This is my Ficathon entry for barriequark, who wanted a semi-humorous after-graduation fic with no gay Harry or reformed, happy Draco.
Standard disclaimer: Harry and all his friends are not mine, but the plot is. Oh, and the title and inspiration for the fic? Comes from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. How could I forget to mention that? (Thanks duj!)
Severus Snape and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Something woke Severus early, a sound that wasn't right, and he quickly sat up, rubbing groggy eyes as he tried to focus on what woke him up; a glance to the clock on the bed stand told him it was not quite four in the morning.
Water splashing. Water splashing in his bedroom certainly seemed amiss and he snatched his wand from the bed stand as he swung his legs over the side of the bed, letting out an inadvertent gasp when he landed in cold water rather than on cold stone.
"Peeves!" he bellowed, lighting his wand and surveying the damage.
He stood in the lake that now compromised his quarters, up to his thighs in cool water, noting grimly the open doors of his wardrobe and the wet clothing inside. He sloshed from the bedroom to the sitting room which was equally wet, grabbed his teaching robes on the way to the door that led to his office, unsurprised to find water in the office as well, with parchments floating everywhere.
At least he could reassign the papers. That appeared to be the only upside to the situation at present.
He waded through the office and into the corridor that ran past the potions classroom and the Slytherin common room to the entrance hall. Standing outside the common room were two of his prefects, Percival Clarke, a sixth year, and Corrine Hartwell, a fifth year, holding a pair of tied-up students at wand point.
"Professor Snape! We caught them with dungbombs in the Slytherin bathrooms!"
"A few already went off and took out some of the pipes. The whole common room is flooded."
Severus stood before the cowering Gryffindors and his prefects and glared. "Get Filch," he commanded, and the girl hurried off to find the caretaker. "Mr Jones and Mr Reynolds, I believe a hundred and fifty points a piece and a week of detention will suffice as punishment. And I believe we should visit Professor McGonagall."
"Now?" one of them whispered. "She's still asleep."
He allowed a nasty smirk. "Yes, I'm sure she is, but doubtless she would want to be informed of such an infraction immediately."
Severus nearly laughed at the despair in their eyes. He had personally witnessed Minerva in full force early one morning with Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley but with a lesser infraction -- he had merely caught them out of bed the night before the Transfiguration N.E.W.T. -- and it had been glorious. He was giddy at the thought of waking her with two more Gryffindors, this time with far more damage done.
He quickly marched them upstairs, waiting in uncomfortable silence on the fourth floor for the staircases to realign before arriving at the door to McGonagall's rooms on the seventh floor, down the hall from the portrait of the fat lady. He rapped on the door once, then again after a few minutes with no answer.
Moments later, the door creaked open and a still tired Minerva McGonagall peered out, her lips pursing as soon as her eyes settled on Severus and the two Gryffindors.
"I take it this isn't a social call," she groused as she opened the door further and joined them in the hallway. "What is it this time?"
"Your precious students have managed to flood the dungeons with a few well-placed dungbombs. My classroom, office and quarters are all submerged, as are the lower-level Slytherin dorms."
"They're not submerged --" Reynolds began but he snapped his mouth shut when Minerva turned on him.
"I beg your pardon, Mr Reynolds. What word would you use to describe it?" He wisely did not answer her. "I assume Professor Snape already deducted house points?" she asked, and Severus smirked.
"One hundred fifty points each."
A quick twitch of the eye told him what she wouldn't, at least not in front of the students: that he had been waiting for an opportunity like this ever since five of her sixth and seventh years had earned five hundred points for their House by helping Hagrid catch a manticore in the Forbidden Forest.
"And detention as well?"
They nodded glumly.
"A week," Jones supplied.
"And another week from myself, to be served with Professor Snape," she said tartly, catching Severus's eye as she did. "Now, back to bed before I assign another week with Mr Filch."
"Yes, ma'am," they chorused and scampered away without a backwards glance, wary of further punishment.
"What was that about giving them to me for a week's detention?" Severus growled once they were out of earshot.
"I thought it only fair since they did flood your dungeons," she quipped, pulling her tartan robe tighter. "Since we're both up, would you care to come in for a nightcap? Or an eye-opener?"
He responded that now was as good a time as any to commence drinking as it was already shaping up to be a very bad day, and it wasn't even breakfast.
"They don't have days like this at Beauxbatons," he complained. "Too civilised."
Hours later, still slightly damp from wading through the mess of his office and classrooms, Severus hurried to the Great Hall to catch a bite before his first class, double Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw fourth years. To his chagrin, he arrived just as the last of the plates disappeared from the tables and the last students rushed out for their first class.
"Running late, Severus?" chuckled Albus Dumbledore as he descended from the High Table. "I heard about the unfortunate accident this morning."
"Unfortunate accident?" he echoed malignantly. "Unfortunate, yes without a doubt. Accident, hardly."
Albus twinkled and said, "Of course, you are right. You do remember your meeting with Hermione Granger this evening."
Severus glared with all his might. "I want out of this damn castle, Albus, I want to go to Beauxbatons."
"I believe you're just having a bad day, Severus. Don't forget Miss Granger."
He exited with a small wave and a wide smile, leaving Severus standing alone glaring at the High Table.
He had forgotten about the meeting with Granger, a "favor" to Albus -- one he was never given the opportunity to decline. Two weeks ago Dumbledore had mentioned that Hermione Granger was now a top arithmancer and she was working on her Wenlock degree from London University of Magic in Arithmancy by preparing a study combining arithmancy with potions, and would Severus be so kind as to spare a few hours of his time to go over Miss Granger's hypotheses? Severus had his doubts about the usefulness of such a study, but he was now obligated to meet her at Arôme, a new restaurant in Diagon Alley so that the little chit could pick his brains.
It was already a no-good day and class had yet to begin.
At Beauxbatons, he thought fiercely, I would never have to put up with bullying from the Headmaster and forced meetings with know-it-all former students.
He stalked off to class and thanked Merlin that he didn't have a double potions with Gryffindor and Slytherin until after lunch, as tensions would be quite high between the two houses after this morning's stunt; quite a few Slytherins had failed to properly perform drying spells and lacked anyone to assist them, treacherous lot they were. He supposed if they were still wet at lunch he would have to do something about it. It wouldn't do for his Slytherins to show up to Poppy with rashes from wearing wet clothing.
He scrawled a list of ingredients on the board and a page number and announced, "This potion takes just over an hour to brew. I expect a sample from each as well as an eighteen inch essay analyzing the ingredients and how they complement each other in creating a healing potion for burns. By the end of the period."
He smiled inwardly at the number of audible groans from the third years. He was normally averse to assigning so much busywork for the entire class period, but he was behind on his marking and it wouldn't hurt to jot down some notes for the meeting with Granger.
As he stared at the unmarked tests, he couldn't help but think of her: sitting on the edge of her seat, anxiously awaiting a returned exam or essay, watching her face as she read through his scrawled remarks, sometimes cruel, but she always listened to him and never made the same mistake twice.
She was brilliant, he could finally allow himself to admit, not that he would to anyone else. Minerva, always proud of her Gryffindors, left journals with Granger's published work in the teachers lounge for all to see, and Severus had read each of them, but only in solitude and he never mentioned them to Minerva, simply to deny her the satisfaction of his reading Granger's work.
Another image floated through, eleven years old and sitting beside Potter, her hand waving in the air, desperate for him to acknowledge her intelligence.
He wondered if she were still a know-it-all, something he'd always despised in her. Surely it was enough for her to realise that she were brilliant; why would she need his opinion of it as well?
A golden sludge covered nearly every surface in his newly dry classroom, himself and students included. The steady drip of yellow potion was the only sound as the students waited for the second explosion, the deadlier, more vicious one from the professor.
He growled inaudibly as he neared the source of all the commotion -- Regina Regenweald, the new Neville Longbottom as she had been referred to since her second day of class in her first year, when she managed to explode her first cauldron in potions, as well as being attacked by the normally passive Flitterbloom plant in Herbology on the very same day.
"Miss Regenweald," Severus began, folding his arms across his chest and leveling his most frightful stare at the trembling girl, "are you in anyway injured?" She shook her head slightly, still cowed by the look on his face. "Good, then perhaps you can tell me why your cauldron exploded and took, let's see, four other cauldrons with it?"
"Because I added the erumpent tails too early?" she whispered.
She shifted nervously, lowering her eyes to the floor. "Because the vapor produced ignited my cauldron and the others?"
He sighed. At least she understood why she had destroyed the room. If only he could get her to understand before she did it.
"Miss Regenweald, you will spend the remainder of the class period cleaning up this mess, without magic," he added unnecessarily, since it was common knowledge that part of Snape's punishment always meant no magic. "Those of you who lost your potions due to Miss Regenweald's incompetence will assist her as well, and you will submit a three foot essay by next class. As for the rest of you, I would advise you to work quickly."
He turned towards the front of the room, then hesitated, calling over his shoulder, "Oh, and that will be twenty points from Hufflepuff, Miss Regenweald, for destroying my classroom, and another ten from Ravenclaw for not catching Miss Regenweald's mistake before such destruction occurred."
He allowed himself a small smile as he returned to his desk. Thankfully, the rest of the class passed without incident, and he proceeded to lunch after assessing the cleanliness of his classroom. When lunch was served, something corned beef, he grimaced and ate quickly.
Immediately after eating, he returned to his office for his planning period and spent the entire time marking essays, the parchments taking on the appearance of bloody rags after his quill finished with them. He felt slightly less agitated when his last class of the day, Slytherin and Gryffindor fifth years, commenced.
"Today you will be brewing an O.W.L. level potion, the Draught of Peace -- or attempting to, at least, since no doubt some of you are completely incapable of brewing the simplest draught for a cold."
"Benson!" coughed one of the Slytherins, and the others tittered, for John Benson was arguably the worst potions student Severus had ever had; even Longbottom had shown some aptitude for brewing.
He flicked his wrist and wand and instructions appeared on the board.
"Begin," he instructed, ignoring the giggling Slytherins and the glares of the Gryffindors.
The class began smoothly, with everyone working vigorously -- or giving the appearance of doing so -- and in retrospect, he should have been more vigilant in watching them, given the morning's events. But he wasn't, perhaps he thought that he was due a break after the way this day had been going.
Severus sorted through his mail from lunch and found the new Potions Quarterly and scowled. He should be opening the journal and eagerly scanning the contents for his own paper on the uses of belladonna in sleeping draughts; instead, he glared as he thought about the letter he had received last week from the editor apologising because they needed to push his article back to the following issue.
He dropped it on his desk and stood, sweeping through the aisles, trademark sneer in place. He criticized many of the Gryffindors, praised a few Slytherins and offered quiet advice to others. He picked up the journal as he sat, flipping it open to the contents, jaw nearly dropping when he saw Hermione Granger listed.
His paper had been passed over for Granger's, Granger who didn't even study potions in depth after Hogwarts. A red haze clouded his vision as he remembered his impending dinner with the chit and he very nearly dismissed class so he could vent his anger on Albus Dumbledore, but he recovered and calmly turned to the article and read quickly. It was a simple article, dealing with the size, weight and composition of cauldrons, though it held a few brilliant ideas.
A loud squelch snatched his attention from glaring at the paper and back to the classroom where some Slytherin had just thrown a frog's heart across the room, hitting one of the Gryffindors square in the face. For one infinite second, it seemed nothing would come of it, but then just as quickly, two frog hearts flew from the Gryffindor side and all hell broke loose.
Wands were retrieved, hexes cried, more potions ingredients thrown from all sides, a few of the closer students started wrestling, and through all of it, they ignored Severus and his yells.
"Silencio!" he barked, waving his wand through the room and immediately everyone fell quiet and looked at him, terror on the faces of some. A pair of boys still wrestled on the ground and Severus pointed his wand at them. "Separus."
The two boys who had been fighting both had signs of it, one with a black eye, the other with blood streaming down his face from a cut on his cheek.
"You two, Madam Pomfrey now," he snarled, "a week of detention each with Professor McGonagall. As for the rest of you, you will not leave this classroom until it sparkles. Gryffindors, you will serve detention tomorrow night with me and the Slytherins with Mr Filch. And I want four feet on advanced sleeping draughts."
It was shaping up to be a terrible day.
Hermione waited nervously at the table in Arôme. She had arrived early, since she wasn't exactly sure of the location and didn't want to get lost trying to find it, but it had been much easier to find than she had anticipated, and so she waited for Snape to show. She was quite nervous, talking to Snape like this.
Nearly fifteen minutes later, the maitre d' approached and her stomach clenched as Severus Snape swept behind, robes billowing respectably.
"Professor Snape," she said, standing to greet him.
"Miss Granger," he countered, ignoring her hand and sitting.
Hermione resumed her seat and the maitre d' said, "The special this evening is Pâté de Lapin with cornichons. Enjoy."
As he settled into the seat opposite, Hermione said, "Thank you for coming, Professor. I know that you're busy and I appreciate you taking the time--"
"Let me assure you, Miss Granger; I am not here of my own volition. In fact, if the Headmaster had not required that I assist you, I would be elsewhere, much happier."
She blinked, all notions of Snape being more civilised now that she was a graduate quickly taking leave.
"Happier? I doubt that," she said, recovering quickly, then picked up her menu.
"Actually, Miss Granger, I would be happier suffering at the hands of the Dark Lord rather than meeting you," he hissed and she looked up, surprised at the venom she heard.
"I didn't realise my presence was so bothersome to you, Professor. In that case, perhaps we should skip dinner and talk now." She eyed him warily. "Or not at all, if you'd prefer."
His eyes narrowed at her offer.
"But please hear me out before you go. You have always made it clear how you feel about me, which is why you are my last option. I've gone to other Potions Masters -- including Alfred Morathi -- and none of them were able to comprehend my ideas between potions and arithmancy. If you don't understand, if you can't help me, then I've just blown my Wenlock and wasted the last two years on a stupid idea."
He hesitated for a fraction of a second. Hermione Granger direly needed his help, but what incentive?
Sensing his pause meant he was considering her plight, she added, "And of course, you would be credited in my work and could publish your findings as well, independently."
He was suddenly intrigued, regardless of his personal feelings towards her. Granger, arguably the most brilliant witch in a hundred years, who had been published in her seventh year at Hogwarts and now at the age of twenty-four was preparing for her Wenlock degree, the most prestigious degree in the field of Arithmancy was incapable of explaining to his peers two years of research concerning arithmancy and potions. It would be a coup and they would have to publish him.
"Very well, Miss Granger, I will hear you out."
She smiled timidly. "Thank you. Shall we order first?"
Each studied the menu for several moments until the waiter approached, a pleasant man with graying hair.
"Good evening. Would you like some more time to look over the menu?"
"I'm ready," she said, glancing quickly to Severus who nodded, and the waiter retrieved his quill, which hovered over his pad. "I would like the Aile de Raie aux Câpres."
"Very good, madam. And for sir?" the wizard asked grandly, his quill quivering with readiness.
"Terrine de Saumon aux Epinards."
"Excellent choice sir. And to drink with the meal?"
"Nothing, thank --"
"A bottle of pinot noir, your best," Severus interrupted.
"Very well, sir." The waiter spun away, leaving Hermione with a frown.
"I don't like to drink when I'm working."
"It's not for you, though I would expect it to go with your fish as well."
"I don't mean to harp but, I really don't have the money for wine."
He reached into his robes and pulled out a sack of coins which jangled noisily as he dropped it on the table.
"Is that enough? It is generally considered bad manners to discuss the bill before it has arrived."
Blushing at that, she ducked her head and said, "Of course, forgive me."
A minute nod of the head proved he heard her, and he said, "Besides, Albus insisted that he pay for dinner, and I intend to make him pay."
She couldn't help but smile and she thought she saw a twitch in his lips, but she might have been mistaken, for she wasn't sure that she had ever seen Snape hold back a smile. Normally, he was too busy sneering at her, or anyone else nearby for that matter.
"Very well, Miss Granger, tell me about your confounding theories."
"Alright. Stop me if at any point you're lost, though I'm certain you'll be able to follow along more closely than the others."
He quirked an eyebrow and motioned for her to begin. Hermione took a breath.
"I had this idea: what if arithmancy could be used to predict the outcome for spells? I played around with it for a bit, but finally decided it couldn't be used effectively because there are too many variables involved with spellcasting, largely due in part to the individual spellcaster. But it got me to think about using it with potions and testing, since you would be able to adjust amounts depending on predicted results.
"At first I tried doing the numbers myself, longhand, on existing potions, and though it quickly proved to be tedious and very tiring on the hand, the results seemed to match already published data."
He held her up with a question. "How were you coming up with the numbers? What formula?"
She smiled. "I have it on my computer and I'll show you in a minute. It took months to devise, with a lot of trial and error involved. I started working with a friend of mine, Jeffrey Glasser, a muggle who works in computer software, and he programmed my formula and got it on a computer for me. Which did me no good because it wouldn't operate at the lab or at my flat. I had to keep it at my parents' and pop over every ten, fifteen minutes to add the data."
"Not very efficient."
"I know," she nodded. "So I started working on magic-proofing the computer, so to speak. That took another three months, working around the original project. I kept trying spells, trying to make an anti-magic field around the computer, a dead space, when I finally realised, I needed to make the dead space the computer."
She reached into her bag and withdrew the slender, quite ordinary computer.
"The case is made of a combination of diamond and titanium," she said, watching his face for signs of recognition.
"Interesting. Theoretically that would shield the inside from magical interference. And you transfigured it around the computer hardware?"
"Yes. It took Harry and me a week before we got it right. Kept destroying the hard drive in the process."
"Potter helped you with this?" he asked, a slight sneer creeping into his voice.
"Of course! Harry has always been quite capable at transfiguration."
"And little else."
She glared at him. "I suppose you've conveniently forgotten that he defeated Vol--" she paused and collected herself. "He defeated Voldemort by himself, with little help from Ron or myself."
"We would have eventually found a way --"
"That's bollocks! I'm sure we share similar viewpoints of divination in general, but a prophecy, a true prophecy is something else, and no one but Harry could have defeated him."
"I believe it is obvious, Miss Granger," he said after a moment's quiet, "that we share two different opinions on the value of Harry Potter and I suggest that we move past those differences."
"You're right, of course," she said, quickly taking the offered olive branch. "So here it is."
She handed him the computer and he held it in front of him, staring at it as if in a trance.
"Surely you've seen a computer, Professor."
"I have of course seen a computer, Miss Granger, no doubt before you were born," he scowled at her. "Lucius Malfoy had procured one for the Dark Lord for some nefarious purpose during his first reign of terror. However, that computer required its own room."
"When was this?" she asked with curiosity.
"Late 79, early 80 perhaps. Early in the war. He couldn't get the damn thing working -- magical field probably interfered and he couldn't find a way around using electricity. Speaking of which, how does yours work?"
"Like any other computer, it has all the proper ports and connections on the back, so I just plug it into the wall socket at home to charge it, with a transfigured cord of --"
"Diamond and titanium."
"You guessed it," she said with a grin.
He set it down on the table and stared at it. "How do you work it?"
"Turn it over and open it." He did so. "Now turn it on."
"How?" he growled, failing to hide his irritation.
Hermione rolled her eyes and scooted out of the booth and moved to his side, oblivious to the look of alarm that crossed his face for a millisecond before being replaced by the usual scowl.
She pressed a button on the side and the screen flickered to life, then ran her finger over the mouse pad, starting the program with her research.
"Alright, this," she said, leaning towards the computer and pointing, "is my formula. I take numbers from everything -- ingredients, amounts, temperature, time -- and plug it in as necessary, then I click this and the computer runs everything."
She turned the computer away from him so she could have better reach and pulled up a file of numbers she had saved previously.
"This is a common draught for fever. I run the program, there's your results."
Severus stared at the screen. "But how do you know it works on more complex potions?"
"Like Veritaserum?" she asked with a grin. "Or Wolfsbane?"
"Have you tried them?"
Rather than answer, Hermione pulled up the results for Veritaserum.
"Quite detailed in the summaries as well," he murmured. "Very interesting."
"You can see how this could affect the field of research."
He nodded. "However, I can see why Morathi didn't like it. It would put him out of a job."
"I'm not trying to put anyone out of a job," she protested. "I'm just trying to make research more efficient."
Dinner arrived and Hermione put away her laptop. They ate in relative silence, with Hermione once commenting on the deliciousness of the wine with her food and receiving only a nod in reply. They both ate quickly and efficiently, and soon, Hermione pushed away her plate and sighed.
"I haven't had a good meal like that in ages!"
"Why not? Do they not feed you at London?"
"I don't live on-campus and I still don't like the idea of owning a house elf, so I usually do all my cooking. Or I order in. Mostly I order in."
He smirked at her. "Then that settles it."
"What?" she asked as Severus motioned for the wizard.
"Would you care for something else, sir?"
"Yes, Poire Belle-Hélène."
After he left, Hermione said, "I could have just eaten a bit of yours, I'm really not that hungry."
"I would have offered to share, but I had no intention," he answered with a bit of a smile. "And you will find room for it, I'm sure."
A silence fell between them, Severus watching her as she played with her napkin.
"I saw your article in the new Potions Quarterly. Fascinating."
She blushed and looked away. "I was surprised to hear that they were actually going to publish it."
"I was to have an article published in that same issue."
"What happened?" she asked, bringing her eyes back to him.
"They chose instead to run it next time."
Though he said it deliberately without accusation, her eyes widened. "I just found out last week -- is it my fault?"
He shrugged. "Perhaps. Perhaps someone else. Mine was a dreadfully boring paper. It's just as well that it wasn't published. Yours was much more deserving."
She stared at him.
"It's not becoming of you to stare, Miss Granger," he said with a quiet smile. "Neither is it polite."
"Thank you, Professor," she stammered, looking down at the table, conscious of the fact he was complimenting her directly at his own expense.
She was about to venture an inquiry as to things at Hogwarts when a familiar voice called, "Uncle Severus! What a delight!"
Hermione was sure she saw a muscle twitch in Severus's jaw as he turned his attention over her shoulder and responded, "I have told you countless times, Mr Malfoy, I am not your uncle."
"Third cousins, close enough, and since you are much older than I, it seems more appropriate to address you as Uncle Severus rather than Cousin Severus, which does sound rather ridiculous," Draco added with a laugh.
"What do you want, Malfoy?"
Draco's oily smile surfaced as he glanced at Hermione. "Manners, Uncle! I enquired after you at Hogwarts and the Headmaster was kind enough to inform me that you were having dinner in Diagon Alley, though he failed to mention you had a ... guest," he purred. "I didn't realise you were in the habit of keeping company with ... Muggle-borns, Uncle Severus. Father would have been disappointed."
"I fail to see how it is any of your business what company I keep. And as far as the issue of pureblood superiority, Miss Granger is proof enough that Muggle-born witches and wizards are far from inferior, and in many cases --" he pointedly looked at Malfoy -- "are in fact superior to wizards of the purest blood."
Nonplussed, Draco smirked and drawled, "To each his own. I'm not here to quibble with you, Uncle Severus."
"Then why are you here?" he snapped, impatience crackling in his voice.
"I was going to sell some of Father's library, since he no longer has use for it."
"Yes, I would imagine it hard for him to read after that Dementor's Kiss. Where do you keep him, in one of the vast closets of Malfoy Manor?" Hermione quipped, delighted at the rage suppressed in the gray eyes.
Draco, however, had learnt some restraint in the years since Hogwarts and he simply turned back to Severus and said, "I know there were several texts that you admired and since we are related, I thought it would only be polite to allow you first chance at them."
"Perhaps I would be interested. Lucius did have many hard-to-find books on potions, though I never understood why, given his disdain for the subject."
"Father was keen on the appearance of being well-read, I'm sure you know. I doubt he read a third of the books."
"Malfoy! What are you doing here?"
Hermione jumped at the sound of Ron's voice and craned her neck around, surprised to see Weasley, followed closely by Harry Potter.
"If it isn't Potty and the Weasel. Don't you think you're a bit old to have a fan club still, Potter?"
"At least I have friends," Harry shot back.
"What are you two doing here?" Hermione asked, looking back and forth between her two best friends.
"We just came from Hogwarts, looking for you," Ron said. "Had some news about Ginny -- she's moving back at Christmas!"
"That's great, Ron, really, but don't you think this could have waited until later?"
Ron frowned. "I suppose so."
No one spoke for a minute, everyone looked at one another in uncomfortable silence until Harry put his foot in his mouth.
"So Albus finally got the two of you together, huh?" Harry asked, grinning dumbly.
Severus's head snapped up and he looked from Harry to Hermione and back.
Ron elbowed him hard in the ribs, forcing a cough from Harry, and Ron said quickly, "He told us that Hermione was going over her project with you."
Severus's black eyes slid over to Weasley who was making a valiant attempt at covering Harry's slip while Draco laughed merrily at the situation, tossing his white-blonde hair over his shoulder.
"What are you talking about?"
"We're not talking about anything," Harry protested too loudly and Severus's black eyes burned into Hermione.
"It seems to me, Uncle Severus, that there is a plot to unite yourself and the mudblood."
"Malfoy!" Ron roared and leapt him, with Harry scrabbling behind to restrain him.
"Ron! It's not worth it," Hermione said, though he didn't seem to hear her.
None saw the waiter approaching with the deserts until Harry wrenched Ron to the side and crashed into him, covering both of them with pears and ice cream.
"Forgive me, sirs! I will have two more brought out immediately," the waiter cried as he pointed his wand at the slowly melting mess on Harry and Ron, magicking it out of existence, all the while Draco doubled up with laughter at the sight.
Severus turned back to Hermione and locked eyes.
"Did you know about this?"
The three boys turned back to watch the unfolding scene. Even Harry, social fuckwit, could hear the deadly quiet in Snape's voice, and the incipient hysteria in hers as she answered, "No, no, I just wanted to talk to you about my research, nothing more!"
He glared at her, then Potter and Weasley and Malfoy, who smirked relentlessly through everything, then stood. "I believe that should cover the cost of the meal. I must have a word with the Headmaster."
Severus swept from the table, robes billowing as he crossed through the restaurant and out the front door, with Hermione, Harry, Ron and Draco all watching him go.
"What was all that about?" she asked angrily. "I was having a pleasant dinner while discussing my work and you two--"
"Don't forget about Malfoy," Harry said helpfully, which only earned him a glare.
"You show up and ruin everything! Now he might change his mind and not help me after all!"
She grabbed her bag and started for the door.
"Where are you going, 'Mione?" Ron called after her.
"To try to smooth things over with Severus. And to see what the hell Dumbledore is doing."
"Severus?" Harry echoed. "When did they become on a first-name basis?"
"Harry! Don't you see what you've done?" cried Ron at Harry's obliviousness. "You've given them a common enemy! Now they'll have even more reason to like each other."
"And us, you fucking twat!"
"The Weasel's right," Draco added his own thoughts with a smirk. "And if I know Uncle Severus, a little confrontation with Bumbledore will only push him further towards Granger."
Harry and Ron looked at one another with something akin to horror.
"We have to follow them!" Harry exclaimed.
Hermione found Severus in Dumbledore's office, raging at the Headmaster while Minerva McGonagall looked on with interest.
"My love life --"
"Or lack of," supplied McGonagall sotto voce, soliciting a glare from the Potions Master.
"Is none of your concern! How dare you attempt to -- to set me up, with a former student, no less!"
"I did no such thing, Severus," Albus replied in a calming voice. He pushed a dish of candy across his desk. "Perhaps a lemon sherbert will make things better."
"No, a bloody lemon sherbert will not make things better!"
Granger would care for one?"
Severus whirled to face her. "What are you doing here?"
"You forget, it's not just your love life at stake here."
Albus smothered a laugh with a cough, though McGonagall was not so polite and laughed outright, and Severus simply glared.
"I don't know about you, Professor, but I had a pleasant time this evening, despite the rocky beginnings," Hermione said slowly, surprised that it was true.
He looked at her shrewdly but didn't answer.
The door to the office burst open again, this time Ron and Harry, and Hermione was sure she saw Draco making his way up the revolving stairs as well.
"It was a joke, 'Mione, honestly!" Harry pleaded. "I was just kidding!"
"A joke?" Hermione asked. "Not a very funny one."
She looked from Harry and Ron back to Dumbledore, then finally to Severus. He still glared at her, though it seemed there was more behind it, and a realisation struck: she could see her future stretching out before her, and suddenly she couldn't imagine it without Snape, wasn't sure she wanted to.
She took one hesitant step towards him and he watched her warily before her Gryffindor determination set in and she took the remaining three steps boldly and pulled his face down with her hand and kissed him, chastely, his lips softer and warmer than she could have expected.
After a moment, Hermione pulled away to gaze up at him, but Severus only stared at her, dumbfounded.
"For Merlin's sake, Uncle Severus, it's completely obvious the woman is crazy for you. Quit standing there gaping like a fish and kiss her!"
Never before had Hermione wanted to kiss Draco Malfoy -- other than the occasional bad boy fantasy -- but Severus turned to him and snapped, "If there is to be further kissing, it will not be in front of an audience."
Hermione was sure she heard giggling from Albus and Minerva, who didn't bother to hide their merriment, and Harry and Ron groaned. Draco simply smirked.
"Miss Granger, perhaps we should discuss the arrangements if you and I are to work together on your project," Severus said with a sweeping glare that included everyone else in the room.
"I trust you are no longer interested in moving to Beauxbatons, Severus."
Severus ignored the Headmaster pointedly and he motioned for the door, Hermione one step ahead and already moving that direction.
"I guess this means you'll help me?" she asked, smiling, as they passed the stone gargoyle protecting Dumbledore's office.
"It would appear so," he answered. "After your convincing research, it would be foolish not to."
They walked quietly for a few floors, until Severus stopped in a dark, secluded corner , and Hermione slowed and turned, taking a step back towards him.
"What is it?"
He stared at her, eyes burning with questions he was afraid to ask. This time, he initiated the kiss, hands uncertain where to go so he rested them lightly on her biceps, subtly urging her towards him. She hesitated, then leaned into the kiss, timidly placing her hands on his chest.
Loud giggling around the corner startled them and Hermione whipped around, her temper flaring as she did, pulling her wand from her robes and slashing it through the air. She turned and glared, seeming to grow in her anger as she stalked towards her captives.
"You will regret this."
"Come on, 'Mione, no harm intended," Ron pleaded as he struggled against the ropes that bound him to Harry and Draco. "I'm happy for you, honestly."
Severus couldn't help but admire the way she glared at them. A few years practice and she could rival his own.
"I think I know an appropriate punishment."
Severus watched her work, impressed with her efficiency and end result.
"How long until it wears off?" he asked, the corner of his mouth upturned.
"Well," Hermione said, "usually about six hours. But I'm sure, Mr Filch is bound to find them before too long. I think Peeves is going to make a mess of something over here, and soon."
"Miss Granger, I never would have expected you to have such Slytherin tendencies in revenge. Perhaps you were incorrectly sorted," he said with a sly smirk.
She laughed. "I think we both know I'm a Gryffindor. Though it will be quite the story, how Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Draco Malfoy were found naked in the broom closet, covered in baby oil and smelling of tequila."
"A legend in the making, no doubt," Severus answered. "And I shall remind Minerva everyday of that."
She laughed again and they started towards the dungeons.
"What was Dumbledore saying about Beauxbatons? Were you considering moving there?"
He nodded and smiled. "I considered it, on a very bad day."
Those of you waiting patiently for the next update of "All Secrets" ... well, it's coming, I promise. Now that this fic is out of the way, I can devote more time to it. I won't give a time estimate because I'm invariably wrong, but it's coming.