Disclaimer:  As much as I hate to admit it, anything you recognize does indeed belong to the goddess, JKR.  A little snarky something for Valentines Day…dedicated to my Valentine and personal Potions Master, Tony.  There is a reference to 'Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves'.  10 Galleons will be deposited to your vault at Gringotts if you tell me what it is (it's SO easy).  Stand-alone ficlet.

Romance is for Hufflepuffs

Professor Hermione Granger had had about enough of her surly Slytherin Headmaster's grumping.  He groused like a spoiled toddler deprived of its favourite sweet.

"Typical Slytherin arrogance…enough to drive Merlin himself to distraction," she huffed as she tidied up the classroom over which she presided as Professor of Charms.

"Little Miss Swish and Flick," Severus had mocked when she had discussed lesson plans with him at the beginning of her first term.

In a word, infuriating.

It was bad enough that Dumbledore had had the nerve to die shortly after she accepted the position at Hogwarts.  Bad enough that he insisted, for some unknown purpose, that Severus be appointed as the new Headmaster.  But the fact that afore-mentioned newly appointed Headmaster was an arrogant git was the last straw.

With a cursory glance around the room to ensure that all was where it should be, she shut the door and stormed towards the griffin, which had the somewhat dubious honour of guarding the Headmaster's office.

"I don't know what the password is and I bloody well don't care so just let me by if you know what's good for you, you overgrown pigeon," she practically snarled at it, causing it to visibly recoil before opening the way to the ascending staircase.

"Do not blow him up on sight.  Do not blow him up on sight," she kept chanting to herself as she reached the door that led into his office.  Hermione did not bother to knock…and simply walked right in.

Severus was nowhere to be seen…which was probably a very good thing.  Stomping up the stairs that led to his desk, Hermione glared at Fawkes before plopping down into one of the comfortable leather chairs in front of the Headmaster's desk.

"What I wouldn't give for the Marauder's Map now," she said to no one in particular as she leaned back and massaged her temples fiercely.

"What is the matter, Hermione?" the portrait of Albus Dumbledore asked politely. 

"I would prefer not to be here right now.  Why did you insist on that overgrown bat as the Headmaster?  Why not just cast an Avada Kedavra curse on me and be done with it," she replied caustically.

The former Headmaster chuckled.  "Severus was the best candidate for the position."

"He's certainly qualified…qualified to be insufferable," she said.  "He still treats me like a first-year."

"He cannot help the way he is."

"And I cannot help the fact that I want to hex him repeatedly," she retorted.

"What has he done this time?"  the portrait asked in a tone that implied they had had such conversations many times.

"Aside from wanting to cancel Christmas and hiring more house elves, he has had the nerve to petition the cancellation of the Valentine's Day ball.  Says it will pose too much of a distraction for the students who should be concentrating on their studies, their OWLs and their NEWTs," she threw her hands up in exasperation.

"That indeed sounds like something Severus would say," Dumbledore nodded.

"Well, when his little attempt at destroying student morale failed, he decided on another strategy, which was to delegate his responsibilities onto me.  He wants me to be there…be one of the chaperones to a group of hormonal teenagers when he knew full well that I was planning to attend a conference in Brussels.  And I didn't even have a choice…he just assumed that I would be thrilled to bits with the task.  I want to throttle him with a box of lemon drops," she got up and began pacing furiously.

"A waste of perfectly good lemon drops," the portrait commented.  "Perhaps you are being too hard on Severus…he has never been particularly comfortable with social events like the Valentine's Day ball."

"He has the social graces of a mountain troll and the nose to match," she began looking through the many parchments that rested on Severus' desk.  "He's not particularly neat, is he?"

"He has his own sense of organization, I suppose.  The desk does look somewhat untidy but at least he takes good care of Fawkes," Dumbledore looked at his familiar with fondness shining in his eyes.  Fawkes cocked an eye in the portrait's direction and let out a sad note.

"I just wish he would realize that I am a mature woman, a fully accredited Charms Mistress and Potions Mistress and I am more than capable of creating my own lesson plans.  I'm not a silly first year putting her hand up at every opportunity just to prove that there isn't just empty space inside her head," she snapped as she continued rifling through the many parchments and books that littered the desk.  She saw something that caught her eye and picked it up.  Glancing at it quickly, she smiled, sat down and began to read.

"What are you reading and why are you suddenly so happy?" Dumbledore asked.  "You look like a cat with a new mouse to torture."

"It would appear that our esteemed Headmaster keeps a journal…I would be willing to bet that he did not realize it was under this mess.  I am going to sit here and read it."

"I don't believe that to be a wise course of action, Hermione," the portrait warned.

"I can't say that I care all that much.  Now, not another word…I have reading to do.  Go visit Sir Cadogan."

"Hermione, please consider.  This is a violation of his privacy.  Would you like it if he read your journal?"

"You know I don't keep one.  Bloody waste of perfectly good reading time.  Besides, it's not as if I have anything worthwhile to write.  Taught Charms.  Slytherin students are a snarky bunch.  Managed to prevent serious injury in class. Argued with Headmaster and got a frightful headache.   Ate dinner.  Read.  Had a bath.  Went to bed."

"Perhaps it is a good thing that you are supervising tomorrow night's festivities.  At the very least, it would have provided a more interesting entry in your non-existent journal."

"Of course.  Went to the Valentines Day Ball.  Was bored out of skull.  Proceeded to burn portrait of former headmaster and an effigy of current headmaster for good measure."

The portrait chuckled and, despite herself, Hermione smiled.  She really had liked the barmy old codger very much and missed his twinkling blue eyes and lemon drops more than she cared to admit.

"All right, I will put the journal back in this mess.  I tell you, he won't miss it," she returned the item to the approximate location of its discovery on the desk.  With all the clutter, it was difficult to tell if she had it spot on.

"Do you think he will be coming back anytime soon?  I have a strong desire to wring his neck but it can certainly wait until later if he has a prior engagement," she deadpanned.

The portrait laughed again, causing a few other portraits to complain about the lack of silence.

"Isn't that the quill he bought you for Christmas?"

"He bought all the staff quills," Hermione replied defensively.

"I don't recall any of the other staff receiving phoenix quills…not to mention the fact that you never use any other writing instrument that I have seen."

Hermione blushed, her hand automatically going to where the fire-red quill was stuck behind her ear.  "Yes, well, where did you say the overgrown bat was?"

"I believe he had a meeting scheduled with the Bloody Baron to talk about the recent string of mishaps involving our pesky poltergeist, Peeves," the portrait replied.

"Well, at least he is doing something useful…although going to soak his head in a toilet would be my preference.  Peeves has been a nuisance the past while.  He recites the most awful love poems…truly bawdy stuff.  He reduced a group of first year Hufflepuff girls to tears."

"That, in itself, is not unusual."

"Perhaps not.  But I still think he should be exorcised," she muttered.

"Hermione, I will tell Severus that you came by to speak to him.  Why do you not go for a walk outside?  The weather might be a trifle cold but it will put some colour in your cheeks.  You have been inside for far too long."

"Even as a portrait, you still make sense," she smiled as she left the office.  "All right.  Fine.  I'm off to the lake.  Hopefully, the giant squid will be in a good mood but I'll pass by the kitchens for some sweet buns just in case."

***************twenty minutes later*************

Severus Snape was in a foul mood.  He had spent the better part of the afternoon arguing with the Bloody Baron and had gotten nowhere.  Apparently, there was some contract, written by Godric Gryffindor himself that allowed for the eternal presence of Peeves. 

"Damned Gryffindor sense of nobility…allowing a prankster who blew himself up by accident to stay on in the school as a poltergeist is ludicrous.  I'll never be able to get rid of him.  Bloody Baron is a bloody pain in the arse," Severus complained as he made his way to his desk and sat down heavily.

"Ah, Severus," the portrait of Albus Dumbledore got up and smiled.  "Delightful to see you back so soon.  How was your meeting with the Bloody Baron?"

"A bloody waste of time," Severus replied in a surly tone.

"Severus, I do believe something just fell out of your pocket."

Severus looked down and saw a small photograph on the floor.  With a frown, he picked it up and glared at it.

"She is doing an excellent job teaching Charms, isn't she?"

Severus didn't answer.  He merely shook his head and placed the photograph in his pocket.

He did not see how the portrait's eyes were twinkling mischievously because, if he had, he would have run away screaming as fast as possible.

"You should get outside, Severus.  The fresh air would do you a world of good," the portrait suggested.

"Freezing into a block of ice was not on my agenda for today," Severus snapped irritably.  "I was rather planning to drink myself into a stupor and not wake up until the summer holidays."

"A brisk walk by the lake always used to help me put everything into perspective," the portrait insisted, sitting down on a leather chair within its frame and looking at Severus intently.

"A brisk walk by the lake is the perfect recipe for hypothermia," Severus replied caustically.  "Oh, if only to get away from you, Albus.  Very well, I will grab my cloak and freeze my…"

"Be certain to wear a long muffler…wouldn't want you to have to visit Poppy for a dose of Pepper Up potion, now would we?"

Severus did not reply, merely grunted incoherently as he put on his wool cloak and wrapped several lengths of the muffler Hermione had knitted for him around his neck.  Despite the frightening combination of various shades of green and silver, Severus rather liked it.

"Hermione has a great deal of respect for you, Severus."

"She's a horrible knitter…lumps everywhere.  Probably bits of her cat's hair in here as well," Severus scowled.

"You could always buy something else."

"It's as frightening and cantankerous as me so we are well suited to one another.   Now, if you'll excuse me…I have an audience with the giant squid."

The portrait chuckled as Severus left his office.

"You are a meddlesome fool, Albus," Phineas Nigellus snapped from his portrait across the office.

"They are obviously attracted to one another but too stubborn to do anything about it other than whine and complain."

"That is the Slytherin way.  So, you believe that they will meet up at the frozen lake and suddenly declare their undying love and devotion to one another?" Circe Rowanwood asked.

"She's nothing but a Mudblood," the muffled voice of Salazar Slytherin could be heard (Severus had turned the portrait so that it faced the wall).

"You must admit that the lake is a romantic setting." Albus commented.

"Bah," Phineas retorted with a snort.  "Romance is for Hufflepuffs."

****************at the afore-mentioned lake in the marked absence of the afore-mentioned giant squid************

Hermione shivered and cursed Albus Dumbledore under her breath.

"Colour in my cheeks indeed," she shuddered.  "Blue was never my colour."

She had spent several minutes watching the sun slowly trek downwards and now the sky was a blaze of oranges, reds and yellows.  Very Gryffindor-like.

"I'll just stay to watch the sunset and then head indoors to figure out the least painful way of restoring circulation to my various bits and pieces," she wiggled her toes in order to ensure they were still attached to her feet.  "I should really use a warming charm but a bottle of Ogdens would be so much more satisfying."

"I quite agree…Ogdens has great therapeutic value in treating frostbite," a snarky voice made her turn around quickly.  Severus was standing there looking at her as if absolutely shocked to find another human being outside in the cold weather.

"And in rendering people less irritating," she answered with a grin.

"Ah…I am glad you told me that.  I will ensure I have a bottle handy whenever you come to me to discuss lesson plans or to explain why you deducted so many house points from Slytherin."

"You are a singularly annoying individual, Severus."

"And you are still a bushy-haired know-it-all, Hermione."

They glared at one another for several minutes while shivering uncontrollably.

"Do you think we could continue this inside?  My mouth has gotten so cold, I can't speak properly," Severus complained.

"I will have to go to the Restricted Section and look up freezing charms," Hermione smirked.  "I never realized how useful they might be."

Severus glared once again before wrapping another length of the muffler around his neck.  Hermione stared at it in surprise.

"I made that for you last Christmas.  You actually wear it?"

"It was an eminently practical gift."

"That's not what you said at the time.  I remember some comment about poor Crookshanks going through winter without half of his fur."

"Yes, well I see you still have the quill I purchased for you.  Didn't you say that it was akin to receiving a pair of socks from Dobby?"

"I admit that, after thinking about it, it was a very practical and thoughtful choice."

"It's a phoenix feather…quite unique," he said, slightly ruffled. 

An awkward silence ensued.

"Well, speaking of Ogdens, I do have a bottle sitting in my parlour.  What do you say to sharing in it?" Severus asked.

"I think that I'd like that.  I'm sure I will like you even more after several glasses," she teased before clapping her hand over her mouth in horror.

He looked at her curiously, pondering what she had inadvertently admitted to.  Although sorely tempted to make some sort of snarky reply, he simply smiled and held out his arm to her.

"I would concur with that."

*********************several months later******************

"So, do you admit that I was right?" the portrait of Albus Dumbledore asked the portrait of a thoroughly peeved Phineas Nigellus.

"Typical Gryffindor arrogance.  You played no part in this ridiculous affair."

"I did suggest the walk by the lake."

"Yes, and what has been the result?  Snogging in the Headmaster's office…right under our very noses.  Why, in my day, a Headmaster could be dismissed for such behaviour…particularly with a colleague.  It's indecent!"

"I seem to recall a certain incident…"

"That was different…she was my wife!"

Albus simply smiled serenely.

"She's still a Mudblood," came the (even more) muffled voice of Salazar Slytherin from his new location, under Fawkes' perch, face-down.

"Your opinion doesn't count Serpent-Breath," Circe retorted.  "They love each other…even if they still argue and are as snarky as ever."

"Which inevitably leads to the afore-mentioned snogging sessions.  Really, Phineas, it is a beautiful thing to see two people, who have endured so much, happy together at last."

"Bah," Phineas snapped.  "All this romantic nonsense is making me ill.  I may as well go to the Fat Lady and ask for her hand in marriage.  It seems to be in the air."

"Why, Phineas, you sly dog you," Albus chuckled.  "I always knew she had her eye on you."

Phineas turned a brilliant shade of purple and disappeared from view.

"I think, my dear Circe, that we have proven romance is not just for Hufflepuffs."

"Thank heavens," she replied with a shy smile.  "Now, about tonight…"