"Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

Severus Snape was sitting in his classroom, muttering to himself madly and punctuating each word with a sharp thwack as he banged his head on the desktop in the early morning light.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

Bang, bang, bang.

A head poked into the classroom fireplace.

"Something troubling you, Severus?"

Snape just groaned and shook his head, rocking his forehead back and forth on the smooth surface of his desk so vigorously that his long, raven hair danced. 'Dumbledore,' he thought dejectedly. 'I may have to kill that man some day.'

"I take it, then, that your night out with the lads in Diagon Alley did not go well?"

Bang, bang, bang.

Snape stopped, leaned his throbbing head to one side, and peeked at the Headmaster with one bloodshot eye. He sighed and decided to humor the wizard.

"I suppose that it depends on your definition of 'going well,'" he said carefully.

Dumbledore chuckled and walked to Snape's storage closet, grabbed a vial of Hangover Relief potion and set it on the desk in front of his employee's head. Without moving, Snape snatched the vial and clumsily drank it sideways. A small dribble of the potion puddled on the desk under his chin.

"Thank you, Headmaster."

"You're welcome, Severus. You know that many single men would believe a night out had 'gone well' if they got laid," Dumbledore said, contemplatively sucking on a lemon drop. "At least, that's what I hear from some of my former students when they invite me along for male bonding nights out."

Snape didn't reply - except for a small sigh.

"And since Remus and Hagrid both came home around midnight and you didn't make it in until about an hour ago -"

"All right, old man, my night out 'went well.' Are you happy?"

Dumbledore peered at Snape over his glasses.

"Perhaps. But you don't seem to be."

"I made a mistake, Headmaster. A big one." Snape sighed again, loudly this time, and finally sat up.


"You did WHAT?" screeched Hermione Granger scarcely an hour later. "Severus Snape, of all the stupid, idiotic, moronic, brainless, foolish, dimwitted, stupid -"

"Hermione, you already said stup -"

" - senseless stunts! I cannot believe that I have been helping you all these months, years, dealing with these crazy women and then you go out and shag one of them! There's a reason they are called 'stalkers,' Severus! Do you want your reputation to be destroyed so soon after it was repaired by your role in the war with Voldemort? You just got your life back and can relax - and you go have sex with one of those women?"

She began to pace around Snape's living quarters angrily as she continued her tirade.

"What, did she happen to be the one who sent you the prettiest pair of knickers by owl? Or did she send you the sexiest naked photo of herself? Good Merlin, man! Are you completely brainless?"

Snape finally had heard enough and he snapped from friend-mode back into snarky-bastard mode.

"No, I just happened to be thinking with a 'different brain' last night, MISS Granger, as I'm sure you will soon remind me," he hissed. "And after all I've been through over the past few years, I thought I deserved a little fun. Do you have any idea how long it has been since I've had sex? Do you? It was in COLLEGE, Hermione. Some of my third year students have seen more action this year than I have!"

"And that's my fault how?!?"

"It's not. Just - just -"

"Just? Just?"

"Just help me, Hermione."

She glared at him and sat in his favorite chair, obviously waiting for a further explanation. He sighed again and mused silently that he seemed to be doing that a lot today.

"I picked her up at a pub in Diagon Alley. She gave me a phony name at first, I didn't *know* she was one of those women who have been writing to me. *You're* the one that's been dealing with these letters anyway, Hermione, I haven't seen many of the photos or knickers - and shit, you're right. I'm just a stupid man and I think with my prick. Or at least I did last night. I'm stupid, stupid, stupid."

"All right, all right." Now it was Hermione's turn to sigh. "Exactly whom did you shag?"

"I do love how you can use such proper English in the same sentence as the word, 'shag,'" he teased, half-heartedly.

"You're stalling, Snape."


"Jane - Jane Hansel?"


"Oh dear."


"And you didn't know it was her?"

"NO! She told me her name was Charlotte Bronty or something like that."

"Charlotte Bronte, Severus, it's the name of a Muggle author who wrote the novel, 'Jane Eyre,'" said Hermione, exasperated. "Merlin, man, she gave you a clue and you didn't even get it."

"I'm a pureblood wizard, Hermione. The only exposure I've gotten to Muggle literature in my life has been through you," he said, glaring at her slightly and desperately wishing he could go bang his head on another table for an hour or two. "After - well, AFTER, that was when she told me who she was and asked me if my 'little secretary' had even shown me her letters. I didn't know what to do, so I ignored the question, offered to go buy some breakfast pastries for us, got dressed and apparated back to Scotland as quickly as I could."

Hermione glared at him and sighed again, wondering how she had ever become friends with such a clueless wizard.

"Okay, you go - shower or something and scrub some parts until they fall off - I'll see what kind of damage control I can do."

"Thank you, Hermione."

"You owe me. Big."

"I know. I know."



"Of all the stupid, idiotic wankers in the wizarding world, *I* have to wind up friends with the biggest," groused the young Muggle Studies teacher, as she exited the dungeons and walked to her rooms. "Bloody stupid wanker. And I have to clean up his post-coital mess!"

Hermione removed the wards on her room, stalked inside and immediately opened up a trunk in the corner. It was filled with some of Severus' fan mail. Since Snape's active role in the defeat of Voldemort, the long- overdue publication of his first book on potions and some free time to spend on things like hygiene, he had become the most eligible bachelor in the wizarding world. Except for Harry Potter, that is - but then, some women do have a highly evolved appreciation for 'bad boys.' Hermione certainly did.

Hermione smiled as she remembered Snape's reaction at the Head Table about a week after Voldemort's fall - when he was hit with a hailstorm of owls bringing pink and lavender scrolls, scented envelopes, lacey underthings and a few Muggle-style sex toys that had the women at the table (and a few older students) tittering behind their napkins.

Snape had turned desperate eyes to the masses and his gaze landed on seventh-year student, Hermione Granger. She was sitting at the end of the Gryffindor Table, not bothering to disguise her giggles. He glared dangerously at her as he picked through the frilly, perfumed rubble on the table and attempted to find his plate. A particularly scary black leather thong fell from the pile as he began to eat and the Dream Team, who had a clear view of the piece of clothing, could hold it in no longer. The muffled giggles turned to full-blown laughter and the rest of the occupants of the Great Hall soon followed suit.

Except for Snape, that is. He sat in embarrassed horror staring at an enchanted phallus that had somehow begun vibrating loudly in response to all the noise. He shot another desperate glance at Hermione, who stood and gestured to Harry and Ron. The trio quickly transfigured their napkins into large cloth bags and scurried to the Head Table. Soon, the booty was stashed out of sight and the Hall returned to normal. The next morning, Hermione made a point to get to the Hall before anyone else so she could leave storage bags on the professor's seat. It became a morning habit of hers and one for which Snape was eternally grateful. He simply had no idea how to deal with his many admirers and their mail.

A few weeks later, when Hermione was packing up her things in the Head Girl's room after her final Leaving Feast, a knock on the door had startled her. She was even more startled to discover Severus Snape standing outside when she answered. He had a giant bag levitating next to him and he haltingly asked if he could hire her to 'process' all of his fan mail while she was in college. He smirked when he had told her 'no signed photos, I'm not bloody Lockhart,' but he had decided it was simply too rude not to respond at all. Thus began Hermione's college job of writing short thank you letters 'for and on behalf of, Severus Snape.' His fan mail and the resulting pay had allowed her to build up quite a collection of books during her two years of higher education. Snape would only smirk at her stuffed bookshelves in her dorm room each week as he dropped off her new round of mail and her pay. Occasionally, her 'boss' would pop in around lunchtime and they would spend a companionable meal at a nearby deli laughing over the sillier letters and discussing Hermione's double major of potions and Muggle studies.

'Fan mail,' Hermione now chuckled to herself for the thousandth time. 'Severus Snape, snarky potions master, gets fan mail. Merlin, I remember a time that I would have given a limb to send him a Howler or two.' She picked up a small cardboard box labeled Jane Hansel and opened it, shaking her head.

Jane was one of the few women that had continued writing to Snape, now nearly two years since he was hit by the first deluge of notes and knickers. Jane was missing a few pieces from her Wizards Chess set, so to speak. She had become fixated on Snape and sent weekly letters - frequently accompanied by lingerie for her, boxers for him, nude portraits of herself and 'sex accessories' -- as Snape and Hermione had come to laughingly call the bawdy toys, creams and oils that she occasionally sent. It had been a source of laughter for them until about three months ago.

Apparently disturbed when she received yet another cold, brief letter of thanks 'for and on behalf of Severus Snape,' Jane had begun writing rather dark and seething letters. She had decided, she said, that she would have Snape one way or another - and he had nothing to say about it. Hermione had warned him briefly one morning, and had made copies of many of Jane's letters to give to Harry, who was now working as an Auror. Harry had a talk with Jane and came back with the report that she was lonely, her family had mostly been killed during the war with Voldemort and she was forced to work in Muggle London, as she couldn't find a job in the wizarding world. On the whole, she was a frustrated and rather broken woman who wanted a husband and family - and had fixed her hopes on Snape.

After the meeting with Harry, Snape and Hermione felt a bit better. Hermione continued to respond to Jane's weekly letters as briefly as she had before. One day, a rather more violent letter had appeared, and Hermione decided to play detective a bit and wrote Jane back under the name of "Louisa."

'I heard from a mutual friend that you are in love with Severus,' she wrote while attempting to disguise her handwriting, 'I know how you feel, he won't give me a second glance either. I might as well be a hag!'

"Louisa" and Jane had become regular pen pals over the past month. Jane shared her wildly fluctuation opinions on the wizarding world and her desires for a relationship with Snape. She wrote endless essays on what their life would be like and discussed in-depth his physique - something that made the 'Snape's friend' side of Hermione cringe. If "Louisa" didn't share Jane's enthusiasm for Snape's penis or harbor the same desire to bear his children - well, Jane never noticed.

Now, as Hermione sat down at her desk, she had to somehow weasel out of Jane the previous night's events and find out exactly what Jane had planned for the Potions Master in the future. Before she could pull out her quill, however, an owl tapped on her window. Jane's owl.

'Brilliant,' thought Hermione.

"Dearest Louisa," the letter began. "I'm not sure how to tell you this, but I'm afraid I must end our correspondence. You see, I don't see how I can be friends with a woman who is in love with my husband. Severus and I finally worked everything out last night. I am so happy! I need to begin going through my things to see what I need to take with me to Hogwarts, so I should be going. I *am* sorry that you will be saddened by this news, but I am sure you will find the right man yourself, someday soon. Love, Jane."

Hermione set the letter down with a groan and went to the fireplace. She tossed in some Floo powder and called out "Severus Snape." When Snape's head appeared in the flames, she flopped down in her armchair and shook her head.

"You so fucking screwed up, Snape."



"Dear Jane," wrote Hermione one week after *the night,* "you jammy cow you! You're DATING Snape! I can't believe it. And here I didn't even know that you actually knew him, I thought you were like me and just admiring him from afar. When is your next date? Has he owled you yet? Write me back and tell me everything! Your friend, Louisa"

She tied the scroll to her owl's leg and left her rooms for dinner in the Great Hall. She felt a bit guilty lying to the woman that had become the bane of Snape's existence, but then again, there was *something* about Jane that just didn't seem right. She couldn't put her finger on it, but at least by writing with the 'fan' she felt like she was keeping an eye on things. She arrived at the Head Table and smiled at her companions before patting Severus on the shoulder and taking her customary seat. Sitting next to Snape for dinner was becoming more and more difficult. She couldn't fathom why his one-night stand bothered her so much, well, aside from the stupidity of it. It wasn't as if she fancied him or anything. They were simply coworkers and friends. Good friends, and she wouldn't want to change anything. It was all becoming too complicated, too much. She frowned at her pudding and then turned to frown at a squirming Snape, who seemed to be having a hard time concentrating on his Yorkshire pudding.

"What is the matter with you?" she whispered.


"Severus, I think I know you better than anyone aside from the Headmaster, I know something's wrong," she said. "It isn't your Mark is it? I thought it went away with Voldemort."

"No, it's not that. Just leave me alone," he hissed.

"Severus?" she said, softly, as she placed a hand on his arm. "Please, are you sick? Did you get a bad letter from Jane? What is it?"

He scowled and squirmed and squirmed and scowled for a few more moments before finally whispering one quivering word.



"It itches."

"What itches? Your Mark?"

He finally raised his eyes from his plate to look her in the eye. "No," he said firmly. "Not my Mark."

"Your - ooooh!" she said, cottoning on.

"Yes." The eyes darted back to the plate.

"You are such a dumbass, Severus," she muttered under her breath, shaking her head. "Let's go to the Hospital Wing while Poppy is eating and see what I can do. I take it you didn't use a Muggle or wizarding condom when you were with Jane?"

"No," came the barely whispered reply. "I - I didn't think -"

"I think we've established that fact already, Severus. Well, let's find out what little present she left you. I hope it was something we have a potion for. You should have been more careful." Hermione said, standing. "C'mon, get up, let's go and have a look at it."

"No!" he hissed. "I don't want you to -"

"You'd rather have Poppy look at it and then leak the information to the entire staff?"

He looked at her dazedly for a moment before putting down his fork and taking her outstretched hand. They pair left the Great Hall by the side door, hand-in-hand, too wrapped up in their immediate 'concern' to notice the roar of whispers making it's way through the four House tables.

"Snape and Granger," muttered a Weasley cousin at the Gryffindor table, "who knew?"



"Dear Jane," wrote Hermione two weeks after *the night,* "you lucky cow you! I still can't believe that you are going to marry Severus Snape! Congratulations! When is the wedding!? Do you have your dress yet? You said in your last letter you were going looking for a wedding gown and robes. Fill me in! Your friend, Louisa"

Hermione tied the scroll to her owl's leg and let it fly out the window before turning to face a rapidly-deteriorating, drunken Snape. It had been two weeks since the one-night-stand-from-hell and Snape was past the annoyed stage and coming dangerously close to the need-to-duel-someone stage. Hermione's nerves weren't much better. But, at least the itching had gone away, she mused with a small smile.

It had been fairly quiet, Hermione and Jane had exchanged a couple of giggly letters about her upcoming 'wedding.' Jane had written two rather drooly letters to Snape, fairly graphic ones about their night together, that made Snape's skin crawl and Hermione blush furiously. But since Jane hadn't attempted to contact Snape by any other method than owl post, the two teachers had begun to relax.

Then Jane showed up. She came quietly without notifying Snape or "Louisa" of her intentions. She didn't say anything. She didn't do anything. She simply apparated to the gates of Hogwarts and stood. Stood quietly peering through the warded gates, staring at the castle. Hermione noticed her first, that Sunday morning, as she walked to Hagrid's hut for brunch. She was completely still and focused on the dungeon windows of the castle. It was - eerie. Hermione had scuttled back into the castle to tell Snape and they contacted Harry together via Floo. The kind-hearted Auror had come to the castle gates and gently led Jane away. Snape declined the opportunity to press charges against her, asking Harry to instead plead with her to leave him alone -- for her own good.

She showed up again the next Sunday. Harry had taken her to the Ministry to 'cool off' for a few hours this time, so the couple had hope that the ordeal would soon be over. Perhaps it would be limited to owl post craziness now and things would eventually settle down. Hermione, however, hated to see Snape on edge again, and she sprouted horns on a regular basis and enjoyed a bit of Snape-baiting regarding his upcoming nuptials.

"So, Snape, when *is* the wedding? I definitely want to buy the happy couple something nice for your new home. Oh, wait, your fiancé seems to think she's moving here, to Hogwarts, so I guess you don't really need any kitchen or cleaning supplies -"

"Shut up, Hermione."

"You brought this on yourself."

"Yeah, well, I don't see many nice, intelligent women flocking to date me. I just have a few weirdos that are fixated on me. It's not my idea of a quality relationship, you know," he sneered at her over another glass of brandy. "Besides, it's not like you're interested."

"Who said I wasn't, Severus?" she said, a bit too flippantly. "I enjoy your company, we work well together - hell, I've even seen you naked."

She grinned at him and received a trademark scowl for her efforts.

"BEFORE the itching incident, I mean," she said. "That wasn't exactly a fun evening."

"Well, BEFORE was the result of a potion gone badly, Miss Granger," he said, trying not to smile into his glass at the memory. "I was thrilled that you had the presence of mind to derobe me before the potion reacted with the wool of my clothing, however, I didn't know you were actually -- looking."

"Well, it was hard to miss - both times," she choked out, giggling. He scowled and swished the length of his robes into his lap.

"I fail to see why any of this is funny, in this situation," he replied. "I swear you are hopeless, Hermione. I'm probably going to look in the Daily Prophet tomorrow and find out I'm engaged."

"I already took care of it," she said, conjuring a plate of sandwiches. "Colin Creevy works there and he said he will not let them publish any engagement announcement without confirming with you first."

"Well that's a relief, at least," Snape said, around a mouthful of ham and bread. He looked up, then, as an owl scritched on the window above Hermione's bed. He kicked off his shoes and clamored onto the burgundy coverlet to open the window. The bird flew to Hermione, landed and held out a scroll.

"That was fast," Snape said nervously, watching Hermione read. "Maybe she's decided she hates me."

"Um, not quite."

Hermione sat quietly for a moment as Snape watched her.

"What? What is it Hermione? Please tell me she hasn't done anything foolish."

"Did you use *any* birth control that night, Severus?"

"Uh, no, she said that she used the potion once a month."

"I see."

"Hermione? What - oh, no."

"She seems to think so."


"You already did that, dear heart. That's how you got in this situation."

"I need another drink."



"Hermione?" Snape called through the near solid fog that was his brain. He struggled awake and looked around, still feeling a bit drunk and bewildered as to why he was in Hermione's rooms in the morning.

Better yet, his mind asked, why are you in your best friend's bed? Seeing the curly mass of brown hair on the pillow next to him, he quickly made the decision to curl up close, and slipped an arm and leg around her sleeping form.

"Well, at least something went right last night," he murmured, trying to remember what happened after Jane's letter had arrived.

"If you call passing out on my carpet 'right,' Severus," Hermione mumbled drowsily. "You'd think a former Death Eater could hold his alcohol better. Go back to sleep."

"Okay. I love you, Hermione," he said, dropping a sloppy kiss on her ear.

"Yep. Sure, Severus," was the reply. "Go to sleep."

She was answered a few moments later by a soft snore. 'Men!' she grumbled, before going back to sleep herself.



A/N: I was at an impasse with "Chaucer's Potions" and a plot bunny based on an article I'm writing for the real-world publishing job (about cyber and celebrity stalkers, more info in my final author notes!) bit me. So I had to write this. It's meant to be funny and angsty, but most of the situations are fairly real. "Jane" is a combination of stalkers' behavior from my research for the RW piece. I guess I needed to try to put some levity in the middle of all this scary research and information.