Title: Walking Into Bars
Chapter: The Limbo Rock or Who the Hell is Jimmy Buffet?
Authors: michmak and zambonigirl
It all started when Hermione Granger walked into a bar. Actually, that's not quite true. It all started when the ghosts of Hogwarts decided to throw their annual 'Start of Summer Party' in the main hallway that led to the library.
Normally, they would never do this of course, but it was the last day of school. How were they to know that their yearly game of Spectral Limbo would have such far reaching consequences?
Nearly Headless Nick had commented to the Bloody Baron after the dust had settled that it was a good thing they were all already dead, or Severus Snape would have killed them.
But let's begin at the beginning…..
Severus Snape watched Hermione Granger's ascent towards the library with interest. While all the other students were enjoying their newfound freedom, he found it quite amusing that the Gryffindor know-it-all whose entire persona was wrapped up in the ability to know the most mundane fact about the most tiresome subject could not quite leave the school.
She had been Valedictorian, naturally, with a 497 out of a potential 100 on her N.E.W.T. scores. Her anger at not receiving the 500 she had been reaching for was heard for days.
This was the day that Snape had been waiting for: Hermione Granger and her incessant hand waving and answer giving and question asking would be gone from his life indefinitely! But, it seemed, not before she finished whatever task it was that drew her back to the stairs leading towards…the library? What could the tiresome little wretch need to do at the library? Kiss her precious books good-bye?
Snape smirked and looked around; making sure no one was looking his way as he slid into the hallway, following her. She was up to no good. Deep in the very marrow of his bones, he knew it. After all, why would she be sneaking away before the actual party began, if it wasn't to do something she shouldn't be? Perhaps she was going to 'borrow' a few of her favorite books without any one's knowledge. It wasn't very Gryffindor of her, to be sure, but he had often thought that Miss Granger would have made a fine Slytherin, much as it galled him to admit it. After all, she had managed to steal ingredients from his potions labs….and she didn't love Boomslang Skin nearly as much as he knew she loved books.
Who knew what the chit was up too? But he was going to find out.
Hermione Granger was muttering to herself, an unfortunate habit Ron had told her actually made her look quite insane. Honestly though, she couldn't help it – especially when she had done something as spectacularly stupid as forgetting to return a library book.
Pince's repeated warnings echoed in her mind as she rushed down the corridor towards the library – the last time she had been late returning a book she had been told in no uncertain terms that if it ever happened again her borrowing privileges would be revoked. She certainly didn't want that to happen – she may be graduating, but each book at the Hogwarts library was like a friend to her, and the thought of never being able to visit them again was quite distressing.
Perhaps hearing music in the hallway where she wasn't expecting it was her ultimate downfall. Two years as Prefect and one year as Head Girl had instilled a sense of duty in her to stop all wrong doings lest she be faced with another Fred and George Weasley. Quickening her pace, Hermione began running in earnest towards the sound of the noise, surprised to hear bongos and steel drums instead of the usual Wizard Instruments that accompanied the sort of music that was allowed at Hogwarts.
Rounding a corner, she had only a second to take in the decorations of the hallway-all done up in Caribbean chic - and the dress of the School Ghosts - in calypso style clothing instead of the robes and dresses they had died in - when her head hit against a bar that she didn't even see in her haste.
Snape didn't see the bar either. Not until Hermione smacked headlong into it, the sound of her delicate skull reverberating against strong metal causing a gong that would make any church bell proud.
The gong was followed by the sound of a phonograph needle scraping across vinyl and the steady "whoosh" of spectral beings congregating together.
"She should have ducked," Sir Nicholas moaned. "Now look at her!"
"Is she dead?" Moaning Myrtle moaned.
"Hardly," the Bloody Baron was staring at the unconscious girl at his feet in distaste.
"How would you know?" Nearly Headless Nick tried to sound intimidating, but the garish neon hues of his Hawaiian shirt belied his effort.
"I'm a ghost aren't I?"
"Who invited her, anyway? She's alive! She shouldn't be here." Peeves – who failed to realize he hadn't been invited either and therefore shouldn't be complaining about party-crashers – demanded peevishly.
"What in the name of Merlin is going on here?" Snape bellowed, walking amidst the spirits to where Hermione's nearly lifeless body lay. "And why is there a bloody great bar hung across the hallway?"
Nearly Headless Nick was the first one to 'step' forward. "Professor Snape! Well, isn't this…"
"He's not dead either," Moaning Myrtle moaned. "What next? Me in a Headless Hunt?"
"Shut up, you great whining ninny," the Bloody Baron hissed as Sir Nick tried not to look offended at this reminder of the greatest failure of his dead life.
"Would. Someone. Please. Tell. Me. What. A. BAR. Is. Doing. In. The. Middle. Of. The. Hallway." Snape gritted out angrily, bending over the supine form of Miss Granger and feeling for a pulse at the base of her throat. "You could have killed someone!"
"If she hadn't been barreling pell mell down the hallway, this never would have happened," the Bloody Baron sniffed. "And it's not like any of us can bang our heads on that bar – we would simply go through it."
Snape was fast approaching critical mass. "I care less than nothing about the abilities of your 'bodies' to pass through things, and care even less for excuses. WHAT THE FUCK IS THE BAR DOING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HALLWAY!!!!!"
Nearly Headless Nick was chewing on his fingernails in dismay, "We were Limboing."
Snape stared at him blankly. "Limboing?"
"Limboing," confirmed Moaning Myrtle, "and I was winning! Why must every thing conspire against me in my moment of glory?"
The Bloody Baron rolled his eyes, "We are having our annual Start of Summer Party. This year's theme is the Caribbean, hence the Bermuda shorts and printed shirts. And the Limboing. Musn't forget that!"
"And the dreadful music I heard?" Snape muttered.
Nearly Headless Nick looked offended, "I'll have you know, Jimmy Buffet is a poet beyond merit. I have never been to Margaritaville myself, but his lyrical stylings make me long to go."
Snape found it hard to contain his rage, so he didn't even try. "I don't give a flying bludger about who was winning or where Margaritaville is! I want to know why you lot - spectral apparitions, non-corporeal beings, ghosts - require a bloody great, completely solid metal limbo bar!"
Sir Nick grunted and adjusted his collar. "Well. Just because we aren't corporeal doesn't mean that we deserve to be insulted in this manner. We appreciate being able to use solid matter to help us feel more human. Is that too much to ask?"
"You know," Snape grumbled, lifting Hermione to him, "I think it a great disservice that you have been given the nickname of Nearly Headless Nick. Nearly Brainless is more like it! Now, I am going to take Miss Granger to the infirmary, and if this bar isn't down by the time I get back, we're all going to find out if ghosts can die a second time!"
Nick sniffed as Snape stalked away. "Well…see if I ever invite him to my Death Day again."
Snape was muttering about limbo bars and Jimmy Buffet and bloody stupid ghosts when he kicked open the door to the infirmary and laid Hermione unceremoniously on a cot.
"Poppy!" he bellowed. "Where are you?"
"I'm right here, Professor Snape!" the old witch said in clipped tones. "Goodness, you'd think a student…Miss Granger! What happened?" She ran over to Hermione and whipped out her wand, intent on finding the source of the student's unconscious state.
"Miss Granger was running through the hallway and ran headlong into a bar, as far as I can tell," Snape muttered.
"A bar? What do you mean?" Poppy was diligently searching through Hermione's robes, and found the past-due library book in Hermione's pocket.
"The ghosts were having a…well, I suppose a limbo party." And listening to someone called Jimmy Buffet, Snape added silently. What he wouldn't give for a nice Margarita right about now…on the rocks…salt…and a shot of grenadine…
"I don't know what to make of this," Poppy said in a tone that Snape had never heard before.
"Make of what?" he was growing more and more uneasy as the moments went on.
"Well, she has quite a nasty bump on her head, but I dare say it shouldn't have knocked her out, I don't think."
"Especially since we all know how hardheaded she is," Snape agreed snidely. "So – what do you propose we do?"
Poppy was tutting under her breath, her brow creased as she mumbled incantations over Granger's prone form, before she turned to him. "I think all that's needed is a small dose of 'Pepper-Up' and she'll be right as rain."
Snape shrugged and picked up the book Poppy had pulled from Granger's robes moments before, thumbing through it distractedly and trying to pretend he wasn't watching the medi-witch as she forced a dollop of the smoking potion down the younger girls' throat.
He tried to ignore the slight feeling of relief that washed over him as Granger choked and gasped and opened her large cinnamon eyes, blinking owlishly as the pupils dilated, before turning her focus on him. The hesitant smile that flitted across her face as he quickly schooled his features into their regular scowl did not go unnoticed by him.
"I trust you are feeling better now, Miss Granger?" he demanded, smirking as her eyes widened slightly at his sneering tones.
"Miss Granger?" she replied, "Severus, since when do you call me Miss Granger?" Her forehead creased in confusion, before a sudden blush flared across her face and her smile widened. He had never noticed the tiny dimple lurking at the left corner of her mouth before, and was momentarily entranced before it occurred to him she had called him Severus.
Poppy was watching the two of them keenly, eyes bright, as she carefully recorded the fact that Hermione Granger was calling her Potions Master by his first name and she had blushed in his presence. Snape scowled at her.
"When have I ever called you anything but, you exasperating chit!" he growled. "And who gave you permission to use my first name?"
Hermione grinned fondly at him. "What else do you want me to call you, Husband? You told me you like the way I say your name," her voice lowered huskily as she said this last bit, sending images of pale limbs tangled around his into his brain before he could stop them; her voice whispering his name into his ear; skin sliding against skin.
A painful blush flared on Snape's cheeks, twin flames of red against the pale white of the rest of him. "Husband? Husband??" he managed to gasp out, his eyes rolling wildly in Poppy's direction before landing on Granger's face again. "I would sooner marry a…a…Harpy…" he grasped for an appropriate insult, practically choking on his words before finding one that seemed to suit, "than tie myself to the likes of you! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, YOU STUPID GIRL!"
Hermione bit her lip, unsure how to respond, until she noticed she was wearing her schoolgirl uniform. Playing thoughtfully with the pleats in her skirt she looked up at him again from under her eyebrows, her eyes gleaming. "Severus, if you wanted to play Potions Master / Student again, all you had to do was ask. However did you get me in my old school uniform without me realizing it? And why am I in the infirmary?"
Snape was so enraged that all he could do was open his mouth, but no words would come forth.
"Perhaps I should go and fetch Professor Dumbledore…" Poppy said quietly, sliding towards the door.
"What?" Snape asked, aghast. "You can't just…leave me with her!"
But it was too late – Poppy had already left.
"Thank Nimue she's gone," Hermione breathed against Snape's ear. Snape wondered briefly how she had managed to slide from her bed so silently, but the feel of her pressing into him and the slightly husky voice against his neck was very distracting. "I want you inside me so badly…"
Snape jumped away from Hermione, ignoring the strange heat building inside him, and tried to put a rolling tray between them. "Oh, I think you have enough people in there already," he retorted.
"Severus, why are you acting so oddly?" Hermione was pouting at him as she advanced, zigging where he zagged. Her lower lip was pushed out deliciously, all wet and pink, and he briefly wondered what it would taste like if he sucked it into his mouth. Her eyes flared seductively as they tracked his movements, her hair hanging wildly down her back, the light from the wall sconces flickering over the brown curls, making the odd strand flare golden. She was hunting him like a cat hunts a mouse. If she wasn't his student, if she wasn't such an overbearing know-it-all he hated, if she didn't hate him in return when she wasn't start raving mad – he might have been tempted to let himself be caught.
Obviously the madness was catching.
She finally managed to grab the small cart firmly enough to push it out of her way, her tiny hands grabbing him by the lapels of his frock coat before one slid up around his neck and anchored itself firmly in the hair at his nape. Her fingernails scratched against his scalp lazily, sending little sparks of electricity through his body. Almost against his will, he leant the weight of his head back into her palm and tried to convince himself he wasn't really enjoying her touch.
Her other arm slid down his chest, gliding around his waist before coming to rest against his left buttock and squeezing it gently. He could feel her breath as she giggled against his exposed throat and tried not to yelp when he felt her tongue trace the cord of his neck.
"Miss Granger, unhand me this instant!" he managed to grit out. His hands were now on her shoulder blades, clenching and unclenching spasmodically, as he tried to garner the will to push her away.
Of course, Albus would choose that precise moment to stride in. Bad enough that the silly, delicious chit had him cornered against the wall and was squeezing his ass and sucking his throat. Bad enough that his traitorous body seemed to be enjoying it, but to be caught – by the headmaster – in this position with a student, allowing said student to take such liberties with his person…well, that was beyond the pale.
With a deep breath, he forced his unwilling hands to push her away, before turning to face Albus. The Headmaster merely grinned at him. "Severus, you are looking somewhat…disheveled. The look suits you."
Snape grimaced and awkwardly adjusted his coat and ran his hands through his hair in an attempt to smooth it. Hermione had sidled up to him again and was grinning at him impishly, picking invisible pieces of lint from his clothes and trying to help him smooth his hair.
"Miss Granger…" he growled dangerously.
"Severus…" she growled back. Merlin's balls, but the growl was sexy. It hit him right in the solar plexus and reverberated through his being. The irresponsible little baggage was trying to kill him, or at the very least get him fired.
"Albus, I can explain…" Snape started, but the Headmaster merely waved his hands at him. "No need, no need. Poppy already told me about Hermione's unfortunate accident."
The older man twinkled at Hermione, "My dear, how are you feeling?"
Hermione smiled at the older man. "I feel fine, Albus," she replied, linking her arm through Snapes', "Although, I must admit my head is slightly tender."
'That's to be expected dear," Poppy bustled forth, "After all, you did walk into a bar."
"Sounds like the beginnings of a bad Muggle joke," Hermione grinned. "I'm sure the headache will go away with a little rest. Severus, if you wouldn't mind escorting me back to our quarters?"
That whole last sentence was laden with such blatant innuendo that Snape felt his eyebrows climb into his hairline. He looked at Hermione incredulously, "Absolutely not! If you think, for one moment…"
"Severus, a word if you please?" Albus interrupted firmly. Snape snapped his mouth shut and spun on his heel, following the older man to the other side of the infirmary.
"Lemon drop?" Albus twinkled at him, when they stopped walking. Snape glared at him. "No? Fine, fine…no need to be rude, my boy."
"Rude?" Snape responded angrily, "Rude? When I have to deal with that…that…bushy-haired know-it-all accosting me and claiming she's my wife? I'll have you know, Albus, I have never – NEVER – ever laid so much as a finger on that child until today and then only to push her away…"
"She's a young woman, Severus," Albus chided gently, "and no one is accusing you of anything. Although, from where I stood, it didn't look like you'd gotten around to pushing her away yet."
Snape knew the older man was teasing, but that didn't prevent him from practically choking on his anger. "She caught me off guard," his eyes flashed, "I wasn't expecting her to grope my ass." This last part was hissed, "Nor was I prepared when she licked my throat."
"Yes, yes," Albus teased, "Hermione has always been full of surprises." He placed a placating hand on the younger mans shoulders. "But I fear you cannot tell her that she is not your wife. You must play along in the role of husband until we can figure out how to cure her."
"Are. You. MAD?" Snape all but screamed, before lowering his voice. "Why in the world would you want me to do that?"
"Severus, don't you understand what's going on here?" Albus asked quietly.
"Yes sir, I do. Miss Granger has gone completely mad. What's more is it seems to be contagious!"
"No, no, my boy. She has a rare sort of amnesia. Poppy said that she hit her head, and you brought her in here, and then she gave her a Pepper-Up potion. When she awoke, she was acting this way. Is that correct?"
Snape nodded. "What has all this got to do with anything? Hitting one's head on a metal bar should be no more harmful than being hit by a bludger."
"But Severus, you're forgetting that Miss Granger is Muggle-born. Muggle ailments do not affect Wizards, but they most certainly will affect her. I believe that combining Hermione's head injury with the Pepper-Up potion created a sort of magical phenomenon. Severus, Hermione truly believes that she is married to you."
Snape gaped at the older man. "Why in the world would she think she was married to me?"
"Perhaps because you are the one that found her," Albus replied, "or perhaps she is merely expressing her subconscious desires to be attached to you in some way."
"I don't think so," Snape snorted. "And it's beside the point anyway. I refuse – absolutely refuse – to let this farce continue any longer. I will not pretend that she is my wife…"
"Telling her the truth may drive her quite insane," Albus interrupted. "It would be such a tragedy for the Wizarding world to lose a mind like hers…"
Snape sneered, "What are you talking about?"
"We cannot heal her magically, that is obvious," Albus replied. "We must let her heal in her own time. If we force her to recognize the truth before she is ready…well, she could suffer the same fate as my dear half-cousin Merriam."
"Who is Merriam?" Snape asked suspiciously. "I don't think I've ever heard of her before."
'No, you wouldn't have – quite before you're time, I daresay," Albus replied sadly. "She was my mother's sister's daughter. My aunt had married a Muggle, and Merriam was their only child. Quite a beautiful girl, actually. She was very gifted magically. Like Miss Granger, she also suffered a blow to the head, which sent her into a coma. A doctor at St. Mungo's forced her awake and ever after, poor Merriam would have unfortunate bouts of – well, let's just say when she became overly excited about anything she thought she was a cow. She would 'Moo' for hours."
"What is it with your family and farm animals?" Snape muttered. "Was she ever cured?"
"Of thinking she was a cow? Yes, eventually. But we could never seem to rid her of her propensity to break into show tunes at the drop of a hat."
"Yes…you know, 'Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!' " the older man warbled at Snape, much to the younger man's dismay. "Oklahoma was a particular favorite of hers."
"And you're telling me that exposing Miss Granger to the truth could send her over the edge?" Snape sounded faintly incredulous, as one does when one can't believe what is happening to them.
"She could become mad as a hatter," Albus agreed. "It is imperative you play along, Severus."
"But what about her parents? Her friends? Won't they tell her the truth?"
"I've thought of that," Albus agreed, "and I think the best thing to do right now is to send you on a little vacation. I have a beautiful little villa, completely unplottable, in Greece. You can take her there for a little while, and I'll explain the situation to everyone here. By the time you are ready to return, no one will tell Hermione the truth about anything."
"But..but...Albus," Snape finally managed to choke out, "She thinks we're married. What if she expects…well. Hmphf. What if she wants…"
"Conjugal relations with her husband?" Albus twinkled at the younger man. "I'm sure you'll do whatever is in Hermione's best interests."
"Just tell her that Poppy told you in no uncertain terms that…that part of your relationship is strictly off-limits until her concussion is no longer an issue. And if you can't put her off…well, let's just say I have every belief that you could both be pleasantly surprised by what you discover."
Snape gaped at the older man, "She's my student, Albus."
"Not anymore she's not," Albus retorted, twinkling merrily. "Really, Severus. I know you will do your best not to harm her, but a little bit of physical affection might not be amiss. As a matter of fact, it might even be necessary to play along with her belief that you are married. If you withhold from her completely, it could send her into a tailspin from which she'll never recover."
"So you're saying I should…"
"I'm not saying anything," Albus interrupted. "But it won't kill you to hug her, or hold her hand, or even kiss her if it's something she needs. You've been a spy for me for over twenty years, Severus. Surely, in all that time, you've learned how to act the part. So – act the part of the doting husband with her. Let her believe that you are married; that you do love her and hold her in high regard if that's what's required to keep her mentally sound."
"And when she recovers?" Snape queried, "What then?"
"I'm sure she'll realize that everything you did was for her benefit, dear boy. After all, you are both adults."
Snape rolled his eyes, "I sincerely doubt that."
Albus clapped him on the shoulder. "We've been standing here too long. I'll have the house-elves pack your things and send them to the villa. Fortunately, I have a portkey with me in one of these pockets…" Albus started patting himself absently. "Why don't you go gather Hermione, Severus, and tell her of your plans to whisk her away on a romantic honeymoon."
Snape tried to ignore the older man's chuckle as he did just that. Damn Miss Granger and her clumsiness! Damn her brown eyes and sweet lips and seductive little growl. Most of all, damn himself for realizing that even if he did hate her – and he did, he assured himself – he also found her oddly intriguing and sexy.
He hoped they wouldn't need to stay in Greece for too long. If she continued in her sexual assaults on his person, he would more than likely hex her into the next century, Azkaban be damned!
Zambonigirl - I'm happy to be writing with my friend Mich again. I thought I'd lost track of her after she took me to Vegas and got me drunk on Yard-Long Margaritas, but now we're back and as indestructible as ever! Thanks to all the wonderful readers who look at our stand-alone stories, as well as this combined effort.
Michmak - Zambi and I have a strange propensity for putting characters we love in strange situations (i.e. men in thongs and ladies underwear) I'm not saying that's gonna happen to Snape in this fic at all, but I'm warning you now - things could get weird.