Author: onecelestialbeing PM
Post-Hogwarts, Hermione is the Potions Apprentice, and Severus is still Headmaster. If they don't hex each other first maybe they'll find comfort in one another.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Romance - Hermione G. & Severus S. - Chapters: 28 - Words: 189,726 - Reviews: 630 - Favs: 531 - Follows: 438 - Updated: 09-16-12 - Published: 02-13-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7833223
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hermione stirred in the place between sleep and wakefulness at hearing her name uttered in a deep voice. Shifting her weight, she reached out to push away whatever was touching her face. Going still once it stopped, Hermione turned over onto her back. Seconds later her eyes reluctantly dragged open at the sensation of something warm and moist at her breast.
"Good morning," Severus drawled, looking up after releasing one nipple from between his lips with a slight pop. His hand had just made its way between her legs, one finger tracing along her dampened seam.
"You know, no one would ever believe me if I told them that you were this randy," Hermione remarked in a voice still laden with sleep, arching her hips into his hand.
"And they never will," he growled against her chest, ignoring her huff when he withdrew his hand. "I tried waking you up but you refused to budge. I believe your friends are awake and looking for you."
That seemed to rouse her senses and Hermione sat up in bed, pushing her disheveled curls out of her face. "Did they knock at the door?"
"No," Severus answered, sitting back against the headboard and running a finger down the line of Hermione's exposed back. "But between them and the menagerie of familiars clomping about your house, it was hard to ignore the noise."
"Oh, Severus," Hermione laughed, pushing the duvet away from her legs and getting out of bed, "I hardly think two witches and an owl and kitten constitutes the sound of trolls stomping around. Damn, I can't find my dress." Bending down to peer beneath the bed ruffle, she poked her head up to find Severus staring at her with a dismissive look.
"Last time I checked, you were a witch with a wand. Surely you can summon-never mind. Take my jumper," he continued, pointing to the grey material draped over a chair.
Hermione swatted Severus on the thigh before walking over to the chair, aware that his black eyes were intently focused on her bared flesh. She picked up the dark grey jumper and pulled it over her body, pushing back the too long sleeves up to her elbows.
"Knickers?" she asked, refusing to walk in front of her friends with a bare bottom, even though the jumper fell down to her knees. Severus gave another smirk, but pointed to the foot of the bed, where the scrap of white material was indeed balled up. He continued watching as Hermione pulled them up to her hips, letting go of the elastic with a loud snap. "I'll be right back."
Severus waved her on before turning back over in bed, pulling the duvet up to his chest. Hermione softly shut the door closed behind her and walked downstairs, finding Luna and a well-rested looking Ginny in her kitchen.
"Good morning, Hermione," Luna smiled, gesturing to the kettle. "It's just boiled, and we had some of the leftover biscuits."
"She made me show her how to work your hob," Ginny ventured with a groan. "You should thank me for not blowing up your house."
"If you could do that with a mere turn of a knob, then I take back everything I've ever said about Neville or Seamus," Hermione replied, sitting down across from both girls. "Sorry you were up before me, I could have made breakfast."
"Don't worry about it," Ginny told her. "Draco sent an owl an hour ago, he and Blaise are going to meet us for breakfast. Or brunch, I guess, as it's nearing noon." Hermione nodded her head, raising an eyebrow when she found that Ginny was giving her a knowing grin. "Have a good night, did we?"
"Shush, you," she snapped, turning towards Luna. Damn, I knew they heard us! Hermione cringed inwardly, feeling heat rising to her face. She had rushed to the kitchen without passing by a mirror, but was sure that her mussed hair, swollen lips, and pleased as punch expression was a dead giveaway as to how she and Severus had passed their time.
"Isn't that the professor's jumper?" Luna stated rather matter-of-factly, looking down at the lower half of Hermione's bare legs.
"Maybe. Or perhaps I've just taken to wearing jumpers that are three times too large," Hermione retorted, folding both arms across her chest, and making both Luna and Ginny giggle when one of the rolled-up sleeves came undone. They were still laughing as Hermione roughly shoved it back to her elbow. "Oh, will you two shut up," she grumbled, her face nearly red as Ginny's hair.
"Oh I forgot, bookworm Hermione doesn't know what sex is; they don't even snog," Ginny murmured as she brought her mug up to her lips. "Not bloody likely," she tacked on beneath her breath, screaming when Hermione reached over the counter to slap her arm.
"You aren't embarrassed, right?" Luna frowned. "You love him, you don't need to be ashamed about it."
Burying her face in her hands, Hermione heaved a sigh. "I know, Luna. No, I'm not ashamed of Severus, but I'd rather not discuss us doing that with my best friends!"
"Aww, that bad, hmph?"
The redhead was cackling uproariously, and even Luna was curiously looking at her. Hermione, on the other hand, was positively mortified by that point, in disbelief that her friend was bringing up the more intimate aspects of her relationship with Severus. Part of her still wanted to chuckle-bad was not a word that she would use when it came to describing what sleeping with Severus was like.
Outside of her first time where initially it felt like he was splitting her in two- although Hermione knew that she had sort of rushed him along-her body was Severus' finely tuned instrument and he knew how to perfectly strum it. On more than one occasion he'd left her limp and nearly incoherent after their trysts, every nerve in her body tingling furiously. One night at Spinner's End one night, Severus had taken her so ardently that tears streamed from Hermione's eyes. Afterwards, he calmly held Hermione against him while she tried to still her quivering limbs. Right before falling asleep, she mumbled that he ought to come with a warning, to which he gave a throaty chuckle and kissed her forehead.
"Bloody hell, that good then?" Ginny chortled, laughing hard enough that she almost toppled off her stool when Hermione flashed her a deadly glare. "All right, I'll be nice, I'll be good," she gasped. "Oh, before I forget to tell you, we fed your cat. He woke us up by jumping onto the bed and mewing in Luna's ear. Ruddy thing wouldn't shut up until we moved."
"Sorry about that," Hermione giggled, feeling slightly appeased at her kitten's harassment of Ginny.
"He's very smart," Luna commented brightly. "We didn't know where his food was, but he led us right to it. And he shared with Ginny's owl."
"Yes, they're the best of mates," Hermione said. "I'm surprised he didn't try to coerce you into emptying the entire bag into his bowl. Speaking of which, where are those two?"
"Dunno," Ginny remarked. "Once the food dish was empty, they ran out of the kitchen, probably to go play."
"That's Midnight for you."
"Anyway, we'd best be on our way. Draco'll pitch a fit if we're late, as if waiting five extra minutes to stuff his face is going to kill him."
Luna murmured her agreement as she got down from her stool. Hermione went put their mugs in the sink, only for Ginny to smirk at her, while pulling out her wand and casting a cleaning spell. Button was soon reunited with his owner, and the three witches exchanged hugs before Luna and Ginny Apparated out of her house.
Hermione found Severus sleeping soundly when she made it back to the guestroom. Peeling off his jumper and placing it back on the chair, she slipped into bed with him, exhaling deeply when his arms came around her. She lay with her head tucked against his chest, unable to fall right back asleep. Hermione tried keeping still until the arm beneath her went numb, and she shifted her weight, hissing at the pins and needles sensation as the blood rushed back to her hand.
Hermione moved to lie back against Severus again when she felt her hair being pulled at the roots, and realized that the length was trapped beneath her armpit.
"Will you be still, woman?" Severus grumbled in a sleep logged voice, one wiry arm moving beneath the duvet to settle around Hermione's waist.
"Sorry," she replied, now comfortably resting with her back to Severus' chest. She shuffled about once more when he complained that her hair was in his mouth, moving to drape the entire mass over the back of her pillow. "Better?"
Severus grunted his approval and dropped a kiss to the back of Hermione's exposed neck. His fingers began tracing over the protruding lines of Hermione's ribcage, before lowering them to the waistband of her knickers. "You should have taken these off along with my jumper."
Laughing, Hermione lifted her hips and worked the knickers off her legs, kicking them down to the foot of the bed. "Satisfied?" she asked, soft wriggling her bare bottom against his semi-hard erection.
"Not quite," came Severus' curt reply as one hand positioned her leg over his hip. He was fully erect by now and after a moment of angling and fumbling around beneath the duvet, he made his way into her body. Hermione was grateful for the two being alone in her house, as she was now able to cry out freely. She was securely encased in both his arms, one hand toying with her pebbled nipples, the other firmly gripping her hip as Severus took her from behind.
His slow, leisurely thrusting intensified when Hermione firmly ground her behind into his pelvis, wordlessly clamoring for more. Her little gasps culminated into broken cries of pleasure, her limbs trembling each time she felt Severus perfectly pressing against that sensitive area deep inside her warmth. It didn't take long for either to reach climax, and soon they were both trying to catch their breath.
Letting out a low swear as he withdrew from Hermione, Severus pulled his wand out from beneath his pillow and used it to sort them out. "That should have lasted longer, sorry," his deep voice rumbled in Hermione's ear, pulling her back against him.
Hermione smiled and let out a long stretch before curling back into his warmth. "I'm not complaining," she murmured, sliding her legs against his. "Although I daresay you've never had many complaints in that area." Her voice was teasing although it was evident that Severus wasn't pleased by the latter bit of her sentence.
"I'll not discuss former engagements with you, Hermione. It would be in poor taste."
"Goodness, it's not as if I'm going to get jealous," she assured, scooting down to tuck her head beneath his chin. "It would be daft of me to believe there no witches before me."
"None that you need worry about," Severus promised, pushing the wayward curls aside and kissing behind Hermione's ear.
Hermione shivered, feeling his warm breath fluttering over the sensitive area. She remained quiet, letting his remark sink in before opening her mouth again. "I know about...well... you know, but has there been anyone else before? Sort of like you and I?"
"No," he answered honestly. "To phrase it delicately, I was more concerned with the physical aspect of things; I'd never allowed anyone into my space and I've never stayed anywhere overnight. I got what I wanted and that was it."
Hermione was unaware of the way her body grew a bit rigid at hearing, 'I got what I wanted', unsure of what to make of the comment.
"Dammit, Hermione, I'm not monster," he muttered in a dark tone, his sharp mind easily deciphering her reaction. "It was consensual on both parts; I merely meant that we were both seeking to slake our lust; nothing more. Even if I'd wanted to, becoming deeply involved with another was out of the question at that time. Surely I don't need to elaborate on the whys."
"I want to be sad about that fact, but then you might not be here with me now had you taken up with another witch," Hermione admitted. Secretly she was a bit jealous, thinking about Severus and another witch that wasn't her being in intimate proximity, but another part of her knew that she had nothing to be jealous of.
"Hmm, you're the only one that's mad enough to put up with me on a consistent basis," Severus replied, his fingertips skating over the curve of her hip.
"Call me names, if you must," she lightly continued, shivering when his fingers grazed over her abdomen, "but that is not going to change. And we are going to have many lie-ins, just like we are now, so you'd better get used to the idea." Her back was to his chest, and she wriggled her soft behind into his crotch for emphasis.
"You don't scare me, Gryffindor."
"Oh, shut up and kiss me, you damned snake."
It took a bit of time before things between Hermione and Severus were back to normal, but they were definitely less tense than before. The two either passed time at Spinner's End, or Hermione's house.
Mrs. Weasley still wasn't over the moon about Ginny spending time with Draco, yet she finally gave up on trying to convince her daughter to do otherwise. Hermione was somewhat surprised when Harry nor Ron hadn't stormed her front door, demanding to know what she was doing with Severus. When she asked Ginny if her mother had told Ronald or the others, she told her she didn't think so, and Hermione left it at that.
Hermione still had her doubts, and couldn't help but to wait for her two friends to show up. Yet when she'd fallen ill, Hermione had been too busy with curling up beneath Severus' duvet to give the unfolded drama further thought. Between attempting to hold down more than a cup of weak tea, and trying to keep her head from spinning, Hermione spent most of her days in bed.
That week Ginny had sent Button with a note, asking if she wanted to come on a picnic with her and Luna. Hermione was too weak to pick up so much as a quill, and Severus sent the terse reply scrawled in his spidery handwriting, explaining that Hermione was ill thus unable to attend the outing.
An hour later, the tiny owl returned, staggering beneath the weight of a heavy basket and nearly collapsing in the back of Severus' house. He had carried Hermione down to the sitting room and she was bundled beneath a pile of blankets on the sofa when Button came tapping at the window.
Grousing beneath his breath, Severus let the owl in and yanked the basket from its clutches. Button proceeded to flutter around his head, making Hermione giggle from her place on the sofa when Severus began cursing.
"He wants a treat," she said, looking around for something to give him.
"This isn't the bloody Owlery," Severus snapped, trying to force the owl away. "I don't keep owl treats in my house."
"He can have a piece of my toast," Hermione offered, fighting the urge to laugh at Severus. She pulled her plate closer and broke off a corner of the dry bread that she'd been nibbling on. Button immediately went over to Hermione and took the proffered treat before flying back out the window. "What is that?" she asked, watching as Severus peered into the basket.
He was slightly frowning as he carried it into the kitchen and set it on the table, unpacking its contents. Severus then pulled out a note, the line between his eyes growing deeper as he continued. "Apparently Molly believes me incapable of looking after you in your illness," he replied in a sour tone.
It was Hermione's turn to look surprised, and she held out her hand, clamoring for the note. "She's sent us supper...fresh soup for me as well as something a bit heartier for you," she chuckled. "Mrs. Weasley said there's plenty more at the Burrow if we'd like. I guess Ginny told her that I wasn't feeling well."
"What does Molly think, that I'd let you starve?" Severus continued to fuss. "I may not prepare the best of gourmet fare, but I do know my way around a kitchen."
"Yes you do, quite well might I add," Hermione gently reassured, gesturing to the empty bowl across from her. Severus had made a simple chicken soup that afternoon. Hermione protested, saying that her stomach wasn't settled enough, yet all it took was one glare from Severus to make her give an effort. She was appeased when her stomach didn't revolt at the sensation of food, and she slowly finished the rest of the bowl.
"Give me a little credit, Hermione," Severus had told her when she was done eating. "I didn't spend the last twenty years of my life holed up in a Potions laboratory, merely twiddling my thumbs and assigning detentions."
"No; you also spent a good amount of time ducking Seamus' and Neville's exploding cauldrons," she retorted, laughing when he sneered at her.
In all actuality, Severus proved more than capable of taking care of Hermione. Two days prior, she'd complained of feeling dizzy, right before nearly collapsing in the vestibule. Severus easily caught her before she was able to make it to the floor, and promptly carried her upstairs to the bedroom. Midnight had been brushing up against his ankles, and Severus mustered up as much gentleness as possible to nudge the wayward ball of black fluff away, knowing that Hermione would scold him if he were to kick the kitten.
Once he'd gotten her on the bed, Severus pressed one large hand to Hermione's forehead to feel that she was burning up. He was about to tell her that she most likely had a fever when she'd gagged, and he swept her back up, getting her to the bathroom in record timing.
Hermione felt so unwell that it hadn't dawned on her to feel embarrassed at the idea that Severus had viewed her emptying the contents of her stomach, all the while holding her curls back from her face. Afterwards, she sought comfort in her cheek pressed against the cool bathtub ledge, while mumbling some semblance of a garbled-sounding apology, still fighting the desperate urge to heave again. Severus merely told her to stop apologizing, helping her up off the floor and guiding her to the sink, turning on the taps so she could rinse her mouth.
The next thing she remembered was Severus telling her to hold onto him, while he swiftly removed her clothes, letting each piece fall to the bathroom floor. Hermione shuddered as she sat in the too cool for comfort water, but was unable to do more than bury her head against her drawn up knees, wanting nothing more than to go to sleep.
Dimly registering when she was being carried back to Severus' bedroom, she kept her eyes closed as he dried her off and slipped a nightgown over her head. Hermione cracked her eyes open to peer down at the unfamiliar garment, asking Severus if she was wearing the nightgown he'd bought her.
"It's pretty; thank you" she'd murmured when he told her yes, shortly thereafter closing her eyes and falling back onto a pillow.
That night had passed in a blur. Hermione briefly stirred only when Severus prodded her out of sleep to pour a foul-tasting potion down her throat, and place a cool cloth on her head. She had wanted to spit the potion out until Severus told her to be a good patient, lest he pinch her nose and force her to swallow the bitter liquid. Realizing that the potion had in fact helped, Hermione was less petulant when she had to take the next few doses.
Now she felt somewhat better, and had grown tired of lying in bed. Severus brought her down to the sitting room and put her on the sofa, tucking a blanket around her legs before stoking the hearth. Midnight eventually found his way into the room, and somehow sensed that Hermione wasn't feeling well, as he calmly jumped up onto the sofa and curled up by her feet.
"Did I properly thank you for my nightgown?" she asked, fingering the dainty embroidery on her collar. The nightgown was along the lines of high quality sleepwear, much like her French knickers set at home, and Hermione had been pleased when she caught sight of herself in the mirror.
"Yes," Severus answered from his place in his armchair. "A few times whilst you were sleeping, the first time right before you went nearly comatose."
"Well, I don't remember, so I'm thanking you again."
Hermione knew that her Mum had purchased her lingerie at Harrods, but somehow she couldn't picture Severus wandering about in Muggle London, going into women's shops and poring over little scraps of silk and lace.
"You know I have to ask..." she began, her voice trailing off mischievously. "Just how did that shopping trip go?"
Severus scowled at her, and Hermione bit down on her lip, knowing that if she released her mirth he would most likely refuse to tell her.
"How else do you think?" he drawled.
"I have no idea, that's why I'm asking!" Hermione replied, her lips curving up. "I know you don't like going out, never mind in crowds or among a group of cackling women."
"If I tell you, will you be quiet?" Hermione smiled and nodded her head. "The day...after I asked you to leave, I needed to clear my head and took a walk. I'd Apparated to another part of town, just for a change of scenery when I happened upon this small shop. A woman that was old enough to be my great-grandmother tried to lure me inside, and refused to take no for an answer when I tried to keep walking.
"She said, and I quote, 'you look as if you've had a falling out with your sweetheart', and that she had just the thing to put a smile on your face."
"That's downright uncanny," Hermione mused. "Was she a witch or a Muggle?"
"Muggle," Severus answered. "Then she pulled out that very nightgown, telling me that I had to purchase it for you, that it would make you smile and you'd no longer be cross with me."
"She also told me to buy you the biggest box of chocolates I could find, but I told her you would much rather a book. To be honest, I don't remember that woman's name, but she thought it odd that you would prefer books to sweets."
"You really do know me," Hermione softly replied, a wide smile lighting up her face.
"Goodness, before you grow completely maudlin, the woman also insulted me, saying that I should burn the jumper I was wearing, and forced me to purchase a new one."
"Oh, she sold men and women's clothing?"
"I thought I saw you wearing a new jumper; it's very becoming, Severus."
"Wretched woman almost took my head off when I told her I wanted it in black," he groused, tightly pursing his lips at the memory. "She settled for giving me a jumper in dark grey before wrapping up my purchases and allowing me to leave her shop."
Hermione finally released the giggles she'd been holding back, and Midnight looked up in shock at the sudden noise. "You probably scowled at her, standing near the till with your arms folded across your chest."
"Of course I scowled at her," Severus retorted. "Bloody woman wasn't put off by it at all. She carried on chattering away, taking her leisurely time to wrap everything up." Hermione continued laughing, the pile of blankets on top of her shaking in the process. "I'm happy that my annoyance amuses you," he continued dryly, picking up a book and opening it.
"Well, as long as you didn't pull your wand out on the nice lady, then I have no cause for alarm," Hermione offered, yawning and settling back down. The sitting room fell silent as Severus became engrossed in his book. Midnight lowered his head, and Hermione was able to feel the soft vibrations of his purring against her feet. Soon growing drowsy, she closed her eyes and fell into a comfortable sleep.
Hermione felt much better the next day. She and Severus had immensely enjoyed the food Molly sent, and Hermione made a mental reminder to send her a thank you note. Her relief was short lived when she found that Severus had grown more snappish than usual, his sallow complexion paler than it usually was.
By mid-afternoon his already lank hair clung damply to his head, and Hermione pressed the backs of two fingers to his forehead. Severus was burning up and sweating profusely.
"I'm sorry!" she wailed, looking at his listless form. "I must have given you whatever it was I had."
"Share and share alike," he mumbled, closing his eyes and slumping back in his armchair. "Isn't that the motto of most couples?"
"Yes, but I think they meant things such as puddings or plates of pasta; not viruses," Hermione told him.
Severus cracked open one bleary, black eye. "If we were to share a meal, and you were sick, wouldn't we be sharing our germs just the same?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, finding his need to be completely literal an irritant at the moment. "Yes, Severus, if you want to put it that way," she snapped, urging him out of the armchair. He immediately protested, and Hermione stood in front of him, both hands on her slim hips. "You need to get in bed."
"I'm perfectly fine right here," he replied, making no moves to get up.
"Severus Snape, get up."
"Hermione Granger, no."
Hermione sighed exasperatedly, turning on her heel and striding out of the sitting room. She was sure that if Severus wasn't smirking at her exit, he was thinking about doing so. Still grumbling to herself, Hermione went upstairs and made short work of making up Severus' bed with fresh sheets, and running him a bath.
Going back down to the sitting room, she found him fast asleep, slightly leaning to the side in his armchair. Dots of perspiration lined his forehead, and his black hair hung more limply from the excess moisture.
"Severus, love," she softly called, beckoning him awake. When he didn't answer, Hermione gently shook his shoulder until his black eyes opened and focused on hers. "Come upstairs; I've run a bath for you."
"No, thank you," he replied, folding both arms across his chest and closing his eyes. Hermione exhaled, attempting to maintain patient.
"You can't stay down here, you have a fever. Now get up, unless you want me to levitate you upstairs."
"Your threats hold as much weight as a thimble," came the feeble sounding yet sardonic reply.
Hermione gritted her teeth, floundering for another approach. "Remember that thing that I learned to do with my mouth?" she glibly added, remembering how she'd made Severus' knees buckle. "If you ever want me to do that again then you'd-"
"Fine!" he snapped, unfolding his long limbs from the armchair and standing up. "You are the most duplicitous little Gryffindor I've ever come across. Now I know that you should've been sorted into Slytherin."
"You snakes aren't the one ones that know how to be cunning," she wryly offered. "The ends justify the means, now please, if you love me you'll go upstairs and get into the bath. Your clothes are nearly sticking to you."
Severus grumbled all the way up the rickety staircase but acquiesced to Hermione's request. The bathwater was tepid enough to feel comfortable, and he reclined against the edge of the tub, silently reveling in Hermione's gentle fingers massaging shampoo into his scalp. The sensation was so relaxing that Severus was unable to bring himself to complain when his nose caught a whiff of the overly perfumed and obviously feminine soap.
"You wouldn't dare," she snapped when he was finished bathing. Hermione was holding out a towel to Severus when she noticed the wicked gleam in his eye, as if he was contemplating pulling her down into the bathtub with him.
"Wouldn't I?" he smoothly challenged, although he took the towel and climbed out of the tub, roughly drying his hair before wrapping it around his hips.
"Knowing you; you would," Hermione relented, following Severus out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. "Although I know that's just another ploy to get me starkers."
"As if I need to employ tactics to get you naked," Severus drawled.
"Goodness, Severus. You're ill and not to be thinking about sex!"
"Oh, my shy little lioness actually uttered the word 'sex'? I might need to mark this blessed event on a calendar."
Hermione used more force than necessary to push Severus down on the bed, throwing him a scornful glance before moving to find his pajama bottoms. "And for your information, Miss Granger, me feeling ill has no bearings on other areas of my person. Two things I'm sure of; one, that you will always carry around a pile of books in your handbag, and two, so long as everything is properly functioning, I will always use the opportunity to have you beneath me, calling out my name."
Severus chuckled when he saw Hermione come to a standstill in front of him, a faint rosiness appearing in her cheeks.
"I'm going to make that same potion you gave me to break my fever, and I hope it comes out extra bitter."
"That makes no difference to me. It's medicinal, the taste isn't supposed to be pleasant."
Hermione shot Severus another scowl, snatching the towel away from him and urging him beneath the duvet. "Can I get you anything?"
"Yes, the bitter-tasting potion that you speak so fondly of. It's in the kitchen, in the cupboard to the far right." Hermione nodded and turned to walk out the bedroom when Severus called her name. "Speaking of potions, it's time for you to take a different one. Those phials are also in the same cupboard, your name is on them."
Hermione instantly knew which potion Severus was speaking of, and shot him a shy smile. It didn't take her long to find the phials, and after taking her own, she brought Severus his. He was finally cooperative, and swallowed down the phial's contents without fuss.
"Go to sleep," she ordered when he smirked at her.
"Damndest me, woman. Just when I thought you couldn't become pushier, you've managed to prove me wrong."
"Oh, do shut up, Severus," Hermione whispered, curling up next to him and stroking his hair. "That's right, it's your turn to be a good, little patient," she cooed, noticing that he was on the verge of slumber.
"Are you mocking me, Miss Granger?" Severus had his head buried in a pillow, and his words were a bit muffled.
"No, dearest, I would never mock you," she replied in a syrupy voice. Severus grunted in reply but remained silent, soothed to sleep by the feel of Hermione's fingers carding through his hair.
A week later, Luna and Ginny came to Hermione's house, Luna bearing a basket of freshly baked goods. Ginny said that she had an announcement to make, and wanted to do so in person.
"Soo, what is it Ginny?" Hermione asked after they'd doled out the still warm chocolate biscuits onto plates.
"All right, instead of drawing it out I might as well just tell you both: I've been asked to join the Holyhead Harpies!"
"Wow, Ginny, the Holyhead Harpies?" Luna echoed, her voice full of awe. "That's amazing, congratulations!"
"Yes, Gin, I'm happy for you!" Hermione told her. She still didn't follow Quidditch that much, but was familiar with the women's team. "So when do you start?"
"The end of August," Ginny replied, taking a large bite of her biscuit and brushing errant crumbs away from her lips. "Yeah, the scout said she'd noticed me from Hogwarts and invited me for a tryout a few months ago. Frankly, I'd forgotten about it until I got the letter this week."
"Good for you, Ginny," Luna told her, still smiling. "I can't wait to come see you play."
"Yeah, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all," Ginny continued. "I still don't believe it. Even Mum was ecstatic; baked my favorite cake for dinner last night when she'd heard the news."
"So does that mean that things are okay between you two?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, well...I reckon they are," Ginny mused. "Mum won't talk about all of the quarreling that happened here, but at least I don't have to hear little remarks about Draco and I any longer."
"Well, that's a start," Hermione offered. "Speaking of which, did Mrs. Weasley get the note I'd sent her, thanking her for the basket of supper she sent to Severus' house?"
"Yes, I think so," Ginny replied, laughing as she and Luna both reached for another biscuit at the same time, their hands colliding at the mouth of the basket.
"Ginny told me that you weren't feeling well before, then she said that the professor was also ill. How is he now?" Luna asked.
"Much better, thanks," Hermione answered. "But I swear, the man is the worse patient ever. He fussed and grumbled, and I had to threaten him just to take a bath!" Luna and Ginny both began giggling at that. "Oh, you two!" she snapped, catching their knowing looks. "He had a fever; the man was burning up and positively refused to listen to me at first."
"And just what did this blackmail entail?" Ginny enquired in a cheeky tone.
"Never you mind," Hermione briskly told her. "Let's just say that it worked."
"So I take it you two sorted everything out? No more falling or getting into a row with one another?"
"The only row we had was when I needed to leave his house to pick up a few things. He was adamant about coming with me, saying that he didn't want me walking around town alone."
"So what did you do?" Ginny asked.
"I told him all the points from Slytherin if he didn't pipe down and get his arse back into bed. Then he threatened to put Gryffindor in the negative when the school term began until I said that I would Apparate back here and go to my local shops."
"He's very protective of you," Luna commented, offering a piece of biscuit to Button who had just flown into the room.
"I'd noticed," Hermione replied. "I keep telling him that if anyone ever fancied the idea of kidnapping and holding me for ransom, I'd most likely nag them so much, they'd send me back and return the money."
"You aren't that bad," Ginny laughed, holding out another piece of biscuit for her greedy owl. "Where's your friend?" she asked of Midnight.
"Most likely off kipping somewhere. And you don't need to placate me, but thanks just the same," Hermione chuckled. "I know that I tend nag incessantly, but I can't help it. Even Severus began tuning me out when he wasn't feeling well; but in my defense, he needed to eat. I told him I would keep quiet only if he had something."
"Did it work?"
"Yes, Ginevra, it worked. He had his soup, I shut my mouth, and we both read in peace."
"Damn, is that all you two do when you're together?"
"Of course not, Ginny, they also-"
"Luna!" Hermione interrupted. "Why are you letting this foul-mouthed bint corrupt you?"
"I was only going to say that you most likely talk. What did you think I was going to say?"
Hermione fell silent, a blush creeping up her neck and to her cheeks. Luna was smirking but Ginny was chortling, becoming so animated that her flailing hands nearly knocked Button off the table. "Sorry, Button," she gasped, patting his little brown feathered head as tears poured down her freckled face. "Merlin's knickers, Luna, warn me!"
"What?" the blonde witch asked.
"You two are both idiots," Hermione huffed, although she wasn't angry. She knew that she'd told on herself by hastily interrupting Luna, but was positive that the blonde had been about to make yet another bold reference about her and Severus being intimate. "Anyway, how was your picnic?"
"Fine until it started to rain," Ginny said. "Little Miss Lightfoot over here decided to take off her shoes and skip about in the wet grass. She fell right on her arse and Blaise had to help her up. You know how fastidious Draco is, and we had to wait for them, with Draco complaining for ten minutes about his trousers getting wet," she laughed.
"What, did I miss the memo that Malfoy turned into a lump of sugar? Because it's not as if the rain is going to make him melt," Hermione said exasperatedly.
"That's Draco for you," Ginny replied with finality. "We ended up going to Blaise's house to finish our picnic, even though we held it in his solarium."
"Where does Blaise live?"
"His mum's estate in Norfolk," Luna answered.
"You actually met Mrs. Zabini?" Hermione asked in awe.
"Well, sort of..." Ginny trailed off. "Their house is so damned big, Blaise has his own suite and said she rarely comes over, but we did see her in the gardens outside of the solarium. She doesn't talk much but she was polite enough. Mrs. Zabini is absolutely gorgeous though; Blaise looks just like her. Speaking of mums, Mrs. Malfoy wants to invite you and Severus over for tea."
"I guess to thank you for your hospitality when she and Mr. Malfoy came here," Ginny replied.
"Severus and I, yeah?"
"That's what she said."
"I like Mrs. Malfoy," Luna chimed in. "Not so much before, but she's all right now. She's quite pleasant whenever we go to Malfoy Manor. My hair kept getting caught on doorknobs whenever I passed, and Mrs. Malfoy offered to send for her hairdresser to come and cut it, but I told her it's okay. I like my hair long."
"We know, Rapunzel," Hermione giggled, much to the consternation of her two friends. "It's a Muggle fairytale; Rapunzel is locked a tower by her evil stepmother, and the handsome prince comes and rescues her, but he has to use Rapunzel's long hair as a ladder to climb up to her window."
Ginny and Luna continued giving Hermione blank looks.
"Well, it's different than the Rabbitty Stump!"
"Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump," Ginny corrected.
"Oh, I am so sorry," Hermione retorted, voice laden with sarcasm. "Please forgive me for mucking up the name. You know, I still haven't read that story, what the hell is it about?"
"You haven't read something? Now there's a surprise," Ginny shot back, ignoring Hermione's scowl. "It's about a king that wanted to keep all the magic to himself, so he had his people gather up every witch and wizard. Then he needed someone to teach him how to use magic, but no one would step forward, and a Muggle said that he would teach the king, only he didn't really know magic.
"So Babbitty was his washer woman, and saw this Muggle hiding things in his house...goodness, Hermione, it'll take me forever to keep explaining this. I've heard this story a million times as it was Ron's favorite; it got to the point where I could recite the book verbatim, and not because I wanted to."
"All right, Ginny, I get the picture. Besides, I still have the book that Dumbledore left me."
"Hermione...have you seen his portrait in the headmaster's office?" Luna asked.
"Yes...although we've only spoken once. Dumbledore was usually either sleeping or out of his frame whenever I was with Severus."
"Do you mean that you and Snape have been...all year?! And right under our noses!" Ginny exclaimed excitedly.
"Oh, pack it in, will you?" Hermione snapped. "No, it wasn't like that at first," she fibbed. "It wasn't until after graduation and my Potions master exam that things became serious. Most of my visits to Severus' office consisted of him telling me to be quiet, and then us reading in complete silence."
Hermione saw no need to talk about the fact that they'd shared a bed at night, nor the kisses and caresses exchanged in the pitch dark of his bedroom.
"What are you going to do when the school term resumes?" Luna asked.
"Severus says that it's no one's business but our own," Hermione replied thoughtfully. "Although I suspect that Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall know something, even if they haven't said so."
"McGonagall has eyes surrounding the brim of those ugly hats she owns," Ginny mused. "I'm telling you, I don't know how she managed to catch my brothers in the midst of their antics. Perfect Percy never did anything that wasn't brimming over with propriety but Fred and George? Leave it to them and they would've burned down the dormitories. Funnily enough, they were the only ones that managed to skive off right before McGonagall had been able to catch them doing anything."
"That's because of the Marauder's Map they'd given Harry," Hermione said. Right then a sudden chill came over her; the map showed where everyone was at every minute of the day at Hogwarts. Hermione wondered if Harry had seen her going down to Severus' private chambers each night, or him coming to her suite. "Does he still even have that map?" she casually asked.
"I think so," Ginny said. "It's probably lying around somewhere in Grimmauld Place. I don't think Harry kept it glued to his side like he used to in school. It's probably been ages since he's last looked at it."
Hermione breathed a quiet sigh of relief. She didn't mind if Harry knew about her and Severus, but would have preferred telling him firsthand instead of a piece of parchment doing so. Hermione knew that Severus would be livid, and would most likely grumble something about burning the Marauder's Map had he succeeded the first time he attempted to take it from Harry.
"Well!" Ginny stated, surveying the crumbs littering their plates as well as Luna's now empty basket. "This was fun. I've got to run, though, I promised Mum that I would help her with dinner tonight."
"I told dad the same," Luna added, picking up her basket and dumping out the biscuit crumbs into Hermione's rubbish bin.
"So how many puddings are you planning on making tonight?" Ginny asked, biting back a laugh and poking Hermione in the side.
Luna's blue eyes narrowed at Ginny, and she stood up, haughtily throwing her basket over one shoulder. "We're having roast chicken, if you must know."
"You still didn't say how many puddings," the redhead went on teasingly.
"Don't mind her, Luna," Hermione soothed. "You know that Ginny's brain leaves her at a moment's notice sometimes."
"I know," she lightly replied.
"Very funny, you witches. All right then, love. I expect that Mrs. Malfoy is going to be sending her owl, so look out for it. She's pure white and almost looks like Harry's first owl, Hedwig."
"Sounds good," Hermione replied, hugging them both goodbye.