If asked, he might remind the curious that his office also contained the paintings of a bunch of the busiest bodies ever committed to canvas. Privacy was non-existent. He couldn’t take a piss without someone cracking wise about all and sundry. Snape was certain that was the reason Minerva had been all too ready to hand over the Headmaster job to him and return to being Deputy Head and teaching Transfiguration.
It had taken five years for him to recover from Nagini’s bite, even with the precautions he had taken to save himself. The day he was released from St. Mungo’s, he was escorted by a couple of Aurors to appear before the Wizengamot. Due mostly to the testimony of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, he was acquitted of all charges pertaining to his activities during the war and awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class.
Minerva had waylaid him outside the courtroom and offered him back the job of Headmaster on the spot. Snape had always suspected that sneaky witch had a bit of Slytherin in her.
He reached the door of the teacher’s lounge. With a quick glance down the corridor he opened it, stepped inside, and closed it again.
To his considerable relief, there was no one else there. But Snape knew the bell that signaled the change of class would ring in moments. He strode across the room, seated himself in a wingback chair behind the sofa and then cast a Disillusionment charm. He unrolled the parchment, removed the latest issue of The Chap, settled back and began to read.
“Is something wrong, my dear?” Minerva joined Hermione on the sofa.
“Dub Glulfump exploded another cauldron in Potions class just now. I managed to cast a shielding charm over it, so no one was hurt, but it was a near thing.” She opened one eye, and contemplated the other woman. “That boy has no aptitude for potions—he is not only the worst First Year I’ve ever had, he is a danger to himself and others. Do you think if I asked very nicely, the Headmaster would remove him from my class? The boy is a menace.”
Minerva was gracious enough to change her snort of laughter into a cough. She raised an eyebrow. “Professor Granger, you have been teaching potions for five years now. Surely you are exaggerating just a tad?”
Hermione opened the other eye and turned to face her friend without raising her head. “Minerva, he is worse than Neville Longbottom. And, believe me, that’s saying something. Surely Headmaster Snape will be able to empathize.”
This time, the other woman didn’t bother to suppress her chuckle. “First year potions is required for all students, Hermione, as you well know. Even the headmaster cannot exempt a student from the class.”
“Circe help me.”
“Would you like some tea?”
“That would be lovely.”
The house-elf appeared with a crack. “Yes, Professor?”
“Would you be so kind as to bring us some tea and biscuits?”
“Yes, Professor, Winky will be right back.”
The house elf was as good as her word. In moments, Hermione and Minerva were sipping tea and munching chocolate biscuits.
Hermione set her cup and saucer down with a sigh. “Thank you, Minerva. That was just what I needed.”
McGonagall’s eyes twinkled as she deliberately changed the subject. “What are your plans for the Christmas holidays, my dear?”
Hermione hesitated a fraction before answering. “I’m going to go somewhere warm.”
Minerva couldn’t hide her surprise. “But I thought your plan was to stay at Hogwarts this year…?”
“My plans have changed. I asked Aurora to cover for me.”
“But I thought…you and Severus…?”
Hermione sighed and looked down at her hands. “He made it perfectly clear the other day that he is not interested in me in that way, Minerva.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t Severus just being…Severus?”
“He was being Extreme Severus and, well, it’s exhausting to keep trying and trying and trying to get through, to make him understand that I really care about him and truly want to be with him—that I like him, for crying out loud!—only to be sneered at, my feelings mocked and my intelligence questioned. I’m going to the Caribbean to clear my head and who knows? Perhaps someday I’ll meet someone who isn’t so damaged that they can’t see a good thing when it’s right in front of them.”
“I can’t say that I blame you, Hermione—I just wish—well, I wish Severus would stop being such a, a,” McGonagall sputtered. “A dunderhead!”
Hermione smiled at the older witch. “Well, I’ve decided I’ve waited long enough for that to happen. I’m going to go lick my wounds on the white sand beaches of Jamaica.”
“That sounds lovely! Where are you staying?”
“At a new, all-inclusive resort called ‘Currents’. It’s located in Wizarding Jamaica.” She pulled a brochure from a pocket in her robe and handed it to the other woman. “It is exclusively for magical folk.”
“Currents all-inclusive resort offers holiday packages for the discerning witch and wizard. Luxurious accommodations, fine dining, unlimited wine, cocktails and champagne, the best beaches in the Caribbean, scuba diving, golf and much more!” Minerva read. “Options include private beaches, spa services, gourmet dining and as much or little social life as you desire.” She handed the brochure back with a smile. “It sounds lovely. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it.”
Hermione tucked it back into her pocket. “Apparently it’s fairly new. I found the brochure on a table at the Leaky Cauldron.” She sighed. “I’m really looking forward to sitting under a palm tree on the beach with nothing to do but read.”
“So, you don’t intend to take advantage of the ‘social life’ there?”
“I don’t think so, no. I'm not ruling anything out, mind. But, as far as I'm concerned, this holiday is all about recharging, rest and reading.”
The bell chimed the end of class and both women rose and made for the door.
“Do try something new while you are there, my dear.”
“If I survive First Year potions for the next couple of weeks, perhaps I’ll give the snorkeling a try.”
While he was still recovering in St. Mungo’s, Hermione Granger completed her seventh year, sat her N.E.W.T.S. and apprenticed with Slughorn. After two years, she had earned her Potions Master certification. Then Slughorn retired again and Minerva offered Granger the position of Professor of Potions.
To say that Snape had been surprised upon his return as Headmaster was something of an understatement. By the time he got back, Granger had been in the job for more than a year, so he had satisfied himself as to her qualifications by auditing her classroom occasionally during that first year, much to her annoyance. To her credit, she did not communicate her feelings to the students, merely advising them of his presence as an ‘observer’ and getting on with her lessons.
Snape had to admit that she impressed him, both as a Potions Mistress and a teacher. Much to his surprise, he soon discovered a desire to get to know her better.
Unfortunately, she had still been engaged to Weasley.
Severus had confined himself to “accidentally” running into her while monitoring the corridors after curfew or in the library. Eventually, they moved to having the occasional drink together. Their conversations were varied and fascinating.
Six months ago, Phineas Black’s portrait informed him that Hermione had finally come to her senses and broken it off with ‘that ginger git’. Snape had been equally elated and terrified by the rush of emotion he felt at the news.
So naturally, he’d panicked. He stopped seeking her out and, if their paths crossed, he withdrew behind his familiar wall of cold logic and prickly temper. He felt his face grow warm when he thought about their last conversation a few days ago after the staff meeting…
Hermione had hung back until she and Severus were the only ones left in his office...
“Severus…? May I have a word…?”
“Yes, Professor Granger?”
Her warm brown eyes had widened in surprise at his use of her honorific. They had been on a first name basis for months in private. It was another misguided attempt on his part to keep her at arm’s length. In spite of that, she’d gathered her damnable Gryffindor courage and spoke again.
“I wanted to ask, that is—I was hoping we could, er—well, I haven’t seen much of you lately so I was wondering…would you like to have dinner with me on Saturday?”
Snape wanted to do that more than anything—but his suspicious mind would whisper ‘Why would an attractive, intelligent witch like Hermione want to go out with you? She must want something from you. Special treatment. Access to your books. To be excused from patrolling the corridor or chaperoning Hogsmeade weekends. Because why else would she want to spend time with a disagreeable sod like you?’ Snape was a mass of insecurity about dealing with women as a whole and Hermione Granger in particular. He covered his uncertainty by closing himself off.
“Why not? I thought…”
“What, exactly, did you think?” He raised an eyebrow.
“I thought since we have become friends that…we might start to get to know each other better…outside of work.”
The warmth and hope shining from her face nearly undid him. He folded his arms across his chest, wrapping himself in the armor of his robes.
“Professor Granger, please use that vaunted intelligence of yours. I am Headmaster of this school. You are the most junior Professor on the staff. I know you as well as I wish to know you. I wonder at your motivation in offering this invitation.”
The warmth in her face was replaced by confusion and defensiveness. “My motivation? I like you and I want to get to know you better.”
His lip curled into a sneer. “You ‘like’ me? The greasy git who made your school days a misery? I find that difficult to believe, Professor.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Headmaster?” She was furious.
He drew himself up to his full height and looked down his nose at her. “What else does someone want from their superior? Power. Influence. Favors.”
Hermione closed the space between them in a few steps, stood on tiptoe, grabbed the front of his robes in her fist, and pulled him down until they were eye to eye.
“First of all, Snape, you may be my boss, but you are my superior only in your knowledge of potions. Secondly, if you aren’t interested in going out with me, fine. I must have misinterpreted all those cozy evenings we spent drinking wine in front of your fireplace after work. Thirdly, you don’t have to worry, I won’t bother you anymore.”
She released his robes with a shove, turned and stalked out of the room. She slammed the door behind her for good measure.
Snape closed his eyes at the memory.
He realized now—too late—that his actions had been foolish and self-defeating.
After that, Hermione seemed to have cooled toward him. She avoided him, and spoke to him only in the performance of her duties. Severus, not having much experience in matters of the heart, was at a loss as to how to mend things with her. So he had resorted to doing what he was best at: spying.
Today had not been his first sojourn into the teacher’s lounge, but it was the most successful.
Professor Granger is going to Currents.
The owner of that particular establishment just happened to be his old friend, Lucius Malfoy.
When she reached the platform at the top of the ladder, the line attached to her harness was unhooked and replaced by safety lines.
“Are you sure this is quite safe?”
“Perfectly. I hired the best instructors.”
“I wasn’t aware of any Wizarding circuses…?”
“All the instructors are Squibs.”
“That explains it. There she goes!” Snape’s voice rose a bit as he watched Hermione jump off the platform. As she swung back and forth, she kicked her feet, causing the trapeze to swing higher. He drew in his breath when she released the bar, executed a perfect summersault, and then plunged down. He exhaled when she landed safely on her back and popped up, walked unsteadily across the net and somersaulted back to the ground. Her smile of delight lit up her entire face and she waited impatiently as the safety lines were unhooked. Then she hurried back to the ladder to begin the process again.
“This and snorkeling are our most popular activities.”
“Snorkeling? What’s wrong with a good Bubble-Head charm, I ask you?”
Lucius shrugged. “Those may be used by the guests with no sense of adventure, of course.”
“As fascinating as this is, didn’t you tell me that your reason for coming all this way was to try to get back into Professor Granger’s good graces?”
“Both of you have been here for two days now and while she has been availing herself of all the activities the resort has to offer, you have been holed up in here, brooding.”
“I do not brood. I have been attempting to formulate a plan.”
Lucius raised an eyebrow. “I was married for 22 years before my divorce. I know brooding when it is inflicted upon me.”
Snape continued to watch Hermione as she jumped from the platform—with much more confidence the second time. “Call it what you will.” He ran his hand through his hair. “To be honest, I’m just not sure what to do now that I’m here.”
Lucius smiled. “Perhaps I can help.”
When she entered the bar, Hermione's attention was drawn to a tall, attractive wizard who was moving toward her. Her eyes widened in surprise when she recognized Lucius Malfoy. He was dressed in a pale blue, linen Muggle suit. The jacket was unbuttoned and revealed a white shirt that was open at the collar. A self-satisfied smile spread across his face.
Hermione nodded. The arrogant, bigoted aristocrat seemed to have completely disappeared in favor of this beach—well, not bum—it was more along the lines of a beach lord. His hair had been sun-bleached until it was nearly white and his skin was so tan it was almost bronze. His grey eyes sparked with amusement at her open-mouthed assessment.
“Come. I want to show you something outside.” Lucius offered her his arm. She took it and he led her through the piano bar and into the darkness outside. They walked along a torch-lit path of stones in the sand. Before long, an open-sided tiki hut came into view. As they approached, the hairs on her arms stood up when Hermione noticed there was someone seated at the table inside the hut, hidden by the shadows. She frowned up at Lucius who winked at her.
When they drew nearer, the figure rose and turned. Hermione gripped Lucius’ arm a bit tighter when she recognized Severus.
Her mouth went dry. Like Lucius, he was dressed in Muggle clothing. Dark slacks and a light-colored shirt with a straight hem. The colors were indistinct in the torchlight. A breeze ruffled his long black hair.
She and Lucius stepped into the tiki hut and, for a few seconds, no one spoke as Severus and Hermione devoured each other with their eyes.
Lucius cleared his throat and Hermione seemed to recall that she was supposed to be angry with Severus. She looked down and chewed her bottom lip.
Lucius nudged her with his elbow and said in an undertone, “Courage, Ms. Granger. Remain open to the possibilities. Surely the fact that he is here at all speaks volumes?”
Hermione felt a stirring of hope and glanced up to find that Severus’ gaze had become apprehensive. She had the feeling that, given the slightest provocation, he would Apparate away and their opportunity for reconciliation would be lost. She maintained eye contact and stopped Occluding long enough to allow him to be reassured and then she glanced away with a small smile. Her hope had bloomed into certainty—but he owed her an apology and she intended to have it.
Lucius seated them close together at the table, facing the ocean.
“You two settle back and relax. I have everything prepared.” He snapped his fingers and a silver ice bucket with a bottle of wine inside appeared beside the table. Two wine glasses materialized on the table top. The wine bottle uncorked itself and poured a measure of the drink into each glass before settling itself back into the ice bucket.
“When you are ready for your dinner, just snap your fingers.” As he left the tiki hut, Lucius leaned down and murmured into Severus’ ear, “Stop gaping at her and apologize!” When he reached the sand he Disapparated, leaving them alone.
Hermione watched Severus as he cleared his throat and took a sip of the wine. It seemed to fortify him. When he looked at her, his expression was a mixture of anxiety and determination.
“Hermione, I want to apologize for the things I said to you the day you asked me out to dinner,” he began. “I won’t make any excuses for my abominable behavior because there are none. However,” his eyes pleaded for her understanding. “I would offer you an explanation.”
Hermione took his hand. “You have my complete attention, Severus.”
He looked down at their joined hands and his hair fell forward to hide his face. When he spoke, his voice was so soft Hermione had to lean forward to hear him. “The truth is, I simply could not believe that someone as strong, intelligent and beautiful as you would want to be with me...with no...ulterior motive. That you actually...like me. You see, no one has been interested in me...in a...romantic way...ever. Not even Lily.”
“I imagine that working as a double agent does not lend itself to letting anyone get close.”
“Correct. The Dark Lord considered feelings such as friendship and love to be weak, so he regularly exploited them in others. And on the other side, I had to keep people like Minerva, who wanted to trust me, off guard. In order to survive, I systematically shut down, closed off, and held myself apart from everyone—for their sake as well as my own. Living that way tends to make one suspicious of everyone’s motives. It is difficult for me to give of myself emotionally. But—for you—I am willing to try.”
Hermione’s heart ached for him, and she squeezed his hand. “Severus, I don’t want any more from you than you are willing to give. We have all the time in the world.”
He lifted his head, shook back his hair, and looked into her eyes. The intensity of his gaze rocked Hermione to her core. Without conscious thought, they leaned toward each other until their lips met. The kiss was gentle, a bit tentative, but with the promise of everything. When they parted, Severus leaned his forehead against hers with a soft sigh.
“Thank you, Hermione. When the time comes—I hope I don’t give you more than you can handle.”
Hermione cupped his cheek with her free hand and tipped his head so he was looking into her eyes again. “I can handle anything you choose to give, Severus.” She said. “Once you are ready—please do not hold back. I am not afraid.” She waggled her eyebrows and smirked at him in a mischievous way, her eyes sparkling. "And I'm willing to guide you, should you need it..."
"I may not have been loved but that doesn't mean that I have not had lovers," he growled. His gaze became predatory and he maintained eye contact as he closed the space between them, and captured her mouth once more. This time, the kiss was more thorough, more intense and extremely skilled. His tongue demanded entry, it was granted and a dance for dominance commenced. There was no clear winner, but a very satisfactory ending which left them both a little breathless.
"Excellent." Hermione raised her glass. “To possibilities.”
Severus raised his own with a satisfied smile. “Possibilities.”
They clinked their glasses and drank.
“Merlin, Hermione, you’re driving me crazy.”
She captured his bottom lip with her teeth and nibbled, then soothed it with her tongue. She met his scorching gaze with her own and murmured, “Why don’t we go to my room? I’m curious to see if I can handle everything you have to give to me.” She rocked her hips against him.
He nuzzled her ear and growled, “As am I.”
With that, Hermione tightened her embrace—destination, determination and deliberation—and Apparated.
They landed unsteadily beside the bed, and it didn’t take much for Hermione to tip the unbalanced wizard into it. She fell on top of him, lowered her head, and kissed him.
Hermione started with his mouth, which she explored leisurely and thoroughly before she blazed a path along his jaw to his neck. She traced his collarbone with her tongue, then dipped into the hollow of his throat which elicited a murmur of pleasure from him. Emboldened, she slowly unbuttoned his shirt. She undid a button, kissed the exposed flesh, and then moved to the next button. Before long, she reached the last button of his shirt which, when opened, revealed his belt and his navel. Hermione dipped her tongue into his navel which caused his hips to jerk up reflexively. She unbuckled his belt, unfastened his trousers, and pulled down the zipper. His erection was outlined against his pants and Hermione bent and kissed the impressive bulge. Snape groaned and fisted the sheets. When she pulled the waistband down, wrapped her hand around his thick cock and took the head into her mouth he groaned. She feasted on him for several minutes before he pulled her gently away. He drew her up, rolled her onto her back and pinned her beneath him on the bed.
A thrill flared through Hermione. He was so incredibly alluring with his long hair framing his face and his eyes glittering with ebony fire. With the press of his body, not to mention his erection, against hers, Hermione was alive with desire. She closed her eyes with a breathy sigh as he bent his head and kissed the spot where her neck and shoulder met, before trailing feather-light kisses along her collarbone. He moved the straps of her dress off of her shoulders one at a time and then he tugged the bodice down to expose her breasts.
“Hermione, I want to see all of you.”
A murmured spell vanished their clothing.
“Oh, woman you are beautiful,” he breathed, his voice hoarse with longing.
Her nipples tightened into peaks and Hermione arched against him in silent entreaty.
Severus was eager to comply. He lowered his head and closed his mouth over one offering while his fingers pinched and tugged the other. Twin sensations scorched through her and became molten heat in her lower abdomen. She moaned and spread her legs.
As Severus moved to suckle the other nipple, he slid his hand down her belly until he reached her mons. When he slipped a finger into her, Hermione’s hips jerked and she gave a small cry.
Severus abandoned her breasts and kissed his way down her quivering belly. He kissed her mound, spread her open and began to leisurely explore her with his tongue.
When he slipped two fingers into her and began to pump them in the same rhythm with which his tongue swirled around her clit, Hermione thought she would go mad. She squirmed and bucked her hips, trying to move his tongue where she wanted it most. He teased and taunted and brought her to the brink again and again.
“Oh, Severus, please!” She begged. “Please, please…”
At her entreaty, Snape pushed his fingers into her and sucked her clit hard simultaneously and Hermione burst into a million pieces. "Severus, please..." she met his heated gaze with her own and growled, "give me everything you've got."
Snape positioned himself between her legs and buried himself in her depths with a growl of his own. He began to move, slowly and deliberately. Hermione wrapped her legs around his waist, fisted her hands in his hair and pulled his head down. She kissed him hard and ground her pelvis against his. When she released his lips, she looked into his eyes and snarled. “Is that all you've got, Snape?”
His eyes darkened and his nostrils flared. He hooked her knees with his elbows, and plunged in hard. Hermione saw the last of his control slip away as he gave in to his primitive brain and she reveled in the sensation. The pressure built within her. He reached between them and found her clit and she shattered. Severus' thrust faster and in a few moments, his body stiffened, he threw his head back and a strangled cry that might have been her name was torn from him as his orgasm overtook him.
Severus collapsed on top of her and Hermione wrapped her arms and legs around him. Once their breathing had returned to normal, Severus raised himself on his elbows and looked into her eyes.
Hermione met his gaze and, in an instant, she felt unabashed joy, mixed with wonder and the hope that this wasn’t all just a dream and that maybe there might be a future between them. She realized that Snape had stopped Occluding and had allowed their minds to touch. Hermione’s heart swelled at this demonstration of his trust. She allowed her feelings of warmth, affection and passion for him to flow into his mind along with her conviction that they were meant for each other and her dream that he would soon believe it too.
Snape lowered his head and kissed her with a tenderness so acute it brought tears to her eyes. He raised his head and smiled.
“I do believe it, Hermione.” He wiped her cheek. “Thank you for not giving up on me.”
Hermione took his face in her hands and kissed him. “It was my pleasure.”
He had found Severus. He was together with Hermione.
Swinging on the trapeze.