AN: This little one-shot was written as a drabble prize for Christev for the sshg_exchange Bingo. Prompts: snow, accident, Legilimency. Any mistakes are my own. I post as Madeleone on LJ where this was orginally posted at the One_Bad_ Man comm.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I make no money here.
Hermione laughed and squealed as she ducked and ran, trying to avoid the flying projectiles being flung her way. At the same time she was trying to get off a few shots herself at Draco and Neville, who had ganged up on her. The late spring snowstorm had taken everyone by surprise, dumping more than a foot of heavy, wet snow on Hogwarts. In an even more unexpected turn of events, the Headmaster himself had canceled classes for the entire day. Hermione, Neville, and Draco, as the youngest professors on staff, were stuck with the job of supervising the students as they frolicked in the snow.
The snowball fight between the three of them had developed after they'd shooed their charges back to the castle. The three were bringing up the rear, and making sure there were no stragglers left behind, when Hermione pelted Draco with a sloppy wet snowball. Not to be outdone, he had hurled one back at her. Neville found the whole scene hilarious until Hermione hit him square in the chest with one too. Neville was quick to join forces with Draco against her. Then it was all out war.
Hermione made it nearly all the way to the castle before turning to see where her pursuers were. Seeing neither of them, she quickly formed an armful of snowballs, ready to attack. Hearing a noise behind her, she assumed that the boys had somehow circled around. She spun suddenly and using her wand she released the volley of snowballs, one after the other.
"Oh, shit! No!" Hermione cried. Her gloved hand clapped over her mouth and her eyes grew huge as she watched in horror. Her snowballs hit their target with such force that he was knocked back a step, causing him to slip on a bit of ice on the path. He went down like the proverbial 'ton of bricks' and lay motionless on the ground.
Just at that moment Draco and Neville ran up and stared in disbelief.
"Holy hell, Hermione! What have you done?" gasped Neville.
"I think... I think I may have killed the Headmaster!"
Hermione sat by his bedside in the infirmary. Madame Pomfrey had checked the Headmaster over and determined that he was going to be alright. He'd taken quite a knock on the head, but she said he had the hardest head of any man she'd ever known and he would survive; he just needed a good nights rest. She tried to send Hermione away, but she'd refused to leave.
So, Madame Pomfrey declared there was no sense in both of them losing a nights sleep. She gave Hermione instructions and left potions to give him if he happened to wake up and she went off to her bed.
He looked so still and so vulnerable. In spite of the matron's assurances, Hermione was terrified. What if he never woke up? Head injuries were touchy, what if he went into a coma? He'd survived so much: being a Death Eater, two wars, being a spy, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Cruciatus Curses, a horrible year as Headmaster, Nagini's attack, another five—hopefully not as horrible—years as Headmaster, and now he'd been done in by his Arithmancy professor, a bunch of snowballs, and a patch of ice. It was all her fault!
Hermione touched his hand, it felt warm. That was good, she thought. Placing her hand palm to palm with his, she twined their fingers together. Leaning forward she braced her elbow on the bed and rubbed the back of his hand against her cheek. "Please, don't die, Severus. Please," she begged, as she gave in and let the tears stream down her cheeks.
When Severus woke up, he swore his head was the size of one of Hagrid's prized pumpkins and he felt as if he'd been beaten with a Quidditch bat. There was also a weight on his chest and his hand was tangled in something thick and viney. He cracked his eyes open a bit and found his fingers were threaded through the wildly curling locks of Hermione Granger, and the weight on his chest was her head. Brushing her hair back off her face he could see that she had been crying. She certainly didn't look very comfortable in that position she was in. Her bum was perched on the edge of a chair and the rest of her body leaned awkwardly across the bed. He tried to lift his head and groaned as pain blossomed across the back of his skull.
Hermione jerked awake with a snort. "Whut! Where? Oh, Severus... you're awake, thank Merlin! That is... err... I mean Professor... err... Headmaster Snape, sir."
Uhhh... My head. What happened?"
"It was an accident, sir. I swear it was."
"What was an accident?"
Coming fully awake she realized he needed the potions Madame Pomfrey had left. Once she'd given them to him, his pain eased considerably. He took a long drink of water, and then he asked again, "What was an accident, Granger?"
"Oh... uh...You don't remember?"
He shook his head and winced slightly at the movement.
"Well, sir. You slipped on a patch of ice and hit your head," she said, matter of factly.
"Yes, we had a freak snowstorm. You canceled classes. Draco, Neville and I were assigned to supervise the students who wanted to spend the afternoon outside. We were on our way in and I guess you were coming out to check on us. Anyway, you...umm... came down the steps at the front entrance and slipped on some ice."
"I slipped?" He sounded skeptical. He noticed that her eyes would not meet his. She seemed to be looking everywhere but at him.
Catching her chin with the tip of his finger he turned her face up toward him. "You know if you persist in lying to me, I can always resort to Legilimency," he threatened.
Hermione gasped, and with a blush tried to avert her eyes, as if she feared that very thing. Severus refused to release his grip on her, so the best she could do was gaze downward, her dark eyelashes fanned against her cheek. He snorted and commented dryly, "I hardly meant right now, Professor Granger. With my head feeling as if it's about to explode any second, I would hardly be able to Legilimize a pygmy puff, much less my Arithmancy professor."
She made a quick glance up from beneath her lashes, then down again as if she dare not risk it.
"I assure you, Hermione, I will learn the truth eventually. You may as well give it up now."
Her voice came softly, hesitantly. "We were being childish, the three of us, throwing snowballs at each other. I ran ahead. I turned back to see where Draco and Neville were, and I heard a sound behind me. I thought they had managed to get around me and I used magic to throw all the snowballs I had at once. Only it wasn't the boys, it was you."
"You knocked me out with a snowball?" he asked incredulously.
"No," she said. "There were several, thrown in rapid succession. And they knocked you off balance. Although you really did slip on the ice; if I hadn't thrown the snowballs at you it never would have happened. It really was an accident. But still, it was totally my fault." Her eyes lifted from their downward gaze and looked into his. "I'm so sorry, Sever... umm... Headmaster. Can you ever forgive me?"
His thumb ran over her cheek, tracing the tracks of her tears. "Why were you crying? Afraid they were going to send you off to Azkaban for causing my death?"
To his surprise, her eyes suddenly welled up with tears again. "Don't say that," she begged as she hiccuped a sob and tried to blink back the tears. "Don't even think that. Madame Pomfrey said you would be fine; she claims your head is harder than the bedrock of this castle. But I was so very worried. I was scared out of my wits that I'd lost... err... I mean that we'd lost you. Oh, Severus!" She buried her face in her hands.
He had a glimmer of hope, but was almost afraid to believe it. He'd been having impure thoughts about his lovely Arithmancy professor for quite some time, for nearly two years, in fact. He'd been very careful, however, to treat her with the utmost courtesy in public; never revealing a hint that it was her name he cried out in the night, in the midst of his wildest fantasies. Could it be...? Had she been hiding an attraction for him as well?
Well, he decided, he could take a chance or continue with his cold, clinical facade. What's the worst that could happen? he asked himself. If worse comes to worse, I can always claim my actions were the result of my head injury.
Reaching out to pull her hands away, he cupped her face in his hands. "Hermione," he declared, gazing into her eyes. "What I am about to do is either the bravest thing I have ever done, or the most foolish."
Pulling her close to him he gently kissed her lips. When she didn't object, or run screaming into the night, he pulled back to look into her eyes. The look of wonder there, unmanned him. Had he been standing, he swore, it would have brought him to his knees.
Then she was kissing him, wildly. "Not foolish," she whispered, "not foolish at all."
They kissed for a bit and talked for a bit, then kissed some more. He was in no shape and it was much too soon for anything else, but oh, gods, he wished for more. She finally pulled away, saying that she should leave, he needed his rest.
"Don't go," he said, afraid that if she left he'd wake up to find it had all been a dream. Pulling back the covers, he scooted over saying, "Stay with me... lie with me. Just let me hold you."
With a shy smile, she slipped off her shoes and climbed into the bed to snuggle next to him.
He held her as she slept. He was nearly drifting off himself when he heard whispers from the other side of the privacy curtain.
"How is he doing?" asked Minerva.
"See for yourself," replied Poppy smugly.
"Ahhh..." sighed Minerva in satisfaction. "Finally!"
"It's about time, too," agreed Poppy.
"For two of the most intelligent people I know, they've both been a couple of idiots for far too long. Neither one could see what was so obvious to everyone else," said Minerva.
"I can hear you both; you interfering old biddies," Severus growled gruffly.
They both cackled with glee as they shuffled off to Poppy's office to gossip in private.
His arms tightened around Hermione possessively.
Perhaps she wasn't as sound asleep as he'd thought.
"Hmmm," She murmured. "The bravest idiot...errr... man, I've ever known."