Of Secret Vices

By mavidian

Summary: Severus Snape and Hermione Granger are closet mystery fans. Separately, they attend the same mystery event offered at an English hotel. However, it is a purely muggle event and, being both of the mind that the event ought to be done the right way, both have decided to forego anything magical during the event. Will they solve the crime and uncover each other's secret?

This is rated PG and the main pairing is SS/HG. For my AD/MM stories, check under the author name rogueinker.

Event Notes - There are mystery events for detective buffs held all over the world. They are a mixture of real people and actors but you don't know who's acting and who's not. Someone commits a crime be it a murder, an item gets stolen or someone goes missing. The possibilities are endless. Then the participants are given some clues to start them off. The hardest events are those that last more than three days and the planners drop clues in a large area like a town, a resort or a very large hotel.

Location Notes - The hotel in this story, the Hotel Victoria in Newquay, is real. It sits on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean. It's very romantic and scenic in an Austen/Bronte kind of way. St. Michaels Mount and the Hotel Chymorvah are also real.

Disclaimer: All characters are the property of JK Rowling save those of my invented by my plotlines. I'm simply borrowing for my amusement. Every chapter is for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended.

Chapter 1

Secrets, secrets, secrets everyone has at least one. A secret so valuable that they hug it to their breasts admitting to it only in privacy and anonymity. A secret so pleasurable that it becomes a vice, a craving so bottomless that the keeper willingly submits to anything so as to satisfy the want again and again. Severus Snape had such a secret. A secret that he would discover was shared in equal measure by an unlikely accomplice - Hermione Granger, St. Mungo's chief psychologist. This is a story of how that discovery came to be and what came of it.

Let's start at the beginning. A post office in the vast metropolis of London in which a nondescript post box sat mostly empty and rarely visited. Number 696 did not command a very high position in the racks nor was it marked by anything of quality. It was just a box. But once a year, this commonplace box became the most important thing in Professor Snape's life. Nothing, perhaps not even death, would stop him from picking up his mail once a year sometime in the first week of June.

Close to the post office on a cobblestone street was a row of picturesque brick townhouses. These were homes of people who weren't "old money" but who had disposable income and no scruples about spending it. House number 333 belonged to one Severus Snape. After he picked up his mail, he would habitually retreat here and read all his mail in one sitting. Compulsive behavior, yes, but he wasn't harming anyone, was he? Secrets often made one compulsive. That was part of their charm. No one else in the wizarding world knew about the box or the house. He preferred it that way. He kept it that way.

Climbing the stairs two at a time, he dropped the mail on to his bed right next to his suitcase. After a quick shower, he went downstairs to get a bottle of wine and some late dinner. With a glass of wine on the beside table and, blissfully relaxed in black silk pajamas, he stretched out on the bed like a big satisfied cat. He opened the letter.

It was addressed to "S. Snape" from Mystery Event Planners, Inc.

Inside it said:

Scene of the crime: Hotel Victoria-Newquay in Newquay, Cornwall

Arrival date: Please arrive June 13 or June 14

Participants: 12 ( a full roster of characters is enclosed for your reference )

Character: David Wright. Please see the enclosed biography and arrive in character.

Notes: You will have one week ( 7 days ) to solve the mystery and uncover the guilty.

Snape studied the biography of the person he was to pretend to be. A reasonably successful middle- aged barrister by vocation and a playboy by inclination. Personality traits included thrill seeker mentality known for trying anything at least once. Numerous relationships and affairs but had never been engaged or married. Hobbies included horseback riding, wine tasting and coin collecting.

Snape laid back and imagined what David Wright would be like and how he would behave. He would have to buy some new clothes, research coin collecting and ponder a change in appearance. He had a few days before he was due to arrive at the Hotel Victoria. There was time enough to plan and transform himself into David Wright, barrister and playboy.

Hermione Granger looked at the envelope sitting on her dining room table as if it was a howler left unattended for far too long. She fingered the distinctive magnifying glass logo next to the name Mystery Event Planners, Inc. What could it hurt? She had promised her parents after all. This was their birthday gift to her when she had turned twenty-three. Feeling that she had nothing to lose, she opened it.

Scene of the crime: Hotel Victoria-Newquay in Newquay, Cornwall

Arrival date: Please arrive June 13 or June 14

Participants: 12 ( a full roster of characters is enclosed for your reference )

Character: Diana Stevens. Please see the enclosed biography and arrive in character.

Notes: You will have one week ( 7 days ) to solve the mystery and uncover the guilty.

Hermione studied the biography carefully. Her character was a mid-twenties fashion designer struggling to establish her own business and design line. She was also single but with a steady boyfriend and many friends. Personality traits included outgoing personality with a flirtatious nature that disguised a killer business instinct and her hobbies were dancing and mountain biking.

Hermione browsed through the rest of the participant's packet. The pictures of the hotel and grounds were certainly enticing. She had to admit that the event appealed strongly to the closet mystery reader in her. Only her parents knew about her affinity for mysteries and detective crime novels. This was one aspect of her life that she kept under lock and key. Never in all her years at Hogwarts did she let on that few things got her more excited than a good whodunit. Her innate curiosity and thoroughness had been neatly pressed into service doing library research. Of course, fictional mysteries pale in comparison to my adventures with the boys.

She read the letter several times while deciding on whether she ought to go or not. Her superior had been obliquely reminding her of all her accumulated vacation days going so far as threatening suspension if she didn't take a vacation soon. She supposed that solving a pretend crime could prove to be mildly diverting. If not, she could always read in between walks on the beach and sightseeing. What harm could a few days of rest and relaxation do? She might as well and give it a try.

Her phone rang just then. It was her mother calling to see if Hermione was up for a quick shopping trip. Hermione agreed and she left to pick up her mother. Driving along, her mind centered on the mystery. At least she had as equal a chance as 11 other people to solve the mystery. Besides, it's not like anyone would ever find out let alone believe it. She would make sure that no one ever found out about this little escapade. Dr. Hermione Granger was a no-nonsense straight arrow whose life revolved around her patients while managing to keep her dual muggle and wizarding lifestyles firmly balanced. Diana Stevens was a different story.

She imagined who and what Diana Stevens might be like, how she would talk, her body language, her likes, her dislikes even what kind of boyfriend she may have. Tall, dark, not necessarily gorgeous, but smart and witty, a gentlemen of the old school. No, that's my ideal fantasy boyfriend. Who would Diana fall for?

What makes you think that Diana is in love, commented her inner voice. It was a voice that she habitually ignored. She replied back. Well, she couldn't sleep with someone unless there were some feelings involved, could she?

The voice was adamant. Leave Hermione out of this will you. You're going to leave Hermione here in London while you enjoy yourself as Diana in Cornwall.

The finality and rightness in that statement erased any doubts she may have had.

Severus lay asleep on his stomach hugging a pillow to his bare chest. His pajamas rode low over his hips. The sounds of the morning tides slapping against the beachfront intruded gently into his consciousness prodding his mind and body to gradual wakefulness. A satisfied groan came up from his throat and escaped his lips. Momentarily disoriented when first he opened his eyes, he rolled over on to his back and got his bearings. He stretched his arms out, flexed his legs and wiggled his toes.

He felt like a new man. He had rarely slept as well as he did last night. Since Voldemort's defeat, his dreams were less and less horrific but they still happened all too frequently. his inner voice was much too cheery and awake to be ignored, Let's face it, old man you're at loose ends. Your life is going nowhere. Your work is your life and that's not getting any better or more gratifying at all. Are you going to stay in the doldrums all the rest of your life?

As he lay there staring at the ceiling remembering that he was at the Hotel Victoria in a well appointed room overlooking the Atlantic ocean, he knew that everything the voice was saying was absolutely right. He was at a crossroads and he didn't know what choices to make or if he even wanted to bother with making a choice.

He looked down on his body. He had filled out. He was not as thin as he had been during the war. The Dark Mark and all the other scars were gone. No beer belly fortunately but the hard muscles were there if one felt about. It was all right, he decided, a mature man's body not like those overly sculpted physiques acquired at the gymnasium. All he had to do was find a woman who'd settle for his average body, accept his mercurial temperament, tolerate his acid tongue, engage in the occasional witty conversation and give him children.

That last thought made him sit up bolt upright. Where did THAT come from?

He hadn't thought of any female along those terms in decades. He was perfectly happy and content as he was - bachelor, professor, scholar and a war hero to boot. While he didn't attract women in droves, he had had offers come his way now and again. He had even accepted a few. The little voice piped in commenting that it would be very comforting to have an understanding, soft body to curl up to in a warm, large bed after a trying day teaching a bunch of dunderheads. Of course, your children would definitely not be dunderheads. They would be Slytherins or maybe Ravenclaws but, no, not a dunderhead in the bunch would there be.

Snape clapped iron manacles and a gag on the little voice as he clambered off the bed. He had a mystery to solve and he could not afford any distracting thoughts of a lovely wife and clever children. Enough! That's it, no more! He shoved the voice all the way to the back of his mind. Denial is a wonderful invention, so immediate and responsive. The later backlash would be a foregone conclusion and extremely excruciating.

For the past two days he had gotten in the habit of an early morning walk on the beach and surrounding grounds. The views were spectacular but the sunrises put everything else to shame. He hadn't seen a sunset yet but it was on his list of things to do before the week was over. Severus dressed quickly in a gray jogging suit. He made his way through the opulent hallways to the foyer.

On his way to the lift that would take him down to the beach, he passed the front desk and heard a familiar name "Diana Stevens." That name was on his roster, interesting. He made a mental note to watch for her at the luncheon later today.

The luncheon would mark the beginning of the mystery event. This was his third mystery event and, if this one held true to the previous two, he knew that he would solve the mystery first granting him enough time to have a little fun. He saw nothing wrong with a small carefree vacation before he returned to Hogwarts and his real life, such as it was.