A/N: As I continue on my mission to be a well-rounded author, I realized that I must write a Hermione/Snape oneshot in order to be successful in this mission. Now, the pairing usually makes me feel sick to my stomach due to the creepy-ness of the age difference and the whole teacher/student thing, but I think I managed to write a tasteful, even on-character oneshot for all you HGSS shippers out there.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Ensnare the Senses
He hadn't wanted to be there in the first place, but it had been his job as a Professor. So there he was, amidst the elegantly-carved ice sculptures, dressed in black as usual. Severus Snape. The 'Goodbye Ball' was something he was forced to attend each year, and each year he stood moodily in the corner of the room in his velvety, expensive dress robes and watched the Seventh Years act like punch-drunk dunderheads. And yet, as he stood in the shadows of the room, he couldn't help but be glad that he had showed up after all, for she was there as well.
Severus watched her as she danced with her friends across the room. Her hair was in a French Knot with little pieces of hair curling down to frame her face. He supposed she must have spent hours on her hair, but for who? Had she just wanted to show everyone that she could clean up well or had she actually taken the time to impress somebody? Weasley, perhaps? The thought made him scowl and then scold himself. Time and time again he had reminded himself that he was twice her age, easily, and that she was his student. The thought was sort of wrong. But still, nothing was wrong in admiring the way she looked in that nice, conservatively-cut dress, as long as he didn't do anything about it.
Leaning against the cold stone wall with slightly rounded shoulders, Severus noticed that she had glanced at him a handful too many times to be considered casual. Perhaps she had felt that someone was watching her, which was all too correct. He had, in fact, been watching her with an almost unwavering stare, sometimes directly while other times with his peripheral vision.
And then, suddenly, she was standing in front of him, wearing a slightly embarrassed expression. He stood up straighter and fixed her with a sturdy gaze, careful not to look either too cold or too interested. Her cheeks were slightly pink, he noticed, and he wondered if she'd been helping herself to the Firewhiskey that had been supplied for those students who were of age.
"Can I help you, Miss Granger?" Severus asked in his usual voice, smooth as silk.
She clasped her hands convulsively in front of her, her face becoming slightly pinker.
"I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about – about my potion," Hermione asked hastily, stammering only once and trying to look professional.
Severus raised a brow at the woman and fixed her with a slightly curious expression before replying, "Of course."
She opened her mouth and then closed it again, biting her glossy bottom lip. He didn't say anything, but waited for her question. Somehow she was acting a little too nervous for somebody who wanted to ask a question about her latest potion.
"It might take a minute, Sir," she said hesitantly, tilting her head and nodding in the direction of the dance floor, which was crowded with students and Professors alike. "Would you like to –?"
His brow arched higher and he felt the corner of his mouth twitch upwards. Severus held out an arm.
"I don't see why not," he replied with the air of someone who was all too casual and comfortable with his surroundings. In reality, he was trying not to notice that his pulse had quickened alarmingly and suddenly. He offered and arm and she took it gingerly, her hand barely gripping his arm.
As Severus lead her out onto the dance floor, nobody spared them a second glance. After all, they were not the only combination of student and Professor; Neville was waltzing with Professor Sprout and McGonagall had allowed Ernie to escort her to the dance floor, if reluctantly so. It was all in good fun, in theory. He took Hermione's hand gently in his and placed a hand on her waist. Even with her tall heels, he was far taller than she. Her palms were sweaty and he could feel her fingers shaking beneath his even as she placed her free hand on his shoulder. The song was sort of a slow, orchestrated song and couples danced across the floor in a blur of many colors and words. He raised his eyebrows in a questioning way and she nodded once in confirmation. Severus led.
Hermione was a wonderful dancer, she really was. Severus was truly impressed at the fluidity of her motion, of how easily he guided her across the floor. Neither spoke, but their eyes were connected so that they didn't confuse their moves and step on one another's feet – or maybe it was the fact that both of them were feeling very insecure.
Finally Hermione spoke. "Sir, in a few days' time I will no longer be your student."
Severus took a moment to consider this statement, mulling over the possible meanings and carefully selecting a reply. Her breath smelled of fruit punch, though, and not liquor, which was a slightly relieving sign.
"This is true," he replied simply, at long last. He decided he'd better not mention that Hermione had told him that she had had a question about Potions class.
"Well, Sir, I was wondering if –" she broke off when he twirled her around once to buy himself some time. Surely she wasn't about to ask him what he thought she was. He pulled her back after the spin and she seemed slightly distraught, as if she were having trouble thinking of what to say. "– if, when the graduation ceremony ends, you'd like to join me for a – for a drink or something of the sort."
She blushed deeper and any retort that he had had on the tip of his tongue vanished in that instant. What was he to say to her, after she had mustered up the courage to ask him on a date? The word 'date' almost made him cringe; he hadn't dated in the longest time, especially not a student, either. But, as Hermione had so carefully pointed out, she wasn't going to be his student much longer.
Instead of speaking, he fixed her with a sturdy expression, showing no emotion other than a look of contemplative solidity. Their eyes were still connected, her brown ones with his black ones, a look of apprehension and mingled fear on her features as they continued to dance in time with the other couples. His long robe whipped about the both of them like a curtain of water, his black robes in direct contrast with her long, silky blue dress.
"Sir, do you remember in the very first lesson of my very first year," Hermione began slowly, looking briefly away in the direction of her two very surprised-looking friends, "When you said that you couldn't expect us to understand the ways of the potion, the way that something could ensnare the senses?"
Hermione slowed slightly and Severus could feel that she was almost quivering – with what, though, he couldn't tell.
"Well you were right, I didn't understand then." She paused briefly before looking back into his cold eyes. "But I do now."
Still Severus said nothing. Clearly she had made her point now, but he was truly at a loss for words. Hermione seemed to understand though, for she made no protest as the song reached a particularly melodic crescendo and he made to dip her. She slid her foot forward slightly and allowed him to ease her backwards, his concentration set on supporting her weight. Hermione tilted her head back for effect and exposed the nape of her neck, her curls cascading from her shoulders – everything was going perfectly. Only, she chose that moment to make a rather frank comment.
"So are you going to accept me or not, Sir?"
He almost dropped her. He pulled her back up and she roughly pulled herself closer to him than before, a slightly dangerous expression on her face as she stared into the faintly surprised face of her Professor. A curl came loose from her knot and framed her features, making her eyes seem colder than before.
"Well?" Her words were sharp enough to cut through him like a knife. He suddenly felt sorry for those who dared to cross her.
He pondered for a moment, again making sure that his words were carefully selected.
"Tell me, Miss Granger," he said calmly, again raising his eyebrow pointedly, "How old are you?"
Hermione didn't miss a beat.
"Old enough," she replied, raising her chin defiantly to better meet his eyes. He almost laughed – her dignity had always amused him. Her ability to look him in the eye and take his harsh words, even after that time in her fourth year when he'd read out loud a particularly embarrassing article about her, had always amused him and enticed him.
"Very well then," Severus said simply, allowing a faint smirk to course his thin lips. He let go of her as the song ended and stepped back a half-pace. "I accept."
Hermione's eyes widened slightly, as if she'd been expecting more protesting. He chuckled softly and almost reached out to touch her, but their location would have deemed it inappropriate. Casually Severus put one hand behind his back and examined the cuticles on his other hand with a mildly interested expression.
"I have a few papers left to grade in my office," he said offhandedly, raising his gaze to meet Hermione's eyes and giving her a pointed look. "I'll be there for a while, I would imagine."
Hermione's eyebrows shot up this time and she suppressed a smirk with great difficulty.
"Would you mind if I stop by to get the score on my Potions project, Professor?" Hermione asked innocently.
"Not in the slightest, Miss Granger."
Severus, with a curt nod, turned and strode off in the direction of the Great Hall doors, pausing only to give Seamus Finnigan a detention for inappropriate displays of affection. Hermione chuckled and, a minute later, left as well.
Harry watched as Hermione left the great Hall, confused by any stretch of the imagination about what he'd just witnessed.
"Hey Ron," Harry said without tearing his eyes off of Hermione as she disappeared from sight. "What do you think that was all about? Ron?"
Harry tore his eyes away from the doorway to the Great Hall and set them upon Ron, who raised his seventh glass of Firewhiskey to his lips and drank it down in one swig. When he set the glass down, his slightly exasperated but otherwise expressionless-looking look made Harry cringe. Ron, however, had only one thing to say:
"I hate dances."