Disclaimer: © 2008 harmony bites. All rights reserved. This work may not be archived, reproduced, or distributed in any format without prior written permission from the author. This is an amateur non-profit work, and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by J.K.Rowling or any other lawful holder.
Thanks to Djinn and bambu345 for their betas and lifeasanamazon for her Britpick. These four unrelated ficlets were produced as part of a Live Journal meme where I took requests—all asked for SSHG. Prompts are at the end of each story.
Travel is Broadening
Hermione found him near the bow of the airship. His back was to her, and he wore the same nondescript black robes of the rest of the Hogwarts' contingent travelling towards Beauxbatons and the latest Triwizard tournament. Yet even in this moonless night obscured by the scuttling clouds, she could recognise him by his silhouette. Just a glance at the way his wide shoulders flared just so in contrast to his waist, the curious stance he always took—feet shoulder-width apart, one foot slightly ahead of the other and inwards towards its mate. From duelling lessons with him, she had learned it was a fighting stance, and that was Severus for you. Six years after the war's end and he'd never relaxed his pose.
She let her feet tread solidly against the wooden planks. Trying to be sneaky around him could cause him to whirl around and draw a wand. Twitchy—that was the only way to describe him even now. He didn't like surprises and she had lobbed him a big one tonight.
When she reached where he stood, she mirrored his stance and gripped the rail, looking down into the black, rolling ocean, swallowing hard. If she kept her eyes down at the deck or straight ahead, she could imagine she was on a treasure galleon of old, except instead of masts and huge square sails, above her lay the massive gas-filled blimp. She hated flying, whether airplanes, brooms, Thestrals, magic carpets, or giant flying sailing ships. Because of her fears, she had stayed belowdeck where the illusion they travelled on a ship was easier to maintain. Severus no doubt had believed she wouldn't come up to seek him here. Heights like this always made her queasy, because in her mind flying and falling were the same sensation.
He made her feel a little like that whenever she was around him, even as a young girl, even if in a very different way now. But now the two sensations, the cramping dread she'd felt filing into his classroom and the swooping butterfly feelings she'd had since becoming a colleague, felt fused into one, as if at the sharp drop of a roller coaster, at once thrill and terror.
He acted as if she weren't there, and oh, God, it was so hard not to fill the void in the pit of her stomach with her voice. But she'd found that when she babbled on it was easier for him to either ignore her or verbally cut her into little pieces from hair to toenails she felt would be suitable for potions ingredients.
"So, Professor Granger, did you take advantage of the presence of Beauxbatons' headmaster and Durmstrang's headmistress to offer your services? With your training and status you shouldn't find it hard to secure a new position."
"I told you, I don't want to leave Britain—or did you hear a word I said after handing in my notice?"
"No need. Your future is none of my concern."
"Are you really that thick?"
He loomed over her then, leaning towards her so their noses were inches apart. Not touching, he never touched. "Until the term ends I'm still your employer, and you will treat me—"
"As is appropriate. Seven years as your student, three years as your apprentice, three more as professor to your headmaster, and you said it yourself when Gregorovich made his obscene little insinuations: You don't take advantage. What if I bloody don't want appropriate?"
He jerked back then, his head tucked in slightly so his hair swung over his face, hiding him.
She sighed. "Years as a spy—judging tone of voice, expression, words—let alone being a Legilimens, don't tell me you didn't guess I—" She reached out to cup his cheek but his hand whipped out and grasped her wrist, stopping her.
"What would you have had me do? Press my attentions on you whilst your employment depended on my goodwill? Sack you so I could court you?" He gave a bitter laugh. "As it is, I straightened my teeth, did something about my hair, and I got Hooch on my back wondering if the next sign of my 'mid-life' crisis would be to woo the Potions Mistress I had so conveniently trained."
"I'd rather not, thank you." Seeming to just now notice how he was still holding her wrist—he'd begun to move his thumb in slow circles against her skin—he let go and grasped the rail.
"You would have just let me go if I'd said nothing."
"Yes, I'm the worst kind of coward. Happy to hear me admit it? That I don't measure up on the ultimate Gryffindor scale of merit? I didn't want this. Didn't want to feel this. Albus always said I didn't know how to do things by halves and—"
"It's different when the other person loves you too. It doesn't have to hurt." She laid her hand over his.
"I wouldn't know."
"Get used to it."
Slowly he wound their fingers together and she began to hope.
renitaleandra - Prompt 1: Snape and Hermione, who are both teaching at Hogwarts, have to travel somewhere together. They've known each other as colleagues for at least a few years and they have decent a working relationship whenever the other needs advice. While they are traveling together, they are put into the most awkward of circumstances and by the end of the tale they should be going back to Hogwarts as more than just "colleagues".