Disclaimer:  If you recognize it, it's JKR's.  If you don't recognize it, it's mine.  Simple, really. The flame does not belong to me but is a genetically modified version of one I received a little while ago.  Many thanks to the usual gang of suspects for their support and, most importantly, their ability to make me laugh.  Also dedicated to Rebecca who rightfully pointed out that I too often follow the angst-pain-suffering-guilt-love progression.

::huggles Rebecca:: 

Ah, but I absolutely love Severus angst, my dear.

 ::grins::

The Best Revenge

It was early morning and the newest edition of "The Daily Prophet" had just arrived.  Severus Snape, ignoring the continental breakfast he had only just finished preparing, was poring over it intently and leafing through the pages until he reached the section detailing the newest books published in the wizarding world.  There was one in particular that he was interested in reading about.

"The Daily Prophet has arrived, Hermione," he called to his wife of almost two years.

Running into the room, she grabbed the newspaper out of her husband's hands and proceeded to sit down on his lap (earning a sudden 'oomph' from him) as she scanned the page eagerly.

"Where is it?  Where…oh…well, it has done better than I thought.  Reaching the number one spot after only three weeks.  Who knew that a book on Contemporary Advances in Potions would be so popular?"

Severus put up his hand.  Hermione turned and batted him playfully over the head with the newspaper.  "You don't count," she smirked.  "And don't make fun of me."

He snorted impressively.  "I have always maintained that any civilized wizard or witch must, by default, have an appreciation for the art of Potions Making."

"In your humble and unbiased opinion, Professor Snape?" she asked archly, tapping him on the nose.

"In my eminently humble and completely unbiased opinion, Professor Granger," he drawled, raising an eyebrow.

Hermione laughed as she turned her attention back to the newspaper.  "Shall I read the reviews that have been written so far?"

"Why do you want to bother with those, my dear?  To quote the well-respected John Bocuse, critics are like eunuchs, they know how to but they can't."

Hermione sputtered helplessly for a few moments and even Severus had to smile at the sight of his wife gasping for air.

"I'll never be able to think of the expression 'two thumbs up' in quite the same light," she giggled.

Severus tut-tutted in mock disapproval.  "So what do the critics have to say about my beloved wife's first venture into the publishing world?"

"Sirius said that it was the first Potions book he was actually inclined to read past the first page," Hermione grinned.

"I don't believe he has ever read any book past the first page unless it had many, many pictures or involved Quidditch," Severus winced as Hermione hit him with the newspaper again.

"Harry said that he liked it but kept thinking he would lose points for Gryffindor if he didn't finish it," Hermione remarked, reaching for a scone and biting it thoughtfully.

"Such cheek," Severus picked up his teacup and sipped.  "What else do the great literary aficionados of the wizarding world have to say?"

But Hermione did not reply and, putting his teacup down, Severus looked at her.  She had gone somewhat pale and there was a frown on her face that he did not like.  Not one whit.

"Hermione?" he asked.  She did not answer.  He quickly glanced at the newspaper and saw what she was looking at.

"Professor Hermione Granger could at least have had the decency to label this, her inaugural foray into the realm of writing, Alternative Potions Making?  Well, technically, potions is a constantly evolving field but many aspects of this book are so random that it borders on unbelievable.  Complicated potions being reduced to the level of a Hogwarts first-year?  Who is to stop any of our children from creating love potions while we sleep?  Unthinkable.

Since Professor Granger obviously loves "Moste Potente Potions" perhaps she will remember what someone once said about updating venerable old classics.  If you truly revere a body of literature, you should give it the respect it deserves by keeping the spirit of the book intact.  Warm and fluffy potions brewing peeves me to no small degree…I practically expect cherubs to come flying out at me at any moment.  Ugh!  A truly Lockhart moment!

Professor Granger does possess some adequate writing skills and an active imagination.  She would do well to stick to teaching Potions at Hogwarts where her husband, Professor Severus Snape, teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts."

"Well, that was rather harsh and anything but constructive.  Sounds like something Skeeter would write.  Would you like me to hex him for you, my dear?" Severus tried to lighten Hermione's mood as he embraced her gently.  "I could have him on jellylegs in a heartbeat."

"Was it really that bad?" she asked in a low voice.  "The book, I mean."

"Hermione Granger.  I am surprised at you, listening to the puerile rantings of someone who wouldn't know a polyjuice potion if a beaker of it smashed on his face.  Why on earth would you let the inane babbling of a…a critic, no less, make you doubt your own abilities?" he wiped a small tear away from her cheek.

"It's just…well, it is the first book I have written.  I wanted it to be successful," she replied, looking up at him.

"One bad review does not a failure make," he said evenly.

"Perhaps I should forget about my other project," she looked over at the books and parchment on the dining room table, preliminary research into a new book on werewolves.  The table was near collapse from the weight of all the books.

"Listen to me, Hermione," Severus said angrily.  "I will not allow you to wallow in self pity simply because some self righteous, pompous buffoon, who obviously demonstrates having serious issues with the universe in general, said your book was…alternative…or whatever vernacular it was that he used.  I say that you have written the best Potions text since Moste Potente Potions and that, coming from someone like myself who has read almost everything Potions-related in the English language, not to mention a few others, is certainly saying something.  You are intelligent, Hermione.  You have a gift for writing, which imparts knowledge in a way that others find engaging.  Do not try to please everyone.  I realize that is difficult for any Gryffindor to accept, but the sooner you accept it, the better you will feel.  The important thing…the only thing that truly matters is that you are happy with the book.  Of course…my opinion is somewhat important as well…being your husband and all that."

Hermione suddenly embraced him tightly and kissed him soundly on the mouth.

"I suppose I should take that as a thank you?" he teased, genuinely relieved to see her happier.

She grinned mischievously.  "A prelude to a thank you would be more accurate."

Severus raised an eyebrow again but she turned back to the newspaper, blushing.

"So, my dear, when will you return to working on your next book?" Severus asked, holding her tightly.

"Soon…why?"

"Because, as everyone knows," Severus whispered in her ear, "writing well is the best revenge.  But, if that does not suffice, I suppose I could always draft up a quick Howler.   Really, it wouldn't be too much trouble…I am most accommodating."

Hermione smirked and kissed him again.

"Enlighten me, Severus.  How did I end up with such a wonderfully supportive husband?" she asked as she caressed his cheek.

"Ah, my dear," he smiled as he grabbed her hand and kissed it, "it is the simple story of boy meets girl.  Well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say professor meets student…student is an insufferable know-it-all…professor gets many headaches…student hates professor…professor despises student's friends…student discovers professor is really a former Death Eater and current spy…student becomes co-worker…meddlesome Headmaster takes it upon himself to make professor's life a living hell…"

"I quite get the point, Severus," Hermione placed a finger over his lips.  "And I am most grateful."

He moved her hand away and kissed her lovingly.  "As am I."