-Not HBP/DH-compliant. Say hello to Snape, Dumbledore, etc. I like to claim ignorance when it comes to the last two books and it is unlikely that there will be any mention of Horcruxes either. I think JK went mad and although we must love her, I prefer to think of them as just another way that things could have happened. Besides that, enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but enjoy bending the characters to my will.
It wouldn't have been a stretch to say that he was upset. He hated chaperoning Hogsmeade trips more than any other duty required by the professors of Hogwarts. Dozens of disgustingly happy teenagers that, more than anything, just made him wish that once in awhile he could still torture people. He clenched his teeth as he searched for his winter cloak and cursed the day that the Founders decided to set up shop in the Highlands.
He dropped his cloak and fought back a cringe. Ever since she had invaded the castle once again, he had not had a moment's peace. It was her fault that he dropped things around her and found that sentences evaded him in her presence. It was her fault that she overran his dreams and had him craving the scent of her perfume as though some sort of drug.
"Severus? Are you ready?"
How on earth had she managed to convince him to give her his password?
If he were honest with himself, he was sure the conversation went something like her saying that she liked his quarters and that they should spend more of their time there than in the library and he had folded like Lucius Malfoy at the end of the war.
She entered his bedroom as he was picking up his cloak and he was suddenly unable to remember what they were supposed to be doing. It was obviously the unnerving way that she was looking at him. Her smile was far too broad. When she saw him, one of her eyebrows raised.
"You've gotten awfully clumsy lately, Severus," Hermione said.
"I've no idea what you're talking about. Are you quite ready?"
"Since you were supposed to meet me in the Great Hall ten minutes ago and I had to come and search for you, I would say yes."
He glared. Who did she think she was? If she hadn't entered his thoughts when he was taking a shower he would have been on time. However, because of her he had had a hard problem to work out.
"You're going to get wrinkles," she said.
"Please, teaching these idiot children for the past twenty years of my life has seen well enough to my wrinkles."
He fought a smile at the sound of her laugh. He had done that. He had made her laugh.
"Well, are you ready to go and make sure that those idiot children don't have too much fun? Or would you like to skive off and have some fun of our own."
"A healthy mixture of both is in order, I believe," he said and finally managed to fasten his cloak as he motioned her out of his quarters.
After rounding up the students and making sure that none of the younger years got through, Severus and Hermione took off towards the town, leaving a couple of disgruntled twelve-year-olds in their wake.
"Three Broomsticks or Madam Puddifoot's?" Hermione asked, a smile playing on her lips.
"I won't even answer that."
"Does that mean it's my choice?"
Since her return as Arithmancy Professor, Severus had come to realize quite a few things about Hermione Granger. The first being that she was obnoxiously persistent. If he had not realized the totality of that while she was student, her unfailingly consistent attempts to befriend him had beaten the fact into his head. After a surprising two months, they had been able to sit down for the first time and have tea. He later learned that she had spiked his drink with a relaxation potion.
The second thing he realized was that she was not, in fact, just a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. She was genuinely intelligent and could hold her own in conversations about pretty much anything, some of her ideas even went over his head. It was a nice surprise considering the only other person to sit down and have an actual conversation with him simultaneously stuffed him full of lemon drops. Hermione just offered him tea or sandwiches, although they had cooked a few times.
The third and most disturbing thing that Severus had discovered was that he was in love with her. He had never been in love and the fact that he could experience love was a nice surprise, he would admit. The fact that his first love was a bossy ex-student and a bloody Gryffindor to boot was not something that he was particularly pleased about. However, two years later and he had yet to act or fall out of love, so he figured that he was a hopeless case.
Although she had never once given up the attempt to drag him to Madam Puddifoot's when they went into Hogsmeade. Even he knew that the tea place was an atrocious excuse of an establishment only one step up from a brothel. Hermione said his opinion was ridiculous.
"You're off in your own world today, Severus. What's going on in your head?"
"I'm very much in need of Christmas break."
"Do I ever have any plans?"
"Apart from avoiding Albus?"
He gave her a rare smile and held the door to the Three Broomsticks open as she slipped inside. Her sigh of relief when the warmth hit her was enough to make Severus glad they had come and he followed quietly behind her as she chose a table.
"Are you back to the Weasley's for Christmas?" He asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
"I was thinking about my Christmas plans, actually, and I suppose me going to the Weasley's depends on two things."
"Ron and you."
"Would you care to elaborate?" He hoped to hell that she wasn't extending an invitation to him to visit the land of redheads.
"Well, I think Ron might be back in the country this year and I don't really fancy seeing him. However, I think more importantly is you, Severus. We've never spent Christmas together."
"I don't see why we would," he said and instantly regretted it when Hermione jumped, looking as though he had just told her Christmas was actually cancelled.
"I…Well, I just thought. Severus, I know I've known Harry and the Weasleys longer, but I really just go there because it's where I'm invited, but I like to think of us as friends. I think of you as my best friend, if I'm honest, and I think we get on alright. You had to go out of town last year, so it was never an issue. But, it's okay, really. I should have known you would want some time away from everyone. I just hope Ron doesn't bring some bimbo back with him."
Severus wondered how the conversation had gone so completely wrong and how in the space of sixty seconds Hermione had offered him Christmas and then because of his confusion snatched it away. The voice inside his head was screaming RECON and he struggled to think of something to say.
In a rather uncharacteristic move, he grabbed her hand across the table. "Hermione, I didn't mean that I wouldn't want to spend Christmas with you. You just surprised me. You know I hate the holidays and if you can spend it with people who actually care about the festivities, I would assume you would want to. However, if you can lower yourself to hanging about with a grumpy old man on one of the most cheerful holidays of the year, then by all means, who am I to stop you?"
"Oh, Severus, now you're just being ridiculous and humoring me," she said and squeezed his hand.
"Hermione, you may think of me as your best friend or whichever term you want to use, but I think of you as my only friend. I am not humoring you when I say I would enjoy spending Christmas with you."
For one dreadful moment he thought he'd made a mess of things because she looked ready to cry. Then she shook her head and smiled at him.
"I don't care what anyone says, Severus Snape. You can be the sweetest man alive when you want to be."
"Just don't tell anyone," he said, reluctantly letting go of her hand as their drinks arrived.
"Besides," Hermione said. "If I go to the Burrow the twins will spend the entire time I'm there feeling me up."
Severus' glass shattered in his hand.
"Well, really," Hermione said as they arrived back to Severus' quarters. "If you're the only injury that we can claim, I suppose we did alright."
"Speak for yourself," Severus said and looked down at his hand. He had been reluctant to heal the deep cuts left by his glass and had settled for wrapping it until they returned. Potions were so much more reliable and he followed Hermione into the bathroom where she was pulling things out of his medicine cabinet.
"I can't believe the glass just shattered like that. Are you sure you didn't see anyone do it?"
"I didn't see them," he said, knowing full well it was his own fault. Well, technically it was hers.
When she finally found a mild healing potion, he began to unwrap his hand.
"Severus?" Hermione questioned. "Do you want to spend Christmas here or at Spinner's End?"
His hand slipped and he ended up scratching the cuts making him hiss in pain.
"Severus!" She exclaimed and then abandoned the potion to put a hand to his forehead. "I think you should go see Poppy. You've been an absolute wreck all week."
"I'll live," he said, batting her hand away. "Spinner's End is dreadful, Hermione."
"It's perfectly fine and we could decorate when we get there."
Severus was torn. On the one hand he hated his home. On the other, with Hermione there it would be far more bright and if they did decorate it would probably feel more like a home than it ever had. He was also torn about how he felt with the possibility of spending so much time alone with Hermione. No distractions.
"It's up to you, Severus."
"Would you want to spend the whole break there with me?"
"I suppose that's also up to you," she said, dabbing his hand with the potion, watching as the cuts closed up.
"I just hope you know what you're getting yourself into."
While Hermione put the bottle away, Severus went to fix tea.
"Two weeks until the end of term," Hermione said, collapsing on his sofa. "I can't say I'm upset about it."
"Strange, it used to send you into a depression."
"That was when I was still an idiot student."
"Yes, I suppose it was. You know, you never pestered me when you were a student. I miss that."
"That's a lie. I asked more questions than every other student you taught combined. Now I can pester you and you can drink at the same time."
"Who told you I didn't drink in class?" He asked, pulling down tea cups.
"I believe the fact that you've never had a serious accident in one of your classes is a testament to that."
"I shall endeavor to be less diligent in the future. We could do with decreasing the school population by a class or two."
"Let me guess. A few classes of Gryffindors?"
"Honestly, I would get rid of the Hufflepuffs first. Do you know what one of them said to me the other day?"
"That you would be welcome in their house?"
"Worse! She started on about my negative energy in class and how if I loved someone and hugged someone I would be a happier human."
"And what did you say?"
"I thought 'Detention!' covered it pretty well," he said, joining her.
"Well, I didn't want her talking to me for two hours about peace and love. I was alive during the sixties."
"Hardly, and I don't think you were practicing free love at the tender age of eight."
"You've never met my parents."
"Not for lack of trying," she said. "I believe I practically begged last New Year."
"They are not nice people."
"I happen to know that your mother writes you once a week and I believe that's very nice."
"Have you been reading my mail," he growled.
"No, but you always get a purple envelope and a strange look, but you don't hesitate to answer. So unless you have a girlfriend that I don't know about, I'm assuming it was your mother."
"You know everything about me, Hermione."
"I don't think anyone knows everything about you, Severus, but I'll settle for knowing the most."
Severus was aware that she did in fact know almost everything about him. He had even told her about his days as a Deatheater after significant amounts of alcohol. He had sobered while telling her and as soon as he had finished talking Hermione had started crying, they drank a bottle of Firewhiskey between them and had both woken up on a pile of pillows and cushions in the middle of his living room.
The only thing he couldn't tell her was that he harbored an all consuming love for her.
"Harry's not happy, but he understands. Ron is going to be back in the country," Hermione said one night in the Great Hall.
He was about to tell her that she didn't have to feel obligated to come with him, but decided to let her figure that one out of her own. Her statement hadn't sounded like she regretted her decision.
"Staff meeting tonight," Dumbledore said from the middle of the table. Severus hated when he announced meetings when the students were around. They always decided that that was the time they could get away with things. "After supper."
Hermione groaned and squeezed Severus's hand under the table. This in turn caused him to spill his drink. She gave him an odd look but cleaned up the mess.
Usually Severus wanted supper to be over as soon as possible, but when staff meetings were involved he begged the meal to continue. Unfortunately that was always when they actually did speed by. As the teachers began to filter out, Severus and Hermione took their time.
"Severus, I will understand if you want me to go to the Burrow. I don't want you to feel obligated to let me spend Christmas with you. It's just, you've seemed very uncomfortable since we talked about it."
"I'm not," he started. "Hermione, I'm very much looking forward to spending Christmas together."
"Then will you please tell me what's wrong?"
She sounded frustrated and he hated when she sounded frustrated. "I'm just in serious need of a break."
They had reached the staff room and he briefly wondered if he had really been acting that differently all week. He had been in love with her for quite awhile and she was very observant. However, he was sure that he had not changed his habits any. Severus held open the door and Hermione walked under his arm to get into the room.
It was another ten minutes before the meeting started and it took all of twelve seconds for Severus to stop paying attention. He was beginning to get nervous about having Hermione all to himself for however long she wanted to stay at Spinner's End. Being alone at Hogwarts was one thing, but this was far more personal. It was her coming to be with him. To stay with him.
He hissed as Hermione kicked him. She only did that when something important was going on.
"Neither Severus or myself will be here," Hermione was saying to Dumbledore.
"You're actually leaving the castle for the holidays, Severus?" Minerva asked.
"It does happen, Minerva. Go about your business."
"Hermione, you'll be at the Weasley's, Severus will you be at Spinner's End?"
"We'll both be at Spinner's End," Hermione informed him. Severus was amused when the Headmaster's eyebrows went up. It was pure ecstasy when they managed to surprise him.
"I see," he said, making a note on the paper in front of him.
Severus scowled at the look Minerva was sending his way. It was no secret that he and Hermione spent most of their time together and it was even less of a secret that Minerva McGonagall did not like it at all.
He only paid partial attention to the rest of the meeting and had to keep from sighing in relief as Albus called it to an end.
"Hermione, could I speak with you a moment?"
Hermione glanced at McGonagall and then back at him. "Of course."
Severus was not thrilled, but didn't try to hold Hermione back. He would see her at some point and hopefully McGonagall wouldn't convince Hermione that she had better things to do then stay with him. Minerva was never going to be his biggest fan.
Glaring at everything that moved on his way down to the dungeons, he made sure to take off as many points as he could on the way to his whiskey. It always made him feel better and then when he saw Hermione, he never took his anger out on her. Only a few times in their friendship had he exploded at her and those few times had been enough to convince him never to do it again.
There was no fire in the hearth and he quickly lit it, hoping that if Hermione came down, it would be warm enough for her. He wondered when her comfort had become so high on his list of priorities. The latest book that she was reading was sitting on his coffee table and he knew that meant she would come to see him after her talk with Minerva.
Twenty minutes later he was proved right when she blew into his room with the fires of hell practically trailing behind her. For a few minutes she looked at him and seemed about to say something, but in the end settled for huffing over to her chair and picking up her book. Severus was sure she would tell him when she calmed down.
It wasn't long before she slammed the book back on the coffee table. That alone was a surprise and he raised his eyebrows at her.
"Do you know what that woman said to me?" She shrieked.
Hadn't calmed down apparently, so Severus chose his next words carefully. "I'm an idiot hag who hasn't been laid in a century?"
He watched the irritation drain from her face as pure joy replaced it. After a few moments of laughing, she calmed down and sat back in her chair. Curling her legs into the chair, she sighed.
"She thinks you're a bad influence on me."
"She's thought that for years. While she may have a point, I think you're a far worse influence on me."
"It's just the things that she comes up with! If I didn't want to be around you I wouldn't be. Even after all this time she still thinks you've whisked me down here in order to perform experiments on me or something."
"I think after a conversation I had with her after you first managed to drag friendship out of me, it was not experiments she was worried about," he said, sipping at his whiskey.
"I'm aware of that, as well. Yet she just assumes I don't want you to rip all of my clothes off and shag me against a dungeon wall."
Severus went away to a visual that he had had plenty of times before and couldn't keep from smiling a little. Unfortunately, Hermione seemed to take that as him laughing at her.
"I'm well aware of the fact that you aren't attracted to me, Severus, but you don't have to laugh."
"I'm not laughing, love."
She made a noise of irritation and picked her book back up.