Title: Nothing is that Simple
Feedback: Still not mine. Such a pity.
Summary: Hermione stirs up trouble between Harry and Severus.
A/N: Sequel to "Love Is Not Required." Will make limited sense if that is not read first.
Beta: My absolutely brilliant girlfriend.
Challenge: "Coming Out" Challenge.
Archive: Dawn-To-Dusk Fuh-Q-Fest Wave IX
"But do you love him?" Hermione persisted as Harry perused a list of possible gifts for Valentine's Day to give to Severus.
"Love is not required," Harry answered, as he frowned over one and crossed it out, wondering what he had been thinking when he originally wrote that down. They were sitting in the library together. Ron had begged off at the mention of the 'greasy git.'
"Look at me, Harry."
Harry looked up. "Yes?" he asked impatiently, knowing that he wouldn't get any peace until he listened to her.
"You never… never seem to care about it. Like it's not important to you. Like the fact that you're married to him means nothing."
"It means everything, Hermione, just not in the way you think." In fact, he did love Severus, but he wanted to see where it went instead of proclaiming his undying love to all his friends.
"I don't understand you," she snapped.
Harry briefly considered telling her what he had told Severus oh-so-long ago, how no one could understand another, but he decided against it. Only Severus could really appreciate it. Could shake his head in bemusement.
Instead, Harry just shrugged. "We're comfortable together. He's stopped baiting me, and I've stopped mouthing off. We've learned how to talk to each other. It's comfortable. It works a far cry better than some marriages I've seen, and we never were in love."
"Really? How interesting, Mr. Potter," a voice drawled. Harry quickly hid the list he had been reading.
"Potter-Snape," he corrected, turning as he did so. "Professor Snape, to what do I owe this surprise?"
"Potter-Snape," Severus corrected, a small smile tugging at the edges of his lips. Harry saw it and hid his own smile. "And absolutely nothing, besides that you are, technically, supposed to be serving a detention with me on this fine Saturday afternoon instead of discussing your sordid married life with Ms. Granger."
Harry frowned, pursing his lips in a way designed to show that he was actually not being very serious. "I don't remember anything about a detention."
Hermione looked appalled, having taken both of them seriously. "Harry! You never take anything seriously. Never! Professor, you have to forgive him. I'm sure he didn't mean to… forget," she finished helplessly as Severus' eyes attempted not to light up in amusement.
"Really, Ms. Granger? Are you defending my husband?"
Hermione blushed. "I mean, I know he's married to you and all, but maybe he just… well, forgot kinda… Oh."
Harry howled with laughter. Severus hid his smile very well; only Harry could tell that he, too, was shaking with amusement.
"There isn't really a detention, is there?" Hermione asked, almost miserably. "It's just a ploy by Professor Sn… Potter-Snape to get Harry out of here. Wouldn't it be easier to say, 'Harry, I want a word?'"
"Easier, sure. As amusing, of course not. To watch you attempt to beg me to forgive my husband over something as trivial as a detention with me…"
"Why would we have detentions together? We live together. Detention enough for the both of us," Harry explained. He looked up at his lover. Promise burned in his eyes. They were insatiable now that they had found each other, both willing and happy together.
Severus slipped into a chair, looking around carefully to make sure no one was watching. "Ms. Granger, it was a mean trick on my part and an equally mean reaction on Harry's."
"We apologize," Harry finished, knowing the words would refuse to tumble out of Severus' mouth.
"We do?" Severus asked, looking at him crossly.
"We do," Harry answered firmly.
Severus looked at Harry's face searchingly, then nodded once.
"I'll see you later," Harry said to Hermione, then bounced off with Severus.
The next morning, Hermione ate her toast impatiently and waited for Harry. Ron had already left, and Harry hadn't shown up for dinner the previous night. He was also late to breakfast.
He entered, kind of flushed, and sat down immediately. He looked up in time to see Severus sweep in and take his seat. He poured himself a cup of tea and raised it to his mouth, his eyes glittering as he looked at his lover. He turned his attention to the newspaper, with promises of later floating over the table.
"Harry!" Hermione snapped.
"Oh, hullo, Hermione," he greeted absently, pouring himself some tea.
"I haven't seen you for a while. Were did you disappear off to?"
He hid his smile. "I am married, Hermione."
The toast fell from her hands, forgotten. "You mean… he took advantage of you?"
"Hell no!" He picked up a paper, mimicking his lover's actions almost entirely.
Hermione snatched the paper from him. "Then… you…"
"Yes." He snatched the paper back and tried to read it.
"You're having sex with a teacher!" she squealed. Luckily, the entire Great Hall was empty except for Harry, Severus, and Hermione.
"I'm having sex with my husband," Harry snapped back. Severus raised an eyebrow at them.
"He's a teacher!" she shrieked.
"Yes, you've mentioned that. But first and foremost, he's my husband. I'm married to him."
A warm hand landed on his shoulder. Harry smiled. "You wanna help?" he asked.
Severus' lips twitched once. "I think not."
"Git. Come one, it's half your fault anyway."
Hermione gasped. "You told me he didn't take advantage of you!"
"Half his fault. The other half is my fault. Takes two to tango."
Severus sat down next to Harry. "So, what is the problem?"
"Oh, don't pretend you didn't hear Hermione."
"I didn't," Severus answered archly.
"Liar," Harry answered. "You are the most transparent liar ever."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "I'll have you know I can fool anyone about anything any time I so choose."
Harry snorted. "You can never fool me."
"Liar," Severus answered almost fondly. "Want to put it to the test?"
"Later," Harry promised.
Hermione was starting to twitch angrily. "Answer me!" she demanded.
Severus turned to her. "Gladly, if you would deign to ask a question instead of levying accusations against my husband and me."
"Are you two having sex?"
"We are married," Severus pointed out. "What we do together is, quite frankly, none of your business or anyone else's."
"You're a teacher!" she squealed.
"I'm his husband, which bypasses the teaching morality code. As his husband, I am allowed to have sex with him, no matter what my position in this school. And since I don't grade any of his Potions materials, there is no hint of favoritism being shown."
"You can't have sex with him! He's not gay."
"Oh, but I am," Harry answered, suppressing a smile.
"You never told me!"
"There was never a reason to. I got married, which put an impetus, so to speak, on my experimentation. But I found I'm rather content with my situation right now."
Severus' lips twitched, almost curling into a small smile.
"You two don't even love each other."
"Love is not required, Ms. Granger," Severus answered.
"Nothing is that simple," Harry added.
"Are you trying to convince us to stop having sex with each other? Are you trying to drive a wedge between us? There's no point, Ms. Granger, we are married for the rest of our lives. It would only make your friend's life worse if he didn't get along with me. We get along fine now. Stop trying to make us hate each other."
Severus stood and waited for Harry to rise as well. "C'mon. I think we can go test if I'm that bad of a liar now."
"You're on!" Harry cried, smiling as he headed back down to the dungeons with Severus.
Hermione watched them go with a bitter scowl on her face.
Harry and Severus entered their rooms. Severus sat down on the sofa. Harry sat down in the armchair across from Severus.
"Start," Harry commanded.
"Lying?" Severus asked with a raised eyebrow.
"My dearest Harry, if I told you I was going to lie, now it wouldn't really be a game of deducing whether you can tell the difference between that and when I tell the truth."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Fine, then do both. Lie and tell the truth."
"Fine. I am a Potions Master."
"So very true. C'mon, do something difficult."
"I am 36 years old."
"Also true," Harry sighed. "I saw your birth certificate."
"I am married."
Harry grinned at him. "Very, very true," he murmured in a low, sultry voice, one that drove Severus wild.
Severus suppressed a shudder of desire. "I am married to you."
"Also very true," Harry murmured in the same low voice.
"But I hate you."
"Liar," Harry answered affectionately. "You're a horrible liar. You love me."
"I do not," Severus answered archly. "I hate you. I've hated you ever since you were born, and your father before you."
"You hated him, but you love me. Love me like no other."
"Love is not required."
They didn't leave their rooms until Monday morning. Severus winked surreptitiously at Harry during breakfast.
Harry blushed fiercely.
Hermione ignored Harry entirely.
Ron was just puzzled.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"Nothing," Hermione snapped. "I can't believe you, Harry," she hissed.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Did you really think we wouldn't?"
"Then you were wrong." Harry left it at that. He stood and grabbed his bag, then headed down to the dungeons for Potions.
Severus entered not long after and worried his bottom lip as he organized his papers. Harry growled in frustration, knowing Severus was teasing him.
The class slowly filed in.
Hermione sat down as far away from Harry as possible. Ron sat down near Hermione, confused about what was going on. He tried to get some answers out of her, but she simply sniffed angrily and looked away.
Severus instructed them to begin making their potions.
"We will be testing a few today, so if you do not want to poison your classmates, I suggest you pay attention to what you are doing."
He drifted around slowly, checking the various stages. He stopped at Harry's desk.
"My, my, my. What do we have here?"
"A potion, sir. The correct one, too, if you can believe that."
Severus raised an eyebrow in mock-doubt. "We'll just see about that," he muttered. "I'll test it on… Weasley."
Ron got up hesitantly and hoped that Harry's potion-making skills had drastically improved.
Severus ladled a beakerful out and handed it to Ron. "Well, bottoms up."
Ron drank it and shuddered. Slowly, he began to disappear. "Ah!" he cried. "What's happening?"
"It's an Invisibility Potion, Weasley, so you should be disappearing. This particular strain only lasts for half an hour, so you shall be entirely visible upon leaving my classroom. Provided, of course, that Harry didn't mess it up. I have already taken a counter-active potion that will allow me to see you, so don't even think of sneaking out. It won't work."
Ron nodded. "Then how do you know that Harry made his potion correctly?"
"Oh, for the love of Merlin… Because you appear translucent to me. As you would know had you done the homework."
Ron blushed, although only Severus could see this.
"Malfoy, you will be testing your potion on Zabini."
Severus swept over to Malfoy's cauldron and ladled out a beakerful. He handed it to Zabini, who drank it immediately. He disappeared quickly.
"Avery, test yours on Nott. Thomas, test yours on Finnegan." Both Nott and Seamus drank the proffered potions and disappeared.
"And, Longbottom, you will be testing your potion on…" he looked around. Many of the students gulped.
Hermione gasped. Severus glided over to Neville's cauldron and ladled out a beakerful. He attempted not to grimace at the color and the smell. They were definitely off.
He handed the beaker to Hermione, who reluctantly drank it.
"Aaaah!" she screamed.
Her fingers were quickly lengthening, the nails growing longer and longer until her fingers and nails were a foot long. Her hair turned into hissing snakes, she grew an extra pair of arms in the form of tentacles, and her eyes turned blood red. Her neck lengthened, as did her legs, although her torso compressed, leaving her the same height. She grew a long, curling tail with rough, sharp spines protruding towards the end. She fidgeted desperately.
"How unfortunate," Severus sneered. "100 points from Gryffindor for poisoning a classmate, Longbottom. Had you paid attention, you would clearly realize that this is not the type of reaction we were hoping for." He tsked.
"Now, as to reversing this, I'm quite at a loss. I suppose Granger will just have to stay with me while I figure out exactly what this is."
Hermione clawed at herself, causing her blood to flow. Strangely, it was a glowing blue.
"Petrificus Totalus," Severus said, and Hermione went rigid and fell. "Class dismissed. Those of you who are invisible, stay until you become visible again. Harry, you should also stay."
Ron, Zabini, Nott, Seamus, and Harry all finished cleaning up and sat down again. Harry was proud of himself for successfully making the Invisibility potion and thereby not harming Ron in any way.
Ron, Zabini, Nott, and Seamus soon became visible again, and Severus dismissed them.
He looked up at Harry. "So, what do you think?"
"Of your attempt to revenge yourself on Hermione? I think it was low, Severus, very low. I mean, you could've killed her. You never know exactly what Neville makes, although there's a million to one chance it isn't what it's supposed to be. And now you don't quite know what to do with her."
Severus sighed. "I know it was wrong of me, Harry. I just saw how she sat far away from you, how she's been refusing to talk to you, those dirty looks she keeps sending us, and I thought to myself that I could mask my revenge by testing other potions as well. I was really trying to tell her to leave us alone."
He cried out in triumph. "I've got it! Now I just have to make the antidote and force her to drink it."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Good luck."
Severus began bustling around his workroom. He quickly finished the antidote.
"Ms. Granger," he said sharply.
The creature standing in the middle of the room turned towards him and snarled.
"I have the antidote."
She lumbered towards him and snatched up the proffered vial. Severus repressed a shiver as her claws scratched deeply into his skin. He knew the claws had no poisonous qualities – something he was immensely grateful for.
She downed it and immediately began changing again. Soon enough, she was her normal self. She glared at Severus.
"That was dangerous and you knew it!"
"Leave him alone," Harry snapped. "Leave both of us alone. You can't understand it, can you? Can't understand that I can stand living this way. You just don't get it, yet you'll try your goddamned hardest to make us hate each other!"
"This whole marriage is just wrong!" she screamed back.
"But you can't change it!" Harry answered. "I married him. I knew it would the last the rest of my life. I chose to do it, Hermione!"
"Did you choose to let him fuck you, too, or did he have to curse you?"
"Ms. Granger, I suggest you watch your words and your tone."
"No! You're corrupting him! You just married him so that one day you could turn him over to Voldemort!"
Harry fought back tears. "NO! Severus would never do something like that. You just hate him because you think he's hurting me."
"No, you've only spent five years snarking at each other. Of course I understand this sudden urge to marry him!"
"It was for my own good! I got away from the Dursleys. It grounds my magic. Maybe now I'll have a decent chance at defeating Voldemort."
"Was it also for your own good that you let him fuck you?"
"Would you get over the fact that we're having sex?" Severus asked lightly. "I'm married to him. We have the right to have sex without you condemning my husband for it."
"This whole marriage is just wrong! You're going to find someone you truly love, and then you're going to be miserable," Hermione hissed.
"I've already found somebody I love, and I'm certainly not miserable."
"Really?" Hermione asked sarcastically. "How long will the love of your life put up with you fucking Snape?"
"Potter-Snape," Severus corrected automatically.
"Forever," Harry snapped back.
"Oh, really? He doesn't mind that another guy shoves his cock up your arse?"
"Surprising. If I were him, I would. Then again, maybe it depends on the person. Who is it?"
Harry clamped his mouth shut and shook his head vehemently.
"There is no one, is there? You just want me to believe you actually know what you're doing. Not likely, if you're married to that git."
"Shut up! Shut up! I love him!" Harry screamed.
"Love whom? Snape?"
"Yes! Yes, I do! I love him with all my heart!" Harry answered, near tears.
"Doesn't change the fact that he's playing you. Just gives him more of an opportunity to make you bend to his will."
"I love him," Severus declared, staring Hermione in the eye.
"Leave," Severus ordered.
Harry immediately began sobbing. Severus enveloped him in his arms. "Shh, I'm here. You know I'm here."
Harry nodded slightly, hiccupping a bit.
"It's okay, I'm here," Severus soothed Harry.
Harry finally stopped crying. "I just can't believe she had the gall to say all of that."
"It's pettiness, really," Severus explained. "She's upset and she won't let up."
"I don't get it," Harry complained. "If I want to fuck you, why should she make it her business?"
"In the beginning, she really was just worried about you."
"She just can't grasp your point of view."
"I know. It's rather stupid, really. She simply can't accept the fact that you may actually be happy, since in the beginning, it was just convenient."
"I think there's something else."
"Ginny. Hermione's fond of Ginny, who's… in love with me, so…"
Severus nodded. "It's tough. But you're gay, so you wouldn't be with her even you weren't married to me."
"Hermione thinks you made me think I was gay."
"Nothing's ever simple, is it?"
"I know," Severus sighed. He watched his young lover carefully.
"I hate it!" he screamed suddenly. "Merlin, marrying you has caused so many fucking problems."
Severus fell silent. "Do you regret…"
"No. Never. I fell in love with you. I don't want to lose that. It's just…" he trailed off.
"I understand," Severus answered quickly. "Nothing's perfect, is it?"
"You," Harry smiled. "You are."
"You are. You are, you are, you are," Harry retorted in a sing-song voice. "The most perfect being ever to walk upon this good earth."
He kissed Severus. "The most perfect being to ever set foot upon this good earth," he said again. "I love you."
"I love you," Severus replied.
The next day, Hermione continued to pointedly ignore Harry.
Ron finally cornered Hermione and asked her what was wrong.
"Go ask Harry," she sniffed.
Ron went to Harry apologetically.
"It's no problem," he assured Ron when Ron apologized for the third time for 'bothering' him.
"Hermione found out that Severus and I were… well, having sex. She was outraged, saying stuff like Severus was a teacher and the like. Severus and I defended ourselves, and basically, that's it. It just keeps getting worse, that's all."
"Do you love him?" Ron asked when he saw Harry's expression.
Harry nodded. "Entirely. He's amazing…"
Ron shook his head. "You don't have to explain it to me. I'm okay with it."
"Funny, I always thought you'd be the one flipping out and Hermione would be the one who'd be taking it in stride."
"Hermione doesn't really understand everything quite right, y'know? To her, it's black and white. Either it is or it isn't. She's always seen it that way. Two extremes and no middle ground. She saw how you and Snape had reacted in the previous years, and she assumed you'd spend the rest of your life hating him. Then you married him, for your own good, and she tried her damnedest to understand it. That was easier for her because she thought that the two of you wouldn't get along despite being married. But then you seemed content with your situation, and she tried to understand. There were points when she really did attempt to see it, but she never trusted Snape. She always thought that you would eventually become discontent with your life."
Ron took a deep breath. Harry was listening closely, trying to understand.
"And then she finds out you're having sex with him. To her, sex is an expression of love."
"Nothing is that simple," Harry interjected.
Ron nodded. "You and I know that. But she can't see it that way. It's too ambiguous, too vague. She has society defined rigidly; she lives according to those rules. Now, to her, for you to be having sex with Snape, you must love him. And she's hurt that you've been lying to her all this time about loving Snape. She doesn't see that maybe the two of you agreed to have sex even if you didn't love each other. And then she realizes that maybe you weren't lying to her about loving Snape, and her mind jumps to another conclusion: Snape's taking advantage of you."
"He's not!" Harry cried hotly.
"I know," Ron replied. "But I'm explaining to you why Hermione's being the way she is."
Harry nodded. "Okay, I'm following you so far."
"And now she's got it firmly in her head that Snape's taking advantage of you, and no matter what you say, she won't change her mind."
"But I told her I loved Severus. And Severus told her he loved me."
"She still thinks Severus manipulated you into loving him."
"Oh." Harry paused. "How do you know this? I mean, Hermione hasn't explained anything to you."
"I know Hermione's thinking style fairly well."
Later that day, Harry told Severus what Ron had told him.
"So basically Granger's doing this because she can't understand the complexity of human nature?" Severus asked disbelievingly.
"According to Ron."
"But Granger's so intelligent."
"Book smarts, I suppose. Maybe it has nothing to do with social skills."
Severus nodded. "Entirely possible."
Harry curled up next to Severus. He rested his head on Severus' shoulder. "Mm…"
Severus smiled. "I love you," he murmured.
"I love you," Harry answered.
"It will all sort itself out in the end," Severus assured Harry.
Harry shrugged. "As long as you're here, I don't particularly care."
Severus chuckled. "Flatterer."
Harry smiled. "Well, maybe a little. For both. I love you with all my heart, but I hate being estranged from my friends."
"Nothing is simple," Severus concluded.