A/N: This is my first Snanger fic, and it was conceived as a belated birthday present for my very dear friend, Atuliel. In addition to providing the inspiration, she also provided invaluable encouragement, advice, and assistance along the way. Of course, any errors are mine alone. The title was inspired by the Eagles' classic song of the same name.
In terms of story background, this story begins toward the end of Seventh Year, so obviously, certain deaths that happened in canon didn't happen in my world. Other departures from canon should become clear in due course.
For those who prefer not to read until you're sure a story will be finished, I have completed a first draft of the entire story, so I expect to be very consistent with posting updates.
Constructive feedback is always greatly appreciated. Enjoy!
Naturally, the usual disclaimers apply.
She must have cast a spell, Severus mused gloomily, trying not to stare at his nemesis across a roomful of students. Anything this disturbing must be magic. There's no other rational explanation for why I'm suddenly so obsessed.
Of course, he acknowledged (even more gloomily), the idea of Hermione Granger casting a spell to make him obsessed with her didn't exactly ring with logic and reason. What possible purpose could she have?
Perhaps she just wanted him to suffer. After all, she was close friends with that arrogant young fool, Harry Potter, so perhaps she was trying to distract him from his dislike of her friend.
But what would be the point? He had always disliked Potter, but that had never prevented his tendency to rescue – or at least protect – the young fool whenever the Dark Lord launched a salvo against him. And making me obsessed with Hermione Granger would only make me less alert to whatever form the latest danger might take, he mused. So perhaps that wasn't it.
But maybe, he thought suddenly, it wasn't Miss Granger who had cast the spell on him at all. Maybe it was Potter himself, or his sidekick, Weasley. Or it could be any of the students, really. Perhaps they thought if they distracted him enough, he would forget to deduct points for the many infractions they committed all day, every day.
But when had he ever failed to deduct points for infractions? He considered the question as he idly watched Hermione, who appeared to be thoroughly engrossed in the Mandrake Draught the class was making today. Or at least, he tried to look like he was idly watching her, when in fact, his entire attention was focused on her every move. And since when had he been thinking of her as Hermione, rather than as 'Potter's insufferable know-it-all friend', or 'that silly girl', or even 'Miss Granger'?
She absently pushed back her mass of unrestrained curls, holding them off her face as she bit her lip and focused on adding the next item to her cauldron. The action made him itch to feel her hair curling around his fingers and to kiss the frown off her lips.
He forced himself to look away, realizing that this train of thought would inevitably lead to a physical response that would be difficult to hide and impossible to explain. Glancing around the room briefly, he was pleased to see that none of the students were in imminent danger of blowing anything up.
Inexorably, after fewer seconds than he cared to admit, his gaze returned to Hermione. He resumed his consideration of why he was so obsessed with her lately. He had known her since she was a child, and until recently, it had been out of sight, out of mind – and even when she was in sight, she still wasn't really on his radar. Not unless she was irritating him with questions that he didn't feel were relevant to what they were doing, or bothering him by getting herself into trouble with her annoying friends.
And then, two weeks ago, everything had changed. He could pinpoint the exact moment, in fact. It was in the dining room, as dinner was wrapping up, and she had been leaving the room with her friends. The Weasley girl had whispered something in her ear, and she had thrown her head back and laughed aloud in an uncharacteristically exuberant way, for several seconds. He had paused in the middle of pushing back his chair, arrested by the way she suddenly seemed like an attractive, sexy woman, rather than an annoying child. After a moment, she had seemed to feel his attention on her, and her laughter had died as her gaze locked with his. Another long moment had gone by, in which they had simply stared at each other across the room. Then Miss Weasley had said something else, and the moment was gone. Hermione had blushed lightly, then turned and hurried after her friends.
Now, she seemed oblivious to his attention. He wished he could ask her what she was doing to him, and why, but it wouldn't be seemly. And considering that he wasn't entirely sure she was doing anything, or even that anything had really been done, it might also prove extremely embarrassing.
So he continued to alternately watch her and force himself to look away, until finally class was over. He pulled out a book to distract himself, so that he wouldn't find himself watching her leave. Having caught himself doing that last week, he knew that even her walk suddenly seemed far too mature for a just-barely eighteen-year-old. And it was definitely too sexy for his peace of mind.
He used all his will to focus on the book, and still had no idea what he was reading.
He had been watching her, she was sure of it. She was growing accustomed to the curling heat that filled her whenever his eyes found her, and she was now so sensitive to it that she knew to the instant when he watched her and when he looked away. It was even starting to feel like something was missing when she didn't feel his eyes on her.
She had gradually, over the past two weeks, learned to function even when what she wanted to do was … well, stare back at him. Or maybe …
She cut off that thought without letting it complete itself. She couldn't jump him anyway – damn, the rest of the thought had snuck through after all – since they were in a roomful of students, and anyway, he was probably just staring because she had irritated him again.
Although, even for Professor Snape, two weeks seemed like an overly long time to hold a grudge for laughing too loud.
It was all Ginny's fault, anyway. She had made some ridiculous crack about how she was going to get back at Ron for teasing her by casting a spell that would make everything he said come out the opposite of what he intended. Hermione had immediately grasped the far-reaching, troublesome potential of the spell, and even just imagining relatively minor outcomes, like moving his chess pieces the opposite way from his actual strategy, made her laugh aloud.
She had been laughing one moment, and then, suddenly, she had felt someone watching her so intently that it felt like a physical touch. An arousing physical touch, she had later come to understand. At the time, she had merely been aware that her heart suddenly pounded in her chest, and her skin felt flushed and hot, and she felt a new kind of agitated awareness, one she had never felt before.
She was shocked to realize that the eyes she felt belonged to Professor Snape, and thought for a moment the feelings were fear – but he wasn't actually glaring, just watching her with smoldering intensity. And anyway, these sensations didn't feel quite like any fear she had ever experienced before. No, this feeling was … enticing, she decided. She had been unable to tear her eyes from his, even at that distance, and she had waited to hear him say "Ten points deducted from Gryffindor," but he hadn't. He had stared, and then Ginny had tugged on her arm and said, "Come on, Hermione, let's go!"
And she had. But she couldn't get that odd encounter out of her mind.
Having had no experience with sexual attraction before, she had not immediately realized what the feeling was. She had dug through old books in the library until she found one on interpreting physical sensations, and she had been shocked that sexual attraction was included. Who would think that would belong in a library devoted to the study of all things magic?
However, the authors had pointed out that sexual attraction could interfere with the clear-headedness required to cast non-verbal spells, and more importantly, could keep one from effectively blocking practitioners of the Dark Arts from exploring one's thoughts to discover weaknesses that could be exploited. And, the authors continued, it was indisputable that practitioners of the Dark Arts were often highly attractive to others. Moreover, they would not be above casting spells to create sexual attraction, even if such attraction did not arise naturally.
So Hermione was now fully aware that she was experiencing her first sexual attraction, and that it was aimed at the least appropriate person she could have possibly found. Keeping her composure around Professor Snape in light of this new knowledge was challenging, at best.
Especially since he seemed to be suddenly watching her almost constantly. Maybe he was aware of her attraction to him and he was trying to intimidate her into getting over it. Or maybe he wasn't aware of it – maybe he had always watched her like this, but she hadn't noticed it before because she hadn't been attracted to him.
Or maybe he just hated her and was watching for opportunities to deduct points based on her mistakes.
Now, when class finally ended, she gathered her things and headed toward the door. She was both relieved and disappointed that she didn't feel his eyes on her as she left.
At last, she was gone. Severus gave up all pretense of reading, snapping the book shut and returning to his favorite activity of late – brooding about Hermione Granger. It was a sad truth that she didn't even have to be in the room these days to command his full attention.
Thank heavens this hadn't happened any earlier in the year. There were only a few weeks to go until the Leaving Feast, and then she would be gone and he would break free of this spell.
He ignored the whisper in his mind that said he would be sad when she was gone – that he would regret letting her leave and that he should grab the opportunity to make a move while he had it.
Things would go back to normal once she graduated. He was sure of it.
Hermione relaxed in her room, having decided to try to nap before dinner. She hadn't been getting much sleep lately – even when she managed to fall asleep, she would wake up several times during the night, hot and bothered because of the increasingly explicit dreams she was having about Professor Snape.
Hopefully, this afternoon's little nap would be short enough that she wouldn't have similar issues. She really needed some rest. She decided to think about something else while she went to sleep.
Something boring, like Quidditch. Smiling at the thought, she began imagining Harry and Ron at Quidditch practice. The monotony of it – to her, at least – soon had her drifting off to sleep.
Suddenly, the scene changed. It was like the Quidditch game their first year, when Professor Snape had tried to protect Harry from Professor Quirrell. Except, even though the game was playing out the same way, the players were all older – like their current age – and so was she. And then Snape defeated Quirrell, which was a little different than what had actually happened, and instead of the scene continuing the way it actually had played out, everything from that point on was different. Snape's expression changed, and he seemed to be looking for someone.
Somehow, she knew he was trying to find her, so she decided to move into his line of sight. Just making the decision made it happen – like magic, she thought, amused.
When his eyes finally found her, his whole demeanor changed. His lids fell to lazily cover his eyes, making his gaze seem sensual and alluring. His lips quirked at the corner in a near-smile, and she felt the pull of his magnetism, calling to her. She wished they were alone.
And again, just the thought made it happen. They were alone in a room she didn't recognize, until he said, "Welcome. Make yourself comfortable." She realized this must be his quarters. She shrugged off her jacket and looked around to see where she should hang it. He took it from her and tossed it toward the coat rack, which reached out and grabbed it when the jacket would have landed short. She laughed, utterly charmed.
He turned to her, gave her an unexpectedly boyish smile, and then, as their eyes met, all childish thoughts disappeared. "I want you, now," he whispered.
"I want you, too," she whispered back. And then he was kissing her, and she wished she could feel his skin against hers, and suddenly they were both naked.
Delighted with this newfound ability to wish for something and have it happen, she kissed him and said aloud, "I wish we were in your bed."
He grinned at her from his new position, bent over her supine form. "I like the way you think," he growled, and kissed her again. She pulled him closer, kissing him back with abandon.
"Now, Severus," she whispered when they parted briefly, "I need you now."
"Patience, darling, patience." Still, he positioned himself, and she knew he was as eager as she was…
She woke up, panting with unslaked desire. She glanced around, and spied Crookshanks watching her knowingly from the other side of the room. She groaned and buried her face in her pillow, hiding from his clear-eyed gaze as she tried to will her body to cool down. This was the furthest the dream had ever gone. If this kept up, she didn't know what she would do.
Thank goodness the Leaving Feast was only a few weeks away. Once she was away from here, and away from him, she would get over this infatuation.
Things would go back to normal. She was sure of it.