Winter Wonderland Chapter 1
AN: Not mine, don't sue. Third part of Seasons Series. See Summer Heat and Autumn Air. Coming soon, Spring Rain. (Yes, yes, four seasons, four elements.) Can't get the next chapter for Cooks right, so here's Winter part one of four? for your pleasure!
REWRITTEN and REVISED… as of July '11. Something about the way I previously wrote the beginning of this story made it difficult for me to continue, so here is a slightly revised version.
So, if you already read this before July… REREAD PLEASE.
Hermione Granger was not, never had been, nor ever shall be a morning person. The only reason she got out of bed before 10 everyday was due only to her dedication to her job at the Ministry. In school and on into her adulthood, she developed the habit of staying up late to complete work or research rather than wake early to get more done. On her days off, holidays and weekends, one would be hard pressed to wake her without her consent and those who would try would be treated to uncharacteristic whines and stubborn pouting. A hot breakfast and a bit of tea might entice her to voluntarily awaken with minimal grumbling, but only just.
Through the window, the new year's first sunrise had yet to occur. The dark winter night had already begun to wash out into a the purple gray of predawn. A dubious time of day to try to rouse Ms. Granger. On this occasion, however, Hermione was pulled from her solitary rest by a gentle hand pushing the stray lock of hair away from her face and a pair of warm lips kissing the corner of her mouth. She smiled and stretched languorously, then sat up, blinking sandy sleep from her eyes, to see Severus sitting on the edge of the bedside table, the corners of his eyes upturned in a barely there smile. "Hello," he murmured, the rumble of his voice sending a delicious shiver down her spine.
"Mmm, hello," she sighed. "Is it time to go?"
"Not yet, but soon." He reached out a long fingered hand to curl around her neck and leaned down to lay soft kiss on her lips.
At this, she stretched up, wrapping her arms around his torso to deepen the kiss. When she pulled back, she was murmuring against his lips, "I don't want to go."
He didn't want her to go either. Hermione had been at Hogwarts for nearly two weeks and it was all to easy to accustom himself to everyday life with her. Severus tugged her out of bed and to her feet, though she still seemed half asleep. He shook out the blanket from his bed and wrapped it gently around her shoulders along with his arms. "Come." He shuffled them toward the increasingly lightening window. When they were close enough that their warm breaths began to fog the glass, he kissed the tangle of curls atop her head and whispered, "Watch."
Over the snowy trees the sky burst into glorious color. Gold and purple, crimson and pink reached across the heavens and reflected onto the fresh, powdery white snow, painting the world into a winter wonderland.
2 weeks earlier
Hermione arrived in Hogsmeade with the predictable pop. She took in the sunless surroundings for a moment and smoothed her hands down her the front of her traveling cloack- apparition could still make her stomach turn. The roads and walkways were covered in wet slush and the skies were grey overhead. Hermione's breaths came out in little white puffs. Wizards and witches of all sorts seemed to be hurrying to finish their errands before the first snowflake could fall. It looked as though this magical little part of Scotland would be getting a heap of snow by morning.
In her pocket was a shrunken trunk filled with her most recent research project notes, spare quills and parchment, a few reference books, and of course, clothing and toiletries. Hermione was on her way to meet Severus Snape at the Three Broomsticks for a late lunch. Her suitor would then escort her to Hogwarts where she would be staying as a guest for the winter holiday.
It was only the first important holiday they'd be spending together. No big deal.
She wiped her hands on her cloak again - to press out the wrinkles, naturally, not because her palms were getting clammy from nervousness. There was no reason to be nervous, or so she told herself as she began walking down the main street toward the Three Broomsticks. It wasn't as though seeing him was something out of the ordinary.
She had spent plenty of time with Severus in the nearly two months since their courtship had begun. They both worked weekdays. Severus was busy with his potions students and occasional DADA demonstrations and Hermione was harried, but satisfied with her position as Junior Assistant to Minister Shacklebolt. So, on weekends, he had taken her to a few quiet restaurants for pleasant dinners, had tea with her regularly at her favorite cafe in London, and had even taken her to the see the Russian Ballet Company perform Nutcracker as a surprise at the beginning of December. He was attentive and kind in a gruff, no-really-don't-mention-it sort of way. A more knowledgable and fascinating conversationalist she'd be hard pressed to find. And it didn't hurt at all that he was absolutely sensational in bed.
Severus had spent at least one night of every weekend at her luxury flat in Bloomsbury. She had a full wall of windows in her sitting room, covered only in the sheerest of curtains charmed to blur the morning light and protect muggles from detecting her magic, that looked out onto the Regents Canal. The first occasion Severus was able to spend a whole night with Hermione they hadn't made it past her living room. They'd spent hours on her sofa and on the mountain of giant pillows, previously used only for propping up books while lounging, invisible to the outside world.
He had told her once that she deserved better than a shag against a tree, which was the basic description of their first time together. So he set out to demonstrate his meaning. He slowly drove her mad that night, first with his hands, then his mouth, leaving no inch of skin unworshipped until he took her fully and unhurriedly on the pillows. He learned her body, soaking in the knowledge of what caress, lick, or suck made her writhe, mewl, or moan. When he finished with her, he gathered her against his chest, tucking her head beneath his chin. She tried to be surprised that Severus Snape was a cuddler, but could only hum in complete satisfaction, occasionally watching the few gaily lit boats float by in the night until she kissed him and started over again, faster and harder than before. Her bedroom and office got the same lovely, wicked, treatment .
Severus harumphed over her electric stovetop and grunted in approval at her Japanese and German knife sets hanging on a magnetic strip on the wall. He acknowledged that the high-end muggle sofa set she had purchased was sufficiently comfortable and that her bed was adequately springy. He complained about the ceiling light being too harsh compared to candlelight. He was aware of where the extra toilet paper was kept and knew which cabinet kept the cereal and which kept the bowls.
In a short time he mysteriously knew the ins and outs of her closet. By way of proof - the owl sent he sent to her stating that she should wear 'that red dress hidden in the back left corner of your wardrobe and the gold stilettos in the box under your bed,' and to not forget 'those dangly gold earrings in your jewelry box,' as this color scheme was to put her in the Christmas spirit for the surprise. When she teased him about his Gryffindor choices when Slytherin green ought to be counted as a very Christmasy color, he grumbled, "Christmasy isn't a word, Hermione, and the only green I know of in your closet is a lace underwear and a jumper." She only smiled in response and she watched his eyes unfocus as he was clearly remembering the time she wore the green lace lingerie as her own surprise for him.
Severus took the time to really learn Hermione. He knew every facet of her life in London and of her job at the Ministry. He knew her favorite foods and preferred brand of dish soap. So, why was it that when she'd mentioned visiting Hogwarts to see him in late November, he had politely declined? Severus gave many plausible reasons of course. The high spirits of the students during pre-holiday would surely interrupt any alone time they might have. And of course, Albus would surely have him making more necessary rounds at all hours of the night on weekends. Besides, mid year grading would be piled high on his desk, with no guilty Harry to grade them. She'd agreed that it did sound like a bad time to visit, but didn't suggest better time and neither did he.
Hermione let the vague slight slide with a niggling feeling of unease in her chest, deciding not to push so early in their relationship. However, when, a week or so later, an owl from Hogwarts arrived from the Headmaster inviting all Order of the Phoenix members and a select number of alumni and their families to attend the Christmas Feast, with an hospitable extension of quarters in the castle, instead of in Hogsmeade, for the duration of the students' absence, a thrill of excitement coursed through her. She immediately responded in the affirmative to Dumbledore and scribbled a quick owl, after the fact, to Severus asking what he would think about her accepting the Headmaster's invitation. He replied immediately: 'Wonderful. We should meet for lunch at the Three Broomsticks before you arrive at the castle.'
And so it was that on a chilly December 21st, Hermione strode into the open doorway of a warm pub searching for Severus among the throng of people sitting and standing at the tables. "Hermione, dear, close the door. You're letting in a draft! You won't be able to see him anyway, he's at the table farthest back," Madam Rosmerta called out from the bar as she effortlessly served out butterbeers. Hermione blushed and complied, hurrying to the dark table nestled at the back of the room.
Spotting his solitary black head, seeing his dark eyes light up at the sight of her, all doubts fled and she was filled with a fierce longing to throw herself into his lap and kiss him. However, she restrained herself enough to only let out a brilliant smile and grasp his outstretched hand as she sat across from him. "Hello," he said, smirking at how pleased she was to see him.
"Hello," she grinned back, completely unashamed at her happiness. "Have you ordered?"
"Yes. Rosmerta was only waiting for you to arrive to bring our food. Is fish and chips satisfactory?"
Hermione's stomach growled in response and she laughed. "I think so, yes! Oh, did you read that article about Water Horse Hair in the Practical Potioneer?" she asked excitedly.
Severus' eyes were dancing in amusement, though the rest of his face was quite dry. "It does sound like an intriguing ingredient."
"Doesn't it? I wonder if there has ever been any research into whether or not…"
When Madam Rosmerta arrived with their food, Hermione was still talking at great length about the ingredient and Severus was quietly listening and debating some facts here and there. Rosmerta stood for a moment looking down at the couple, absorbed in their discussion and each other. "You're a good match, you two," she stated. She patted Severus on the shoulder in approval. "Always knew you needed an intelligent woman," and she walked away, not noticing the barely discernible flush creeping up his neck.
Hermione tucked into her meal, but paused when she saw Severus frowning at his plate. "Something wrong?" she asked, concerned.
And he looked up quickly, his thoughts interrupted. "No, not at all," he dismissed easily. "How is the food?"
She moaned delightedly at the salty chips. "Delicious! I would have ordered a salad, but you now what I like, don't you?" Hermione smiled impishly.
He smirked. "I like to think so." And began to eat as well. After a few minutes of companionable silence while consuming their little meals, Severus wiped his mouth with his napkin and asked an odd question that produced a confused little quirk to Hermione's expression. "So, what are your plans for the weekend?"
She was silent for a while, considering her answer. "Well… I suppose McGonnagal or Flitwick has planned some sort of outing for the guests and I'm rather up for anything. Do you know if there's anything you're interested in doing?"
It was Severus' turn feel his head tilt in confusion. He spoke slowly, trying to figure out her meaning. "Not particularly… Will you… be staying until the feast?"
"Yes, Kingsley managed to convince me to take my extra vacation time. I wanted to stay the entire time Dumbledore is allowing for guests. I suppose we should have worked out the time frame before I arrived today, but I promise I won't be too underfoot if you need to do work- or I can even help! I can't wait to see your rooms, Severus! I brought you some books and …" she continued to chatter cheerily on as his her words sunk in. Hermione was coming to Hogwarts. And not just to the Christmas Feast. He thought back to her owl. Had she specified she'd be staying at the castle or going only to the feast? No, she had only asked what he would think about accepting the invitation. Had he been specific in his reply? No, he had only said that it was a wonderful idea and they should meet before she arrived at the castle - which could be interpreted in different ways. Merlin, he wasn't ready for this.
She stood suddenly and brought his thoughts back to the present. "I'll be right back," she said, heading toward the bathrooms.
"Fuck," he muttered under his breath. Perhaps she was going to stay in a separate room in the guest quarters. He'd have to make sure. Shit. Were his rooms even clean? He couldn't remember! When was the last time he changed the sheets? Severus Snape was starting to feel the pressure of a loving woman's expectations. And he didn't like it one bit.
AN: Here we go! I hope you liked it. I figured, Summer and Autumn were quite nice and sweet, but things can't be all lovely all the time or that wouldn't be a realistic relationship! I'm all for a little commitment phobia and miscommunication and lover's spats. Should be fun ^_^ Winter ought to be done in about 4 parts. Spring will probably only be 2 short parts.
Please, please review! It's like my crack- Support the habit ^_~
Hermione's Flat inspiration: ( http : / / london . craigslist . co . uk / apa / 2168283022 . html )
AN 2: Ah… sweet sweet miscommunication! Love it! Hope you like the few changes I've made. What do you think? Outtake of the time between Autumn and Winter after I've finished the series?
Random thought after reworking this chapter - Jason Isaacs (Lucius) played Mr. Darling and Hook on Peter Pan, in which the Darling family lived in Bloomsbury - where my Hermione is now living. Never been to London, or Europe so, thank you Google and Craigslist!