"Dear Jane," wrote Hermione a month after *the night.* "How are you feeling? Did you ever tell Severus about the baby? How are things going? I haven't heard from you lately. Are you swamped with wedding plans? Love, Louisa"

It had been nearly two weeks since Jane had sent Hermione the letter claiming that she was pregnant with Snape's baby, but she had yet to "inform" the alleged father. Two weeks in which the pair hadn't heard a single peep from the stalker. Two weeks in which Snape's legendary foul temper soared to new heights. Two weeks in which Hermione's sweet temper in class fell to new lows and two weeks in which the pair of friends barely spoke.

Hermione had woken up the morning after Jane's revelation to find herself held tightly under the covers by her best friend, Severus Snape. A few groggy moments later and it all came back to her - his depressed reaction to Jane's announcement, the drinking, how he had passed out and how he had later held her and told her he loved her. She sighed and snuggled back against him. 'I might as well enjoy it now,' she thought, 'he'll regret it by the time he wakes up.'

And sure enough, he had. He had nuzzled her neck and dropped a few kisses on her throat and ear as he drowsily fought his way to alertness. Then sat up with a start, realizing what - and with whom - he was doing.

"Gods, Hermione!" he squeaked. He cleared his throat and scrambled out of bed. "What you must be thinking - I'm so sorry. Here I am asking you to help me deal with the ramifications of my last indiscretion and I make a pass at you."

He ran his hand through his mussed hair. "I'm so sorry."

"Severus, it's fine, really," said Hermione. "If I had problems with it, I would have smacked you out of bed. I'm not complaining."

He stopped putting on his shirt and coat and turned to stare at her.


"I'm not complaining, I'm attracted to you, Severus. There, I said it. Feel better? I do."

"I - I'm not sure."

"Severus -"

"No, I mean, I'm flattered, Hermione. And I won't lie to you, I've been attracted to you since your seventh year," he said, nervously buttoning his shirt wrong. "But, we can't -- I mean, I'm too old for you and then there's this whole Jane situation and - you, you could do so much better than someone like me, Hermione. I mean, you're beautiful and young and so intelligent. Not to mention a good cook and - and - you're great with the children. You're going to be a wonderful mother someday. You just don't need to deal with the ramifications of my mistake with Jane. You - well, you should have your own baby someday with a nice husband and --"

"Enough, Severus, you're rambling. It's fine. I see." She slipped from the bed and walked to the bathroom door. "Well, I'll talk to you at breakfast, then."

"Hermione -"

"Bye, Severus."


"Dearest Severus," wrote Jane, finally, a month and a day after the incident. "I haven't heard from you or your assistant in so long. I have good news for us, darling. I need to meet you for lunch today. How about Sibola in Hogsmeade? I just love their salads! I'll see you at noon, my love! Love, Jane."

Severus burst into Hermione's class of second years at 10 o'clock in the morning.

"Professor Granger, I need to have a word with you," he said. He waved at her with the parchment letter. Hermione turned on the ice full-blast and glared at him, sending her students into a tittering heap. The students weren't blind, they had seen the pair leave the Great Hall on more than one occasion with their arms around each other's waists or holding hands. They had also become aware of the frigid chill that had developed between their professors - and their suspicions were confirmed as the tempers of the alleged lovebirds had escalated -- over the past two weeks.

Severus sighed.

"Please, Professor Granger."

She echoed his sigh, dramatically, and followed him to the door.

"Please begin reading the next chapter. We'll begin discussion on it when I return, class."

They went into the corridor and shut the door.

"What is it Severus?" she asked. He simply handed her the letter. She read it, eyebrows raising. "You can't go, Severus."

"I have to, Hermione," he replied, stiffly. "If I'm going to be a father - despite how crazy the mother is - then I need to be responsible. I'm not the kind of man that shirks his responsibility."

"I know you're not, Severus," she said, exasperated. "But, I just have a bad feeling about this. Why haven't we heard from her for almost two weeks?"

"I don't know."

"Don't go alone."

"Hermione -"

"I'm serious, Severus -- dammit, you've been through the war, you should have the sense to know not to go into enemy territory without backup," she spat.

"It's not going to be you," he spat back. "She's crazy enough without seeing me arrive with a female - she'd probably lose it. I'm not risking your safety."

"Fine. Take Harry. Deal?"


"I need to get back to class now," she said. "Good luck. Tell me how it goes as soon as you get back."

He nodded and they stood looking at each other awkwardly for a moment.

"I miss you, Hermione," he began, reaching down to take her hand. She brushed him away.

"No, not now," she hissed. "You're going to go meet with the woman who is most likely having your baby. I can barely stand that fact - don't you DARE make it worse, Severus Snape!"

"I'm sorry," he said. "Again. You're not - are you still - will we still be friends after all of this? You were the first true friend besides Albus that I had since college, Hermione."

"You will always have my friendship," she said, frustrated. "You know that, you dumbass."

He chuckled and leaned in to give her a swift hug.

"I'll go Floo Harry right now," he said, before stalking off down the hall. She shook her head at his retreating, billowing robes and reentered her classroom.


"Dear Louisa," wrote Jane, "I am so sorry I haven't written to you lately. I discovered that I was not expecting a baby and I was simply devastated. However, I picked up a Muggle ovulation predictor this past weekend and did some testing. I am ovulating today, and Severus and I are going to try again. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful man in my life. I need to go meet him now. Love, Jane."

Hermione sat staring at the letter. She had found it at half past twelve when she returned to her office. It had been sitting on her desk and Jane's owl had been playing happily with Hermione's cat in front of the fireplace. Now that she had read it's brief contents, she was at a loss for what to do - on one hand, she was sure Severus was smart enough to not fall into bed with his stalker yet again; on the other hand, she was concerned that a potion or well-concealed charm might hit the unsuspecting man and force the situation.

'He is a grown man,' she thought, pacing across the floor.

'Then again, he expects bad news, not a seduction, he wouldn't be looking for a love or lust potion,' she told herself, pacing again.

'Hell with it, I'm going,' she decided. She stalked to her desk and pulled a paper clip from her drawer, a quick swish and flick, and she was grabbing the object off the surface with a satisfied grin. She quickly walked to her office balcony, grabbed the old Firebolt Harry had given her from its corner, and took off towards Hogsmeade and Severus.


She landed a block away from the restaurant and banished the Firebolt back to her balcony. Straightening her appearance and sliding the mutated paper clip onto her ring finger, she took a deep breath and approached the couple, who were sitting on the patio.

"Severus Snape!" she called, waving her hand. "There you are!"

Snape looked up at Hermione in shock.

"Hermione! What are you doing here?" he sputtered, looking warily between the two women. Jane's eyes narrowed and her gaze immediately focused on Hermione's left hand - where a very showy diamond and emerald ring was flashing in the spring sunlight. Hermione followed her gaze and smirked. She hadn't been a whiz at transfiguration for nothing, after all.

"Who is this, Severus?" Jane asked, an angry edge to her voice.

Harry stepped out of the shadows where he had been nursing a glass of Muggle soda and stealthily withdrew his wand. Severus sighed and rubbed his temples for a moment, swearing softly to himself.

"Jane Hansel, this is Hermione Granger," he said, gesturing helplessly at Hermione and sending her a look that clearly said 'this better be good.'

Hermione held out her hand to shake Jane's and smiled. "I'm Severus' fiancé," she said.

Severus froze as the words left Hermione's lips. She only smiled at him and sunk into a chair next to him, sliding her hand up his thigh possessively. He gasped and shot her a shocked look.

"And he's late, we were supposed to meet half an hour ago to look at wedding bands," gushed Hermione. "Lunch run late, Severus?"

He shot her another confused and shocked look before carefully answering. She smiled reassuringly and squeezed his upper thigh, making him jump.

"Hermione, I've told you about Jane," he said slowly. "Well, it would appear that she is expecting a baby."

"That is WE're expecting a baby," said Jane, eyes sparkling at Severus. "We were just deciding what we should do next - what was best for our child. Weren't we, Severus? So sorry, Hermione, but I think we should continue this conversation alone. Just the parents. In fact, I was just about to ask Severus to join me at my apartment so we could continue the discussion in private. I'm sure you understand."

The trio sat silently for a moment, exchanging wary looks, before Hermione reached into her pocket and pulled out the parchment Jane had penned her latest letter to "Louisa" upon. She handed it to Severus without comment and patted his leg comfortingly. He read it, his eyes first widening in disbelief then narrowing in anger. 'Good,' thought Hermione, 'get good and mad and give her some of that Professor Snape bat venom.'

"Miss Hansel," said Severus, as calmly as possible. He handed her the letter and lazily looped an arm around Hermione's shoulders, causing Jane to pout. "Would you please read this and then I would appreciate an explanation."

Jane snatched the letter and immediately began to stammer and stutter.

"Why this is a fake!" she exclaimed. "I would never write this, Severus, why would I write this? I'm already pregnant!"

"Are you?" drawled Snape. Jane nodded a bit too enthusiastically and he drew his wand, casting a quick spell her way. "Hmmm, either I've lost my touch with the In Vitrio charm, or you are not pregnant, my dear."

"You must have cast it incorrectly," she protested.

"I work as a potions teacher with teenaged girls, Jane," Snape sneered. "I can assure you that I know the charm well, I have to cast it frequently and covertly over entire classes before we attempt the brewing of hazardous potions. You are not pregnant. Futhermore, you are becoming a nuisance to myself and my fiancé. You will leave us alone in the future, Jane, I want no more of these games of yours. I am finished being sorry for you and putting up with your antics."

"What?!" Jane said. She stood and pulled her wand from her sleeve, pointing it at Hermione and saying "Cruci-" Suddenly, Jane froze and clattered to her seat. Snape leaned over and plucked her wand from her clenched fist.

"Thank you, Mr. Potter," he said before turning his attention back to Jane. "Now, Jane, you will be escorted back to London by Mr. Potter. He will be taking you to the Ministry."

"Please, Severus, don't press charges against me," she said, through clenched teeth and lips. "Please. I love you!"

"I do not doubt that you think you love me, Jane," said Severus, a bit less harshly. "However, you attempted to cast an Unforgivable curse on the woman *I* love, so I am not inclined to return any affection. Besides, the attempted casting of an Unforgivable carries a mandatory sentence whether I press any charges or not. You went too far this time."

He stood silently looking at the crushed woman for a moment.

"Get some help, Jane. There are doctors at St. Mungo's that can help you," he said. "Do you understand?"

She blinked in acknowledgement and soon Harry and Jane popped out of sight. Severus turned to Hermione, who had been sitting quietly.

"Cat got your tongue, Hermione?" he quipped, feeling lighthearted suddenly. "I don't think I've seen you sit that quietly since - well, ever."

"It was your battle, Severus," she said softly, after swatting him on the arm. "You needed to have your say. It wasn't my place. You seemed to be doing just fine."

He nodded and took her bejeweled hand in his own. He quirked an eyebrow at her.

"That's some ring," he said, smiling. "I never took you for a flashy type."

"I'm not," Hermione said, blushing.

"I'll keep that in mind, for future reference," he said, smiling more.

"I just wanted to make damn sure Jane saw it and saw it fast. It was designed to make an impact, not to showcase my taste in jewelry or engagement rings." She nervously took out her wand and the ring was swiftly turned back into a paperclip. Snape took it from her hand and pocketed it before paying the tab and offering Hermione his arm.

The pair was halfway to the castle before Severus halted their progress and turned to face her.

"Thank you for coming to the restaurant today," he said. "She had me convinced. And I felt so guilty about the whole one-night-stand thing and the whole potential fatherhood thing that I didn't have the sense to cast the charm to check. Thank you."

"You're welcome," she said, hugging him. He held on tight for a long moment.

"Hermione," he whispered into her curls. "Now that Jane is out of our lives, do you think - do you think perhaps we could do some research into this friend-attraction thing we have going on?"

She pulled out of the embrace and looked at him questioningly.

"Is the rash completely gone?" she asked impishly.

He groaned and blushed before answering her. "Completely."

"Then I think a bit of research is warranted, Professor Snape," she said. "Shall we commence when we return to the castle?"

He grinned. "My lab or yours?"

"Mine, definitely," she said, returning the grin.

"Then lead on, dear 'fiancé,' lead on!"

The pair was still laughing when they entered the castle, arm-in-arm, and headed straight for Hermione's rooms. They were seen by more than a few students, who soon spread the relieved word that the lovebirds were back together again.

"Thank Merlin," said a Weasley cousin, as they passed him and his Gryffindor friends in a hallway. "I couldn't handle either of them another day in class like that. They seriously needed to get laid."

Snape stopped mid-stride as he overheard the whispered comment before Hermione dragged him, laughing, into her rooms. She smirked at his angry expression and just shook her head:

"Need to get laid, huh?" she laughed. "Merlin, if they only knew!"
The End