When All Else Fails, Seek Professional Help
"When all else fails, seek professional help." - Mum and Dad Granger
Few things ever truly surprised Severus Snape:
Recovering from the bite from Nagini;
Not being thrown into Azkaban after the war;
The (overly-done) fuss brought about by the grand opening of his apothecary;The fact that four years later, the stream of customers never dwindled; and now this—
A highly glamoured Hermione Granger, the owner of his main competiton, roving the aisles of his store.
Ticking off the list, he believed that he had his list accurate and now up-to-date.
The way the honey-amber sun stretched down the street, but not directly into his large windows (which would be a detriment to the potency of most all of his magical wares and concoctions), Severus knew that it was almost closing time, and his two "customers" were obviously stalling.
The young, the portly, well-dressed though unkempt man had obviously come in after her, possibly hoping for a moment alone to chat her up. Severus knew that the sweating, odoriferous pig had no chance. Sneaking up for a closer look, Severus peered down his nose at the man and grumbled quietly. A flicker of recognition crossed Severus' mind, realizing that he'd taught this man at some point, though the name he didn't bother to recollect.
Pinned beneath the glare of his former professor, the young man let out a small yip as he bustled out the door after realizing he had been caught gawking at the beautiful woman in the next aisle.
This Glamoured version of Granger was so wrapped up in the last aisle that she failed to notice that she was the object of the portly man's scrutiny earlier, nor did she notice that she was now the only patron in his shop.
Her appearance inspired the question of 'what in hell is she doing in HIS apothecary when she already owned her own?'
So Severus did what any Potion's Master, ex-spy, and shop-owner would do... He watched her like a hawk in order to surmise her altered appearance and motives.
Severus tidied what little he had to, since his shop was always kept pristine. It was a fact of great pride for him. He noticed a few finger smudges on the jars as he adjusted the ones set askew by his patrons. He swiped them clean with a soft cloth, and finally worked his way to the front door. With his wand, he warded the door and flipped the sign from 'open' to 'closed' silently. Lastly, he drew the shades down low. All this he did undetected by his sole 'customer'.
Stepping behind the counter again, he watched her profile unobstructed. Her eyes hesitated on the third shelf, closest to the window.
He watched as Hermione bit her lower lip, obviously forgetting herself until the utter lack of noise made her skin prickle-the unconscious response rousing her to come back to her senses and draw her from her thoughts.
She shivered, her head jerked up, and she caught him peering at her intensively.
When their gazes met, neither set of eyes averted. Although it felt excruciatingly intimate on both sides, neither one could quite break the gaze first.
Heat rose to her cheeks, and finally remembering why she was here in the first place. She broke the gaze first, riveting her gaze toward the row of buttons down his robes. Severus cleared his throat.
The moment her surname was spoken, her head swiveled almost comically, thinking he 'outed' her in public only to realize that they were completely alone, and even the window shades pulled three-quarters down.
He stalked around the counter and slowly made his way to her side-the softness of voice he used in saying her name worked in direct opposition to his dangerously preditorial fluidity as he moved in close.
She slipped her glamour off like a silk garment knowing the ruse was for not. Her own cheeks were ablaze in fiery embarassment. She couldn't believe that she'd been so inattentive to her surroundings, and that all of her precautions failed to shroud her identity to the very man before her.
"How did you know?"
The sense of awe in her voice bespoke of how impressed she was with his ability to decipher who she was through her before-then thoroughly successful handiwork. Not even Harry recognized her when Glamoured this way.
Then she looked up to gaze into his eyes again.
Her personal-signature scent gave her away. Unbeknownst to her and long ago Severus swore to himself that he would have to be beaten and branded before he divulged to anyone that he could pinpoint her by smell. Every Ministry event they both attended, that scent sought him out, coaxing him like a siren to come to her. Every time, Severus felt himself getting bashed against the rocky shore of reality upon seeing her with that red-headed...
Her scent was one she must have created for herself, yet never sold to the general populace. Snape thanked some higher power, because had she marketed that perfume, it would be very bad for him indeed. That would remind him of only her constantly, and been akin to handing him a first-class ticket to madness.
"Tsk. Tsk. I will not share that tidbit at this moment. Also, I believe I'm the one in the position to ask questions at this moment."
Her pout deepened at his response, disappointed that she underestimated him.
Severus made a grand effort to glance at a shelf he memorized within hours of setting his shop up for business years prior. His sense of pride only grew. Grinning, he looked down at her, "And why are you so intensively studying what I call the 'marital aid' section of my apothecary? Are you looking to price-fix? Did you miss a possible sales opportunity in your store which had you, in turn, 'case the competition' to steal my ideas? Looking to do some corporate espionage? Please enlighten me." With each question, he watched her redden and sputter like a tea-kettle left on the burner too high and for too long.
Severus noted how she shivered with rage at his insinuations, yet she kept her mouth shut. Closing her eyes and breathing in deeply through her nose, she blew the air out of her mouth; waves of sweet, peppermint-scented air floated past him, almost making him forget that he just threw some nasty accusations her way.
When her golden-flinted brown eyes redirected their gaze into his, she quietly whispered in the very close confines between his body and hers, "Severus, I hate to do this to you, but I need your help."
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A/n: This story is dedicated to a very special friend, GothicTemptress, who is my sister in spirit. Since she was the one who guided me to drink from the waters of fanfiction (over a decade of yummy fanfic goodness), I wanted to thank her for such a precious gift. She is such a talented writer, and if you haven't taken a swim in her fanfiction I suggest you do so. Sip from her literary fount, you'll be glad you did.
GT, I love you as my friend and family (you are the family I got to choose!), and in fanfiction, you have the highest fangirly "squee" I can produce.