The title for this one comes from the Gomez song of the same name. Check it out - I find it amusing. :)
Also, this one is kind of sentimental. Apparently, I've become a romantic. Who knew?
Disclaimer - they are, in no way, mine...
At some point, without his express permission, Auriga Sinistra worked her way into his life. Of all the things that could conspire to leave Severus Snape a very miserable man, this sudden development is among the top five. Actually, were he honest with himself, he'd realize Auriga makes him anything but a miserable man, but he isn't used to being honest with himself and doesn't see why he should start doing so now.
Today is no exception to the rule – he has been hunkered down at his desk for the last three hours, grading poorly written papers from his first years and contemplating a career change while Auriga, oblivious to his feigned dislike of her presence, sits in an armchair by his fireplace and reads a book so worn he can barely make out the title with a magnifying glass. This has become a sort of routine for them, a nightly ritual that he secretly enjoys and outwardly mocks.
It is difficult for him to say when, exactly, her presence became a necessity in his life but he knows she's firmly cemented herself in a place where no other human being ever has. It's slightly…disturbing.
'Auriga,' he asks while scrawling a scathing remark in the corner of an essay, 'why are you here?'
She doesn't bother to look up from her book, a trait he finds slightly endearing about their many quarrels and conversations. She has a tendency to answer him while focusing on other things and while he should, by all rights, find it annoying, he can't.
'My rooms were lonely.'
It's the most rational thing he's ever heard her say.
'Quite. But why have you chosen to burden my office with your presence when I'm positive Victoria Vector would at least offer you conversation?'
He never really understands why he says these things, but they seem to come out anyway. She looks up from her book and smiles. He notes the slipping glasses, the barely controlled auburn curls, and the flush on her cheeks from the warmth of the fire. She looks beautiful and his heart skips a beat.
It's surprising because until he started spending time with Auriga, he'd always assumed he didn't have a heart.
'Are you trying to get rid of me?' she asks with an undertone of laughter to her voice.
He frowns. 'Of course I am.'
Her smile widens. 'Victoria is off in Paris, visiting her husband to be and I am stuck here, with you.' She turns back to her book and a thick curl falls from the precariously perched bun at the nape of her neck. In the firelight, it looks like a fine burgundy wine. 'Besides, I never asked for conversation.'
She has a very valid point and he's hard pressed to come up with an adequate rebuttal. In fact, in all the months they've been doing this, she's never once started an unwanted conversation with him. If anything, he asks the questions that start them off on long-winded debates.
'I could go, if you like,' she says, still focused on her book.
Actually, he'd very much like her to stay. Her very presence in his office has warmed it beyond what the fire could do and he wonders how she'd react if he walked over, took the book from her lap, and kissed her.
She'd probably slap him.
'Do as you please, Auriga. I've never before had the ability to stop you – why should that change now?'
'Change is often good, Severus.'
He goes back to his essays to avoid the conversation, to avoid her, and is halfway through another miserable attempt at cognitive thinking when the solid, unexpected thud of a heavy book hitting a wooden floor brings him back to his office. He looks up and is taken aback by the sight of Auriga standing in front of the fire, hair out of its bun and glasses sitting atop her head. She's staring at him.
'Auriga…' he begins, but she silences him with a look – a look that's slightly familiar and he wonders when she began throwing around his patented glares.
'Do you think, quite possibly, that you might get around to kissing me sometime this century?' she asks.
The question brings him to his feet.
'Pardon?' he asks because he isn't quite sure he heard her correctly. He could have sworn she asked him to kiss her…
'I'm asking you to kiss me. Right here. Right now.'
He's delusional. There's no other explanation for the scene playing out in his office right now.
'Auriga, have you been drinking?'
She smiles, her features softening slightly. With the fire backing her and highlighting the red in her unruly hair, she looks like a great Irish goddess and for a minute he's tempted to believe it's all real.
'No, Severus, not a drop.' She steps toward him and he notes the bare toes sticking out from under her heavy woolen teaching robes. 'Haven't you ever wondered why I come here every night, why I read in front of your fire and drink my evening tea with you? Or why, on Sundays, I help you stock your store room shelves and catalogue your inventory when I could be gossiping with Victoria?'
'Because you're mentally unstable?' he says without thinking.
'Because I enjoy your company, you great oversized bat. Because of all the people in this castle who I could spend time with, I'd rather spend time in the silence of this cold and dark dungeon, with you.'
He's suddenly aware that she's standing right in front of the desk and that she's leaning towards him ever so slightly. He can see the freckles across her nose, the tiny flecks of color that cover the apples of her cheeks and give her the appearance of a girl much younger than she actually is.
He's so very old, so very stuck in his ways, and Auriga deserves better, which is why he shuts down and adopts his normally indifferent air.
'You should have your head examined, Auriga. You spend too much time stargazing.'
Her eyes lock with his and he knows that she sees the truth there, knows that it breaks her heart a little when he says nothing.
'I'm sorry I've taken up so much of your time with my insane ramblings. I'll trouble you no more.'
She turns on her heel and strides towards the door, her book forgotten. He should go after her, should stop her from leaving and confess that he loves her presence, loves her wild hair and slipping glasses, loves…her.
She's almost to the door.
He can't tell her how he feels, but he can at least return her book.
'Auriga, wait,' he says and leaves his desk to pick up the lost object. It gives him a fleeting moment to read the title and he isn't surprised to see the faint outline of Shakespeare across the red leather cover. She always was a romantic.
Auriga pauses at the door and turns just slightly towards him. He approaches her cautiously, the book held out between them, and she takes it with her tiny hands.
'Thank you,' she says and reaches for the door handle, her hair shifting the air between them just enough that he catches the hint of a familiar scent.
She smells like…peppermint tea and vanilla biscuits. He suddenly wants to be wrapped in that smell, in her, and in that moment he makes his decision.
Sod it, all of it.
He grabs her arm and gently turns her around, leaving her slightly taken off guard.
With her back against the door, he leans in and kisses her. He kisses her like no other woman he's ever kissed. He pours every bit of emotion he's never been able to express into it and tells her with his lips, his tongue, how much he loves her and her ridiculousness. He feels the shock of it run through her body and the heat that comes up between them and when she wraps her arms around his waist and pulls him closer, he's done in.
It's the perfect moment…until Auriga's head hits the door with a resounding thud and she bursts out laughing.
'Leave it to you,' he says softly, his fingers rubbing gently at the back of her skull.
'Leave it to me,' she agrees.
'Stay and read your book, warm your toes, and keep me company,' he says and she nods.
'I'd love to.'
Much thanks to She's a Star for giving me an Auriga to work from. Read and review, people - I love it!