, mind you. Her hands wrung together in front of her dress nervously.
“I’m just worried I’m making the wrong decision, Gin.”
“You’re not,” she squeezed Hermione’s arm warmly, giving her a small nod and small tug towards the door. “He makes you happy. And its completely normal to have cold feet on one’s wedding day. Do you remember be puking the entire morning I got married?”
Hermione did remember. Ginny had been a ghost, wandering from room to room in a bundle of nerves. When one is clouded by love or lust and in turn a bit of confusion, Hermione supposed it was completely natural to have questions. With Ginny’s advice now she wasn’t quite sure, and it didn’t occur to her to question them. She was then convinced as she and Ginny strolled down the hall that it didn’t matter any; she was always going to be confused, because that was life.
She was also thoroughly convinced that Ginny was telling her this for her own good, and that clinging to some stupid past with some stupid Professor whom obviously wasn’t interested in a relationship was futile. Why give up marriage to a perfectly amiable man when there were no other options? What was she to do? Trail Snape down like a lovesick puppy and beg him to take her? No. She had dignity.
Snape had made it abundantly unclear about his attentions. Vacillating from wanting to take her into his arms and pushing her into his brother’s. It was too confusing and irritating and she was done with it. They had buried that hatchet long ago; it was her own damned fault for digging it up. He had tried to hide it from her. He had tried to stop her. He had tried. It was obvious he didn’t want her enough.
She was to marry Austere, they were to be happy. They were going to be together until death did them part. That was the end of it. She followed Ginny out into the hall with a grim look of determination of her face. She didn’t bother telling Ginny that sometimes Austere didn’t make her as happy as Snape once had.
* * *
The ceremony was set to be one of traditional Muggle for Austere, and Wizarding for Lady Snape and practically everyone else. Ginny rushed back from the hall and went into a giggling fit as she looked to Hermione.
Hermione was a few feet away trying to breathe, all the guests having been seated a while ago in the hall. Ginny scrambled over to Hermione, breathless as she rearranged Hermione’s veil.
“There are so many people here,” Ginny squealed, “all of my family, your Mum and Dad. Your Mum says she’s sorry she wasn’t here earlier.”
Hermione gave a shrug, she hadn’t really been that close with her parents ever since she was young as they were always away or busy. She had grown a lot in her short years of youth. Never really had the standard childhood. She hadn’t expected any words of encouragement from her Mother, no something borrowed something blue, no Father taking her down the aisle.
Besides, it really wasn’t proper Wizarding custom to have the bride being led down the aisle at all, in Wizarding marriages. They see Muggle weddings as a trading of property, who gives up this woman to be married? and all that. But there are certain Muggle elements in it.
In a Wizards wedding, (which Hermione had agreed to) the bride walks down on her own, showing total commitment to her soon to be husband, and freedom of binds. It’s really quite moving. The bride then meets her groom at the end of the aisle. The main Wizard in charge of the ceremony then recites a small passage from the book of Merlin and then asks the traditional “If there are any who oppose this marriage le him or her speak etc”
Then of course the two standing across from each other recite magical vows as a small golden thread is placed around their hands, signaling a binding of souls. Whilst a bunch of binding spells goes on and its really sort of boring and long and really quite tedious.
Then there is the traditional kiss in which the string is broken, showing the freedom of love, and the embracing of change and the golden thread suddenly turns into two small golden bangs. You know what that’s all about. It’s quite metaphorical, and takes a good hour and a bit to get through, if you’re quick.
This being a February wedding, the hall wasn’t too stuffy. In all honesty it was really quite pleasant. It was decorated to the brim, and Ginny could scarcely believe her eyes as magicked rose petals fell gently from the sky up at the end of the aisle when she had first walked in with Harry. The entire room had been enchanted to look like a mystical forest, like something out of a novel. Ginny couldn’t help but observe that Hermione hadn’t ever seemed like the type of girl to go for this sort of wedding, or groom for that matter.
"Bloody Ron is running late as per usual. Here you are,” She said, handing Hermione a bouquet of magical white roses sprinkled with shimmering glitter. She saw Hermione wobbling a bit nervously looking to the door. As soon as the door opened there would be no going back.
Ginny, knowing time was of the essence comforted her a moment with words of encouragement before she heard the band queuing up.
She gave Hermione a quick kiss on the cheek before slipping inside to stand at the front of the aisle along with Austere and Snape.Hermione had stood then at the doors, a small bouquet in her hands as she trembled, knowing full well who would be the first person she saw in the pews, staring at her as she walked down. She had never felt more alone in her entire life.
Suddenly the doors were open, a whoosh of air surprising her as she tried to get used to the sea of people all standing now, looking to her and ooohing and awwwing at her dress as she stood there like a dear in the proverbial headlights.
I can’t go through with it.
Hermione then fully intended on running out, not even making it to the front when suddenly a pair of dark eyes captured her own. Snape stood near the front, looking to her beauty in awe, his lips softly pursing as he looked to her not critically but jealous of what his brother would soon be coveting.
She didn’t know why but she suddenly knew she would have to marry Austere. Not only for her love for him, but because if she didn’t she’d have to admit that she was still in love with Severus Snape.
And she wasn’t.
So with that burning thought in mind, Hermione took off shakily down the aisle, her eyes transfixed on her soon to be husband. Slowly but surely her gaze began to drift around as she saw various Professors; McGonagall, Sprout, Dumbledore…was that Trelawney? Who’d invited that quack? She gave them all a small wry smile as she pushed forward.
Austere was standing there in a tux, looking ever so dashing as he smiled to her, and Hermione was thrilled to note that Charlotte wasn’t even there. She took a deep breath, this causing her heart to slow down a bit.
Only a few more steps.
Her Mum and Dad waved to her, snapping pictures with their ridiculous Muggle disposable camera as she smiled faintly and then trained her eyes back to Austere.and then finally to Snape who was standing a few feet from Austere, the infamous best man.
He stood rigidly, like she had always known him. Well, not always. He was striking, his dark hair and pale face. He was wearing no robe, but a white shirt, black vest and trousers and a regal looking cape. She saw his full lips in a small thoughtful stance as his eyes captured hers, not letting her go even for a moment. Hypnotizing her. She slightly tripped on her shoes under his surveillance and heard the whispered sympathy all around her from the pews.
She quickly regained balance and continued on with cheeks burning, her chin held high in pride as she pushed forward. Soon though, Snape was even closer to her right and her eyes made their way over his own. He was trying to read her mind; she was sure of it and dragged her eyes away. Austere was only a few feet away from Snape.
Now or never.
Now. She stepped onto the podium, feeling Snape’s eyes on her and knowing that their separate prides were keeping them apart.
Sod him and his pride. In fact, sod pride altogether, it’s nothing but a big, bloody nuisance.
There. She was at the podium. Ginny was a few feet away, smiling and nodding to Hermione in encouragement as Snape grimaced at her.
Austere was across from Hermione and grasped her hands in his greedily, looking to the Wizard in anticipation. Hoping that her veil covered most of her eyes actions, she snuck a look to the now sitting audience. And then let her eyes travel back and land on the other standing Snape, a few feet away in all his brooding glory.
He had that look he always wore when he was peeved, a look of disdain that he wore when things didn’t go his way, like a petulant child. He was frowning and crossing his arms as he saw her gaze and locked onto it, raising an eyebrow in question.
Her cheeks began pinking again and she dragged her eyes back up to a confused Austere. He glanced over his shoulder at Snape, his eyes registering something a moment before turning back and giving Hermione a terse smile as the Wizard next to them began.
The ceremony beginning; she saw as the Wizard look into the sea of faces, well known, not so well known, faces she knew, faces she didn’t. People who would soon hate or love her. After what seemed like an hour of trying to avoid Snape’s gaze, the Wizarding minister smiled out into the crowd.
“And if anyone objects to this marriage,” The ruddy-faced, portly old Wizard started, motioning to Hermione and Austere. “Then speak now or forever hold your peace.’
Hermione felt her heart pounding as Austere’s grip around her hands tightened, his eyes scanning the room and falling on Snape as the two brothers openly glared at each other. This was it. Hermione’s heart was pounding in her ears as she felt her hands growing clammy with sweat, her face burning and ears suddenly ringing as well. She was looking at Austere’s chest, his tux and felt her mind whirling.
No one objected.
Chapter 20: The Ceremony
Hermione winced a bit as the ceremony continued. She wondered if a small part of her had been hoping that someone would object. That she wouldn’t be the one standing there gormlessly while everyone looked to her with serene smiles. The minister Wizard continued speaking, his voice booming throughout the large room.
“We now begin the binding portion of the ceremony,” he said raising his wand. Suddenly a gold string laces around the ring fingers of Hermione and Austere.
“Repeat after me,” the minister said looking to Austere. “Hermione Jean Granger, I take you as my own and my all. Forsaking all others, I take you as my life’s partner, my soul’s bond.”
Hermione heard the words and she tried to keep her eyes on Austere, but all she could see was the dark shape of Severus standing behind him, looking down at her. The gentle rose petals fell all around them, feeling like the snow she and Snape had walked through when together. She felt a lump rise in her throat as she saw Snape’s eyes grow glassy. She wondered if he was remembering the same. His eyes bore into her own and she felt her mouth go dry as she heard Austere complete the vow.
“And now you, Hermione,” the minister Wizard said turning to the trembling girl. “Austere Reginald Snape, I take you as my own and my all. Forsaking all others, I take you as my life’s partner, my soul’s bond.”
He finished with a gentle tap of his wand on her ring finger. Hermione watched as the gold thread sparkled and felt a sudden jolt go through her.
I can’t do this.
Before she could speak, there was movement from behind Austere. Snape strode forward, breaking the thread himself. Hermione looked up to him and his impassive face, his eyes the only thing that betrayed how he felt. She felt her heart soar.
“I can’t let this happen,” Snape suddenly interjected. “This-“
Austere shoved him back behind him, about to shout when the doors to the great room burst open to reveal Ron and Charlotte marching down the aisle. Ron had Charlotte in his grip, his wand pointed at her temple. All heads turned towards to where the noise had come from, including Eileen who looked confused. Hermione felt her cheeks burning and jaw go a bit slack a moment. Snape was also looking to the door with intensity, his own shock registering.
“Tell them,” Ron demanded angrily, his face hardened. Charlotte had tears streaming down her face and makeup was smudging down her cheeks as she looked to Austere with venom sounding from her lips.
“You promised me a cut,” Charlotte whispered angrily looking to Austere. “He promised me once he was married, he’d give me a cut of what he got for the engagement ring.”
Austere suddenly gripped Hermione's hands in his, grasping at her as she tried to pull away. "She's lying,” he hissed furiously, "she's only trying to get under your skin."
"He's lying," Ron insisted, letting Charlotte go as she screeched and rushed out of the great room and through the doors. Hermione though, couldn't take her eyes off of the spot where she had just been standing.
"Listen to me," Austere suddenly bellowed at her, causing Hermione to look up at him, and suddenly, his dark eyes seemed to swirl, hypnotizing her as she gazed at him. "I love you. You love me."
Hermione looked up to the face of Ron who had just exited from the second pew, his footsteps loud in the now silent ballroom as everyone stared at him. Seems all the guests were utterly too entertained by this whole fiasco to walk out, or protest to the entire catastrophe. It was if they were watching some Muggle Game show that they had to see the end to. Quite unnerving actually.
“Hermione, stop,” Ron walked gallantly to her with a small shake of his red head, glaring at Austere a moment and then glancing back at Hermione. "You don't love him Hermione. It's all been a trick."
“I never knew about the love potion. I suspected about Charlotte but had no substantial proof. I considered that I was just making it up to get you to leave him. And when I saw you two together. . . You seemed so happy. I just wanted you to be happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, Hermione."
Hermione hiccoughed against his chest, his robes rough under her cheek. She wanted to melt directly into him, to never leave his warm arms which had now wound their way around her body. "But it's you who makes me happy."
“All the memories have come back,” she whispered powerfully. “All of them. The good and the bad, and I-“
“Get away from me,” Hermione hissed, shoving him backwards as he tripped over someone’s leg. His face was bright red and he looked ready to murder everyone, unfortunately he knew he was caught. Looking to the door he suddenly lunged for it, charging with a speed that would amaze many.
But not Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore had suddenly stood in the pews, and pulling out his wand from his dress robe, he gave it a whirl and croaked, "Petrificus Totalus!"
Austere promptly fell to the ground, eyes wide and as stiff as a board. Ginny and Harry were mumbling to themselves, looking beside themselves. Ginny's screechy voice from the scene playing on the far white wall suddenly drew Hermione's eyes to screen as she held in a sob.
Harry and Ginny who had been silent this whole time were clinging to each other, gazing at the wall as if they were watching a movie in a Muggle cinema. Their eyes and mouths were wide in mute horror, and they suddenly understood why they hadn't hated Austere so much this morning, why Ginny had offered Hermione that advice...
He trailed off, motioning to the wall which had shown the awful scenes.
“Some bloody Auror I turned out to be,” Harry mumbled, suddenly very proud of his red-headed friend. Hermione however thankful she was felt a keen sense of humiliation at having this been discovered in front of how many people? She looked around to the gaping crowd, trying not to cry.
"GET OUT!" Dumbledore's voice suddenly sounded out to the hall, "MUGGLES AND WIZARDS, IT IS TIME TO DEPART!"
"Could you..." Lady Snape suddenly motioned to Austere and Snape who nodded briskly undid the binding charm on Austere, glaring as he did so. Austere gave a large shake of his head of his quivering body, brushing off the glares that surrounded him and shakily stood.
"Severus needed to pay."
"You selfish bastard," Eileen suddenly burst as Austere looked to her in surprise, along with Hermione and Severus. "I may love you son, but this is too much."
Chapter 21: The most likely match
They had disapparated out of the ballroom as soon as she agreed –very gladly- to his suggestion of a walk. He grasped her around the middle, initiating a small gasp from Hermione as he pulled her into him.
The sun was beginning to set overhead as the two lovers walked down the spindling, ivy-covered lane, sneaking looks at each other but never speaking. What would they say? It was cooler, and Hermione suddenly wished she had something warmer to wear than a torn wedding gown. She took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet smells and fresh air. In the manor she had felt suffocated, out here with Snape in the garden she felt free. She knew that the guests were probably frantic inside, gossiping to their heart's content.
She didn't care.
She was acutely aware of the fact that Snape was a mere few inches away, and could smell his invigorating cologne. His hand swung back and forth between them, occasionally brushing against her own. She shivered inside as one tapered finger traced over the back of her hand.
She glanced up at him as they walked in silence and soon her fingers were interwoven with his, yet he still didn't look to her. It was a familiar, comfortable reverie, which she was certain they had experienced before. She could almost recall it, like a faint dream trying to be brought to the forefront of her mind.
The memories of she and Severus were almost all restored and now as he walked alongside her it was if he had never left. The familiar hand she knew felt silken under her fingertips; the lips that she knew were fitted perfectly for her own. The hands that had brought her to ecstasy and had created the perfect potion; all of it she remembered. It was almost an overload as they came back to her, but she relished them all, greedily gobbling them up as she watched remembered.
She was curious to see if he was only taking her for a walk to calmly break things off, or to promise more. Had this entire situation completely frightened him off? Was he going to take her somewhere isolated and private to tell her that he couldn’t continue? And would she really expect him to after almost marrying his brother? After all that they had been through? Either way she wasn't quite sure what to expect, and this was cause a sudden pang of worry. She wanted to enjoy the sunset with him, she wanted to kiss him, and she wanted to go home with him. She just wanted him. But did he want her?
They continued walking as she stole a look at his contented face, a small wistful smile upon those lips. Lips she was now aching to kiss, so much in fact that she was continually licking her dry lips in faux anticipation. When she felt his gaze shifting over to her, she darted her gaze back in front of her.
Snape glanced over at her, seeing her dark eyes intent on the road ahead of them, the sunset giving her an almost glowing look. She was so dear to him, but how could he ever explain? She was everything to him? That those more than three years of being away from her had killed him? The mere mention of her among the staff was a constant heartache and reminder of what could have been perfect. He wanted to kiss her, take her home with him right this moment. Just have her. But, would she want him?
He had been foolish, not even considering that he should come back for her. How many nights had he lain awake, looking to the ceiling and wishing she was back there beside him? How many times had he awoken from a dream, calling her name? She was made for him, he at times had believed it and now was certain of its truth.
Dumbledore had never known of their affair, and this was a saving grace for some causes for if he had ever found out Severus would have been dismissed immediately. It was the only sore point in their relationship. But now he knew if he could do it over he would draw the ire of any headmaster that would keep her from him. On the other hand, a part of him wondered if Albus may have insisted he pursue her.
A cool breeze was picking up and he felt Hermione draw closer to him, a little cold he assumed. He quickly released her hand, feeling the cold invade it as she searched his face in question. He gave her a gentle smile and tossed his jacket around her, pulling her to him in his left arm as they continued his palm warm on her shoulder.
She slipped her arm around his waist as they continued down the path, the night soon upon them and felt his breath hitch a moment and then relax. Hermione could barely make out the shapes and even though they’d been walking only fifteen minutes she was a bit curious as to where they were headed.
"Where are we going?"
Snape smirked, looking to her tenderly. "You don’t remember?"
“You will,” he promised silkily.
Hermione nodded and then suddenly she stopped in her tracks and his heart literally stopped in his chest. He clenched his jaw and stopped along with her, his hand falling from her shoulder. He peered down at her, seeing her making a small face and looking to her shoes.
"What is it?"
She looked up, seeing the panic in his voice. She beckoned him to lean closer, using his given name in a voice that sent shivers up and down his body. Tingles that were all too familiar. How could a young girl make him feel this way? He still stared at her, seeing she was wringing her hands together in anxiety. All he could do was watch in mute despair.
This is it Severus. She's going to leave you. You've bloody well blown-
"Will you kiss me?"
Snape broke from his momentary maudlin thoughts and looked to Hermione silently, his pale face almost glowing in the encroaching darkness of the night.
"Sorry," she felt a familiar blush creep its way up her neck and face, and she suddenly wanted to have that coveted time turner with her. "I suppose I just-" Snape shook his head in anger at his idiotic response and cleared his throat.
"Yes. I'd very much like to."
Hermione looked up to him with question in her eyes, a tentative smile forming.
He was still a moment, and then a small non-malicious smile entered on his lips and he nodded dark head briefly, the dark tendrils looking glossy in the night's now shimmering moonlight. She felt her breath leave her as she leaned up on tiptoes, grasping him by the forearms as she titled her face up, eyes shut. She worried that she wouldn't reach him, that he'd change his mind. All of those thoughts soon left, as she was welcomed with warm lips pressed softly against her own.
His lips were softer than she remembered, but just as sweet. Her eyes were lazily closed as her his, his hands having found their way around her waist and shoulder to draw her closer to him. Her hands went around his shoulders, drawing his mouth more against her own.
Her tongue slowly licked the familiar lips, and soon he was smiling against her lips as he remembered their unspoken language. He tilted her head, still kissing her deeply as his own tongue slid into her mouth, reaching around for her own. She soon obliged, her smaller tongue sliding along the seam of his mouth. His lips were growing harder, and she was becoming contentedly breathless.
His hand snaked to the back of her neck and breathing became a second priority, and one that they barely indulged in as they continued the needy kisses. Kisses making up for three long years of loneliness, three years apart from each other.
Suddenly he felt wetness against his cheeks and his eyes flew open to see Hermione's eyes clenched as fat tears slid down her cheeks. Her kisses stopped along with his as he pulled away, past worried. What had he done to cause such a reaction? Sure she’d been enjoying herself?
She offered small sorry's, punctuated with sloppy hiccups and small whimpers as she tried to regain control over her body. He hadn't really ever seen her this way, and was sure of what course of action to take.
His dark brows furrowed as he looked down to her, his black eyes filled with concern as he viewed the tears making small rivers down her cheeks. He was suddenly self-conscious, had he made her cry because of his kissing? He gave a tentative question as she stood in front of him, trying to blink back the onslaught of tears.
"Why are you crying Hermione?"
Hermione shrugged. "I don't know," she answered honestly, brushing the tears off her face hastily and laughing a bit to herself.
He quickly drew her to him, her face buried in his chest as embraced her tightly, rocking her gently and soothing her with quiet shushes as she sobbed. Her arms at her sides as he held her and she succumbed to him easily. He knew why she was crying. It was the same reason he was about to. They were together again. All fears that they didn't want each other were gone, that one kiss symbolizing the millions of things they couldn't put into words. It was so much more than a kiss.
Soon her sobs subsided and she pulled her face back, wiping her eyes with the back of her hands as she offered a strange giggle, looking to Snape with an apologetic smile on her face, wondering if she detected a bit of a misty look to his eyes. She opened her mouth to speak when she felt a warm finger upon her lips as he shook his head.
She nodded, smiling and sniffling a bit before she took a deep breath. He waited until she was ready, and then grasped her hand and they continued their trek. He was silent the way there, but soon enough she felt as his arm snake around her waist. When he had his arm around her once again, they came upon a small legion of trees.
"Just past there," he said, looking ahead of them. "Just past these tree's and we'll be there."
Hermione nodded resolutely, as they moved in between the trees that littered the ground around them. Hermione was still clutching his hand, refusing to ever be apart from him again. She felt that she was finally right in life, she was whole. This is what she had been missing for those years.
With the last of the trees parted via Snape's wand Hermione's eyes widened in disbelief. "I thought this looked familiar.”
Snape smirked and nodded as they looked out at the moon washed landscape. Hermione felt a small tug of familiar tenderness go off as she recognized the great lake of Hogwarts.
"I can see why you didn't apparate us directly here," she said in a somber voice. Snape stroked her cheek absently with his forefinger and regarded her with a protective look of emotion on his face. She looked back to the grounds, the familiar large castle illuminated even now by the lights inside, the hut that Hagrid kept, the lake. A millions emotions went through her mind as she recognized the lake, their special place. Where he had first proposed to her, and she had believed all was right with the world.
He led her over the grounds, empty of course because it was past curfew. They were slowly making their way over to their sacred rock, a small smile on both their faces but Hermione's soon faltered, still needing some answers.
"Why did you never come for me?" she blurted, her hand still entwined with his. He breathed softly and then turned to her, seeing her pensive face and wishing he could soothe her. “All those years and you never thought to come find me?”
"To be perfectly honest, I didn't think you'd want me."
Hermione's jaw went slack, "not want you?"
"After what I'd done," Snape's eyes went to the ground, and he was mumbling, obviously embarrassed. "I thought you'd perhaps come to your senses and gone for a younger man."
Hermione felt her heart thumping slightly; he still thought he was so repulsive? She shook her head lightly, holding back irrational tears. If there was one thing Snape hated, it was pity.
"I have come to my senses,” she said lightly, grasping his other hand. “That's why I'm here."
He offered a small grin, nodding as they made their way over to their place by the lake. When they had reached the rock Snape suddenly grew quiet and leaned over to kiss her. She was leaning in to cool the lusting fire in his eyes when they heard a noise, a small whimper.
Hermione looked to Snape, her eyes widened in a bit of fear. Had someone followed them? Was Austere here? Hermione clutched Snape to her, before looking to his eyes and seeing the stone cold glare that had encompassed on his features. She followed his eyes and tried to hold in an extremely amused laugh.
There hidden in the shelter of their rock were two students, presumably fifth year at least as both of them were wearing a prefect badge, like the one she had received in her fifth year. The boy wore a Slytherin crest on his sweater, the girl a Gryffindor. That wasn't what was surprising, what was surprising in fact was the fact that they were kissing ferociously. The boy was clumsily groping the girl through her vest as she kissed him and told him not to squeeze so hard.
"Ouch. Stop Thomas," she suddenly said, still not noticing the figures. "Your watch is caught in my hair."
She attempted to disentangle the young man's watch from her mass of light auburn hair as the boy looked down at her desperate to kiss her again. Seeing this she smiled and kissed him roughly, dragging him back down with her.
Hermione barely contained a laugh, as she looked to Snape's horrified face as the two students continued going at it. They kissing madly and sucking at each other's lips as Snape’s face twitched in fury.
"FIFTY POINTS!" he roared, as the two petrified students broke apart. The girl offered a small scream at Snape's voice and they squinted into the darkness, seeing Hermione and he standing there and watching them. They were petrified; Hermione recognized that look all too well. She too had worn in when caught in her schemes, and she could barely contain her mirth as Snape looked to them warily, worried he might explode. Suddenly the girl blinked rapidly, looking over to Hermione and speaking timidly.
"Hermione Granger?" the girl said slowly. “Harry Potter’s friend?”
Hermione blushed and shook her head, "no I'm not her. But you're not the first to confuse me with her. Apparently we look a bit alike."
The girl nodded, satisfied with the response and still clutching to the raven haired boy as he looked over to Professor Snape and spoke dimly, his eyes widening as he did so.
"Who does it look like boy? Dumbledore?"
The two of them went pale, eyes widened in horror. They stood, smoothing their clothing and blushing wildly.
"I'm so sorry Professor." the girl uttered lowly, "We-"
"Fifty points is lenient," Snape hissed at the girl, not letting her finish her story. He saw her trembling and pointing to the castle he uttered a frightening, "GO!"
She took of squealing and rushing off, not looking behind her as the boy remained behind, his stance straight as his black hair fell into his eyes. Snape made a small circle around the boy as Hermione regarded the scene carefully a few feet away.
"And Bendson," Snape finally said looking to the boy of his house, "I expected more. Consorting and carrying on around with a Gryffindor past curfew?"
Hermione suddenly stepped out from her perch a few feet away, hands on her hips. "And just what is so bad about Slytherin's consorting with Gryffindors?"
Snape looked over to Hermione, giving her a meaningful look. Then it suddenly clicked as she offered a playful smirk that he had to acknowledge. He hid his own smirk and looked back to the frightened boy.
“I won’t take those points from you or your accomplice this time. However if I catch you out here again past curfew or up to those.... activities,” Snape drawled dramatically. “Rest assured I won't be so generous."
The boy offered a curt nod, as Snape dismissed him with a wave of his hands, and running as fast as his young legs could carry him he ran back towards the castle.Hermione watched Snape coming over to her, his dark eyes glittering mischievously.
"Why Professor Snape," she admonished, "You've gone soft."
He offered another knowing smirk before leaning over and whispered into her small ear, his breath tickling it and causing shivers to run through her over and over.
"Actually Miss Granger, as you're about to find out later I am anything but."
She laughed lightly, grasping onto him as he moved closer. "Presumptuous aren't we?"
She giggled again but stopped, as his voice grew somber. He took her hand and they sat down on the rock, looking out at the lake, admiring its color and placid calm. It was serene as Snape sat next to her, their legs touching and his arm around her waist as if they were any other couple in the world. She leaned her head on his shoulder and many gentle kisses later they broke off, blushing and breathless.
In a fluid motion, Snape had moved to standing, looking to Hermione with a look in his eyes that she couldn’t quite place.
"Will you stay with me?" he blurted, and then seeing her perplexed look he elaborated. "At my home, here."
Hermione felt her heart hammer yet when she tried to think of anything resembling a coherent sentence she was speechless. It took her several moments to speak and when she did it was a very soft: "Really?"
She nodded, thinking this over with a small smile on her face. Snape saw her timid over-thinking and his mind raced at all the reasons she should stay with him. He was frantic, and he spoke suddenly, taking her by surprise as he paced back and forth in front of her.
"You don't have to stay forever, even though I'd like for you to. And you could take some classes here, or even teach here and well if that doesn't appeal to you, you could go to a wizarding University, I could give you a letter of refererence, based on merit of course you'd deserve it and-"
"Calm down Severus," she interrupted smoothly, patting his hand gently and smiling up at him. "I was just wondering if your chambers were big enough to hold all my things. I have so many books, you see."
"Oh," he paused, collectively thinking of the perfect thing to say to the entrancing creature before him, her hand in his and all he could think that was right was; "I’ve missed you.”
Hermione felt the tears fall from her eyes, spiraling down her cheeks and smacking lightly onto the hand Snape held. This is what had been missing. Him.
He was looking to her with tender affection in his eyes before he shifted, and before she could say anything he was kneeling in front of her. Hermione's heart raced, looking into the ashen yet loving face of her lover. He pulled her hands into his, pressing a gentle kiss to her knuckles almost reverently.
"Hermione Granger, my most darling little know-it-all,” he said between peppered kisses on her hands before meeting her eyes. “I’m irritable and hard to live with and I don’t truly know why you ever decided to be with me in the first place. But I promise you, I love you so completely that if you marry me I will endeavor to make you the happiest witch in the entirety of history. Marry me, Hermione. Be mine, forever.”
Words failed her as she reached over and carelessly tousled a lock of his dark hair, seeing as his lips formed in a minuscule smile, looking to her tenderly. Was she ready to start over? Was she ready to be involved with Severus Snape? Her memories were restored and she knew her feelings for him were true and meaningful.
She saw his face waiting, pensive, nervous and questioning. Anxiety was washing over him, and Hermione felt a tug at her heart that he would so readily assume she'd say no. She was almost speechless, but her lips prompted her to speak. Her answer came to her as most of her decisions did, from her heart. The words were spoke against his warm lips as she wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders, feeling the familiar way he held her as his heart thumped loudly against her own she answered.
“Yes,” she said, her mouth on his. “Of course I’ll marry you.”
Chapter 22: Epilogue
There was a knock at the door. Hermione blinked her eyes open that morning, craning her neck in the direction of the sound. Sunlight filtered through her room window and she smiled lazily, feeling warm and cozy. She didn’t want to move, but she quickly did with a good-natured grunt. Pulling on her robe she padded to the door of her room and swung it open gently.
There before her was one of the many house elves, looking up at Hermione with a beaming look on her green face. Her large eyes were watery and blinking rapidly in delight as she held out her hands and curtseyed respectfully. Hermione smiled, noticing that the house elf (Slinky she believed) was holding the most beautiful bouquet of wild flowers of all colors.
“These are for you Miss,” Slinky said handing her the bouquet. “They are from your friends Mr. Harry and Mrs. Ginerva Potter. They say that they are eagerly awaiting you.”
Hermione smiled down at the elf, taking the proffered flowers and thanking her gently. The elf blushed and rushed off down the hall. Hermione raised the flowers to her nose, inhaling their sweet aroma and closing the door. She walked over, bringing forth a vase and dropping the flowers in them. She plucked one of the dark roses before walking to the bathroom, drawing a nice warm bath in the claw foot tub and sprinkling the delightful smelling petals into the water.
She smiled before undressing; the silken crimson robe pooling at her ankles. She stepped into the bath with a shudder of delight before sinking under the water fully. Under the water there was nothing but sweet smelling warmth and when she finally resurfaced, she did so with a small contented sigh. When she finally exited the tub she was freshly scrubbed, smooth and smelling delightful. She cast a drying spell on her hair before applying liberal amounts of sleekeasy. She knew it was cumbersome but she also knew that when she wore her naturally bushy hair tamed, she felt a level of sophistication she enjoyed.
Soon her frizzed hair was in gentle curls down her back, her cheeks pink and her entire face beaming with delight. She went back into the room, looking to the dress that hung eagerly upon the window ledge. She raised a hand and gently caressed the fabric, a smile playing about her lips. It was nothing like the stiff, formal wedding dress she’d worn before. This one was elegant, full at the bottom and covered with a soft lace.
She pulled herself into the dress, using her wand to magic the array of buttons that began midway down her back and went all the way to the end of the train. When she turned to view herself in the large ornate mirror she felt her heart thump wildly. What would he think of it? She twirled around in it, watching the fabric swirl around her ankles. But something was missing . . .
Oh of course! She walked over to the bureau, glancing at the veil that hung there. She slipped it to the back of her head, setting it in place with the white flowers from the bouquet. When she looked into the mirror once more she was a bride. Everything she thought she would look like on this day – especially the radiant smile that seemed to light her from within.
With a deep breath of excitement, she grabbed the bouquet from the vase, opening the door and rushing into the long hallway. The entire space was empty, for everyone else was out in the garden. Her shoes clicked along the marble floor, almost ticking the seconds until she would see him. Finally she drew to the garden door, knowing that when she walked out she would be walking down the aisle to him.
It had been his idea of course to have it in his mother’s garden – something small and intimate with only family and a few friends. No best man or bridesmaid, no ridiculous spectacle to be judged. Truth be told his initial offer was just she and him at a getaway, away from the madness of all relatives and acquaintances. She had talked him into a slightly larger event - ten guests in total.
Her parents had been confused by this whirlwind event, but even they had seen the way their daughter looked at the tall and serious looking professor. Now they sat near the front, their muggle cameras raised in excitement at their only child’s marriage. Harry, Ginny and Ron were in attendance, as were McGonagall and Dumbledore. Elaine sat near the front of the garden, closest to her son and turned to see as Hermione entered into the garden aisle. But she saw none of this because her attention was immediately drawn to the end of the aisle, to the dark figure that waited alongside the wizarding minister.
And there he was.
Looking like he always did, his ebony hair lank against his jaw. His dark eyes looking irritably at the few faces that congregated there until he suddenly saw her appear at the top of the aisle. Immediately the dark eyes at half-mast widened and she saw as his full mouth curled into a whisper of a smile. His hands were folded in front of him, and he turned to face his bride fully as she walked down the aisle. Her bouquet was at her hands in front of her hips and she walked slowly, drinking in the tall man who was looking at her with a look of such naked adoration that she felt her cheeks redden.
She drew across from him, handing her bouquet to the nearby Ginny who took it with a warm smile at her friend before sitting back down on the white, wooden chair. Snape offered her his hands and she placed her palms into his proffered grip merrily. She couldn’t quite look to his eyes yet, because as soon as she did she knew she’d either cry, blush like mad or both. So she settled for the cleft just above his upper lip. It was safe, and she could see his lips twitching in amusement. The wizarding minister’s voice suddenly sounded out from beside them, indicating the start of the ceremony.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two faithful souls. . .”
The ceremony continued much like a muggle ceremony with the wizarding minister greeting everyone and beginning the ceremony. Hermione could barely hear anything that was going on, her heart was beating so wildly within her chest. She let her eyes slide up from the cleft of Snape’s upper lip, travelling up the bridge of his nose and finally settling on the gaze that hadn’t left her face the entire ceremony.
“We now begin the binding portion of the ceremony,” the minister finally said raising his wand and breaking Hermione from her trance. Suddenly a gold string laced around the ring fingers of Hermione and Severus and Hermione stole a glance up to her soon-to-be-husband to see him staring at her intently.
“Repeat after me,” the minister said looking to Severus. “Hermione Jean Granger, I take you as my own and my all. Forsaking all others, I take you as my life’s partner, my soul’s bond.”
“Hermione Jean Granger, I take you as my own and my all. Forsaking all others, I take you as my life’s partner, my soul’s bond,” the voice of Snape was low and rumbling and made Hermione tremble at the sound. The way he spoke, the intimacy of it was causing tears to pinch at the corner of her eyes.
Feeling overwhelmed with sentiment, Hermione stole a glance to her right to see the tears slip down her mother’s smiling face. Eileen was looking to them both, dabbing her eyes as well with a dark green handkerchief.
“Repeat after me,” the minister said looking to Hermione now, a small smile on his ruddy face. “Severus Tobias Snape, I take you as my own and my all. Forsaking all others, I take you as my life’s partner, my soul’s bond.”
“Severus Tobias Snape, I take you as my own and my all. Forsaking all others, I take you as my life’s partner, my soul’s bond,” Hermione felt her voice crack at the last word. Before she could say anything more she felt the string on her left hand tingle before it began to solidify into a thin, gold band. She glanced over to see the same happening for Severus and he glanced at it in interest before looking back to his bride; his wife.
“Let your lips touch, sealing your bond,” the minister said. No sooner were the words out of his mouth than Severus had leaned forward, pulling Hermione by the waist into him and placing a tender kiss upon her aching lips. She felt her eyes shut languidly, her arms slipping around his neck and pulling him more against her as the kiss deepened.
The sound of clapping and cheering finally broke them from their kiss and Hermione felt her cheeks stained red. He had promised her a demure kiss, one that would be appropriate in front of friends and family. Obviously he had decided - in true Severus fashion – to do what he wanted. Or rather, he couldn’t hold back his ardor – she’d have to ask him later.
They broke apart and Hermione felt his hand grip hers tightly as they made their way down the aisle. White petals were strewn about them by the attendants and Hermione had to laugh at the sight of her husband’s dark hair flecked with flower petals. At the end of the aisle he glanced back to see the small group staring and clapping.
“If you all wish to eat, I suggest you follow us,” he said officiously before tugging Hermione gently towards a deeper part of the garden. It was lush and filled with the most beautiful looking blue flowers that Hermione had ever seen. Hermione couldn’t help but smile up at her grumpy husband, knowing that he wanted nothing more than for them all to leave so he could take her up to the bedroom and start their honeymoon promptly.
Still, she knew he was doing this for her and the thought made her smile. She stilled him a moment, propping up on her tiptoes and placing a delicate kiss on his cheek. He smiled openly then, a sight reserved just for her and she felt her heart leap.
“I love you very much, wife of mine,” he whispered before bringing her hand to his mouth and kissing her gently along her knuckles. Hermione sighed gently, knowing that she would never tire of Severus Snape calling her his wife.
A large, long table was in the center of the garden with candles floating above the length of it. Delicious looking food awaited them, the heavenly aroma fairly assaulting them as they drew to the table, still hand in hand. Hermione and Severus sat in the middle as family drew to the seats around them. Before long house elves had appeared and were filling everyone’s glasses and bringing out more food. Hermione felt her face fold into a small frown; her S.P.E.W. efforts obviously not realized. Severus glanced over to his young wife, seeing as her lips were taut in a displeased line. He leaned over, his breath tickling her ear.
“They are free elves,” Snape murmured into her ear. “When they heard you were getting married, they insisted on serving. Who was I to disagree?”
Hermione shot him a small smile, loving that he knew her so well. After a few moments of chatting and eating Hermione looked over to her other dining companion. A beautiful red-head who looked so utterly contented that Hermione strongly suspected that the pitter patter of little feet wouldn’t be far behind.
“Thank you for the flowers,” Hermione whispered to her friend. Harry and Ron were in the middle of conversation and only Ginny heard.
“Our pleasure!” Ginny insisted, looking to her friend with a mixture of delight and wet eyes. “We wanted something special.”
“Having you stay an extra few days to celebrate is special enough for me,” Hermione insisted with a large smile. She glanced over to see Severus and her mother talking animatedly about the dental profession. Apparently Severus found muggle dentistry to be amazing – removing teeth without a wand had seemed barbaric and he was intrigued with the idea that muggles would pay for the experience.
Soon the plates were cleared and a swell of music sounded as if from nowhere. Eileen looked to her son and stood, offering her hand. Severus nodded politely, taking his mother by the hand and leading her onto the small, makeshift dance floor. Hermione watched the tall man holding his mother like she were blown glass, dancing slowly and speaking to her.
Hermione’s own parents took the cue, as Hermione’s father led her mother onto the dance floor and began swaying gently. Soon after Harry and Ginny joined them and before she could enjoy the sight of so many people and so much love in one space, she felt Ron’s hand on her elbow, bringing her to a standing position and leading her to the dance floor.
She looked to her old friend with a large smile as he awkwardly tried to lead. He continued to step on her feet, causing Hermione to giggle like she had when they were first years just meeting on the train.
“Ron you’ll never change,” she said with a shrieking laugh as Ron mumbled something about his stupid shoes. Suddenly the humor left his face and he looked to Hermione with a countenance that was far too serious for him.
“I have something I need to tell you,” Ron said, holding her about the waist loosely and looking nervous.
“It’s about the whole Austere thing,” Ron said, his words rushing out. “The entire time we were visiting, I had suspicions about him and I never said anything. In fact, I was spying on him and you during my entire time here.”
“Please don’t be upset,” Ron said soothingly. “I just needed to make sure that you were making a good decision.”
“Oh Ron,” Hermione gave her friend an understanding look. “Don’t upset yourself – he fooled everyone.”
“I’ve felt so guilty ever since,” Ron continued, his freckles standing out against his pale face as they swayed to the music. “I knew that I couldn’t just sit back and let you marry Austere. So I told Charlotte to confess or I’d have her thrown in Azkaban. And when I saw what was stored on her wand. . . It was so awful, Hermione. I realized so much had gone on under my nose. I also realized I hadn’t want edto tell you what to do. You seemed so happy with Austere and you’ve always been so smart and capable and-“
“You said it not me,” Ron smiled. “But from the start there was something off and I should have told you. But the thing I feel most guilty about is for not being there when you needed me.”
“But Ron, you couldn’t have known about Austere before-“
“No, not about Austere,” Ron said shaking his head and giving her a severe look. “About Snape. If you thought you could trust me, if you thought I’d be supportive you would have had someone to talk to when things went belly up. Because when I saw you with him today Hermione, all I could think was that he must be kicking himself for wasting three years of his life without you. And you him. I’m so sorry I let you down.”
Hermione gaped at her friend then, her eyes wide at the astute observation of her friend. Ron had always been forthright, but to have him say something so heavy with emotion was causing her lower lip to tremble. She wrapped Ron into a tight hug then that left him fairly breathless.
“You never let me down,” Hermione insisted into his shoulder. “You have been one of the most amazing friends of my entire life. You will always be one of my best friends, Ron Weasley. And if you spend one more minute fretting about with guilt over this I am going to send a million howlers to follow you constantly for the next year reminding you of the fact.”
She pulled back from him, seeing the relief that was so evident on his face. He was about to say something more when the song suddenly ebbed away, being replaced by a slow and sultry tune. And along with that a tall man in an exquisitely tailored robe was at their side.
“I’m afraid this next dance is mine Mister Weasley,” Severus said silkily, his eyes completely focused on Hermione as he spoke. Ron gave an awkward smile before nodding and heading off. Hermione slid against her husband, her arms wrapped around his neck and her cheek on his chest. She felt the rumbling in his chest as he spoke.
“Was this what you hoped for?”
“Not just the wedding,” Snape said, his voice suddenly anxious and his arms around her waist tightening. Why would this beautiful creature in his arms want anything to do with him? He was a stubborn, miserable, greasy git. Hermione raised her head to look at his pale face, seeing a whisper of self doubt.
“I know what you meant,” Hermione replied and erasing all anxieties. “And I meant what I said.”
She smiled up at him as she said this and was treated to a rare Severus smile where his eyes crinkled. She loved seeing that. And she loved that she was one of the few people that would. She saw his eyes darting over to a shocked Harry and Ginny who had never seen the professor as anything other than dour. He shot them a dark look before pulling Hermione more tightly against him. His fingers slipped along her spine, coming into contact with the buttons there.
“I very much look forward to undoing those buttons later, wife,” Snape murmured against her ear and placing a reverent kiss upon his wife’s waiting lips. Hermione felt her entire body go up in flames as he said this, his voice a low purr of promise. The night they had spent apart last night already had her aching for his touch, his mouth, his tongue. She shivered against him in sweet anticipation.
“I very much look forward to that, husband,” Hermione replied against his mouth. She could feel his tongue dancing along the seam of her lips and she acquiesced with a small sigh. His tongue searched her mouth, wanting to taste every inch of her and she felt herself melting against him. Everything he did caused electricity to shoot through her entire frame, leaving her feeling boneless and floating in his arms. Finally he stilled before pressing a full lipped kiss against her and smiling down at her.
They swayed gently from side to side, and Hermione took advantage of this to look at all the happy faces around them. Laughing, dancing, drinking or just smiling. She was almost overwhelmed with the sight of this. All these people here to support she and Severus.
“There’s so much love here tonight,” Hermione observed, her cheek pressed against the lawn of his shirt. He glanced down at her smiling face and felt himself melt a bit more. Would he ever tire of seeing this sweet face in joyous abandon? He thought not.
“Yes,” he agreed with a rumble. “And there will be much more in the future.”
Hermione felt as he placed a sweet kiss on the top of her head and she smiled. As she continued dancing with him, this tall inscrutable man that loved her more than she ever thought possible, she knew that this would be one of her most cherished memories.
And it would be one, she resolved, she wouldn’t need to put in any book.