Disclaimer: Not her, not paid, not even very good. Everything you recognize belongs to JKR.
A.N. I wrote this as a birthday gift for Sshg316. She has graciously agreed to allow me to share it with you.
A Curious Noise
Transfiguration Apprentice Hermione Granger paused with her fork halfway to her mouth, a puzzled frown creasing her forehead. A quick glance around revealed no source for the unusual noise. Not that she truly expected it to this time if it hadn't been revealed to her up to this point.
Apparently, Minerva couldn't hear it. Odd that. One would think a woman who was a cat in her other form would have excellent hearing. Unless she was deliberately ignoring it. Hermione narrowed her eyes at her. A peek at Severus Snape on her other side, glowering at his breakfast, quelled the query she almost considered voicing. Shrugging inwardly, she returned to her eggs, determined to put the oddity out of her mind.
Well into her sixth month of her two year apprenticeship, Hermione had enough to concern herself with. So what if this weird noise was completely out of the ordinary? Or that she'd been hearing it now for several days here in the Great Hall? It wasn't hurting anything, was it? Of course not! So, stop obsessing over it, she reprimanded herself, as if that could bloody well work.
As her eyes made another fruitless scan of the room, her gaze fell on Snape just as the sound occurred again.
...and the potions master froze. He heard it, too, she thought, finally relieved that at least someone else could hear it. But why wasn't he searching out it's source as she had been?
Unless it was coming from him.
His boots? No, he'd have worn others by now to stop it from happening. His chair? Impossible. Snape didn't fidget. And besides, he would have switched it with hers if that was the case. Or Trewlaney's.
She realized she was staring, mouth agape, just as he turned his piercing glare on her. His countenance darkened, like a thunder cloud covering the sun. She blinked, shook her head slightly to stall the oncoming wrath. "Later, Professor," she whispered, glancing meaningfully at the curious students who had caught Snape's change of demeanor.
Surprisingly, it worked. He scowled at the students, gulped down the rest of his coffee, and stood. "My office, Miss Granger," he growled, "when you're finished here." He glared down at her until she nodded her understanding, then swept out through the teacher's door behind her.
Hermione exhaled the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. It wouldn't do to leave him waiting to brood very long, she knew. She quickly finished her breakfast and turned to Professor McGonagall. "I might be a few minutes late, Minerva. I must have a quick word with Professor Snape before classes."
"Certainly, my dear. Take your time," Minerva offered. "I've got to stop by my office before classes anyway. I left the first year's essays on my desk."
Hermione hurried out of the Great Hall and through the corridors to the potions master's office. Taking a calming breath, she knocked on the door.
"Enter," he barked from the other side.
He was seated behind his desk, leaning his elbows on the surface with his hands clasped in front of his chin. He watched her as she crossed into the room, carefully latched the door and cast an Impeturbable charm on it for privacy. His eyebrow rose slightly.
"If you want to yell at me for staring, just know that it was unintentional, sir. I apologize for making you uncomfortable." She stopped a foot in front of his desk, carefully not staring at him.
"The question is, why were you staring at me?" he asked, more curious than perturbed.
Hermione blinked. She was sure he had heard the noise. What if he didn't? Was his reaction only due to her staring at him? She floundered, unsure of what she should, or could, say.
She had to tell him. He'd be humiliated if the other teachers or, God forbid, his students heard it and identified it as coming from him. "You're squeaking, sir," she answered quietly, terrified of his reaction.
No response. Five seconds, ten. She risked a glance. He looked confused.
"Squeaking?" he repeated flatly, clearly disbelieving her.
She nodded. "Are you getting a cold, sir?" she asked. She knew he wasn't. He was a Potions Master, for goodness sake. "Or...or an allergy, maybe? It seems to be coming from your sinuses, I believe."
He looked stunned for a moment, quickly schooling his face to reflect scorn instead. "If you are making some kind of joke, Miss Granger...." he began, standing to his impressive height.
"No, sir!" She shook her head emphatically. "I would never!" she insisted. "I assure you, Professor, you are definitely squeaking. I realize it's embarrassing, but I thought you should know," she stated, hoping she was inflecting the right amount of compassion without expressing pity. He would hate that.
He seemed to deflate a little. He broke eye contact, looking mortified.
"I'm sorry. I only this morning figured out where the noise was coming from. I take it you're not suffering congestion, then?"
"No." He bit out, sitting back down and deliberately not looking at her. "Are you inferring that you've heard the noise before?" he questioned.
She nodded. "Since earlier in the week, always in the Great Hall. I thought it might have been a creaking chair, or a mouse or bird, or...or something." She shifted from foot to foot. "Has something happened to your nose in the past week, sir?"
He clenched his jaw, and she thought he wouldn't answer. "Nothing that hasn't happened many times before. There was a cauldron explosion in my third year Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw class on Monday. I shielded the student, but the cauldron hit my shield and bounced back and hit me in the face. It broke my nose, which I repaired immediately, like I always do. It didn't even get the chance the bleed."
Hermione gasped in all the right places. "Many times..." she murmured. "How many times would you say your nose has been broken, Professor?" An idea was starting to form in her mind.
"Not that it is any of your business, Miss Granger, but I have lost count between the Marauders, Voldemort, and various classroom accidents. It would have to number over twenty, I imagine," he ground out. "Why?"
"I find it hard to believe you can even breathe still. Do you have any idea how much bone calcium must have built up from all the breakage over the years?" She sighed. "You'll need to have Madam Pomfrey or a Healer look at it. Does Wizard medicine even have a treatment for that?" she pondered.
"I wouldn't know. Does the Muggle world?" he returned sarcastically.
Hermione huffed out an exasperated breath. "As a matter of fact, it does. It's called Rhinoplasty. My uncle is a surgeon in the same professional building as my parents' dental practice. If the Healers can't help you, my uncle certainly can."
Uncertainty crossed his features as he scrutinized her. She wasn't mocking him, or the Wizarding world. But could he put himself in the hands of Muggle doctors? "Very well, Miss Granger. I will let you get back to Minerva. I'm sure she's beginning to wonder what I've been doing to you all this time."
He didn't show up for lunch, she noted. However, neither did Madam Pomfrey. She could only hope the situation was being resolved and that Severus Snape would not suffer further humiliation. Once she'd finished her lunch, she moved to the other end of the table to Madam Pomfrey's seat to chat with some of the other teachers she hadn't had the chance to converse with recently. It didn't succeed in taking her mind off Professor Snape.
Back in Minerva's office, she set to marking second years' tests from that morning. Minerva came bustling in with her arms filled with books. "Ah, I see you've found this morning's tests. Good. Let me know if you see any problems with the students' understanding of last week's topic. I'll start in on the essays from the sixth years before my next class." She moved to set the books down on the empty chair next to Hermione.
As they settled into their work, an owl came for Professor McGonagall. She deftly pulled the letter from the bird and unfurled the scroll. "Oh dear, it seems Severus will be unavailable to teach this afternoon's second year Slytherin-Gryffindor class. He requests you teach it for him, Hermione."
"Me?" Hermione squawked, gaping at her.
"Well, it's either you or Professor Binns, as Pomona has a class at that time. It's quite a compliment to you, you know. Severus has never made a request for a particular substitute before."
"B-but I'm not prepared," she complained. "I don't know the curriculum. I wouldn't even know where to begin!"
Minerva watched her as she started to pace agitatedly. "Hermione, if Professor Snape didn't think you could handle it, he wouldn't have suggested it. He mentions in his note that they will be preparing a simple burn healing paste, and that you should watch that they don't try to add the nettles before the base has reached the proper temperature. He says there is no risk of explosion with this concoction, and that he will probably be back before the end of the period."
Resigned, Hermione made her way to the Potions classroom. If Professor Snape thought she could do this, then she'd give it her best effort. She'd sat in his classrooms for six years; she knew what he expected from his students. And it didn't hurt that Minerva had given her a few classes per week to teach Transfiguration, so handling a pack of twelve year olds was not a problem for her.
The room was empty when she arrived, so she crossed to his desk and sat down. The class started filing in shortly thereafter. As they settled into their seats, the murmuring grew louder as the students deliberated the cause of their missing teacher.
Hermione stood, garnering their attention. "Good afternoon, class. Professor Snape has been detained on an errand, but expects to return before the end of class, so we shall proceed with his planned exercise." Her nerves calmed considerably as she wrote the recipe for the burn healing paste on the board.
Well into the lesson, Snape entered quietly at the back of the room, watching as Hermione made her way around the room, inspecting the students' cauldrons. She offered encouragement to them as she smiled and exclaimed over their work. He managed to observe for nearly ten minutes before she noticed him. She raised her eyebrows in question if she should continue or take her leave. He bowed slightly, waved his arm graciously and sat down to mark essays while she instructed the class to bottle their samples and clean up their stations.
When the last student had left the room, Hermione turned back to Snape. He didn't pause in his corrections, instead electing to let her wait impatiently while he jotted more vicious comments on the hapless student's work. Finally he flipped the parchment onto the completed pile and set his quill aside.
"You will discover the fruitlessness of coddling the miscreants in time, Miss Granger. You need to develop a firmer hand or they will walk all over you," he stated, critiquing her methods. She had to admit it was a much gentler assessment than she had expected.
"I happen to believe that learning should be fun, Professor. I've always found it so, although I was not a typical student. But I remember Professor Flitwick's classes were always enjoyable and he never had trouble with students disrespecting him. Of course there is no chance of explosions in Charms, so there is that," she conceded, shrugging.
"Indeed," he agreed, again throwing her off balance. "However, since my classroom seems to be intact, and the dunderheads appear to have submitted adequate samples, I'll allow that you have performed satisfactorily. If I have need of a substitute in the future, I would hope that you will be amenable to such an arrangement." His inflection came off as a statement, however the implied entreaty was apparent and she nodded, grinning.
She waved her ams in a vague direction at the door. "I'll just...be on my way, then," she said, tilting her head in thanks. She was halfway to the exit when...
She faltered, shoulders stiffening. Debating turning back or going on, she determined that he had seen her stop short. She hung her head briefly, then accepting the burden fate had decided to throw at her, she turned back to him. "Madam Pomfrey wasn't able to help?" she questioned cautiously.
He looked away, reddening. "No," he answered through gritted teeth, drawing the word out. "Nor were the Healers at St. Mungo's. I fear they may have made it worse, since I can hear it now, as well." His jaw clenched in such a way that gave Hermione cause to think he was about to say something else. Or ask something.
Instinctively, she knew then what he was reluctant to say. "My offer still stands. If you want, I will be visiting my parents this weekend and you are welcome to come along. I can show you more detailed information on the procedure there. Let me know by breakfast on Saturday," she finished, backing toward the door.
His eyes flicked briefly to hers. He nodded, acknowledging the offer, but let her go without comment.
Snape leaned over her arm on Saturday morning. "Will Muggle attire be required for this visit?" he asked in a quiet, disarming timbre, making all the hairs on Hermione's skin draw up. She repressed a delighted shiver. She'd thought she was over her childhood crush on the man. Evidently, she was mistaken.
"No, you can wear what you like. My parents have seen me many times in my robes and they have become good friends with the Weasleys, so they are used to wizarding robes," she answered, somehow managing to keep her voice steady. At this close range she could smell the soap he had used for his shower this morning, feel the heat he generated seeping into her body.
"You are certain it won't be an imposition?" he added, not moving back to his seat. Honestly, if he didn't back away soon she was sure she would do something embarrassing. Why hadn't she ever had this kind of reaction from close quarters with Ron or Victor?
She struggled from taking the deep breath of him she longed for. "Truthfully, my parents will be honored to meet you, Professor. They read The Daily Prophet, so they know about you and what you've done for them. And me." His eyes met hers, stunned for a moment. He sat back, tearing his eyes away and tipped his head down to hide his blush behind his hair. "I'm sorry. It wasn't my intention to embarrass you," she apologized. "Look, what you did was important, there is no doubt about it. My parents won't fawn over you, but they will be happy to have the chance to express their thanks."
He sighed, then straightened up again. "Very well," he accepted reluctantly. "What time will we be leaving?" His anxiety was palpable.
"Meet me in the Entrance Hall in fifteen minutes," Hermione said, placing her napkin on the table and standing as her plate vanished. No sense in giving him the chance to change his mind, she thought.
Professor Snape had never been to Hermione's house before, naturally, so she placed her arm around his waist (Oh dear God!) and Apparated them both into the secluded Apparition point in the Grangers back yard. She stifled her smile as she observed him inspecting the high hedges surrounding them that hid their arrival from view of the neighbors.
"Neville's design," she informed him, then chuckled when he scowled. "I'll be sure to let him know you approve," she teased.
"It's heartening to know he is not a complete waste," he returned with a sneer.
She tugged his sleeve. "Come on, then. My mother will have heard us arrive." She couldn't help the grin she was sporting.
The back door opened before they reached it. "Hermione! Oh, I'm so happy to see you, dear," her mother cooed, hugging her daughter affectionately.
"Mum, I'd like you to meet Professor Severus Snape. Professor, this is my mother, Dr. Helena Granger." Professor Snape clasped her hand and bowed over it reverently.
"I am honored to make your acquaintance, Doctor Granger," he intoned smoothly, releasing her hand.
"Please, call me Helen. I am delighted to finally meet you, Professor. Our Hermione hasn't stopped talking about you since her first year at school. So brilliant and accomplished and brave!" she recounted, humiliating Hermione in the process.
"Mum!" she hissed. "Let's get inside, shall we?" she bit out, grabbing her mother by the elbow and herding her inside ahead of her. Professor Snape followed, a smug smirk on his face which Hermione didn't see since she was avoiding looking at him.
"I've just put a batch of biscuits in the oven. Why don't you make yourselves comfortable while I put on the tea?" she offered, ushering them into the lounge with a wave of her arm.
The television was on when they entered. Hermione grabbed the remote and clicked it off. She noticed Professor Snape's inquisitive look. "Muggle magic," she said, giggling. "It sends radio waves to operate the telly." She demonstrated the functions of the remote for him to see. "Muggle technology has advanced tremendously since you left the Muggle world twenty years ago, Professor."
She walked over to the computer situated on the desk in the corner and turned it on. "This is a computer. I'm sure you've heard of them." She glanced at him and he nodded. "It's connected to the world wide web through that cable there behind it. I can pull up information from anywhere in the world instantaneously with a few keystrokes."
She pulled out the desk chair and sat down to type in a password. As it loaded it's programs, she got up and retrieved another straight-backed chair for him, placing it alongside hers. When the hourglass finally disappeared, she brought up the search engine and typed in Rhinoplasty. Almost immediately thousands of links appeared. Hermione scanned down the page finding one that suited her interests.
"A nose job!" Professor Snape scoffed, offended. "Why didn't you say that in the first place?" His ire was up and Hermione had to act fast to placate him or call the whole thing a loss.
"That's a slang term for it. But it's so much more than that, Professor. Most procedures done now are for medical reasons, not cosmetic. The wealthy use it to improve their appearance, certainly, but look at this man here," she clicked on a link, "he had the surgery to correct sleep apnea. That's where the patient stops breathing in their sleep, usually because of the soft tissue, but his was from a defect in bone structure. And this lady had a deviated septum repaired after a serious vehicle accident." She clicked on another link. "This man's family made him have the procedure to stop his incessant snoring that kept them all awake every night." She sighed. "I'm sorry I wasn't completely forthcoming, but I needed you to see that it's use is far more reaching than it was twenty years ago."
He relaxed somewhat, looking at the before and after pictures. "As you can see, none of them changed their outward appearances. They just had medical problems corrected," she stated calmly, soothingly.
Helen Granger had entered the room during their heated exchange, deciphering from the images on the screen what they were discussing. She retreated to the kitchen to collect the tea things and fresh biscuits on a tray and reentered the room after the storm had blown over. She set the tray down and started pouring tea into the cups. Hermione clicked off the screen and they both stood up from the desk and walked over to the sofa.
"Are you finally getting your deviated septum fixed, Hermione?" her mum asked, conveniently diverting Professor Snape's embarrassment to Hermione instead.
Hermione flushed. "I'm thinking about it," she lied. Her case was so minor as to be nearly non-existent, but it was as convenient an excuse as any. "Do you think Uncle David has time for a consult this afternoon?"
"I'm sure if he's free, he'll be happy to see you. I'll ring him up, shall I?" Not waiting for a response, she rose from her seat and retreated to the kitchen once again. They could hear her muffled words in the other room.
"Relax, Professor," Hermione said quietly. "My uncle knows about magic already so you needn't be concerned about giving anything away. My parents wanted me to have this surgery since I was fourteen, but I keep putting it off. You can just observe the discussion if it makes you more comfortable. I won't bring up your problem if you don't feel entirely at ease, all right?" She had leaned toward him, laying her hand on his wrist in a placating gesture. He stared at her hand for a moment, then nodded.
Helen Granger returned then, informing them that her brother-in-law would be over in the early afternoon to discuss Hermione's options. The conversation detoured all around after that, hitting on a variety of topics from Hermione's apprenticeship to books to the Weasleys and many other things in between. Severus was privately pleased at how adept Helen was at keeping him involved in the conversation. She even showed him her herb garden she was so proud of, filled as it was with both Muggle and magical plants Neville had given her the previous summer.
When Hermione's father arrived at eleven o'clock, the easy mood did not diminish. After introductions were made, her father popped on the telly, offered Snape a beer, and found a football game to watch. Shockingly, Professor Snape was a closet Manchester United fan, only losing touch with it two years before when the pub in his neighborhood closed down.
"So, how long have you been dating?" her mother inquired with a straight face once the two of them were ensconced in the kitchen, well away from the shouting, cheering men in the lounge.
Hermione sputtered, choking on her lemon-water. "We-we're not dating," she coughed.
"Why not? He's not married, is he?" her mother went on, completely serious. "It's obvious he likes you."
"No, he doesn't, Mum. He barely tolerates me. He called me insufferable know-it-all the whole way through school. And it wasn't meant in a nice way," she scowled, sitting back in her chair with her arms folded over her chest. "I admit I find him attractive," she blushed but went on, "but he'll never see me as anything but an annoying Gryffindor he had to rescue from trouble too many times to count," she pouted.
"And yet, here he is with you today, visiting your parents," Helen countered.
"He's only here because magic couldn't solve his problem." Helen's eyebrow rose in question. "He's started squeaking. I only discovered it early this week in the Great Hall. It's apparently coming from his sinuses. He would be mortified if any of the teachers or students heard it and found out it was coming from him," Hermione explained.
"It doesn't seem to bother him that you know about it," her mother pointed out.
"Oh, don't worry. I'll undoubtedly be subjected to plenty of scathingly humiliating comments from him after this is all over. Starting with my inability to 'keep your nose out of other people's business, Miss Granger,'" she intoned in a surprisingly accurate imitation of Snape at his most surly.
"Mmmm," her mother commented noncommittally.
"Oh, its hopeless! I've got no chance. He gave his heart to a dead woman. She'll forever be beautiful, intelligent, and saintly. There's no competing against that." she complained, defeated.
"If I recall correctly, they had a falling out that she never forgave him for. That doesn't sound saintly to me. Look at it this way, Hermione, his relationship with her was almost identical to your relationship with Ron. It took you over seven years to realize you weren't meant for each other. Unfortunately, Professor Snape never got the chance to discover that for himself. And then that Headmaster of yours perverted his feelings of childhood love into a driven guilt. His first love didn't get the chance to fade the way it should have."
Snape couldn't stand to hear any more. He overheard part of their conversation accidentally on his return from the bathroom. He stealthily retreated back to the lounge, going over the overheard words in his brain. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but Helen Granger was an astoundingly perceptive woman, breaking down his relationship with Lily the way she had. He'd been reaching the same conclusion she had, albeit grudgingly, for some time now. And he had no idea Hermione was attracted to him.
The pizza from the local shop arrived shortly thereafter. Hermione and her mother joined the men in the lounge. To Hermione it felt like she'd entered an alternate universe. There was Professor Snape, eating pizza and drinking beer with her dad, arguing a flag called on the telly, and acting more like Ron and Harry than she ever would have believed. She suppressed the urge to shake her head, took a seat on the ottoman, and grabbed a slice.
Dr. David Granger arrived as the pizza box and empty beer bottles were being cleared away. He set up his visual aids and passed some pamphlets over to Hermione. The discussion went on for close to an hour, debating the use of magical means of pain relief versus Muggle in theory and in practice. Snape was impressed with his knowledge of potions. Apparently Hermione had loaned him her textbooks.
The five of them crowded into the Grangers station wagon for the short ride to the office, Hermione squashed in the middle, straddling the hump, between her mother and her professor in the back seat.
Her mother set up the x-ray machine to get accurate films of Hermione's nose, covering her chest and lap with the heavy lead apron. She could see Snape's anxious face behind the protective glass and smiled reassuringly at him.
The films were posted on the lit white screen for inspection by everyone. Her defective nose was scrutinized from every possible angle, much to her embarrassment. After endless discussion, the date was set for the end of term, just over two weeks away.
Hermione met Severus' eyes, relaying an entire conversation without speaking. Hermione led her parents away to their offices while Professor Snape engaged her uncle on the topic of his own sinus problem.
"We should get back to Professor Snape," her father stated ten minutes later, alarmed that they had left him behind somehow.
"He's fine, Daddy," Hermione explained. "I brought him along today especially so he could talk to Uncle David about his sinus problem. I'm quite pleased that they hit it off so well, actually. Don't ask him about, though, okay? He's a very private person and won't take it well if we're discussing him behind his back."
They returned to Hogwarts an hour later. Professor Snape was carrying several of her uncle's texts under his arm.
Hermione made herself as comfortable as an open-backed lavender hospital gown would allow, reclining on the operating table while her mother administered the sedative. She tried to ignore the humiliation associated with having her bushy hair stuffed into an oversized white shower cap. She felt like a gigantic cotton swab. Professor Snape stood unobtrusively to the side in his own operating room attire, trying to blend into the background. Impossible in that get-up, Professor, she thought.
Her mother told her to relax and start counting backward from one hundred. She got to ninety-six before she knew no more.
She heard their voices discussing aftercare as she struggled to break the surface of her delirium. Her mother must have recognized the fluttering eyelids and started rubbing her extremities to encourage circulation to flush out the rest of the sedative in her system.
"Let's sit you up, sweetheart," she said, raising the head of the bed. She offered Hermione a sip of water from a straw. Hermione's eyes remained unfocused, drifting in a haze as she was. It was a battle to keep them open. Professor Snape leaned over her, staring at her eyes.
"What's wrong with her?" he asked anxiously.
"'M okay," she slurred. "Jus' sleepy yet." She clumsily raised her hand to her nose. "Big...sore," she whined. It came out muffled.
"You'll get some pain medication in a moment, unless you've brought your own?" her mother said, looking to Severus. He pulled out a small phial from his pocket. "The packing will have to stay in your nostrils until tomorrow unless your school nurse can accelerate the healing process."
"Lovely," Hermione managed to utter so it came out almost as sarcastically as she meant it to.
Professor Snape uncorked the phial and held it to her lips, preventing her from dumping it down her front. The relief was immediate. "Thanks," she said, offering a lopsided smile. "I feel much better." Then she reached up and felt her tangled hair. "Better than I must look, at any rate," she groaned.
"Planto tersus," Professor Snape muttered, waving his wand lightly in the direction of her hair.
"Oh, my," Helen breathed.
"What was that?" Hermione asked, feeling her hair untangling itself and smoothing out. She got the sensation of a dozen gentle fingers lightly touching her scalp.
"Useful spell for untidy firsties," Snape answered with a gleam in his eye.
"Why didn't Minerva ever teach it to me?"
"She doesn't know this one. It is of my own devising. I couldn't allow my Slytherins to be upstaged by the rest of the school. I might be convinced to teach it to you, if you give a wand oath not to teach it to anyone else."
"Don't want to give away your advantage?" she asked slyly.
"Precisely," he agreed.
After her uncle came in to check on her, she was allowed to dress. Professor Snape Side-along Apparated them back to the gates of Hogwarts to prevent her from splinching herself.
The long walk from the gates to the castle afforded him the chance to approach the subject that had been on his mind for the past few weeks.
"Miss Granger..." he began.
"Hermione," she interrupted, holding onto his arm to steady herself,even though she really didn't need to.
He frowned briefly, then nodded. "Hermione. Why did you get this procedure?" He cut off her protestations, expecting her to deny it. "I spoke to your uncle. You really didn't need it. You're not a vain person, so why would you subject yourself to it?" He slowed their gait to prevent them from arriving at the doors before finishing their discussion. He was already aware of why she did it; he just didn't understand her motivation.
She took several moments to consider how to answer him. "You need this procedure, Professor," she began quietly.
"Hmmm? Oh, of course. Severus," she continued, glowing a soft pink. "I knew you wouldn't trust having it done without understanding it completely, so I went ahead and did it. My parents have been pestering me to get it done for years. It happened to be a perfect opportunity for several reasons. It got my parents off my back, for one. It's the end of term and I had no plans made, so it was convenient. But mostly, it was for you. I don't want to see you suffer anymore, Severus. This small service I can provide for you that nobody else could. I wanted to do it, and if that makes me a foolish Gryffindor, then so be it. There are worse things, after all."
He snorted. "Not many, actually." He brought them to a stop. "I...appreciate that you allowed me to go through this with you. You are undoubtedly correct, as usual, Miss Granger," he smirked, teasing her in his decidedly stern Professor Snape classroom voice. He paused, debating with himself for a moment. "If I have this procedure, I would like for you to be there for me, if you would agree," he stated in all seriousness.
She smiled brightly up at him. It was still startling that this attractive young woman wanted him. He still couldn't believe his luck.
"Absolutely. I insist on it," she asserted, clutching his arm even tighter with both hands now.
"Let's get you up to Poppy and see what she can do about healing you up quickly," he said. "I have some books in my quarters I'd like you to see." The delivery was deadpan, but the mischievous glint didn't escape her. She giggled at his attempted flirtation, even as he pulled her along quickly towards the front doors.
Hermione's recovery was relatively fast and painless. There was virtually no bruising, which was a tremendous relief to her. She wasn't very good at glamour charms, and never really got the hang of make-up.
Severus had read all the texts her uncle had sent along. He invited her to his rooms to discuss his upcoming surgery.
"What do you think of this nose?" he asked, pointing to yet another perfectly shaped proboscis.
She didn't answer him. She was getting sick of this game. He turned to see her face.
"Hermione?" His anxiety over his date with the knife was taking it's toll on him.
"What's wrong with your nose, Severus?" She asked gently. "I like it just the way it is. It's perfect. It's on your face," she explained, reaching up and cupping his cheeks with her palms. She rose up and kissed the bridge of his nose, the first time she had dared to kiss him.
He reached up and covered her hands with his, his eyes searching hers for the truth of her words. All he saw there was affection. He kissed first one hand, then the other, not relinquishing his grasp on them as he lowered them to his lap. He took a deep breath and blew it out. "I find I don't know how to do this," he stated plainly, awkwardly. "My only experience is two decades out of style," he smiled ruefully.
"Well, mine isn't really any better, just more current," she offered, encouragingly. "We'll just take it day by day and see how we do, all right?" She kissed him chastely on the mouth, then excused herself for the evening.
The day of his surgery arrived, finally, in Hermione's opinion or way too quickly in Severus'. They Apparated directly into the clinic, prearranged by Hermione's parents. Severus was given a foam green hospital gown and once in it, he lay stiffly on the table.
"I'll stay with you the entire time, Severus," Hermione assured him, holding his free hand while her mother started the sedative in the other. He met her eyes, seeing only love and acceptance there. He nodded, believing in her strength, that she would stand by him, no matter what.
When he awoke, Hermione had his pain potion ready on the bedside table. She rubbed his arms and legs like her mother had done, perhaps taking slightly more time, just to be thorough. She raised the top of the bed to sit him up, offering him water.
"I'm here," she repeated over and over. "I won't leave," she whispered into his ear.
In the end, Severus chose not to do anything drastic to change his appearance. If the surgery corrected the slightly crooked slant and evened out a little of the hook in the middle, well, no one noticed or if they did, they never said. Of course, the addition of Hermione Granger on his arm was enough of a distraction to ensure they had plenty of other things to speculate about instead.