omg, I've finally managed to write a proper one-shot!

I've not got to the Ribboned-Witch this weekend as I'm still in fallout from the news that one of my publishers is closing/not closing/selling on. -stress *sigh*

It's also my first T rating *flail*

"That's the famous Hermione Granger?"

Severus Snape slipped into the shadows behind the two Ministry wizards. From their robes —covered with jagged tears, feathers and fur— they worked in the Amimagus Registry. And had opportunistically gate-crashed, by the fact they were still in their work robes.

He didn't know why they'd bothered. Another ball, another –now tedious— celebration of Voldemort being dead. It was the third year. And yes, Tom Riddle was still very much worm food. Severus was certain there had been at least twenty five celebratory events. Any excuse for the Ministry to haul out the war heroes and parade them. Kingsley really should know better.

He sipped at his firewhiskey. At least the Minister didn't try to save a galleon or three by serving up an inferior year.

"I heard she's married to some ugly old wizard. He bound her in a dark spell and no one's yet been able to break it." The first wizard lifted his glass and took a gulp. "It was in the Prophet." He snagged a fist full of canapés from a floating, silver tray. "These nights are the only ones she escapes him. Which is why there are so many."

Severus watched the young witch as she spun around in the arms of some pimpled and fawning wizard. She smiled. But her eyes were tight. And more than once the oaf crushed her foot under his heavy boot. Severus' mouth curled up into a wry smile. Not much of an escape for the imprisoned Gryffindor Princess.

"No, no, I heard different, Alder." The second wizard waved his glass towards the dancing woman who was staring at the orchestra platform with hard, narrowed eyes. "Yes, it's a dark spell. But it's that she can never," he glanced into the shadows, his gaze gliding over Severus, unseeing, "you know," his voice dropped, "have sex. You-Know-Who cursed her with his last breath."

Severus bit back a smirk. Three whole years he was dead, and some weak-willed idiots still couldn't say Voldemort's name.

"Shame." Alder narrowed his eyes on her, and the thoughts were practically visible. "What happens to her, Michaels? If she, you know…?"

"Oh, it's not her." Michaels winced. "She has teeth." He pointed to the floor. "Down there."

Only years of self-discipline stopped Severus' bark of laughter. Dear gods, the rumours that ran around Hermione Granger never ceased to amaze him.

Both men hissed. "It's no wonder she looks pissed off."

With a whispered spell lingering in the air, Severus' slipped away to find his wife.

"Where have you been?"

He'd sent the clod-footed youth with whom she'd been forced to dance on his way, and took his delicious little wife in his arms. She melted against him as she always did and he pressed a kiss to her tamed hair. He growled.

"Don't moan about my hair, Severus." She glanced up at him, her brown eyes wicked. "It took a whip and chair to get it to this shape."

He snorted. "I love your curls."

Her perfect lips –plump and always so ready to be kissed— pursed into a thinned line. "So your complaints of my trying to smother you, to finish you off as two mad men and one thrice-damned snake failed to do…that's your idea of pillow talk?"

Severus bit back a grin. Gods, he loved his fiery little witch. "Yes."

Laughter broke from her and he swung her with expert grace around a bumbling knot of Ministry buffoons. "So, what are they saying about me tonight?"

He never told her the whole truth. She knew that. She already had too good an idea of what the wizarding world thought of her, her marriage and her husband. He would face the snake again before he hurt her with the foul things ignorant witches and wizards muttered behind her back.

It was pure envy. Oh, not of her being married to him. Never that. That usually invoked pity…but of how powerful and brilliant she was. And that he'd snatched her up before any other wizard had a chance to court her. He was rather smug about that last one.

His lips brushed her ear and he enjoyed the shiver that twitched through her flesh. His voice dropped low. "How you are trapped by dark magic and in the clutches of an evil old wizard."

"Yes…" The word was little more than a whisper. "And I wouldn't be anywhere else." She looked up at him, her breathing tight. Pink warmed her cheeks. "Merlin can take this ball. I want you in our bed. Now."

"As you wish." Severus' smile was wicked as he pulled her hard to him and disapparated in a crack of thunder.

The mediwizard frowned at the frazzled-looking wizard hunched in a seat on the other side of his desk. His pain was obvious. From his bloodless fingers clenching at his robes, to the sweat lining his brow. His pulse thudded hard at his temples. "Mr Baethan, you say your work colleague," he glanced at he parchment in his hand, "a Mr Odgar Michaels is suffering under the same mental affliction?"

"Michaels is curled up under his desk. Can't move for the agony of it." Alder caught his fingers in this thinning hair. "Dark magic, Healer Boothe, from that witch, Hermione Granger." He jerked back in his chair as the Healer glared at him. "Not her, not her, you understand, but her…problem."

The Healer's frown deepened. He'd had a number of witches and wizards in the past three years blaming Hermione Granger for a whole host of ailments. This latest one? Unbelievable. "Her problem?"

Alder jabbed his finger down to his crotch. "Down there."

"So," Healer Boothe sank back in his seat and let out a slow breath, "you're saying that Miss Granger's –curse?—" the idiot wizard nodded hard, "makes your penis feel as if it's being eaten alive by hundreds of little teeth?"

The other wizard's face was scarlet. "Yes! Gods, yes. Since the Ministry Ball on Saturday. Three days, Healer! Three..." He began to rock.

Boothe lifted a dark eyebrow. "Were you engaging in gossip about Miss Granger?"

Alder flushed a deeper red.

"I'll take that as a yes."

Boothe flicked his wand and Alder sagged, crumpling over as the pain obviously left him. "Inform your friend that he needs to see me too." He watched a breathless Alder struggle to his feet. "And Mr Baethan, I'd advise you not to gossip about Miss Granger in the future."

"No, no. Not at all. Silent as the grave from now on. I swear it."

A glistening of silvered magic wreathed in the air. The wizard stared. Gulping, he grabbed for the door handle. He slammed the door shut behind him and the fast thud of Alder's boots echoed down the corridor.

Healer Boothe choked out a laugh. With a flick of his wand, he vanished the parchment and all evidence pertaining to Aldar Baethan's 'affliction'. After all, a raven delivered the counter-course as his surgery opened the morning after a Ministry Ball. And frankly, the Healer agreed with the punishment.

Yes, Severus Snape was still removing his wife's detractors one very nasty curse at a time.

Let me know what you think! :)