So I'm fairly certain this is the last chapter, unless there's an uproar from its fans and I'm forced to write another one...and another one...and another one. No spoilers for the book - I promise.
Thanks for all the reviews - you guys are the greatest!
It is finally June and the students are finally and leaving and Severus finally has his dungeons all to himself, a fact he isn't letting go to waste. He's made fifteen potions in the last six days; he's read seven of the twenty books Hermione Weasley (formerly Granger and formerly annoying) recommended to him at the last Weasley dinner; he's caught up on the ridiculous amount of sleep he missed while trying to keep the great dunderheads from killing themselves. All in all, he's made good use of this free time.
He even cleaned.
So, on this lovely June morning, he's shed his teaching robes, donned appropriate British summer attire, and has brought his book with him to the lake where he's stretched out, reading, under the shade of an oak tree.
He's halfway through The Pride of the Yankees (Hermione's father read it while on Holiday in America and declared it to be the best book about a sport he didn't understand – Severus is inclined to agree, being a cricket man himself) when a loud crash sounds behind him and the familiar melody of Auriga's laughter floats down the walkway to him.
'Don't worry, Severus, I'm fine,' she says as she appears in his line of sight, brushing grass from the back of her yellow dress. A yellow dress he's never seen before and will readily admit to liking upon first sight.
'I take it your ballerina-like grace failed you yet again,' he says with a small smile.
He finds it incredibly endearing that she sticks her tongue out at him as she flops onto the grass next to him, her skirt flouncing out around her folded up legs. He pretends to go back to reading his book.
'What are you reading?' she asks after a beat or two.
He shows her the cover and the look she gives him is two parts confusion and one part interest. 'What's a Yankee?' she asks.
'An American baseball team – think cricket but without the skill.'
She smiles. 'Did you bring any other books?'
He mock frowns at her. 'Had I known that I'd be required to provide you with entertainment this afternoon, I would have brought my copy of the Grimm Brothers.'
'Oh please. I could recite those from memory.'
He fails miserably at trying not to laugh and is rewarded by yet another smile. She inches closer to him and it isn't just the warm summer sun that makes him hot around the collar. He feigns great interest in his book.
'Severus?' she asks, her voice taking on the curiosity quality that has always gotten him into trouble.
She's too quiet and he looks up from his book to see what's taking her so long. She's biting her lip – a sign that she's thinking about something – and when he catches her eye, she stops.
'Oh sod it,' she says and in a flurry of yellow cotton and red hair, she's in his lap and she's kissing him senseless.
It takes him a minute to catch up, but when he does the book is discarded and he pulls her closer, kisses her back and they stay that way for what seems like an eternity.
Eventually, Auriga pulls away for air and he's hard pressed not to admit that it's painful for him to allow it. She leans her forehead against his and smiles.
'Speechless?' she teases.
He smiles back at her, reaches up to brush the constant mess of curls away from her forehead, and kisses her mouth very lightly.
'Took you long enough,' he says and is more than happy to hear the musical laughter that pours from her.
She settles against him and hands him his book. 'Tell me about the pride of the Yankees,' she says with a smile that could convince him to buy the moon for her and he obliges.
In the warm summer sun, under an oak tree, Severus Snape, resident curmudgeon of Hogwarts, experiences bliss for the first time since his childhood.