Cinderella Man

I might as well make the most of it. *

Ever After

"Hermione," he called. She turned to him and smiled...

Severus watched the witch intently as he hurriedly walked toward her. She was once again wearing a dress, and a light afternoon wind gently played with its periwinkle silky material. She looked at him, her face still lit by a warm, open smile. As the wizard and the dog got closer to her, she stood up and made a step in their direction. A slight movement of her lips caught Severus' attention. The next moment, a soft breeze brought her breathy, "Severus" to him. Hearing his name, the wizard sped up as his heart began to thump a wild tempo in his chest. In a matter of seconds, he was near her.

Remembering only too well the horrible consequences of his mistake from a few days ago, Severus came to a full stop, determined to keep about two feet of free space between Hermione and him. His body, though, begged to differ and fought vigorously against his precaution as every fibre of his being desperately longed for her. His lips burned with a desire to taste her skin. His nostrils flared, and he hungrily inhaled the air in the hope of sensing that jasmine scent he loved so much. Feeling that his body was about to rebel, Severus clenched his fists painfully and felt how the plastic handle of Black's leash begin to crumble under the sheer strength of his frantic fingers.

For an infinite while, they stood in silence, interrupted only by Black's occasional sniffs and puffs. The wizard felt lost in the velvety, chocolate depth of Hermione's eyes. He still couldn't believe that she was there, on his doorstep. Eventually, Severus shifted his feet awkwardly and cleared his desert-dry throat. "Hermione," he managed to rasp. The next moment, however, he was forced to stop and swallow, as his vocal cords weren't cooperating with him at all. Severus drew in a fresh portion of oxygen into his lungs and started again. "Hermione," he said solemnly, noting that the witch watched him closely, seemingly holding her breath. "My behaviour on Saturday was nothing less than atrocious. Please, forgive my imbecilic callousness. You had been distressed enough without me forcing myself on you, and I have nothing to say in my defence. There is truly no excuse, except..." Hermione suddenly gasped for air, forcing Severus to falter and lose his focus as his eyes dropped to her slightly parted lips. He fell mute, unable neither to drag his gaze from Hermione's mauve-coloured lips, nor to utter the words that stuck to the tip of his tongue.

"Except what?" she asked, and to the wizard's surprise, her voice sounded just as husky as his own did. "Except what, Severus?" she repeated and made another step toward him, cutting the space he had so carefully kept between them by half.

Still staring at her mouth, Severus muttered, "We shall go inside."

Hermione shook her head and made a final step, stopping just a mere inch before him. He could smell the light scent of jasmine now, and her impudent curls tickled his face. To be honest, he didn't have any desire to talk at the moment. He yearned to crush her body flush against his so damn much, and yet, he couldn't risk scaring her for the second time. "Severus?" whispered Hermione, peering into his eyes searchingly. Her hand flew up, and her fingers traced a deep line that marred the wizard's forehead. Severus groaned, his eyelids fluttered and, unable to deny himself, he tilted his head toward her, seeking more of her light caress.

"Hermione," he sighed and covered her delicate hand with his. Slowly, he drew her palm down his face to his mouth and pressed it to his lips, whispering against it, "This confession is so long overdue. Bugger! This is not how it was supposed to happen," he chuckled uneasily. Somehow, it was agonisingly difficult to say those three words. "I gather there is no way around it now." He paused again, sighed heavily through his nose, focused his black eyes on the witch and at last stated, sounding a bit professorial, "I developed an infatuation with you, Hermione."

Hermione's eyes widened, and she repeated his words under her breath a few times. After a minute, she asked, "How long?"

"Since the infirmary." Hermione drew a shuddered breath and stepped back from him, shaking her head as if in disbelief. Deprived of the warmth of her hand, Severus was left feeling cold and bereft.

"Why, why didn't you say something? I dreamed about you, Severus. I thought," she stammered, "I thought you weren't interested. I almost married Ron, for Merlin's sake! Oh, God, what were you thinking?" she shouted at him.

Severus' heart tightened painfully in his chest. She was right. What on Earth was he thinking? He had utterly blown his only chance. Feeling the dread creeping into his heart and swallowing his very soul, he muttered, "I was unforgivably stupid, Hermione. I recognise that, and I can understand entirely if you don't want to have anything to do with me. Please, accept my sincere apologies." He didn't have a chance to add anything else, because in the next instant, the witch rolled onto her toes, cupped his face between her palms and kissed him.

Caught by surprise, Severus dropped the ruined handle of Black's leash, letting his arms hang uselessly by his sides. A second later however, with a guttural rumble coming low from his chest, he deepened the kiss, wound his hands around Hermione's waist and effortlessly lifted her from the ground. Pressing the witch tightly to him and not breaking contact with her lips, he briskly walked through the magically opened door and disappeared inside the house. Poor, forgotten Black trotted after his owner, dragging his leash with him.

Once inside, Severus gradually and rather reluctantly ended the kiss. Still keeping Hermione in his arms, with his nose buried in her hair, he hesitated, not quite knowing how to proceed. Well, he knew what he craved! His body boldly demonstrated as much, and Severus was certain that Hermione could feel it quite well. However, he was ready to dash his needs and wants at the slightest indication of protest from her. For a while, he just stood there, in the corridor, hugging the witch and feeling that a giant rift in his self-control widened with every second.

"Hermione," he whispered eventually and drew back just a fraction of an inch. Even that minuscule gap between them roused a furious, antagonistic reaction from the erection in his groin, and the sight of her flushed face and red lips didn't help at all.

Inwardly groaning, Severus repeated, "Hermione?" and tried, though half-heartedly, to untangle himself.

That move earned him a heated hiss from the woman in his arms. "Don't you dare bungle this now, Severus Snape!" The feisty witch clasped her fingers around his neck, looped her legs over his hips and pressed her smouldering centre right to the most defiant part of his anatomy. Lightly grazing his neck with her mouth and teeth, she whispered, "All this time, unconsciously, I sought this, wanted this. I waited for this, Severus, for this feeling. Poor Ron," she sighed, "he never stood a chance, did he? And how could he, really?"

She focused her eyes on him and said, "Kiss me, Severus. I won't run this time, I promise."

What was the wizard to do? Who was he to argue when the witch who had occupied his thoughts for so bloody long asked that of him? He surprised himself by the vigour with which he attacked her mouth. He pressed her against the wall in his tiny, pathetic foyer and ravished her lips as thoroughly as only the Potions master could do.

Soon, the need for the optimal horizontal position became apparent, and Severus, breathless and euphoric, took her to his bed. Unwrapping his long-awaited gift, his Miss Granger, he savoured the warm softness of her smooth skin and her perfectly rounded breasts as he worshipped them with fervent touches. He licked, nibbled, and grazed his teeth over her tender flesh, marvelling in the little noises of pleasure his witch emitted under his ministrations.

When he gently inserted one probing finger between her damp curls, he found her deliciously wet and ready for him. The fact that she desired him just as much as he desired her nearly undid Severus. There was nothing more alluring than her eager willingness. "Fuck," muttered the wizard and began to hastily remove his clothing. The stupid tie and belt that his Slytherins made him wear hindered the process, and he was forced to swear a few more times before he managed to undress. Finally naked, he once again dragged his burning gaze over the gloriously nude witch.

She was watching him with an expression of such high expectation on her face that Severus found it somewhat disconcerting. Merlin, bolted through his head. What if I fall short of the mark? He was hardly an expert in intimacy, his experience in that particular field being rather scarce. A sudden wave of nervousness got a hold of him, and he hesitated for s few long moments. However, when Hermione wantonly opened her legs for him, shaping a perfect 'm' and whispered, "Please, Severus, please," biting her lips impatiently and beckoning him, he forgot all his doubts and insecurities. His mind and body were focused on only one task – animalistic urge to claim.

He muttered "Fuck" again, which for once was exceptionally fitting for the situation, positioned himself between her parted thighs and drove himself up to the hilt into her scorching heat.

All in all, it would be safe to say that Severus' concerns proved to be unfounded. He did manage to satisfy his witch more than once before he found his own completion, buried deep inside her velvety sheath. That fact brought a feeling of smugness that engulfed him in its comforting sense of contentment, and the wizard spooned the sleeping witch, buried his enormous nose into her curls and drifted off with a slightly goofy smile playing on his lips.

Next morning, Black, who by that time had managed to free himself from the leash, woke him up at six just as usual, Hermione was still there in Severus' bed, confirming by her presence that everything that had transpired between them the night before was indeed real. With a slight smile, he noted that, against all mathematical laws, his slumbering Miss Granger managed to occupy the major part of his bed, and surprisingly, he didn't object in the slightest. Moreover, she was still there when the wizard and the dog came back from their morning stroll in the park, solidifying the beginning of a new era in his life.

By the time the witch awoke, a fresh baguette and a newly brewed pot of Earl Grey waited for her, along with the freshly showered and extremely contented Severus Snape.

Epilogue

Hermione moved in with him three months later. It took Severus a year to work up the nerve to ask the witch to marry him. When at last, after a long talk with Black during their usual morning promenade, the wizard did propose, Hermione simply said "of course". These two little words made Severus Snape the happiest wizard in London and maybe in all bloody Britain as well.

Not daring to waste precious time and test fate, Severus took Hermione to the Ministry the very next day, where a slightly grumpy Ministry clerk declared their union official. Hermione Granger became Hermione Snape. To celebrate, they went to a little Italian restaurant, which had been opened that year by none other than Blaise Zabini. His Slytherin crew was present at the celebration, as well as Harry Potter. After all, Harry was Hermione's best friend, so Severus had to learn to tolerate him. To be honest, the wizard himself thought that it was a remarkably small price to pay. He was even willing to endure the Weasley clan, though still only on special, and preferably rare, occasions.

What surprised Severus the most was that Hermione and Pansy Parkinson managed to find many similarities and eventually became close friends. Severus did question Miss Parkinson's influence at times, though. For instance, he never understood the necessity of a second piercing in Hermione's left ear. He wisely chose not to voice his opinion on the matter, however, as he always did remember Pansy's role in his current state of absolute marital bliss.

Well, almost absolute. Because lately, Severus had come to think that Black could use company, someone to play with perhaps. The wizard just needed to find the right moment to subtly suggest to his wife that it was time to start thinking about Snape junior.

The end

* Eminem/Cinderella Man