The water looked deep and inviting. Hermione kicked her sandals off her feet as she twisted her hair up into a pile on the top of her head. Dipping one toe into the lake, she sighed happily. The water felt perfect and cool on such a hot summer day! Seeing Ron and Harry out in the middle of the pond, she returned their wave.
Quickly setting down her towel and bag under the shade of a large tree, Hermione dug out her sunscreen and hurriedly began to undo the buttons on her cover-up. She had started to sweat during the short walk from the castle to the edge of the lake. She greeted Seamus and Dean, who had already changed and were headed out into the lake.
It was the end of June, and Hogwarts was full of activity. Beginning July first, an eight-week intensive course was being offered to all students on account of their last year of school being disrupted by the war. That way, no students would have to fall behind, and they could all pick up their next year of classes as scheduled. Hermione thought it was a brilliant move by Professor – no, Headmistress – McGonagall, and she was more than a little pleased that she had been the one to suggest to her beloved professor that the castle open its doors all summer long to any misplaced or orphaned students.
As a result, Hogwarts had been a hub of activity following the final battle. Any student wishing to stay on merely had to agree to help with the rebuilding efforts, and the repairs to the west side of the castle were coming along quickly. Even those students whose families hadn't been affected were known to pop in from time to time, visiting with their friends and helping to restore their second home.
Shading her eyes, Hermione looked out to the middle of the lake, where Harry and Ron were now talking animatedly with Seamus and Dean. She smiled as they waved at her again. Harry was staying with the Weasleys for an indeterminate amount of time – probably forever, if the ring she'd spied in his school trunk was meant for the youngest Weasley like she thought it was. Smirking, Hermione reminded herself to tell Ginny that she might want to make sure her fingernails were presentable for the foreseeable future.
In any case, the boys usually showed up at the castle around mid-morning each day, after a hearty Molly Weasley breakfast. They then lounged around in the Great Hall until someone – usually Hermione – coerced them into assisting someone elsewhere in the castle. They would break for lunch, and a nap, and then it would be time to head back to the Burrow for dinner. In short: they were fairly useless when it came to any sort of construction spellwork, but their presence at least seemed to buoy everyone's spirits.
Waving her wand to slather the sunscreen on every bit of exposed skin, Hermione did her best to keep from hopping from foot to foot while she waited. The glittering water was drawing her stronger than a physical pull, and she couldn't wait to join the others. She quickly counted about thirty students out for a swim. It was so good to see everyone looking mostly healthy and happy again!
Finally, her sunscreen application complete, Hermione rushed towards the water's edge. She noticed that the boys were waving to her, again. "I'm coming!" she yelled to them as she waved back. Wading into the shallows at the edge of the lake, Hermione released a large sigh of happiness. It was truly a glorious day: the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the water felt perfect, her friends were all around her.
She continued deeper into the water, oohing and aahing as the pleasant coolness crept higher and higher up her body. She was knee-deep... waist-deep... As she moved to dive under the surface of the water, she saw Harry and Ron's frantic waving. Seamus and Dean turned to look at her, and they, too, started flailing their arms above their heads.
"Hold your hippogriffs," she muttered under her breath. Honestly, what had gotten into them? Didn't they see that she was headed out to meet them? Striking out in a quick and efficient breaststroke, Hermione moved towards them. Once she had gotten a little further from the shallower part of the lake, she took a deep breath and submerged herself.
As her head broke the surface of the water near the boys, her first thought was that she had been hit with a Petrificus Totalus. Almost immediately after that thought, Hermione's logic kicked in, and she realized that she could in fact still move her limbs and body. But something was wrong. It was as though the water had frozen, holding her in place.
"Bloody hell, there goes our chance at getting out of here," Ron muttered.
"Didn't you see us telling you not to come in?" Harry asked, agitated.
Hermione bristled. "All I saw was the lot of you waving like buffoons," she replied. "What's happened, anyway?"
"We're not sure," Harry answered, seeming to let his irritation go for the moment. "We came out here first, and when we swam out into the middle, we got stuck. We've been trying to warn people, but the beach is too far away for our voices to carry."
"Hmm," was all Hermione said. She was testing her range of motion, and it really was most peculiar. She could still move naturally in any way she wished – she just couldn't go anywhere. The water in this area of the pond was extremely viscous, almost like caramel. It was supporting her, though, so she didn't have to tread water to keep herself afloat. If one ignored the fact that they were most definitely trapped, it could almost be pleasant.
"Oh great, here comes Lavender and the girls!" Seamus moaned. "Quick, we've got to get them to go get help!" They all started to yell and wave their arms at the girls, but to no avail – like Hermione, the girls clearly thought they were just waving them in, and in a matter of minutes, their group had expanded.
"Son of a bludger!" Ginny cursed as she joined them. Hermione just laughed. The entire situation was ridiculous, really – forty students stuck in the middle of the lake with no apparent way out. They must make an amusing sight.
"I wonder why it's only the water in the middle?" Hermione mused.
"Who cares? We're going to die out here!" Ron had the same panicked look in his eyes as the night they'd been caught in the Devil's Snare.
"Oh, honestly, Ronald, it's going to be fine," Hermione said. She reached below the surface of the water and pulled out her wand. They all turned to stare at her.
"I don't even want to know where you've been keeping that," Ron said weakly.
"Did you learn nothing from last year?" asked Hermione, exasperated. "You should always keep a wand on you, even when you're swimming!" She ignored the various eye rolls and muttered comments that followed this statement.
Firing off her Patronus to alert Headmistress McGonagall of their predicament, there was nothing else to do but wait. It seemed that most of the other students had, like her, realized that it was futile to try and extricate themselves, so many of them were smiling and talking to the other people around them. Overall, it was quite a jolly atmosphere, this odd party in the middle of the lake.
Suddenly, the doors to the castle burst open with a bang so loud that it resonated all the way down to where they were trapped. Everyone looked up, mystified, as Professor Snape sprinted down the hill. He was halfway to the lake before McGonagall and Flitwick could be spotted exiting the castle at a much more leisurely pace.
But Snape kept running, not even stopping when he reached the edge of the water. He did not stop to remove his robes before throwing himself head-first into the lake and swimming at a shocking speed towards them.
"Blimey, what's with him?" Ron asked nervously.
"No idea," Harry said, sounding as confused as they all felt.
As Snape drew closer, they all shook themselves out of their befuddlement and started yelling at him to stop, but either he couldn't hear them or he was choosing to ignore them. Intrigued, Hermione watched his black form slice through the water like it was second nature to him. Her intellectual side noted that the boundary of the stickiness must not extend terribly far, as Snape was still managing to move forward with ease.
He inhaled deeply before plunging under the water and shooting over to them, popping up almost precisely underneath Hermione.
"Hermione, don't worry, I've got you, just grab on!" he cried as he took her arms and roughly wrapped them around his waist. "Just hold on to me and try not to panic! I'm going to tow you back to shore!"
Amused, Hermione merely remained still, waiting for the reality of their predicament to hit him. Professor Snape was struggling mightily, trying to swim back towards shore with Hermione attached to him. After a few useless attempts at swimming forward, his motions slowed, and he looked down at the water.
"What-" he started.
"There's something wrong with the water," Hermione explained. "We're trapped out here." She used as few words as possible so that he would not become overwhelmed and panicky.
"You're not- you aren't drowning?" he asked.
Trying to bite back her smile – he was adorably confused – Hermione shook her head. "Not drowning," she confirmed.
Professor Snape peered down at her before letting his eyes rove over the other students adrift in the lake. Then his shoulders straightened and a faint blush suffused his cheeks. "Very well then. No one here is drowning. That makes matters much less complicated."
Losing her battle, a small grin escaped her. "We're now short one rescuer, though, I'm afraid," she said, unable to stop herself from teasing him a bit.
Scowling, he looked to where McGonagall and Flitwick were now consulting with Hagrid at the edge of the lake. "Minerva merely stated that you had sent your Patronus to inform her that you were in trouble in the lake," he said stiffly. "Naturally, I assumed-"
"That I couldn't swim?" she finished for him. The tightening of his lips confirmed his assumption.
He was quite a sight to behold: dripping wet, in his full teaching robes, consternation and embarrassment written all over his features. Hermione couldn't help but laugh.
"As you can see, we're all perfectly fine, just stuck," she said. "But I do thank you for your valiant efforts, Professor – that was very nice of you." If she thought it peculiar that he'd come straight for her, well, who was she to complain?
His scowl deepened, and he made to cross his arms over his chest. It was then they both realized that Hermione still had her arms around his waist. Dropping them immediately, Hermione felt her cheeks heat. There was no way around it, though – Snape had come through the surface of the water so close to her that they couldn't help but be pressed together. He seemed to realize this at the same moment she did because he made a strange twisting motion to put some space between them. Unfortunately, this only rubbed some interesting parts of him against her bikini-clad hip, and Hermione was immensely grateful for the cool water to keep her from going up in flames.
Professor Snape made a funny sort of gasping cough sound and closed his eyes briefly. When he opened them, he looked everywhere but at Hermione.
"Right. Did anyone cast any sort of spell on the lake today?" he called out to the students. They all shook their heads.
"Professor, if I may? It seems that the sticky water is only located here, in the middle, because we were all able to swim out this far with no resistance. Additionally, it only seems to hold you in place once you've gone under and resurfaced..." She trailed off at his look of exasperation.
"Yes, Miss Granger, that much is apparent," he sneered.
She huffed. "Well, you may as well enjoy yourself until McGonagall and Flitwick figure out how to undo it," she retorted. She attempted to turn herself around to fully face Ron and Harry again, but Professor Snape moved at the same moment and his leg ended up insinuated between her own.
"Oh!" she gasped. Harry and Ron gave her questioning looks, but she just shrugged, thankful that the water was opaque. Cheeks flaming now, she moved bit by infinitesimal bit to try and untangle their legs, but Professor Snape stopped her with two hands on her waist.
"I suggest you stop wriggling around," he hissed in her ear so that only she could hear him. "If you're trying to torture me, I must tell you that I find it rather delightful, instead."
Hermione stopped moving and melted, quite bonelessly, backwards against Professor Snape's chest, her head filled with a pleasant buzzing. This could not be happening! She was pressed, shoulder to knee, against her sullen Potions professor. And she liked it. And more importantly – he liked it!
His thumbs began to stroke slow circles over her bare waist, and Hermione worried that she would pass out. The boys had turned to the not-very-helpful discussion of what spells might have been used on the lake, but Hermione was hardly paying attention. The tails of Professor Snape's robes were floating in the water all around them, sensually brushing against her sensitized skin.
Hermione shuddered, all her nerve endings on fire. Her bottom was cradled in Professor Snape's lap, and one of his arms had wrapped itself firmly around her waist while the other hand had gone exploring down her leg. It took all her strength of will not to moan out loud or do something else to give them away – like spin around and kiss him. No, that would never do – it would make their situation rather painfully obvious to the numerous observers.
Her hands crept down until they were gripping his thighs, and she wriggled herself backwards experimentally. Other than a sharp intake of breath, Professor Snape made no other sound. Hermione contemplated the best way to touch more of him without anyone seeing. Just then, however, a drop of cool lake water fell from the ends of Professor Snape's hair to land on her shoulder. Goosebumps sprung up all over her body, and they both watched as the droplet rolled sinuously down into her cleavage. Hermione couldn't contain her moan anymore-
Luckily, it was at that moment that the water released them, and Hermione's cry of pleasure was absorbed by the multiple splashing sounds as everyone fell deeper into the lake. Spluttering, she surged upwards, looking around. Ron was already halfway back to land, apparently afraid to hang around and see if the spell snared him again. Most of the other students were paddling back at a more leisurely pace, although she heard Seamus and Dean pleading with Lavender and Parvati to stay and swim some more.
Glancing uncertainly at Professor Snape, Hermione was relieved when he merely cocked one eyebrow up at her and gestured for her to swim back ahead of him. As they climbed out of the water, McGonagall and Flitwick came hurrying over.
"Severus! Hermione! Are you alright?" the Headmistress asked them.
"Yes, Professor, we're fine," Hermione answered. "Thank you for coming to rescue us!"
"Not a problem, my dear, not a problem!" Flitwick squeaked.
"We believe that the Death Eaters bewitched the lake during the final battle in the event that anyone tried to escape that way," McGonagall explained.
"Took you long enough to figure that out," Professor Snape muttered.
"Excuse me?" McGonagall was looking at him, flabbergasted. "Are you saying you knew what was wrong that whole time and you didn't-"
"I figured it out once I was stuck there," Professor Snape interrupted her. "But I didn't have a wand, and thus had no means of communicating that information to you."
"Oh, why didn't you say so?" Hermione spoke up. "I had my wand!" She brandished it needlessly in front of them.
"Did you?" he asked in a bored tone. Hermione narrowed her eyes – it almost sounded like he'd realized that the whole time. "There was no hurry to leave the lake once I realized it was safe, was there?" he asked. Hermione's cheeks flushed as his eyes caught hers and they both remembered exactly why he hadn't been concerned about getting out. "Since you mention your wand, Miss Granger, I wonder if you would be so kind as to use it to dry my robes?"
"Of- of course," she stammered, confused by his sudden change of attitude. She raised her wand to cast the spell, but Professor Snape shook his head slightly and she paused.
"Minerva, I believe Mr. Potter requires your assistance," Professor Snape drawled. Hermione looked and indeed, Harry was currently trying to fend off the sloppily enthusiastic hugs of half the Weasley family. It seemed that they had somehow gotten wind of the situation at the school and come immediately. Molly was showering Ron and Ginny with alternating hugs and chastisements – as though they'd had any control over getting trapped in the lake! Giggling, Hermione looked back to see McGonagall and Flitwick hurrying over to calm the redheaded clan.
"Shall we?" Professor Snape indicated the door to the tiny boathouse near where they were standing. "I confess I am quite eager to be rid of my wet clothing." His eyes bored into hers with an intensity that made her heart stop and then restart erratically.
"Yes, please!" was all she could manage as she rushed towards the secluded boathouse, grinning widely. She never thought she'd see the day where she thanked an unknown Death Eater, but this afternoon she found herself quite grateful, indeed!
A/N: A little bit of fluff written for the wonderful WeasleySeeker's One Line competition on HPFC. The competition was to write a story - any story - based around one line...the catch was that ALL entries had to start with the SAME sentence: "The water looked deep and inviting." My brain automatically went to 'how can I get Hermione in a swimsuit, pressed up against Severus Snape?' And this is what happened, haha. I hope you enjoy it. Unfortunately, despite what your friends may have told you, I am NOT JK Rowling or her publishers.