Disclaimer: I don't own anything but the plot.
A/N: My present to you on this holiday season! I hope you like it and I would love a little gift in return in the form of a review! Thanks for reading!
Ten Steps to Getting What You Want the Slytherin Way
Step 1: Utilize a Conveniently Timed Tripping Hex
"Oomph!" Hermione felt the blood drain from her face as she saw doom drawing near her in the form of the corridor's stone floor (or, more aptly, she was drawing near it). She scrunched her eyes closed and thrust her arms out in desperation, but never had cause to meet her doom, as someone else's arm conveniently plucked her away from danger.
"You really should watch where you are going, Professor Granger," the silky voice of the resident Potions Master intoned from behind.
Just as fast as she paled, she turned beet red, and such a quick reaction left her light headed. She took a deep breath to stabilize herself (it didn't help that an arm was still wrapped about her torso) and pulled away from the man behind her.
"Thank you for your assistance, Professor Snape," she replied, turning and facing him.
"Are you hurt," he asked in a bland voice, his eyes drifting over her form leisurely. This made her even more self conscious, despite his casual mien.
"No, not at all," she said hurriedly, feeling slightly flustered at the attention from a notorious recluse. She brushed down her robes, glad for small mercies in the fact that she wasn't carrying anything when she fell. "Thank you," she blurted out again, not wanting to seem ungrateful.
"Anytime," and with a slight nod of the head he was gone down the corridor. She spared a quizzical look after him before continuing on towards her classroom.
Step 2: Impress Him/Her Through an Uncharacteristically Kind Action towards Another
"Thank you, Juju."
"It is Juju's pleasure to help Master Snape. Juju hopes Master will call on her again when any more help is needed," A squeaky voice replied. A small pop signaled that the House Elf had disapparated.
Hermione stood behind the cracked Potions Classroom door, still on the verge of opening it, and not quite believing what she just heard. Snape was respectful to House Elves? Her eyes watered slightly as she remembered her time running S.P.E.W. Harry and Ron never had much interest for Elfish Welfare, even after all their interactions with Dobby. Ron had even told her that they expected such … such ill treatment and disregard, even relished it! Hermione couldn't believe his chauvinistic attitude for them. Just because they had been treated thus for years didn't mean it was right or better.
She wiped her eyes and waited a few seconds before entering, to see that the Potions Master was in his rightful place, behind a cauldron. His attention turned from the simmering potion to her at her entrance.
"Ah, Professor Granger, the ingredients for the potion are over there," he nodded to a nearby desk as he stirred the potion, adding a new ingredient in, which turned it from butter yellow to a bright vermillion. Hermione saw him wince and smiled in amusement as she headed over to the indicated desk, wondering whether it was from the color or the overpoweringly minty fresh smell that signaled the potion was finishing.
"I'm guessing that batch of Pepper Up is for Madam Pomfrey?"
"You guess correctly," He stopped and looked up after the required amount of stirring was done, "She expects every student to get at least one cold every winter, and so demands much more than is usually necessary. I've taken to getting some of the supply finished before it is needed, to save her the need to harass me for it, and me the pain of hearing her shrill voice."
Hermione laughed lightly, pleased at how entertaining he could be when not leveling his sharp wit in her direction.
"Feel free to use the potions classroom for your brewing," Hermione glanced over to see him pulling out another cauldron and lighting a fire under it, "There are no more classes today, and it can get tiring carrying a cauldron up three flights of stairs."
"Thank you," Hermione could think of nothing else to say, and so she got started brewing her own potion. It was a light sleeping drought that was trickier to make than most, but left the user without drowsiness and headaches in the morning. Hermione preferred to make her own, as it saved quite a bit of money, and she had trust issues with buying potions from the stores. For all she knew, someone worse than Neville could be brewing some of them!
Step 3: 'Inadvertently' Make Contact
Hermione was sitting at the Head Table, dishing up her plate, when Severus Snape sat beside her. She was a little surprised at this, but, seeing as they didn't have assigned seats, it didn't really bother her. She continued to put things on her plate.
"Professor Granger, please pass the roast," his voice intoned after a few minutes. She nodded and handed the platter to him. As he grasped it with both hands, one grazed her own slightly. It took concentration not to let go of the platter before he had a good grip on it. It wasn't that she was disgusted by his touch. She highly respected the man. It was just shocking that he didn't try to avoid contact. The platter was big enough that avoidance of touching was easy. Coming from him, it seemed as though he was losing his touch.
Hermione discreetly glanced over and saw that he was acting like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. She mentally scolded herself for thinking he was out of character. Now that the war was at an end, there was no need for him to keep his avoidance tactics. He was a free man, to do what he wished. Her heart warmed at the thought that the dark wizard could one day have a happy life indeed.
Step 4: Deliberately Make Contact, but Avoid Being a Gryffindor About it
Hermione was once again using the potions classroom for her brewing, but was working on a calming drought this time. She was making it for Hagrid to give to his half-brother, Grawp. Hagrid planned on introducing him to the students for their next lesson with the condition given by the Headmistress that he must be lightly sedated. It was for good reason, as Hermione knew from experience. Giants can get excitable when they see a crowd of tiny people. Hopefully a batch of the potion would be enough.
She was working intently at stirring the potion when her wrist was stopped by another hand. There was only one at this school who could have a hand as pale and nimble-looking as the one that was now directing her in stirring, at a different rhythm and angle than given in the potions book.
"If you stir this way for a minute more than usual, the potion should be more potent and take less time to brew. You'll be able to lessen the dosage and hopefully it will stop the big oaf from accidentally killing someone when playing with them," Her hair was stirred by his breath and she felt a bit tingly from all the undivided attention. After a minute of trying to concentrate on how to stir the potion, and not what emotions were stirring, she felt his hand leave hers with mixed feelings. He stepped away and the classroom felt a bit cooler, though her face was burning. She didn't dare turn to look at him when she thanked him.
Step 5: Give a Compliment, but don't be too flattering. You're only at the halfway point
Hermione was eating breakfast when he sat next to her. This would make it the second time in as many weeks, which, sadly or not, depending on how you looked at it, would be unusually frequent. She continued on with her breakfast after greeting him politely.
"I read your article in Charms Weekly," Hermione stopped the fork halfway to her mouth, surprised that he even cracked open the publication, much less read and remembered her article that had appeared a week previous, "It gave me something to think about."
Hermione didn't know whether this meant it was a good or bad article in his opinion. His voice was toneless, his frown no more pronounced than usual. She supposed it must have been decent in his eyes, as he wasn't lambasting her with his cutting sarcasm or correcting any errors he might have found in her logic. She glanced at him to see that he was concentrating on eating and glaring at students. She smiled and continued her breakfast, tentatively thinking in her mind that it was quite a comfortable silence between them.
Step 6: Save Him/Her From an Undesirable Situation
Hermione groaned in mortification. She was going to kill those Weasley twins! Already the planning was going on in her mind, but there was nothing she could do as of yet. She would just have to wait until some willing and sympathetic soul came by.
Not five minutes passed before she heard footsteps in the corridor. She smiled in relief and turned to seek out her soon-to-be savior. To her surprise and chagrin, it was the Potions Master. She didn't think he would be willing or sympathetic. In fact, he might not even notify anyone else of her situation.
She mentally lectured to herself for a few seconds about being more considerate to his character. She really didn't know him well enough at this point to foresee what he would do in this situation.
"Professor Granger," He looked at her before staring around the corridor suspiciously, "it is past curfew and most rule breaking students should be asleep at this time of night, as well as the teachers. What are you doing?"
There was no polite tone, only suspicion. Hermione knew she couldn't escape this confrontation unscathed. "I'm stuck."
This caused the man to step closer and look her over.
"I don't see anything holding you back from returning to your rooms."
Hermione pointed above her and he saw the bit of foliage hanging from the ceiling. He stiffened, and Hermione put a hand over her eyes, not wanting to see his reaction. No doubt he would find a way to escape this situation as quickly as possible. "It's from the twin's Christmas product line."
She didn't need to elaborate. There was only one set of twins that would create and sell cursed Mistletoe in their shop.
"I see," his voice sounded strained, and Hermione couldn't think of a more awkward situation.
"Could you, er, get someone to help me with this?" She didn't dare look at him, and so was surprised when she heard him step nearer. She looked up to see him right in front of her.
"Everyone else is in bed, as you should be," He studied her expression for a moment. "It shouldn't take too long to nullify the effects."
It sounded so detached that Hermione almost believed he could break the curse without needing to kiss her. That idea was soundly trounced when he reduced the distance between them, placing one hand lightly on her waist with the other lifting her chin. He was quite tall.
Their lips met for a moment and a half before separating, a light brushing pressure. Hermione hadn't known she'd closed her eyes until she had to open them. He was a few feet away, studying her intently. She couldn't help flushing.
"Thank you," She said quietly, noting to herself how that seemed to be the most frequent thing she said to him lately. He nodded and turned, disappearing around a corner. Hermione stood a safe distance away from the mistletoe before firing a hex at it, reducing the plant to ash. She couldn't help thinking as she walked slowly back to her rooms that the slight touch of his lips to hers affected her much more than any passionate kiss she had ever shared with Ron while they had dated. She rubbed at her mouth, hoping the subtle burn would fade, and that she wouldn't dream of him tonight.
Step 7: Show That You Are Not Irritated by His/Her Presence
Hermione couldn't believe it. She'd been sitting in the staff room grading essays, as she always did on Friday nights, when he came in. Before she knew it, they'd had a whole conversation, ranging from commiserating over ill-written essays to a recent controversial article that had come out in The Alchemist about Polyjuice Potion. Sure, she could have been done with her essays by now, but what was that accomplishment worth compared to a stimulating conversation that left her thoroughly invigorated and ready to drop everything and take up some projects she had left on the back-burner.
Well, she had all weekend. Hermione decided she would finish the essays tonight and spend the rest of the weekend on one of her projects. Maybe she could get some insight from Severus while she was at it.
Step 8: Find Subtle Ways to be in His/Her Company
Hermione opened her office door and almost literally ran into Severus. He lowered the hand he was about to knock with and nodded at her. Hermione smiled back.
"What brings you to my office," she asked. Her stomach rumbled and her smile turned sheepish, "I was just headed to a late lunch if you want to come?"
He nodded once again and they headed towards the kitchens.
"I saw your article this morning," Hermione fidgeted, knowing what was coming, "I didn't expect my name to appear in it, and more than once, as well."
Hermione blushed and avoided looking at him, "Your input really helped me out. There's no way I'd be ungrateful and take all the credit."
He was quiet, and so she gave in and looked over at him. He was looking back at her with a raised eyebrow, making her slightly flustered. "It looked as if you gave me a bit more credit than I deserve."
Hermione laughed nervously as she tickled the pear, its shrill giggle joining hers. "Oh, look, it's the House Elves!" She was desperate to change the topic, and Severus knew it, if the smirk she observed on his face was anything to go by. She pretended to be unaware of it.
Step 9: Show Your Attraction. And No, That Should Not Involve Tackling, Snogging, or Anything Else That Has a Lack of Finesse. Remember, Subtlety is Key.
Hermione couldn't help looking at him every so often. They were in his study, discussing academia, of course, and he was in his shirtsleeves. Never had she seen him so relaxed in her presence, in both attitude and dress code. She thought she might even be able to count the number of buttons on his clothes this time. She cleared her throat and took a sip of the water in her glass to get rid of the dryness. She needed to keep her wits about her!
The last few months had been wonderful, and she could say with confidence that the Potions Master was her friend. They had debated and discussed, hypothesized and theorized, yelled and laughed. Hermione thought she might be closer to him than her childhood friends by now, though that made her feel a bit guilty. She could have put more effort into going to see those friends, but there were so many projects she had accomplished in the last few months that had been set aside as wishful thinking. Most were now completed, with the help of Severus. She had helped him with quite a few of his as well.
She looked over to see him studying her intently. By now, she was comfortable enough to have taken her shoes off, and had her feet curled beneath her on the sofa. They were surrounded by bookshelves filled with innumerable books and knick knacks, and a warm fire was popping in the hearth, creating a very soothing atmosphere. She smiled warmly at him and the corners of his mouth lifted. She strived to earn that expression from him, knowing it was a rare thing when he smiled.
All of a sudden, there was a knock on his door, and he cursed under his breath, the slight smile gone like a puff of smoke. He left to see who it was and Hermione sighed, hoping it wasn't something too serious. They were planning on starting research on one of his more complicated projects tonight.
He came back, a scowl on his face. He plucked the robes from the back of the chair and shrugged them on, pulling a wand out to magically button them up. It would have taken some minutes more otherwise. "There is a situation in the Slytherin Common Room."
Hermione felt bad for whoever was the cause of the problem, as he did not look forgiving, but it was quickly gotten over by the feeling of disappointment that the project and good company would have to wait a day.
Severus seemed to sense this as well. "Make yourself comfortable. I won't be long." With that, she was left alone in a study full of books. She'd heard the phrase about the kid in the candy store, and could now fully relate to it. She started with the books near the mantelpiece.
After a few minutes, she came across a book titled Using Your Slytherin Wiles. She pulled it out and snorted with laughter when she noted its well-used condition. She skimmed a few pages, wondering what he found so fascinating. He had written in the margin sometimes, and Hermione wondered if he were correcting the book as he went along. He'd had plenty of opportunities to witness Slytherin tactics over the years.
Something fell out of the book and she picked it up, looking it over. It appeared to be a checklist he'd written. "Ten Steps to Getting What You Want the Slytherin Way," She read the title aloud. She scanned the checklist, noting immediately that most of the steps were checked off, with notes added to each, describing in more detail what process he took. So he was in the middle of accomplishing something right now, it seemed. She read the list, and her eyes widened and then narrowed. A few minutes later, after reading and rereading it, she placed it back in the book and put it in its rightful place. She didn't really feel like reading anymore, and for anyone who knew Hermione Granger, that was a sign of the Apocalypse.
Step 10: If None of the Previous Steps Have Deterred You from Your Goal, You Have Unspoken Permission to Take What You Want and May Use Any Means Necessary
Severus paused at the door to his study, surprised by what he saw. Hermione Granger was sitting in a room filled with books, and yet she was staring into the fire, no book within a two foot radius of her. "I didn't ward them, you know," She must not have known he had arrived, as she startled and turned to look at him, blinking owlishly. He walked a little closer to her. "Are you ok, Hermione?"
She seemed to snap out of it and smiled at him, and it melted the tension away. Sure, she was a Gryffindor, but she was still a woman, and he was just as mystified as any other normal man when it came to dealing with certain situations. "How did it go," She asked politely.
"Relatively well, though the miscreant that started it won't be happy for about a month," he replied.
"Uh-huh," She replied, though it didn't seem as if she heard anything, with the concentrated way she was staring at the buttons on his robes. He couldn't decide whether he wanted to know what she was thinking about at the moment.
All of a sudden, she seemed to snap out of whatever it was she was thinking, and popped up from the sofa, "I think I should go now. It's getting late."
"I - what?" This was a confusing chain of events. Before he left he had seen her wistful look, and knew she wished to stay. He had felt the same way himself. Now she wanted out as though someone had lit her heels on fire. He stared as she struggled to put her shoes on while standing.
"Sorry Severus, it's just that I-" She was struggling really hard on the second shoe, and her balance failed. She flailed her arms but it didn't help. Severus caught her before she fell. She looked up at him, hands on his chest, shoe dangling halfway off her foot, and hair askew, and he couldn't think of anything he wanted to do more than keep his arms locked around her like this forever. "Oh, sod it!"
With that, he was tackled to the ground, grunting at the impact and then shocked speechless when she started to snog his brains out. He mentally shrugged. It wasn't as if he needed speech at the moment. He gave a fleeting thought to the list he had made, and all the parts on finesse and subtlety. He then threw it out the metaphorical window, deciding maybe he should get a few tips from Gryffindor. It seemed the way to get things done. Somehow he knew he'd have plenty of time to observe.
He moaned and rolled them over, not caring that they were on the floor of his study. It was time for him to be in control. That thought was cut short when she sucked on one of his ear lobes.
"Show me that neat spell you use on your buttons," she growled, desperately fisting the collar of his robes.
Severus decided that finesse and subtlety were overrated, as he spelled his buttons loose quickly and helped Hermione roughly yank his robes off.
A/N: I plan on making a companion piece to this, next time making a Gryffindor list. Won't that be fun? Anyways, I hope you liked it and please review! Thanks!