A/N: This is my response to Izabel Lightwood's : The 500 Prompt Challenge. My prompt was lightning and my characters Severus and Hermione.
Disclaimer: I'm not J.K.R nor do I own Harry Potter...a lamentable fact.
An Unfinished Declaration
Chapter 1: A Marvelously Terrible Thing
Severus reclined on his couch and threw his feet up on the arm. It was rare he allowed himself such repose in the middle of the day but his third year Slytherins and Gryffindors had been absolutely exhausting. They were usually fairly benign, but they outdid themselves today…three melted cauldrons, two explosions, and one little child had actually managed to catch herself and subsequently his robes, on fire. To top it off, there was a storm brewing and the change in barometric pressure had given him a decent headache…and none of his potions had much effect that particular meteorological phenomenon. He just needed a break…and his couch would do nicely if not for the sharp object digging into his back. He fished a hand behind himself and caught the corner of the offending item. He brought it around and was unsurprised to find it to be a book.
He thumbed through the pages, skimming the words without really reading them. It wasn't a library book or one of his personal digests, as he originally thought; no he recognized it now. It was hand scribed, written in deft, academic letters with a slightly feminine bend. Another thing his detail-oriented eyes caught was that several pages were addressed to him. Curious.
He sat and stared at the book, feeling the insignificant weight of it as it sat in his hands. It was small, bound in nondescript black leather filled with bland, cream-colored pages, the words within written in ordinary black ink. It was a marvelously terrible thing to consider...
He reached for the bottle of Ogden's he had resting on the side table near the arm of the couch, then stopped himself as he remembered he still had a couple of classes left for the day. He silently cursed them and brought his hand back to the book, placing his thumb between the cover and first page that held his name, letting it sit there whilst he contemplated. She must have lost it between the cushions last time she was over for a visit and things had become…fun.
He'd seen her carrying the little diary, having it with her at the staff table, sitting on her desk in her classroom, tucked away in her dress pocket, only the corner peeking out when she moved. He'd often wondered what its pages held, and now knowing he was the addressee of several…oh, it was indeed tempting. Over these months in which they'd become…close, never had he asked her about it...and never had she offered up its contents.
Their relationship... had, for lack of a better term, mutated, eight months ago. Unbelievably, it was a Quidditch game that sparked the entire affair, Ravenclaw versus Hufflepuff. Much to his chagrin, they'd both been appointed referees. He'd made a call against Ravenclaw; she had challenged his ruling. It got ugly...fast. Neither of them had a proverbial dog in the fight, but neither was particularly practiced in concession either. It started out fairly civil, the argument based upon a difference of opinion concerning the rules. However it quickly escalated into personal attacks and character assassination. She'd called him an unfair, egotistical villain, he informed her she was a frigid spinster and a loudmouth, shrewish harpy... they continued flinging their insults even as they were being escorted from the field by the Headmistress and Professor Flitwick. Once they were alone again, behind the east stands, still arguing, she'd slapped him, and in return; he'd kissed her passionately and then yelled at her for her impertinence. It was inevitable really. You drop an ember to as much tender as they'd been collecting; you're bound to get a fire.
They'd become 'official' about a week later.
In reality, it started long before that, the first indications came to light when she'd accepted a teaching post following her apprenticeship and subsequent mastery in the practical world of magic. She was, he found, a little more jaded and a little more world weary, but a war and an extended stint in academia will do that to a person. Not that he minded. Honestly, her faded sense of self-righteousness and 'know-it-allism' was, in his opinion, a mark in her favor.
No one was surprised at her eventual return. Everyone always assumed she'd make her way back to Hogwarts at some point in her life, though he postulated it was to provide herself with unrestricted access to the library under the charade of a professorship. She'd found the comment funny, until she realized he was serious. That was the first argument they'd had as colleagues. Oh, after that, the effort had been made, and made quite thoroughly to avoid her, but no, fate found fit to put them together because fate was, as always, a bitch. It was a cross-disciplinary project that had created the need for a partnership. Where staff meetings and official school obligations had been the only source of their interactions, now evenings passed into night and night into pre-dawn as she formulated equation after equation while he brewed. It was all because of some inelegant conclusion he'd discovered in an theoretical potion manuscript and though he was loath to admit it, his own failings when it came to Arithmancy. He assumed his need for her skill was simply another penance for the ill acts of his misspent youth, and she was, sadly, the only way to make his restitution. He cursed Vector every day for her early retirement.
They argued over every developmental stage, and when that failed to suffice, personal defect. He insulted her calculations; she criticised his stirring methods. He made sport of her hair; she informed him his left little room to talk. They quite honestly assumed they hated each other. He, her former teacher, the 'git,' the 'dungeon bat,' or simply 'Snape' as that was enough to imply insult on occasion. She, the 'swot,' the 'simple Gryffindor,' 'Granger,' it was clear; they never stood a chance. He would seek her out to fight on some insignificant point; she would knock on his door at some unholy hour every Saturday morning to go over the 'obvious gaps,' in his formula. Yes, they hated each other until they very obviously...didn't.
It was the small things he thought, that brought them to that stupid moment behind the bleachers…behind the bleachers, Merlin, that sounded so adolescent. He remembered the first time she laughed in genuine at something he'd said, the brush of her hand as they reached for a bottle at the same moment, the smell of her hair, mixed with all the perfumes of the cauldron…and of course, her irritating brilliance. He thought of how much he actually did enjoy her company, even when they were fighting…perhaps, especially when they were fighting. He thought she was lovely…stupifyingly lovely! All of her, her mannerisms, her mind, her ability to spit venom at him with a tenacity that equaled his own, and yes, oh yes…her body. Maybe it wasn't what most men would lose themselves for, but Merlin he wanted it…badly. He was, he knew, irrevocably attracted to every aspect of her. He only half-mockingly contemplated suicide at the realisation.
...And now, here he sat, all these months later, with her little book of secrets resting in his hand. Oh, it would be a violation; that was sure, but he had no illusions that he was ever an innocent. His thumb sank deeper into the fold of the page and the book spread itself for him as a willing little trollop, begging to be read.