(Part Five)

The rich perfumes of Christmas dinner surrounded them.

It hadn't taken long to decide they would rather eat where they sat than move to the cold formality of the dining table. They'd placed the trays that Minty had brought them before the fireplace, and with their plates rested on their knees and the silver cutlery gleaming in the light, Hermione couldn't help but feel like she was back at a Gryffindor feast.

She said as much and he laughed that deep laugh she'd discovered with the eggnog. Except that she'd made it herself, she'd have started to question its ingredients…

"Does it make me a snob?" she asked and chased the remaining peas in gravy around her plate and onto a fork.

He glanced at her and raised his brows, amused. "What, that an intelligent witch like you got bored with Weasley's limited thought patterns? Hardly."

She tried to appear disapproving but only succeeded in spilling the peas. They landed in the folds of her dress and she sighed and rolled her eyes. "Now see what you've made me do."

He set aside his empty plate and then removed hers from her lap before muttering dryly, "Quick with the blame, aren't you?"

He took her skirt in his fingers, directed his wand at the fallen food and murmured, "Evanesco."

"I could have done that."

He nodded. "I know, but sometimes you should let people help." He didn't move back, just put his wand to one side and sat there, the silken stuff of her dress playing absently through his slender fingers.

She laughed and observed tartly, "Well, that's the pot calling the kettle black, Severus."

He raised his darkly hooded eyes to hers. "What if I said... a wizard likes to feel he can do something for a witch he finds appealing?"

Hermione leant towards him and tasted his breath against her skin, warm and savoury from the roast. "Are you drunk, Severus Snape?"

"It takes more than a little eggnog to get me drunk, Hermione."

"Good," she whispered, "Else I'd have to pretend I didn't just hear that."

He reached up, slid his hands amongst her hair - and kissed her. The firelight swayed over them hotly when he pulled back, watching her watching him with those clear brown eyes of hers.

"You said you weren't drunk," she managed, her insides trembling.

"I'm not. But that doesn't mean I'm not intoxicated..."

The End.