Pairing: SS/HG, also featuring Neville
A/N: This bit of fluff was written as a birthday gift for MoreThanSirius on Livejournal, based on her prompt. When Hermione seems stuck in platonic adoration from afar, Neville decides to help things along.
"He who climbs the ladder must begin with the first rung. A journey of thousands miles begins with a single step. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. God helps those who help themselves. Where there's a will, there's a..."
"Enough already," Hermione interrupted in sheer exasperation. "Good heavens, Neville." She paused, huffing a stray strand of hair out of her face. "It's not that easy. Sometimes it doesn't do to hurry into things. How about 'Good things come to those who wait,' hm? How about that one?"
"You ought to consider, then," Neville said practically, "that the things that come to those who wait may just be the things left over by those who got there first." He grinned at her chagrined face. "And never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. The early bird catches..."
"Merlin's beard!" Grimacing, she held up her hands in surrender. "Fine! I'll do it!"
There was a pause as she leaned forward, putting quill to paper. When the envelope had been properly addressed, sealed, and sent off with Neville's owl Demeter, Hermione buried her head in her hands.
"Do you really think he'll answer?" Her voice came muffled through a sea of brown curls. "What if he thinks I'm just an impertinent, presumptuous, silly… dunderhead?"
Neville tried to suppress a smile. For months now, he had been watching his colleagues work very hard at not appearing to notice each other. Possibly the only people who at this point were still fooled by the elaborate displays of disinterest were Snape and Hermione themselves.
Hermione slumped over her desk. "What have I done? He won't want to go, and then things will get really awkward, and I'll never be able to look him in the eye again, and I'll have to quit my job, and..." She groaned, burying her face deeper into the crook of her elbow.
Neville cleared his throat. "Don't you go borrowing trouble. Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you. When—"
It was amazing, Neville thought, with how much accuracy she could throw an inkwell even while in inner turmoil.
At least she looked sufficiently contrite immediately thereafter. "I should have never given you that book on Muggle sayings," she grumbled as she helped him siphon the ink off his robe with her wand. "Bad mistake." There was silence for a while, except for an occasional murmured Tergeo or Scourgify as the ink disappeared from his robe, his desk, and the floor. Then she looked up at him, and the raw yearning in her face made his chest feel funny. "You really think he'll answer?"
"Trust me. He'll answer." Surreptitiously, he looked at the clock. Considering the distance from their office to Snape's window, taking into account how long it might take Snape to open it, plus the time it would take to compose a short answer, it should be right about – 2 minutes... 1 minute... 30 seconds... 10 seconds...
And then there was the scratching of an owl's beak at the window, and shortly thereafter Hermione's happy squeal as she read the note she'd detached from Demeter's leg. Her expression left no doubt as to what the answer had been.
Neville nodded with approval as he looked on. "There. About time," he murmured to himself with a rather self-satisfied grin. "What was that saying again?" He pulled the little book of proverbs Hermione had given him out of his pocket and opened it to page 23. "Ah, yes. There it is. All's well that ends well."