Hermione woke on Christmas morning with a throbbing core and the whisper of Severus' touch on her body. Every night since their tryst in the drawing-room at the Order Christmas party – which was three, but who was counting? – she had awoken on the cusp of climax, still feeling the weight of his body against hers.
As she stretched out her legs, her feet bumped against something solid by the foot of her bed. Opening a bleary eye, she spotted several Christmas presents in different shapes and sizes, and she stretched before reaching for the first one. She took her time opening them, enjoying guessing which gift was from whom without looking at the card. The gift card for Flourish and Blotts was from Ron (he gave her one every Christmas and birthday), the earrings were from Harry and Ginny (with a drawing of what looked suspiciously like a turd from James) and the abundance of mince pies was from Molly and Arthur. Going through the pile took a depressingly short amount of time – though she guessed correctly on every single one – until only one present remained.
There was no note or card, and it made her pulse quicken. She carefully peeled away the plain brown paper to reveal a thin book bound in dark blue leather. She gasped. Only one person knew how much she wanted that book: Severus. He had bought it, there was no other explanation.
Her mind whirred as she got ready for the day. Why had he given her the book after the way they left things? He wasn't a giving person by nature; he was frequently vindictive and petty and she was under no illusion that he'd do something like that just to be nice. Even if he had bought the book in the before, there was no chance he would give it to her if he was still angry.
Clinging to that bit of optimism, Hermione went down for breakfast. The round table in the Great Hall was almost empty – it was still early enough that the students were still in bed. Heart pounding, she bypassed the empty seat next to Hagrid and slid onto the chair next to Severus. His eyes didn't leave The Daily Prophet in front of him, but the hand raising his coffee cup to his mouth faltered for a split second before continuing upwards.
“Thank you for the book,” she said, reaching for the teapot.
His fingers twitched around the paper. “Don't mention it.”
She smiled around her tea.
The library lay quiet and empty. Hermione meandered through the stacks, taking advantage of the silence. It was still her favourite place at Hogwarts, where she went when she needed to think. Something about the smell of the books and wood cleared her mind. Her feet made no sound on the threadbare carpet, where thousands upon thousands of students and professors had walked before her.
She didn't have anything planned until later that evening – tea with Hagrid – so she chose her favourite spot; a plush armchair in an alcove hidden from the main path of the library, and cracked open the worn copy of Hogwarts: A History. Getting lost in the familiar words, she startled when she heard voices from the other side of the stacks.
“You're certain I can't convince you to reconsider?” McGonagall's Scottish brogue was easily recognisable.
“I'm afraid not.” As was Severus' velvety voice, and Hermione's breath hitched in her throat.
“We'll be sorry to see you go. And finding a replacement won't be easy,” McGonagall said.
Severus chuckled. “I'll give you some suggestions.”
Their voices got fainter as they moved away, and Hermione didn't hear how McGonagall answered.
Her fingers were white as they clenched the sides of the book. Severus was leaving. Sweet Merlin, she was losing him. Her chest tightened. He couldn't leave. Not before she...
Hermione quenched a sob.
What was she going to do?
Severus doused the flame on the cauldron and took a step back. The potion needed ten minutes to cool before being bottled, and he spent that time clearing up the lab and letting his mind wander.
While it wasn't what he had expected, it hadn't been a terrible Christmas Day. After his interaction with Hermione at breakfast, Ginevra's words kept playing in his mind. She needed time. He could give her that. He wasn't a patient man by anyone's measure, but for her, he would be. She was worth it.
Once bottled, he brought the potion to the Hospital Wing. Poppy was in her office, and Severus knocked on the open door.
“Let me know if you need more of the modified version,” he said, placing the bottled potion on the desk. “I used the last of the knotgrass for this one so I'd have to buy more; my order isn't coming in until the 15th.”
“Thank you, dear. I'm sure this will last me plenty.” She smiled – that motherly smile that always put him on edge. “How are you, Severus?”
He shrugged. “Well enough.”
Her eyebrows raised. “Are you certain? Don't think I haven't noticed you've been in a worse mood than usual, lately.”
Shite. She always was too observant for her own good. Just like back when he was a student and she never missed checking up on him on the first day of term. He'd lost count how many bruises and cracked bones she had healed before his classes started – or after.
“Might it have something to do with a certain Arithmancy professor?” She looked entirely too pleased with herself, as though she had uncovered some great secret.
“Mind your own business,” he said through clenched teeth before turning and stalking away.
Opening the door to his quarters, he didn't expect to see Hermione in his sitting room, a determined set to her jaw.
“Where have you been?” she practically shrieked, taking a step towards him and then backing. “No,” she continued, not allowing him the chance to answer, “I don't care. You need to listen. You can't leave. You're the best Potions Master in Britain and a war hero! The students are lucky to have you teach them; they wouldn't do half as well with another teacher. We need you here. I need you here,” she finished weakly, chest heaving and eyes alight.
He frowned. What was she on about? “I'm not going anywhere.”
Her face went white, then pink. “You're not?”
“No. What gave you that idea?”
“I heard you and McGonagall talking yesterday about you leaving.”
Before he could stop himself, he chuckled. “Yes, the Gobstones team; I simply don't have the time.”
“Oh.” She bit her lip.
Severus said nothing, but his pulse raced in his veins. She wanted him to stay.
Hermione exhaled a shaky breath. “Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fucking fuck.” She started pacing again.
He moved towards her. “Hermione-”
“No,” she interrupted, ceasing her pacing and looking at him with wide eyes. “I thought you were leaving Hogwarts – leaving me – and I couldn't...” she trailed off. “I couldn't bear it. Not having you here.” She scrubbed a hand over her face. “That it would take me thinking you were leaving to do this.”
Her eyes were glassy with tears as she looked at him. “I want you, and I want us. Officially. And I'm sorry I made you think I didn't, but I was scared – I still am – but being scared is better than losing you. I don't want to lose you. Please don't tell me I'm too late – that you've given up on me.”
He exhaled through a laugh. “You silly witch.” Crossing the room, he cupped her face and leaned in. “I would never give up on you.”
She whimpered and stretched, pressing her mouth to his.
Warmth flooded through him from where their lips joined, and he groaned. His hand slid around to the back of her head while the other wrapped around her waist, pulling her body against his. Her hands ran up his chest, down his back, cupped his arse.
“I'm sorry,” she kept saying between kisses.
Severus pulled back. “It doesn't matter.”
Her lower lip quivered. “I'm not letting you go now, not unless you tell me to.”
“That's not going to happen.” He kissed her fiercely.
Severus wasn't sure who pushed whom towards the bedroom, but it hardly mattered. Not when he slid his hands over smooth skin and she pleaded with him to touch her. He cupped her breasts – groaning into her neck at their softness – and brushed his thumbs over her pebbled nipples. She whimpered, fingers fumbling with the buttons on his shirt.
She must have done a non-verbal spell, because he suddenly found himself devoid of any clothing. In the chill of the dungeons, her skin was hot against his.
“I want you,” she moaned, hand wrapping around his cock.
Severus grabbed her arse and lifted her, then positioned her on the bed. Without ceremony, he pushed her knees to her chest and buried his face between her thighs. He groaned when her taste hit his tongue, and rubbed his hard cock against the sheets.
“Oh gods!” she cried, hands fisting in his hair and tugging.
He was unsure if she was trying to push him away or pull him closer, but by the way she was gasping and whimpering he figured it was the latter. Two fingers found her entrance, curling inside the way she liked. He was rewarded with a breathless groan and her fingers tightening in his hair.
“Severus,” she gasped. “I want you inside me. Please.”
Their heads nearly collided as she sat and he rose to his knees. Mouths fused, Severus let her push him on his back, sliding a leg over his hips. He gripped her thighs, helped her line up. Then she was sinking onto his cock, her eyes falling closed and head tipping back. She was breathtaking.
“Fuck, you feel good,” he groaned, running his hands up and down her thighs.
“I missed you so much,” she gasped as she started to move. Her thigh muscles clenched beneath his hands.
“I missed you too.”
Her head fell forward, dark eyes meeting his. Her face was twisted in pleasure, breath coming out in short bursts. She covered his hands with hers. “Did you really?”
He nodded, pushing his hips up and making her moan. “I did. Every day.”
“You feel so good.” She moved faster, resting her hands on his chest for balance as she rose and fell on his cock.
He brought his hands to her breasts, pinching her nipples and groaning when she fluttered around him. If she kept that up he was going to come.
Grabbing her waist, Severus lifted her off him. She whined in protest. Moving her onto her back, he hooked her thigh over his shoulder and slid back inside. Severus never wanted it to end; he would be glad to spend the rest of eternity buried in her. He could tell she was close, and he angled his hips to hit that spot that made her gush around him.
“Kiss me,” she breathed.
Severus moved on top of her and pressed his mouth against hers. He kept his thrusts hard and deep, and her fingers clenched around his back. Needing air, he tore his mouth from hers. She was keening, hips undulating against his. He angled his hips to hit her clit with his pubic bone; she needed to come soon because he was barely hanging on.
“Are you going to come for me?” he rasped.
“Keep talking,” she panted. “I'm so close.”
Merlin, he wasn't sure he would be able to, not when she was practically strangling his cock.
“You feel so fucking good,” he spoke against her shoulder. “I thought of you every day. Stroking my cock but imagining it was you.”
He had accepted that he was going to have to get her off another way – because he was coming right the fuck now – when she made a strangled noise and her entire body convulsed. Her clenching around him was too much, and he held her hips tightly against him as he came.
Severus tried not to crush her under his weight as he panted into her shoulder. Hermione pressed kisses to his head and shoulder, her hands running over his back and sides. The chill of the air made him shiver, and she protested when he pulled out and lay next to her, pulling the duvet over them.
Hermione sighed and moved closer, nudging a leg between his and resting her hand on his hip. “All right?” she said sleepily.
He hmmed in reply and brushed a curl from her forehead. “You?”
“Mm, sleepy,” she said, the corners of her mouths curling up.
Severus chuckled, idly tracing his fingers over her back. “You're staying?”
Her eyes – which had drifted closed under his ministrations – opened slowly. “For as long as you'll have me.”
Warmth spread through his chest. “Be careful what you wish for. I may never let you leave.”
She shifted closer and touched his face. “I'll hold you to that.”
Severus couldn't believe he was back at Grimmauld Place for the second time in as many weeks. He wore the same dress robes, drank the same kind of wine. Coming from the kitchen – luckily without getting a stern talking-to from Ginevra Potter this time – he entered the sitting room.
He found Hermione straight away, by the fireplace talking to Potter. Her navy dress shimmered in the lights, just like it had two weeks ago. Unlike then, he crossed the room. The skin of her back was soft against his hand. She leaned back against his touch, mouth curling into a smile.
Potter went bright red. “I, uh, need a refill.” He gestured to his almost full glass and quickly left.
“You scared him away,” Hermione complained, twisting slightly to look at him.
“Oh, no,” Severus said dryly. “I feel terrible.” His pinky teased the edge of her dress, near her lower back.
Her breath hitched, and she wet her lips. “Play nice.”
“I'm being very nice,” he purred. He lowered his mouth to her ear. “Fancy joining me in the drawing room to find out just how nice I can be?”
Her eyes were cloudy with lust as she regarded him. “Wait five minutes, then follow me upstairs.”
“Ugh, yes, right there.”
“Wait, you're slipping.”
A giggle and a moan as he readjusted his grip.
“Fuck, I'm gonna come.”
“That's amazing, do that again, love.”
A breathed, “kiss me.”
His mouth surged onto hers.
“Happy New Year!”