A/N: Gift for Madeleone for the SSHG Exchange Bingo! My prompt was "a secret, chocolate, and a favorite place." Just a wee bit of late night PWP. I told you Severus wanted to take his clothes off.
Hermione held the letter in her hands. This one was on the same paper as the last few she received and the same ink as well. She'd checked. It wasn't uncommon for her to receive notes from strangers but to be completely anonymous was a cause for concern. She determined there were no sinister spells attached, it wasn't a Portkey, and nothing strange was in the envelope. The message itself was fairly innocuous.
I never know what to write, only that I want to write you, so today, I'll just tell you I prefer when you're in your office and let your hair down.
Hermione's eyes narrowed. Whoever sent this had been by her office then. She only kept her hair down when filling out tedious Ministry paperwork. She much preferred being out in the field, testing new defensive Charms, and it seemed the paperwork got more extensive every time it came to file a new spell. However, it was the only time it was safe letting her hair free from her usual bun or ponytail where it was out of the way of casting.
Her floor wasn't accessed by just anyone. You needed at least a Level Three clearance, or special permission to enter. In a way, that made her feel more comfortable. It wasn't just your average witch or wizard writing her. And not anyone could get a Level Three clearance.
But that meant it was probably a coworker, and Hermione made it a rule to never date within her department.
Of course, that also meant it could be…
…No, it couldn't. Hermione knew that that certain someone would not be writing the likes of her.
She put the note on her desk and planned to just ignore the whole thing. It could only bring trouble.
Hermione walked up to her department's small kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. She was startled to realize when she arrived that there was a Post-It – a Post-It, of all things magical – stuck to the cupboard with her favorite tea. A tingle touched her as she removed it making her assume only she would have been able to.
The opposite side read, If you are available, today drink the Earl Grey.
Well, she was available. It wasn't her chai but…this was silly. Hermione grabbed her chai off the shelf and prepared it to steep. While she waited, she questioned again her mysterious note sender. The first note wished her a good day. The next reminded her about the meeting of the department heads she was always late to. Then one about her hair and now this. Was someone trying to hit on her? And who would even notice if she changed her tea?
He would notice, she thought. He would probably smell it halfway across the room.
Hermione frowned, dumped out the chai, and grabbed the Earl Grey.
Severus watched as Hermione bit into the semisweet chocolate. He had been watching her for some time and knew not only her favorite stress reducers, but also when she was in need of one. With the pile of paperwork on her desk, it was no wonder she was in need of a break.
He hadn't really intended to follow her. In fact, he was a bit irritated to find that she worked so close to his own office at the Ministry. How was he supposed to identify Dark artifacts with her fanclub hanging around?
But surprisingly she was just as studious as himself. Often they would walk out together, being the last two employees on the floor to leave. Unlike most, she always seemed genuinely pleased to see him and interested in his day. It wasn't long before he found work to keep himself busy until he saw her light flick off for the day.
That was months ago. Now he found he was completely enraptured by her, though he didn't even know if she considered him a friend. They never met outside work or even got lunch together. He didn't know if she was single, or interested in dating, or, most importantly, single and interested in dating a bloke like him.
Severus Snape and dating were not words commonly found together, even if you were Severus Snape and interested in doing the dating.
He couldn't just blurt out and ask her – he wasn't from her house – but maybe he could take a more subdued approach and let her answer the questions if she saw fit. And if she didn't, well. He wouldn't be the first man to be lonely.
Her hair was down today, and she was sipping the Early Grey. He noticed as soon as she left the kitchenette. Score two for Severus.
He slipped the chocolate to her while she was on lunch, with a note. That which glitters isn't always gold. That which is bitter may need to be extolled. Cryptic enough, her felt, to give a vague idea of his identity, or it could just be referencing the fine confection included within.
Hermione received a few more notes over the next several days. She was lucky they weren't delivered by the post or she may have found herself in deep trouble for trying to waylay or track an owl.
She was almost certain by now that the sender was Severus, but even when they walked out together, he never slipped. Everything was just as it had been. Almost too perfect, another reason she was suspicious. So, of course, she started telling him about this mysterious sender.
"What if he is some kind of whacko? Johnson from Spell Research is definitely not balanced."
"But," Severus told her, "from what you said, he seems to be able to execute an ingenious plot to seduce you."
"Seduce me? He hasn't even mentioned seeing me. And who said it was a man?"
"Do you think it's a woman?" he asked.
"Alright then. Who would you like it to be?" He was almost able to ask the question completely nonchalant. Almost. But Hermione was nothing if not observant.
"If I could pick anyone? I imagine him to be tall, dark, and handsome, of course. He could have his pick of any lady, and he'll choose me for my brains and beauty, naturally. I want it to be someone who knows the value of a good book, a good wine, and a good shag over his desk when the first two are finished. Oh, here is the Floo. Have a good night, Severus."
He could have sworn she didn't need to bend over that far to step inside the grate.
She thought for sure her little display would let him know he was interested if he was the note sender, but it seemed that wasn't the case. Hermione was becoming increasing frustrated at not knowing who it was. The notes still continued, two or three a week. The desire to ward her office or the entire floor was growing strong. Part of her problem was her growing attraction Severus. There had always been something pulling her to him. Even in school she had felt it, but disregarded it as a good schoolgirl should. But there was no barrier besides themselves between them now. He wasn't even her coworker, in the strictest sense. They both worked for the Ministry but in different departments.
Something made Hermione feel like she needed to give the note sender a chance. Like Severus said, the person obviously was intelligent. They were also patient, subtle, and crafty. It still sounded like Severus, in her opinion, but still nothing gave him away. Perhaps this mystery sender would have the same magnetic attraction and it would be unfair of her to get involved with someone else without this being resolved.
Just then, Severus passed her in the hall on the way to his office. She hadn't even realized she had stopped in her tracks out in public to mull over her dilemma.
"Granger," he told her with a nod as he passed and she felt her blood pressure rise.
It just had to be him.
Severus saw Hermione as she stood motionless in the middle of the hall, staff parting around her. She was obviously distracted as he approached her, the gentle whiff of her perfume caressing him as he drew near. "Granger," he greeted her, uncertain if a more familiar address would be welcome. He watched as she snapped her head to him in surprise. Her perfect lips parted, the black stone of her pupil dilated in its puddle of brown and the barest brushstroke of pink was cast across her cheek. He continued on past without stopping and barely heard her, "Severus" as he reached his own doorway.
Tonight he would tell her who her mysterious sender was. He couldn't wait any longer.
Hermione was unusually productive that day. She was always productive, but after her brush with Severus, she threw herself into her work. She needed to keep her mind off him before she was waltzed into his office and announced her intentions.
She barely even noticed night had fallen as she grabbed the next paper to be filled. If she could get these done, there promised to be some time for field work tomorrow afternoon and she wasn't going to let it pass. She almost signed her signature when the familiar feel of the paper caught her, smoother than the standard Ministry parchment.
The time has come to be revealed. If there is a possibility you wish to make this one sided conversation reciprocated, head to the conference room when you are finished.
The quill dropped to the floor. Tonight? The mysterious sender wanted to meet tonight? He was in this very building, right now, possibly just down the hall? Hermione felt the onset of a panic attack and made herself take a few deep, calming breaths. She had about 30mins of work to finish. Then she could take five, swing to the loo on her way, and meet him in the conference room – which was an admittedly odd place for a first meeting but this whole affair was odd to begin with.
Time slowed to a crawl as paper after paper was put in the "Out" bin. When the last was filed, Hermione took a moment to rejoice over her completely empty "In" pile. It was a rare and beautiful sight.
Running her fingers through her hair, she dashed into the Women's. Her reflection showed that not much could be done at this late hour, but the person obviously saw her on a daily basis and liked what he saw. She splashed a bit of water on her face, finger combed her curls, took a deep, fortifying breath and opened the door.
There was no one else on the floor, judging by the dark offices and the silence as she made her was to the conference room. She was beginning to question if it was a good idea to go alone when suddenly, someone grabbed her from behind and pulled her into a dark room.
"Let go!" she screamed. "Exepel-"
"Hermione," the voice said as the arms released her. "It's me."
Hermione stumbled back as the light came on in Severus's office. She just stared at him a moment, trying to make sense of what transpired. "You called me Hermione," was all she could think to say.
"I apologize. Miss Granger then."
"No! No, Hermione is fine. Perfectly fine. Severus. What are you doing grabbing me in the hallway?"
"It's me. I'm you sender," he told her in a queer voice, trying to disguise his nervousness.
"It's you…" Her voice trailed off as her brain caught up with events and went at its usual speedy pace. It didn't even bother to ask before it made her reach her arms up around him and kiss him soundly.
After a beat, he pulled back surprised. "You don't mind then?"
"Does it look like I mind? Merlin, Severus! There is no one I wanted it to be besides you! You could have saved time and just asked me!" She leaned back in and kissed him again and this time, he didn't waste time with words.
He turned her and pressed her bum into the edge of desk and kissed down her delectable neck and pushed her shirt back to expose her collarbone which he kissed before whispering in her ear. "I don't want this just for tonight, Hermione."
"You better not," she told him. "We have a lot of books to read."
"And I have several bottles of wine."
"But right now," she told him breathlessly, "I wouldn't mind skipping to the desk."
He growled in her ear and nibbled at her earlobe as she reached a wanton hand down the front of his trousers. Soon, her shirt was on the ground and he was fumbling at her bra.
"Should we do something about the door?"
He looked at the exposed office and frowned. He grabbed her shoulders and with a soft 'pop', she found herself in his personal library, still pushed against a desk.
"Works for me," she told him.
She slowly unbuttoned the front of his shirt, biting her lip in a her signature move but this time was out of restraint not to just rip his clothes off and pounce him like she wanted to. Maybe next time. Definitely next time.
He watched her with baited breath as he slowly became exposed. There was still the fear she was going to run but she seemed pretty pleased with herself.
She kissed him then, long and slow, as if sensing his anxiety. Her hand reached into slippery black hair and lightly pulled as she bit his lower lip. Her body pressed against him, leaving no questions as to her intent. Her lips gently brushed down his neck and onto his chest as he belt came undone. Soon, there came the sound of his trousers clattering to the floor and he stepped to her, lifting her by her bum on to the desk. She shimmied out of her denims, and took her pink thong with it.
"I'll have to see more of that later," he told her.
"You can pick out the next one."
He made a noise and pushed aside his pants, not even bothering to remove them before pushing her back on the desk. One long finger slipped in her folds and found the wetness he was craving before it was replaced with something much larger and very firm.
"Yes, Severus! Why did you have to be all Slytherin? We could have been doing this weeks ago!" She threw her had back, curls trailing and blending with the wood grain as he pushed inside her and wrapped an arm around her back for support.
"I'll remember that in the future," he hissed, his focus obviously elsewhere.
Her legs wrapped around his waist and nothing more was said for quite some time.
The following morning, Iturbide, the janitor, was making his early morning sweep of the third floor, casting cleaning spells and tidying by hand when necessary. He came to the professor's office – whether the man taught or not, he would always be The Professor to the older man who read his story in the papers – and was curious to see the door open wide. The professor was diligent about locking and warding the room, and only Iturbide had access.
The door creaked as he slowly opened it and, even curiouser, a woman's blouse was on the floor in front of the desk. A blouse he knew Miss Granger was wearing yesterday.
Ah. It was about time.
Iturbide folded the blouse and set it in the top drawer of Miss Granger's desk.
The following morning, a bottle of wine and a novel was sitting on the professor's desk for Iturbide with a note. It simply read – Thank you.