Their Christmas at Grimmauld Place
The fairies on the tree glimmered as Hermione stared at them, the Wizarding Wireless Network played muggle Christmas songs and Molly Weasley's Christmas cookies could be smelt all over Grimmauld Place.
Hermione didn't know how anyone could enjoy the Christmas season. It was over-comercialized and religious in origin. It causes arguments and too many problems to count. It's stressful and too much fuss for just one day.
Elsewhere in the house, someone else was brooding. Severus Snape was close to cursing the other occupants of the house – or poisoning the cookies. The Latin translation of an ancient potions text was damn near impossible with the constant noise the young people were making.
He didn't know exactly why Albus had insisted that he stay away from Hogwarts. He had a feeling that it was something to do with Potter spending the season with his beloved godfather and needed extra protection – what with the Dark Lord gone but his most dangerous supporters still at large. But the blasted twinkle in his eye had suggested that it was something else. Merlin knew what.
He walked down the stairs with the intention of telling whoever was polluting the air with overly cheery music to turn it off or spend the rest of the holidays inspecting their pumpkin juice for evidence of poison – not that there would be any.
Instead, he found a melancholy Hermione Granger staring blankly into space. Of course, he had noticed her growing up this year, how could he not? She had changed so much between the end of her seventh year and this Christmas.
True, she was only 19, but she had seen so much and was so much more mature than her peers. It was when he heard her sigh that he made up his mind.
"Not enjoying the festive cheer, Miss Granger?" he asked, enjoying her shock at discovering that anyone else was in the room.
"Professor! Umm...I don't really know. I think the novelty wore off a long time ago and it suddenly seems like it's more stressful than fun. Yourself?"
"I find it...tolerable when I spend it in the company of those I wish to spend it with."
"Like who?" Hermione asked quickly, before realising what she had said. "Oh, shoot! Professor, I'm so sorry!! I didn't mean..."
"Don't apologise, Granger. It's a sign of weakness."
"Anybody who hears you apologising. I'm tempted to cast a silencing charm on my rooms and get some reading done. Would you care to join me?"
Hermione was shocked. Professor Snape, snarky, Gryffindor hating potions master at Hogwarts had invited her, Hermione Granger, know-it-all Gryffindor, to his rooms to read. In fact, shocked was too light a word. She was aghast!
"Stop with the hesitation, Miss Granger. It's a simple question. Are you coming or not?"
"How can I refuse? Let me go get a book and I'll join you in a minute."
"The password is 'detendez.'"
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "'Relax'?"
"The Headmaster set it before I arrived. I've not been able to change it at all." With this, Severus left the room – a hint of a smile playing at the corner of his mouth.
Hermione gave the password to Snape's door and pushed it open slowly. Her first opinion was that the room seemed too...normal for the antisocial potions master. The living area was well-lit, well-furnished and perfect for reading in.
"Come in before you let all the hot air out, Miss Granger." Snape called from one of the two armchairs. "Have a seat."
"Thank you, professor." Hermione said, sitting down in the incredibly comfortable piece of furniture.
"Severus," Snape grunted over the top of his book.
"You're in my rooms; you might as well call me Severus, Miss Granger."
"Well, in that case, it's Hermione." She replied, cracking open the large tome she had picked from the pile she had been given earlier this morning. Always books, never something she could do. Not a puzzle book. Not a board game. Not even a bloody rubix cube (not that she expected the Weasleys to know what a rubix cube was – nor its purpose for that matter).
"New gift?" Snape – no, Severus – asked, with a smirk. The look of disdain on Hermione's face was obvious. "I take it that somebody doesn't know your taste in literature."
"Actually, I was thinking that somebody could, for once, not give me a book." Snape's eyebrows rose in shock. "Ok, I admit, if the books were more to my taste – not always on transfiguration, ancient runes or potions. Not that there's anything wrong with potions, it's just the books are obviously written by complete idiots with no idea what they were talking about when they were writing it." Snape smiled, not smirked. Smiled!
"Any particular book you were referring to in that last sentiment?" He asked, obviously amused.
"'Theoretical Applications of Veritaserum in Practical Situations' by M. O. Rornik. First of all, the title's stupid. Second of all, it was completely insane. He seemed to think that Veritaserum be used in any situation under any circumstances."
"It was a waste of half a day, reading that drivel. I can think of some student essays that were better written and researched." He smirked at her.
She grinned. "Not much of a compliment – it was atrocious."
"No, I suppose you're right."
Suddenly, a jolt of magic burst through the room. The adjacent armchairs morphed into a sofa and the books moved away from the two people.
"What the heck was that?" Hermione asked.
Severus growled. "I'm going to kill him."
"Albus. It was his suggestion that I come here for Christmas and he was the one who told me that my usual room was infested with doxies and no-one would be able to deal with it until after you lot had left."
"So...?" Hermione wasn't entirely sure of the implications of this.
"Try the door, I'd wager my personal library that I'm right." Hermione cocked an eyebrow, but did as requested. The door wouldn't budge.
"I'm going to kill him." Severus repeated.
"You've already said that. Why?" Hermione asked, with a small smile.
"It's a cross between that damn Room of Requirement and fricking mistletoe."
"'Fricking mistletoe'? Forget your choice of 'expletives', it's, what? A poison that does what you want? That doesn't make sense. Give me a minute!" Hermione shouted, seeing Severus's face light up in amusement. "Wow, that's new!"
"What?" Snape asked, his face converted back to its usual expressionless mask.
"You: smiling. Not that I haven't seen it before – today and...just today, actually. So it's not a poison that does what you want it to do. It's a room that does what you need it to to match-make? That doesn't make sense either. Does it?"
"It may not make sense, but it's correct. Albus has been saying more and more frequently that I need to "get some", and I suppose that he's deduced (rightly, I suppose) that the only person who I would invite back to my rooms would be someone who's company I value."
"You value my company? You mean...you've got a crush on me!" Hermione exclaimed, her eyes glinting.
"How dare you? Of course I don't."
"I'm guessing that Dumbledore installed a trigger, so that you weren't trapped in here with Molly or some other insane person while they were dragging you down to dinner or some other bizarre reason. You like me!" She was silenced with the feeling of another person's lips on hers.
Severus's lips caressed hers gently. His tongue ran along her lips, asking entrance to her mouth. Hermione moaned as he pulled away.
"Merry Christmas, Hermione."
"Merry Christmas, Severus."
A/N What do you guys think? I wrote the first page while at school and trying to get into the Christmas spirit, and the rest in front of the Two Ronnies and the Dr Who Christmas Special. Reviews are always appreciated. Merry Christmas to all! And to all a good night!! Lul! J x