Chapter Two - Last Minute Details

Severus was still asleep, sprawled on his stomach, when Ginny banged on the door just after seven the next morning. Hermione woke instantly then watched for a moment, curious to see if her pounding would wake him. Severus snored on, so she climbed out of bed, tugging on her robes as she went to the door. She eased into the hall and pulled the door shut behind her.

"Morning Ginny," she yawned. "I thought we weren't meeting until nine."

"Is it true?" Ginny asked, a hint of disbelief, of hope on her face.

Hermione sighed. Doubtless everyone in the castle knew - or would soon enough. She wasn't sure how fascinating the news would be outside of Hogwarts, though a mention of it in The Quibbler was to be expected. Harry probably sent Hedwig off in a flurry to Luna last night. And if not, she was certain to see her this afternoon, what with Ginny having her as a bridesmaid.

"Is what true?" she asked tiredly.

"Did you…" she trailed off and her cheeks flamed scarlet. "Did you - did you sleep with Snape last night?"

"Why don't you ask him yourself?"

Ginny froze, unable to move as Hermione pushed open the door. Thankfully - for Ginny's sake, and for hers as well - Severus still lay snoring, but he now lay on his back and the sheet tented from an enormous erection. Ginny's eyes went wide and she stood speechless as her eyes darted back to Hermione, who closed the door mercifully and arched an expectant eyebrow at her friend.

Ginny gaped for another moment before finally saying, "Blimey, Hermione. I'm a bit jealous."

She was taken aback; she had expected denial, revulsion, anger, anything but jealousy.

"It's just … Neville isn't really -"

"Look Ginny, let's talk about this over food. I'll get dressed and we can have a nice breakfast and meet your mum later."

Ginny agreed and they decided to meet downstairs in twenty minutes. As Ginny walked away, Hermione went back inside. At the sound of the door closing, Severus stirred and opened an eye.

"Miss Weasley?" he managed between yawns.

"Yes, and it seems there may be a crisis," she sighed, shucking her robes and searching the pile of clothes in the chair for her underthings.



He propped himself up on the headboard. "There usually is a crisis surrounding Mr Longbottom. You should know that best of all, given the number of times you assisted him in Potions, despite my expressly forbidding it."

"He's better now, and you know it," she said with a bit of a pout.

Severus snorted. He leaned over and grasped Hermione by the wrist, pulling her into his lap.

"Hey," she protested weakly as he kissed along the line of her bra and his free hand cupped a breast. "I have to meet Ginny in twenty minutes."

"I only need five," he murmured before sinking his teeth into the tender flesh of her breast, and she could feel his grin as she gasped.

"I suppose I could be a little late," she said, pushing him back into the pillows.

Hermione was indeed late, by fifteen minutes, though Ginny was sensible enough to figure out why she would be late and that it would be in her best interests to not go looking for her. She blushed when she saw her former professor descending the stairs behind Hermione, but Severus seemed unaware that he himself was the cause.

"Good morning Miss Weasley," he gravely intoned. "All prepared for your nuptials?"

"Hello Professor. All but the last minute details."

"I would think marrying Mr Longbottom would entail mostly last minute details. I hope he is more organised now than as a student."

"Severus," Hermione chided with a swat to the arm.

"Once a Longbottom…" he drawled with a smirk to Ginny who was watching him with wide eyes, not knowing how to respond to what seemed to be a playful Snape. He swivelled back to Hermione. "You will be back for dinner?"

"Yes. Albus has arranged a feast in honour of Ginny and Neville - which you would know should you pay attention in staff meetings - but then we're off for Ginny's hen night."

An elegant eyebrow lifted. "Unchaperoned?"

"We're grown witches, we hardly need a chaperone," Hermione huffed, giving him a close approximation of one of his trademark glares. "Besides, how could we enjoy the male strippers with a chaperone?"

He snorted. "Perhaps I should send along Mr Malfoy. Very well. Do make sure Miss Weasley doesn't find a more … capable wizard."

Ginny flushed. Hermione looked questioningly at her friend then at Severus, who gave a minute shrug. She stretched up to peck his cheek and he strolled off to the dungeons.

"What was that about a more capable wizard?" Hermione asked once they were out in the July sun and on their way to the front gates.

"I should ask you that!" Ginny fumed. "What did you say to him after I left this morning?"

"Nothing!" She raised her hands in defence. "I told him that we were going for breakfast and then we - we got distracted and that was it." She peered at her friend. "Why? Is this about what you wanted to talk to me about earlier?"

Ginny nodded miserably.

Hermione gave an exasperated sigh. "You'd think he would have better manners. He is a Legilimens though I doubt he would use it so indiscriminately. However, if something was bothering you, it's possible he simply picked up on it without effort," she mused. "Come on, let's get breakfast and you can tell me all about it."

When they reached the front gates they debated where to eat breakfast and quickly decided upon the Leaky Cauldron. It was nearing eight o'clock and they were supposed meet Molly - and the others - at nine at Madam Malkin's, so the Leaky Cauldron had the benefit of being nearby.

They apparated to the small alley behind the pub and entered through the back door. Tom waved hello as they made their way to an empty table and he joined them shortly.

"Good morning ladies," he said brightly. "I hear you're to be married, Miss Weasley!"

Ginny forced a smile. "Yes, tomorrow."

"Well, congratulations! I'm sure it will be a happy time."

"Thanks," she said weakly.

"What can I get you ladies?"

"I don't know about you Ginny, but I'm famished," Hermione said. "I want eggs, sausage, the whole lot."

"Just tea, thanks."

Tom disappeared and Hermione gave her a look.

"You aren't going to eat? Then there must be something wrong. I've never known a Weasley not to be ravenous."

"I don't know," she sighed, looked to her hands. "I should be happy, I'm getting married."

"You're not happy?"

It was the first Hermione had heard of it. Another sigh.

"Ginny, tell me. What's wrong?"

Ginny was spared the necessity an immediate reply by Tom's return with the tea and she studiously avoided Hermione's gaze as she fixed her tea. Hermione ignored hers in favour of watching Ginny. Finally, tea prepared, Ginny relented and spoke.

"Sex with Harry was always …" she trailed off, searching for the right word, oblivious to Hermione's blanch at the swerve in conversation to Ginny's former sex life with one of her oldest friends, "passionate, intense. But with Neville -"


"Don't worry, I'm not about to give you unwanted details, no more than I'd want to hear about you and the Professor," she said sharply and Hermione looked abashed. "Neville and I - well, I've never actually had it with him."

"Had what with -" Hermione started to ask but the words died on her tongue as Ginny's words sunk in and took shape, leaving Hermione in the slightly ridiculous pose with her mouth open in mid-sentence. After a few seconds, normal brain function resumed and she forced herself to stop gawping like a fish. "You mean, two years and you and Neville…."

"Never. Not one bloody shag. And let me tell you, I've made every attempt. I've got him drunk, used lust potions, fancy Muggle lingerie, and nothing worked! None of it!"

"Have you tried talking to him?" ventured Hermione, aware that she was perhaps the least equipped person to handle this crisis; before last night, Hermione had been on an involuntary holiday from sex for nearly a year. Perhaps she should direct Ginny to Dumbledore as it seemed the old codger was getting more from Minerva than he could handle.

Ginny looked at her as if she had suggested try flobberworms for breakfast.

"Talk to him? And how should I do that? 'Oy, Neville, I know we've been together only a few years now, but is there a reason we haven't yet fucked?' Oh I imagine that would go down well!"

"So you would rather broach the subject on your wedding night? The night you should be having lots and lots of sex? Just avoid the issue and it will simply resolve itself, right?" Ginny scowled at her and Hermione sighed, her demeanour softening. "So for two years you've been celibate? I can't imagine you -"

Though her face remained impassive, Ginny's ears turned pink and Hermione narrowed her eyes.

"You haven't been celibate, have you? Ginevra Weasley!"

"I held out for over a year!" she cried out in her own defence. "You don't know how hard it is -"

"To go that long without a shag? Oh yes I do!"

"While having a wonderfully sweet and attentive boyfriend who will do any bloody thing for you but fuck you?"

Hermione pleaded, "Just tell me it wasn't Harry." She knew the answer before Ginny even thought to open her mouth; it was plain as day on her face so she shook her head. "Oh, for fuck's sake. Does Neville know?"

"Are you daft? I'm not so stupid to go running off spilling my guts over my indiscretions because my conscience was pricked."

"Good girl. So what are you going to do?"

"I don't know."

Hermione thought for a moment then said, "Well, I don't think you should marry Neville without addressing that particular, erm, problem." Ginny nodded forlornly. "And the wedding is tomorrow, you do remember."

"Of course I remember," she snapped. "It is my wedding."

Tom arrived just then with Hermione's food and Ginny watched with unfeigned disgust as she tore into the eggs and sausage, stopping only to spread jam on her toast.

"So tell me: how was Snape?"

"Severus -" laid careful emphasis on the name - "was brilliant. Moved the heavens and all that," Hermione said drolly. She took a bite of toast and eyed her friend. "Do you really want to know or are you merely being polite?"

Ginny scoffed, "When have you known anyone in my family to be polite?"

"Point taken."

Hermione chewed thoughtfully as she considered how much to tell Ginny and how much Ginny could take. She was sensitive to the fact few people could approach the subject of Severus Snape rationally and that number would shrink exponentially when it came to discussing his sex life.

"So what happened?" Ginny prompted. "I didn't realise you were even interested in Sn-Severus."

"You know we remained friends after I quit teaching."

Ginny snorted as she remembered the times Hermione had blown off her other friends at some party to lurk about the shadows with Snape. When confronted with that behaviour, Hermione always denied anything more than friendship with the dark figure.

Hermione chose to ignore her and continued, "Well, when I was here teaching, I did fancy him a bit - he's so brilliant and brooding -" she blushed and quickly changed tack when she realised the direction her words were flowing, which only made Ginny giggle - "but nothing ever came of it. That is, until last night, when he caught me in the kitchens in, well, not much more than my knickers, and we probably would have had it right there except the old goat wandered in and interrupted us."

Ginny, who had been sipping her tea, froze in mid-swig and very nearly spit out the mouthful onto Hermione.

"Oh no! He caught you? Bloody hell!"

"Not completely caught. Severus knew he was coming - Legilimency, probably - so we were able to adopt a respectable appearance."

"And Bumbledore probably wanted to chat all night about how Minerva darns his socks so nicely."

"Oh, if only," she answered, pulling a face. "He started to tell us about his sex life with Minerva!"

Ginny was aghast.

"Thankfully I had you as an excuse to slip out. And Albus, brilliant one that he is, finally realised what he'd walked in on and sent Severus to walk me back. I'm sure he thinks he's responsible for everything now."

"He most certainly told McGonagall last night who will more than likely tell Mum over breakfast, which means Mum will want to interrogate you too."

"I should have expected as much. Sleep with one ex-professor and your life goes under the microscope." She laughed when Ginny gave her a funny look and said, "It's a muggle tool used to look at things in tiny detail."

"And why would they want to do that?"

"Science is to the muggle world what magic is here. Scientists study things in depth to gain understanding, just as the Ministry constantly researches spells and potions."


"I'll see if my parents can't dig up a microscope. I'm sure your dad would love one." Ginny snorted. "As I was saying, hopefully your mum will take it better than Ron and Harry. I'm not sure I can deal with her nagging today."

"Forget those two twats; they're just jealous and don't want to share you. Mum will be thrilled that Snape - Severus," she amended at Hermione's look, "has the love good woman."

Hermione's eyebrows danced. "Love?"

"How about, he has the fucking of a good woman?"

"You can tell Molly that," Hermione said with a smirk. "What about you? What do you think about it?"

Ginny drank her tea and sat pensively for a moment before answering, "As long as he treats you alright, I wouldn't mind you seeing Lucius Malfoy."

"That's hardly the same thing! Malfoy's a convicted Death Eater and Severus won an Order of Merlin!"

"You must like him to get so riled up. If you're happy with the overgrown bat, then who am I to say anything?"

Hermione gave a half-hearted glare but Ginny's grin superseded it, so she returned to eating her meal. Once she was finished and the bill paid, they walked down Diagon Alley towards Madam Malkin's. Molly Weasley was waiting impatiently outside.

"Ginny, I thought you were going to eat breakfast with us in the Great Hall! I had to make your excuses to everyone."

"Sorry, Mum. Hermione and I decided to eat at the Leaky Cauldron instead."

Molly turned an eye to Hermione and smiled. "Hermione dear. I hear good things about you and Severus! Of course, nothing from him," at that she gave a frown, "but Minerva was positively gushing over it! I'm so happy for both of you!"

Molly pushed into the shop and Ginny gave Hermione a discrete I-warned-you look accompanied by a roll of the eyes as they followed her.

"I can't imagine why Professor Snape wouldn't want to discuss his love life with you, Mum."

"There's no need to keep something like that a secret!"

"Severus is a private person, Molly, and I think he would want to discuss it as much as I would," Hermione said politely.

Molly didn't get the hint. "Nonsense! Everyone will be perfectly thrilled that the two of you are matched off. Soon we'll have another wedding to plan!"

At Hermione's terrified look, Ginny came to her friend's aid, "Mum, they spent the night together. I'm sure neither has even thought about marriage yet. Neville and I went together a year before the word even came up! And we all know what happened with Harry. He wouldn't know what to do married."

Her mother's face dropped at the mention of Harry. Everyone knew her partiality to the boy, despite everything that happened. Not that she disliked Neville. She was particularly fond of the boy: his grandmother had raised such a polite and respectful young man that Molly took an immediate liking to him. But Neville Longbottom certainly was no Harry Potter.

"Poor Harry, I hope he is coping with you getting married and all," she said as she examined a set of crimson dress robes, her voice laced with unnatural sorrow.

Hermione desperately wanted to look away but felt compelled to watch the enfolding scene between mother and daughter. Ginny's cheeks reddened and she glared at Molly.

"Harry deserves what he gets."

"I know the poor dear was heartbroken with your decision to marry Neville."

"I'm sure he was heartbroken. For all the time it took him to find another girl to fuck!"

"Ginevra Molly Weasley!"

The day disappeared quickly and soon it was time for Albus's feast. Ginny, Hermione, and Molly had arrived with the other girls who were participating in the wedding - Angelina Johnson, Fred's long-time, on-again-off-again girlfriend, Luna Lovegood, and Elenor Branstone and Laura Madley, a couple of witches who worked with Ginny at the Ministry.

Albus, with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop, led Hermione away from Ginny's group and the seat she was about to take between Ron and Fred, instead leading her to Severus. Harry and Ron glowered at Severus, and at her as well, as though she had a part in it. It was perfectly obvious to her that Albus was meddling again. Knowing the same as Hermione did not, however, prevent Severus from sending them a rather malignant smirk as she sat down beside him and laid a hand on his wrist in greeting.

The two boys - and how could they be anything else as they sat scheming - muttered angrily amongst themselves, throwing an occasional dirty look to the far end of the table which both Hermione and Severus ignored.

The feast was wonderful, one to rival any of the Hogwarts feasts, but on a much smaller scale. Roast chicken, roast beef, pork chops, Cornish pasties, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes of every kind, vegetables, cheeses, puddings, sweets. Hermione couldn't help but smile at Ron and Harry's exclamations when the food began to appear. Good times, she thought.

Dinner was pleasant enough. Albus had the sense to mind his manners in front of Hermione and made no attempts to pry information from either, simply leaving them to their quiet conversation.

Severus made enquiries to her day and she told him of Madam Malkin's and Molly and Luna's insistent questions, a few even rational and relevant, such as Will Severus be at the wedding then? He told her he wouldn't miss it for the sheer entertainment it promised and his chest grew unaccustomedly tight when she beamed at him.

After dinner, most stayed for the port, though Hermione rose from her seat with a nod to Ginny.

"Off to your strippers," Severus drawled, his voice as slippery as the look he gave her.

She smiled, leaned down and whispered in his ear while a hand strayed partway up the inside of his thigh. "If it makes you feel better, I'll be thinking of you."

His eyes closed and he let out a sharp breath as her tongue snaked along his ear for a fraction of a second, hand squeezing his thigh and a stab of desire coursed through him, his cock jerking drowsily. She felt the shudder and smiled sweetly at him as she stood and crossed the room to Ginny and her friends, knowing his smouldering eyes followed her the entire way.

Albus poured Severus the first glass of port before pouring his own and passing it on to Minerva. Severus took his glass and sipped and deftly avoided all attempts by the headmaster to pry into the status of things with Hermione. Finally the old man tired of his one-sided conversation with an unresponsive side of Severus's face and returned his affections to Minerva. Severus surveyed the table with his thoughts purposefully generic in case the old man attempted any subterfuge, though lately the old man's stratagems were limited to non sequiturs and proffering of sweets, often utilised together.

Harry and Ron had quit their scheming in order to consume alcohol, and were laughing boisterously at something Neville had just said. Really, he couldn't see what Ginny Weasley was doing marrying that fucking idiot.

He knew Ginny was … unhappy with Neville. From the brush with her early that morning, she had been so agitated that he couldn't help but sense it though it would have been appallingly rude to probe further. Ginny had been embarrassed, which could also have been attributed to finding out her best friend was sleeping with her hated ex-professor and not what he had sensed about Neville. Neville, on the other hand, was giving off strange feelings of his own, but Minerva cut rudely into his thoughts before he could discern anything else.

"Really, Severus. I would have thought this tryst with Hermione Granger would make you relax a bit."

He turned a glare to her, but she was impervious, gaining strength from the port. She even smiled at him knowingly.

"Oh come now, Severus. I could see your gloating when she settled in the chair beside you."

"I was simply holding it over Potter and Weasley," Severus sneered.

"Very childish, indeed."

"Rather like a jealous lover," Albus corrected, and Severus's look turned mutinous. "Severus is not so childish that he would gloat unless it was over something truly important."

Minerva said, "Or someone truly important."

"I will not tolerate such conjecture regarding my private life." Severus glared and rose from his seat. "I will not deign to ask you to refrain from such speculation outside my presence because I know how the two of you delight in plotting my future happiness."

He whirled, robes swirling and he stalked from the Great Hall without a backward glance, but he could hear the laughter of Albus and Minerva echo in the doorway behind him. Once outside, the snarl was gone and he relaxed. He could always count on one of them to offer him an opportunity to leave early.

Severus paced the halls like a caught leopard, waiting impatiently for a chance to claw his way to freedom. He sullenly wished students were present so he could at least have the joy of taking House Points rather than just stalk the halls without purpose. Certainly he had potions to brew for Poppy and supplies to take stock of and reorder, but he didn't want to be in the dungeons and his legs kept propelling him through the corridors.

It took him nearly half an hour to extrapolate the true reason for his sudden take to exercise, and another half hour of his mind disputing it before he could view the idea rationally. He was anxious for Hermione's return. He had developed an affection for the girl despite all previous thoughts to the contrary, despite his reluctance to the idea when broached by Minerva and Albus.

What had occurred last night had all appearances - to him, at least - of being a … normal sexual encounter between friends; it was just as if he and Minerva - he forbid his mind from going further down that slippery slope. But after dinner tonight, he desired, no, craved the presence of that girl. No, not girl any longer; that bushy-haired know-it-all he remembered from class had disappeared to be replaced by a woman with breasts and hips and brains, no less.

Harry and Ron caught him on his third trip through the fourth floor, surprising him as they stepped out of the shadows. He cursed himself for being so lost in thought that those two arses had snuck up on him. Severus trusted them even less than his Slytherins and his hand hovered menacingly, clearly broadcasting his distrust. Ron and Harry, however, stood with their hands loosely at their sides and attempted to display themselves as non-threatening.

"What do you want?"

"Look Snape, we're sorry about being prats last night, but you know, Hermione's like a sister," Ron began.

"We can't help but look out for her best interests," Harry added.

"Even when her best interests conflict with yours?" he asked snidely and Harry shrugged.

"I didn't know they conflicted."

Severus eyed them for a moment and contemplated raising the issue of how they like to keep Hermione around as a one-woman cheer squad, but then thought that Hermione seemed the kind of modern witch who liked to fight her own battles. He would let it pass for now, though encourage her later to discuss the matter with the boys at length, so long as he was present.

"Then what is it you want? You didn't come round just to apologise."

"Ah, well," Ron began and his courage rose with Harry's encouraging nod, "we were going up to the Three Broomsticks tonight to celebrate with Neville because he's getting married, and since you're, you know, with Hermione and what not, we thought you might be interested in joining us."

Severus stared at Ron as if he'd suddenly grown an extra appendage before smoothly shifting his stare to Harry. They were scheming, he could feel it, but the idea of a plot intrigued him. He knew they wouldn't attempt anything too foolish for risking Hermione's wrath and he could still hold his own with a wand, even against the Boy-Who-Lived-Despite-All-Odds.

"Very well."

Ron gave a startled look to Harry, who shrugged it off. Severus held back a smirk; they had expected to have to coax him into going along with their plan. Perhaps the evening would be more eventful than he had anticipated.

In short order, Severus was seated at a table in the Three Broomsticks while the other occupants stared at him intently. He remembered the faces but not all the names, and thankfully Potter re-introduced everyone around the table. Fred and George Weasley, of course he remembered, and their friend, Lee Jordan. Longbottom, how could he forget; Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, neither of whom seemed to have made any sort of impression on him at all.

They still stared at him, as they were all attempting to get a handle on Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley showing up to Neville's stag night with Hogwarts' least favourite professor, ever. No one spoke, and Severus smirked at Harry and Ron, who had clearly not discussed this plan with anyone, as they eyed one another.

"Uh, he's, you know, with Hermione now," Ron said helpfully. "She would want us to, erm, bring him along."

A chorus of Ohs and Severus arched an eyebrow. No one seemed particularly surprised or taken aback so he surmised they had already heard about his now infamous liaison with Hermione Granger. Fred and George smirked at each other then at Lee as he grudgingly handed over a Sickle. Neville eyed Severus cautiously and nodded absently when Seamus leaned over and whispered something in his ear.

"Mr Weasley is correct. I am with-" a smirk to Ron - "Hermione."

Ron looked sick for a moment then forced a smile as Harry sat down beside Severus. "What'll you have, Professor?"

"I'm sorry, I don't drink butterbeer, Potter," he drawled, and the twins and Lee laughed outright.

"Let's go somewhere else," Seamus said. "We'd be better off drinking the piss over at the Hogs Head. At least we'd be getting drunk."

"I could go for a pint," Fred piped up. "There's a place in Diagon Alley we go to all the time."

"Oh right," said George. "We could get in a few games of darts too."

"As long as Lee doesn't get a turn," Fred answered.

"Oy! I was just really pissed that one time and you know it!"

It was quickly settled and they agreed to apparate to Diagon Alley and meet at the Red Lion - Potter and Weasley positively snickered at Severus when he scowled at the name, before they resumed plotting. Moments later, they arrived in Diagon Alley, just down the street from the twins' modest operation.

Severus was relieved to find the Red Lion was not decorated as such, nor was the owner a former Gryffindor; it was quite demure in navy blue and walnut furniture and panelling, the walls bare save a spare amount of quidditch paraphernalia.

Harry and Ron situated themselves firmly beside Severus when they settled at a table. Fred and George picked up the first round and went to the bar with the drink orders - bitter for everyone but Seamus, who would have a whisky, please.

Conversation carefully edged around him, and Severus made no direct attempt at entering either, to the general relief of the table. The twins returned with the drinks shortly and Harry jumped up quickly to assist in handing out the drinks, and Severus did not fail to notice that he received his last. He surreptitiously sniffed his as he made to take a drink, taking a small sip take the appearance of a large gulp. He could taste it, the slight cut in the sharpness of the beer, an almost sweet tickle.

Harry and Ron were watching him, discreetly they hoped but he could feel their eyes on him even as he observed the rest of the table in conversation. He wasn't sure what Potter had slipped him and he wasn't keen on drinking it to find out. It would be much more interesting to see Potter himself drink it, or even Weasley. And Ron, as if guided by the fates themselves, decided at that moment he wanted some crisps and stood to go towards the bar and Harry reached up to stop him, turning away from Severus, to shove a few coins in his hand for a package too, and Severus took the opportunity and the beers were switched.

Severus sipped contentedly at his new, fresh beer, smiling at Potter as he drank his own. Ron returned with the crisps, dropping a pack on the table before Harry, and took a swig of beer. Severus's eyes sparkled when the tosser didn't notice a thing about the taste and simply chugged. Ron grew friendlier every drink he took and insisted on sharing his packet of crisps with Severus, who humoured him and had two before firmly rejecting anymore.

Harry was the gentleman who bought the second round, and again, Severus received the last drink. This time it was much easier to switch drinks with Weasley as the effects on him were becoming pronounced and he seemed disproportionately intoxicated from the single pint. The little shits had planned to get him extremely buggered and do, well, whatever they damn well wanted with him.

Halfway through his second laced drink, Ron was leaning on Severus, to his dismay, and babbling on about how lucky Severus was that Hermione fancied him. Not that Ron was jealous or anything, she was a good girl and he just thought maybe one day he would settle down with her when he was tired of all the other girls. That seemed to be the gist of it, at least.

Harry, though on his own second pint, could clearly see that Ron was the one getting smashed while Snape was sitting there smirking at him. Well shit. Harry shrugged and grinned at Ron then Severus, and then Severus surprised him.

"Another one, Potter?"

Harry's grin faltered a moment before glowing anew and nodded. Severus headed to the bar to buy the round, astounding all of his former students but especially himself. He waited patiently for the drinks, enjoying the buzz from the two beers, when he recognised a pale face framed by even paler hair.

"Malfoy," he greeted his former Slytherin curtly.

"Professor. Quite a shock to see you with Harry Potter. And buying drinks no less."

"And I suppose you're here by sheer chance," Severus shot back, knowing full-well Draco's reputation.

He laughed. "I'm just here to wish the groom well. We are all old friends here." He eyed Severus and smirked. "Some of use older. I heard about you and the Mudblood. Congratulations."

Draco clapped him on the shoulder, his hand hesitating for just a sliver of a moment, and Severus suppressed a shudder as Malfoy slid away through the crowd. Severus's eyebrows furrowed and he wondered about Malfoy's sudden presence. It could make some sense….

The barman interrupted his thoughts and Severus paid for the drinks then manoeuvred them back to the table. Fred and Lee were playing darts and Malfoy had perched himself between Neville and Dean, and Neville seemed nervous at Draco's sudden appearance.

After the fifth round, Severus said he thought he would return to the castle. He didn't add "to wait for Hermione" but Harry picked it up immediately.

"Yeah, I get worried about Ginny when she drinks too much. I think I'll head back with you and bring this wanker too," Harry said, motioning at Ron who was half-asleep and still babbling in his chair.

George and Fred were too busy arguing to notice their departure, and Severus limited his goodbyes to Longbottom to a simple "Congratulations," which Neville answered with a trembling, "Thanks." Everyone else was acknowledged with a nod of the head, except Malfoy, who he eyed as the blonde simpered up to Longbottom.

Somehow he and Potter managed to get Ron awake enough to apparate back to the gates of Hogwarts, and Ron retained enough awareness to stagger back to the castle under his own steam, though he was oblivious to the presence of others.

"You still care for Miss Weasley," said Severus as they walked up the path.

Harry was surprised by the directness of the statement. "Yes."

"But you respect Neville at the same time."

"Yes," his voice holding traces of bitterness.

Severus laughed. Silly Gryffindors and their bravery and stubborn idealism. Harry just scowled and they continued to the castle in silence.

In another of a series of uncharacteristic behaviours, Severus turned to Harry as they climbed the steps to the castle and said, "Be careful with Miss Weasley tonight."

Harry stared at him with open mouth and Severus was very nearly tempted to smack him about the face for being a stupid idiot.

Potter eventually recovered and nodded and said, "I will. Good evening, Professor." He rounded up Ron and started went into the castle and up the stairs.

Severus followed them inside but didn't return to the dungeons. He transfigured a chair, a simple wooden one, and sat to wait for Hermione's return. It was silly, but he wanted to see her. The alcohol hummed pleasantly through his veins and he had very nearly dozed off when the doors flew open and in burst a horde of giggling girls. Severus bolted upright, a bit confused, and a few of them screamed like schoolgirls at the sight of him. Hermione giggled loudest and whispered something to them as she pulled away from them and wove a bit towards him. He withheld a smirk as she clung to him like a lifeline.

"Good night, Professor," Ginny giggled and he arched an eyebrow. No telling what Hermione had spilled under influence of liquor.

"Miss Weasley. Ladies, if you would see that Miss Weasley makes it to her rooms safely," Severus said archly and turned toward the dungeons, Hermione in tow, the other girls tittering madly behind him.

Hermione was a happy drunk, he was relieved to see, much as he expected himself to be, if not for the fact he was usually drinking with Minerva or Albus or even worse, both. Hermione was attempting to tell him, he gathered from the bits that were audible, about how they went to some French beach and had a male stripper and someone had been making passes at the stripper, but not her though. No, she had missed him.

It took a moment for that thought to register through the fog surrounding his brain. Hermione missed him.

Suddenly she turned and reached for him, a hand pulling his face down to meet hers and she kissed him roughly, her tongue gouging its way into his mouth and he bit down. She gasped, pleased at his reaction and she grabbed at his crotch, at the burgeoning erection, while the other hand yanked at his hair and forced his head down to kiss him more thoroughly.

Gravity resumed and a smiling Hermione slid down the wall and to her wobbly feet. Severus smirked as he buttoned up and held out a hand to steady her. She took it and curled into his chest. He sighed and walked them towards his rooms, glad some instinct had told him to clean the dungeons earlier this afternoon.

He gently guided her to the bed and despite her protestations that she was up for another go-round, she was snoring gently within minutes.

Severus watched her sleeping and thanked the gods that Ginny Weasley had decided to marry that idiot Longbottom and Albus had finagled the wedding to be held at Hogwarts. Indeed he found he was looking forward to the wedding tomorrow, what with it being Longbottom's wedding. And now, with Malfoy, something was bound to happen.