Severus ran his hand along the countertop, slender fingers picking up traces of white powder that clung to every surface. Literally, every surface—his formerly black robes were coated with the stuff, as well as his scowling face.

"You stupid bint," he said sharply, but his voice lacked the nastiness that one would normally expect to accompany his words.

A blushing Hermione stood on the other side of the kitchen, a grin threatening to break through her attempt at keeping a straight face.

"I'm so sorry, the bag was heavier than I expected… it just slipped."

He redirected his powdery frown at the burst bag of flour lying innocently on the floor, its paper seams split up the sides. The cloud was just now settling, and the whole kitchen had a slightly eerie appearance, all the colors muted despite the grey light pouring in the windows.

He glanced back up as she appeared before him, brushing the dust off his robes.

"It's hopeless," he muttered, though he made no move to stop her ministrations.

"I know," she said, a laugh edging her voice.

He said nothing, though he could have had his wand at his fingertips in a split moment. She seemed to realize this a second after he, and paused, hands at his chest, curling into the fabric slightly before stepping back, her momentarily forgotten smile brightening her face once more as she Scourgify-ed him, herself, and the kitchen.

"The scones were superfluous, anyway," he said, attempting to break the thick silence.

She shrugged. "Yes, I suppose you're right. Anyway, the tea's ready, shall we sit?"

He nodded, turning and walking to the front sitting room he knew she favoured.

"Why is it you're here, again?" Hermione prodded, once he was seated firmly on a navy blue wingback chair.

"I was just coming to see if you needed anything else this month," Severus said quickly, practiced words flowing easily from his mouth.

She sat as well, on a faded pink davenport with wooden arms, and poured them tea.

"No, I'm doing quite well," she said, handing his to him black and adding a splash of milk to her own mug.

He had come, of course, just to see her, but under the pretence of asking after her research. He was in charge of a small, discrete potions order company, making specialized and difficult potions that couldn't be found at a village apothecary. She brewed for him, but also invested much of her time into potions research, and she had made such significant discoveries that he began fully funding any research she wanted to pursue (granted, of course, that it would potentially result in something the company could use).

He nodded, sipping his tea. He was here, and he was damned well going to stay his welcome.

She leaned forward. The low table between them was small, and, leaned forward as he was, their faces were no more than a foot apart.

"I've been thinking," she said, propping her chin on her hand, searching his eyes, but not finishing her sentence.

"Yes?" he asked, voice slightly deeper. He couldn't say that he hadn't noticed the smattering of tiny freckles across her nose or the golden flecks in her brown eyes, because he had many times before, but just then he was taken aback by how bloody beautiful she was.

"I'd like to kiss you," she said suddenly, softly. He sat back, startled out of his reverie.

"Was that what you were going to say?" he asked quickly, taken aback.

She shook her head, leaning back as well. "No, I was going to say something inane, like always. But then I realized that I've been dancing around you for months, and I'm usually a rather straightforward person, and I thought I'd just come out and say it."

He just looked at her, face blank.

"I mean, it's okay if you don't. I just thought I'd tell you what I've actually been thinking."

"No, I mean that, yes," he stuttered, not sure if what he had said made any sense but hoping she understood where he was going with it.

She smiled at him then, brown hair curling around her shoulders.

The astonishing moment was ruined slightly (or perhaps made all the sweeter) by the awkward few moments when they just sat there, staring stupidly at one another across the coffee table, but then he stood and walked around the table, dropping gracefully beside her on the sofa, and leaned over her.

Severus met her lips slightly off-centre, but they quickly corrected that. Her hands wrapped around his waist, pulling him closer just as much as pulling herself up to him. He braced one hand on the backrest over her shoulder and wrapped the other around her neck, tangling his fingertips into the curly hair at the nape of her neck.

A half-hour later, they had somehow wound up horizontal, tongues curling around one another, teeth bumping occasionally, soft bites to lips and necks turning into more fierce, blinding kisses. Before he realized it, his robes were unbuttoned and he was kicking them to the floor, clad only in his undershirt, boxers, and shoes, thick black socks covering his ankles. He sat up, losing contact with her for a long moment, pulling his shoes and socks off, before turning to cover her body with his again. But she was sitting up too, pulling her jumper over her head and starting to unbuckle her jeans, before pausing and looking at him, that damned smile still lingering on her face.

"Should we relocate? I think my bed is more comfortable," Hermione asked laughingly. "And definitely larger."

He stood, eyes darkening, allotting her the smallest of smiles (which, for him, was already a lot) before turning and striding purposefully toward her bedroom, tugging her along by the hand. When they reached the doorway, he pushed her giggling, shirtless form in, slamming the door behind them.

If Severus had known it would be this effortless, he would have brought it up months ago.