Written for the livejournal SSHG Winter exchange for andrian1. Many thanks to Revena for beta reading.

Negotiations

Hermione knew there were 1,268 ceiling tiles. She also knew it took eighteen steps to cross the room from one side to another, twenty-one if she measured heel to toe. And it had been 74 hours and 52 minutes since Charlie had left her alone in this ramshackle shack in the Arctic with nothing more than her wand and a few tins of food. The tins she still had, useless though they were without any means to open them. The wand had slipped down a hole in the ice after an ill-advised attempt at ice fishing. She was a very hungry girl. 74 hours and 53 minutes. The wind howled outside.

Professor Severus Snape trudged through the snow as a storm gathered around him. He could barely make out the thinnest outline of a building about a mile away as the white flakes bit at his cheeks. He cursed the native who gave him poor directions, he cursed the Dark Lord for not being properly grateful to him for killing Dumbledore and sending him up here in the first place, and he cursed Potter for…well, just because.

An hour later, Snape finally reached what turned out to be a ramshackle shack. But despite its disappointing size, he was happy (or as close to it as he ever got) to find that someone was already here. That meant it was already warm. Maybe there was already food on the table. He might have some conversation that didn't involve sycophantic praise or Malfoy mentioning how much it cost to install his new fireplace (close to a million Galleons.) That is, until he saw Miss Granger. For a brief moment, she looked excited to see him and then in the next she lay back down with her eyes clenched shut. He knew just how she felt.

Hermione lay on the small bed in the corner trying to list every potions ingredient she knew in alphabetical order. She had just reached kneazle hair when the knock at the door came. Though on second thought, it wasn't so much a knock as a clumsy fumble to open the door. She sat up quickly. The words, "Charlie! You're back," had barely left her mouth before she saw him. Not Charlie, but Snape. Dripping wet hair hung in his face and there were still snowflakes resting on his shoulders, bright white against the black fabric of his robes.

She lay back down. The Killing Curse was faster than starvation, she rationalized.

"Get on with it then," Hermione said, a few moments later. She heard Snape come in, take off his cloak, and sit down at the table. Where was the snarling? Or the killing?

"With what, exactly?" Severus asked. He didn't know what she meant. What did she expect from him? All he wanted was to get warm, maybe eat something, and then get as far away as he could from these damned Yeti the Dark Lord insisted would help them win this bloody war.

"Aren't you going to kill me? Like you killed Dumbledore?" She sat up in the bed, swinging her legs over the side and looking hard at him. He resented the reminder.

"You're going to just let me? Why aren't you trying to fight back?" Severus said in his most cutting tone, though he was afraid it came out more tired than anything else. Hermione eyed him quizzically. She had not anticipated this.

"I lost my wand."

He raised an eyebrow and she felt impelled to elaborate. The professor in him had always held that power over her. "Apparently, I'm not so good at ice fishing."

"How ironic." Severus chuckled.

Hermione bristled. "How so?"

"The know-it-all loses her wand in the wilderness and starves to death," he answered with a smirk. It was a nice feeling to see her so low. It made his own lowness seem not so…well, low.

"I prefer brave Gryffindor and member of the Order of the Phoenix killed in the line of duty by an evil loathsome Death Eater."

Severus pondered that for a moment. He hadn't even considered killing her, though it did make sense that she thought he might. But she didn't realize how much energy went into killing a person, and right now, he was knackered. Perhaps later.

"You're not going to try negotiating your way out of it?" he asked her.

Hermione frowned. "With what?"

"You tell me why you're out here in this Godforsaken icescape and I'll postpone murdering you for–" he glanced at his wristwatch–"half an hour."

"That's confidential Order business," she said. The fact that it was a preposterous useless mission in the first place was another reason she didn't fancy telling him why she was out here.

"Technically, I'm still a member of the Order."

"No you're not," Hermione told him. "We had an official ceremony where Harry ranted and raved about being right and then we burned your Potions manual."

"Liar." That book would probably save Potter's life. And he had no doubt that when it did, he would receive no credit at all. Just like always.

For the first time since he arrived, Hermione's frosty exterior melted some and she almost smiled. Almost.

"Charlie dragged me along to help convince the Yeti in this area to join the fight against Vol–" she hesitated at his twisted look when she started to say the name–"He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," she finished, lamely.

"It won't work," he told her.

After two hours of shivering and grunting in the cold, Severus had decided that Yeti were dumber than Longbottom, Potter, and Weasley put together. They might show up on the battlefield but there would be no controlling them if they started eating their own combatants or the enemy.

He didn't look forward to relaying that message to the Dark Lord. You-Know-Who didn't like hearing bad news. He wondered if there was some way to avoid it.

"I know," Hermione said. She had done a lot of reading on the subject and by all accounts, the creatures were dumber than rocks. But no one ever listened to her.

"Then why are you here?"

Hermione blushed at the question. "Ifachlee," she said very quickly. Severus gave her his best "I'm a very impatient and dangerous man" look and she finally relented.

"Because I fancy Charlie," she said slower this time.

"I thought you and Ronald–"

"Not anymore," Hermione confessed. She felt a little silly telling her former professor all this but he was going to kill her soon enough that it wouldn't matter anyway. "I prefer an older, more mature man."

Severus tried to keep from snorting at such an asinine statement, but it slipped out nonetheless. The thought of Charlie Weasley appealing to such a tightly wound bookworm was preposterous. Even more ridiculous was the notion that the brawny dragon tamer would reciprocate the attraction.

No, what she needed was someone who could match her wit for wit–someone like him. He let out another snort at the thought. The cold was starting to affect his higher reasoning.

Hermione was not pleased at his disbelieving reaction. "Isn't it time you got on with it?" she asked impatiently, waving her arm at the wand he held loosely in his right hand.

"No," Severus said, standing. "I'm hungry and would prefer to eat first." He rummaged around the small cabinets. The pickings were slim — some anchovies and a tin of pears. Turning around, he glared at Hermione.

"Why do think I was trying to ice fish?" she said, shrugging her shoulders. She stood up and stood next to him at the small table, watching with wide eyes while he opened the pears. She looked at the shriveled fruit like it was the holy grail. Merlin, she was hungry. She wondered if he would let her have just a small piece, but she would need to distract him first.

"Do you know that the ice can be up to ten feet deep in some places? The idea when ice fishing is to try and find a spot that is thick enough to hold your weight but not so thick that you spend all of your energy trying to get through it. In fact–" Hermione slid her hand across the table, hardly aware of what nonsense was coming out of her mouth.

Severus looked over at her and appraised her appearance. Her hair was still bushy but it would be hypocritical to complain. She was a bit on the thin side, but once again, so was he. Her lips looked reasonable enough — soft and pliable. And it would shut her up.

Decision made, he slapped her hand away and tutted at her. "Tsk, tsk, Miss Granger, or should I call you Hermione? We haven't negotiated for food."

Hermione held her slapped hand close to her body and glared at him. She didn't like his impertinence in calling her by her first name. She wasn't calling him Severus, was she?

"It's my food," she reminded him.

"Which you can't open without a can opener or a wand, neither of which you have."

"I'm not giving you information about Harry for a tinned pear," she said coldly.

"I'm not asking for information," he reminded her, his eyes sliding over her body. She wasn't that bad, not at all. He watched as she furrowed her brow.

"What else do I have that you would wa–Oh no!" she exclaimed.

He stepped closer, looming over her. Hermione took a step back. She had always been a teacher's pet, but this was never something she had in mind (unless one counted those few months she had giggled over Gilderoy). Severus took another step, enjoying the panicked look on her face as she quite literally backed herself into a wall.

"Just a kiss, Hermione," he said, his voice low and husky. "Aren't you hungry? How long has it been since you were satisfied?"

Three days and a little over two hours since she had last eaten, though Hermione was pretty sure that wasn't what he was really asking. Much longer was the answer to that particular question. Just one kiss, she thought. It was worth it.

Nodding, she closed her eyes. He cupped her cheek with one hand and leaned in to kiss her. She sighed what sounded like a sigh of contentment, and at any rate opened her mouth wide enough that Severus could deepen the kiss. He knew her to be a quick study, but he had never had a woman respond so quickly to his touch. Generous man that he was, he decided he would give her two tinned pears when he finished.

Hermione had never dreamed of kissing Professor Snape. And yet here he was with his mouth on hers and it wasn't nearly as bad as she thought it might be just moments earlier. In fact, he was as skillful with his mouth as he was with a cauldron, which set her creative and imaginative mind off wondering what else he might do with it. She forgot how hungry for food she was and remembered her other hunger.

It was in that blissful moment when both Severus and Hermione had forgotten the mundane trivialities of their life including Dark Lords, Yetis, and uneaten tinned pears, where his tongue slid over her teeth and she curled her fingers into his robe and clutched him tighter, that Charlie decided to return.

"Hermione, I think I might have–Snape!" Charlie exclaimed, grabbing for his wand with the quick reflexes he had developed working with dragons.

But it wasn't fast enough. Snape spun around, taking Hermione with him. By the time he came face to face with Weasely, he held her captive with his arm about her neck and his wand pressed to her temple.

"You bastard!" Hermione cried, struggling against his hold. But he held her tightly against him.

"The game has changed, my dear. We're merely renegotiating," he said softly in her ear. She shivered at the coldness in his voice.

"Let her go, Snape!" Charlie said, advancing slowly.

Snape gripped Hermione tighter and tapped his wand against her head. "Two words, Weasely, that's all it would take. I wouldn't come any closer if I was you."

Hermione held her breath, watching as Charlie debated both the validity of Snape's statement and the value of her life. How could he pause like that? Charlie was supposed to be her hero in shining fire resistant armor, barging into the unknown to save her regardless of the risk to himself. But he didn't. And in that small moment, all of her regard for him left her.

Which just left her with an inept Weasley and a very dangerous Snape. Something needed to be done.

"She's a bright girl, Miss Granger is. I'm sure you would hate to see anything happen to her." Twitching his wand slightly towards Charlie's direction, Snape kept speaking while he thought of the Stunning Spell. A red burst of light leapt from his wand just as he said, "Quite the kisser as well, though I suspect you'll never have the chance to know that."

Hermione let out what Severus thought was slightly over the top and at the very least a histrionic scream. Though to be fair, he knew what spell he had hit Charlie with while she had just seen a cruel and evil Death Eater take down the object of her one-time affections.

"Shut up, you fool," he hissed in her ear. "Now where were we?"

He maneuvered her back around so she faced him with the hope that he could pick up where they had left off–with her moaning about what a fabulous snogger he was. He envisioned there would be shagging later, but perhaps somewhere warmer than this God-forsaken and freezing shack.

Hermione took this opportunity to knee him in the groin and grab his wand.

"I believe," she grunted as he cried out in pain. "We were renegotiating."

His wand didn't respond as smoothly as her own lost one did, but she managed to Stun Snape and then Apparate them both away from the cabin. Still a little miffed that he would leave her there for so long, Hermione figured Charlie could take care of himself when he woke up.


Severus wouldn't say he was pleased to wake up and find himself tied to a bed. For one, his head pounded. And the Dark Lord wouldn't be pleased to learn he had been taken prisoner not by an Auror but by a green young witch who hadn't even finished school.

But then again he couldn't say he was entirely displeased either. The wind that blew through the open windows carried with it the smell of salt spray and sand. And Miss Granger, or Hermione rather, sat lounging in the chair in the corner in nothing but a skimpy bikini while drinking a Mai Tai.

"Let me up," he demanded.

Hermione stood, her eyes sparkling, and set her glass down on the dresser. She grabbed his bony ankles with both hands, her eyes sliding up his body before meeting his eyes, giving him a perfect view of her exquisite breasts. He revised his earlier thoughts. She was much more than acceptable.

"I think that will depend on our negotiations," she told him. He smirked. This was much better than looking for Yetis.

The End. I'll leave the rest to your imagination. ;-D