3: I'll Name the Dogs (Blake Shelton)
So I've had a legitimately horrible day, so here I retreat into the world of fanfiction.
Here's the next installment. Just a reminder, all the chapters here are separate, unconnected one-shots and that each is loosely based on or inspired by the song after which they are named. That being said, go listen to the song, then come back and read.
As always, let me know what you think or if you have any songs you think are HGSS-y…
While planning out her courses for that semester, Professor Granger realized it had been almost two full years since the day that Professor Snape had first kissed her. They had been in the middle of a debate about the alchemical reactions in a de-aging potion and instead of the fiery retort she had been expecting, he just pressed her up against the wall of her classroom and snogged her senseless. After a full twenty minutes of the most passionate kisses she had ever experienced, the bell rang to signify the end of the period and he straightened his robes and walked out without a word. He hadn't mentioned the incident for days and it had almost gotten to the point where she thought she might have dreamt the whole thing when, upon completing their evening rounds a few nights later he did it again, this time pinning her against the door to her rooms for a deliciously bruising goodnight kiss. And so began the oddest, most passionate, and most confusing two years of Hermione Granger's romantic life.
Being a professor at Hogwarts was Hermione's dream job. She thrived on the learning, the research, the access to the library, and the ability to continue learning. However, her being sequestered in a castle nine months a year had a bad interaction with her natural predilection to neglect her social life. A very bad interaction. In the five years since she had started teaching she had been on exactly four first dates and zero second dates. Anyone who was willing to pursue a relationship with someone who was gone nine months a year was, as she had discovered, more interested in dating her status as a war hero than her actual, bookworm self.
Thus her casual but passionate whatever-it-was with Professor Snape, now Severus to her, seemed to be just perfect. However, after two years of the most amazing kisses, backrubs, academic conversation, and, yes, sex of her life, she was beginning to wonder just where exactly he wanted to go with whatever it was. They talked easily about any topic under the sun, except the status of their relationship. It had only taken her a month or two to realize she had fallen for him. She fell for his quick wit, his sarcastic banter, the way he challenged her, the way he supported her career, the way his dark eyes seemed to pierce her very soul when he looked at her. She loved him. She had never told him, but she knew she loved him. Now she just wondered if it was mutual.
However hard she tried not to let semantics bother her, as the months wore on it began to worry her. Every time she tried to bring it up she could sense how uncomfortable it made him, so she tried to avoid it. However, she knew eventually they would come to a point of impasse at which she couldn't remain a casual, colleague-with-benefits any longer without losing her sanity.
With this on her mind, she pushed on the door to his rooms one evening, giving her the same, fruitless "no kissing until you get answers" pep talk she always gave herself. However, this time when she got inside (he had long since added her to his wards), she found herself alone in the room. She was about to call out for him when she saw, on the main table, a large black basin full of a familiar swirling silver liquid. She got closer and saw that the card in front of the pensieve simply said "I'm not much for words. This should answer your questions.". Well that's promising, she thought, inspecting the swirling vapors.
Okay, Severus, let's see what you have to say.
Upon entering the pensive, she immediately felt odd. The world just felt off somehow. She had been in enough pensives sorting through memory evidence after the war to know what one felt like, and she couldn't initially put a finger on it, but she knew something was off. The inky blackness wasn't anything she had experienced in the real world. There were colors, but not the kind that actually created images, just colors floating around as if she was dreaming. She was dreaming! As the colors began to transform themselves into real images, she realized that this wasn't a memory of a real life, but rather Severus had pulled a memory of a dream.
Ingenious. I didn't even know that was possible to do!
Marveling again at Severus' cleverness with a pang in her chest, she settled in to see exactly what the mysterious Severus Snape dreamt about at night.
The first distinct image Hermione could see was a vision of herself passing through the wards of Severus' chambers. She could tell it was herself, obviously, but it didn't look right to her at all. The dream her was like a completely different girl than the one she glared at in the mirror each morning. Instead of bushy curls, the dream Hermione had glamorous, tantalizing waves of beachy ringlets, the kind Ginny was always lusting over in Witch Weekly. Dream Hermione had no hint of the stubborn stomach pudge actual Hermione constantly poked and prodded when she got dressed. Nor, she realized, did she have the awful face freckles Hermione hated so much. Actually, Hermione noted to herself as she watched this stranger open the door, she did have a faint sprinkling of freckles across her nose, they just didn't look as off putting as the ones she herself sported. They actually looked quite adorable, if she had to admit it.
Is this how Severus sees me?
She watched herself enter the apartment only to find a thick pile of parchments on the table in front of her dream doppelganger. She watched herself pick one up and, looking over her own shoulder, realized it was the details for a gorgeous house in the Scottish countryside. The next one was to a glamorous apartment in the nicer apartment complex in Diagon Alley.
"Severus? Are you here? What are these?" dream Hermione yelled out to the seemingly-empty apartment. All the sudden there was a billow of black and the tall wizard had embraced her dream-self from behind. She heard a giggle far too melodious and bell-like to be her own as he began kissing the witch's neck and nibbling on her earlobe.
Does it count as voyeurism if it's yourself?
"What are these, Severus?" the witch asked between giggles.
"Well, my love, we have to go somewhere when term ends. You don't belong in Spinner's End and you know I want to burn the ruddy place to the ground, so I figured you could pick a replacement," the wizard purred into her dream-self's ear. Hermione couldn't help a sad feeling as she inspected Severus' subconscious' version of his own appearance. His nose was a little more prominent than it was in real life, his hair a little lanker. His self-image was clearly not a positive one. Hermione couldn't help but feel sorry for the wizard if this is what he thought he looked like.
On the other hand, she felt a little bit envious of her dream-self at being on the receiving end of such declared affection. In real life she had to push and prod for half the attention this witch was being freely given.
Is this what he wishes he could do in real life?
The two were now sitting on the sofa, snuggled up together and looking at particulars.
"But Severus, these are way out of my price range. I think you're overestimating Hogwarts' teaching salaries by a solid margin."
"You just pick one, my dear. I'll find the galleons. I have been licensing potions recipes since the first war. We'll be just fine with any of these."
Hermione goggled as the memory faded out.
The next few memories flashed by quickly. There were some of him watching her teach classes, some of them laughing and doing research together, she saw them holding hands in the professors' rows of the Hogwarts graduation ceremony, and then it was apparently summer in Severus' dreams and she watched as a golden goddess in a yellow sundress (a witch who bore only a passing resemblance to the pale-skinned, bushy nightmare she tried to comb each morning) had a very extended pillow fight with a laughing Severus on the floor of what was clearly one of the houses from the brochures. Everything was still in boxes, everything except for pillows, pillows which he was charming to bombard her in rapid fire. Her dream self in turn was punching each pillow open while shrieking with laughter and using her ferocious oppugno to make the feathers fly back at the black-clad wizard as he fled from room to room in the warm light of a country sunset. The memories faded out, one to another, as Hermione watched in fascination.
The next memory faded into a shaky view of Severus' own feet, dressed in muggle leather dress shoes. She heard organ music swell in the background as his eyes panned up to see her walking down the aisle of a muggle church. She was dressed in a lace-covered white dress that looked like it was straight out of a high-end muggle bridal magazine. The man on her arm looked just enough like her father to let her know that Severus must have paid closer attention to the framed pictures in her quarters than she had originally suspected. The part she couldn't get over was the look on her dream-self's face as she came down the aisle. She positively glowed with happiness, almost seeming to radiate actual light as she made her way towards dream-Severus. Hermione couldn't help feeling a twang of sadness in her chest as she realized that this dream was exactly like she had imagined her wedding to look like, down to the sobbing Minerva in the front row. As the memory faded she couldn't help wondering how long it had been that Severus had been dreaming about their wedding.
"Severus! You know my familiar is a cat, right?" Hermione saw her dream-self yell with her sternest look, eyebrows raised as she looked down at the little grey dog. Its body looked so skinny (probably from malnutrition) that it made its head and ears look almost comically large. For a second she thought of Dobby. She watched dream-Severus come through the doorway of the country house to approach a very irritated-looking dream-Hermione, sitting on the sofa with a book on her lap.
"I'm aware, love, but I couldn't leave the little fellow there to die. They were about to euthanize him now that he can't race anymore. What was I supposed to do?" She couldn't help but smirk that he used the same didactic tone of voice to talk her into increasing the size of their menagerie as he had to teach potions all those years ago.
"We already have Merlin, Circe, Nimue, and Morgana," their other four rescue greyhounds, currently sleeping in identical positions scattered around Hermione's feet, each picked up their heads as they heard their names, as usual, expecting food to follow. Every time Severus went back to Spinner's End, which he had kept just as a storage facility for some of his seedier tomes and dark artifacts, he ended up finding another past-its-prime greyhound that had been not-so-humanely discarded from the grimy town's seedy dog racing track.
"What exactly are you proposing we do here, start a greyhound rescue?" She asked, clearly leading him to see the light but not actually believing it would be a successful line of reasoning for her.
Severus stopped and thought very seriously for a second.
"I guess I'm proposing we name him Gandalf," he said diplomatically with an emphatic nod, walking out of the room and into their kitchen as Gandalf began getting curiously sniffed by the other four canine wizards at her feet.
"You know Gandalf wasn't even a real wizard!" she called into the kitchen in mock irritation, slowly patting one of Gandalf's floppy ears. She shook her head and laughed. "Crookshanks is going to have a fit when he sees you, young man," she said to the scrawny newcomer, scratching him behind the ear.
The memories faded in and out, most were blurry and nonspecific as most dreams are. The only pervasive link from one to another was the growing glow of happiness she felt building in her chest. Her and Severus laughing as they walked through Diagon Alley, them experimenting on potions together, cooking dinners that devolved into food fights in their kitchen, teaching together, sleeping together, and just coexisting. It seemed that Severus spent most of his nights imagining them doing all of life's mundane activities, just doing them together.
"What's wrong with Orcus?" an amused Severus looked down at dream-Hermione, who was laying down on the sofa with her head in his lap.
"Well, for starters it sounds like the name for a whale, and to top it off, he's one of the Roman gods of the underworld and that's a horrific thing to do to a child!"
At this Hermione's eyes darted down to the book in her dream-self's lap. While the book was large, it was not large enough to cover a very prominent baby bump. Her eyes bugged out to twice their normal size.
"Yes, but he's also the punisher of broken oaths, and isn't honesty one of the values you Gryffindors prize highly?" dream-Severus continued, apparently undeterred by the look on his wife's face.
"No. Simply no. You have been the originator of some truly awful names in our family. I, for one, do not appreciate having to walk around the neighborhood yelling like a lunatic every time Ganondorf claws his way under the fence. I refuse to do that to our children. You can continue defaming our pets, but I think I'll be in charge of any names that are eventually going to have to be written on tax documents, thank you."
And with that, her dream-self went back to paging through the parenting book in her lap.
"You do know wizards don't have to pay taxes, right?"
The book levitated out of dream-Hermione's lap and began beating Severus about the head and shoulders as he raised his hands in surrender and the very pregnant Hermione giggled mercilessly.
Hermione noticed immediately when she emerged in a room that was clearly a real memory, not a memory of a dream.
"Are you sure you want this one, sir?" a polite, mustachioed man asked Severus. "Most muggle brides generally prefer diamonds."
"My witch is not like 'most' in any way. She'll love this one."
Hermione's eye was drawn to an enormous sapphire ring, flanked on either side by a sparkling of small diamonds that seemed to have been sprinkled on it from above and just happened to stick. Her eyes bugged out as Severus placed the ring back in its black velvet box, paid an inordinate sum, and walked out of the Diagon Alley jewelry store. Smiling and whistling. Severus Snape was actually whistling.
Hermione's feet wobbled a bit as she was dropped out of the pensive back into the real world. Her mind was still reeling from what she had seen. Only when she heard a noise behind her did she snap back to reality and turn around.
She was greeted with the sight of Severus, her real life Severus, smiling nervously on one knee with a very familiar black velvet box in his hands.
"So what is your opinion, Hermione? Did those memories elucidate any questions you might have had about the status of my affections towards you?" his silky voice and vocabulary choice made her smile, far from the free-flowing affection she had heard from his dream-self, but he was just the Severus she was used to, the Severus she had fallen in love with.
"You realize that was the least romantic proposal wording ever, right?" she said with a nervous laugh, inching her way towards him.
"I'm aware," he said softly as he colored slightly, "But I think I sufficiently demonstrated that I intend to work on it. Do you possibly have an answer for me? This floor is rather cold."
He didn't get all the words out of his mouth before she had tackled him onto said cold floor, kissing every available piece of skin on his face until she reached his lips.
"I'll take it that's a yes?" he said, smiling into her kisses.
"Yes. Yes. Yes to all of it," she said without ceasing her assault on his lips. "All of it except Ganondorf. I draw the line at Ganondorf."
He broke into a rare, genuine grin as he pulled back to slip the sapphire ring onto her finger.
"We'll see," he said with a smirk as her bell-like laughter rang throughout the dungeon.