A/N:This was written for celebrate_sshg community on lj. Complete in two chapters. It is very loosely based upon the prompt about something growing in Hermione's garden and Snape being drawn to it. A warning for explicit content applies.
I would like to express my profound gratitude to Lariope, who beta'd this for me on short notice, and Melusin, who brit-picked it and gave it a final read-through.
He almost never undressed. The 'almost' being a compromise—if she was honest with herself. He simply never undressed, full stop. She knew it was just another of his many ways to demonstrate power and instill humility, but when they were alone behind the abandoned greenhouse 2/7, it felt like every single hormone in her body stood at attention, every one of her cells sang with the desire to submit and welcome him inside her, in every sense and meaning.
Most of the times, he fucked her leisurely, choosing positions and angles where, she knew, he would have a perfect vantage point to watch the way her inner lips curled slightly inward around his cock when he plunged swiftly in and stretched taut when he pulled out. He loved watching, and she loved how unstinted and matter-of-fact he was about it. Sometimes, he issued commands in that calm, deeply undertoned voice he used in the classroom when he was addressing a particularly decent student, whose progress in the making of a potion he was overseeing.
"Apply your hands and open yourself for me, Miss Granger," he would say so levelly as if he were asking a first year to open a jar of shrivelfigs. He kissed her fingers before directing them to her core and showing her exactly how he wanted her opened.
She coloured up with a sharp mix of shame and intense desire and did as he said. Often, she would come exactly at that moment.
The change in her skin tone seemed to excite him.
"Are you ashamed, Miss Granger?" he purred and lodged his cock into her opening, teasing her.
"No!" she lied, not worrying how truthful (or not) she sounded. The truth was, she was ashamed and loved every damn sensation it spurred.
"Well, you should be." He pushed in and bared teeth that were yellowed at the roots at her. "Fucking your professor like that. Giving yourself like a wanton. Spreading yourself open for me."
He punctuated each sentence with an assured stroke and twisted his hips at the point when he was buried deep within her. It was as if he were taking fantasies from her mind, some of them she couldn't even conceive of having until he made them true. And perhaps he was: she'd read somewhere that the hardest thing about Legilimency was to resist the temptation and keep away from others' thoughts. Clever fingers knew exactly when and where to touch, twirl, pinch or flatten against her skin–obedient little soldiers to their master's profligate ways. His tongue knew exactly what words to feed to her overexcited brain and how to deliver them so that she trembled with such explosive sensory overload that, at that moment, she would promise him the world, give him everything.
Hermione Granger was in detention. She had been scrubbing desks in the Potions classroom for over three-and-a-half hours already, and she worked with such angry zeal that by the time she was finished, one Severus Snape would have the cleanest set of desks and workbenches in Britain.
Being in detention wasn't that humiliating on its own. Being her and being in detention definitely counted as such. Officially, Hermione was a regular seventh-year student, but no one had any doubts about her unspoken special status. First, a war hero, Order of Merlin, class two. Not many adults could boast such an honour and a shiny medal to go with it, to speak nothing of a mere girl. Second, she was the only one who'd refused to accept the generous Ministry offer of an amount of O's and E's in her N.E.W.T.s that would have allowed her to apply to almost any open position in Wizarding Britain. She actually went back to earn those N.E.W.T.s (even though her hidden motive was to get all O's)–an act which warmed every single teacher's heart towards her even more, if it was even possible. And third–she was simply almost two years older than the vast majority of her fellow seventh-years. And probably two life-times older than most of them, if one were to judge by the look in her eyes.
Quite simply, she stood out. She was even offered an apprentice post and a chair at the High Table. You just didn't give detentions to Hermione Granger anymore, especially for "daydreaming in class" when she was clearly finished with the task for the lesson.
But Snape was Snape. Maybe it was just another one of his games. Maybe, he finally wanted to change the venue. The cozy spot behind greenhouse 2/7 was getting old. And, as it was November already, it was also getting cold.
Hermione sighed and continued scrubbing a particularly nasty desk. It was located in what was generally considered the 'Slytherin' corner of the classroom where generations of bored Slytherins had amused themselves by writing disparaging remarks (which were mainly addressed to Gryffindors) on it with magicked quills.
One particular Slytherin, who was the source of her current state (and the reason for her current circumstances), was sitting at his contrastingly disarrayed teacher's table and marking away at a stack of essays. From time to time, Hermione threw sideways glances in his direction, careful to pick a moment when he was definitely too busy to suddenly look up and catch her watching. It didn't help, obviously, since she could not get rid of the niggling sensation that he knew she was observing him, anyway.
She couldn't understand whether it was a shift in the rules of the game they were playing. Or, to be more exact, the game he was playing, because for her, this had recently transcended beyond the limits of a game.
They had gone at it in mid-September. For her, it had begun much earlier, sometime after the final battle, when he was recovering and bearing the brunt of the controversy his very persona had created in the after-war publicity with admirable dignity. She thought she'd finally seen the man who Severus Snape had been all that time: a reluctant hero; a brilliant, largely self-taught scientist; a wand-wielding hermit. She was wrong. All these were mere epithets, attributed to him by an ecstatic press. The real Snape showed himself when, after she'd teetered around him carefully and yearned for something she couldn't even clearly define for months, he suddenly appeared in front of her that day behind greenhouse 2/7 and kissed her like he wanted to put the meaning of the world in that kiss.
She couldn't tell how he had known. She thought she was keeping her secret very well. Her infatuation was stuffed so deep inside and piled with so much menial work, classes, friends and general post-war havoc that sometimes it was even a secret to her own self.
And yet, he knew. And obviously was able to appreciate the sentiment; otherwise, why would he have followed her that day?
He was Gryffindorishly blunt about the nature of their relationship. The terms were transparent and simple and left so little elbow room that she could hardly believe a Slytherin would come up with it. They would meet behind the greenhouse and fuck, and that was it. She was more than content with the setting. The war, the subsequent upheaval, and all the drastic changes her life had suffered had left her empty and drained. She couldn't be arsed to handle something more complicated than a tryst with no obligations or consequences.
She knew how the excitement of novelty usually wore off quickly: she'd seen it happen plenty of times with her roommates, and this was one of the reasons she'd seldom cared for anything that went beyond adolescent fooling around with Ron or Victor. She cringed every time the girls in the dormitories discussed their relationships with casual slight, as if they were speaking about something that could be easily brushed off and forgotten instantly.
However, it was all different with Severus Snape. There was nothing casual about Severus Snape. Hermione didn't have to worry that one day the butterflies in her stomach would cease their frantic (sometimes nearly nauseating) flutter and take leave to bug someone else.
And yet, there was something about their interaction that defied analysis. Something deeply troubling. It was as if their encounters were almost too perfect.
Hermione heaved her umpteenth sigh. If Snape kept this up, soon there would be nothing to scrub and scourge left for her; it was her fifth detention during the last three weeks, and at this rate, she was scrubbing faster than the students managed to soil. He probably wanted to take whatever it was they had been indulging in further. But why in the nine circles of Hell didn't he act on it? He should have known there wouldn't be any objection from her side. Part of her thrill came from the fact that she was up for any game, like an eager puppy.
But maybe it was part of the game? Did Snape get off on watching her labour? It didn't look bloody likely. Maybe he enjoyed simply knowing that she was here, under his command, doing something he only assigned to cumbersome first-years, whose very skill with the cauldron was so non-existent that it was dangerous to use them for anything else. Maybe he liked the very idea of her, sweaty, panting, dirty and bent over scrubbing? As soon as this thought crossed her mind, Hermione felt extremely self-conscious. Did she look sexy? Or mildly appealing at all? She tried to assume what she thought could be an arousing position and cursed her clumsiness and general lack of that secret knowledge, the one that females everywhere pass around to their willing peers: the art of being sexy. Maybe she shouldn't have dismissed Parvati and Lavender so haughtily, always preferring books to midnight chats about subjects more lascivious.
"Miss Granger, I fail to see why such a simple task as cleaning desks should be accompanied by pathetic attempts to tie yourself into a knot, but I'm positive it must be uncomfortably hindering," Snape suddenly droned from his desk, startling Hermione.
Good, at least he noticed. Hermione hurriedly changed her stance to something more demure and appropriate for hiding her very red face. At least he had said something. Maybe it was a prelude to foreplay? They'd never done it anywhere else before; moreover, he'd never, ever let it slip, even when it was safe, that the entire… fling… existed anywhere outside the small patch of grass shaded by rogue hawthorn bushes, which would have had no business growing there, if Professor Sprout cared more (or if Hagrid cared less). Beyond the delirious, frantic sexual abandon—for which the abandoned greenhouse had become a symbol in Hermione's mind—Severus Snape was the same intolerant, vicious prick to her. He only seemed to notice her presence when it was due time for the regular taking of points from Gryffindor, doling out humiliation or giving her a supercilious sneer of disdain when she submitted her completed work.
Except for the sudden change in detention quantity. Five in three weeks was more than she had endured during six previous school years total.
She woke up with a fuzzy head and no sense of the time. It was still dark outside, but she couldn't tell if it was still evening or pre-dawn, November murk. Burrowing tighter into the blankets, she sighed and cast a silent Tempus spell. Six in the morning. Morning it was, then. Weird, she could have sworn she'd just dipped into sleep a little while ago. Thoughts waded in her brain like lost travellers in the fog as she tried to figure out what time she had gone to bed the night before.
Having determined that, short of removing her memory of going to bed and viewing it in the Pensieve to see if the magical clock in the room was showing, she'd never find the truth, Hermione left it at that and dragged her feet to the bathroom.
She took a shower and slapped on some moisturizing butter she had ordered a week ago from Slug and Jiggers' Beauty division. Of late, she'd been feeling parched very often. She'd found herself stopping by the water fountain ever more frequently between classes, and her skin was taut and somewhat flakey. Hence the moisturizer at the appalling cost, purchased after Ginny had nagged her half to death. Hermione still cringed, thinking of the books she could have bought with the money.
"It's the war stress catching up with you, Mi," Ginny, with whom she now shared a dorm, had said when she had relayed the problem to her. "You've stayed strong for a long stretch of time, and now that your body knows it can relax, all those things have started popping out. You should have seen Bernadette. Poor thing–you know how her parents were almost killed in a Muggle raid when they were visiting their Muggle relatives? She's been itching all over for months. Madam Pomfrey says it's the nerves."
If there was ever a sign that Ginny Weasley was starting to resemble the great, kind, clucking mother-hen that was Molly, it was her mothering everyone within an inch of their lives. And yet, Ginny's obtrusive care had a pleasant side-effect of calming her.
It's the stress, Hermione repeated to herself. A caviling voice inside her head dared to suggest that the source of her stress was largely situated behind a certain greenhouse, but she quaffed it quickly. That was definitely not stress. That was a means to stress relief.
She shivered as she remembered their encounter the night before—surely the reason why she'd slept like a log and lost all sense of time lay somewhere in between the flapping folds of Snape's robes. He'd been almost tender with her yesterday. As if he had perceived her growing annoyance with his change of game tactics, their lovemaking had been a bit different. He'd touched her with a bit more reverence, and after he came in her mouth, his thumb, sweeping off the residue from her lips, was considerate, and his lips on her eyelids were grateful. Somehow, it had been just what she needed, because when she'd stood in the shower this morning, she had closed her eyes and tried to conjure up the feeling of his hands, moulding her body into stances that would intensify his pleasure, she had suddenly started crying. How had it come to her wanting to be used? And did his giving her what she wanted even count as using?
When Ginny had knocked on the bathroom door, Hermione Granger had felt cleansed and purged from quite a load of pent-up emotion. It had been crammed into her soul, it seemed, from the time even before the final battle, and now it was gone. She'd felt as light as an airborne feather.
Hermione swam out of the bathroom on a wave of relief and gratitude that needed to be expressed and was met by Ginny's annoyed morning look, which swiftly gave way to astonishment and worry.
"Mi, you okay?"
"I'm great, Gin—fabulous, in fact," she almost sing-songed, and her voice sounded so beautiful to her own self, like the gentle ringing of Accompanying Campanula, a magical flower with a deeply-rooted love of music.
"You are fabulously nutty, that's what you are," Ginny grumbled and pushed past her roommate and into the bathroom.
As soon as her red mane disappeared behind the bathroom door, Hermione all but forgot about her existence. All she could think about was getting to that wonderful spot behind Greenhouse 2/7. The need to share her ecstatic state was so overpowering that she didn't even stop to analyze whether such intense sensation was in any way abnormal. Nothing had ever seemed so right. She only hoped she could convey the message in the form of sensual physicality. After all, she and Snape still didn't talk much.
Oh, and maybe that's what all the recent detentions were about? Maybe he, too, sensed the shift in the wind? The very thought sent a pleasant little bolt of electricity through her body.
She dressed, ignoring Ginny's concerned looks, and dashed to breakfast. As she hopped on light feet down the flights of magical stairs, she looked out the windows, where grey sheets of November rain-soon-to-become-hail battered against the glass, and decided that she hadn't seen a more cheerful sight in ages.
When she was approaching the Great Hall, she was stopped by a hand on her shoulder. Hermione started and, astounded at the depth of her own obliviousness, skipped the first bit of what Headmistress McGonagall was saying.
"…talking to you? Hermione? Miss Granger?" McGonagall's eyebrows knitted together in a positively Snape-ish manner, which finally made Hermione snap out of it.
"I'm sorry, Headmistress, what were you saying?" she demurred and looked at her hands, suddenly shameful of her glee.
"I was just asking if you are all right, Miss Granger." The Headmistress hated to repeat herself, but her irritation only barely masked her worry.
Hermione briefly spared a thought as to why everyone was wanting to know about her state.
"Oh… oh, that. I'm quite okay, Professor, thank you for asking. And yourself?" she asked, trying to will her facial muscles into composing an appropriate expression of pleased expectancy.
"Miss Granger, let me disabuse you of the notion that I'm trying to make small talk, here," McGonagall said and looked at her pointedly above her spectacles.
Hermione was instantly alarmed. Did her euphoria reflect in her exterior so?
"I'm sorry, Professor, I just… it's just a great day today," she said, wondering if her face shone happily like a full moon.
"I wouldn't say so from the way you look, dear," McGonagall answered patronizingly. "Maybe you should see the Matron."
Puzzled, Hermione watched her former Head of House shift her attention to a group of third-years, who appeared to have successfully smuggled in a Grammargrab quill from Fred and George's shop and were fighting over whose turn it was to take it to class. Surely, she didn't look that bad?
Her happy float on the sea of pinkish well-being ended by the time Arithmancy was in full swing. Professor Vector was writing a complicated equation for calculating multiple relativities, and Hermione kept blinking and squinting at the board where complex symbols and figures jumped and scattered like cockroaches at the turn of a light switch.
She couldn't focus and was barely able to think—and most of her thoughts constituted of admitting a fierce need to be there, behind the blasted greenhouse, to be there now. Letting Snape have her was what she needed right now. And then her equilibrium would be right back. When she tried to concentrate, she was even able to come up with an excuse to leave the class which wasn't completely half-cocked.
When Arithmancy was finally over and the bell chimed through the castle, signifying the beginning of the lunch break, she was beside herself with need. The curious thing was that the need was not exactly sexual. It was a very blunt compulsion to just be there, at that particular spot of land. A tiny, sane voice deep inside her offered feebly that he might not even be there, but it was silenced by the roaring 'I don't care' from the rest of her.
Not bothering to reason with either part of herself, she scrambled to the door as soon as the class was dismissed and flew to the Entrance Hall.
Bleary November midday welcomed her with sleet and a howling wind, no doubt intensified by the many magics surrounding Hogwarts. There was a distinct nip in the air, which somewhat dulled her state of anxiety. She cast an anti-slipping charm on her feet and tried to recall what she knew about love potions. This feeling was not normal—at least she was able to admit it—which meant she wasn't too far gone. She was obviously under an influence, which was a bad thing, because she couldn't really determine the symptoms, except for needing to get to Snape and the mysterious remarks about her being unwell.
Could he have slipped her a love potion? A strong aphrodisiac? Love potions compelled the drinker to seek out the source of their longing, but… there was something, something important, that dangled at the edges of her mind and teased her like a sly dog, wagging its tale and baring its teeth if approached.
Why would Snape even do that? Hadn't he known, from the very start, that she was more than eager?
Just when her thought process was about to round a corner and maybe stumble upon that elusive spot of wrongness that would provide a definite answer, she saw the greenhouse. Somehow, Hermione felt that he would be there. Maybe it was not a potion, but rather some mind-to-mind connection, which he certainly knew how to use, but she, from her end, was not skilled enough to see?
A rush of excitement flooded her, and rational thinking ebbed away with its flow.
Sure enough, she suddenly felt a wand at her throat and was swiftly pressed towards the rough stones of Hogwarts' outer walls.
"Not quite the best weather for lunch-time strolls, Miss Granger, don't you agree? What are you doing here?" It was like her hearing was suddenly wrapped and caressed by slithering sheets of finest silk.
A game, then. Fine.
"I just needed a bit of air, Professor. The elves have probably overdone it with the heating today. The classrooms were so stuffy," she babbled shakily, not caring how hideously stupid her reasoning was, especially since one thing Hogwarts' Elves knew nothing of was heating. On January nights, you could see your breath coming out of your mouth if you peeped out from under the blankets. She peered at him, knowing that her half-arsed explanation would spur him to act. It usually did.
"Are you really going to bore me with artful circumlocution, Miss Granger?"
There was nothing artful or even creative about her excuse, which they both knew was a fake. But, oh, Merlin, when he talked like he was reading the Oxford Contemporary English Dictionary every day after tea, it made Hermione's hormones dance like champagne bubbles in her blood.
Her brain was roughly interrupted from its making of sweet love to Snape's extensive vocabulary.
"Answer me, girl!" he said with half-hearted impatience and dragged the tip of his nose along her collar bone and up to her ear.
"I just wanted to… be here, maybe." She sighed in relief, not feeling the business end of his wand pressing into her neck anymore. Not that he'd hex her, he never did. But he could, couldn't he?
A part of her felt excited about the prospect. Would he tie her hands if she let him know she would—
"…Put you in a Full Body Bind? The rope would hug your body so… leaving only bare those parts where I can enter you," Snape whispered.
"Are you reading my mind?" Hermione asked, not understanding her sudden desire to make small talk when Snape's hand was lifting her robe and stroking the back of her thigh.
"Maybe I am. And maybe you are dealing with an addiction, Miss Granger," Snape said. His finger was underlining the meaning in his words, as it traced the seam where the swell of her buttock met her thigh.
Addiction. Such a perfect word to describe her state.
"Does it bother you?" she asked breathily, kneading his shoulders in order to keep her hands from unbuttoning his trousers. He liked the foreplay and the fucking to follow his own pacing, a lesson she'd learned early on.
"Not really. What bothers me is the snow because I can't put you on your belly and mount you like I want to. The temperature won't be kind to my joints." His mouth stretched into an ugly smile.
Then he swiftly pushed her to her knees, obviously not caring whether the temperature would spare her joints, or maybe he thought that they were simply stronger and had the advantage of belonging to a young body. One dexterous hand unzipped his fly, and the other tugged at her chin imperiously.
Soon after, Hermione's mouth was too busy to keep trying to talk his ears off.
When she woke up and looked at the clock, she saw with crushing horror that it was almost one in the afternoon. Thank Nimue, it was bloody Saturday! Even when she was bone-weary, she'd never missed her alarm clock. All her lie-ins had been conscious decisions. Hermione yawned and worried. Her skin stretched uncomfortably around her mouth; too lazy to get up yet, she summoned her moisturizing potion from the bathroom. On a second thought, she summoned a large glass of water as well. Maybe it was all about dehydration.
Luckily, this time there was no one in the dorm to pester her about things. One in the afternoon was obscenely late even for Ginny, who often indulged in little lie-ins at weekends.
Hermione shuffled her feet to the bathroom, and suddenly, it struck her. She couldn't remember, again, what time she had gone to bed last night. Moreover, she couldn't remember anything after… well, after Snape did put her on her belly and pried her legs wide. Gods, she didn't even remember making it to Charms. Did she make it to Charms?
This wasn't good, wasn't good at all. Anxiety was quickly whipping her mind into a frenzy, and when she reached into the bathroom cabinet for a new tube of toothpaste, the stupid piece of furniture had the audacity to rattle as if some Boggart were in there, taking the form of McGonagall with her expulsion scroll. She recoiled with a yelp.
And found herself in front of a mirror.
Gods, she looked horrible. Papery skin, wan face, gaunt cheekbones. What was it? What was the matter with her? Yesterday's thoughts of being fed (or rubbed into, Snape wasn't a Potions master for nothing) a love or lust potion of some sort came back to claim her mind. Her body wanted to give in again to the wonderful state of euphoria which usually followed her meetings with Snape, but this time her mind resisted.
Research. There was her salvation! Her brain clutched at the thought, and as she dressed hastily, she was already imagining the familiarity of the dimly-lit Hogwarts library, the ancient creaking desks, uniformly arranged parchment scrolls, and fussy silver inkwells. Immediately, she felt lighter. Casting a sloppy Notice-Me-Not on herself, she started for the library, pondering whether a foray into the kitchens was in order or if she should wait for lunch.
The first signs of discomfort showed themselves when she hadn't even finished picking her literature. Hermione was surreptitiously surveying a rack of books on common love magic—an ugly blob of pink, purple and fluffy feather bookmarks sticking out invitingly. Some of those atrocities even sported red and violet hearts that fluttered about the bindings. It was then that a wave of wrongness hit her suddenly. What was she doing here? She needed to be on her way to—
A loud snarl of frustration cut through the drowsy library silence, which she belatedly realized was her own.
"Do you think yourself to be so far above the rules of this school by virtue of your being… what you think you are that you find it appropriate to behave like an imbecilic, ill-mannered brat, Miss Granger?" a voice drawled from behind the nearest rack of books, and its owner soon made a sweeping, black-robed appearance.
Hermione felt arousal twitching somewhere in her belly and laboured to look properly contrite.
"Sorry, sir. I just… dropped a book on my foot," she said, initiating the familiar wordplay.
The library was deliciously deserted on a Saturday afternoon, and the prospect of being shagged silly between the book racks by her Professor was becoming exponentially more attractive by the second. She was expecting an order to strip to the pelt any minute now.
Snape's gaze fell upon the fluffy ugliness she was about to peruse, and his face twisted with disgust.
"I'm forced to remove the 'like' from my previous remark," Snape said. "You are an imbecilic, unmannered brat."
Hermione's heart hammered and swayed like a pendulum from her throat to her feet. She could barely manage a conscious thought, and yet, something in the back of her mind was not satisfied. Something was amiss there, as if she was eating her favourite food when her nose was stuffed and runny, making the taste of the treat dulled.
"It won't happen again, sir," she croaked, her throat dry, and restrained an urge to run to the Greenhouse. The need to be there, now, was almost a physical sensation.
"That would be ten points from Gryffindor, an additional twenty for missing Charms yesterday—yes, Professor Flitwick had mentioned it, and I would be remiss to overlook such a blatant case of disrespect—and see that you exercise proper discretion from now on when you are in the library," Snape said and, turning on his heels, strode away, his boots resounding in the dreary silence with the ominous ill-boding sound for which any decent ghost would give its ectoplasmic arm.
For a surreal moment or five, she couldn't believe what had happened. Did he just leave? After all that… verbal foreplay? Probably, he'd gone directly to the greenhouses? Oh, please, let it be so.
But her astonishment didn't last long. The sound of Snape walking away had barely ceased to echo through the halls, when she felt that her surprised stupor was dissipating under a mindless need to just go.
She darted out of the library, the saccharine-pink books sighing forlornly at her swift departure. Definitely a potion, or something else, something stronger perhaps, maybe a binding ritual. The need to be at that magical spot behind the greenhouse felt like an itch somewhere in her gut now, and she wished she could turn her body inside out and scratch it on the rough surface of the flagstones. She ran and ran, hating herself for being so weak and unable to fight the damn thing and promising that as soon as she relieved this… magical imperative she couldn't resist, for the time being, she'd go right back and search again. Or better yet, go straight to Madam Pomfrey and get an antidote, a curse-breaker, a something. Only… this one more time. Just one more.
Gods, this was getting bad. The intervals between the times when she felt like she'd burst into flames and burn out if she didn't go right now were getting increasingly shorter. What was the damned man's goal?
He was so going to get an earful, as soon as she'd…. fucked his brains out a gloating little voice in her head said.
Just one more time. Just this once.
She reached the greenhouses in record time, panting and bending over to rest her hands on her knees to catch her breath and recover. Blood pounded in her ears, and there was a stitch in her side from all the running. Hermione Granger was not on friendly terms with sports.
A profound contentment and rightness enveloped her. The feeling was so welcome and so harmonic that she didn't even bother to analyze it. He should be here shortly—maybe five, ten minutes. Suddenly, she realized that she could wait, and she could wait longer. It was the being here that was so satisfying. A part of her brain that still clung to reality said that it shouldn't be this way if it was Snape she was addicted to, but soon after died under the weight of wellness that settled upon the rest of her being.
"So soon already, Miss Granger? My, but you look like something a Kneazle dragged inside."
"You gave me a love potion!" she said accusingly and batted away his hands, which had already started unbuttoning her robe in a disgustingly businesslike manner.
"Did I really?" he asked absentmindedly, focusing his entire attention on fondling her breasts. Or trying to fondle since she was still valiantly playing some sort of hard-to-get.
"I think you did."
"Whatever you say. Now, don't wiggle, and none of your lip. Yes, spread it. There… Merlin, I love how tight you are."
If she were able to think clearly for a moment, she'd wish the earth would swallow her for abandoning everything she was for a few minutes of ecstasy. Snape, meanwhile, had turned her around, placed her hands slowly on the moss-covered outer wall of the castle and knelt.
"Oh, Merlin, do people even do that?" Hermione's mind shrieked and fluttered with excitement as his hands spread her butt cheeks, and his tongue licked the little pucker inside.
It was the last conscious thought she remembered.
Hermione woke up and couldn't hold back a yelp. Her eyes met the ugly ceiling of Hogwarts' hospital wing. It had last been white-washed decades before—most probably decades before Hermione was even born—and now was covered in stains, the origin of which Hermione was too grossed out to contemplate.
She tried to move, but was struck with a sharp ping of pain which seemed to have no definite location in her body: it felt like her entire skin was three sizes too small for her.
"Oh, you are awake, Miss Granger," Madam Pomfrey's cooing voice said from somewhere above and to the left.
"Why am I in the hospital wing?" Hermione croaked and tried to search for the matron with her eyes without much moving. She probably looked like a freak with rotating eyeballs, but it wasn't really her primary concern now.
"Oh, dear, where do I start?" Madam Pomfrey's face swam into her line of sight, creased with concern. "Hagrid brought you here yesterday. Said he found you passed out not far from the greenhouses. You were unconscious and very dehydrated. We've been trying to diagnose your malady since yesterday but are still at a loss."
"We?" Hermione asked weakly.
"Yes, love, me and Professor Snape, and the Headmistress. Your body is obviously ailing, but we can't pinpoint exactly how. We have purged you, but the effect seems to be minimal. We were forced to report to St. Mungo's, and they have put the entire school under quarantine until your situation is cleared."
"Do you mean to say that I am contagious?" she blurted, though her real question was, why was Snape involved with trying to 'heal' her when he was the source of her illness in the first place? Then she suddenly realized she'd have to expand on the nature of her relationship with Snape and settled on letting them diagnose her. If McGonagall was involved, Snape wouldn't dare to compromise her health further with… whatever it was that he was giving her? And when they did find out, she could pretend she had no clue as to who might have done it.
"Oh, no, Miss Granger, you are not, but the source of your illness may well be within the castle grounds, and until we locate it and deal with it, the castle is closed." Pomfrey's answer interrupted her musings.
On the castle grounds, indeed. Hermione snickered ridiculously, imagining the school Matron and the Headmistress playing hide-and-seek with Snape in the labyrinth of the Hogwarts' corridors.
During the day, she was poked and prodded, stuffed with potions, rubbed with lotions, and spells unnumbered were cast over her body. The "source of her illness," however, never made an appearance. Surprisingly, she felt better, in terms of her previously uncontrolled yearning. It dulled to a nagging, slick want to go, but was rather manageable. Her curiosity, however, was not.
"What does Professor Snape have to say about my illness, Madam Pomfrey?" she asked during yet another check-up. "You've mentioned he was there last night…"
"He said he has some ideas. Should be in his laboratory now, brewing a few things. In fact, he's been concerned with your state for some time already. I think… Wasn't it a couple of weeks ago that he mentioned it to Minerva in the staff room? Oh dear, the years have taken a toll on my memory." The Matron sighed and looked at her expectantly. "Oh, he's even given you a detention or two to investigate covertly," she added after Hermione didn't show any desire to gossip and winked conspiringly.
Hermione would have fumed and probably drooled boiling saliva if she wasn't so hopped up on Calming Draughts.
Two more days passed uneventfully, with the same annoying succession of spells, potions, lotions and check-ups. She wasn't getting any better; her body was still extremely weak and dehydrated, her vision addled and movements unbalanced. But neither was she getting any worse, at least externally.
It was a whole different picture on the inside. Where two days ago the addiction had huddled inside her, coiled and subdued, it was now growing stronger and more powerful, as if it had used the forced respite to accumulate strength.
Hermione knew that it wouldn't be very long before she felt the physical effects of want: itching, tremors, parched mouth.
It needed to be relieved. Oh, how she wished Harry and Ron had given in to her pleas and castigations and refused to accept the marks the Ministry appointed to them as war heroes. Except right now her wish had a distinctly self-serving character: she'd have had instant access to the Maraudeur's map, returned to Harry as a token after the war, and could have used some hidden passage to slip away from the castle.
Well, Snape's mere presence would have to do. She'd waited for Madam Pomfrey to leave for bed and gulped a Strengthening Potion. The doors were unlocked, and Hermione's heart cringed in shame at breaking such blind trust. There was a strange sense of futility she had to waddle through as she ran to the dungeons. Her whole being screamed that she should be behind the abandoned greenhouse, not anywhere else, but she could still put a lid on it. A few times, she felt like just going to the Main Gate and trying to blast it with a few spells. At least she'd be closer to the greenhouses from there.
She entered the Potions classroom noisily and was greeted by the sight of Snape, holding a decanter with something viscous inside. Surprisingly, she didn't feel any better, like she normally would when she appeared at their regular spot. Neither did she feel an overwhelming need to succumb to him nor a knee-weakening fascination. Maybe the body-purge had worked better than she thought.
"What business do you have being out of bed, Miss Granger, and breaking in here like tumbleweed on a rampage?" Snape asked calmly.
"I think you owe me an explanation, Professor," she said, suddenly seething with anger.
"Do I really?" His tone was perfunctory, as if he was trying to make conversation designed to lull a dangerous imbecile. He looked her over and went about decanting whatever potion he had been handling.
"You've given me something! And I demand that you tell me what it was and get me clean of it."
"Miss Granger, apart from the fact that you don't exactly exude an air which would solicit my obedience to your silly demands, I haven't the remotest idea what you are blathering on about."
"But you have, you… you… prick!" Hermione flew up to him and poked an indignant finger on his chest.
"That would be twenty-five points for the language—do remove that digit from my person—and I have not, but I may as well now since the mountain has come to Mohammed, so to speak," Snape said much more levelly than Hermione's knowledge of his temper would suggest and whipped a little flask from his pocket.
Uncorking it with his teeth, he grabbed her chin between thumb and forefinger and tipped the flask down her throat with such practiced ease, one would think Snape had the regular duty of attending to petulant sick children. Hermione briefly thought that perhaps he did, but then fury swallowed the thought.
"How dare you!" she yelled, spitting out the entire mouthful he managed to pour into her.
"Don't bother. It's already in your system; I shall have my outcome in a minute."
"Your outcome? So that's what I was for you? Some kind of bloody test? So tell me, Snape, what outcome did you receive from fucking me behind the blasted greenhouse?"
She balled her fists and was a hair's breadth away from connecting at least one (preferably, both) of them with his ugly mug.
A flicker of something very dangerous lit Snape's face for a moment and was gone. He was standing completely still. Probably considering the implications of her possible decision to report him.
Suddenly, her throat itched, and she started coughing, feeling something swell and release in her lungs. She kept coughing and heaving, trying to get rid of the foreign something in her chest when a rather gentle, or, to be more precise, gently detached hand wiped her lips.
Gloves. He was wearing rubber gloves. And currently they were dotted with some kind of murky, greenish slime.
He looked at her indecipherably.
"So, where exactly do you say I fucked you, Miss Granger?" Ice would have been ashamed at how cold Severus Snape could sound.
"You disgust me," she said, hating her inability to give smart comebacks on the spot (and oh, how they tortured her, coming late) and turned to leave.
"I don't remember dismissing you, girl." The same coldness. The classroom door clicked shut before her nose with a bang.
"Oh, what, I've finally deserved a location upgrade?" she said vehemently, not turning to look him in the eye, lest he should see that hers were getting moist.
"Just tell me where it is." Heartless arsehole. Heartless, miserable, wretched arsehole.
"Fuck you." It was probably the first time in her life she'd used the words, and now she could understand those who indulged often. There was a definite satisfaction.
"Don't make me get the information from you; I need the place, Miss Granger."
"And I said, fuck—"
She was suddenly being turned around, but there was nothing sexual, moreover, nothing familiar in the manoeuver, and while in other circumstances she'd be being poked by an erection right now, at the moment it was a wand that was poking her. In the temple.
"Do remember that you left me no choice when it hurts," he hissed maliciously. "Legilimens!"
And suddenly he was inside her, but in a different, forceful, unwelcome way, and on a level she never even knew existed. It was painful; it was uncomfortable; it was humiliating. It was like a classic dream where one is naked in a public place. She thought that, perhaps, this was how books felt when they were manhandled by first-year vandals and knew that he had registered her comparison and thought it asinine.
And then he started searching through her brain for the information he needed. It was excruciating, but resisting proved to be more painful, so she soon let him have his way, whimpering in pain and clutching at his robes. After all, what kind of secret could she feel ashamed of, considering all they had done together?
His emotions, however, which she could feel resonating slightly inside her, were frightening. Shame, guilt, puzzlement, outrage, shame, fascination, mortification, outrage, horror, disgust, shame, disgust.
When he pulled out of her, his reddened face sported an expression that both terrified and puzzled her. She just had never deemed Snape capable of displaying so much emotion.
Without saying a word, he shoved her off his robe, as if she were something stuck to his sole, and went to the fireplace.
"Minerva!" his shout reached Hermione. "It's behind the abandoned greenhouse 2/7. Make sure they wear masks; it's very potent."
Wiping tears of contempt and helpless anger away, Hermione struggled to understand the meaning of this strange, one-sided conversation, but all that she had was the swarming wrongness.
"What is this all about?" she whispered.
"This is about you, Miss Granger, or someone else, growing a Class "A" ranking illegal plant in the close vicinity of Hogwarts' students and exposing them all to it. A crime that could land you up to ten years in Azkaban, not to mention a list of restrictions as long as Binns' life to follow."
"I didn't plant anything illegal," she answered, her voice small.
"Yes, I know. And I know what you think you did there," he said with such contempt oozing from every syllable that she felt slapped.
"And you didn't?" she turned around, incensed by his impudence. "Are you saying that you didn't come there each and every time and… take me in every way you could conceive of?"
"That is exactly what I'm saying. Whatever it was you think you've experienced was an hallucination, induced by inhaling the spores of Dracena Delirii. Now that we know the cause of your state, please relieve this classroom of your obnoxious presence."
Dracena Delirii didn't ring any bells. Not even the tiniest little bell. And Hermione Granger did not study Herbology for nothing.
"You are a lying, cheating bastard." She forced her lips to form the words, choking on every one. "You are just saying this so that you can cover up the fact that you slipped me a lust potion and used me for your pleasure."
If Snape wasn't aflame with rage before, he definitely was now. He was purple with rage, and his eyes smoldered with rage. Seizing her by the collar, he hissed.
"So, you think I'm lying to you? You think you know me inside and out? Sniff, Miss Granger. Does my smell seem familiar?" He grabbed the back of her head and pressed it roughly into the inseam of his neck and shoulder. Crying and shaking, she inhaled and realized that she couldn't attribute his smell to anything she'd known before.
"Smells are easy to cover up!" she screamed and hammered at his chest with her fists.
He didn't let go.
"Still not believing me, then?" Snape's spittle flew in all directions, and a few flecks landed on her face. "Fine, then, tell me, if you think you know me so… intimately, what does my cock look like? Is it long? How big is it? Does it lean to one side when it is erect?" His words would excite her normally, but right now it felt like he was ripping off her rose-coloured glasses together with chunks of her flesh. "Tell me, Miss Granger, what do I taste like? Am I salty? Am I bitter? What is it like to taste me? You would know all these things, if I wasn't a figment of your imagination, wouldn't you? Speaking of imaginations, my, but you have one sick mind."
She realized that she couldn't answer his questions. She simply didn't know the answers. The man holding her now in a vice wasn't the man she'd been with. Even the feel of his body was unfamiliar: this Snape was bonier under his robes, his hipbones jutted out, poking her uncomfortably.
"But it was so real—" she started, and he finally let her go. She turned away, sucked dry by the most profound mortification she had ever experienced. So many things clicked. The perfection of it all;, the way it seemed he was taking her whims from her head, the never-changing locale. The compulsion. How could she have been so blind? She'd never been addicted to him. It was just a plant.
The presence of details is the first and foremost sign of reality. There was not a single detail she could recall about their trysts.
"It's what Dracena Delirii does," Snape said with somewhat less malice. "It lures you to where it grows by feeding you your deepest and truest fantasies, and when you come, it sucks out your life force. You must have stumbled upon it accidentally, and from then on it was a matter of how fast the effect of the spores took hold of you. You are lucky Hagrid found you. Its spores are nothing to those who have goblin or giant blood in them."
"I've never heard of it," she replied, a petulant wish to grasp at straws stuffing words into her mouth.
"Then your desire to decline the O in the Herbology N.E.W.T. that the Ministry made is understandable," Snape said and glared at her.
"I'm sure it is not on the curriculum."
"No, it is not, and for a reason, as you can see." Snape admitted grudgingly.
"You are probably disgusted with me right now," Hermione whispered blandly. Her humiliation was so deep that she was almost desensitized.
"Do not ever ask questions to that which you don't truly want an answer. You'll only be slapped in the face," he said.
"I don't think I could be slapped in the face harder than I already am."
Something akin to pity reflected in his eyes and dissipated swiftly. Hermione immediately understood she was wrong. Getting pity from the most pitiable man she'd known slapped hard.
"Just go, Miss Granger. I do not wish to continue this conversation. Now that your illness has been identified, you should be back to your normal health soon."
At that, Snape turned around and walked back to his desk.
Hermione knew dismissal when she saw one.
She walked back to the hospital wing in a daze, empty and drained.
When she reached her cot, she conjured a calendar. The numbers were shaky and spotty, proving that her magic was indeed depleted. She'd marked a date with red and counted the remaining days. Twenty-one.
Twenty-one days, and then she could get the hell out of this place and put it and that man and the godsdamned plant behind her.
It was, after all, a good thing that the Ministry was allowing her to sit her N.E.W.T.s before the Christmas break.