Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling.
I am making no profit.
Nor am I claiming creation or ownership of anything Harry Potter related.
All of it is J. K. Rowling's, or Bloomsbury Books, or the WB's, or whomever's.
It's not mine.
The focus of my Harry Potter fan fiction a romantic relationship between:
The Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape, and Hermione Granger.
Please note that the age of consent where they live is sixteen (16).
However, in my stories the younger (Hermione Granger) of the two, is over the age of eighteen (18) BEFORE any romantic relationship develops.
Remember, not only is she a birth year older then her classmates; she gained years, and expirience, with her use of a Time-Turner as well.
In my stories, (I am only speaking about my fan fiction and it's characters) the Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape and Hermione Granger are completely equal in their relationship, on all levels; emotional, intellectual, etceteras. Severus' emotional development is a bit delayed, no doubt because of his past. Whereas, Hermione is very advanced for her age. You will find that in my stories, she is no longer a student of his, prior to the development of their relationship. When she was his student, Professor Snape hardly noticed anything about her, other then her incessent hand raising. He was never a mentor to her, they were not friends, or close in any way when she was young. They never knew anything about each other, except for the fact that the other existed and was an annoyance.
There is no harm being done to either party in their relationship, on any level including; psychological, emotional, and physical.
(Nor is their relationship harming anyone else.)
However, that is why they call it fan fiction.
With that said, if you are still interested, please read on!
The Incident In Hogsmeade
This story was written before the release of : The Half-Blood Prince.
At first glance, Snape-on-Westray seemed to be a massive dark shadow rising out of the sea-carved cliffs, an isolated stone edifice that could have been part of the very rocks beneath it. At first glance it gave the impression of being a bastion of all that is aristocracy. However, upon closer inspection, one could see a distinct lack of overindulgence combined with subtle Muggle influences. This unexpected combination was not quite so unexpected given the identities of the current occupants: the distinguished and austere wizard, Severus Snape, and his young bride, the outspoken Muggle-born Hermione Snape, née Granger.
The wizard himself was ensconced in the extensive main library of his home, immersed in a book: Bartholomæus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum. He was conducting some unconventional research. He was stretching the bounds of probability, in hopes of finding any inspiration to break the impasse in his attempts to create an improved version of the Wolfsbane Potion. His studies were interrupted by the sound of something shattering. He looked up from the text he had been perusing. He inwardly cringed at the sounds that next assaulted his ears. Madam Snape was letting loose with a string of curses that would make a Muggle sailor blush.
He had heard something break. He knew he should make sure that she was uninjured; yet, he procrastinated. Severus Snape admonished himself. 'I am one of the most powerful wizards alive. I am a former Death Eater turned spy for the Light. I am a man who for many years witnessed unspeakable horrors and experienced repeated tortures at the hands of the Dark Lord, all the while knowing I could be killed at any moment.' He grudgingly admitted to himself, 'I am a man who... is hesitating to approach my wife. My sweet, compassionate and loving wife. A witch who is as lovely in spirit as she is of face. A woman who happens to be over eight months gone with our first child.' He steeled himself. He knew he needed to go to her; he feared that she was cut. 'Pregnancy,' he thought, 'is a very delicate condition, fraught with dangers... though not for the mother-to-be.' His inner voice now sounded quite bitter. 'No, she was as healthy as a hippogriff. The danger was to those who came in contact with the cauldron-full of violently swinging hormones called Hermione Snape.'
Suddenly, his mind went down another path and he recalled in vivid detail what he had seen in Harry Potter's memories a few months earlier. He remembered seeing his wife and unborn child die horrifically, he himself saturated in Hermione's lifeblood, clutching her lifeless body, unable to save her. 'Had Harry Potter not used the Time-Turner and warned us, so the events could be avoided, she would be dead.' Suddenly, he was glad to be the subject of any outlet Hermione needed for the hormones that were ruling her mind and body. He rose with cat-like grace from his chair and went to find his wife.
Hermione stood in the loft office looking down on the jagged shards of a delicate teacup. When Severus entered the room, she was raging. "My mother's ... irreplaceable ... even if another could be found it wouldn't be HERS ... how clumsy can I be? I should be locked up for the safety of the general public! She's dead, and now her teacup is dead, too..." Hermione trailed off with a sob when she felt Severus's arm snake around her from behind.
He drew her body back to him, leaned over her shoulder and incanted, "Reparo!"
The tea cup now sat innocently on the polished hardwood floor, as whole as it had been minutes before.
"Did you cut yourself?" Severus whispered in Hermione's ear.
"No," she replied sulkily. Her tone switched abruptly to one of angry frustration. "How could I have forgotten such a basic spell?"
"You would have thought of it," he said softly.
"I don't know, I seem to have lost my capacity for-"
She was interrupted by the appearance of Meppy, a house-elf. Meppy was dressed in the uniform Hermione had designed to be worn by all of their house-elves: an impeccable black and white robe with an embroidered shield on the left breast. The shield on Meppy's uniform was comprised of an 'S' at the bottom with ocean waves running along the top, symbolising that she worked at the Westray Snape estate. The uniform was completed by a felt pileus. Hermione insisted that all the elves, at all their holdings, wear clothes, especially the pileus: a felt cap that was once worn by slaves when they were set free. Meppy wore her new Snape uniform proudly. Now. When Hermione had first come to Snape-on-Westray, the house-elves had been terrified of her ideas. Inviting Dobby to talk to them had only made matters worse. When they eventually understood that they would be 'free', however, they in no way would be forced to live differently, they agreed to Hermione's unorthodox ways. They accepted their clothes; they collected their pay - although they spent none - and they worked on their days off.
Meppy picked up the teacup and cast a cleaning spell on it, saying, "Meppy make Ma'am some tea. Meppy make Ma'am some nice peppermint tea. Make Ma'am feel better."
"Madam will be in the sitting room," Severus informed the house-elf. Severus took Hermione's hand and led her down the stationary spiral stairs and across to the richly appointed sitting room. It was irresistibly inviting with its dark woods and deep-coloured fabrics. They sat on a comfortable forest green leather couch in front of a roaring fire. The room was agreeably warm, despite the stormy sea that could be seen through the vast windows.
Severus turned sideways on the couch. He wrapped his long arms around Hermione and drew her to him. She managed to insinuate herself between his thighs, as she snuggled back into him.
"You must have been busy, Severus," she said.
"Not really, no," he whispered into her ear. He kissed the side of her neck, in the hollow beneath her ear, causing her to shiver in delight. He inhaled against her skin and asked, "How is your counter proposal coming along?"
"I've worked up the potential expenses, and I've managed to inflate them enough so the Ministry can bargain us down. Even after that, we should still have more than enough for the first six months of work."
"You expect the Ministry to actually fund this endeavour in its entirety?" he inquired.
"It was their suggestion that we undertake this line of experimentation," Hermione said. "Why should we fund it ourselves? They can cut out some red tape-"
"They can lighten their bureaucratic entanglements if they want this potion." Forcefully, she added, "Make no mistake, Severus, they want us to develop this potion. Imagine all Ministry personnel, from Aurors to welcome witches, immune to the Imperius Curse. What wouldn't they give for that? They know that we are the ones who are capable of giving it to them."
"You are very sure," he said.
"You know that the Ministry will take any advantage it can," he said seriously.
"Of course, I do. I've taken that into account and written the counter proposal accordingly. If they want this potion, they'll fund our research fully, and we'll profit, as well."
"If anyone can make the Ministry agree, you can," Severus noted.
"I'll do that, and more. In the end we'll retain sole ownership of the formula, along with the exclusive rights to brew the potion for profit."
"Then you will be able to donate all our profits for educational and charitable purposes," Severus said.
"That's the plan," Hermione agreed.
"Yes, speaking of plans," Severus asked warily, "what are your plans for this afternoon?"
"You remember, Harry is coming," she answered, as she tilted her head back and to the side.
"Um," Severus replied into her newly offered skin. Tea suddenly appeared on the table in front of them. "You need to eat something," Severus murmured.
"We can eat together, then," Hermione responded. She grunted and made to sit up.
"Remain where you are," Severus commanded smoothly. He motioned at the teapot and it poured the sweetened peppermint tea into a cup. He then safely hovered it to Hermione.
"Meppy?" Hermione called. Instantly, a carafe of hot coffee joined the tea on the table.
Severus directed a cup of the dark rich brew to himself. The pair relaxed with their drinks and watched the fire and the sea together.
"A lovely day," Hermione commented.
"You have learned to appreciate an ocean storm as much as I," Severus said smugly.
"Although, I still like a bright day." Hermione laughed.
"Have I said that I only appreciate storms?"
"No, but they are your favourite. They're mine as well," she admitted. "There's a raw power that's somehow more than we are."
"Indeed," Severus agreed.
"What were you doing?" she asked.
"Nothing of any use," he replied sharply.
"Still frustrated with the progress on Remus's potion?"
"What progress?" he asked snidely.
"We will make a breakthrough; it is merely a matter of time," he responded. Irritation entered his tone as he asked, "What time are you expecting Potter?"
"Harry should be here just after lunch," she said, scowling at Severus's annoyed tone.
"Then I shall return to my research directly after lunch," Severus said.
"Convenient," she quipped.
"Lunch, however, is not for two hours," Severus commented almost casually.
"Is there something you would like to do in the meantime?" she asked with a mischievous smile.
"Let's go to the observatory," she suggested. "Push me up."
They set their empty cups down and Severus gently pushed Hermione to her feet.
Soon, Severus and Hermione lay together in the observatory, a room that was actually the top room of the tower, one of the six areas that comprised their master suite. When Hermione had this tower room made over into an observatory, she had the walls and ceilings all constructed of glass that was charmed to be impenetrable. When they moved in, Severus had the entire floor of the observatory charmed, as well. It was no longer a floor to be walked on. It was a perfect place for Severus's pregnant wife to rest, recline, or make love with him.
Severus was lazily tracing patterns along the top of Hermione's soft bare arm with his free hand, while his other held her back against him. Severus was watching Hermione, and she was staring out to sea, lost in her thoughts.
Her face wore a relaxed, satisfied smile as she turned, disturbing the multi-textured pillows on which they reclined, to face Severus. "You're spoiling me, you know," she said with a contented sigh.
He arched a challenging eyebrow at her.
"Oh, I know you have ulterior motives," she said with a laugh, "you have no intention of being anywhere near me this afternoon."
"It is not your presence that I seek to spare myself," he said coldly. "I merely wish to avoid your illustrious guest."
"I know that," she replied. "Though I had hoped that you and Harry had become, well, not friends exactly- "
"Don't be absurd," he cut across her, "I ... tolerate Potter's presence somewhat more now than in the past, merely because he proved himself not to be utterly useless. However, I will never enjoy his presence."
Severus rolled her onto her back and loomed over her. "Dare you mock me, witch?" he asked in his most dangerous tone.
"I do dare," she retorted defiantly.
"Then I give you fair warning, you shall suffer the consequences," he hissed.
He looked so very serious; she couldn't stand it. "I'll take that risk," she gasped between laughs.
"And you compound your impertinence with laughter?" he asked in disbelieving outrage.
His question was met with increased peals of laughter.
"So be it," he declared ferociously.
Hermione sobered as his fervid black gaze caught hers.
They said nothing more as their gazes locked and intensified. There was no need for Legilimency between them; it was absolutely intimate, looking into each other's very beings like that. Before long, she drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
Hermione was admiring the view as she ate her lunch. They were sitting at the breakfast island; Severus was seated across from her, his dark form framed by the sea and the storm that could be seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows behind him. She was trying to listen to what he was saying about the potion, but in the last couple of weeks she had found it increasingly difficult to concentrate. Her Muggle-born Healer, a witch who also trained as a Muggle midwife under her mother; had assured her that the problem would pass once the baby was born. She said it was natural to be easily distractible at this time. Even though intellectually she knew it was temporary, Hermione found it horribly aggravating. She really wanted to hear how Severus was doing with his research, but she couldn't get her mind off how enticing he looked, sitting there all imposing, and intelligent, and ...
"Hermione." Severus smiled.
Dark and smiling ...
"Hermione," he called in quiet amusement.
And calling her name ... "What?" She snapped out of her musings.
"What were you thinking that caused you to not pay attention?" he asked sternly. He stood, filling her vision with his darkness as he crossed his arms over his chest. Wearing his customary black frock-coated suit and robes for Harry Potter's impending visit, he looked very much the disapproving Professor.
"Well, I- "
He moved around behind her. He leaned down and in his deep resonant voice, he spoke menacingly in her ear. "You what, Madam Snape?"
His voice reverberated down her body, thrilling her and igniting something within her. A wicked glint entered her eyes. She put on a contrite expression, looked down and whispered, "I ... I ... probably deserve a detention, Professor Snape, sir."
Before a mildly shocked Severus could respond, a chime sounded.
"Ah, your guest has arrived," Severus noted, a sour expression settling on his features.
Severus held out his hand and helped Hermione up. They walked to the foyer doors where Quimple, an elderly house-elf, stood, waiting to announce their guest. As the couple approached, he spoke. "Professor McGonagall is on the Floo, Sir, Ma'am."
"Thank you, Quimple, that will be all," Severus answered.
The flawlessly groomed and uniformed house-elf bowed and disappeared with a crack.
Severus unwarded the foyer doors. He and Hermione stepped through to find Minerva's head in the fireplace.
"Severus, Hermione, could you come though for a while? We've a bit of a crisis and could use your help, Severus," Minerva said crisply.
"What is it, Minerva?" Severus asked.
"Your replacement's cauldron exploded. He has no control over his classroom. I swear," she enunciated his title disparagingly, "Professor Ostergard is intimidated by his students. Someone must have slipped an extra ingredient or two into his cauldron. No one was hurt, but Professor Ostergard got doused with the potion. Obviously, having been tampered with, the potion was not what it should have been. He's sprouted superfluous arms, four superfluous arms, to be exact. What's worse is he now has a spiked tail, and he's hiccupping tiny flames. The daft man was babbling something about Antipodean Opaleye and powdered Romanian Longhorn horn, but he's virtually incoherent. He can't make himself an antidote because he's hysterical. Albus has taken his classes for the rest of today, but we really need him back in his classroom tomorrow. Could you come through and help him out, Severus?"
"The school runs so very well without my expertise," he said dryly.
Minerva gave him a disapproving look for his sarcasm.
"Of course I will oblige, Minerva, I've nothing better to do," he snarled.
Severus was cut off by a knocking at the outer door. Hermione made to open it, but Severus's hand shot out and caught her by the arm before she could.
"Oh, yes," Hermione muttered at the hand on her upper arm. She took out her wand and pointed it at the front door, incanting, "Ostendo!" A storm-bedraggled Harry Potter, shouldering a weather-beaten broom, was revealed. "Now may I open the door?" Hermione asked.
"If you must," Severus said scathingly, as he released his hold on her.
"And Severus," Minerva's head spoke, "I've no more classes today. I'd like Hermione to come for tea while you fix the problem."
"She shouldn't travel in her condition," Severus said absently as he watched his wife greet Harry Potter with a warm hug.
"Travel?" Hermione asked, turning her attention to Severus and Minerva.
"Hello," Harry said to Severus.
"Harry," he responded evenly.
"Of course, you can travel. You can use my..." Minerva trailed off and rummaged behind her. She turned around and held up a bulky cloak. "... Cushioning Cloak, just to be safe."
"Cushioning Cloak?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, Filius charmed it for me after my injury. With it on, you don't feel the spinning of the Floo, nor are you touched when your body bumps things. You can even land as hard as possible and the impact has absolutely no effect." Minerva smiled. "It's easy enough to wear. You cast a Bubble-Head Charm on yourself, and then secure yourself inside the cloak. Once you're secured in, you become completely encased. Because you are totally secured inside the cloak, you need help to activate the Floo. Someone guides you into the Floo, shouts your destination, and when you arrive you just take the Cushioning Cloak off and cancel your Bubble-Head Charm. There's nothing to it. It makes Floo travel perfectly safe for anyone, no matter how vulnerable a condition they are in."
"I'd love to try it and to see you, but Harry just got here." Hermione indicated her visitor who was dripping copious amounts of water and mud on the pristine foyer floor.
"No problem, how long can it take you to have tea with Minerva? I'll just clean up," Harry indicated the soaked condition of his person, "and warm up, and by then you should be back."
"Don't worry, Severus," Harry said convivially, "I'm sure Darvis won't let me get into any trouble."
At the sound of his name, Darvis, an elf who could have been Dobby's twin in his adoration of Harry, popped into the foyer.
"Oh, how can I be helping the great and good Harry Potter?" he asked, bowing deeply.
"For the love of Merlin, Darvis, stop that!" Severus snapped.
"Yes, Master- "
"And that!" Hermione said in exasperation.
"Yes, Ma'am, and Mas - sorry, so sorry! Sir," Darvis stammered. "Darvis needs disciplining. Darvis- "
"Darvis," Hermione began gently, only to be interrupted by Minerva.
"Why don't I send Dobby over to visit with you while you wait for Severus and Hermione to get back, Harry?" Minerva asked.
"That'd be great," Harry replied.
"If you are all through deciding on my afternoon itinerary?" Severus drawled.
"Not yet, Severus," Minerva scolded.
Severus was sorely tempted to cross his arms, stick out his lower lip, and pout like a fractious child. 'A wizard in control of his own life and destiny, indeed,' he thought.
"Darvis," Hermione interjected, "could you take care of Harry, please? Show him to the Asphodel Suite and help him clean up. Then have Reny make him something nice and warm to eat and drink."
There was a loud pop as Dobby appeared in the foyer.
"Dobby," Hermione greeted.
"Harry Potter's friend! I is happy to be seeing you!"
"I'm glad to see you too, Dobby." Hermione smiled.
"Professor Snape, sir. It is gracious you are to have Dobby in your home."
'Manipulative elf,' Severus thought. In his cold voice he simply said, "I am no longer a Professor."
"Oh, I is sorry, Master Snape, sir," Dobby said.
"Madam is not wanting us calling him our Master," Darvis whispered audibly to Dobby.
"No, no. I is not calling him my Master; I is calling him Master because he is a Master of Potions. Your Madam Hermione not object to that, surely," Dobby said wisely.
"Of course not," Hermione agreed. "That's settled, but Harry is still wet. Yuck, and muddy," Hermione said pointedly.
"Oh, and he must be cold!" Darvis exclaimed. Darvis and Dobby ushered Harry through a door.
"Ostergard's level of incompetence is unmatched even by Lockhart, and his skill with the fine art of Potions is surpassed by Longbottom. What were you thinking?" Severus asked as he paced Minerva's office.
"We were thinking that our Potions Professor resigned and that we had to replace him before his classroom filled with students in September." Minerva smiled.
"Another in a long line of irresponsible hirings, I- "
"I see nothing has changed since you've been off faculty," Minerva interrupted.
"Do you realise how dangerous- "
"Your subject is?" Minerva recited, resisting the urge to cast her eyes heavenward. "Yes, Severus, I do. You have mentioned it before. I am well aware that in all your years teaching, you never had a fatality." Minerva continued. "What would you have us do? Remove Potions from the curriculum until someone with your expertise and ability can be found? Even if we could get another Master to teach, which is not even remotely likely, we would never find one who can command a classroom as you did. The students practically stopped breathing when you entered the room."
"As the dunderheads should," Severus responded. "I suppose the staff find Ostergard as amusing," Severus drawled, "as they did Lockhart."
"Not that amusing, no," Minerva answered. "Ostergard doesn't wear hair curlers. Seriously, Severus, what is your honest opinion?"
"That Ostergard is a danger to the inhabitants of this castle," he replied.
"Can I assume that this is based on more than his dragon-like appearance at the moment?"
"Most assuredly," Severus said vehemently. "Do you know what I found in that classroom, Minerva?"
"Not really, no," she replied.
"Evidence of at least nine cauldron explosions. That is fresh evidence. Those nine explosions all occurred in the last twenty-four hours," he spat furiously. "You will have a dead student this year; it is amazing that there has as yet been no fatality."
"I knew he was having problems, but I had no idea it was on such a serious scale," Minerva said, her tone suddenly grim. "We could have him limit his curriculum to simple potions that are unlikely to explode," Minerva added thoughtfully.
"In an undisciplined classroom, the students will find a way to explode pumpkin juice," Severus commented disdainfully.
"Limit his teaching to theory with no actual brewing?" Minerva asked.
"That might make him somewhat safer. However, no student will pass a Potions N.E.W.T. without actual brewing experience," Severus noted.
"I don't suppose- " Minerva began.
"Much as I empathise with your plight, no," Severus answered her unfinished question.
"Severus, consider- "
"After the baby is born, until the end of the year? You wouldn't have to live in the castle, and you could hire your replacement for next year," Minerva wheedled.
"Please, Severus, for Albus," Minerva begged. "How would it look for him to have to call parents in and explain to them that their child died in class?"
"What if were you and Hermione he called in? Imagine if it were your child," Minerva said quietly.
"That was reprehensible," Severus growled.
"I'm proud of it," Minerva beamed.
"Wipe the silly grin off your face; my answer remains an absolute no."
Minerva's grin faded.
"Albus would have been more subtle in his delivery," Severus lectured disdainfully. "He would never have come out and said that."
"I suppose not," Minerva said in thoughtful agreement. "Well, I think I'll wake Hermione and see if she can help me come up with a solution, then," Minerva added slyly.
Severus and Minerva looked at the peacefully sleeping witch curled up in the corner of Minerva's office settee. Severus hadn't paid her much mind since he entered the office. Now that he did, he realised that her sleep was feigned. He shook his head in exasperation and reiterated, "No, Minerva, I can not go back to teaching."
"I'm sure Hermione will be able to come up with somethin- "
He held up a hand to stop Minerva from shaking Hermione. "No," Severus snarled, "there is no need to 'wake' my wife. I might be persuaded to give Ostergard a set lecture curriculum for all his classes for the remainder of the term. I might write up specific methods of teaching for him. If I do, and he follows them to the letter, he should be able to take his classes in hand before reintroducing brewing next term. However, if he proves beyond help, as I suspect he will, perhaps I shall consider sitting in on your interviews for his replacement."
"That's more than I hoped for, Severus, thank you," Minerva said warmly.
"Save your thanks," Severus replied. "Instead, you can tell me exactly why you, Minerva McGonagall, Transfiguration Professor, Head of Gryffindor House, Deputy Headmistress of this school ... tampered with Ostergard's cauldron today."
Minerva drew back in shock. "That's preposterous. I have no idea who- "
Severus cut across her and continued. "The pretense was not needed to show me his incompetence. That, he has made crystal clear without your furtherance. You are no fool, Minerva, so I suspect there is something more to it. Why did you do it?" Severus gave Minerva a threatening glare. "Do not bother to continue with your denials, I know that you are the responsible party."
"How did you -," Minerva blurted.
"I have my ways," Severus said smugly. "If you wish my assistance with Ostergard, enlighten me."
"I - it... Severus- "
"You do need my help with the Ostergard situation."
"You know that we do."
Severus folded his arms across his chest and simply waited.
"Fine. Harry came to me-"
"I might have known," Severus interrupted with a sneer. "Potter."
"Yes," Minerva said, "Harry wanted my help with something he was working on."
"What, pray tell, has precious Potter planned this time?" Severus asked scathingly.
"It wasn't Harry's plan originally," Minerva defended, "he was contacted by a relative of yours, actually, Severus. Summer, from the States."
Severus glared at Minerva. "If those two have been collaborating, and you are co-operating-"
"You look pale, Severus," Minerva teased.
"Indeed," Severus said snidely, "what exactly is going on?"
"Nothing too painful," Minerva said with a laugh.
"Minerva," Severus warned in his most dangerous tone.
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Severus," Minerva chided, "it's only a party."
"A party?" Severus hissed, a look of abject horror appearing in his eyes.
"Summer has a baby shower planned," Minerva said.
"A baby shower?" Severus echoed.
"Yes, Severus," Minerva explained patiently, "a party where all your, and especially all Hermione's, friends get together to celebrate the impending birth."
"Why?" Severus asked.
"Because an anticipated birth is a wonderful thing. Don't you think Hermione will appreciate seeing all her friends joyously gathered, celebrating this wonderful time with you?"
Severus opened his mouth to issue a mordacious remark; just in time he remembered that his crafty wife was merely pretending to be asleep. Smoothly, he replied, "If she would enjoy it, I would not see her deprived of the event."
Minerva looked skeptically from Severus to the sleeping Hermione and responded with a "Hmm."
"When is the," Severus took a breath, and forced himself to speak with an even tone, "party?"
"Why, they're setting it up now, Severus," Minerva said with an evil smile. "Why else would I have contrived to get both you and Hermione out of the house?"
"Out of the house?" he asked.
"Yes, and I sent Dobby to help Harry and Summer," Minerva replied.
"Nicoleta is in my house with Potter and that deranged elf? Now?"
"Hermione has told me you refuse to call her Summer," Minerva said questioningly.
"Nicoleta is a dignified name, while the moniker she has chosen for herself, 'Summer', is a- "
Hermione yawned and stretched. Severus and Minerva looked at her. Severus rolled his eyes, and Minerva smiled.
"I'm so sorry, Minerva, I must have fallen asleep when you had to go to the Gryffindor common room and restore discipline." Hermione explained for Severus's benefit, as she gave Minerva an apologetic smile. "Severus, how long have you been here?"
He didn't answer; he just regarded her with a sardonically raised eyebrow. She knew she hadn't fooled him. She never could.
Severus observed Hermione as she leaned against the door. The last of the guests had just left by Floo. She was ruffled and glowing. He glided to her and pulled her into his arms. "Did you enjoy yourself, My Love," he asked, his deep baritone amused and indulgent.
"Very much!" she enthused. "It was so good to see everyone."
"Mmm," he said into her hair.
"You don't seem too miserable," she commented.
"I am sure that I must have endured worse, sometime," he quipped.
"Yes," she agreed, "although it must have been torturous for you men, indulging in all that good cognac from Summer and those expensive cigars Harry brought."
"I survived it," he said seriously.
She laughed. "What were you all doing cloistered in the library the entire time?" She shook her head. "I hope my books don't smell of cigars. You don't even smoke."
"It would have been rude to forbid them their cigars, merely because I am not so inclined," he said silkily.
"And we all know Severus Snape is never rude," she said sarcastically.
"Potter said he is returning tomorrow?" Severus asked, hoping that Hermione would say he was mistaken.
"Yes, he is. We never got to talk. You had him in the library all night," she teased.
"I most certainly would have relinquished him to you," Severus returned.
"I'm sure you would- "
"And the others, for that matter," Severus continued thoughtfully. "They could have left the cognac and joined you witches in the sitting room."
"As if," Hermione scoffed, "Summer tried to get you men to join in."
"Yes, well," Severus hedged.
"It's okay, Severus," Hermione said gently. "She would have insisted that you join us had I not put my foot down."
"You made her leave us alone?" he asked in genuine wonder. "That is quite a feat; Summer is not easy to persuade."
"I managed it. There was no need for you to suffer when you were perfectly happy in the library, doing who knows what..." Then just to prove that she did know what they had been doing, she continued, "Who was the big winner, anyway?"
"Ah. Arthur won the most. No one realised he was so well versed in card games," Severus replied.
"How did Neville and Remus do?" Hermione asked.
"Remus beat Neville at chess," Severus offered.
"I'm not surprised there were too many of you to all play cards, why the Weasley clan alone..." she trailed off sadly.
"Hermione-" Severus began gently, only to be cut off.
"It's okay, Severus, really." She smiled.
"He may yet come around. Perhaps when he has gained some maturity, he will bury his grudge."
"We'll have grandchildren by the time Ronald Weasley is mature," she teased. It was an effort to show him that she was fine with it. It backfired.
"Grandchildren?" he said, in a terror-stricken voice.
"Come see the presents," Hermione said as she pulled Severus into the sitting room. "After you refused Summer's polite invitation to join us, you need to know what we were given, so you can send our thanks to everyone."
"I knew you would find a way to make me pay for your gracious acceptance of our withdrawal," Severus said snidely, although he allowed her to lead him to the sofa. She handed him a quill, ink and parchment.
"Here," she said bossily, "you can make notes, because you'll be thanking each and every person. You'll thank them in your own words, in your own hand." She placed her hands on her hips and regarded him. "But first," she pointed at something laying in a tissue nest and said, "would you care to explain this?"
"Ah, well," he managed to look somewhat apologetic, "Nicoleta has always been generous. When she married, she was insistent on sharing her husband's wealth. Then when she made her own fortune..."
"As you did yours?"
"Still, Severus, this is too much. Hermione scolded.
"It does not seem like anything special." he said firmly. "However, Nicoleta is always, 'too much'."
Hermione ignored his statement as she held up a magical mobile. It had a central moon and was surrounded by stars. Each large piece was made from a genuine faceted gemstone. It was incredible to watch the spinning shapes as the light danced through and off the various colours. "Summer tells me that the large Amethyst moon is to dispel fears and prevent nightmares. She said the stones the stars are made from all have different meanings, as well." Hermione recited: "The Topaz is to enhance communication; the Citrine is a relaxant; the Emerald enhances memory; the Garnet is for strength; the Peridot brings a happy, friendly energy; the Ruby is for protection; the Sapphire is for growth; the Tanzanite encourages spirituality; and the Tourmaline is for understanding."
"I told you she is completely barmy," Severus said by way of explanation.
"If you persist in saying this is nothing special, I'll decide it's you who is barmy," Hermione teased.
"I would hazard a guess that Nicoleta was impressed with what you have done with the house," he said quietly. He wanted to distract her from her distress over the excessive gift. The way Nicoleta took her wealth for granted tended to make Hermione uncomfortable, and he would circumvent that if he could.
"She was. She particularly loved that the whole side facing the sea is basically solid windows."
"All your changes are impressive," Severus purred, "even those you made with the house-elves."
"Flattery will not get you out of seeing the gifts and writing the notes."
"You can not hold me accountable for trying."
She held out an ivory coloured shawl. He had never seen anything that looked so ... soft. He reached out to touch it.
"This," she said, "is from Minerva. It has unicorn hair knit into it. When the baby is wrapped in it, it will be almost impossible for the baby to catch any illnesses. It closes with this." She held out a pin. Severus took it from her and held it up. It was two interwoven hearts that were topped with a crown.
"A luckenbooth?" Severus said in confusion.
"Minerva wanted to pass it on," Hermione explained. "She never expects to have a baby of her own."
"I see," Severus said, as he handed the pin back to Hermione.
"These," Hermione said brightly, as she picked up a plushie snake and lion, "are from Remus and Ginny."
"They are giving gifts together, now?" Severus asked snidely.
Hermione ignored him and moved on. She stretched to the side and held up a small broom.
"Of course," she said with a laugh. "Let's see, the wand shaped rattle is from Tonks. Neville brought the aequus," Hermione continued, as she gestured to a large flowering magical plant.
"An unusual specimen," Severus said absently as he stared at two bright knit socks. "The mismatched socks would be?" Severus asked disdainfully.
"From Dobby," Hermione giggled. "One red Gryffindor sock with tiny gold lions, and one green Slytherin sock with tiny silver snakes."
After he had endured the display of several more mind-numbing frivolities, he heard Hermione finally say, "And last but not least, this one is from Albus. He sent a gift, even though he couldn't come."
"Is Albus mad?" he asked drolly.
"Maybe," she said, as she examined the perpetually refilling sweet bowl Albus sent. "But I think we can set it to dispense sweets as infrequently as we want," she added thoughtfully, as she stifled her fifth huge yawn.
Severus stood with fluid grace and extended a hand. "Come."
"I am a bit tired," she allowed.
Later that night, Hermione awoke in her lover's arms, infused with a deep sense of tranquility that was in direct contrast to the storm that still raged around their sanctuary.
"Severus," she whispered. She would have gone on, but at that moment he drew her to him and captured her earlobe between his teeth. He bit softly and proceeded to suckle. As Hermione made soft sounds of desire, he proceeded to kiss behind and under her ear, making his way down to the nape of her neck where he passionately attacked her skin with unrestrained fervor.
She turned her head and pulled his lips to hers, returning his passion with equal force. As his talented fingers began to dance over her body, her head fell back, and her lips parted in ecstasy.
Their bodies became one to the sound of the storm-driven waves crashing on the rocks outside their immense bedroom windows.
To Be Continued...
With many thanks to the brilliant Nakhash Mekashefah for her beta-reading of this chapter!
Loose Latin translations:
Ostendo: show, reveal, present, make plain, declare.
Aequus: to calm