Scandal at Hogwarts!

Plain but ambitious girl, Hermione Granger, has sunk her claws into yet another wizard.

Not satisfied with Bulgarian bon-bon, Viktor Krum, nor the Saviour of the Wizarding World, Harry Potter, nor even the War Hero, Ronald Weasley, she has now snagged her greatest prize.

The Headmaster of Hogwarts, the Dark and Broken Prince himself, Severus Snape.

And she has him in a full bind.

Yes, my dear readers, Hermione Granger is betrothed. The record has been filed. Rumour has it, it is a bind through…necessity.

Most shocking of all, will Hogwarts soon hear the scandalous patter of tiny feet?

Hermione stared at the evening edition of The Prophet, her fingers tightening over the pages, crushing them as her knuckles whitened. She closed her eyes. And breathed. Just breathed.

What an utter bastard Ronald Weasley was.

The Great Hall was silent. Completely silent. There was only the panicked drum of her heartbeat in her ears. She couldn't look at anyone. Gods, they would believe her pregnant. Damn Ron for turning something she ached for, something she was looking forward to with such hope into something others would now sneer at.

Utter, utter git.

The scrape of Severus' heavy chair against wood echoed around the room.

"There is no scandal. And I have no shame in declaring that I am betrothed to Hermione Granger."

Severus' smooth, calm voice eased the panicked thud of her heart and she looked to him along the long High Table, ignoring the mutters from pupils and staff alike.

Candlelight limned his stark features and his black hair shone. The aura of power shrouding his tall, straight frame made her proud. Her throat dried, the familiar pulse of want and of joy and of…love there in her flesh.

He as hers. Hers alone…and had told everyone that fact. He truly was…magnificent.

Dark eyes found her, the drop of gold in their endless depths mesmerising. The corner of his mouth twitched upwards, before he looked back to the stunned faces of the assembled pupils, who'd no idea their evening meal would be quite so…momentous.

"Now, if you have all finished gaping like codfish, your food is going cold."

There was a wave of murmurs and the rustle of paper exchanged for the tink and clang of plates and cutlery.

"Oh, and if the War Hero, Ronald Weasley would be so good as to grace me with his august presence in my office, I would be much obliged."

Hundreds of pairs of eyes swung to Ron and his face was a severely mottled red. Ron jerked a nod, not looking up to the High Table.

Had he really thought that Severus Snape would not call him out on his idiocy?


"Mr Weasley."

Severus sat back into his chair and steepled his fingers against his mouth. The foul little tick that was the current bane in his life stood at the open doorway to his office, his back straight, but appearing as if a rod was jammed up his backside to keep it that way.

Had he not considered the consequences of his actions?

This was Ronald Weasley.

Of course he hadn't.

"Can you offer any excuse? Hermione —as well as many of your other…friends— asked you to stay silent. To give her a chance to settle into her new role as apprentice, before we announced our plan to wed—"

"It's disgusting! You're old enough to be her…her father."

A wave of Severus' hand shut the door and Weasley jerked forward.

"And she's just using you, you know. She wants kids. Anyway she can get them. Even through someone like you."

Weasley's lip curled and his gaze slid over Severus with open derision.

Severus remained impassive…and ignored the dark pull to his heart. As if he wasn't aware that Hermione was using him. He'd heard her declare that this foul…boy was her one. The one. But he would not give her children. And so…she moved on.

And he, well, his battered heart was fixed tight to her…and if she would have him. If she…desired him. Lusted after him. Welcomed his touch and his company. It was…enough.

As he'd told Minerva. He could love enough for both of them.

"Come with me, Mr Weasley."

Severus rose, enjoying the flinch of the boy, the jerk of his hand to his wand…and the fear to grasp it.

He led the way down a narrow twist of shadowed steps behind his chair and pushed open a little-used door. Soft, blue light filled the small room, resembling the glow of a pensieve. It poured out from a tall, silver-framed mirror fixed to the wall. The air was icy cold and their breaths steamed white, crystals forming on the walls as Severus closed over the door with a quiet click.

"It looks like—"

"It is not the Mirror of Erised." Severus' mouth curled into a sneer as Weasley scowled at him. "This is the Mirror of Delos. It shows…the future. Possible futures. Every outcome for every single permutation—"

"A strategy mirror."

Severus frowned at him. Yes, he would add extra wards to this room when they were done. There was a covetous gleam in Weasley's eyes. Albus held the same look when he'd revealed the nature of the Mirror of Delos. Want…and fear.

"It shows only possibilities. Never the way the future will fall."

And in that way, it was more dangerous than the Mirror of Erised. To show what could be…but Severus was aware that to see it in this mirror meant it would not fall true in real world. It was better not to chase the phantoms in this mirror. Ever.

Because what the mirror showed, the mirror took.

But he did not stress that fact to Weasley. He'd hurt Hermione. His Hermione. And he would happily watch the boy deny himself the future he so craved.

If that made him wicked, Severus truly didn't care.

"Ask for the future you wish to see." He lifted an eyebrow. "Unlike the Mirror of Erised, all observers see the petitioner's view."

Weasley slid him a dark look.

Yes, ask, idiot boy. Fix your failure.

"Show me my future with Hermione Granger as my wife. No children. Just us. My…our brilliant life."

The wide mirror swirled with pale blue smoke, chasing and wreathing over itself, until it cleared and Hermione stood in white before an officiating Minerva.

A fist tightened around Severus' heart. It was summer. A wild rush of flowers filled a sunlit meadow. The Burrow was a shadow in the background and people stood around in their best clothes, her friends, her family —though her mother had a thinned-mouth expression and her father had a calming hand on Gwendolyn's shoulder.

Weasley grinned at himself in the mirror as he stood opposite Hermione.

She was smiling…but, couldn't Weasley see the tension in her face? The shadow in her eyes?

"See?" Weasley rubbed his hands together, his breath a white cloud. "This is how it should be. What should happen. This is my proper future."

Severus said nothing as the image swirled again and a splash of events rolled over each other. Hermione accepting her Mastery from the Guild of Arithmancers, with a tightness, a coldness to her face that squeezed Severus heart. His sweet and open little witch had already changed, been changed by the demand from Weasley that she remain childless. And Weasley was there, off to the side, well-dressed, groomed…and smug.

It flowed into images of distant places. Xian. Tokyo. Buenos Aires. With them together…but increasingly separate. And with every image of Hermione her face hardened into a mask. She smiled and laughed, but her eyes, there was an ever deepening shadow—

"Oh this. I will have this."

Had Albus stood before this mirror and declared the same thing? In that voice, thick with unthinking want?

And then Hermione and Weasley were older. Middle aged. The trappings of wealth, for which Weasley was so eager, surrounded him. Fine clothes. A well-appointed manor. A party filled the sumptuous rooms, bursting with influential people…and Hermione was at its centre…

Fuck…she was the Minister of Magic.

Something in Severus flickered at the idea that he was denying her that right, that power. She would be brilliant—

Her gaze swept across the mirror's surface and he sucked in a breath, his hands fisting at his sides. Who was she there? There was a fierceness in her eyes. Hard and certain. And cold, so very cold. And Weasley, there on the edge of her circle, his hand shaking as he knocked back a full tumbler of firewhiskey.

A refill bubbled to the rim of the glass and he drank again. Hermione's eyes narrowed on him. Her mouth pinched.

"And you never wanted children, Minister?"

A man's voice drifted from the mirror and Severus held his breath. Weasley was silent. Had he finally seen his future, drunken self?

"Children..." Her smooth voice curled around the word and it was thick with derision. "No…children would only... I am not the mothering sort. Not for…babies." Her mouth thinned a fraction and the pain in her eyes, the flicker pierced Severus' chest. "And truly why would I need them when I have my darling Ronald?"

The sneer to her voice was hard and cold and unmistakeable.

Laughter faded and the mirror's surface returned, to a blank pool of blue.

"No. No. That's not right. She'd adore me. I would be the centre of her world. Not…" Weasley flapped his hand at the mirror. "That."

"We are done here, Mr Weasley."

Severus wrapped a hand around Weasley's arm and hauled him from the room. The door slammed shut and the thick wards fell into place. "That would be your…illustrious future with Hermione Granger. The drunken husband, held in utter contempt by the Minister of Magic and her cronies."

"No…No."

"Mr Weasley…" Albus had decided to throw in his unwanted opinion. "The Mirror of Delos cannot lie."

"But…"

Weasley stared at the closed door, at Albus' portrait and finally to him. Had he never thought that Hermione would grow to hate him? What had he envisioned? That she would thank him for her life? Or that she would be happy with the trappings of wealth…and nothing more. Nothing deeper. And that power and pain wouldn't corrupt her. Completely

Severus lifted his shoulders. "Miss Brown is a witch willing to stand by you." He let out a long breath and narrowed his gaze on the paled wizard. "Well, she was. After you betrayed your…friend, perhaps she will no longer…put up with you."

"I don't understand. She had power and prestige, money and fame…but she wasn't, she wasn't Mione." Weasley frowned, his thoughts still turned inwards. "And…she hated me. We…we hated each other."

Severus sighed. He did not want a night spent listening to Weasley's whining. He drew on this patronus—a fox since the previous summer—and sent it off to find Miss Brown. He prayed to Merlin that the witch still had the insanity to take on the rambling wizard.

"Sit, Weasley."

Severus conjured a chair and shoved the boy into it. And he sat, strangely silent now, staring at his flexing hands.

"It's the way of it. The price you pay." Albus murmured. There was an edge of sadness to his voice. "The Mirror does this. Cracks you open for a while. It takes a part of you, teases out a thread of your life. You must…readjust." He sighed and shook his head. "But this was needed, I think." With another sigh, Albus moved out of his frame.

A rapid series of knocks on the door followed and had Severus striding towards it to fling it open. Miss Brown stood there, her hair wild, her face pink. She offered a short smile to him and looked to Weasley. "Sir…?"

"I showed him the future he so desperately wanted. It did not turn out…well."

"No surprise there," Miss Brown murmured. "May I take him?"

Severus waved his hand towards the muttering wizard. "He is all yours, Miss Brown."

Weasley's head jerked up. "Lavender? Merlin, Lav, it was…she was… Don't be Minister of Magic, please. Promise?"

Miss Brown blinked, looked to Severus with a frown, before looking back to her addled boyfriend. "I promise, I won't."

Weasley beamed at her. "And don't let me drink, anymore? Not anything?" He lurched up. "I think butterbeer would be all right. Though really, it has beer in the name." He frowned at down at her as she looped his arm around her shoulders and half pulled him across the room. "Do you think it's, you know…safe?"

"I'm sure it's fine, Ron."

Severus stood at the open door, his hand ready to close it. "Thank you, Miss Brown. If he does not improve, have Poppy look at him. I believe he should be more…coherent soon."

"I'm sorry this was necessary, sir. We tried…" She shrugged and almost stumbled as Ron lurched forward. "Also, congratulations on your betrothal. You will be very happy."

Severus inclined his head, wanting to believe her. "Thank you, Miss Brown."

"Come on, Ron, let's get you somewhere comfy and quiet." The woman struggled onto the stairs with the raving wizard and his voice floated up.

"And I don't want to go to Tokyo. Or Xian. Or, Merlin forbid, Buenos Aires. Oh, I want a nice little house. Something small. Cosy. Not a manor. No manor for us, Lav…"

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose wondering whether Weasley would ever recover…and how much of a loss to wizardkind it would be if he didn't—

"Severus…?"

His heart squeezed at her soft voice and dark, worried eyes that stared up at him. "Hermione..."

And he was moving and wrapping himself around his witch, pulling her close, his face in her hair, breathing her in, her familiar scents of vanilla and jasmine. His. She was his. And would always be…his.

Yes, no matter what, he had enough love for both of them.


Bit of an odd chapter this, but I had to put away Ron's interference. It wasn't in the original plan. *glares at a certain redhead*