Sunlight poured through the window of the almost deserted library. Severus had been sitting for some time, book forgotten, watching Professor Granger coax a few of her students through some last minute revisions before their Charms exam.
After the children left, she leant back in her chair and lifted her arms into an arcing stretch. Unaware of observation, she reached up and released her hair, pin by pin, from its harsh bun. The tawny mass rippled down her back. She massaged at her scalp, moaning softly. He stood abruptly, the rustling of his robes made her turn to face him.
She smiled up at him, confused at his expression.
Then she remembered that her hair was unbound and probably frizzing around her like a mad thing. Flushing, she turned back to the desk, reached for her pins and started to bundle her hair back into its confinement.
'No, wait, please,' his voice was soft as he moved towards her, hypnotised it seemed by the thick curtain of hair that now framed her face.
Its deep amber colour and the ropelike twists of curls remined him of the barley sugar canes that he had loved so when he was a boy.
How would it smell he wondered? Would it have that same sweet, honey citrus tang?
Slowly he reached out and wound a silken lock around his finger.
The air heated and thickened against her skin. His face, always impassive, gave nothing away, but the intensity in his eyes held her as effectively as if she had been Imperiused. He dropped his head as he lifted the curl to his face and sniffed delicately, then he closed his eyes in mute appreciation.
The library and all its tomes could have fallen about them, she would not have noticed or cared.
His eyes opened once more and he rose to his full height.
'Forgive me,' he murmured. 'I had to know, and it was…delicious.'
He reached round her and lifted one of the discarded pins. With a whispered word, it transformed into a slim ebony wand – glossy and satin smooth to touch. He placed his hands on her shoulders and wordlessly he turned her.
Smoothing his fingers down her hair, he lifted it, appreciating its length and heft. Then, with a deft twist, he captured it against her scalp and speared the hairstick through the pleat in one smooth move.
'Better,' he said as he turned her back to face him once more.
'Do not constrict your hair so tightly,' he murmured. 'You will get headaches.'
He tapped the end of her nose gently, amusement colouring his tones. 'Don't look so stunned girl. I am no longer a monster.'
She later realised that she had ceased to breathe while his hands were on her, absorbed as she was by the fragmenting of her senses and utter obliteration of her thoughts.
'Thank you,' she whispered, shakily.
He bowed slightly, smiled at her with surprising sweetess and strode away.
She fell to thinking…eventually.
The next evening, he found the ebony wand on his desk. Rejection twisted his gut before it was unravelled by the tug behind his navel. He landed in her quarters.
She sat before the fire. Her bare feet, tucked underneath her pearl grey robe and her tumultuous curls were tumbled almost to her waist. She stared pensively at him and against her lips she tapped the original ebony wand.
She smiled at him and he felt his heart pick up speed.
'Please Severus. Show me again what you did with my hair. I can't quite get the hang of it.'