Title: The Accords
Rating: R for language
Summary: New laws from the Ministry bring an unexpected result. Set post-DH, and is not DH compliant.
"I will the bloody FUCK NOT!!"
The bellow actually shook the walls of Number 12 Grimmauld Place, causing the residents to stop their activities and shoot nervous glances at one another.
"Now, Miss Granger…"
"Don't you 'Miss Granger' me, Minerva," she snarled. "This is completely asinine and you know it. I didn't spend the formative years of my life defeating the fucking Dark Lord himself just so I could be leashed to some slobbering wizard looking for a brood mare!"
Before Minerva could formulate a response, the study doors were slammed open with impressive force.
"Minerva, I must speak with you at once," Snape bit out, waving a scroll at her. "Miss Granger, you will leave this instant!"
Instead of backing down, however, Hermione spun on him and redirected her fury.
"Sod off, Severus! I was here first, and just because you come storming in spectacularly doesn't mean your problems are any more important than mine. And I stopped being intimated by the billowing robe trick when I was 15. "
Minerva was wisely edging towards the door, trying to escape before things completely hit the proverbial fan.
Snape pinned Hermione with a glare that would have reduced even a seasoned 7th Year Slytherin to tears. She glared right back.
His voice was low and dangerous when he spoke.
"Do you honestly think, you miserable little bint, that your petty, juvenile troubles could in any way outstrip my own?"
Neither noticed as Minerva finally was able to slip out of the room.
Hermione went white, and she looked ready to explode.
"How dare you," she hissed. "On top of everything else, I will not stand here and be insulted by a miserable, foul-tempered wanker like you!"
All pretense of control had been stripped away; they stood toe to toe, shouting at each other. The air around them fairly crackled with pent-up energy.
Ron chose that unfortunate moment to venture inside and make sure Hermione was still alive and unharmed.
"Umm…" he began timidly, trying to figure out how to broach the subject without getting hexed.
Two incensed people whipped around.
"WHAT?!" they shouted in unison.
He paled. "Uh…I…I…just wanted to…to make sure you were alright, 'Mione."
It was the wrong thing to say.
"'Alright'," she mimicked, incredulous. "'Alright'? Did you even read the thrice-damned paper this morning, Ronald Weasley?! Of course I'm not 'alright'."
Her eyes narrowed. "Or is that why you're really here…coming to bid for me like I'm some kind of toy you want? Is that it? Is it?!"
"No 'Mione!" he protested, now completely white under his freckles.
"Get out of my sight, before I hex you so badly Charlie will feel it in Romania!" she snapped.
During their exchange, Snape's eyes had also narrowed. He waited until she'd scared Weasley from the room, then spoke again.
"What does this mornings' paper have to do with anything?" he said cautiously.
She ground her teeth together. "The new fucking law passed by the fucking Ministry…all high-profile single witches of Muggle heritage are required to marry a pureblood or half-blood wizard within the next two weeks. They claim it's to ensure that they are adequately protected. The only choice we have is in which bid we accept." She looked at him suspiciously. "Why?"
Snape wordlessly offered her the scroll he'd stormed in with.
Scowling at the Ministry seal, Hermione unrolled the parchment and read it aloud.
'In accordance with the Ministry of Magic Ruling 897, Subpart 4, all former followers of one Thomas Riddle, a.k.a. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, a.k.a. Voldemort, a.k.a. the Dark Lord not in Auror custody shall be remanded into the custody of a witch or wizard in good standing within the Magical community. Failure to comply will result in an immediate removal of all magical powers and permanent imprisonment in Azkaban.'
Hermione frowned. "Severus…how many former Death Eaters are not in Auror custody at the moment?"
"I am aware of one," he said bitterly. "They have been quite thorough. And how many high-profile Muggleborn witches do you know?"
Her eyes widened. "Why those manipulative, imbecilic, controlling…"
"When you run out of names for them, I've a few of my own to add."
"They're trying to get us out of the way," she said. "You and I created the bloody potion that made it possible to destroy the Horcruxes and bring down Voldemort, and this is how they treat us?"
"Well, you did call the Minister…what was it…a 'worthless sack of epithelium', in front of about three hundred people," he pointed out. "And I will never be adored by the masses."
She snorted inelegantly. "As if you'd put up with mass adoration for long."
The atmosphere in the room had altered considerably. All sense of hostility was nearly gone as the two eyed each other speculatively.
It was Snape who finally broke the silence, his arms crossed over his torso. "I plan to build a private laboratory and establish a line of potions that I will market."
Hermione raised an eyebrow and countered, mimicking his pose and tapping the scroll on her upper arm. "I plan to finish my studies at University this year, and work in Arithmancy… and perhaps Potions."
"I wish to retire from teaching dunderheads; I may continue to run private seminars for advanced students, however."
"I want to write a book."
"I own a modest chateau in Zurich, and a villa in Greece."
"My grandparents left me a small cottage outside of Kiev."
He hesitated. "I am not adverse to children."
"Not more than two," she agreed. "Perhaps three at most."
"I concur," he said, now looking at her oddly.
"You need to have a supply of curry, pineapple, and cognac available four days a month," Hermione warned.
"I snore," he admitted. "Horribly. And I'm allergic to daisies."
They were both quiet as they mulled things over.
"Would you?" she finally asked.
"I…would," he said, sounding as though he was somewhat surprised by his own answer. After another long minute, Snape spoke, and it was the most unguarded and hesitant Hermione had ever heard him.
He held out his hand, and with only the slightest hesitation Hermione took it.
"I would," she said firmly.
Hermione wondered briefly what their marriage would be like. She wasn't foolish enough to think that they were at all in love. She was sure, though, that he was one of the few people who could offer her any sort of intellectual challenge, and deep down she knew that he would never treat her badly. And yet…
"I have no declaration of love for you, Hermione," he said, as though reading her mind. "However, despite evidence to the contrary, I have never hated you. I have admired your zeal as a student and in recent years I have come to regard you highly as an adult. Perhaps…"
He trailed off under the intensity of her gaze. A small smile twisted the corners of her mouth.
"I have respected you for nearly as long as I've known you; first as my professor, then as a Potions Master. Later on, I respected you for your courage, and your work for the Order. Even when you were horrible to me, that never changed. Then I got to know you as a colleague. I won't profess my love for you either…but I think we have somewhere to start."
She squeezed his hand gently and he smirked.
"There is one thing," she said, the thoughtful expression crossing her face failing to hide the mischievous glint in her eyes.
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
Stepping forward, Hermione rose up on her tiptoes and kissed him.
Neither Hermione nor Severus were opposed to a bit of snogging, though it had been some time since either had been able to engage in the activity. There was the natural awkwardness associated with a first kiss between two people, but there was something else there as well. Something that made Hermione clutch the front of his robes. Something that prompted him to wrap an arm around her waist and thread his fingers through her hair.
They were both slightly out of breath when they parted. Hermione's eyes were dancing and she was trying hard to suppress a smile.
"Oh yes," she said. "We certainly have some place to start."
A/N: YAY!!! I'm back, FINALLY; semester is over, exams are done, and I have THREE WHOLE WEEKS to myself. Fics will be added and updated...at least, that's my plan. Anyhow, much love and many thanks to LoneButterfly and Rickmanlover for their assistance and comments. I adore reviews, so please feed the author.