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A Man Who Makes Potions in a Traveling Show

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“King to e4,” Severus smirked.

“You’ll never win,” Hermione taunted.

“You just watch and make your move.” His brows knit together while he focused.

Hermione moved a pawn and he already regretted his first move. She tried to repress the smug expression threatening to take over her face, but he saw it immediately.

“Don’t even,” he warned. He heard her muffle a chuckle and shot her a glare. 

He didn’t know when she’d gotten so good at chess, but he very much disliked it. He had been quite good, but it seemed now that each time they played he was taken off guard.

“Oh, to hell with this game,” he complained.

“You only say that because you know I’m going to win,” she smiled.

“Bollocks,” he crossed his arms.

“Oh come on, Severus,” she encouraged. 

He watched scornfully as he noticed her purposefully fudge her moves, but not as subtly as he was sure she would have liked to imagine. He didn’t say a word, silently appreciating yet loathing the sentiment. Despite her flimsy attempts to let him win, he still found himself in dangerous waters as they were nearing their final moves.

“No… no. Sod it. I swear you’ve figured out a way to cheat at it,” he admonished.

“I have not!” she protested.

“You bloody tried to let me win and it didn’t work,” he accused.

“I would do no such thing,” she took offense.

“What do you take me for, Granger?” he cocked his head to the side.

“Just keep playing,” she waved her hand dismissively.

He grumbled under his breath and focused on howif he could win. He never usually let on how much he enjoyed their visits, but today felt unusually joyous regardless of his imminent defeat. He was normally good at concealing his feelings, but he always felt like he could never hide. He was always noticed, never acknowledged. She did both and it terrified him. The thought of being known was more strange than the thought of being forgotten or disregarded. Lost in thought, he didn’t notice her staring expectantly at him. 

“Ready?” she teased. 

He looked at her and was taken aback. He always saw her, always noticed her, but her eyes. Her eyes made him feel real, alive. 

“Something the matter?” she asked curiously.

“Your eyes…” he muttered. It caught him by surprise and he wasn’t sure he’d said it out loud, but the look on her face told him he had.

“What about my eyes?” she smiled coyly.

He paused, unsure of his next move. What to do, what to say? His brain seemed to have been in overdrive as the words tumbled out without his usual refined filter of snark and sarcasm,

“Yours are the sweetest eyes, I’ve ever seen.” He felt his face gather heat. What the hell was that? You did not just say that to her face. 

“Elton fan huh?” she giggled, “me too.” She was very obviously trying to hide her blush.

He listened to her hum the tune of how wonderful life is with you in the world and he would have given anything to climb out of the damn portrait frame and kiss her.