Chapter 7 ~ Epilogue
Snape and Hermione eventually exited the tub and sat down for a late spot of tea which Snape prepared without magic. It was wonderful. Hermione wore a transfigured housecoat and slippers. Snape wore a rather threadbare and apparently very old housecoat and slippers of his own. Hermione eyed him over her teacup.
"That robe is almost as bad as your briefs," she commented.
"I gravitate to comfort rather than appearance," Snape replied coolly.
"Well, it wouldn't hurt to indulge yourself in some luxuries," Hermione said looking around his cramped home. "For instance, I have one major decorating suggestion for this place."
"Well, considering the suggestion is to raze this whole place to the ground, only one is needed. Or at least move. Gods."
Snape didn't say anything to this, but simply finished his tea. He'd lived here forever. His home didn't have the best memories, but it was his.
"I mean, you have to pee outside," Hermione added.
"No, there's a communal bathroom," Snape corrected her.
"Yes, I know. After getting a look and a whiff of it, I peed outside," Hermione responded, wrinkling her nose.
"Did you? More than likely some newspaper will have a picture of you hiking up your robes and squatting over the ground on the front page tomorrow if that's the case. I can see the headline now, "Hermione Granger Goes Nature Girl," Snape informed her.
"Take a little peek out the side of the shade on the front window," Snape told her. Hermione put down her tea cup, walked up to the shade and peeked out. It looked like a squatter's camp outside, with make shift tents and people milling around. Little fires were burning and occasionally there was the pop of a flashbulb.
"What is that?" Hermione said, her eyes rounded.
"Newspaper people, here to find out more about what is no doubt our sordid, ongoing affair," the Dark wizard said softly.
"Oh gods. What am I going to do? How am I going to get past them? Can I Apparate in here?"
Snape looked at her as if she were crazy.
"Of course not. And I will not remove the anti-Apparition protections. That takes too long, reapplying them is a lot of work and anyone could pop in here when they're down. I'm not swimming in friends, you know," Snape replied.
Hermione sighed and plopped down on the sofa.
"Maybe I shouldn't have let Hugo go so fast," she said dully. "I really don't want to deal with the press. They're such muckrakers."
Snape cocked his head at her.
"The best way to deal with an obstacle is to learn how to get past it, then it ceases to be an obstacle," Snape told her.
"What? How am I to do that?" Hermione asked him.
"Gryffindors. Absolutely no cunning and resourcefulness," Snape muttered shaking his head. "It's fairly simple Hermione. Embrace the press, that way you can control the news that goes out about you. Use it to your advantage. If you thought Mr. Weasley looked miserable earlier—"
Hermione stared at Snape as what he was saying began to sink in. She stood up and transfigured her housecoat back into her robes and her slippers into shoes.
"You get dressed, too. We're going to meet the press," she said to Snape, who immediately obliged her. This was going to be interesting. Up to this point, so little in his life was interesting.
That was about to change.
"What?" Ronald Weasley exclaimed as he shook out the Daily Prophet in disbelief. The headline read, "Hermione Granger Speaks Out!"
Ron read the article which stated that Hermione and Snape had an ongoing on again, off again intimate relationship for the entire ten years he and Hermione had dated. Hermione claimed she simply used Ron as a cover because of the dark connotations of being involved with Snape, but now she'd decided to tell all and let the world know about the real love of her life. Snape was loaded with praise in the article as being far more intelligent, insightful and a far better lover than Ron could ever be, and Lavender Brown or any other witch with designs on him was welcome to him.
"It has always been Severus Snape for me," the article quoted. "Ronald Weasley is a hero, but not nearly as courageous as Severus or as physically or emotionally satisfying. I chose the better man."
On the front page was a picture of Hermione with her arm looped through Snape's, the wizard looking at the camera with a slight smirk. Ron felt as if he were smirking at him.
There were other little articles, such as "The Goose Who Goosed the Gander," in which Hermione's secret relationship with Snape was compared to Ron's dalliance with Lavender and considered far more substantive and meaningful. It was op-ed of course, and written by a woman reporter who was obviously tired of cheating wizards and applauded Hermione's gumption in beating Ron to the punch.
In the centerfold were pictures of Ron being blasted out of Snape's house, Hermione and Snape luxuriating in the tub, Hugo standing there looking flabbergasted and Harry making Snape's house visible. Ron getting hexed was the largest photo and showed him crashing into Harry and both of them flying out of frame.
"I don't bloody believe this!" Ron hissed. "She was cheating on me all this time, with Snape and I had no idea!"
He threw the paper down in a fit of anger. He really thought he had been getting away with something, but he was the one who was being duped all this time. He shook his head ruefully.
For the next several months, Hermione wreaked her revenge on Ron, giving interviews to everyone who asked, and candid, if made up, details about her and Snape's relationship. Snape, however, remained silent. The dark, snarky mysterious lover who let his witch do all the talking.
The public LOVED it.
Lavender became old news very quickly and calls for interviews faded away. She was lucky if she could get a line or two in the shopping papers. Her book did quite poorly when published. No one cared anymore.
Hugo found himself much in demand. He was a celebrity simply because he had been Hermione's bodyguard and people hoped he'd give more details about her and Snape. But Hugo knew a good thing when he saw it, and simply said that client confidentiality came first and he'd never reveal what he knew, despite the fact he knew nothing at all and suspected it was all a farce. But he would be able to milk it for years because everyone wanted a bodyguard that could be counted on to keep his mouth shut.
And he did just that.
Snape and Hermione lay soaking in the tub in his cramped living room, steam rising around them as the herbs and spices relaxed and revitalized them. They did this twice a month. Hermione didn't manage to get him to change his living room, but she did take over the bedroom, making it bright and airy, with crisp clean sheets, plush carpet and a gleaming new four-poster bed, complete with cherubs, lions and serpents carved into the wood.
"You can't expect me to shag in a room that looks like a prison cell," she chided him as they painted the walls.
Snape shrugged. Actually, he liked the prison scenario. It suited his darker nature.
Now, Hermione lay there in the long wooden tub, looking at Snape through her lashes as the water lapped around them. Her eyes drifted down his thin, familiar chest
"You know," she purred, "I think it's time for a little internal cleansing."
"Indeed," Snape replied, sliding forward through the water and catching Hermione by her arms, then pulling her rather roughly onto his lap as she laughed. He positioned his organ against her, his dark eyes full of pleasure as he hitched forward, entering her.
"I thought you'd never ask."
A/N: And that's the end of Abduction. Thank you so much for reading. ***