A/N: So... I'm alive. I can't say all is well but it's coming around. The reason for this absence? My mother had a stroke at the end of November, a not so good one that required surgery and then waiting on pins and needles for the aftermath. She just came home last Saturday and is on the mend but, as expected, it's going to take time before she's 100% again.
I haven't abandoned my huge massive gargantuan fic, Unintentional Inveiglement! The upcoming chapter is already 6k and counting and it's a hard one because I don't want to muck it up, and I don't want to rush it. I actually wanted to update on my birthday but I'd spent the day with Mum at rehab and spent my night drinking wine and eating sushi with the fiance and bestie :)
Now this fic was miraculously churned out in the midst of me working a gazillion hours overtime. It was written for ToodleOo (check out her work, by the way! She's on here and her stories are soooooo lovely!) for the 2015 SSHG LJ Giftfest. Also ago to promote here, I was the recipient for a GORGEOUS piece by Toblass. It's Severus and Hermione having tea and toast beneath a blanket, and her cup says 'Swot' and his cup says 'Git' and it is the cutest thing ever and you all should see it.
A special thank you to all my facebook friends who helped me come up with names of books for this fic! Lauryan, bless your heart and thanks again darling!
I hope you enjoy this foray into madness! I will say, it was fun to write :D
Hermione sighed and cast a mournful glance at the cuckoo clock hung on the wall across the room. What was supposed to be a quick fifteen minute meeting had turned into a lengthy heated argument by way of debate between her former professors, classmates, and Ministry-employed witches and wizards.
It had been decided (no one knew who initially came up with the idea) that Severus Snape should be rewarded for his clandestine heroic acts during the war. McGonagall gave the sensible suggestion of a plaque of some sort, yet the idea was shot down by many others who thought the gesture was too small. Another person suggested an intimate party with select guests. However, the further the plans about the party were discussed, the more ridiculous it all became. One of the not-so-silly ideas mentioned was a cake with Snape's face on it, fireworks that spelled out his name, and hiring his favourite band. Ideas that tested the very brink of sanity included a bust of Snape's head that stood at one-hundred feet and was made completely of solid dark chocolate, a hired group of faeries to float around him throughout the entirety of the party, and a re-enactment of a fake Voldemort being taken down by a fake Snape. There were other suggestions that were even more ludicrous than the previous, and Hermione secretly wondered if everyone was trying to out-stupid one another.
"Before we get carried away, don't you think we should ask Professor Snape what he would like?" Hermione interrupted, causing a round of patronising titters to circulate the table.
"If we leave it up to Severus then there won't be a party," someone chimed in. "The man is a loner. He'd probably swallow arsenic sooner than willingly attending a party."
And I'd swallow arsenic right now if it meant getting away from you all, Hermione retorted in her head.
"Look, this is the Ministry of Magic, isn't it? Why we don't just make a bank holiday in Snape's honour and be done with it?" Madam Hooch threw in, looking pointedly at Kingsley. "You're the Minister of Magic and can approve any holiday in the blink of an eye. We can all have the day off and Snape can do what he wants."
"That's it? Just a public holiday? No! There should be food and festivities and something erected in his honour! Not just a 'here you are, chap, you've done a good thing for the wizarding world, now enjoy the day off.' That's unimaginative and downright boring."
Something told Hermione that 'boring' was likely what Snape would want anyway, if he wanted anything at all. Unfortunately she was unable to get another word in edgeways because the group kept shouting over one another, in turn giving her a headache. When the meeting was finally adjourned, she was the first one to bolt from the room, in aims of a cup of tea and her bed.
The charade of a meeting left her with one last task, and before heading home, Hermione scrawled a hasty note and sent it off with one of the department's owls. She had no idea how long it would take before the intended recipient received the owl, as she was completely unaware of the recipient's exact address. But the Ministry's owls could find anyone no matter how near or far, so she wasn't too worried.
Hermione figured she had a fifty-fifty shot of having a guest that evening. Snape was known for his begrudging politeness, but even so, he seemed to prefer being left alone. There was a chance that he might not respond to her Owl, much less acquiesce to her small request. However there was still a chance that he might stop by, and that led her to tidying up her already immaculate sitting room the moment she arrived home.
It was admittedly strange to have invited Snape over to her house, and Hermione was on edge more than she cared to admit. Reading was always a welcomed distraction and she curled up on her sofa with her latest purchase. She was halfway into the book when the doorbell rang.
"Miss Granger. You wished to see me?"
Snape's mood typically matched his attire: black, black, and more black. He was still dressed in all black, which wasn't all that shocking, but Hermione was shocked to find that he wasn't staring her down with his usual look of disdain, and that was a pleasant surprise.
"Hello. I must confess, I wasn't sure if you were going to come or not," Hermione replied, stepping back and waiting for Snape to enter. He inclined his head an inch whilst gliding past her, pausing in the foyer and waiting for her to lead the way.
"Your letter gave me the impression that our meeting was of utmost importance."
"It was.. it is... All right, before I start babbling, may I offer you something to drink?" she asked as they walked to the living room. "Tea? Water?"
"Water, thank you."
While Snape removed his overcoat and draped it over the back of the sofa, Hermione went to the kitchen to get his water. When she returned to the living room she found the man sitting rigidly in place, not looking around or doing anything that most people did when they visited a new home.
"Since this is such short notice, I'll get right to it," Hermione began after handing Snape the glass. "Everyone's planning this ridiculous... I don't know what to call it. At first it was supposed to be some small affair, a party or a ball in your honour. Now they're harassing Kingsley to make a bank holiday in your name and the suggestions... My goodness, some are positively horrid. One person suggested a huge statue created to your likeness but made completely of chocolate, and that was the least silly of the ideas. I heard mention of a throne, crown jewels, a week-long fireworks display, hiring the Weird Sisters to perform their greatest hits... Erm, judging by the look on your face, you'd sooner listen to nails on a chalkboard than the Weird Sisters."
"Believe it or not, there is worse music than the Weird Sisters, but they are definitely not my first choice."
"Well I figured as much, but before this thing really gets out of hand I thought you should be made aware of... What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
Snape was hunched over, arms folded tightly as he stared at her with such a weird expression on his gaunt face that it made Hermione raise an eyebrow. There was a time when she might have been somewhat frightened by this man scowling at her, but she had the impression that if he was in fact perturbed right now, his aggravation was not directed at her.
What was she supposed to do? Had he been one of her close friends she would have made him tea and patted his back in an effort to console. But she and Snape weren't what Hermione would consider close friends, although in their limited exchanges over the years, a quiet sort of respect had come into place. Even so, she'd kept her distance and he kept his, and that was that.
"Umm, Sir..." Immediately Hermione felt a bit silly calling Snape 'Sir', but forgot about it when she saw how agitated he really was. "Is there anything I can do? Would you like anything?"
All of a sudden, Snape's face dissolved into an illusion of calm, and he uprighted himself and folded his hands in his lap.
"Do you know what I'd like?" he began smoothly. "I'll tell you what I'd like. I would like it if everyone could stop assuming what I want and perhaps inconvenience themselves to bloody ask me what I want. I'd like to be able to go to the shops and not deal with nosy shopkeepers or perhaps even meet one who doesn't even know who I am, much less one who gives a damn about who I am or where I came from or the happenings of my past. A hamper filled with gourmet foods that haven't been prepared by house-elves, which would include a bottle or two of the finest red vintage and any sort of pudding that is topped with chocolate ganache. A day where I won't be subjected to whining or nagging or obsequious fawning or mentions of how brave I was or how tortured my soul must be, or how I would feel better if I were to 'let people in' or 'allow others to help me'. When I needed everyone's help, no one gave a damn. Therefore at the present time I don't want anyone's help and I damned sure don't need their empty laud. By the way, you might want to pick up your jaw before you stand up and trip over it."
Hermione found herself utterly gobsmacked. She hadn't been expecting that outburst, even if it was absent of ire. She also hadn't expected Snape to sound like a petulant four-year-old who was being denied sweets. No one ever got into a strop when people were trying to do nice things for them, but Severus Snape wasn't your average person, and she suspected that no one had ever been fussed to do anything nice for him.
Perhaps he was embarrassed?
Well, that was something she could appreciate. Overly grandiose gestures had always made her feel uncomfortable. Even as a child, when she was given presents by someone who wasn't a close friend or relative, the gifter would always be standing nearby, a silly expression on their face as they waited to see her reaction, and they'd almost always bought something that she had no use for. Hermione had felt foolish even then, worried that she was going to react the wrong way and embarrass herself as well as the other person.
But no, maybe it was more than mere embarrassment. Besides looking upset, Snape looked downright uncomfortable, and tiny beads of sweat were beginning to form along his forehead. Accompanying the perspiration was a dangerously throbbing vein, and Hermione wondered if that was the result of fear, anger, or a mixture of the two.
"Are you agoraphobic by any chance, Professor?"
"Not that I'm aware of, Miss Granger, and you needn't call me sir or professor as I am no longer your teacher."
"All right, Mister—"
"For God's sake, we're both adults. Severus is fine."
"OK, Severus. You know I really am sorry about laying all this on you, but I thought you should know in case someone had it in their mind to knock on your door some time next week with a bejewelled palanquin and shirtless bearers with your name tattooed across their chests, waiting to carry you to your party."
"What?! Please tell me no one actually suggested that." Hermione was silent but the look on her face was answer enough. "Fucking hell, now there's a vision that'll need to be burnt out of my memory."
"I told you, the day was very long, very arduous, and very trying on one's brain, assuming other parties brought their brains along to the meeting. After listening to that load of waffle I seriously have my doubts."
The water glass was still in Snape's hand and Hermione glanced down to see him holding tightly onto it. He then lowered his head and pried one hand loose to begin tracing one long finger around the rim.
"I never asked for any of this, you know," he muttered under his breath, his voice so soft that Hermione had to strain to hear. "I'm not like Potter or even your idiotic ginger friend. I relish my privacy and alone time. The only thing I gain from being the centre of attention is a pounding headache and a reminder of why I avoid most people."
Hermione was met with the urge to say something in the defence of her friends, but Snape had a point—Harry and Ron adored the many celebrations that were given in their honour. It would have been unheard of for her not to be included, but somehow Hermione always found herself bowing out early and seeking solace in the comfort of her home. No one except family and close friends knew where she lived, and that was by design. Journalists and paparazzi had disgusting tendencies when they wanted a story or photograph, and Hermione refused to walk on eggshells when it came to carrying out her normal, everyday activities. Of course going out in public left her somewhat exposed but after issuing a few threats, folks knew to leave Hermione alone. With that being said, her home was her sanctuary and anyone allowed to visit her house knew not to disclose its location.
"None of us asked for this, Severus, and you can't blame people for wanting to do something to thank you, but I do understand being uncomfortable about all the fuss. I don't like it much either."
"Hmm, that's interesting." Snape sniffed and upturned the glass to his lips, draining it dry in a few swallows.
"Would you like a refill? And what's interesting?" Hermione asked, holding out her hand.
"I'm fine, thank you, and I find it interesting that you prefer to veer to the outskirts of the limelight."
"I'm sure there was at least one time when I'd rather have been in the centre," she replied thoughtfully, a pensive look on her face, "but I quickly learned that you do can more when no one is watching."
"And you've done plenty when no one was watching." The corner of Snape's mouth twitched at that comment, and Hermione knew he was indirectly hinting to the mischief she and her friends got into back in their school days.
"It doesn't count if you don't get caught," Hermione told him, her lips curving up into a smile. "Now as for this little issue of everyone trying you make you king for a day, I might have a plan. How about I find out when everything is set to take place and let you know ahead of time? That way you can accidentally-on-purpose have a prior engagement, or you can be too ill and too contagious to attend. No one'll want to be around you if they think you have the lurgy."
"A Potions master too ill to brew something to heal himself? I can hear the tongues wagging now."
"You can always say it's a Muggle illness. Or better yet, don't say anything at all. Just conveniently disappear for a week. Assuming no one knows where you live, you avoid the risk of someone knocking at your door."
"I'm safe in that aspect. My whereabouts are unknown for the most part, and even if the location of my home was public information I would hope that my reputation as a nasty bastard preceded me and made anyone who dare intrude upon me think otherwise."
"Maybe you should work on that reputation. It did work at one point, but along the way people became less frightened of you. Think about it: how threatened could they feel if they're plotting to hire four oiled-up, tattooed men to carry you across the threshold?"
"Damn it, Hermione, if you could cease all talk of greasy men, I would be forever grateful."
Hermione began laughing at Snape's disgusted countenance, and eventually she heard a low chuckle rumble in his chest.
"Sorry," she apologised, using the corner of her shirt to wipe the moisture from her eyes. "OK, here's what I can do. I'll attend the rest of those ridiculous meetings to stay in the loop. When everyone finally settles on a day, I'll let you know the moment I find out. That way you can pack your bags and leave town until this whole stupid thing blows over."
"I shouldn't have to inconvenience myself with hiding, but damned if I'm going to stick around and be forced to listen to the Weird Sisters."
"I know, and I agree. But I do think my way is easier and less of a hassle. Agreed?"
Snape inhaled deeply and gave a small nod. "Agreed."
Over the next few weeks, Hermione kept Snape abreast of everything that was discussed at the 'Severus Snape Day' meetings. A plethora of frivolous suggestions were still rolling in, and she let him know about each one. Each Owl sent back was funnier than the last. Hermione had the impression that Snape's responses hadn't been written with humour in mind, nevertheless, a few of them set her to giggling so much that she accidentally snorted tea up her nose.
Severus, they're talking about getting some Quidditch team together and naming it after you. Now I know you like Quidditch but I think that's taking it a bit far.
It seems that someone finally pulled their head from their arse to give a halfway decent suggestion but you are correct—that is a bit much.
Severus! Now these idiots are considering getting a scientist to breed some type of aubergine that resembles your nose! And they'll roast the aubergine to serve at the party. Who would ever think that a good idea?!
Only someone who likely spent too much time in a laboratory, if that's what they want to call it, and smoked all their profits.
Severus, you're going to love this one. They've found a tailor who can make special dress robes for you. Apparently the material is some rare type of silk that comes from a moth that's only available in one small part of the world. And get this—they want to dye it turquoise. Well not exactly turquoise, but they want to create a new colour that resembles turquoise and name it after you. 'Snape's Soul' I think or something equally asinine. I almost wet myself trying not to laugh.
WHAT? HAVE THEY LOST THEIR BLOODY MINDS?! I DO NOT WEAR BRIGHT BLUE! I AM NOT GILDEROY LOCKHART! That's it, Granger, I've had it with these idiots! They don't want to have a celebration in my honour, they want to mock me! And I will not stand for it!
Snape had been so irate in his last owl that he'd forgotten to sign it. That also happened to be the note that caused Hermione to nearly drown in her tea, and she made sure to tell Snape that he was responsible for her close brush with death. He had the decency to apologise for almost inadvertently killing her, and also advised that she would be receiving a token of his sincerity. Hermione wondered what sort of token Snape was talking about, but when there was nothing delivered to her home or workplace she forgot about it. Then the following week she went home to find a pretty brown and white Barred owl in her garden, sitting next to a large, square parcel wrapped in brown paper.
Hermione didn't have an owl of her own, but she always kept owl treats on hand for occasions like so. The owl gobbled down her treat and stood by, seemingly waiting for something else. Hermione stroked the top of her feathery head, told her 'thank you', and the owl spread her wings and gracefully took off. When the owl was finally completely out of sight Hermione eagerly snatched up the parcel and tore off the wrapping, gasping when she saw her present.
'For your continued reading pleasure' read the familiar handwriting on a small card tucked inside the book. The inside cover was also signed by the author, and she almost dropped the book in shock before collecting herself.
"What the... How?" Hermione trailed off, in complete disbelief as she turned it over in her hand. Obscure Oriental Runic Symbols of the Twelfth Century had been difficult to acquire as it was only sold in a limited amount of bookshops, not to mention its long waiting list. She owned the first book in the series written by this author, and it had been three months before that copy was delivered. Now she owned the second book, which was scheduled for release next month and had an even longer waiting list. How Snape managed to procure a copy—personally signed to her—was beyond her.
Hermione hoped to find a way to repay Snape for his kindness, and the opportunity presented itself a week later, early Saturday morning. She had just finished breakfast and was in the middle of reading the paper and sipping on juice when the loud, unmistakable sound of Apparation rang from the back garden. Hermione wondered who it was, as Ron and Harry liked to sleep late, and Ginny would send a message via Patronus if she wanted to pop in for a visit. Another member of the Weasley family was a possibility, but very unlikely.
Wand in hand, the butt end tucked up the sleeve of her robe, Hermione carefully made her way into the dining room and peered through the curtains. Upon seeing her visitor, she dashed away from the window to let him in.
"Severus! What's wrong?" she asked, grabbing his sleeve and tugging him inside and into the kitchen "Here, sit."
"Apologies for intruding upon you like this, but I needed to make a hasty escape and..." Snape trailed off and he collapsed into a chair at the breakfast nook. "This was the first place that came to mind."
"It's all right, I don't mind," Hermione replied, wondering why he looked so harassed. "You look as though you're ready to hex someone. Did something happen?"
"Yes, unfortunately. There I was, minding my own business and restocking essentials when these two idiots saw me, dropped their baskets and ran over. Bubble and Rubble, I think they said they were called, I wasn't really paying attention."
"Hibble and Tibble," Hermione corrected absentmindedly, all the while filling her kettle and plugging it in. "How did you manage to run into them?"
"More like they ran into me." Snape paused, as though rehashing the memory brought him great pains. "Apparently they were on 'official business', business being this ridiculous charade the Ministry is planning. They even had badges stuck to their chests that read 'Ministry-Appointed Severus Snape Party Planners'."
"Wow. All that on one badge?" Hermione murmured, digging through her tea canister, pausing and looking directly at Snape. "Wait a minute, do you mean those idiots actually made badges that said all that? Someone made a joke about creating badges but I didn't think they would actually do it. Oh no, was your face on it too?"
"Yes," Snape said between clenched teeth. "A rather unflattering drawing at that. They made my nose much too small. But those two... They told me about the cakes they'd ordered—in flavours I'd never eat— the many varieties of libations being shipped from all over the world, the decorations... Not once did they pause to ask me if there was something I would like to have. I think they would have gone on running their mouths had I not feigned some excuse before running to the nearest Apparition point." Snape shook his head. "If you work closely with them, you have my sympathies."
"I don't, but seeing them once a week is bad enough," Hermione told him. "Hibble and Tibble Rumsford. Yes, I know they sound like two characters straight out of a Fellini film. No one knows what they do, no one knows where they came from, and they both give new meaning to the word 'aggravating' but they're harmless. Although I have to confess, when it comes to a knees up, those two know their stuff. Here, this won't make up for the misfortune of having your morning ruined, but it might soften the blow."
A hot cup of tea was set down in front of Snape, and he accepted it with a somewhat calm 'thank you'.
"You're right, that does help," he sighed after taking a few sips. "Now if this cup could return to the market and finished my purchases, it would really help."
"That's easily sorted. Just write down a list of what you need and I'll have it delivered here."
"I had no idea that was an option."
"Sure it is," Hermione told him politely. "I do it all the time when I don't feel like leaving the house. Of course I have to make sure that I'm wearing something besides my ratty bathrobe or my fruity pyjamas."
Hermione shook her head and bit back a laugh. "They're pyjamas with fruit drawn all over them. Fred and George gave them to me one Christmas. I don't know if it was supposed to be their idea of a joke but this is Fred and George we're talking about. They turned out to be really soft and cosy but I wouldn't be caught dead in them. I made the mistake of voicing just that when we visited their shop and that's why those idiots gave me the pyjamas."
It was Snape's turn to shake his head.
"So write me that list—" Hermione paused to walk over to a small drawer, pulling out a small writing pad and a Biro, and handing it to Snape—"and I'll ring the shop and have your order sent over."
While Snape wrote out his list, Hermione did the washing up. Snape was finished by the time she had dried the last plate, and he listened with mild interest as she phoned the shop. Thirty minutes later, he was extremely interested in the young man who delivered the groceries; rather, he was interested in the way the young man was furtively eyeing Hermione, in particular her round, denim-encased bottom. She had been fussing with the money to pay the bill when she dropped a few notes. The delivery boy's eyes followed her figure when she stooped down to pick them up, and Snape made some noise to get his attention and scowled so fiercely that the lad's ears turned beet red.
"What's wrong with him?" Hermione asked, wondering why the young man abruptly refused to meet her eye before tripping his way out her front door.
"No idea," Snape smoothly replied, taking out his wand to levitate everything into the kitchen.
Snape ended up staying at her house for the rest of the afternoon. At some point their conversation turned towards the book that had mysteriously turned up in her garden, and he pretended not to know anything about it before confessing that he personally knew the author. That led into another conversation, for Hermione unleashed a barrage of questions, all of which Snape answered. Hours ticked by and the two were blissfully unaware of the time until their stomachs were growling with the need to be filled. Neither felt like cooking and they were in no mood to go out to eat, so Hermione suggested ordering takeaway. That solution went over well with Snape, and their chat continued in between bites.
It was late when Snape left, Disapparating out of view with his parcels in hand. Hermione was surprised to feel a pang of disappointment at his departure, but quickly shook it off. She took a bath, put on her fruity pyjamas that were atop her bed (Snape had asked to see them), and slipped into bed with her newest book. Right as she was beginning to drift off, it then occurred to her that she was the first person who Snape immediately thought of during his moment of absconding. She wondered why he thought of her and if she should read further into that gesture, but her practical side told her to stop thinking so hard and go to sleep.
The abrupt shrieking of her name caused Hermione to jump out her skin. Everyone had gone home for the day and she took advantage of the quiet to catch up on some work when her door flew open and banged against a cabinet. Now a gaudy, purple-robed wizard was loping his way in her direction, one arm wrapped around a thick stack of papers and a wide grin plastered on his face. Hermione swore under her breath yet forced a smile, all the while hoping that whatever he had to say wouldn't take long.
"Hibble, haven't you ever heard of knocking?"
"It's Tibble, and sorry, guess I just got a little overexcited." Tibble hurried forward and began pointedly looking at the chair on the other side of Hermione's desk which was covered with books, a cardigan, and rolls of parchment. Manners dictated that Hermione clear the chair and offer her unexpected guest a seat, but in aims of preventing the man from lingering, she pretended not to notice.
"Right," Tibble continued after getting over the shock of not being offered the chair. "Here we are, hot off the printing press!" The papers in his arms were beginning to topple over and he had to manoeuvre a bit to slide one free. "We've printed about three thousand so far, and Hibble's still upstairs printing some more."
Hermione almost didn't want to know what sort of calamity her eyes were about to encounter, but she ventured a peek at the invitation, and all at once her every fear was confirmed.
"'Photos with the wizard of the hour'... 'Pin The Dress Robes On The Snape'... A tambola? Tibble, I think this is supposed to be 'tombola'."
"Is it? Damn! I'll have to run and tell Hibble to fix it before he makes more and definitely before we give these out—"
"Yes, you do, but why do we need a tombola?"
"Dunno. I think it's some Muggle thing but it sounds like fun. Fred and George Weasley were the ones who suggested it and even offered to donate some things from their shop to give away as prizes!"
Yes, and I can imagine what the prizes will be, Hermione lamented to herself. And how the hell do they know about tombolas?
"Tibble..." Hermione trailed off in a tight voice after further perusal of the invitation.
"Tibble, why does this say that Snape will be arriving at the party via palanquin? Please tell me you didn't actually hire a group of half-naked, tattooed men to carry Severus Snape around. You said you were only kidding when you made that suggestion!"
"Oh, OK. Good."
"The agency didn't have any men with tattoos, but the half-naked part... You should see the blond one. Maggie from the Ministerial Wizarding Register Department came with us and she nearly lost her wig when she saw him. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'm pretty sure blondie prefers blokes."
"Snape is going to kill you, do you know that?" Hermione hissed, crunching the invitation in her fist and shaking it at her colleague, who clearly had a death wish. "He is going to send you and your brother screaming into the night."
"No he won't," Tibble replied nonchalantly, buffing his nails on the front of his ugly robes. "Snape is going to love our party and he is going to thank us and demand that we do it again next year."
"No he is not, you berk! Tibble, Severus Snape is a forty-something year old man who prefers old-fashioned things and solitude. Do you really think he'd be dead chuffed to be carried around by a bunch of naked men?"
Hermione was about to launch into a tirade about how she worked with a group of idiots and that they didn't really give a damn about Severus, but she noticed Tibble shrewdly eyeing her and she closed her mouth.
"How do you know what Snape likes, Hermione?"
"How else do you think? The man was my teacher for six years and he's dressed the same way from then until now, and he's rarely seen out in public. Doesn't that sound like a person who rarely deviates from anything?"
"Hmm, I suppose you make a fair point... Ah, don't worry about it, Hermione. You always worry too much. The fête will be glorious, Snape will love us, and everything will be just fine. Better crack on, go sort out this tambola situation and such. Ta!"
"It's tombola! T-O-M!"Hermione shouted after Tibble, but he had already swept out of her office.
In order to keep Snape from storming the Ministry and hexing the twin idiots, Hermione purposely avoided showing him the invitation. There was a very slim chance of him happening across it, but she hoped that he would maintain his habit of dodging the masses, thus ensuring him never crossing paths with the invitation.
Just as she expected, the party swiftly turned into an over-the-top affair and Hermione knew there was no stopping it. Thus she began making plans of her own that would hopefully keep Snape from flying off the handle and hexing anyone within the vicinity.
It took almost a week to get everything situated. 'Snape Day' was to be held that Saturday at noon, and Hermione took a sick day on Friday to iron out a few small details concerning her personal affairs. Snape had already given the go on him being able to stay away for a night or two, and would meet her at home bright and early the next morning.
"Good morning," she greeted when she found him on her doorstep that Saturday. Immediately she began eyeing Snape's clothing as she let him inside. "Glad to see you took my advice."
The two were dressed similarly: boots, blue jeans, and jumpers. A parka dangled from Snape's fingertips and a holdall was in his other hand.
"You've not led me astray so far," he replied, setting down the holdall and placing the parka on top.
"I promise not to start either. Come along, we need to eat before leaving."
"Are you going to divulge the whereabouts of our excursion any time soon?" Snape asked after they finished a quick breakfast of tea and toast.
"You'll see when we get there," Hermione told him with a little smile. "And before you can say anything else, we're going someplace where no one will bother you or ask you pointless, inane questions or gawk at you. Will that do for now?"
"I suppose. Obviously I don't have any other choice."
Hermione was faster on her feet that time and proud of herself for immediately noticing the unspoken message that lie beneath those few words. Snape absolutely did have a choice: he could have told Hermione no when she asked him to meet her that morning. He'd agreed without fuss and asked minimal questions when she told him what sort of clothes he should wear and that he should pack whatever he would need for a short stay away from home and to bring plenty of reading material.
Her top secret location took a bit of Apparation, and Hermione breathed a sigh of relief once they arrived.
"Now will you tell me where we are?" Snape asked, looking around at the large grassy area, and beyond that an ocean that stretched far and wide.
"Pembrokeshire coastline," Hermione answered, carefully setting down her armful of belongings. She unzipped her holdall and stooped down to rifle through it, and Snape leaned over for a glimpse. "Nosy," she teased, pulling out something and standing up. "Want to help me put up the tent?"
"You know, for a brief moment I wondered if you lured me away with plans of killing me and dumping my body, but I'm happy to know that camping and not homicide is on the menu."
"Well, I promise not to kill you unless you snore, and even then I doubt I'd hear you from the other side of the tent."
"Duly noted. Now let's put up the tent."
Once the tent was erected, Hermione spread out a few oversized blankets on the grass. She was aware of her nervous rambling the entire time, going on about this area being nice for a nap in the sun and how her parents had also liked this place when they camped.
"I'm ninety-nine percent sure that no one will look for us here, but I can cast a few privacy charms if you like," she suggested.
"You've done enough already, thank you," Snape told her. "Besides, I think you're right. I doubt anyone is going to look for us here."
During that entire week of plotting and planning, Hermione had wondered how Snape was going to react to her plans of whisking him away to some undisclosed location. She had no idea if he would be grateful or upset, or if he would even want to spend an entire day and possibly night with her. However, as she watched him settle down on the blanket, removing his socks and boots, tucking his socks into his boots and setting them beside the blanket, then settling down on his side with one of his books, she knew that she had made the right decision.
"Apologies, I'm being rude. Did you need me to help with anything?" he asked, setting the book down and sitting up.
"No, I'm fine. Your idea is perfect, actually. I think I'll do the same."
Snape nodded, lay back down on his side and returned to his book.
"I give it twenty minutes before your shoulder starts hurting," Hermione remarked of Snape's incommodious reading position.
"Miss Granger, this won't be my first or last time reading in this position. I've been laying like so since before you were born and will continue to do so."
"If you say so." Hermione didn't say anything else because she knew she was right. Many times she had forgotten about the inconvenient positions she'd kept her body frozen in whilst reading, and nearly each one of those times ended up with her back or arms aching and the need for a long, hot shower.
The weather was pleasantly mild and the sight of the sun shining down onto Snape's pale, narrow feet nearly made her giggle, until she remembered that her own feet probably looked just like his. It had been ages since she'd last had a pedicure and there wasn't a hint of varnish on her toes, and for a second she considered taking off her boots but leaving on her socks.
Oh, sod the socks, she decided, tugging off her boots and socks and placing them next to Snape's. It was just as well, because he didn't blink an eye or look up from his book, and Hermione told herself that she had nothing to worry about. Well, she was a little worried about laying on the blanket next to Snape, even if there would be plenty of space between them.
Thankfully Snape didn't budge one bit when Hermione lay on her stomach across from him. In fact, he looked sort of... pleased?
Interesting. At least you know he doesn't mind your presence, Hermione told herself as she opened her book.
The next three hours were spent in comfortable silence. There was a breeze that carried the scent of the ocean, and the sun felt warm against her feet. The only noise was the sound of pages being turned and Snape shuffling around every so often, trying to get comfortable. Finally Hermione grew tired of watching him change positions every other minute and she went into the tent and brought out every pillow inside.
She half expected Snape to tell her that he didn't need the pillows. Lo and behold he held out a hand to accept them with a muttered "thank you", and when their fingers touched it was hard to ignore the tingling sensation in her hand. The tingling ended as fast as it started, and Hermione briefly considered that she was either enjoying her outing a little too much, or she was going crazy. Thankfully Snape seemed to have missed the look on her face, because he bunched the pillows into a comfortable position beneath his head and continued reading.
Between the sun, the breeze, and the gentle rustling of paper, Hermione grew drowsy and set her book down. She meant to close her eyes for a few minutes and didn't realise that she had fallen asleep, not stirring even when a light blanket was carefully drawn over her lower half. The effects of waking up earlier than usual led her to napping for some time, and she became so comfortable that she forgot where she was. Sprawled on her stomach with her limbs splayed was how she ended in the midst of slumber, and when her foot touched warm skin that didn't belong to her, her eyes snapped open and she sat up so fast it made her dizzy.
"Are you all right?"
A deep voice made her head swivel to the side, and when she saw Snape craning his neck to look at her, concern etched all over his face, she collapsed into a fit of laughter.
"I'm not used to sleeping next to anyone," she confessed sheepishly. "I hope I didn't kick you."
"You didn't. Your little feet merely grazed mine."
"My feet aren't that little," Hermione mumbled, all too aware of the glow spreading to her cheeks.
"They are. Did you have a nice nap?"
"I did, thanks. Are you ready for lunch? I know it's late but I brought a hamper full of things that I'm sure will gain your approval."
Snape was indeed ready, and Hermione used her wand to carefully levitate the hamper between them. Roast beef croissant sandwiches with Gruyere, mushrooms in crispy phyllo cups, mini quiches, and a green salad were just a few of the things she packed. Hermione gave a rundown of the rest of the hamper's contents, and Snape had just opened his mouth to say something and was rendered silent when she pulled out a cake that was covered with lots of rich, thick chocolate ganache.
"Before you try to give me any credit, I have to tell you that I didn't make any of this," Hermione added, taking out plates and cutlery and setting them on the blanket. "I just happen to be an expert at ordering. All Muggle restaurants, mind you, and the cake is from my favourite patisserie in Paris. Also a Muggle shop, and I had it specially made but a wizarding courier delivered it. I wanted to make sure that it would arrive in one piece and not resemble sticky toffee pudding."
"Mission accomplished, because it looks perfect."
"Wait until you taste it. I'm telling you, Severus, you've never had chocolate like this before."
Hermione's picnic hamper looked small but the inside had been charmed to hold enough food for a few meals and keep it at the proper temperature. There was even a separate compartment that held multiple bottles of good red wine. She and Snape finished one bottle with their late lunch, and were sharing a thick slice of the chocolate cake when she noticed him giving her one of his strange looks.
"I know I've already told you thank you, and I want to thank you again because I risk sounding ungrateful at my next statement, but I have to ask—why?"
"Why go through all this trouble? And for the likes of me?"
"Why not you, Severus? You're deserving of it as much as the next person, if not more. Besides, there was no way I could have let those idiots carry out that ridiculous plan with the palanquin."
"Yes. Remember when I told you about it? Never mind, it's all water under the bridge." Hermione rushed to change the subject, not wanting to ruin their peaceful afternoon with talks of Hibble and Tibble's mad plans. "This wine is really going to my head. Fancy a walk?"
Snape was open to the idea of going for a stroll, and the food was packed back into the charmed hamper and set inside the tent. He decided that a privacy charm would be useful, and cast one around their camping area. The two set off along a path along the coast. Sometimes they spoke, but there were a few lulls in conversation as they both took to quietly admiring the sights, and Hermione told herself that this was infinitely better than 'Snape Day'.
An hour later they made their way back to the camp site, and Hermione didn't realise that her arm was linked with Severus' until he gently told her to let go so he could start a fire. While he did that Hermione brought out the blankets and pillows again, and she waited for Severus to finish before patting the space beside her.
"Come on, you've earned another rest."
"Rest? Using magic to start a fire is hardly taxing."
"I know, but just pretend that you did it the Muggle way. Hmm, I picked a good spot. The sky is beautiful. Come have a look."
"I'm going to humour you despite the fact that we stared at the sky all up and down the coastline," Snape replied, easing into place beside Hermione. "You're right, this is a nice view. It's funny how I'm still not tired of looking up. Never thought myself a nature-type, but this is refreshing."
"I never thought I was either. My parents were into camping and all sorts of outdoor activities, and sometimes I liked it so long as my feet stayed on the ground. One time they tried to convince me to go skiing with them, but strapping sticks of metal to my feet and getting hoisted up high to whizz down a snow-covered mountain at neck-breaking speeds is not my idea of fun."
"You'd think I would never want to go camping again considering that whole year I spent traipsing all over the world with Ron and Harry, but those were different circumstances. Plus I think I needed this. I can't remember the last time I went on holiday."
"There's nothing wrong with hard work, Hermione, but everyone needs a reprieve now and again. Especially when taking those dimwits at the Ministry into consideration."
Hermione was teasing and Severus knew it. His mock retaliation was to flick the tip of her nose, and she gasped in fake outrage.
"All your bluster about the birds and the bees and the sky is making me tired," Severus announced, pulling over a few pillows and laying down. "If I begin to snore you have my permission to kick me awake."
"I'm going to hold you to that," Hermione laughed, using her wand to summon her book.
Snape closed his eyes and Hermione lay beside him, partially engrossed in her book and mostly captivated by the sight of the man next to her. It seemed that this little excursion had done wonders for his mental state, because he seemed less twitchy. And the deep line in his forehead wasn't as prominent.
You did well, Granger, she told herself.
Hermione read until the sun began to set. Snape was still asleep and she hated to disrupt him by moving, but she desperately needed to relieve herself. She carefully rose from the blanket and darted inside the tent. When she came back outside Snape was sitting up and running his fingers through his sleep tousled hair.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't. You aren't the only one who isn't used to sleeping next to someone, but I woke up only after moving over and feeling an empty spot."
"That means I'm still responsible for waking you."
"Let's save the semantics for another day, shall we?"
"All right, all right. Are you ready for dinner?"
"I am, which is hard to believe after that superb lunch."
"If you enjoyed lunch then you're going to love dinner."
Severus ate with as much relish as he did a few hours ago, and he complained good-naturedly about having to unfasten the button on his jeans. Another bottle of wine had been finished during the meal, and despite being slightly pissed, they were onto their second bottle which made their after dinner talk a tad buoyant.
"May I tell you something?" Hermione asked, a little grin on her lips. She was sitting cross-legged atop the blankets with her wine glass balanced on one knee. Severus had gathered all the pillows into a small mountain to lay against and was the perfect picture of relaxation. His wine glass was in one hand while the other hand rubbed lazy circles over his full belly, and he resembled a plump, cream-fed cat who was well on their way to a long, deep sleep.
"I knew I wanted to do something for you to make up for this horrible 'Snape Day', but in the early stages of planning I considered setting up the food and a place for you to be alone. I didn't think you'd want my company and I wasn't about to force myself on you. I mean, I wasn't going to force my presence upon you. I meant well and I honestly had no ill intent, but let's just say that I've learned a gesture, no matter how well-intended its meaning, might not be a good thing if the person on the receiving end is uncomfortable with it. Having all but one of Hogwart's house-elves cross with me was a harsh lesson."
"I do appreciate that, Hermione, and I thank you. Yes, it is true that I prefer to spend most of my days alone, but I would be remiss in not saying that this day was extraordinarily pleasing and would not have been if not for you. I'm glad you stayed."
"I'm glad you let me. If you hadn't I might have been hunted down and dragged off to that awful party of yours. Oh, that reminds me..." Hermione crawled over to her book and plucked a bit of parchment from the back. She then handed it to Severus, who went through what looked like disgust, shock, and then relief.
"I could kiss you. I really could," Severus blurted, standing up, walking over to the fire and tossing the invitation into the flames. Before Hermione could say anything he moved close to her again, captured her face between both hands and dropped a kiss onto her forehead. "If it wasn't for you I would be losing my mind at that awful thing with those wretched people. You are a saint."
Hermione was still reeling from the feel of his warm lips against her forehead–disappointingly, just her forehead— and she wanted to kick herself for her next statement, as the wine made her mouth work faster than her brain.
"You missed," she murmured.
They were still close enough for her to see the glint in Severus' dark eyes and that let Hermione know that he knew exactly what she meant, and she really wanted to kick herself.
"I didn't miss, but I didn't want to take liberties without knowing if it was all right to do so."
"So you did want to kiss me."
"Yes. Does that shock you?"
"No... Yes... Wait, is it the bonfire and the wine and the amazing view of this gorgeous sky that's making you want to kiss me?"
"Why would the bonfire and the sky make me want to kiss you?"
"I... Well... They say things like this put people in the mood and makes them feel things they wouldn't ordinarily feel if they were somewhere else."
"I see. And yes, the mood is quite inviting but I wanted to kiss you long before today."
"You'd like me to pinpoint an exact time? That's difficult as there was more than one, but to name a few, there was the day when you let me hide at your house and then told me all about fruity pyjamas, followed by showing me said fruity pyjamas. Then there were multiple instances when your eyes lit up whenever I mentioned a book you hadn't yet read. And the day when you became quite indignant on my behalf when you heard what Hubble and Bubble were up to, and used language that even in my wildest dreams would I never think you'd use."
"I'm still not proud of that day, but everyone made me so cross. Madam Hooch was the only one who suggested creating a national holiday in your honour and letting you decide what you wanted to do on that day. With everyone else, things just kept going from bad to worse to insane."
"Hooch was always pragmatic. Perhaps that's why she annoyed me the least. And cross is an understatement; I thought you were seconds away from breathing fire. But it was amusing to hear you talk a blue streak."
"OK, change of subject. How about that kiss now?"
"And how do I know that the fire and the wine isn't clouding your judgement?"
"Because I wanted to kiss you the day I caught you laughing at my fruity pyjamas. Finding that pretty owl in my garden with my signed copy of Obscure Oriental Runic Symbols of the Twelfth Century didn't hurt the cause either."
"That's a relief. For a moment I thought you were about to tell me that I was only useful for Eavan and her book-bringing abilities."
"Well she is a very nice owl," Hermione deferred, scooting closer to Severus.
"She's a biter, which works for me. As it were, Eavan is only nice to people she likes," Severus continued, inching an arm around Hermione's waist. "So far that brings the number to a grand total of two, including her owner."
"And what about her owner?" Hermione asked, reaching for his hand.
"What about him?"
"Is he only nice to people he likes?"
"Liking and tolerating are two different things. He tolerates everyone else but likes only one, and he hopes that his behaviour is satisfactory."
"It's more than just satisfactory," she amended.
Little by little the two were becoming sandwiched together. There was nothing suave or practiced the way things progressed in the movies, and they were both full of nervous anticipation that came with two people wanting to kiss yet unsure of how to go about doing so.
"One of us has to take the lead here," Hermione whispered, wondering when she had suddenly become so bashful. Her head was right below Severus' and her fingers were distractedly toying with the sleeve of his jumper.
"All right, just this once."
Just as she was about to ask what he meant by 'just this once', Hermione felt Severus sliding his fingers into the back of her hair. She wanted to apologise for the messy bun currently keeping her curls in check, but when he guided her head to his and pressed his lips to hers, all thoughts that had nothing to do with kissing slowly disappeared.
His lips were soft against hers and still tasted of the wine and chocolate cake they'd had after dinner. Being somewhat drunk had left her limbs loose and pliant, but being pressed against Severus' firm body while his mouth moved sensuously against hers outright turned her into jelly.
The two would have been lying had they said that the wine and the fire and the starry sky were factors that caused the mood, but they definitely enhanced it. All of the pent up tension and attraction between the couple left them entangled on the blanket, and when they managed to pause for a moment Hermione found herself giggling uncontrollably.
"Tell the truth: you just wanted to get me out here to snog my face off," Severus mumbled, dragging his lips across her cheek.
"You are horrid, Severus," Hermione laughed, nudging his foot with hers. "I wanted to bring you here so you could relax. The snogging wasn't planned but I'm not complaining."
"Even if you had planned it, I assure you I also would have no complaint."
"Good. So you won't complain if I kiss you again, I take it."
And that was how the two spent the remainder of their evening. When they weren't talking they were kissing, and when they grew too tired to continue with either, they held onto one another beneath a blanket and stared up at the star-filled sky.
For two people who claimed that they weren't used to sharing intimate space, they had no problem falling asleep together. Hermione didn't even realise that she had been carried inside the tent and tucked into bed until noticing that she was lying upon a softer surface, her face resting upon a firm, male chest.
"What's wrong?" she heard Severus ask in a sleepy-husky voice.
"Nothing," Hermione got out between yawns. "It just took me a minute to realise that we were inside the tent."
Her front was pressed against Severus' side chest and he had an arm draped over her shoulder. They were still fully dressed save their bare feet, but her jumper did little to protect her skin from the warmth of Severus' hand.
"It was nice sleeping outdoors but at my age I require a little more cushion. You have no idea how grateful I was to see that you had a proper bed instead of a camp bed."
"Yeah, we have similar ideas about that cushion thing." Hermione lapsed into comfortable silence and nestled further into the slim curve of his body. "I wonder if anyone from the party is looking for us."
"At this hour, a small possibility but I doubt it. If so, we'll head Ripple and Nipple off at the pass and if they catch up to us to deliver a tongue-lashing, we'll tune out them at the first shriek."
"Will we?" Hermione asked, chortling at the twins' newest set of nicknames.
"Nope. If I ever see those dolts again the only thing I plan on doing is taking out my wand to deliver a strong Stinging Jinx. One per dolt."
"Severus," Hermione sighed. "It was good to escape with you. I almost don't want to leave."
"Well we aren't leaving right this moment, and judging by the darkness in here it's nowhere close to dawn. Now go back to sleep and we'll tackle reality together after breakfast tomorrow."
"All right, lunch."
Prompt: Much to Severus Snape's chagrin, the wizarding world decides to create a national holiday in his honour. (They made one for Harry, too.) What's it called, when is it, what traditions or festivities are associated with it? What does Snape himself do on "Snape Day" (for lack of a better word for it), and what does Hermione have to do with all of this?