Disclaimer: I only own the plot.
Be Mine, Professor Snape
Hermione growled quietly in annoyance at the buzzing of student's chatter, disrupting her from her latest session of binge-reading in the library. The voices seemed to grow louder, and she glanced up to notice two students walking down the aisle to her left, their figures barely seen through the book-laden shelves.
"I heard last year McGonagall received one of the cupids. It was so funny! She was treated to a whole song and dance routine! She was so flustered, she had to leave!"
The students chuckled together, and Hermione frowned as she recognized the voices; Alicia Jenner and Jordan Berken, Gryffindors. Couldn't they gossip in the common room? Besides, Valentine's Day wasn't for another week and a half. She turned back to her book, but the students continued to talk, pausing somewhere further down the aisle. She could still hear them clearly, no doubt because it was a Saturday and, aside from Madam Pince, they were most likely the only people present in the room.
"Could you imagine what would happen if Snape got sent one of them? I'd feel sorry for the poor creature! I bet he'd try to pickle it!"
"Yeah, but I doubt the Greasy Git ever got asked to be someone's Valentine, let alone a card, unless it was from his mum!"
The students laughed uproariously, but were quickly silenced by a hissing shhhh issued from the librarian's desk. Madam Pince could always be relied on to keep the library in good order.
Though the students left her vicinity, and the library was once again a place of peace, Hermione was troubled over what the gossipers had said. She knew what it was like to not get a Valentine on Valentine's Day, even as silly and worthless as the holiday was. It had happened to her on some of the years that Ron and Harry forgot she was actually a girl. It hurt to see so many others around her spoiled with lavish gifts, while she had to fake a smile so no one would notice and pity her. She couldn't imagine what it must feel like to have never received a genuine Valentine, one with no pranks or ridicule attached to it.
A plan hatched in Hermione's mind. She'd not had an extra-curricular project to do in a long time, and giving Severus Snape a Valentine definitely fit into that category. She pulled out a sheaf of parchment and started jotting down her thoughts at a fast pace. Professor Snape was going to get a Valentine this year, and he was going to enjoy it!
Severus resisted rubbing his eyes to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. Propped against his goblet was a Valentine. He looked down the table, counting the place settings to make sure he had arrived at his regular seat. He had. He looked back at the piece of frippery, which was actually done in good taste, compared to the lurid ones he'd usually seen being passed around.
He reached out to touch the edge, curious as to the sender, when a bit of sniggering floated to his ears from below. Said ears turned slightly pink when he spotted a few students watching him. His curiosity morphed into a cold anger that enveloped him. He'd learned in his younger years how to curb his hurt into something more constructive, or destructive in the eyes of others. His eyes narrowed as he glared at the students, who both paled as he pulled his wand out and destroyed the card, all the while looking at them. That would teach them not to mess with him.
His mood now foul, he choked down some hot coffee and slammed the mug back onto the table before stalking off, not noticing the curly-haired woman still glowering at the students he had glared at moments ago.
The next day, Severus swooped into his classroom, earning the usual reactions from his students: fear, anger and nervousness. His blooming smirk stuttered and went caput at the sight of his desk. There, placed upon a stack of essays he'd intended to grade while the class did their pop quiz, were half a dozen dark red roses. He glanced around at the class, hoping no one had noticed, to see that they were all staring at him, trying to evaluate his reaction. He scowled and plucked two empty jars from a nearby shelf. After he spelled the questions for the quiz to appear on the board (fifteen in all) he sat down, opened the jars, and started to pluck the rose petals off and cut the thorns with more vigor than necessary. He would not be made a fool of.
"Did you see the roses on Snape's desk this morning? I bet he sent them to himself to make him feel better. How pathetic!"
"Yeah, and then he hacked them up for potions ingredients, as if that was his original intent. As if we couldn't see the pretty red bow on it. Who would put a bow on their potions ingredients?"
The two chattering students turned the corridor and almost ran into a scowling Hermione. They gave their apologies and continued on quickly. It wasn't fun to get on her bad side.
Severus was instantly on alert. He'd walked into his office to see a heart-shaped box, filled with who-knew-what. He hadn't dared draw nearer. In fact, he'd had his wand drawn and pointing at it before he even realized what it was. No one could get into his office besides the staff without upsetting the wards, and Severus doubted any of them had ever even put his name and Valentine's Day in the same sentence. Indeed, it was the night before doomsday and only a skeleton crew was on staff right now. Most of the professors were celebrating the holiday early, as they'd be required to keep the students in line the next day. Severus hadn't had any plans this night, as with every other year he'd been teaching, and so had joined the few still at the school, making sure everything was in order. He'd just finished the last of his rounds and was stopping by his office to grade a few papers before bed when met with this problem.
Severus scowled. He was getting tired of all these pranks. No doubt the students were in their beds, chuckling at the thought of slipping a Weasley product to Professor Snape. He wasn't even going to see if the box was truly jinxed. Those Weasley twins had been very clever at keeping their mischief undetectable.
He levitated the dark red velvet box to an empty corner of the room and obliterated it into a puff of smoke. Frowning, he summoned the essays he'd intended on grading and left for his private rooms, knowing that no one but the Headmaster could infiltrate them, and not without his notice. He'd wait to do any detection spells on his office until morning. No doubt the box was just the start.
The Headmaster blinked and turned when he saw the hunched over form and grumpy persona of Hermione Granger stalk past him.
"Hermione," he called, and she paused in the corridor, turning and trying to put on a pleasant expression, but her eyes still glinted with irritation, "My dear, what is the matter? I'd almost wondered if the Potions Master had been dabbling in some Polyjuice Potion."
The young woman frowned, even as she turned pink. It seemed he'd hit a sore spot.
"It's nothing, Headmaster. I just never really cared for Valentine's Day," she replied, shifting from foot to foot as if eager to escape his inquisition.
"Ah, Valentine's Day is a day for love, but also a day for fools, is it not, Hermione? I'm sure the students will be back to themselves by tomorrow morning." The woman nodded, and Dumbledore was satisfied that he'd at least gotten to some of what was bothering her. He let her go, staring after, and wondering who she was pining for at the moment.
Later that night in her rooms, Hermione brushed the invisible lint from her robes and wiped her clammy hands on her bathroom towel. This was it.
Severus grumbled as he stood to answer the door to his private rooms. He wondered what troublemaker he'd have to punish this time. Or maybe someone got poisoned from an ill-made love potion. He pulled on his robes, muttering a spell to button his buttons, fixed a sneer on his face and opened the door.
"Miss Granger," he said, slightly surprised to see the woman all the way down in the dungeons at this time of night, "What ill fortune has brought you to my private quarters." The woman frowned at him.
"It's now Professor Granger, or Hermione, and I'd thank you to remember that in the future. I am no longer your student, but a colleague, and have a right to be respected as such."
Severus raised an eyebrow. The curly-haired woman (indeed, her hair looked more like a nimbus tonight) fidgeted nervously in front of him, and he smirked, not willing to make the situation less awkward. She had disturbed his peace, and therefore deserved whatever discomfort befell her.
"I hardly think you've come by just to lecture me about respect, seeing as you've showed up at my door this late in the evening. That's hardly respectful, Hermione," he drew the name out mockingly.
"Erm, the day is almost up, and I just wanted to give you something," she finally muttered, and Severus' eyes narrowed, his wand hand on standby, as she pulled something flat and black from her robes. A letter?
"What nonsense do you have to give me that couldn't wait until tomorrow, Granger," he growled, even as he eyed the black envelope. It was so dark that he was barely able to read the fine red writing on the front as she held it out to him. It stated simply that it was to him from her. He'd already figured that one out. "Or better yet, you could have sent it by owl, and saved me the dubious pleasure of your company."
Reluctantly taking it from her, even as he eyed it with distaste, Severus was still curious enough to want to open it. He did, pulling out a deep red … card?
"Is this some sort of joke," he growled out flatly, turning to glare at her. She gulped.
"Well, open it," she weakly muttered.
He did, reading the cursive spelled out to say,
Professor Severus Snape, I hope you have a great Valentine's Day!
The enthusiasm of the card fell short of his face.
"What is this," he drew the words out, letting her know she was walking a fine line.
"I-it's a Valentine, Professor," she stuttered out cautiously, and he knew that she knew he wasn't really asking that question. She tried to hold his gaze.
"A Valentine; You pity me then," he scowled, stepping back to slam his door in her face.
"No," she cried, coming forward and placing her hand against the door. Severus knew he could easily shut it against her if he wanted to, but decided she could do with a bit more of his lambasting.
"So your little friends have finally gotten you to do their dirty work, hmm? Let's make the Slimy Bastard grateful that we've deigned lavish a crumb of attention on him! Send for the Prophet! Snape's got a Valentine! Is that what this is all about?"
"No! Bloody hell, what in Merlin's name do I have to do to get you to understand that I genuinely wanted to give you a Valentine," she cried out, her voice echoing down the empty corridor. She tugged at some curls in frustration and Severus watched in detached amusement as they sprang back to their original coils once let loose again. "I've been trying all week …" she muttered.
Severus' nostrils flared.
"It was you," he hissed in accusation, stepping towards her menacingly.
"What, I don't-," she backed away, and some part of him was thrilled that he could still intimidate her.
"You gave the students ways to mock me all week! Is that what you wished to accomplish? I expected you to have matured in the last decade since your schooling, but it seems I've been proven wrong. Why am I not surprised," he snarled, turning to re-enter his rooms. She grasped at the sleeve of his robe and he turned back, even as he jerked it out of her grasp. "Don't touch me."
His eyes widened as he noted the tears gathering in her eyes, but any sympathy he may have had was overruled by the fact that she'd plagued him the whole week. He scowled and folded his arms.
"Please," a tear slipped from her eye, "I didn't know I'd make your problems worse. I was just wanted to do something nice for you," she sniffed, and used the sleeve of her robes to dry her tears.
"Well, now it's backfired. Why would you want to do something nice for me anyway," he muttered, half to himself, "I've never done anything nice for you, and I'm still not feeling that generous at the moment."
"I, I don't know," she whispered, looking at the ground.
"Liar," he hissed, and lifted her chin with a hand. She twitched as he whispered, "Legilimens."
Severus weeded through memories she had of him, skipping over the ones of her student years for those more recent. To his surprise, there were quite a few. He noted the foreign feelings of affection that washed over him every time she observed him during an unguarded moment. He broke away from her thoughts with a shudder and stared at her for a minute. She stood, trembling and avoiding his gaze.
"You like me," he said, sounding incredulous. Hermione shifted on the spot and avoided his eyes. "Why?"
"Well," she thought for a minute, and he was patient enough for her to figure things out in her head before speaking them. He knew from experience that a misspoken word could change quite a few things. "You're intelligent, mysterious, and I think it's fascinating how you go around, acting as you please, and not as you think others would be pleased by. It's refreshing."
"And does that balance out the fact that I'm a daily horror to students in and out of class, my features are lacking, and I'm probably the most paranoid man you'll ever meet?" Severus spouted off his unattractive qualities as clear as if he knew and had gone over the subject in his mind many times.
Hermione looked him over.
"I don't mind," she whispered.
Severus looked at her, debating something in his mind. His mouth finally quirked into a smirk, and he said, "Fine, I'll be your Valentine. Now, what does that entail?"
"Entail?" she squeaked out.
"Yes, what does one do as another's Valentine?"
Hermione hadn't quite thought this part through. In fact, her main focus had been just getting him to accept a Valentine.
"I-I expect that they spend time together."
Severus' eyebrow lifted, "Doing what?"
He wasn't going to make this easy for her at all.
"Er, I suppose talking, eating chocolates…" She trialed off with a squeak, not wanting to suggest any of the other overt displays of affection she had seen others participate in over the years. She knew he knew of those things as well. He usually spent such evenings searching students out and taking points for such actions.
Severus scoffed, "And what makes you think I want to spend an evening with you, talking and eating chocolates, after already dealing with the festivities of this day?"
Hermione scowled and sniffed, turning as if to leave. "Nobody's forcing you to accept. I can just as well spend the evening doing something obviously more productive than stand here listening to you mock me."
Severus shocked both her and himself by grasping her sleeve to prevent her leaving. He stared at his hand as if it was a traitor, but Hermione's face bloomed into a smug smile that turned genuine.
"You're much too stubborn to yourself. You should realize by now that you don't need to deny yourself what you want and label it as something distasteful just because it's never been offered to you before. Now come on. Let's go to the kitchen for some nibbles." Hermione started down the hallway. She was halfway down before Severus started to follow, convincing himself it was because he couldn't let her get away with talking like that to him.
They made their way to the kitchens, which weren't that far away, considering they were also in the dungeons. The hallways were deserted and the torch light sputtered as if warning that it was almost lights out for the night. Hermione spared Severus the indignity of having to tickle the pear by doing it herself. The familiar chuckle made her smile as she remembered the more pleasant times she had as a student at Hogwarts.
Always eager to help, a handful of house elves greeted them at the door. Hermione silently commended their fortitude when faced with most likely the two people in the castle that would inspire a house elves' nightmare.
"You is needing help, Professors?" one piped up.
Hermione crouched down to their level so they didn't have to strain their necks. "Yes, thank you. May we please have some tea and perhaps a bit of what's left of the dinner fixings? I'm afraid I missed what I've heard has been a wonderful feast this evening."
The house elves seemed to relax and their smiles became more genuine at the complement. Hopefully her companion wouldn't destroy the tenuous mood with a cutting word. He stayed mercifully silent as the elves squeaked joyfully that it would only be a few moments. The professors walked over to a table in the corner and sat, warmed a bit by the fireplace. It was still a bit drafty in the dungeons, considering that Scotland was still experiencing winter's last vestiges.
"I thought you were rather keyed up about, what was it, House Elf welfare?" Severus drawled with a smirk across the table from her. Hermione sighed and rubbed her forehead.
"After a while of seeing the horror in their eyes at the sight of me, and complaints from my dorm mates about their rooms not being cleaned and laundry undone, I realized I was harming more than helping my chances of ever getting things changed, so I decided to go with another, more subtle and effective tactic than duping an elf into their freedom." She caught his eyebrow raised in disbelief and continued, "I went to the kitchens and officially apologized to them for trying to trick them, but letting them know that it wasn't shameful to want to make their own life choices or even to be able to pick their own masters. Then I told them if they ever wished such things for themselves, then I would always be available to help them."
Severus nodded, "So you went the Hufflepuff way."
Hermione scoffed, "I went the way that would be of benefit to all. House elves appreciate honesty and hard work. I could spout facts all day like a Ravenclaw, be upfront and brash like a Gryffindor, or trick them and have them hate me forever like a Slytherin, and none would have been as effective as the way I chose. In the end, Houses don't matter. They each have tools that can be effective in different scenarios. You, for instance can be quite as brave as a Gryffindor at times, and I have no doubt that your wits could match any of those in the House of Ravenclaw. Your ability to work long hours in order to perfect a potion could also be matched to the diligence of a Hufflepuff."
Severus scowled at the thought of having Gryffindor traits, but was placated by her compliments on his wit. Before he could refute the possibility of ever being like a Hufflepuff, a House Elf appeared with their tea and quite a large amount of food that had Hermione salivating eagerly. She thanked the elf politely as Severus watched silently. The elf bowed and disappeared with a glowing smile.
"As you can see, just because I don't try to wheedle them into becoming free elves doesn't mean I can't be as kind as if they weren't in the service of anyone. Besides, I know they enjoy it, and that makes me more satisfied and shows them that there is nothing wrong with receiving a bit of respect. Hopefully someday, those who are less fortunate with their masters will be able to approach me about their freedom without worrying about the dishonor they would allegedly incur for the sake of the rights and privileges they deserve."
Severus nodded as he fixed his tea. Hermione was startled to see he had already fixed hers and placed it in front of her. When did that happen? She flushed at his knowing smirk. She was always one to disregard her surroundings for the sake of explaining her reasoning. Picking it up and sipping it, she was surprised to find it was to her liking. Leave it to Severus to know every one of the staff's habits, including how they preferred their tea!
"You just become more fascinating the more I get to know you, and yet, I don't know if anyone would really be able to get to know all of you. You have hidden depths, Severus," Hermione smiled at him to show that her compliment was genuine, and he looked away as his cheekbones tinged red. Hermione ate some of the delicious food laid out for them to give him time to get back to his regular surly self. In no time he joined her in partaking of the food.
The awkward silence gradually turned to a companionable one, and Hermione ventured to ask about what personal research he was working on in his spare time, to which he hesitantly replied. It started up a healthy discussion about which ingredients should be mixed to form the base of a potion that could hypothetically ease the symptoms of the Cruciatus curse.
It was only when Hermione paused for a few seconds in her reply to one of Severus' suggestions that they realized the comfortable bustle and chatter of house elves was gone, and the only place in the kitchen lit was the immediate area around them.
"Well," Hermione laughed nervously, "I suppose Valentine's Day is over now. It's obviously way past curfew." She stood up, stretching. They had been sitting in discussion for at least an hour and a half.
"Let me walk you back to your rooms. It wouldn't do for the Muggle Studies Professor to be found fast asleep in the hallway," Severus said, almost teasingly, if not for his gruffness. Hermione abashedly tried to stifle her large yawn, nodding in distraction. Was the Potions Master being nice, or was she misinterpreting things in her drowsiness?
To her surprise, he walked beside her all the way to her rooms. She tried to will her cheeks to cool down but they lit up every time she thought of how gentlemanly he was this evening, at least after the initial explosion, and that she wouldn't mind doing this once again. Soon, if possible.
At the door she gathered her courage before looking him in the eye.
"I had a nice time with you tonight, Severus. I hope we can do this again soon." He observed her quietly for a minute and her courage gave out. She turned to unward her rooms so that she might escape his intense stare.
"I believe you've forgotten something," his voice rumbled behind her, and she held back a shiver at the thought of hearing that voice say various other things to her. Now was not the time for a fantasy! She turned back to him, eyebrows raised.
"I don't quite understand what you mean."
"I mean that you have not fulfilled all the requirements of being a proper Valentine," he smirked. Hermione was clueless as to what he was alluding, and his smirk grew just a bit rakish.
"I'm still not following," she replied, nervous now. He wasn't expecting her write a poem and send it to him via cupid, was he? Or maybe he remembered all the torture she'd put him through and now it was time for him to dish out his revenge.
He seemed to loom over her all of a sudden, and she pressed back against her own door. There was no place to retreat further, as his arms successfully caged her in on either side, though he didn't touch her. He leaned in closely and she squeezed her eyes shut, feeling his breath fan across her right cheek.
"It has been brought repeatedly to my attention over the years that being one's Valentine requires either a giving or receiving of some physical sign of affection. Now, Hermione, I leave it up to you, whether you choose to give, or allow me to … take."
Hermione shivered once again. His lips were right next to her ear!
Flustered, she found she couldn't say a word. Severus pulled back to see her face and smirked.
"You leave me no choice," his eyes glinted as he leaned forward again, ghosting a path with his lips across her cheek, ending at her mouth, which was already parted slightly. He pressed a light kiss there, pulling back to see her eyes closed and her cheeks flushed before bringing his lips to hers once again.
Her mouth was too soft not to take advantage of, and she willingly let him.
When they came up for air, Severus' hands were in her hair and on her lower back, and she flushed beet red to find her own sliding up his own back from under his shirt. How had they managed that?
She felt his delicious chuckle and looked up to see him observing her with a slight smile, his eyes warm. She smiled in return, amazed to see the man behind the cold façade he usually wore for the world. That in itself moved her more than any amount of kissing. Not that she would forgo kissing him again. In fact, she reasoned, if kissing was the catalyst for that expression, they would be doing it quite often. Something within her fluttered in anticipation.
"Be mine, Professor Snape," she smirked, pulling him back down to her.
A/N: And that's that. There's nothing like a little holiday romance. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!