He may be broken, but that doesn't make him ill, and he has no intention of being cured.
"Professor," Hermione tried, picking up her pace as she caught up with the older man. "It's just that I read it in the most interesting book the other day, and I feel like it would be such a waste if you didn't at least try-"
Severus Snape turned to face her with his upper lip curled. Hermione immediately froze, eyes wide. "Someday, Miss Granger," the professor sneered, "you will learn that the world doesn't revolve around you and your bloody books!"
Hermione's mouth snapped shut as the man turned and strode away from her. She scowled. "Really, professor! I was just trying to help!"
"Next time, don't." His eyes were black as night and shimmering with what looked like malice. Hermione wondered faintly if she could even tell where his pupil began. "I'm not broken, and I don't need fixing."
Slumping against the stone wall, Hermione's eyes bored into the floor as she heard his striding footsteps fade. "You say that often enough," she whispered to herself, "and soon even I will think its true."
He's stood up to his enemies, he's stood up to his friends, and now he's ready to start standing up for himself.
"I am ever so sorry," Severus Snape drawled, black eyes glittering over his hooked nose, "but I am afraid I am going to have to ever so respectfully decline."
Minerva McGonagall drew herself up in her chair, slightly affronted. "Severus!" Snape inclined his head slightly. "What are you thinking! Hogwarts needs you." McGonagall made a slight face. "I need you. Potions has always been a hard spot to fill. Trying to find two new professors at once is hard enough, but three, and on such short notice-"
"Really, Minerva," the words slid from his mouth so velvety smooth that even McGonagall, as stiff as she was, had to hold in a shiver - not that Snape noticed. "Have I ever given you the impression that I enjoyed teaching?"
Snape watched from underneath strands of greasy ink as McGonagall began tapping a quill on top of her desk. "Well, I know you-"
"It was a rhetorical question." Snape threaded his fingers together, flexed his shoulders, and stretched his arms, all languid threat. "Just to make sure there are no misconceptions, however, I will deign to answer it." He lowered his eyes to bore into hers. "I have never, and will never, enjoy teaching the dunderheads that here run amok. Frankly," and here was the slight curl of his lip, "my talents have been wasted here. I am a Potions Master, not a simple Potions professor. Any amateur could do what is needed to be down here."
McGonagall's temper flared along with her nostrils. "So, should I hire Longbottom, then?"
Sinking back into his chair, Snape allowed a brief smirk. "Perhaps not Longbottom," he conceded. "But I know that there are plenty of others qualified for the position." He pushed his chair back, standing with a faint crack and a grimace. "Now, if you would be so kind as to excuse me, I have a life to finally get on with."
"Severus!" McGonagall looked as if she was about ready to stand as well. "What about Defense? You seemed to like that option well enough before-"
"Because the curse place upon it assured that I would not be stuck here teaching for any longer," Snape smoothly interrupted. "And now that the dark lord is dead, and the curse no longer active, taking the position wouldn't be much good at all, would it. More the pity to next fool willing to take it."
Swirling his cloak around him, Snape looked down at his fellow colleague. "Goodbye, Minerva." Then, with a short flash of a smile, he turned and walked out the door. It wasn't a pretty smile - the teeth, crooked and stained a pale yellow, took care of that without any need of his monstrosity of a nose.
But Hermione, standing still in a darkened corner outside the door, gripped tighter to her application as he strode past her with nary a glance, felt her breath pause and her heart quicken. Pity the fool indeed!
McGonagall sat slumped in her chair for a few moments longer, before she summoned a small glass and a not so small bottle of wine. If her next appointment failed to appear at her appointed time, she was much too busy searching for the answer in the bottom of her glass to notice.
He's wasted almost every moment in his adult life in the service of one master or the other, he has no time for dalliances or flights of fancy, and he will keep on insisting that long after he had stopped believing it.
"Oh," Hermione moaned, arching her back and throwing her head back against the pillows. Severus Snape, his throat dry as he swallowed, thanked whatever deity he could that her eyes were closed too tightly for her to see his face. He wasn't exactly sure what his expression looked like, but he was sure enough to know that he never wanted anyone, ever, to see. "Keep doing that, yes, yes, oh my god you're so good, keep going, keep going, oh my god don't stop!"
He watched with abject fascination as her pink little tongue darted out to lick her much abused lips. Her hair, brown as mud and as unruly as hell itself, tangled itself against the stark black of his sheets. "Oh my god, why did you never tell me how good you were b- ah, yes, keep going, yes- be-before, Severus!"
Severus cleared his throat, trying to keep his voice steady. "Well, you know me," he intoned, voice dark and smooth enough to make her gasp again. "I have a reputation of being modest."
His hands found another tense knot on her upper thigh, and as he slowly coaxed it out, she moaned. "Fuck yes," she squirmed around on his bed, skirt riding up even further as his hand slipped up to brush the innermost curve of her thigh. Making sure to control his breathing, he carefully tugged the bottom of her skirt down before retuning back to her legs.
"You're too good for any woman, Snape." A short while later, Hermione languidly stretched her arms up and over, and Severus pretended he wasn't watching the sharp curve of her throat as her neck arched.
"So you say," he murmured, watching her stand up and walk away from his bed.
"No, seriously," She was pulling on her stockings, straightening them before the mirror she had insisted he buy and he had grudgingly insisted he didn't need, but bought anyway, because he was long pst the point of discovering that he could deny her nothing. "If you ever get married, whenever you get married," now she was pulling at her skirt, at her shirt, adjusting and fixing so she wouldn't walk out of here looking like she was just shagged which goddammit, she hadn't been.
He unclenched his hands, focused on the tip of her left ear, and forced himself to think good, neutral thoughts, like crying children and what Harry fucking Potter would sound like if he saw what they looked like now.
"I swear, you better lock up your wife somewhere safe, because I'm afraid not having your talented hands to myself anymore might drive me to murder." Seemingly satisfied with her clothes, she turned to her horrible, unmanageable hair.
Stop what you're doing, Snape screamed to himself as he walked closer to her, stop what you're doing right fucking now. Feeling almost like he was imperioused, he snagged the hair tie out of her hands, gathered up the mass of her hair, and tied it into a messy sort of bun.
"I suppose I'll just have to find some girl strong enough to stand up to you in your lack of massage induced madness," he said, running one hand down the back of her neck and over the line of her shoulder just because he wanted too. Hermione allowed herself to melt back into him for a moment, then she summoned herself up and became all business once more.
"I'd wish you good luck with that," she called out over her shoulder as she moved towards the door, "but I'm pretty sure I really don't want you to succeed."
His door shut with a snap, and then a few moments later he heard the faint snap of apparation. Closing his eyes, Severus stumbled back to the bed, breathing out a sigh of relief when he caught the faint citrusy scent of her lingering on his sheets.
"I'm screwed," he said to the emptiness of his room, "figuratively speaking, and all because-" I want it to be literally speaking.
But the words didn't pass his lips, and instead of voicing them, he turned on his side and thought up a girl brave enough to talk to him without flinching, kind enough to look at him and not his scars, interesting enough to make him listen, and too fucking oblivious at all the wrong times to know that the only fucking woman he'd ever consider touching, forget marrying, was-
he stood up with a glower and headed to the kitchen, silently conducting his very own orchestra until a cup of mostly tea sat in front of him. And he drank.
He has one ring to rule him, one ring to bind him, and one ring on one finger of one girl too foolish to be fooled by the words he can't help but say that's going to bring him to his knees, over and over again.
He woke up every morning with a bitter, ashy taste in his mouth. The touch of death and madness never fades fully away, he knew very well, and the terrors that haunted him in the night, the terror that he was in the night, was something he would have to live with, each and every day. The price to pay - that taste of blood and death and gore and terribly cloying sadness and loss - wasn't too much in the face of the light of his life, Her-
"Oh, shut up!" The light of his life hissed, thumping him solidly in the face with a pillow. "Is it a requirement for you to be so terribly maudlin in the morning? Some of us are still trying to sleep!"
But even the light of his life was still tainted by the darkness within him, and he feared the day that the restrictions imposed upon him by his years as a death eater, as a spy, as a traitor to the light and dark would drive her away-
"That was a rhetorical question!" Hermione threw back the covers and reached around the bedside table for her wand, knocking a knickknack to the floor with a crash. With a few flourishes and muttered spells, the broken china was back to normal and a faint light lit up the room.
"I am never," Hermione swore, tangling her fingers in the hair at the back of his neck as she jerked his face towards her, "taking you to the movies again, do you hear me! Letting you drink is bad enough, but I can deal with your god-awful poetry. It's almost sweet, at least, in a disturbing your-blood-is-my-heart sort of way. But this!"
She took one more searching glance at the morose look on his face before pulling him even closer in an apologetic sort of kiss. "No more Good Will Hunting, you got that?"
Jerking away from her, Severus Snape started to brood. "First she introduces me to her life, shows me such strange and compelling things," he continued his monologue, "and then she threatens to take them away - not that I am deserving, for no one knows more of my worthlessness than myself, and perhaps my-"
Hermione made a strangled sort of noise before she leaned forward once more, leaving all attempts at grace far behind her as she wrapped all available limbs around her husband's unresisting form and brought their lips together in a bruising kiss.
As she waved her wand one last time before tossing it back to the table, Severus allowed himself one more thought. "Married life," he muttered in between doing things that made Hermione want to lose her mind, "will be the death of me."
Running a trembling hand down the curve of his cheek, Hermione snorted. "Only if you don't force me to kill you first," she replied, before ducking her face back towards his and doing things that remained better unsaid.
He's had two masters that he knows of, one dark and one light, and it still managed to be a surprise that his third will lay claim to more of him than the other two ever did.
"Oh! And that one too - the red one with the golden gilt, yes that one there, next to Mystical Menageries," Hermione chattered excitedly. Every couple of words, she reached a hand back to brush her uncontrollable frizz out of her eyes. There was a quick flick of a wand, and then the young woman almost squealed as she clutched the book to her chest.
"Are we quite done yet?" A silken voice drawled. Hermione shivered, but didn't drag her eyes away from the bookshelves when she reached out to smack him on the arm. Harry, standing a few feet away, stared with wide eyes as he made no move to retaliate.
"Quiet! Now, get me that blue one too, one shelf up and about half as far to the right - no, not that one, the one… let's see, about three books over." This book only made it half way to Hermione, who had to jump forward with a slight squawk to save it from hitting the ground. "You!" Turning quickly with a fearsome scowl on her face, Hermione tried not to pout when he merely smirked. "What did you go and do that for!"
"While I can't help but admire your… appreciation for books," here, Hermione flushed slightly, "I can't say that I can't think of activities more entertaining for the both of us to be doing." A wicked lift of an eyebrow. "Or perhaps… participating in?"
Forcing a terse smile on her face, Hermione kept herself from grabbing his arm and apparating them into the nearest storage closet. "I can think of some more entertaining activities for the both of us to be participating in too!" Hermione cheerily chirped, holding back a smirk at his flinch. "Like… moving all your stuff into the living room, to be closer to your new bed on the couch!" Harry made a noise like a kicked puppy at this latest hint of the apocalypse, but the two continued on unheeded.
Even though Hermione had turned away from him by now, she didn't need the rustle of his robes to let her know he had crossed his arms and glared at the nearest child in his very own version of a pout. "Now, get me 101 Ways to Vaporize Those Pesky Doll Masons." Despite her best effort, Hermione couldn't help from tensing her shoulders in anticipation.
First, quiet, then the small whimper of a nearby preteen trying not to burst into tears. Then - the book, floating down neatly to rest against the swell of her chest. "Yes, dear."
The words sounded forced, angry, and bitter, but that didn't stop Harry Potter from starting to choke when he said them. Hermione, slapping her friend hard on the back, turned to her so-much-more-than-that with a grateful and just a tad vindictive smile. "Know your place, bitch."
As Harry slowly turned purple and green, Snape snorted. "I always do."