Title: Something's Got to Give
Word Count/Art Medium/Craft Material:~2500
Content: AU, romance, humour, some swearing
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to JK Rowling and associates. No copyright infringement intended.
When an irresistible force such as you
Meets an old immovable object like me
You can bet just as sure as you live
Something's gotta give…
Author's Note: Enormous thanks to my wonderful betas and to mods for organising this fest. Special thanks to my prompter mt_nestor for brilliant prompts. I hope you'll enjoy the tale I've written for you.
There are references from Sex and the City, Love Actually, Kinky Boots and one of P!nk songs inside.
Prompt: What happens when an irresistible force meets an unmovable object?
Something's Got to Give
When an irresistible force such as you
Meets an old immovable object like me
You can bet just as sure as you live
Something's gotta give…
"Dance with her, Severus," Lucius drawled, languidly swirling the wine in his glass. "Or you'll regret it. I'd warrant you don't want that puppy-eyed boy to get into Miss Granger's knickers."
"That boy doesn't have even a fraction of a chance, Lucius. Miss Granger can't possibly take an interest in him," Severus said, frowning at the dancing couple. "Look at him, he's just as useless on the dance floor as he is at making potions. I doubt whether he can get into anyone's knickers, let alone hers. Frankly, I still don't understand why you hired him. I told you he was no good."
"I had my reasons." Lucius shrugged. "And perhaps you're right about his chances with Miss Granger. Why risk it, though? You want her, Severus. Admit it. Why you keep fighting your attraction is beyond me. It's obvious that she's interested. Why not let her thaw your heart? It's not as implacable and old as you think."
Severus glared at his friend. "For Salazar's sake, leave my heart alone and stop that asinine blabbering. I know the years have taken their toll on you, but I didn't think you'd already turned into a meddling old fool. In any case, there's nothing between Hermione and me. It's all just a figment of your imagination."
Lucius nodded and said with saccharine insincerity, "Of course, my friend, whatever you say."
Severus grunted in annoyance and returned his attention to the dancing couple. Francesco – 'the puppy-eyed boy', as Lucius called their new junior potions-maker – was working hard trying to impress the curly-haired witch in his arms. Alas, Severus couldn't tell if she was affected by these efforts, since he only could see her back, which was … irresistible, to say the least. Her dress of coral silk hugged her soft curves most enticingly. The open back of the gown went so far down that he couldn't imagine how it stayed in place. Must be magic, he thought, and chuckled humourlessly to himself. It was hard not to gape at her heart-shaped derriere, and he admittedly didn't fight the urge too hard. After all, that's why he had come to this dreadful Christmas party in the first place – to watch Hermione Granger.
It sounded dirty, but that was exactly how Severus felt at the moment. He was an old man with a dirty mind. He had no business desiring her. She was too young, too pure, too bright for him, he knew, and yet here he was with his eyes glued to her. Seeing her in another man's arms was torture, and he hated Francesco, whose palm seemed to be stuck to Hermione's lower back. Moreover, the sight of his thumb stroking her skin made Severus want to kill him. It would have been so easy – just a minuscule drop of cone-snail venom, and there would be no more Francesco, with his grabby hands and wandering thumbs.
"Oh, by the way, could you please remind me, how long has Miss Granger worked at Malfoy Alchemists? I can't quite recall." Lucius interrupted Severus' train of murderous thoughts.
"One year, six months, and twenty-three days," Severus replied automatically. He regretted it at once, but it was too late. A victorious smirk had already settled on Lucius' lips, and he said, "I bet you know what she was wearing on her first day as well."
"I have no bloody idea, and, for Merlin's sake, wipe that smug smirk from your face." Severus shook his head. "You've only proven that I have a better memory than you. Which, by the way, is not surprising, given your advanced age. I may have to brew you something for that."
Chuckling, Lucius nodded. "And it may turn out to be quite profitable. So please do. Also, you can continue to be stubborn and fight your attraction to Miss Granger. But how long do you think you can keep at it, and why do you insist on torturing yourself? She's a force to be reckoned with, and you know that better than I. You won't be able to withstand her for long, my dear. Give in for goodness sake. It'll do you good."
"I don't need a pep talk, Lucius. So, please, do me a favour and bugger off before I hex you." Severus drew his wand.
The blond bastard just laughed at him and said, "I love you too, darling." Though he did bugger off rather hastily after that, leaving Severus alone with his glass of wine and ponderings.
Lucius was right. He did remember what Hermione was wearing on her first day at work. How could he not? Everything had begun that day. This ridiculous, infuriating and extremely inconvenient thing had started that day. He couldn't even decide what to call it – was it an attraction? An infatuation? An obsession? He only knew that since then, Hermione Granger had been at once the bane of his existence and the reason he got out of bed every morning. Apparently that bizarre fusion was indeed possible. Who bloody knew? The most idiotic part was the fact that he himself had recommended hiring her. He had no one to blame except himself. Not even Lucius, which was a pity.
It hadn't all happened overnight, of course. From the beginning, Severus had fought with all his might against the witch's resolve to be his friend, though deep down he had always had a feeling that his resistance was futile. As Lucius had rightfully noted, she was a force … the rather irresistible and very determined force. Nevertheless, it had taken them some time to reach their current state. They had begun with a few dozen passionate (maybe even too passionate) rows, which had been his fault, as he had acted like an absolute git for the first few weeks. Eventually, she had hexed his boney arse into a pile of dirty cauldrons, and a tentative truce had been reached.
Two months later, there had been a potion accident, and his quick reaction had saved them both from many unpleasant weeks in St. Mungo's. That night, they had their first dinner together, and she even tried to pay for herself. Silly girl. Maybe he didn't behave like a gentleman all the time, but he did have his principles, and chivalry wasn't a foreign concept to him. Sitting there in the Leaky Cauldron and listening to her chatter, he knew that things were going to change.
They had. He had let her in, just a little. It probably hadn't been the wisest decision. She had radiated so much warmth, and she had been so insistent on sharing it with him, that he hadn't found the strength to deprive himself of it. Fate hadn't spoiled him with warmth. Moreover, he had foolishly believed that if he accepted her offer of friendship, he might be satisfied to take it no further."
He'd been so wrong. Somewhere along the way, he had lost the ability to ignore her bright eyes, her plump lips, and that stubborn little wisp that always refused to stay in her chignon. He'd allowed himself to fall for her, and oh, Merlin, he'd fallen hard! Somehow, it had become important to learn what perfume she used, which tea she liked, what Muggle sweets she loved, and where to get them at that dangerous time of the month. He'd also found himself constantly on the verge of kissing her, which bothered him for two reasons: he was too old, and it was highly inappropriate. They worked together, for broomstick's sake.
All in all, it was safe to say that his attempt at friendship had failed spectacularly. It had turned, far too quickly, into that ridiculous, infuriating, and extremely inconvenient thing for which he still couldn't find a term. He hadn't felt ready for it, and he had chosen, very wisely so, to ignore it for the last three months. This hadn't worked too well, though, especially after Lucius had hired that nitwit, Francesco. Now he wanted to kiss Hermione and to kill the young fool. Given that he still had a full-time job inventing and brewing potions, this state of affairs was fucking inconvenient indeed.
"Quick, Severus, she's finally alone. Go and dance with her!" Lucius' whisper once again interrupted Severus' musings.
A quick glance confirmed that she was indeed alone at last. Severus glared at his blond friend, noticing with surprise that he looked flushed and out of breath. "Did you run across the hall just to tell me that, Lucius? You ought to exercise more, you know."
Lucius rolled his eyes. "Dance with the girl, Severus. Because, I swear, if you won't do it, I will."
"I am. Which is why you have to stop sulking and go take what is already yours."
"What do you mean?"
"You know exactly what I mean. Now go!"
Tired of fighting with Lucius and himself, Severus muttered, "How tiresome you are," and walked over to Hermione.
He found her leaning against one of the marble pillars, and by her pensive gaze, he could tell that her mind was hundreds of miles away. "May I please have this dance, Hermione?" he said, after clearing his suddenly tightened throat.
She gasped at the unexpectedness of his question, but the moment her eyes found his, a smile lit up her face. It was magical – her smile, and it always warmed his heart, made him feel wanted. But was he really wanted? Or was it all just a figment of Lucius' imagination? It was hard to wrap his head about the idea that this stunning young woman was smiling at him.
"Of course! Thank goodness you asked," she said and stepped closer to him. Even in heels, she was much shorter than he, but it didn't stop her from boldly winding her arm around his neck.
Taking her other hand in his, Severus wrapped his arm around her waist, and whispered into her ear, as they began dancing, "Judging by your enthusiasm, I gather Francesco failed to impress."
Hermione grimaced. "You have no idea."
"I probably do," he confessed. "I've been watching you."
"You have?" Her eyes widened. "Well then, thank you for finally deciding to save me," she said mockingly.
"Forgive me but I couldn't imagine that Hermione Granger needed a knight in shining armour to save her. You don't come across as the damsel-in-distress type of witch."
She giggled and slapped his shoulder. "I'm not. But it's nice to be saved from something nasty, once in a while. "
"Something nasty? "That bad, eh?" chuckled Severus.
"Merlin, I thought I would never get rid of him. Don't get me wrong, Francesco is … all right, although he can't dance or brew potions. But those clammy, grabby hands of his." She shuddered. "I really didn't care for the way he touched me."
Neither did I, thought Severus, but decided not to say it aloud.
"I think I'm allergic to him now," Hermione continued. "He made me all itchy and bothered, and that's not a good thing."
"Allergic reaction, you say? Perhaps I shouldn't touch you either." Withdrawing his arm from her waist, he stepped away.
"No!" She grabbed his hand, putting it back on her waist. "I enjoy your touch, Severus. Don't you dare run from me."
"Do you? Do you really enjoy my touch?" Something in his heart began to throb, and he had to take a calming breath, though it was a good kind of pain. Peering into her eyes, he said, "Are you certain? What if, in a little while, you have an allergic reaction to me too?"
"Never. Also, I wouldn't complain if your hands turned into grabby hands. Actually, I would love it very much." Her smile turned wicked. "And the thought of you as a knight gives me all sorts of feelings."
The naughty witch stood on tiptoes and whispered in his ear, "All sorts."
"Vixen," he muttered, and drew her close. "So …" he had to swallow, because his voice had become embarrassingly raspy. "Do you want me to try and touch you? All in the name of science, of course… It's important to know how widespread this allergy of yours is."
"Yes, please do," she breathed out, and a gleam in her eyes made him groan.
Severus took a deep breath, placed the tips of his fingers on her naked back, and slowly traced her spine from tailbone to nape. She gasped; her eyelids fluttered and closed, and he could swear that he heard her moan. His fingers trembled, and Severus just hoped that the witch wouldn't notice, or, at least, wouldn't mind. "Am I doing it right?" he rasped in her ear.
Hermione let out a shaky breath and nodded. "A-ha."
"No. But I think we have to keep at it just to make sure."
"As you wish." He tilted his head to her shoulder, breathing in the familiar scent of her perfume. "Like this?" he said, as his lips traced her neckline, while his fingertips ran down her spine again.
Her arm around his neck tightened, and she moaned, "Yes," squaring herself against him and unwittingly bumping against his hardness. Severus hissed, and she froze. For a moment, he thought that everything would end even before it had begun, but he was wrong. Because, an instant later, her little palm covered his crotch, and she whispered, her lips hot against his neck. "I think we have to move our experiment elsewhere."
She gave him a little squeeze, forcing another hiss out of him.
"Indeed." He nodded, pressed her tightly to his chest, and Side-Alonged them away from that not-so-dreadful party, hoping that she would not object to continuing their very scientific experimentations in his bedroom.
Whistling something triumphant, Lucius sauntered towards the gloomy-looking young wizard. With an air of distaste, he tapped his shoulder and said, "So it looks as if it's only you and your hand tonight, Francesco." Lucius stifled a chuckle and added unsympathetically, "Pity."
The startled boy's face reddened, and he almost choked on his drink. Grimacing, Lucius conjured a white handkerchief and dropped it into Francesco's lap. "See me first thing in the morning on Monday. I think it's time to transfer you to our Northampton facility."
"I didn't know that we had a brewing lab in Northamptonshire?" The young wizard frowned.
"We don't. It's a shoe factory, but you will be all right. Charlie has the perfect position for you."