AN: Yes, this was supposed to be a one shot…But it NEEDED something more.
Once again, it's rated M for a reason.
Severus despised the snow. He'd hated it since his first introduction to it as a small, half-frozen child and his opinion had not changed much in the forty years since.
So it was a rather odd thing, for him to be fussing with his cravat, wearing his frock coat and preparing to leave the castle despite the cold.
She was to blame of course. She'd returned to take her NEWTS and had never left, moving into Minerva's Transfiguration position like she was to the manor born. He found that they worked well enough together now that she was simply Professor Granger and not attached at the hip to the Ginger Nitwit or The-Boy-Who-Annoyed Severus. They got on so well in fact that the year and a half she'd spent married to the ginger idiot was still painful to think about, and not simply because it meant that one of the least annoying people of his acquaintance had been legally bound to one of the biggest dunderheads he'd ever encountered.
After six weeks of evenings spent round cozy fires (in his rooms and in hers) he had resolved to ask Hermione to accompany him on a proper date…the witch's speedy acceptance astonished him.
Thus he was debating whether the Slytherin green cravat was more inviting that his normal monochrome attire. He didn't for the life of him understand why, but the witch seemed to welcome his attentions, and he had every hope that he might kiss her goodnight when he walked her to her door this evening. Either that or she'd slap him silly, ending this rather ideal sojourn into some alternate universe where a brilliant, beautiful woman went out of her way to spend time with him for no reason at all that he could see.
A flash of orange in the mirror caught his eye as he debated.
He turned, only to discover that Hermione's half-kneezle had found his way into Severus' rooms…again. The creature seemed to be under the impression that because his mistress was welcome, that he was too.
"Back again?" The feline made no remark. "What do you think? The green cravat or the white?" It was strictly a rhetorical question, but the cat seemed to consider carefully. With a deliberate nod to the green he answered 'meeow'.
Severus grumbled as he untied the white. "I don't know what you think you know about clothing, as you seem to shed yours everywhere you go." He did a quick hair-removing spell (orange hairs had attached themselves to his black clothing without the beast even touching him.) He tied the green cravat, and looked in the mirror. It looked off. He reached for the white but the cat suddenly jumped from his perch on Severus' favorite chair and snatched it away.
"Blasted beast!" He reached for his wand and shot a quick accio at the wretched creature…
Too quick. The summoning charm brought not only the cat, but several potions he had made earlier for the hospital wing…the phials collided and a thick cloud of purple smoke enveloped the room. Severus lurched for the window, aiming for the latch…
He was quite dizzy when the thrice-damned cat woke him by attempting to wash his face. He pushed it away, hearing frantic knocking as he stumbled for the door.
"Severus?" Hermione looked more worried than angry. She coughed as the fumes hit her. "Merlin, what happened?"
"Your kneezle and I got into an argument over which cravat I should choose." He looked down and noted the green was still around his neck. "I think the cat won."
She looked at him with concern. "I'll go get Poppy."
"No…just let me close my window and we can leave." He glanced at the clock. If they didn't hurry they'd be late for their dinner reservation.
Hermione followed him into his bedroom. These were hardly the circumstances that's he imagined during the rare times he'd allowed himself to picture her in his bedroom. He waved his wand at the broken bottles and sent the remaining fumes through the window.
"Much better. What was that?"
"Three brews which should never be mixed obviously…" He looked at the shelf. "It looks like it was a headache potion, a pepper-up, and a draught of living death."
"Dare I ask why you have a draught of living death in your medicine cabinet?"
He smirked. "In case I need to dose unwelcome visitors." No need to tell her it was for the hospital wing.
She rolled her eyes.
He picked up his thick outer robes and took her cloak out of her hands and swirled it over her shoulders. She looked quite fetching in her green dress robes and her white cloak. Like a queen.
He couldn't bring himself to phrase it quite that way to her of course. "That color is flattering on you."
She dimpled slightly. "Thank you."
Was there any chance she'd bought the robes with him in mind? Two inches of golden embroidery circled the neckline, met between her breasts and ran down the length of the dress. Slytherin green combined with gold. It might be a subtle (for a Gryffindor) message…or a complete accident.
Severus tore his eyes away from her shapely form and tried to latch the window. Unfortunately, a flash of spellwork and a loud shout caught his attention.
It was fairly dark, but he was certain that Neville Longbottom was fighting a giant tigerlilly with claws and teeth.
He turned and saw that Hermione had noticed it too.
There goes dinner.
They raced outside, only to find Luna Lovegood Longbottom and her husband, Neville, battling a horde of twisting stems and thorns…and flowers with teeth.
Severus shot a couple of reductor curses to drive them back, as Hermione fired a powerful stunner at the roaring tigerlilly. "Longbottom! What happened?"
Neville fired a non-verbal lime-green curse at a group of daisies that were using their roots like whips. "One of my seventh years was doing independent study with a batch of fertilizer…" He ducked as the root popped where his head had been, then fired a bombardo. "It succeeded in the sense that he did make the plants larger and hearty enough to survive even freezing temperatures."
Severus fired a cutting curse at a particularly aggressive violet. "Indeed."
Hagrid came bounding up with a large watering can. "Here. That should give 'em something to chew on."
Luna took the can and thanked him sweetly. Then, with a swish and flick, she levitated the contents over the seething mass of homicidal flora.
The flowers let out a wail and began to revert to their original forms, then whither into brown, sodden lumps.
Hermione turned to the blond, who was watching the scene with perfect unconcern.
"What was that? Poison?"
"Hagrid's famous mock-turtle soup." Hermione caught Severus' eye and they tried not to smile. The soup was famous all right…everyone in the castle dreaded being offered a bowl. Hagrid's choices of meat were always somewhat questionable…in a dish that traditionally used calf's brain the ingredient list when from dubious to indigestible.
Longbottom wiped his brow with his handkerchief and succeeded mainly in rearranging the placement of the ash and soil that streaked his face. "Thanks for the help; we were having a bit of trouble holding them off."
Severus nodded and looked around for Hermione, who was standing with Luna and Hagrid.
The dreamy blond was rambling"…and then Slughorn came down with a corkscrew, he was looking for a hippogriff but of course there wasn't one in the house, not on that morning."
Hermione raised a brow.
"Is there generally?"
The blond turned her head and smiled serenely. "Never on Thursdays."
Severus rolled his eye and resolved not to think about the inner workings of Luna's mind….it was best not to dwell on it. He dusted the snow off his coat and turned to Hermione.
"I'm afraid we've missed our reservation."
Hermione looked rather disappointed. That couldn't be allowed. There was one option. He really hated to stoop to these methods, but he didn't want her to be upset. "You do know who owns the restaurant don't you?"
Hermione's eyes widened as she thought about it. "Oh, I hadn't considered that!"
"Quite, I'm sure we could get in." He was equally sure it would cost them an embarrassing moment or two of being fawned over by the owner, but her smile was worth it.
Severus offered her an arm after they tidied up. He was pleased to see that she'd left her hair down. She often wore it up in a severe bun. Despite the practicality of keeping her hair out of her face when she was busy, he found he much preferred seeing the riot of luxurious silky curls flying everywhere. Her hair was decadent.
A slide-along later, they were in Hogsmead outside a rather posh new establishment. There were not many five star dining establishments in the wizarding world. Traditionally those with the gold to afford eating at them were inclined to remain in their large manor houses to dine…but the end of the war had changed some things, and with more muggle-borns having access to not just decent livings in the wizarding world, but good livings…well there were new opportunities for businessmen as well.
They entered the restaurant and the maître d' scowled when they mentioned the reservation. "I'm afraid that we have a strict policy about reservations…"
Severus sighed. "I understand. Perhaps the owner is dining here tonight?" He undoubtedly was, he loved being at his restaurant with all the crème de la crème of the wizarding world. The little man looked closely at them, then glanced at their names again, eyes widening slightly as he realized who they were.
"Ah yes…it happens that he is dining here tonight. Perhaps..." He clapped twice and a young man appeared at his elbow. "Hattar, please show these guest to the owner's table for a moment while I arrange something."
While he put yet another illegal extension charm on the building and transfigured a table, if Severus' guess wasn't off.
They rounded the corner and came to a loud, boisterous gathering in a large alcove. The table bowed slightly under the weight of the food. Braised white rabbit, dancing lobster, and stuffed, roasted dormouse were a few of the delicacies that Severus recognized. Everything, from the oysters perfectly displayed on a triple tired platter, to the elf-made wine, everything was sumptuously prepared and presented.
Sitting in the middle of the group was Horace Slughorn, resplendent in a wine-colored jacket and gold waist coat. He was fatter and jollier than ever as he juggled three conversations and six plates without missing a beat.
"Severus! Hermione! I've been wondering when I'd be able to lure the two of you down from the castle!" He beamed fondly at them, introducing various ministry officials, Quidditch players, and a member of The Howlers…a wizarding band that Severus frankly wished he could hex for their overuse of the single chord they were acquainted with.
Severus noticed that though several of the fellows at the table eyed her with appreciation, Hermione remained firmly on his arm. Slughorn noticed this too as he slurped a dozen oysters and three glasses of wine in the fifteen minutes they chatted.
Severus nodded politely to their old colleague another young man led them to their table.
Once they were seated, wine ordered, Hermione said "That was almost as painful as taking on a blast-ended skrewt without a wand."
Severus automatically ducked his head to hide a grin, but the motion didn't fool the witch. She was beaming at him.
He opened the menu.
Hermione leaned close. "After Slughorn's display, I'm not inclined to start with oysters."
Severus leaned closer still and whispered conspiratorially, "After Slughorn's appetite, I doubt there are any left."
She laughed, eyes dancing.
They ordered: dinner was excellent, the service was quick and quiet, and they weren't disturbed by a single autograph hunter, photographer, or unhinged fan. By the time the tarts arrived, Severus was eyeing the room with suspicion.
"It's been my experience that when things seem to be going too well, something terrible is about to happen."
She grinned. "Pessimist. How is this going too well? Beginning the evening with a noxious cloud of purple potion fumes and homicidal plant life isn't enough for you?"
"When compared to the excellent company and conversation…no, those were minor issues, easily dispatched."
"I think there's a very sweet complement hidden somewhere in that sentence."
Severus allowed the corners of his mouth to twitch. "Sweet, me? Impossible."
She quirked an eyebrow. "We live in the wizarding world. Sometimes I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
She grinned at his obvious recognition. "Why Severus Snape, when did you ever read Muggle literature?"
Severus took a breath. "I read everything, but in this case he was a squib. Charles Dodgson was a scion of a very old pureblood house. The talking chess set didn't tip you off?"
"I suppose it should have…or the fact that his real middle name was Lutwidge."
"A tad unusual for a muggle."
His eyes were drawn inexorably to her wide smile, and focused (without his permission) on her lips.
And because of this he was distracted.
The calamity finally showed up.
A nasty hex hit the wall just above Severus' head. Seconds later, he was holding Hermione under the table and returning fire, upending the table and its contents to provide cover. He hit his attacker with a stunner. A black and white blur tackled the offender from behind and Severus rose, contemplating whether or not he could get away with murder under the current political climate.
Harry Potter was holding a clearly inebriated Ronald Weasley down while trying to apologize to Hermione.
"We heard you were here with Snape and he just took off like a mad man…I'm sorry Hermione…"
Severus snapped "It isn't you who should apologize, Potter."
Hermione was straightening her robes with a frown. "It isn't up to you to keep him from doing every impulsive, stupid thing that crosses his mind."
Ron, whose face was somewhat squished by the floor, tried to protest, but nobody paid him any mind.
Severus smiled evilly. "Oh please do let him up Mr. Potter."
Harry eyed him with blatant distrust. "I think someone will get hurt if I do."
Severus purred. "I almost guarantee it."
The boy-who-lived took Weasley's wand, knowing that Severus would never fire on an unarmed opponent…where witnesses could see him.
Harry hauled the drunken red-head to his feet and turned to Hermione.
"Again…sorry! Ginny and I will take Ron back to his flat to sleep it off…see you next week?"
Hermione nodded to her oldest friend.
She touched Severus' arm. "I'm sorry about that."
"I'm sorry that I only hit him with one hex."
She looked at the over-turned table.
"Well, I suppose lingering over our wine and tarts is a wash." She looked faintly disappointed.
The waiter looked appalled. Severus righted the mess with a flick of his wand.
He dealt with the check and the tips with discreet wand work behind Hermione's back.
The cloak-check wizard handed them their cloaks as they walked out. Severus tenderly wrapped Hermione's around her.
He sighed when he thought about the stories the gossip rags would be feverishly inventing after Weasley's infantile display.
"I'm afraid nothing is going to stop some of the patrons or staff from going to the papers."
She studied him cautiously. "Is that a problem?"
"Not for me…but you might prefer…"
"I prefer them to stay out of my business in general, but everyone who matters already knows that we are seeing each other. In the long run it hardly matters if the rest of the wizarding world knows or not." That announcement made him feel very strange; in another person he might call it giddy.
She stopped in the snowy lane and searched his face. "I know you are a very private man…"
"I simply don't relish the reaction…the incredulous exclamations, the stares, the knowing sneers…not to mention the insinuations that I must have slipped you a love potion…"
She shook her head and placed her cool fingers on his lips. She didn't say a word as she wrapped her hand around his neck and pulled his lips down to hers'.
The kiss quickly turned heated as fresh snow flurries fell. He allowed himself to sink into it. He felt himself flushing…no…that wasn't him…it must be the fire…wait…what fire?
He could smell her sweet breath as he opened his eyes. Odd…when did he become prone…he hadn't drunk that much wine at dinner…
"Severus, oh thank goodness!" He smirked about her use of the muggle phrase…and wondered how his head had gotten in her lap.
All of these questions were secondary to his desire to return to kissing her. So he moved off her lap and pulled the surprised witch down to his mouth.
If Hermione was shocked to find herself suddenly on top of him, her enthusiastic kissing was not effected in any way by this change in circumstances.
When they were both breathless he looked around. "How did we get back to my rooms?"
Hermione looked at him with some concern. "Severus, we never left." She brushed his hair from his forehead. "I came down and found you and Crookshanks passed out on the floor. It looked like you were trying to open a window…"
The faint memory returned. "But since my rooms are in the dungeon, my windows don't open…or show anything outside…"
She nodded, eyeing his pupils, quietly doing a diagnostic spell.
"I must have shown up right after you passed out. As soon as I dispelled that cloud of purple smoke Crooks bounded away, carrying something that looked suspiciously like your white cravat in his mouth." She ran her hands over the green cravat and smirked. "I suspect my familiar favored the green?"
Severus tried to make his head stop spinning. "Rather emphatically."
Hermione pulled his head back into her lap.
That was rather nice…rather nice indeed.
"But why would the kneezle be less effected by the potion?"
Hermione shrugged. He was somewhat distracted by his spinning head. And Hermione running her fingers through his hair. Mainly Hermione…
"The smoke seemed to be thickest around the ceiling…perhaps Crooks just didn't get as strong a dose…"
As long as she kept running her hands over his hair, across his cheekbones, down his neck…he couldn't possibly care less what brought him to this position.
She leaned close to his ear, bringing her tempting breasts far too close (but too far away). "I'm afraid we're going to miss our dinner reservation."
He frowned. He thought about his dream…or hallucination, or whatever it was.
He looked into her eyes and decided: Even if he had to battle a horde of rosebushes, watch Slughorn's gluttony, and hex Weasley, having dinner with her was more than worth it.
And if it happens again, I'll hit Weasley with more than a mild stunner.
He sat up and found that the room stayed largely stationary. "Hermione, you do know who owns The Slug Club…you realize we'd be welcomed in with or without a reservation?"
"Oh I know…but after the fright of seeing you sprawled out on the floor, I suddenly don't feel much like going out."
He tried to hide his disappointment.
"As you wish."
"I don't mean that we have to give up our night together!" She looked genuinely upset. "Unless…you don't feel up to it…"
He caught her face in his hands and kissed her again. She melted like candyfloss in his mouth.
He sat up and pulled the unresisting witch into his lap as he explored her lips in a leisurely manner.
"Careful witch; if this is the treatment I receive when I pass out, I might make a habit of doing so."
He kissed her like he'd dreamed of doing, devouring her mouth. He wasn't exactly sure how he came to be on top of her with her legs wrapped around his waist (that might be the fumes), but he was quite happy to be there.
She moaned as he pulled away. He caught a flash of green knickers under her green and gold dress robes.
Rather odd coincidence.
He stood and helped her up like the gentleman he didn't feel like being. He pulled her close and smirked at the gasp she made. He leaned down to her beguiling ear and whispered "Are you certain you don't want to go out to dinner?"
She shook her head.
"Hmmm….well then, perhaps you might enlighten me as to what do you want to do tonight witch? I find myself without any prior commitments."
She traced his lips with her finger and sighed happily. "I have a few ideas…"
There was something tickling his nose as he awoke. He opened his eyes and found a mass of curls tucked under his chin. He was wrapped around the witch like ivy around an oak.
He kissed her bare shoulder thoughtlessly.
She turned and smiled at him.
He ran a calloused finger over her smooth cheek. "That's not a proper good morning for your lover."
He kissed her passionately, running his hands over her curves, nearly crowing at the fact that she wasn't a dream…
Their kisses turned into slow, heated lovemaking. He watched her face as she came apart for him, and waited, in no hurry to complete the act. As long as they were making love, she was here, in his arms, in his bed.
He loved the way her skin tasted. Hints of salt, but mostly her unique essence, subtly flavoring her skin and begging him to taste. He lapped sensuously at her creamy skin as he moved inside her. She was perfect for him…so hot and snug, so beautiful…it made his heart ache a little when he thought of going back to the way things had been between them.
He viciously shoved those thoughts out of his mind. He changed his angle with each stroke…watching her face, looking for that one spot…ah-ha! He moved faster, caressing that bundle of nerves in the most intimate way.
"Severus! Oh…!" His brilliant, articulate witch was reduced to incoherent moans as she came undone for him for the second time since they woke.
He kissed her as she went over the edge, delighting in the heat of her mouth. He spilled into her as her body squeezed him, leading to perhaps the most intense orgasm of his life. He lay on top of her, sweating slightly in spite of the cool morning…eventually, he groaned, rolled to his side, and pulled Hermione to his chest. A quick cleansing spell got rid of the sticky residue.
He kissed her curly head. She kissed his lips, and started moving away.
He pounced on her, pushing her delicate frame into the bedding.
"Where do you think you're going witch?"
She nuzzled his neck in the most distracting way. She licked the sensitive scar tissue around the scar on his neck.
"I'm going to the loo."
"And then you are coming right back."
"And then I'm coming right back."
He kissed her and allowed her to get up.
She picked up his white shirt from the night before and her lacy green knickers and walked nude into the bathroom. He pulled the down comforter up to his waist and considered finding his own clothes, but he was too comfortable to bother.
He snorted. This from a man who always wore layers upon layers of clothing.
His mind stilled as she walked into the room in his shirt, her beautifully formed legs bare.
She practically dove under the bedclothes and into his arms.
"It's cold out there."
He pulled her tight. "Then you should stay right here."
She kissed his lips lightly. "An excellent suggestion."
Two years and five months later it surprised no one who knew the couple when they arranged a small, quiet ceremony to pledge their devotion to one another.
Three former students might have been a tad surprised to be invited to the intimate gathering, but Hermione insisted, and Severus was too happy to deny her anything within his power to grant. It would remain a joke between them for the rest of their lives, that when they went chasing rabbits, they found each other.
AN: OK…now I'm really done with it. Scout's honor.