The last day of his tenure found him in a particularly foul mood. Not only did he have to deal with smug Ministry officials and the pitying looks of Minerva, but he'd woken to cold sheets beside him. Apparently Hermione had left for work in the early hours of the morning. She'd left the kettle spelled to be hot, at least, but what he missed the most was her annoyingly addictive habit of sneaking beneath the covers and waking him with a mind-blowing orgasm. It was amazing the things that one could get used to in just a few days time.

His mood improved for a brief moment when she appeared at the entrance to his office, wearing the same prim suit she'd worn the day she'd "negotiated" his resignation and a pair of stunning high heels that did amazing things to her arse. The only thing that stopped him from commenting on the fact was the presence of Percy Weasley, hot on said heels, congratulating him on Snape's new business endeavour and wishing him the most promising of futures - as long as it didn't involve Hogwarts.

"Your condescension is unnecessary, Weasley," Severus said. "Your silence, however, would be most welcome."

Percy drew himself up to his full height - which wasn't much - and glared at Snape. "If you want to be that way..."

Snape smirked and nodded. "I do."

"...then clear your desk, and be out of here."

"Percy!" Hermione said. "You can't speak to the Headmaster like that."

"He's no longer Headmaster." Percy put his fingers into the pockets of his waistcoat, and swayed on his feet, aping the current Minister's style.

"I am until midnight," said Snape. "You should pay attention to the contracts you negotiate. There might be all sorts of hidden clauses."

Hermione choked back a laugh.

Percy shot her a glare. "Miss Granger, I think we should be going. Get your things."

"I wasn't aware that we had finished, Percy. We've still got to..."

"I said we should be going, and I will not tell you again."

Snape cocked an eyebrow and took a step back as Miss Granger's face went still. "Mr. Weasley. I think now would be a good time to inform you of my resignation. I have six weeks of holiday pay coming, I believe. If you could be so good as to have them deposit that in my Gringott's account. Personnel has all the pertinent details."

Percy gaped like a carp.

"No, no. Don't even start. There's a good lad. Severus?"

Severus' smile broadened. "My dear, would you care to join me in a little celebration of our freedom?"

"I'd be delighted."

"It'll just be a select gathering. You. Me. The portraits. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Hermione nodded, her mouth suddenly dry. The portraits, who usually pretended to doze in their frames, sat up straight and wide eyed.

"Mr Weasley, however, is most distinctly unwelcome." Severus fixed him with a hard stare, the sort that would have had Neville bursting into flames, let alone tears.

Percy didn't move, but watched goggle-eyed as Severus swept the contents of his desk onto the floor. Hermione couldn't contain the appreciative noise that escaped her throat. She took Severus outstretched hand and turned to look at Percy.

"Leave. Now." She thrust her chin at the door and was gratified to see him flinch and then flee. When she turned back, Severus was casually reholstering his wand.

The door closed with a resounding thud and any portraits who had actually been asleep awoke to see Miss Hermione Granger, ex-Ministry official, stepping into the welcoming circle of the Headmaster's arms. "I wore these shoes just for you," she murmured. "And he spent all morning sending me to and fro to get him paperwork. It didn't occur to me until just this moment that he was watching my arse the whole time."

"I'm sure he's regretting crossing you now. He looked like a startled rabbit." Severus kissed her, long and lingeringly, tongue teasing her lips. "Enough of him. I missed you this morning."

A murmur passed through the portraits. This was gossip, and of the highest quality. The Headmaster had a lover, and a young and pretty one at that. Half of them tutted, and the other half leaned forward in their frames to get a better look at the shoes, and the effect they had on Hermione's skirt.

"I missed you too," she said softly, barely breaking away from their kiss to speak.

"And the delay in administering the Snape cure has made me very short-tempered," he replied.

"Ah, I see." She brushed his hair back from his face, studying his dark eyes for a long moment before trailing her hand down to the buttons at the front of his robes. "You promised me a nice, slow fuck over the Headmaster's desk." She savoured the words in her mouth, almost as much as she savoured the collective gasp from the gallery above. "Were you speaking in jest?"

"In deadly earnest, my love."

She closed her eyes and smiled, fingers working his wool buttons through their closures. Someone else gasped when he undid the buttons of her blouse, exposing her best black brassiere.

"They're going to shag!"

"Oh did you just catch on to that? Now shush! I haven't seen a girl's --"

"You can't honestly think that I will stand for this."

"Shut up, Albus. This happens maybe twice a century."

"I don't care if you are a founder, I will not --"

"If you all don't shut up, I will hex the lot of you." Severus growled. Silence fell. The portraits believed Snape was the sort of person to do something like that, and had a nasty range of hexes at his disposal, particularly when interrupted. "Good. Now, you do remember that you are all subject to the Sub Rosa charm, and that nothing that happens here can ever be repeated outside this room?" Severus asked.

The portraits nodded, tight-lipped and anxious, full of anticipation.

"Now," he said, turning back to Hermione. "I believe I was here, before we were so rudely interrupted." He moved closer, mouth on the curve of her neck. "And the next portrait to talk, gets a trip to the fourth floor corridor with a view of the dull grey wall." There was a general murmur, a sigh, some shushing and a frog-like gulp.

Hermione tried her best wicked grin on, but it lost something in the glow of her bright red cheeks. "Are they bound by the charm after you leave office?" Her hands slipped into his hair, and she whimpered as he nipped at her skin.

"Oh, yes," he said, teeth scraping along the chords of her neck. "If they know what's good for them." There was a murmur from the portraits, half-appreciative and half-disapproving, but the disapproving voices were quickly shushed.

"Every single one of them is envying me now, wishing they were here with you." He kissed her, slowly at first, and then his fingers tightened round her waist and he pulled her tight against him, kissing her with a rare ferocity.

She gasped, her own grip tightening on his shoulders, her head falling back, her eyes shut tight. "Severus." His name had become her mantra in their moments of passion. She felt his teeth against her collarbone and moaned.

"But it's not them, it's me. For once, I'm the lucky one." He shifted his hands along her ribcage, rising up to cup her breasts, the lace of her bra soft against his fingers. "And they can all see how lucky I am, and this memory is going to have to last them for another hundred years or so. When the next Headmaster takes over, they'll be looking at this desk and thinking of you."

"Of us," she murmured, her hands moving to the buttons at his throat. "Of you and I, engaged in unsavoury and lascivious acts. Right here." She caressed down the front of his chest, seeking and finding the gap, and slipping beneath it to stroke his hardening cock. "Tell me, Headmaster."

"We're going to fuck," he said, the words stark and harsh. "And whilst it may be lascivious, there'll be nothing unsavoury about it. Do you think we should recap, for all who missed the performance last time?"

Hermione nodded, still pink, and not quite able to find her voice.

"We didn't kiss last time," he continued. "An oversight I intend to correct."

If what Severus did was kissing, then she'd never been kissed before. Never had anyone paid such attention to the smallest details of her lips, touching and caressing with mouth and tongue, the gentlest of contact alternating with harder, firmer pressure, his hands never straying from her shoulders.

When he lifted his head, eyes dark and intent on her face, she was breathless and aching for more.

"There was so much else we didn't do," he said, voice deep and low. "I'd regret it, if I hadn't a chance to put that right."

"Make it worth my while, then," she replied, challenge in her voice.

He nuzzled along her neck, planting wet open-mouthed kisses along her collar bone, his hands gripping her waist. The only sound in the room was Severus' ragged breathing and Hermione's appreciative murmurs as he found a particularly sweet spot.

He reached the hollow between her breasts, and she arched into him with a groan. "Oh god, yes, just there." He smiled against her skin. She could feel it, the way his mouth kicked up at the corners and it made her want to laugh. She would have done, but she thought their audience would have misunderstood. Nothing should shadow their coming together.

He turned his head to one side, and ran his tongue along the lace edge of her bra. She moaned again, then moved, her hands shifting towards the fastening of her bra. He gripped her wrists, not tightly, but hard enough to hold them still.

"Now, you wouldn't want to rush, would you? And deny these old perves the chance to see this done properly."

She could see, over his shoulder, the bright eyes of the portraits fixed on them. "I think they'd rather I took it off."

Several heads nodded.

"I, however, wouldn't," he said. "You shouldn't try and usurp my prerogative like that."

The portraits groaned, but groaned quietly, mindful of the threat of eviction.

"I have an idea." Hermione leaned forward, standing on her tip toes whisper into his ear.

He laughed, a rich, dark sound in the heated atmosphere of the room. "And such a good idea it is too."

He moved to her side, hands trailing around her waist, circling until he stood behind her. He pulled her closer, until there was no space between them, her body hard up against his. "Miss Granger has something she'd like to show you," he said to the portraits. "Take a good look, gentlemen."

He stripped back the sides of her blouse, slowly and deliberately. The fabric bunched on her shoulders, until he slid it off and down her arms to leave her standing before their audience in her bra.

He waited for a moment, allowing the portraits to look their fill. To some of them, raised in an era when an ankle was shocking, the sight of a skimpy black bra would be excitement enough. Others, those raised in Slytherin house, would be expecting rather more.

They would not be disappointed.

His hands cupped her breasts from beneath, his fingertips teasing along the top edge leading down to the hook in the front. Severus undid the clasp with excruciating languor, sliding each hook free from its eye in turn, then cupping the lacy fabric as the closure parted. The portraits held their breath as Hermione lay her head back on his shoulder. He hummed his appreciation as he teased them, showing a centimetre of flesh at a time. Someone cursed softly as her nipples appeared.

Hermione closed her eyes, whimpering softly as he undressed her. The cool air made her nipples stand up strong, and his touch gave her goose bumps. After an eternity, the offending lingerie fell to the floor, unnoticed, all eyes in the room fixed on the rosy curves of her breasts.

Severus' left hand lay flat across her stomach and he cupped her right breast in his hand, rolling the nipple between thumb and forefinger. "Isn't she beautiful?" he asked. "And she's mine."

Behind her, the fingers of his free hand sought out the zip at the back of her skirt and set it in motion. A moment later, with a smooth brush of his hands, it was slipping over her hips and pooling around her ankles. She gasped and his grip tightened on the bare skin of her hip. She wore thigh high silk stockings and garters, but not a stitch of fabric covered the neatly trimmed thatch between her thighs.

"If you close your eyes, love, you can't see the way they're looking at you," he said into her ear. His voice was so deep, it felt like dark honey poured directly on her brain. "How much they wish they could be me, so they could do this..." He moved his hand from her hip, round, down, ghosting across her skin, to rest tentatively over her mound.

Her lips parted in a breathy sigh as she opened her eyes, raising heavy lids, to see a gaggle of Headmasters staring open-mouthed.

"They want to touch you, to feel how wet you are, to put their mouths on you and taste you. All the things that a portrait can't do. That I can and will do."

Hermione shuddered as he slid one long finger between her folds, and stroked her clit. One portrait had gone beet red, and was tugging furiously at his high collar, practically passing out with the tension. She felt a fleeting moment of sympathy for him, but it quickly passed.

She moaned in protest when he moved his hand away, then whimpered when he brought his hand to his mouth and licked her essence from his fingers. "I want more of that," he said. "On the desk."

She didn't move at first, not sure what he had in mind, but he put his hands on her hips to move her along, lifting her gently up onto the desk's glossy surface. She kept her knees closed, out of habit, and a lingering sense of embarrassment.

Severus stroked the silky fabric sheathing her thighs, bending forward to kiss her lips once more as his hands came to rest on her knees. "Open," he whispered.

"Say please," she said, the words coming out a bit less confident than she'd hoped.

"Mine," he growled, his hands pressing between her knees and prying them apart.

Hermione gasped, a nervous laugh escaping her lips.

She groaned as Severus dropped to his knees before her, and then there was nothing in her thoughts but anticipation of where his tongue would go next. Not where she wanted, she knew that. No, not at first, that would be too easy.

"You'd lower yourself before a Muggleborn?" Salazar said. He'd learned the hard way that the Headmaster didn't tolerate the other epithets that Slytherin preferred.

"My dear Salazar, if you never tried this, then you were a bigger fool than I thought. Better to kiss her thighs than the robes of your admirer."

"Severus," Hermione pleaded, looking down into his dark eyes. Her hand came out to stroke the raven's wing of his hair. She whimpered as his hand stroked down the back of her thigh, lifting her leg to his shoulder. "No politics during lovemaking."

"No insults will be tolerated either," he said. "Or, Founder or not, he'll burn. He should be rather more appreciative of the show being put on."

There was a murmur from the portraits that signalled things could get rather ugly if Salazar messed things up for the rest of them. Salazar crossed his arms and rolled his eyes, but did not look away.

"Manners are so important, don't you think, Miss Granger," he continued, smirking. "Which is why I'd like to hear you say please."

"Please," she hissed. "Just ignore them!" She tucked her errant curls behind an ear, and fumbled behind her, trying to find a hand hold. Another brush of his mouth and she shuddered, falling back to rest on her elbows.

"Close enough, I suppose." He ran his tongue along the crease of her thigh, close enough that he could taste the rich scent of her. He shifted a little, planting baby kisses between her thighs, but never landing quite where she expected, or where she wanted. "And close enough is good enough, isn't it?"

"Severus, please," she answered in a long drawn-out moan, no longer paying attention to anything he said. His hands stroked along the silk stockings, teasing up over the lace to caress the pale skin of her thigh. She could feel the tickle of his hair as he bent over her, could feel the heat of his breath ruffling through her damp curls. Her hips rose off the desk, but he danced away, laughing beneath his breath. She swore, creatively and indelicately, drawing a mixed reaction from the gallery.

She dug her heel into his shoulder, hard against him and then again when he made no move. "There's being a bastard," she whined. "And there's this. It's too much."

Deliberately, he moved forward, dipping his head. It felt like he was moving in slow motion. Hermione was preternaturally aware of the shift of his hair against her legs, his hot breath fanning along her skin, and then the sharp sensation of his mouth as he took her clit into his mouth in a long, sucking bite.

The murmur of the gallery rose to match the swell of her voice. One gentleman clutched his heart, another peered through his fingers as she fell back. Another stack of papers gave way as she scrabbled to hold onto the edge of the desk.

White-knuckled, she closed her eyes and focused on the feel of him, hands gripping her thighs, lips and tongue painting fire along her nerves, drawing a veil of sensation over her until there was nothing but the pulsing white brilliance pooled in her cunt. He held her there, on the edge, until she was gasping, pleading to come, her foot beating a tattoo on his back.

"Fuck! If you stop," she said, in between gasps, "I swear, I will think of something, some way of paying you back!"

"And if I let you come?"

"The same," she replied, and managed a faint smirk, before her head fell back again.

Her smile promised so much, and he was eager enough himself, burning to turn her over and slide home, that he turned to his work with a will. She was molten honey against his mouth, her frame shuddering with his every touch, completely at his mercy. His tongue flickered across her clit and he groaned as she stiffened, arching up hard in his embrace, gasping his name.

Hermione struggled to breathe as the orgasm rolled over and through her, her eyes rolling wildly as she writhed. Dimly she was aware of his hands stroking her, his gentle kisses on her hip, his fingers teasing where he knew she needed to be filled. She heard a voice pleading. It was her own, uncaring of any audience, awash in desire for him. He placed one last sucking kiss and she sobbed as she peaked and tumbled back to earth.

She lay there, limp and satisfied, eyes fixed on Severus' face as he looked at her, eyes soft and gleaming. Her leg slipped from its place on his shoulder, briefly resting hooked round his elbow, then slipping free to the desk.

She raised her arms to him, and he went to her, pulled down into a kiss that lingered, soft and subtle, and utterly different to the wild energy that had been between them just moments before. Both of them sighed softly, utterly lost to the world in the embrace.

That is, until one of the portraits coughed. And then another. And another.

Hermione laughed underneath her breath. "I think they're saying you're not done yet, Professor."

"Bloody right," said one of the female portraits. "Let's have something for the ladies to admire. Fair's fair."

Severus' eyes widened, and Hermione wanted to giggle, torn between anticipation and amusement at his realisation that he was going to be called upon to perform.

"That's right," she said. "Fair's fair."

Severus shrugged out of his jacket, and allowed it to fall to the ground. His shirt was fine lawn, and close-fitting, showing his slim chest.

Hermione's hands stroked over his pectorals, slipping up to his collar, taking her time undoing the buttons at his throat. His hands came to rest on her wrists as she worked. She leaned forward to kiss the newly revealed bare skin, running her tongue along the hollow of his throat. "Give them a show, won't you?" Her words were dark and sweet, and meant only for his ears.

She tugged the shirt free of his trousers, hands burrowing underneath to find the soft skin across his flanks, and trace the strong line of his ribcage up and along to his nipples. He made a noise, not quite a moan, but appreciative. She flicked her fingers across them again, slightly harder, using her nails, and the noise he made then was louder.

She smiled against his skin, and gently took them between thumb and forefinger, pinching until his hands gripped her arms tight and his breath hissed out between his teeth. She soothed the aching peaks with open-mouthed kisses, laving the sensitised nubs as her hands slid down his torso to tease along the waistband of his trousers.

His voice was a delightful rumble in her ears, somewhere between purr and growl, and his hands alternately gripped and stroked her. She moaned as he slid a hand into her hair and took a firm handful of her curls, tipping her head back so that he could look down into her face. She could see the flush in his cheeks, could feel the heat of his gaze like the warmth of a bonfire. All she could manage was a single syllable, "Yes."

"Yes," he said, echoing her words back to her, but in a deeper register that she could feel in her bones. Swiftly her fingers scrabbled at the buttons of his fly, and then, when she couldn't manage to free them, he batted her hands out of the way and did it himself. She pushed his trousers down, and he stepped back, shuffling his feet, making sure his shoes and socks came off first.

The trousers slipped down, freeing his cock. It stood up, hard and flushed, flexing a little with each pulse of blood. The portraits murmured appreciatively, and not all the voices were female. Hermione's hands ghosted over his chest, her chin tipped up, her throat exposed as he took two steps around the corner of the desk to her side, never letting her go. "Lay your head down," he said, guiding her to her lay on her side. She brought a hand up to act as a pillow, the other snaking out to caress his cock.

"Let them see," she whispered, urging him to turn ninety degrees.

He did, gloating a little now as she reached for him, her kiss swollen lips parted. "Not too much," he growled. "Still going to fuck you, Miss Granger." His tone was deliberate, and almost feral.

Someone, she thought it might even be Salazar, let out a long groan as she sucked Severus into her mouth. She didn't take him deep, just enough to play lip and tongue round the fleshy head. The next groan was definitely from Severus, long and drawn out. His head was thrown back, eyes half-closed but still fixed on her. He was breathing heavily, deep and slow, determined to hang on to his control.

She heard a man's voice swear at length in Latin, and heard a woman gasp, although not really in shock. She had to turn an eye to look. Slytherin himself had found a comfortable chair in his portrait and had one hand buried in his robes. Hermione raised an eyebrow and glanced back at Severus. He smirked down at her and nodded.

She turned her eyes back to the portrait, her lips still playing over the glistening tip of Severus' cock. "Go on. I want to see, too."

Slytherin bared his teeth at her, but flipped his robes aside to show his own ruddy erection clasped in his fist. He gave a few hard tugs and then just held tight, trembling.

"I take it you don't get much action in here," she whispered, dipping her chin and taking the length of Severus's cock into her throat, pressing her nose into the musk of his pubic hair. No place else on his body did he smell so intensely of his own scent.

A woman's voice groaned this time, and then squeaked. She heard a thump and then distant scrabbling. Two of the portraits had disappeared, but she could hear them, man and woman, grunting and groaning in pleasure. Severus touched her cheek to catch her attention and she laughed in disbelief.

She drew back long enough to say, "I've always wanted to be a bad influence."

"Mmm, I think you've been a wonderful influence," he murmured, his fingertip marking the line of her jaw. His other hand clenched on her arm. "I want you," he growled.

"I want you too," she replied.

There was a sussuration, as the portraits arranged themselves for the final act, and then a murmur of disappointment as Severus moved round to the front of the desk.

"We can't see if you're going to stand there," Salazar protested.

Severus muttered something unflattering under his breath, then reached for his wand. An urgent flick saw a large, gilt framed mirror appear on the wall opposite.

"Miss Granger," Severus said formally, with a wicked glint in his eyes. "If I could trouble you to turn over."

She drew her shoe across his chest as she moved, laughing as he nipped at her ankle, easing it over as she rolled. She wasn't a fashion model, but her Rubenesque curves were perfect in his eyes. From the nape of her neck down the curve of her spine, the delicious plane of her lower back, the swell of her arse, he ran his hands down her body, his cock throbbing now in anticipation.

He watched as she placed her hands flat, rising up her elbows to look at him over her shoulder. Through dark lashes, she watched him as she adjusted her stance, offering herself to him brazenly. Hermione could pull off sex kitten when she wanted to, and he knew that she'd discovered a true weakness of his. Heaven help him in the years to come. "Headmaster, if I could trouble you to fuck me?"

"No trouble at all, my dear," he said.

"If you could just turn a little to the right," asked a female voice behind him. "You've a tight arse, it has to be said, but we'd really like to catch a sight of your cock too. If it's not too much trouble."

"Not that we'd dream of interfering really," said another woman.

Hermione's giggles were brought to a halt when Severus brought his hand down on her rump.

"Oh yes," said Salazar. "Very nice."

"All of you, shut it," Hermione snapped, her cheeks flushed crimson. "Another word and I'll be the one doing the hexing."

"My, my," Severus crooned, smiling down at her. "I seem to have struck a nerve." He brushed his fingertips over the reddening mark on her tush.

She groaned then, and the gallery grew very still. They watched enrapt as he bent forward to lay a kiss on her shoulder.

"Grab the other edge. Go on, stretch. Now, Miss Granger." She tried to breathe, tried not to whimper as she did as instructed. "Yes, there. Like that." Her knuckles were white on the far edge of the desk, and she gasped as she felt his fingertips skim down the cleft of her thighs. "Oh yes, just like that."

Severus couldn't wait any longer. He was curled around her from behind, one hand on the desk, standing between her feet. Just a shift of his hips and he was sliding home. For a glorious moment, the rest of the world fell away.

Hermione sighed as he slowly moved into her, able to relax a little, the tension that had gripped her being eased by the heat of his touch.

"If everyone is quite satisfied," Severus said, voice deep and soft. "Then we will begin."

Hermione could see her face in the mirror opposite, and more than her face. Her breasts were squeezed together between her arms and against the table, and shifted every time Severus thrust home, leisurely at first, savouring the feel of her as she began to respond. She gasped as he gradually increased his pace.

Severus' face was fierce and concentrated, eyes fixed on where their bodies joined.

She spared a quick glance at her audience, and could see Salazar staring at her. He winked, and smirked, his hand in motion again. And there was Dumbledore, who'd been quiet up till then, watching the flex of Severus' buttocks as he moved to and fro. There was a lazy droop to his eyelids and Hermione felt a flare of possession behind her breast bone. Phineas had gone from watching between his fingers to merely watching with his mouth covered. Dilys and a Ravenclaw professor whose name she could never recall were entwined, hands buried beneath robes, only watching the two lovers with half an eye.

And in the reflection, she saw the volcanic, dark gaze of her -- the thought faltered. Her soon-to-be husband. His mouth was open slightly, there was a sheen of sweat at his temples, and she could see the tiniest changes in his expression that meant he was deeply, intently enjoying himself.

Her eyelids fluttered shut. In the end, this was about him and her alone, and nothing to do with their watchers. It had been fun, erotic even, to play out the role of wicked siren, but nothing was as powerful as their bond.

She dropped her head down, her hair rippling around her shoulders, feeling nothing but the way he was filling her, over and over again, pushing hard and deep, hitting the perfect rhythm. He purred, stroking her back with one hand and holding tight to her hip with the other. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the feel of his skin, the heat of his cock, the pleasure he was stoking in her, licking like flames down her thighs, pooling in her belly.

Listening to Severus groan and gasp, she realised she was holding her breath, as if she could hold onto the moment, freeze it in time, live in it for a lifetime. He placed his hand at the base of her spine and spoke to her. "Breathe, love."

She let out her breath, and let go of the moment, shifting on, and losing control. She came in a long, rolling orgasm that seemed to start in the base of her spine and roll along it until it forced itself out of her mouth in a choked groan that turned into Severus' name.

"Oh god," Severus said. "That's it, that's it, yes. Fuck."

She could feel his thighs slapping against the back of her legs as he sped up his movements. His mouth opened wider, his breaths coming in gulps, and a pink flush spread across his chest.

He never looked more beautiful than when he was about to come, stretched out on that edge of sensation, taken out of himself enough to lose all his defensiveness, and allow her to see past his armour to the man beneath.

Another voice gave a strangled cry, and then another, and Hermione felt herself drawn up again into the halo of sensation. Severus thrust deep, so deeply into her, his fingers dug into the flesh of her hips. She felt his entire frame shudder, and joined him, quaking, shouting out her pleasure. She watched his reflection, met his gaze full of affection, the sort of expression that no one would ever imagine he would ever wear, the one that only she was privileged to see.

Only she saw the real Severus Snape. Her, and several other portraits. Perhaps an Obliviate was called for.

Severus stroked his hand along her hip, unable or unwilling to find words.

The portraits were not so reticent. "Not bad, not bad at all," said Salazar. "You can see why he's in the House of the Snake."

"I thought it was over far too soon," Dilys said with a sniff.

"I was perfectly satisfied," Hermione snapped. "Twice, if you must know. You ungrateful buggers."

"I bet Albus wishes he was," Phineas said quietly, but not so quietly that Albus, who had been absentmindedly staring at Severus' arse, didn't hear.

"Oh shut it, you dried up old prune." Albus crossed his robes. "I've seen better in my day."

"I doubt it," Hermione said, wishing she had the trick of arching an eyebrow that Severus had. She caught his hand and lifted herself up into his arms, reaching her hands up to encircle his neck. "Can we continue this at home, my love? I think I need a little -- alone time with you."

"That sounds like a good idea," he replied, and kissed her.

He looked round the room for one last time, sneered at Albus on general principles, and summoned their clothes. "I won't miss this place one bit," he said. "Let's go."

Hermione threw a handful of powder into the floo, announced her address firmly, and then they were gone.

"I notice they didn't bother putting their clothes back on," Salazar said. "I wonder what they're going to do."

"If Albus had kept his mouth shut, then we might have been given a demonstration," Dilys said, narrowing her eyes at Dumbledore "But oh no, he has to be clever and shoot his mouth off."

The other portraits murmured in agreement.

"No tact, these Gryffindors," Phineas said cheerfully. "Now, if I might make a suggestion..."

The new Headmaster was pleased with the warmth of his reception at Hogwarts. Too many teachers had been treated to Snape-style performance reviews to miss him. The children, too, seemed disposed to like the new man, which should have been warning enough that he
wasn't up to the job.

The only fly in the ointment had been the way the door to his office kept sticking. There were occasions when he had to try the door three or four times before it would open. There was nothing for it but to get the caretaker to look at it.

Filch tried everything. There was magical oil to stop the joints from seizing up, sanding down the door to create a gap round the edge so large that a breeze fairly whistled round the Headmaster's ankles when he could get in his office, and even applying Sybil's advice about feng shui and putting a portrait opposite the door to dispel negative energy.

Privately, the Headmaster thought that having a picture that seemed to be occupied by a sour-faced misery like Albus wasn't likely to dispel any negative energy. The door was stuck more often than not, and he was beginning to wonder if it was some small hex left by his predecessor, but the portraits wouldn't answer any of his questions about the departed Snape.

"It's confidential, you see," Phineas had explained. "An unbreakable geas."

Even Dumbledore wouldn't talk, and looked particularly shifty when asked to explain why he seemed to be living life in exile in the corridor.

At the end of one long day at the end of one weary week he finally snapped and drew his wand.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," said Dumbledore.

"What would you know about it," snapped the Headmaster.

Albus shrugged. "I know enough to know that I wouldn't do that if I were you."

The new Headmaster muttered something under his breath about interfering old codgers and cast the charm. The door opened and he went in with a smirk.

He came out thirty seconds later looking pale.

"Is that even possible?" he asked.

"Obviously," said Albus. "They're doing it."

"I meant if you're alive."

"Ah. Well, yes, you can, but you need a good pint of olive oil."

The Headmaster blinked. "I can get that."

"And it's best if you don't attempt it for the first time without supervision." Albus
grinned like a man who has found his way back into favour with a set of miserable bastard portraits that had banned him from orgies. "Your wife is very attractive as I recall. And I can assure, you it's an unbreakable geas."