Hogwarts in December is really not the romantic place one would expect. Roaring fires there might be, but central heating would have been preferable.

The Warming Charm was one of the first any student learned in these frigid halls, only to ensure their survival of the first winter.

During the day people moved in packs, the places in the middle of the throng the most sought after ones. After classes, students were clustered together in their common rooms, where a huge fireplace and the combined body heat made the room the most popular place.

At night, everyone was wearing nightclothes; even the most fashion-oriented girls had taken to wearing garish flannel pyjamas. Warmth was the priority and not being sexy.

If anyone decided to climb into someone else's bed to keep warm, no one said anything, not even if it meant two boys huddling together.

Even teachers had dug out their thermal underwear and their long-johns. McGonagall was actually very fond of her thick, tartan tights.

Even Severus Snape had started wearing long-johns. With a grimace he had retrieved his favourite, or least hated, pair from the back of a drawer, glaring at the black cotton garment with loathing.

At least the colour was bearable, he acknowledged, thinking of the lemony coloured pair Albus had given him a few Christmases ago. Did the Headmaster really think he would let anything on his body that featured dancing frogs?

It didn't matter that no one was able to see them. iHe/i would know that they were there. And gods forbid he would be summoned to a Death Eater meeting wearing frog-covered underwear.

He was naturally thin, and the lack of body-fat made him notoriously cold. He hated the winter, and he really hated how his skinny legs looked in the tight long-johns.

He couldn't stand the sight of his protruding, knobbly knees for long and wrestled his normal trousers over the unholy garment. He detested how the fabric bunched around his privates and itched to grope his groin to rearrange it.

During breakfast, like many others, he wanted to hug his mug of coffee to him, but he resisted. Barely.

There were two big fireplaces in the Great Hall, but they failed to bring enough heat into the huge room.

A few students could be seen holding their hands over the candles on the tables. Others had started wearing winter hats all day long, especially the younger ones.

No matter how rude it was to be wearing headwear during mealtimes, Severus couldn't fault them, considering his own wish to hide his head under a thick layer of wool.

His thin, stringy hair did nothing to keep his sensitive head warm, and he was routinely plagued by headaches. With envy he glanced at Hagrid, who never looked affected by the low temperatures, his shaggy hair keeping his head and neck as warm as toast.

As usual, Severus drank too much coffee in an attempt to stay warm, which had him all flustered and awfully restless. He spent his classes striding through the rows of students, trying to work out the nervous energy the overload of caffeine had given him. Besides, it kept him warm.

His own classroom was the only one without a fire. Everyone assumed he did it to torture his students, while in truth there had never been one installed in the first place. If there was a way to alter the castle's structure, he would have asked for one, but the magic needed for it had died with the founders.

It took a good two hours before the heat from the cauldrons managed to bring the temperatures up to an almost comfortable feel.

He lectured less during the winter months, preferring to keep the students brewing and the flames under the cauldrons on for as much as possible.

He gratefully sank into his armchair by the fire after classes and pulled a rather threadbare blanket around his frame. With a book in one hand and a glass of firewhisky in the other, he spent most of his free time alone in his chambers.

Xxx

Hermione wasn't a fan of winter. She hated the cold and the many layers one was forced to wear.

When she had been in her first year, she had appealed to the Headmaster to install fireplaces in the dormitories, but he had sent her away with a smile after saying that it was impossible to change the castle's structures.

She had been miffed but didn't dare try to create one in her room either. One shouldn't trifle with Hogwarts' foundations.

So she still slept in her fleece Winnie-the-Pooh pyjamas despite being eighteen years old, as they were the warmest thing in her wardrobe. Her feet were still wrapped in two pairs of socks, but she couldn't get her feet warm.

With a sigh, she cast yet another Warming Charm on her frozen toes and tried to fall asleep quickly while her feet were moderately warm. The curtains around her were drawn and supposedly kept the warmth inside. If they did, she couldn't feel it.

She pulled her thick duvet up to her nose and closed her eyes, her hands sandwiched between her legs – and not for pleasurable activities.

The next day was a Friday and Potions the last class of the day. Today's brew only required moderate heat under their cauldrons and the room was only moderately warm, despite the many classes before hers.

Her fingers were cold, and as a last resort she held them over her bubbling potions. Snape was probably going to blow a gasket when he saw, so she tried to be surreptitious about it and look as if she were adding ingredients or stirring.

Carefully, she looked up after a few minutes, only to see his black eyes resting on her. Her hands stilled, guiltily and she attempted an innocent smile that gave her away immediately. After all, she never smiled at him.

She had no idea that he had been watching her poor attempt at subterfuge for a while. She was a lousy actress, at least in front of him.

They stared at each other, and Hermione waited for the point deduction or a scathing comment. Instead he cocked his head, looking quite charming without trying to, and raised his mocking eyebrow.

Hermione's face twisted into a half-amused, half-bemused grimace, and she dared to give him an exaggerated shiver and then shrugged a little helplessly. There was no point in denying what she had been doing.

To her surprise, she saw his lips twitch before they thinned. "Don't forget to… heat up your potion after adding the hemlock," he instructed the class, his eyes never leaving Hermione's.

"Thank you, Professor, I almost forgot," Hermione simpered loudly and quickly lowered her head as every head turned to her after her odd comment.

She heard Snape make some choked and raspy noise in his throat and felt her lips curve upwards. She shook her head, not knowing what to make of this, but soon concentrated on her potion again and pushed Snape from her mind.