The characters belong to JKR of course!
It all began as a bit of fun. Hermione loved to draw and especially to draw on people. Her parents had been horrified when she'd taken a gap-year job in a tattoo parlour, of all the seedy unhygienic places! She was able to reassure them that the owner was in fact fully licensed and capable, an upright person clear of drugs or any criminal connections.
Hermione took the trouble to check him our thoroughly and report back to her parents because this was the first time since they'd returned from Australia that they'd actually expressed any interest or parental concern about her actions. In fact, they were only slightly appeased. However it was worth putting in the extra effort even for that and besides, she knew that her own fastidious nature wouldn't tolerate working in some sleazy hang-out no matter how much she craved the intense experience of drawing her exquisite body art and seeing it brought to life in a stunning tattoo.
Two years later when the school was finally re-opened they all returned to Hogwarts for their delayed final year. Hermione missed having an outlet for her creativity so she began to create less permanent body art using magical inks and an anti-erase spell. Her friends loved it, they could indulge in sensuous and provocative tattoos that caught the eye but vanished with a simple spell before censorious teachers or parents could complain. Hermione knew the wizarding world had a lot of issues with tattoo art especially after its most recent incarnation in the Dark Mark, but she wouldn't give up the pleasure it gave her.
Unfortunately when she drew Parvati Patil a beautiful unicorn curving intimately around her torso Parvati was so enamoured of it she refused to vanish it before she went home to visit her parents. The resulting furious owls to Headmistress McGonagall and the Board had Hermione on the receiving end of an official investigation. Parvati's parents were concerned that the body art was far from benign, "it was obviously infused with more magic than the simple preservation and vanishing spells inherent in the ink" they said.
Hermione was stunned to find herself in the Headmistresses office in front of an audience that included Headmistress McGonagall, Professor Snape, Madam Pomfrey and Professor Flitwick as well as the Patils. The board had ordered them to investigate Hermione's artworks and examine them for harmful spells or dark influences. As Parvati's art had already been vanished they were rather at a loss as to how to do this. Hermione suggested, rather maliciously, that if they wished to observe her methods any one of her friends would be only too happy to let her draw on them for the benefit of the assembled INQUISITION. In fact, she remembered, she'd given Ginny Weasley a sweet ink tattoo of a pouncing lioness before her date with Harry last night. They agreed to examine this and summoned Ginny.
Madam Pomfrey placed diagnostic spells on the confused Ginny and confirmed she was well and totally unharmed. Professor Flitwick examined the body art and pronounced it charming but completely free of charms or hidden spells and Professor Snape seconded this, assuring the assembly that no dark magic was involved. However, just as McGonagall was about to call an end to the hearing Snape said, musingly, "but I'm not sure there's no magic in it – some trace lingers in this artwork, some connection, as if something of Miss Weasley's essential magic has been captured by the drawing. I don't believe it is harmful or perhaps even intentional but Hermione has done some sort of magic here."
Hermione was indignant and refuted it forcefully. "I think I'd know if I cast any spells, I never even picked up my wand, Ginny cast the anti-erase spell herself in fact!"
Snape was not convinced. At first Hermione suspected he was trying to stir up trouble for her but then she thought "no, Professor Snape has mellowed and he was never as vicious as he pretended to be – it was all part of the act."
McGonagall was upset, what was she supposed to do now? She snapped at Professor Snape "well what further tests do you need to make? Are the Patil's justified in their complaint against Miss Granger?"
"Oh no," Snape said, "there is clearly no harm or intent to harm. This body art is completely safe. In fact" he continued "I think the subtle magic I detect is perhaps beneficial, or it may just be sympathetic magic – reflecting the subject as seen by the true artist's eye."
Hermione flushed, her indignation gone, Professor Snape's words touched on something deeply personal about her creativity; she always felt so close to her subjects after drawing on them, was it really magic?
While Hermione pondered this insight on her art Ginny answered questions from the assembled staff and began to tell them about Hermione's art even going on to tell them about the job at the Muggle tattoo parlour.
Professor Snape was shocked "you did this magic or whatever it is on the bodies of Muggles? How could you – you don't even know what it is you're doing here – how could you not be more careful?"
Hermione flushed with anger again "Stop right there" she said "Professor you misunderstood, my job in the tattoo parlour was to meet the clients and help them choose the designs they liked. Occasionally I drew something personal for them but the Muggle tattooist did the actual tattoo, I'm not a licensed Muggle tattooist for Merlin's sake!"
"Oh I see" he said, "That would be entirely safe then."
He turned to the Patil's and said brusquely "Well, I cannot see that any harm has come to Miss Patil nor was any intended. I will be looking into Hermione's remarkable abilities myself – though only because I'm curious to know more about it. You've nothing to fear, forbid your daughter to let herself be drawn on if you feel the need" he sneered. With that he swirled his cloak around himself in much his old manner and with a nod to the Headmistress he swept from the room saying "come with me Granger" curtly over his shoulder.
" Run along Miss Granger" said Headmistress McGonagall "we're finished here; off you go too Miss Weasley. "
Once they were out of the office Ginny huffed to Hermione "Well can you believe it? All that fuss about a drawing, why couldn't Parvati have just vanished it before she went home for the weekend!"
"She got attached to it" sighed Hermione "I'm not surprised, it was one of the best I've ever done."
"Granger! Hurry up" snapped Professor Snape.
Professor Snape took Hermione down to his sitting room beyond the potions classroom and office. Hermione looked around at the room; to her surprise she felt quite comfortable here – no pickled monsters or dank stone walls but a tidy desk, armchairs by the blazing fire and best of all, shelves and shelves of books.
He led the way to the fire and indicated that Hermione should take one of the armchairs. He stretched out comfortably in the other chair and to her intense surprise smiled slightly and said "what a foolish pother."
Hesitantly Hermione said "Professor Snape, why do you think what I'm doing may be some kind of magic? I'm Muggle born remember, and some Muggles create beautiful art – deep, insightful, moving works of art - but it's not magic!"
Looking thoughtfully at her Professor Snape frowned for a moment before he said slowly, "That little lioness was not a great, deep or meaningful piece of Muggle art but there was real magic in it, I could feel it, even in that small thing. The Patil's were certainly aware of magic in Miss Patil's unicorn. What was it like? I wish I had seen it."
Hermione laughed and blushed. "They would never have let you see it, the unicorn was not like Ginny's lioness; it was a full torso work that wrapped right around her body. Pass me a piece of parchment and I'll sketch it for you."
Hermione quickly sketched a simple female form front and back and then, more slowly, began to ink in a graceful unicorn that appeared to be clasped around the girl's body. The tail draped over her hip and thigh while the strong but delicate body curved over her buttocks and back and under her arm to lay its head upon her breast.
"How very Miss Patil" commented Professor Snape sardonically. "But you're right they'd never have let me see it!"
"It was the best thing I've done yet I think, and I'm not surprised she was attached to it, she's always had a thing about unicorns. Oh well, it's gone now, maybe I could work up a drawing – girl in the mirror or something" she mused.
"Miss Granger" said Professor Snape breaking in on her thoughts "I want you to do one for me" he hesitated "that way Minerva can be quite sure that there are no harmful effects and I'd quite like to study your technique."
"Alright Professor" Hermione said. "I can do you an ink, what would you like – a Slytherin snake? How about the back of your hand?" she touched it as it lay on the arm of his chair.
"No! I don't want to be branded with Salazar Slytherin's mark, it's done me enough harm already" he hissed.
Horrified by her tactless words to a former Death eater of all people, Hermione was about to apologise for her thoughtless suggestion when he continued, less heatedly, "and I don't think it would be a appropriate for me to have it anywhere the students can see it either" he chuckled "that would start another ruckus!"
Hermione smiled back, slightly bemused by this strangely changed Professor Snape. Who would have thought he would smile let alone laugh! She realised she should answer and smiled again saying "it might at that Sir."
Getting back to the matter in hand she carried on. "So, what do you want me to do then.?"
"Well, to get the full picture of what you can do and how you do it I think I need a full torso like Miss Patil's. But not a unicorn" he added hastily.
Hermione laughed at that but she blushed too. "Professor" she stammered, "have you considered how big a commitment that is? An ink like that would take hours!" Not to mention the intimacy involved she did NOT say. "I worked on Parvati's at least an hour every night for several weeks, are you sure you want to put that much of your time into this?"
"Yes. I think I need to find out more about this" he said seriously. "I won't have the time to let you work on it every night though, and really Miss Granger don't you need to spend time on your school work?"
I'll manage fine Professor. How about we do one or two sessions a week and see how it goes?" she suggested and he agreed easily.
Hermione struggled for a few moments for some way to put it while Professor Snape watched her inarticulacy with a quirked lip and raised eyebrow. "Sir," she finally blurted out, "I'm not sure a full torso would be appropriate, you can't have considered the necessary intimacy of contact" she stammered and blushed deeply. "I've ..."
"Waist up of course Miss Granger" he said crisply watching her confusion with unholy amusement.
Finally she was able to regain her composure. "Very well, Sir, when shall we start?"
"Why not here and now, Miss Granger" he said, still smirking slightly. "Have you got everything you need with you?"
She surprised him by getting suddenly businesslike. "Ok Sir" she said, pulling a leather case of pens out of her bag. "These are my pens Professor". She showed him an array of Muggle type pens in various thicknesses and a few colours. "I've modified the ink in them with one of my own invention, specifically designed to react to the protection and vanishing spells I use."
"Very clever" he nodded.
"Well, let's start with the design. What are your ideas?"
"Oh no, Miss Granger" he said smoothly, I want to see your ideas and find out how you connect with your subjects. I don't want to mess this up by giving you any of my ideas." He quirked a lip expecting her to be at a loss but he was mistaken.
"Right" she replied, unfazed by this. "Take off your robes, jacket and shirt. Let's see what I'm working with" she gazed back at him, amused, as he hesitated and then raised HER eyebrow ever so slightly.
Swiftly turning his back he swept over to the door and pulled off his robes and frock coat hanging them neatly on hooks by the door.
He returned to the fire in his fine white shirt quickly unbuttoning the tight cuffs and starting on the collar with a slightly heightened colour. Hermione blushed as well but couldn't tear her eyes away as he finished with the innumerable buttons* and shrugged out of the shirt.
She stood up to look at him, pretending to more professional detachment and experience than she could actually claim. She was transfixed first by the scars; of course she'd known he must have scars, he'd fought in many a battle and been forced to be 'close' to the most evil and sadistic wizards the world had ever seen; but still they shocked her. She paled visibly and he stepped quickly to her grasping her arms firmly for support. "Are you OK?"
Hermione took a deep breath and steadied herself. "Sorry about that, I'm fine now, I must have stood up too suddenly." She covered her horror and pity with a brave smile before stepping back from him and gesturing him to turn around saying with a grin "OK, let's see my canvas."
He looked back at her over his shoulder and saw her stiffen her spine and force the smile to remain on her face as she took in his ravaged back. After a moment she said "Well, it may not be in mint condition but it certainly has character. I believe I can conjure with this." To his surprise and discomfiture she gently laid both hands on his back, disregarding the hideous scars, and gently stroked across his flesh feeling the swell of muscles, the ribs that showed a bit too sharply, the strong flexible torso of a master fighter.
"Hmm, very nice." She reached up to run her hands up his arms to his shoulders and throat. She moved around him sliding her palms down his arms and across his chest feeling biceps, deltoids, pectoral muscles and abdominals.
Snape stiffened and might almost have snarled but then he looked again at her face. Her eyes were closed and her hands moved as if to some plan, she was far away, no longer even aware of him as she stroked and explored.
*Just a nod to all you button fetishists, enjoy!