Severus' hold was desperate. What had Ron said? Did Severus doubt that she wanted to be with him? That her ached-for future wasn't bound —so very tightly— to his?

He drew in a long, almost shaking breath and straightened. A smile twitched at the corner of his mouth, but his eyes, his eyes were in shadow.

Hermione pressed her hand to his pale cheek and his eyelids fluttered. "What did he do? Say?" Her lips pinched together. "I can still hex him."

A more-true smile curved Severus' mouth. "I showed him his future. Your future. If you agreed to...tie yourself to him."

She blinked. "You…you can do that?" Thoughts sparked in her brain. If he had control of that fearsome magic, why, why had they fumbled about for years

"There is a price for that knowledge, Hermione."

Something twisted in her belly at those words. The undercurrent. Something dark. Ron had seemed drunk, raving, stumbling… Was that a part of the price? "Ron…"

"Will recover his wits."

Severus' lips pressed together and Hermione knew there was a little kick he was holding back. Something along the lines of 'What sparing few wits there are.' And Hermione stretched up on her toes to peck a soft kiss from his lips.

"Tea and elf-made chocolate digestives are necessary, I think."

"Dark chocolate."

"For you." She smirked at him. "Obviously."

They settled in his study, an elf popping in with a loaded tray. And moments later, with the perfection of elf-tea and the warmth of a fire in the hearth, strained nerves eased. Hers at least. Severus still had that pinched look, the dark line hard between his brows. Something…something about the future Ron had witnessed disturbed him.

"Tell me, please, Severus."

He sighed and set his cup back on the tray. He sank back into his wingback chair and let the shadows take him. His gaze fixed on his long fingers as he rubbed his hands together. The slight rasp of palm against palm wrapped around her heart.

Had…had she had children with Ron? Did he think she would run off at that news?

She admitted to herself, if that future had been known in September, then yes, she would've run back to Ronald Weasley. But now? Seeing Ron's actions when he was thwarted and gods, Severus Snape's passion? No. A whole bushel of ginger ankle-biters wouldn't change her mind. Nor her heart.

And still his silence stretched. "Severus…?"

"He witness his future in the Mirror of Delos. A cursed mirror. A secret kept in this school for centuries. It shows you a future. One amongst myriad, but there is a price. Mr Weasley has paid it. That future…is gone. Pulled from him, the magic feeding the power of the mirror."

Severus closed his eyes. Was that a prick of guilt? He'd been aware of the price Ron would pay. But…in that moment, Hermione knew, knew that her very-much-former boyfriend needed his…resentment of her, of her choices, of her choice of Severus…exorcised. For his own future. The one he wanted.

"You married." Severus ran a hand over his loose hair. "And you travelled –widely. A Master Arithmancer can work anywhere, after all."

His mouth pulled up at the corner. Something wry. At least that part of her life played out as she wanted it. But that couldn't be—

"In your forties, you were a politician."

He sat forward and his fingers knotted. Firelight limned his striking features in a soft gold and Hermione wanted nothing more than to launch herself into his lap and kiss away the tension dragging at him.

"You became Minister of Magic."

Hermione blinked. "Minister?"

And she could also admit to herself that a part of her wanted that power. To shape the future for wizardingkind. To drive out the corruption still shadowing their government and make the world safe for their children. For everyone's children.

Severus nodded, something quick and sharp. His gaze was still fixed on his knotted fingers. "Hermione…"

Oh… Oh! He thought he'd robbed that future from her. Her heart warmed and her cup clattered to the tray. She jumped up out of her chair to wrap her hands around his chilled fingers. He stared up at her, startled.

"A future without you would be my future robbed, Severus."

His lips parted and the vulnerable shine to his dark eyes wrung a painful twist in her belly.

Hermione cupped his face with both hands and kissed him. Hard. Wanting him to believe. Needing him to believe. She pulled back and drew in a breath. Her plan for the night had never involved having to deal with the exploded mess that Ron had left behind. Not for a second.

The fallout at the news could wait till the morning. No, her day had been consumed with thoughts of something pleasurable…and wicked.

"Now, I believe that today is your birthday." She narrowed her eyes on him and her lips pressed together. A spark gleamed in his eyes in response. Yes, there was her Severus. "It's a very foolish wizard who believes he can hide such important facts from Hogwarts' resident know-it-all."

"I hid nothing."

His voice was silk, a thrum, rich and dark. Her belly clenched. Oh, he wanted to play her game. Good.

"An omission, Headmaster." She drew a line along his jaw, something light and teasing. The hint of bristle pricked at her fingertip. "Did you think I wouldn't have something planned?" She lifted her eyebrow and his lips twitched. Yes, her eyebrow game was weak compared to his mastery of it. But that twitch vanished as she drew a sure line down his throat, over his white cravat and began to weave in between the jet-carved buttons of his frockcoat.


There was an edge of warning there. And under it, a spark of need. Weeks of her pleasure had only sharpened his ache. His want. And though she would allow the insanity of their waiting another sixth months —Merlin and Nimue preserve her!— she would not, as he would say himself, leave him wanting.

"Foyles bookshop, even if it's a mire, does have a rather good self-help section."

He blinked at the non-sequitur. "What—"

A curl of wandless magic chased over his coat and slipped the buttons free. The white undershirt gleamed in the firelight. She stood between his parted legs and admired the…dishevelment of Severus Snape. His hair tumbled, his coat thrown open and his quite lovely lips glistening in the firelight from her kisses.

"I had plans tonight. And not one of them involved the idiocy of Ron Weasley." She pressed her palm to his chest and slowly, so slowly inched his shirt up. His fingers twitched and hovered, until, with a hard breath, he gripped the arms of the chair. His fingers curled tight. Bloodless. His chest strained under her touch.

"Good boy."

He snorted. "Hardly a boy. Not today."

Hermione smirked at him, before her gaze dropped back to his shirt and the promise of bared flesh. A band of the white shone in the firelight, a line of ink-black hair tailing down to disappear into the heavy wool of his trousers… So simple a thing, but her pulsed rocketed.

"My plan…" She wet her lips and Severus hissed and oh, look there, the lovely bulge in his trousers…twitched. He was such a clever wizard. "My plan for tonight is to get my mouth on your cock, Severus Snape."

His chest heaved and the placket of his trousers stretched and strained, but he didn't release his grip on the arms of his chair. "Your self-help book."

"It has a wonderful chapter on fellatio."

His heart was drumming under her palm and he breathed through his nose, his lips parted. And his eyes were the blackest she'd ever seen them, sparked with light. With need.

"You made a thorough study?"

"Oh yes. I will be ever so diligent."

She cast a silent cushioning charm on her knees and the rug, and eased herself down between his spread thighs. He groaned, something low and desperate.

Hermione drew her hands along his thighs, over warm wool and the iron-hard strain of long muscles. He watched her. She could feel the spike of his gaze, but her attention was fixed solely on her prize. She framed the bulge in his trousers, her thumbs easing down, easing between his legs and over the softer line of his balls.


It broke from him and his hips twitched, too eager to push into her touch. But he stopped. He was giving her this, this moment, to play, to explore, to show off her knowledge. Gods, was there a better wizard for her?

Another flicker of magic and she drew back the black wool, to reveal the shimmer of equally black silk. A smile pulled at her mouth. Of course.


There was a pressure to his voice and Hermione looked up. Oh, he was the picture of decadence, clothes askew, the taut line of his abdomen bare and his shining black hair in loose stands over his pinked cheeks. But his eyes. Fuck. Hermione's belly squeezed, the fresh pulse of her own need deepening between her thighs. She knelt before a dark and wanton wizard.

She swallowed and wet her lips again. Severus growled.

"I…I have for a while."

"Have you?" It was a velvet rumble. "Then…proceed."

Gods, his highhandedness should not turn her own…but his smirk and the throb in her own flesh fought her denial. She liked that about him.

Hermione focused. She would give him peak know-it-all…and have him panting and groaning and crying out her name to the ancient rafters.

Still, it was all theory and her fingers trembled as she drew drown the warm silk and his erection sprang free.

He was big. She knew that, she'd been in his lap often enough, but being, well, nose-to-cock with it. Long and thick and pale, though darker than the pink line of his belly, it curved against ink-black hair.

She drew her fingertip over the velvet-soft skin of his cock, slow and feather light, and smiled as it twitched under so slight a touch. The chair creaked, the groan of wood under stress and a flick to Severus' already pale hand practically white with strain pushed her forward. She had no idea how often he…took himself in hand, but her touch obviously pushed him close to the edge.

It wasn't fair to torture him. At least…not yet.

She gripped his cock at the base and teased above it with the flicker of her tongue.

He swore. Something low and guttural. In Russian.

His taste flowed over her tongue. Hints of spice and skin and something musky that sank deep into her needy flesh. Gods… She lapped him, wanting more. Wanting all of him. She licked the head of his cock with her tongue-tip, the bitter drop of pre-come lost, mixing with the wet of her tongue, her mouth as she suckled the very tip of his glans—

"Fuck, fuck, fuck."

Severus jerked under her, fighting to thrust up and Hermione beat back a grin, focusing, working her lips, her tongue as both her hands stroked up. Her wizard was straining, shaking, his breaths short and hard, and gods, the power of breaking this man's iron will. It was an aphrodisiac all in itself.

She swirled her tongue and engulfed the head of his cock—

"Fuck, Hermione, my witch, mine, make me come. Make—"

Her tongue had curled against his glans and broke him.

His cock thickened, was he about to…

"Sweet girl, you don't have to… I'm about to—"

He came, crying out her name, his hips jerking. And Hermione stared at him as she swallowed him down, ignoring the bitter taste as this wizard, so contained, so driven by his own fierce will fell apart because of her mouth, her tongue. Because of her.

And he was fucking beautiful when he came. Pink cheeked, his eyes crushed shut, his mouth parted, every inch of him straining and caught in pleasure and the flow and sparks of his fearsome magic churning in the air around him.

He sagged, spent and panting and Hermione released his cock with a soft pop. She grinned at him, high on his being all flushed and dry mouthed, his pleasure wrung from him so very thoroughly by her. Her. She smirked. "Happy Birthday, Severus."

He caught a trembling hand in his sweat-dampened hair. A half laugh escaped him and he hauled her from her knees and on his lap. "Yes, gods, girl." He buried his face in her wild hair and his choked laughter wrapped around her heart. She squeezed him close and he grunted.

"Absolutely." He drew back and cupped her jaw with a large, warm hand. His thumb teased her bottom lip and his dark eyes shone with devilment. "Happy birthday to me. And I believe we should start a tradition of birthday present…reciprocation."

Hermione's mouth open and closed. Her flesh hummed. The need, the want, the ache for him to…

"I promised at New Year that I'd put my mouth to your hot little quim, did I not?"

It was her turn for her mouth to dry. Hermione simply nodded. And squeaked as a brush of wandless magic vanished her knickers.

Severus urged her to her feet. "You know where my bedroom is, Miss Granger."

"Yes, sir!" And with a laugh, she whipped away, her apprentice robes flying.

Severus rolled his neck and willed back the swirl and dizziness of a fierce orgasm. Fuck… He couldn't remember the last time he'd come so hard. With a groan, he stood and tucked himself away. He huffed. Driven to the edge of madness by a virgin. Ah, but a know-it-all virgin. And his. All his. His heart swelled. Fuck. Hermione Granger was the best present he could ever have received.

She'd be waiting for him. Him. The gut-churning worry from the Mirror of Delos faded back. Faded away.

"A future without you would be my future robbed, Severus."

Gods, he was a lucky bastard.

And as she strode towards his bedroom, Severus Snape's deep and delighted laughter chased over the patter of his little witch's running feet.

"Happy Birthday to me, indeed."