A/N: Dear GOD. I apologize to everyone who read and reviewed this story for the abhorrent delay in posting the final chapter. Funny how life gets away with you, isn't it? I can hardly use college as an excuse, as I am aware of plenty of college students who manage to update their stories on a regular basis. All I can do is offer my apologies, hope that people are still interested in reading this and/or haven't forgotten completely about it, and forgive me for my exorbitant tardiness. Oh, and yes, Hermione 2113, if you're still reading this nearly a year later, I did get the title for this fic from Whose Line Is It, Anyway? You get twenty points! Meanwhile, I hereby deduct 1000 points from myself for taking nearly a year to finish this. I may post an epilogue, but I can't say when – soon, hopefully within a week or so. So anyway, on with the show!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Three weeks had passed since McGonagall had suspended the two rival Heads of House from docking points, and yet the tension between the two was as high as ever. They had taken to sitting on opposite ends of the High Table during meals, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the other. Their passings in the halls were marked by baleful glares and stony silence, and though McGonagall had effectively put an end to the points rivalry, relations between Gryffindor and Slytherin had returned to their prewar enmity. Slytherin students hexed Gryffindors in the hallways and the Gryffindors paid them back in kind. Though Professors Snape and Granger did not interfere in the ongoing house war, the other teachers picked up their disciplinary slack, and soon Gryffindor and Slytherin were tied for dead last, far behind both Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff in points standings.
Hermione sat in her office, hunched over a stack of final exams from her sixth-year Advanced Transfigurations class. She tried to focus on the test in front of her, but her concentration was just not up to par. Snape's attitude towards her had gotten progressively worse in the weeks following their meeting with McGonagall, and his constant sneering smirk was fraying her last nerve down to a thread. Sighing, she pushed away the stack of tests; it was unfair to her students to grade their final exams when she could not fully concentrate on the words in front of her.
Hermione decided that a leisurely stroll past the rose bushes would be just the thing to quiet her jittery nerves. On her way out the main doors, she glanced wistfully at Gryffindor's hourglass, now showing a grand total of thirty-five points. She should've known better than to try to out-manipulate a Slytherin. Gryffindor hadn't gained anything from her actions except more trouble with their old bitter rival - and now Snape despised her worse than before.
She felt herself tense at the thought of his name. She resented the way he treated her, as if she were still an overeager third year frantically waving her hand in his class. But then again, he did seem to have a problem with holding onto things. Isn't this the man who stills bears an active and smoldering loathing of his childhood tormentors? Then again, he did have a reason for disliking them so, after the horrid way they treated him. But what had she ever done to him? Defended him against the never ending accusations of Harry and Ron? She shook her head – there was no reasonable explanation for his attitude towards her besides his hateful and petty nature.
She sat down on a bench in the garden, thinking about the enigma that was Severus Snape. It was true, she had enjoyed pushing his buttons and rendering him speechless – and that was, she was ashamed to admit, a major reason that their competition had been so enjoyable for her. His reactions were priceless, and she swore she had seen, from time to time, a spark in his eyes that hadn't been there before, that perhaps indicated feelings more complex than the derision and disdain she most often saw.
But obviously she had been imagining all that. Ever since their encounter outside McGonagall's office – where she had sworn that he had stared, fascinated, at her for several minutes – he had treated her as hatefully and spitefully as he had in the past, acknowledging her with barely disguised contempt, if at all. And to think that I thought I actually fancied that son of a bitch, she thought angrily.
Deciding that the purported soothing effects of the garden left something to be desired, Hermione quickly exited, deciding that she was just going to fix herself a cup of tea and force thoughts of Snape out of her mind until dinner, and maybe in the meantime actually get a few of her exams graded.
She was on her way back up to her office when she saw him coming down the corridor towards her. She stiffened imperceptibly, then forcibly reminded herself that she refused to allow this man to make her feel like a student caught making mischief in the halls. She inclined her head ever so slightly at him as he passed by, wearing his trademark smirk.
"Good evening, Professor Snape," she said smoothly, with a faint shadow of a smile playing on her lips. She was sure she felt as much enmity for him as he did for her, but she would be damned if she wasn't going to take the moral high ground.
At first she thought he was going to ignore her and keep walking past, but then, just as he had nearly breezed by her in a flurry of robes, he paused for a moment.
"Miss Granger," he replied evenly, just the slightest trace of sarcasm in his voice. Then he swept past her, rounded the corner, and was gone.
Hermione stood there, rooted to the ground, trembling with barely repressed fury. Miss Granger? MISS Granger!? How dare he? How long had she been a professor at Hogwarts? (Four years, her mind whispered.) And he had the sheer nerve to address her as if she were nothing more than a miscreant student?
Not that I'm a bit surprised, she thought bitterly, all thoughts of grading forgotten. His petty little jibe was finally the straw that broke the camel's back. She turned around and stalked toward the dungeons. As a faculty member, she had access to all classroom doors in the castle – and she was going to confront him once and for all, in a place where she knew he could not avoid her.
He felt a brief twinge of remorse for baiting Granger so, but it quickly passed. After all, had she not been the one gleefully pushing his buttons and deliberately goading him for several weeks? It only served her right that he pay her back a little in kind. If she thought she had the balls to take on the undisputed king of favoritism in a house war, then she should have been prepared for the consequences.
He stopped briefly as he realized that, unconsciously, he had just admitted that she was right. He was ungodly biased, wasn't he? He always tried to justify his blatant favoritism towards Slytherin by pointing out the discrimination they received at the hands of other professors- discrimination that hadn't really occurred until Granger had decided to teach him a lesson. He snarled angrily and shoved the stack of papers away from him. Why did she have this effect on him? Why did she make him question things that he had always taken for granted?
Not that that was the only effect she had on him. That was another reason he felt so hostile to her when he saw her- she aroused in him feelings that were utterly foreign to him, feelings of such a complexity that he could not fully articulate exactly what she did to him, only that it was a strange combination of awe, mystery, desire, and, perhaps, affection. He thought again to the night outside McGonagall's office when he had stared at her, enraptured by her. She was such a contradiction- plain yet beautiful, practical yet brilliant, timid yet confident. Two contrasting natures that balanced each other in a perfect dichotomy-
He found, to his pleasure and his dismay, that thoughts of her produced in him the same reaction that gazing upon her had done that night. Well, sod the first year exams, anyway. He was sure that they were just as dismal as always. Groaning, he rose slowly from his chair, determined to take care of his little problem, preferably in the shower.
As if on cue, his door burst open, and into his classroom flew a furious Hermione Granger. Severus plopped, rather ungracefully, back into his chair and hurriedly crossed his legs. Fortunately, Hermione was too focused on her rage to notice his, er, reaction.
"Who do you think you are?" she hissed, spitting out each word as if it were something highly distasteful. She approached his desk, leaning against it menacingly. "Just where do you think you get off calling me Miss Granger, Professor?" She slathered this last word in utmost sarcasm, but it was utterly lost on Severus Snape. His brain had ceased functioning after the words "get off."
Very soon he realized that she was staring at him furiously, obviously expecting a reply. He regretted then that all of his blood had diverted to his nether regions, leaving his usually witty retorts at a marked disadvantage.
Hermione stared at him incredulously. She had charged into the room expecting to duke it out with Severus Snape in a full-blown battle of wits, insults, sarcasm, and perhaps wands, but instead she was confronted with a decidedly mortified looking Potions Master, complete with flushed face and inarticulate gurgling. This was certainly a letdown- after all the infuriating taunts he had been flinging her way, and all he can do is cross his legs and look- oh.
Realization hit Hermione like a load of bricks, and she flushed as she realized why exactly he was unable to string together a coherent sentence. Her embarrassment turned to anger quickly. So she aroused him, did she? What a pathetically third-year way of expressing your attraction, Severus. Picking on a girl is the surest way to her heart.
"Embarrassed, Professor?" she snapped irritably. "So is that why you're such an insufferable bastard to me all the time? Because I turn you on? Or are you just aroused by sarcasm in general? Because in that case, I'd hate to think how often you get hard during class-"
"Stop it!" he snapped suddenly, his face contorted with anger, discomfort, or most likely, a healthy combination of both. "Enjoying my shame, are you? Got to rub it in my face, have you? Why couldn't you just let things be? Why do you have to be so damned insufferable?" He was raging now, his face a peculiar shade of red.
His tirade only served to infuriate Hermione all the more. "Me? Insufferable? HA! You are the one whose blatant favoritism started everything! You refuse to treat me with the respect I am due as your colleague! You continue to treat me as a child!" She leaned over his desk, her curly hair disheveled around her face.
"I can assure you, Professor Snape, that I am not a child," she hissed dangerously, gripping the sides of his desk. Her body was flushed and he could smell her wonderful peachy scent, and he felt his self control waver. He knew good and damn well that she wasn't a child. He was reminded of that every time he saw her, saw her soft curves just visible beneath her robes and felt the urge to taste her creamy pale skin.
Snape was nearly beside himself with agitation and desire. "I know that in my head, Hermione," he finally managed in a strangled voice. "But every time I see you, so-" his voice faltered- "desirable, I can't help but see you in my classroom in your school uniform, and it makes me feel so…" He cut himself off abruptly and stood, turning his back to her, his shoulders rigid and tense.
Despite herself, Hermione immediately felt terrible for humiliating him so. "Professor," she said gently. He didn't turn around. She walked around his desk until she was standing behind him. She placed her hands gently on his shoulders, felt his taut muscles stiffen in surprise and agitation at her touch, heard the sharp intake of his breath and sensed the electricity between them.
"Severus," she whispered. He turned around then, and what she saw in his eyes took her breath away. The fire was there, like before, only now it was burning with an intensity and ardor that seared into her soul like the naked rays of the midday sun. She felt the something rise up in her more forcefully than ever before, and at that exact moment she knew precisely what it was within her, and what she saw reflected in him: lust and desire, to be sure, but also affection, and affinity, and maybe the seeds of something that, if properly planted and nourished, could grow to become love.
He saw in her eyes the culmination and consummation of all the fiery passion and repressed longing that had consumed his mind and besieged his senses, and at that moment all his objections and rationality and prim decorum fell away, leaving him raw and unadorned before her, his soul unhidden by the many layers of cool detachment he usually affected in the presence of others. He felt the fire within him, burning with the untamed fervor of discovery, and he allowed his heart to guide him for the first time since he could remember.
Their lips met, and it was sweet and tender and wild and lustful all at once, and each drank the passion from the other's lips until they were inebriated with the fullness of their desire. They pulled apart reluctantly, each gasping for air like a drowning man who breaks above the surface of the water and sucks life-giving oxygen into his lungs. They moved closer, this time more deliberately and with more measure and restraint, and, eyes locked, began the dance of exploration and wonder particular to new lovers.
Severus lifted a trembling hand and drew his fingertips across Hermione's forehead, lightly brushing a tendril of curly hair from her face. She reached her hand up slowly, entwining her fingers in his, and brought his hand to her mouth. She rested her lips against the back of his hand, delighting in the feel of his long, delicate fingers and his smooth skin against her. He really was a beautiful man, she reflected. His ebony eyes, so full of tenderness and desire, framed by impeccably arched eyebrows that perfectly suited the angular contours of his face. His pale alabaster skin in sharp contrast to his impossibly dark raven hair and eyes, offset by his pale pink bow-shaped lips, which parted just slightly in anticipation of further attention. He was a gothic fantasy come to life, a snarky, sullen, beautiful, withdrawn, fragile, gentle, dark soul, plagued by insecurity and self-doubt yet yearning for love and kindness.
Hermione placed a gentle kiss on his hand and pulled his arm around her, placing his hand at the small of her back. He tensed at this new contact but found himself distracted by her lips on his neck, sensuously caressing the hollow of his throat with her tongue. A soft moan escaped his lips and he drew both his arms around her, trailing his hands down the soft curves of her body that had so often been the object of his fantasies. Without a further word, he lifted her up and set her on his desk, his hands running down her hips and thighs.
"Severus," Hermione breathed, and the sound of her voice, not bossy and demanding but sensuous and erotic, sent a thrill through his body straight to his groin, and he felt his manhood begin to harden further in response to her tender ministrations. Without a word, he swiftly and gracefully mounted the desk, laying her down gently beneath him. His lips sought hers and once more they kissed, a passionate declaration of feelings for which there were no words.
She could feel his erection now, straining against its fabric barrier, pressing insistently into her stomach. The sensation of his palpable desire aroused a fire in her blood, a fire that quickly spread south. She could feel the pulsing in her center, felt an overwhelming and primal need to connect with this beautiful and savage creature who currently was trailing his tongue along her jaw and running his hands lightly across her clothed breasts. She moaned softly and moved her hands to his stiff collar. Understanding her unspoken request, Severus raised himself slightly and began to unbutton his thick overcoat, desire causing his usually nimble fingers to tremble. Hermione reached down and unfastened her robes, then began to unbutton her blouse. She flushed with triumphant pride when she saw his eyes greedily drinking in every inch of bare skin revealed with each undone button. Impatiently, he flung his robes from his body, then pulled hers out from under her and flung them to the floor as well. His hands gently finished unbuttoning her blouse, and he removed it to reveal her round breasts pressing against a simple cotton bra.
"You are far too overdressed for the occasion, Severus," she whispered to him, sending a shiver down his spine as she set about removing his starched white shirt. She gasped in pleasure as she discovered that he wore no undershirt, the lean muscles of his slender chest revealed to her hungry eyes. She slipped the shirt off his shoulders, and her gaze flickered up to his face. Their eyes met, and she felt her heart pause for a beat as she lost herself in his ebony eyes. She smiled then, a ghost of a smile, and ran a finger across his lips.
"You know, you're a fantastic kisser, Severus," she murmured, earning a self-conscious blush from her newfound lover. "I'd say that's enough to earn ten points for Slytherin."
The shock in his face was evident as her laughter rang through the classroom, but he managed to compose himself enough to smother her glee with a deep kiss. They came up for air, her hands drifting down to idly caress his bare chest, his arms sliding around her back and playing with the strap of her bra.
"I'll make you a deal, Hermione," he purred, his silken voice every bit as adept at seduction as it was in rousing terror. "If you help me to remove this… cumbersome garment, I'll consider adding twenty points to Gryffindor." She shivered at the raw, sexual velvet of his voice, her eyes never once leaving his as she reached slowly behind her back, her hands meeting his as she unfastened her bra.
The unneeded garment fell to the floor, and Severus reverently cupped her soft breasts in his large hands. Her arms reached up to twine around his neck, and he planted a delicate kiss on her nose before slowly making his way down her neck and shoulders to take a sensitive nipple between his lips. He felt himself stiffen further at her gasps of pleasure, and ministered lovingly to each rosy bud in turn.
When he removed his mouth from her breast he was met with a disappointed groan. He then captured her lips in his, and drawing back, gazed deep into her eyes.
"Yes," he hissed. "I think twenty points for Gryffindor will do very nicely."
Hermione's chiming laughter was this time joined by Severus' deep baritone, a jovial laugh that was soon suffocated by a crushing, passionate kiss.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Professor McGonagall strolled down from her office, heading towards the main doors. She was pleased this morning; there had been no troublemaking students all week, and better yet, she had yet to hear of any further animosity between Severus and Hermione. Of course, she saw the poison glares they gave each other, but all she could hope was that summer would give them enough time and space to cool their hot heads and their raging rivalry. At least they had stopped sabotaging each other's house. Thanks God for small victories, McGonagall thought with exasperation.
As she prepared to exit the main doors of Hogwarts, she noticed something different. Stopping, she turned to look at the points hourglasses. Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw –
"Oh!" she exclaimed. Gryffindor had somehow gained sixty points since the last time she had checked! Of course, such a sudden gain seemed suspicious, but as Gryffindor's former Head of House, she was willing to overlook a bit of bias on its behalf.
Then her gaze traveled over to Slytherin's hourglass, and her eyebrows arched in puzzlement. Apparently, Slytherin too had a benefactor, for it also was sixty points richer than it had been earlier. What in the world? Suddenly they're mysteriously gaining points?
Then it dawned on her. Oh. McGonagall felt a smile tug at the corner of her mouth as she realized exactly how the two rival houses had suddenly gained so many points in such a short period of time. Feeling newly rejuvenated, she opened the broad doors to Hogwarts, breathing deeply of the fresh June air.
"They've always said there's a thin line between love and hate," she murmured to herself. "Well, I suppose this just goes to show." Meandering out to the rose gardens, Minerva McGonagall began to whistle an old Scottish tune, one her mother had sang to her when she was but a wee bairn. She thought of Albus Dumbledore then, and how pleased he would've been to see Severus Snape finally find some happiness and peace of mind.
"Hello, Minerva!" A jovial Filius Flitwick called out to his colleague from across the garden. He stood next to an enchanted rose bush that had been ensorcelled to produce blood red roses all year round. Plucking one of the roses from the bush, he turned and gave it to McGonagall, who accepted it with a warm smile. They stood in silence for a few minutes, content to bask in the warm sunlight and gentle breeze that blew in from the lake. Neither wanted to break the still in the air, both sensing the magic of the moment. Finally, Flitwick turned his head to appraise the headmistress, who appeared curiously at ease.
"It's a beautiful day, Minerva," he said quietly.
McGonagall turned to regard her diminutive colleague. She rewarded him with a rare full smile, an expression often unseen on her stern countenance.
"Yes, it is, Filius. Yes, it most certainly is."
They stood in silence for several moments more before turning around and heading back into the castle.