I'm sorry, I know I should be writing on Ribboned Witch, but it's stalled. And I have this one.
I'm going for a fic where no one's dead, except Dumbledore. As ever, not mine if you recognise it from JKR's world.
I wanted to write about soul-mates, and turning Ron's head into a balloon got me going on this fic. I know, I'm always evil to Ron. I can't seem to help myself. Sorry…
Ronald Weasley's head began to swell. Ballooning. Pushing his eyes out into grotesque, white-ringed bulges. His jaw jerked down, his tongue flopping out and turning an alarming shade of black. And the engagement ring he held in thickening fingers, clattered to the wooden floorboards.
Hermione gaped, a disbelieving scream caught in her throat. What…?
The rest of the Weasley clan burst into the kitchen. Mrs Weasley's cry broke the young witch from her frozen thoughts and Hermione whipped out her wand. The air burned with diagnostic spells…but none of them made sense—
"St Mungo's. Now!"
Mr Weasley snatched his son up off his knees and Fred already lashed floo powder into the fireplace. Green fire flared. And in a few more panicked heartbeats Hermione was alone in the Weasley kitchen.
She blinked and flopped back into the rickety chair. "Merlin's hairy ball sack!" The oath escaped her, unthought, unbidden. Her fingers caught in her the wild tangles of her hair and she stared –blankly— out of the corner window. "What on earth just happened…?"
It was her first day in the Burrow after she'd finished her time at Hogwarts. Properly. NEWTs and all. Her plan had been for a few days with the Weasleys, before she scooted off to Australia to visit with her parents.
Hermione winced. More like a time to gird her loins and prepare herself for yet another overly cool reception. Her parents weren't as forgiving as she thought they'd be…and the mixing of old memories and new was hard on them. Painful. Hermione had even approached the Headmaster for potions that could relieve the fierce, unrelenting bite into their minds.
She huffed out a breath. He'd helped. Which astonished her, but then Severus Snape appeared to be…different this past year. She'd probably bored Ron to tears in her letters to him, but the change in the returning Headmaster…fascinated her.
Snape had willingly brewed her something from an ancient scroll that was held together by spells and written in an obscure Greek dialect. She was certain Praxagoras of Kos had been the last scholar to touch it. Hermione had left the two dark red vials with them at Easter.
No owls had followed. Whether it worked or not, she didn't know.
She ignored the familiar tight pain in her chest. And so she was hiding at the Burrow.
No, it was right that she try to renew old friendships. She'd not seen Ron much over the past year. The odd flying visit to the Burrow or his meeting up with her on a Hogsmeade weekend had been the span of their time together since Voldemort fell. Ron was an apprentice Auror with Harry and they worked them hard.
She closed her eyes and fought the spikes of guilt. She hadn't really missed him. Her time at Hogwarts –filled with books and knowledge and with absolutely no fear or threat— had been a form of…bliss. And within an hour of her coming back…Ron had proposed.
She stared at the diamond ring on the kitchen floor. It glittered in the shaft of late afternoon sunlight. Sweet and pure…and something she simply didn't want. The spikes of guilt pushed harder, the pain digging into the bone. Ron's face flashed before her vision, dark and bloated...
What had caused that? Her spells had revealed nothing. Nothing she recognised. Her attention turned to the Weasley clock, the family faces caught on the new curve of St Mungo's. The replacement for Mortal Peril. Harry and Ginny were in Transit. George swinging that way from Work. Percy and Bill already at the hospital.
Hermione pressed her hand to her mouth. And she, she was swinging past transit and…stopped abruptly in Lost.
What was going on?
Ron had manhandled her into the kitchen and she'd hardly noticed that the normally bustling room was still and quiet with not another Weasley in sight. They'd obviously being hiding, giving Ron his chance to propose.
She pressed her eyes shut and fought back the ache of tears. "Oh, Ron…" The words came out of a tight throat. They'd hardly more than kissed. She'd told him on her return to school that really, he shouldn't wait on her. Time away from him in Australia, hunting for and restoring her parents, had put her feelings for him into perspective. She'd wanted him because he was there. The fight with Voldemort was over and the only thing they had in common now was Harry.
Hermione snorted. She doubted very much Harry would want a threesome.
Ron was her friend. And she loved him as a friend. Nothing more than that. She should've made that plain from the beginning. But she hadn't wanted to hurt his feelings, hoping that time and another distracting witch would do the job for her. Yet, that afternoon, Ron had been so bright and earnest, his palms damp as he urged her into the old kitchen chair and dropped to his knees before her.
The ring had gleamed. His mouth had opened… And then –something— caught him. Took him. Wrapped him in strange and vicious unknown magic.
Green fire flared in the hearth and Hermione jumped to her feet. Mr Weasley stepped out of the floo.
"How is he? What is it? I've never…"
Mr Weasley twitched a smile, his face pale, his thinning hair sticking up, no doubt from the rough threading of his fingers. "They caught it in time. He'll be fine in a few days."
"Oh thank Merlin." Hermione fell back into chair and pressed her hands to her face. Her heart pounded and for a few moments, she just let herself breathe. He was still her friend. One with whom she'd been through so much.
Mr Weasley drew out a chair and sat beside her. He picked the engagement ring off the floor and tucked it into a pocket of his robes. "Hermione."
His voice was low and soft and she looked up at him. Something was wrong. She frowned. He'd said Ron would be fine.
"There's a reason Ron reacted the way he did."
She blinked. Reacted? To what? To whom? To her? "What did I do?" Her voice cracked on the question. She'd done this to Ron. How? Yes, she didn't want to marry him, but she didn't want to rack him with pain, either.
Mr Weasley took her hand in both of his. He patted it and a small smile lifted his mouth. "This was not your fault." He released her hand and pulled out a sheaf of rolled parchment from his robes. "And since I am still acting-Minister, it's my job to give you this."
"What…?" Hermione's fingers ran over the heavy wax seal that bound a golden ribbon, wrapped three times around the scroll.
"Open it, Hermione."
With trembling fingers, she broke the seal and a curve of glistening magic danced across her skin. Something cool and familiar, with the scent of freshly cut grass. Her belly turned over. Her Amortentia scent. The other –the parchment— was easily lost in the sheaf she held.
Her eyes blurred on the writing, hardly able to take in the dark, cursive script. It made no sense. She couldn't be… The scroll dropped into her lap. "It's a myth."
"You are bound." Mr Weasley's voice was laced with sadness. Was he regretting that she would never be a true Weasley? Was that the reason she was Lost on the clock? "You shared a Soul-Mate's Kiss. No other witch or wizard can offer to marry you. To try…"
Ron had asked. Had –unknowingly— tried to breach the sacred magic of a pre-destined witch. And the magic had defended itself.
Hermione shook her head. "But I haven't kissed anyone." She caught her fingers in her hair. "Ron. And Victor." She stared up at Mr Weasley. No, this wasn't right. "Victor Krum is my soul-mate?"
Mr Weasley sank back into his chair and shook his head. "I don't know. The answer is in the scroll."
With trepidation, Hermione unrolled the rest of the parchment and began to scan. It couldn't be Victor. He was another Ron, tall and beefy with an unhealthy obsession with Quidditch. Was that her destined mate? Was a wizard with a fascination for sport –and all too willing to share it— something that followed her down though her lives? Gods, that was—
Her heart stopped. Everything stopped. The scroll slipped from nerveless fingers and fluttered to the floor.
"I…" She swallowed. No, there had to be some mistake. Had to be. "I have never," she dragged her fingers over her lips, "ever in my life kissed Severus Snape!"
Severus Snape sank back into his chair, put is booted feet up on the small table and let out a long sigh. He closed his eyes. The last of the foul little miscreants had been loaded onto the train and were no longer his responsibility. The weeks of summer stretched ahead of him. He had no one to answer to until the middle of August. Bliss.
The pupils of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry were their usual ill-behaved and hormone-riddled selves…but it had been a better year than last. A bark of laughter broke from him. "It'd have to be some form of dark apocalypse to be worse than my first year as Headmaster."
His voice dropped into the quiet of the Headmaster's round sitting room. And for a moment after, Severus let himself enjoy the absolute silence.
The Board of Governors had insisted on his return. Why he wasn't sure. He had a feeling that Minerva had a lot to do with it. And it also had a lot to do with her own guilt. She was giving him the chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his students. For them to head out into the world with a changed view of one Severus Tobias Snape. Potions Master. Death Eater. All round bastard.
He took a sip of his firewhiskey and let the smoky flavour linger on his tongue. Of course, now he was the Dark Hero. The Broken and Lonely Prince. And, with Harry bloody Potter, considered one of the most Eligible Bachelors in the Wizarding World.
A disbelieving huff of laughter escaped him. Him. Did witches not own eyes? He was as ugly as sin and twice as bitter.
He stared into his glass. No…the bitterness had dulled. A good year had eased it away. No torture, no debts to anyone or anything. The indescribable and wanted ease of being his own man.
Severus frowned. Almost. There was still that little niggle. Did he owe something to the Granger girl anymore? She'd saved him in the Shrieking Shack, come back for him, patched him up, shoved a bezoar down his throat and hauled him off to Poppy. His frown deepened. Had he paid that debt by brewing the Therapy of Myalo for her parents?
He prayed to whatever gods who cared to listen that it was so. Prayed hard.
She'd approached him at the start of spring term, calling out after him in the long, gargoyle-thick corridor before his office. He thought about a reprimand, something sour about docks and screeching fishwives…but he didn't. It'd been almost eight months since she'd more than likely saved his life…
A new leaf he told himself, and turned to face her. His mouth drew down. Pupils to him were stinking, self-obsessed horrors who had no desire to learn. They were anonymous. Faceless. But it was a Saturday morning, so the witch was out of uniform and the change in her caught him by surprise.
Miss Granger was an adult. Gone was the rake-thin, grubby girl who survived the war. Now, she was a curvy little witch with a wild burst of soft curls. But it was more than her unexpected beauty. Merlin, her magical aura almost trapped the breath in his chest…
Mortified, Severus shoved down the inappropriate reaction. She was still his student, regardless of the fact that –in a sane world— she would have left Hogwarts the summer before.
"Headmaster." Her cheeks pinked, and her gaze dropped from his. Yes, the insecurity of youth still held her. Her shoulders straightened and he could almost hear the fierce lecture to herself, telling her to face him, to brave it out. Ever the Gryffindor. "May I make an appointment with you? It concerns my…parents."
The bright spark faded from her eyes and the ludicrous ache to pull her into his arms, to comfort her burned through him. Bit so hard, he almost lurched forward.
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. He hadn't spoken to the girl since she pulled him from the Shack. Fuck, was this some form of debt?
"I'm free now, Miss Granger." Yes, get it over with now. His life would be his own again. "Would now suit?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you."
He waved her towards his office and cursed his manners as his gaze caught on the sweetest little arse in tight jeans he had ever seen. He almost groaned. Every ounce of his considerable self-discipline crushed his shameful thoughts. His pupil. She was his pupil…
In his sitting room, a fresh mouthful of firewhiskey burned down Severus throat. He'd hustled her out of his office with the bare minimum of information and worked hard to find something –anything— to break his obligation to her.
He'd left the two red vials in her room, with extensive notes of their method of brewing and the history of the ancient scroll that had presented him with the cure for her parents. He didn't want her seeking him out to sate her curiosity.
Severus had taken every opportunity to avoid her for the rest of her time at Hogwarts. Though he had felt her eyes on him more than once in the Great Hall. And he'd hated the heat that crawled over his skin. What sort of debt had he incurred? Or had the cure not worked for her parents, and he was still caught by her?
The fire flared green and Arthur's head broke through the flames. "Severus! Good, I caught you."
Severus winced at the other wizard's panicked voice. Yes, hadn't he just been congratulating himself on a quiet summer? One free of a certain little witch? Luck never ran with him, did it? He put his firewhiskey down and sat straight. It was hardly fitting to be so…slovenly before the acting-Minister for Magic. "How can I help you, Arthur?"
The wizard's head half turned back into the flames before his flickering face fixed on the Headmaster again. "It's something best not discussed in an open fireplace. Can we come through?"
"We?" He couldn't expect an answer to his question. His gut soured. His instincts were screaming. Severus waved his hand and pushed himself out of the warm comfort of his chair. "Come through, Minister."
Arthur gave him a tight smile before he jerked back and the flames flared tall in the blackened hearth. A moment later, the Minister stepped out of the high fireplace, his large hand tight around that of Miss Hermione Granger.
Severus blinked. Of course the gods weren't listening to him. When did they ever? He quashed the twists of unease that rioted in his gut and nodded his head in welcome. "Arthur. Miss Granger." His lips quirked upward. "Back so soon."
The girl's eyes flicked to him and away. Her cheeks were scarlet. What trouble had the little Gryffindor know-it-all fallen into now? Why had it brought her –so very unwelcome— to his hearth?
Severus urged them to a pair of plush couches set either side of a triptych of tall, narrow windows. A gently steaming teapot, cups and saucers, a jug of milk, a sugar pot and an assorted pile of biscuits appeared on the table that separated the couches. Arthur drew the unusually quiet Miss Granger down to sit. Severus followed.
In the strained silence, Severus poured the tea. He held down a wince as Arthur scooped five spoons of sugar into the delicate little cup. "How can I be of service?"
Severus put the teapot down and looked up, his eyebrow lifted. At the question, Arthur's brow furrowed and the red in Miss Granger's face deepened. Her cup rattled against the saucer.
Arthur pulled a tightly wrapped scroll from his robes. Miss Granger frowned at it as the Minister passed it to him. "But you said…"
The wizard's lips were pinched. "I didn't know. Until now. The scroll simply...appeared."
The parchment was warm under Severus' fingers, calluses catching on its smoothness. A ministerial seal fixed a golden ribbon. He traced it, feeling the magic. Something ancient… A scent rose. Indian Ink. And another, mixing the aroma of cracking open a new book with the softness of jasmine.
Severus stared at the scroll and a sudden weight fell in his gut. Amortentia. Fuck. Nothing good came with that benighted potion. He didn't look up. Didn't fix on Miss Granger. His Amortentia scents…and Arthur had dragged a young woman with him… No. No.
He knew what this was. No! A sharp pain lanced through his chest and he fought to keep his breathing even, his face passive. Not this. Not again.
"Open it, Severus."
Arthur's voice was soft, resigned and Severus closed his eyes. Fuck. "And…" His voice had cracked. He swallowed, hating that failure. "And if I don't?"
"It's a formality." Arthur let out a long breath. "We both know that."
Magic liked its little ceremonies. Still, what was done was done. Had always been so.
He split the seal with his thumb and a spiral of magic spilled over his skin, the identified scents deepening, thickening. He unrolled the parchment. And stared at her name. A woman meant for him. A woman –yet again— who would never be his. For a moment, he closed his eyes and forced walls around the old pain until his mind cleared.
His thoughts turned. When? When could they have sealed this pact?
Severus shoulders slumped. Of course… "You breathed for me."
Miss Granger groaned. "Oh gods. CPR."
"CPR?" Arthur frowned.
"Poppy said, in my recovery, that late one night, I stopped breathing. My heart stopped. That," his gaze lifted to the young witch, but she was staring into her cup, "that Miss Granger, not able to find her and not confident with the proper spells, compressed by chest and…gave me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."
"The Kiss of Life." Her murmur was soft. "My mother enrolled me for a St John Ambulance course at the end of Second Year." A wry, almost bitter smile pulled at her lips. "The muggle in me came out."
Severus leant back against the firm cushioning of the couch. "It's been over a year. How was it uncovered?"
Miss Granger met his gaze then. Guilt burned in her dark eyes. "Ron proposed."
Not that Severus ever thought she was making the right choice with the brainless Weasley oaf and he really couldn't help his mutter of, "My condolences" yet it had been her choice to make. One now taken from her.
Severus winced. Fuck. Fuck. They'd planned a life. A future. Without the kiss, the Soul-Mate Bond would've remained dormant and unknown. Marriage magic negated the threat of the older bond and Miss Granger's quidditch team of red-headed babies would've been safe and secure.
But…they –he and Miss Granger— had unintentionally started down the soul-mate path. If they chose to ignore the bond –which was within their right at that moment— they could find a sexual relationship elsewhere. Yet, now they could only magically marry each other. And Miss Granger would only ever bear his children.
The illicit image rose. Of a little girl, skinny, sharp-tongued, with black eyes and a cloud of black curls. He shoved the false-creation behind a wall of ice, and the sudden pain of that denial almost broke a gasp from him.
He looked to the Minister, fighting to keep his tone even. Though he couldn't lace it with concern. "How is your son, Arthur?"
The other wizard scrubbed his hands over a tired face. His smile was slow. "Ron will…recover."
Severus put down his untouched cup and pinched at the bridge of his nose. He'd had a whole three hours of his life not going to shit. That had to be some sort of record.
"Can Hermione stay in the castle, Severus?"
As if he could refuse. The witch could hardly go back to the Burrow. Not with a jilted boy set to return. And Ronald Weasley was hardly the most sensible of wizards. He'd tear the girl apart, blaming her for something that had been decided long before either of them had been born.
"You were heading to Australia to visit your parents for the summer, Miss Granger?"
"Yes, on Tuesday. I can stay at the Three Broomsticks. There's no need to—"
"Foy." Severus ignored her. Arthur was right. Not just for getting her out of the Burrow, but keeping her from the public eye. This would get out. Something this insane always did.
An elf popped into the sitting room, spindly hands wringing together and his golden eyes gleaming and bright. "How can Foy help the great and wonderful Headmaster?"
Severus held back a sigh. The little elf worshipped him. At least he'd toned down the effusive praise. But not by much, it seemed. It had reached an embarrassing level and more than one member of staff had sniggered. "Please prepare one of the guest suites for Miss Granger. She'll be staying with us for a few days."
"As the magnificent Headmaster wishes." And with another pop, he was gone.
"Headmaster, I don't need—"
"This will get out. You will be safer here."
Hermione stared at him. Get out? Was he going to tell…? No, Severus Snape wouldn't want it known he was the soul-mate of the Gryffindor bushy haired know-it-all. Then who…?
Ron. He wouldn't mean it. He'd apologise after –cowed and embarrassed— but when he was hurting, he lashed out. And the rush of the Minister and his family to St Mungo's, Ron's state and the gossip of the hospital staff would have the vultures flocking. Then Ron in his anger would toss them every piece of foul meat he had.
Mr Weasley patted her hand. "He's surrounded. Ron won't get the chance to explode in public."
A small huff escaped the Headmaster. He obviously had little belief that Ron would not put his giant foot firmly in his mouth.
She looked up as Mr Weasley stood. A muscle twitched under his right eye and a stone dropped into Hermione's stomach. He wasn't as confident as his words suggested.
"I should go." And a moment, later in a flare of green flames, he vanished.
Hermione looked to the Headmaster. Her soul-mate. It was impossible… No, she had the paperwork to prove it. So…it was simply, very improbable.
He had changed from the dark and driven wizard that had filled her time at Hogwarts before Voldemort fell. He was healthier. The sallow, hollowed cheeks and skinny frame had filled out and his skin was now a clear alabaster. The lines were gone. She didn't want to admit that in the fresh, afternoon sunlight Severus Snape was strangely attractive. That she'd been finding him so for too many months…
"Soul-mates are not a fixed fact, Miss Granger."
She frowned at him. "How is that possible, sir? Surely it's one soul meant for another?" She reddened. She was arguing for her right to him. Which was wrong. And something she didn't want. Not at all. "I mean…"
Snape's lips twitched upwards and her belly fluttered. "Whatever this thing is," he waved a long-fingered hand between them, "perhaps 'soul-mate' is an ancient misnomer. I believe this binding magic is more of a…push. An incentive. Let me ask you, how unlikely do you think it is that you and I would become…involved?"
He lifted his eyebrow and Hermione's face warmed. She looked away. She could hardly admit that she found his velvet-lined voice mixed with the pulse of power that had always hung sure around his frame utterly compelling. Even with his unconventional looks, Severus Snape could never be ignored.
Hermione forced a smile and lied through her teeth. "Not likely, sir."
Something moved through his eyes and he fell silent. No, her denial couldn't affect him. He was Severus Snape. Everyone and their crup knew his heart had been taken long ago. The perfect Lily Potter. Hermione stopped herself from frowning. Circe, she couldn't be jealous of that witch. Everything about it was wrong.
Snape drew in a heavy breath. "Marriage magic supersedes an inchoate soul-bond. But for a touch of muggle interference, you would now be the fiancée of Mr Weasley."
He sneered the name, but Hermione caught a shiver, quick and unexpected. Could she have said no to Ron? With his family on the other side of the door? At her hesitation, their impatience would've driven them into the kitchen. And following that, the brow beating, advice and layerings of guilt. Until she agreed to be a Weasley.
She'd escaped. Merlin, there was that spike of guilt again. "How can you know this, sir? That it's not fixed?" She met his dark eyes. So sure with intelligence…and ridiculously long eyelashes. Yes, she'd written reams about him to Ron, but had she ever truly looked at him before?
Snape picked at an invisible piece of lint on his leg and crossed it over the other. For too many heartbeats, he was silent before he let out a long breath. "Because, Miss Granger, Lily Evans was also my soul-mate."
Hermione's mouth dropped open. One thought smacked her. Hard. Merlin's little green apples… Severus Snape was Harry's father.
I know, I'm bad... As ever, let me know what you think! :)
Snape's wry snort broke into her careening thoughts. "You have no worries there. I am not related in any way, shape or form to Mr Potter."
Had he read her mind? No. He didn't have to. Her expression had to mirror her shock. "Then how…?"
Snape put down his cup and a dark line grew between his brows. "That is personal to me, Miss Granger. Safe to say, I became…aware of a soul-bond that never reached a kiss."
Hermione couldn't hold his gaze. Thick emotion swirled through her thoughts, the ever-present jealousy for that damned witch…and for Snape. Oh gods, how terrible that must have been for him? To know that the woman he loved was meant for him…but had chosen another? Had Lily Evans simply taken an easier path?
How had he realised? Through touch? Or was it something he could simply…see? Hermione had never known, never thought such a thing could bind them together. Yes, she'd respected him, but she always respected her teachers. And the odd warm dream about him, she'd always explained away as Professor Snape being the only full-grown wizard under a hundred in the whole bloody castle…
Had Lily Evans known? Or suspected? When Snape became aware of the bond never sealed did she?
Hermione's belly turned over. How difficult was it love Severus Snape? With his theory, a soul-mate bond tied the best woman to him. Tied them together. Gave them the greatest chance…and yet Lily Evans had chosen another. Even she had almost slipped into accepting another wizard. A swell of sympathy rose in her chest. And why would he want her? The wild-haired, bossy know-it-all that had plagued him for years. Now he had another impossible bond. She almost laughed. Was she as equally hard to love?
"I will make no claim on you, Miss Granger." His voice was smooth, but there was an edge of tightness that pricked at her. She was a reminder of a time and woman he had lost and her eyes burned. Fuck, she would always be second best. It was hardly fair. "I…regret that our…status has removed your ability to marry and bear children with the one you love."
Hermione pressed her lips together at his words. Her throat ached. "You've lost that too, sir."
His lips twisted into a bitter smile. "That was never within my grasp, Miss Granger." He stood, something quick, almost anxious and Hermione copied him. "Foy!" The little elf popped into the room, delight shining in his eyes. "Please take, Miss Granger to her suite." Snape looked to her, his gaze shuttered. "Stay within in the grounds for your own safety."
"And the excuse for me to be here, Headmaster?"
"An illness at the Burrow? Arthur thought it more safe for you to stay at the school until the time came for you to leave for Australia."
She gave him a small smile as she accepted Foy's long, clawed hand. "So the truth. In a way."
Snape inclined his head. Something shone in his eyes, an emotion, a reaction she couldn't quite name. "It is always the best place to hide a lie, Miss Granger."
Ron picked at the bunch of grapes, popping two into his mouth at once. He chewed and frowned. Two days. Two days of sitting in a warded hospital room, with a pile of Quidditch magazines and the odd family visitor. He'd been told not to leave. And not to speak to anyone.
He swallowed. A growl escaped him. Mione hadn't been to see him either and it was her fault that he was trapped. He sank back against the plumped pillows and stared out of the long window. A silenced, bustling street reflected back; the busy Muggle world of Charing Cross. Red buses, too many cars to identify and people weighted down with bags…pushed his inactivity hard into his bones.
He wanted to be out. Flying. Playing Quidditch. Pushing Mione against the wall of his room and finally getting into her knickers—
His mum had said he'd have to put a ring on a witch like Mione before he got that far. She was a worthy woman. That he should secure her before some other wizard saw her as a fine catch. He didn't mind. It'd be a l-o-n-g engagement. Mione wanted to burrow herself any in some form of apprenticeship. Charms, maybe? He'd skimmed that three foot explanation. But with her safely housed with a Master, it would leave him plenty of time to dip his wand before the fidelity charms chased over him.
And that was an old, pure-blood tradition. His dick stirred. Some of the ancient ways he was more than happy to follow.
Where was Mione anyway?
Dad had muttered something about a bond. A tie. But that was impossible. Mione was his. She'd wanted him for years, and now, well, she could have him. He smirked. Her reward for being a good girl. And popping her cherry, that was his reward. And his right.
The door creaked open. A healer in a starched-white uniform with a notebook and quill stepped into his room. She was young, blonde and very pretty. Ron sat straighter and smoothed over his blankets. Fuck, he was already hard.
"Mr Ronald Weasley?" The healer looked at him and smiled. She really was unbelievably pretty. Part Veela, maybe?
"Yes. That's me."
The door shut and the swirl of warding settled back into place. "Good. How are you feeling, Mr Weasley?" Her wand swept over him and the cool rush of spells caught his breath.
He gave her his confident 'I'm a war-hero' grin. "Call me Ron."
Another smile and a little dimple appeared in her left cheek. "I'm here to see if there are any lasting effects in your flesh or to your magical core."
"An attack like this can do that?" No one had said they'd be any damage to him. What in Merlin's name had Mione done? He'd only wanted to marry her. Make an honest woman out of her. But oh no, Miss Hermione Granger had to be one step above everyone else and be 'magically tied' or some such tripe.
The healer looked at his chart fixed to the end of his bed. She flipped through the pages, her blue eyes sharp. "A soul-bond attack is a very serious matter…Ron." Her smile was wide. And Ron blinked. Didn't she just say it was serious? "Luckily for you it seems you only encountered a Soul-Mate's Kiss."
The truth slotted into place for Ron. A soul-mate. Mione had a soul-mate and it wasn't him. And who had she kissed? Anger heated into a tight ball in his chest. Victor Krum. Ron looked at the pile of Quidditch magazines, remembering the player and his new German veela wife. Lucky sod. No, Krum was married. So it couldn't be him.
Mione had shown no interest in anyone else. And no one else had shown any in her. It was why Ron wanted her. She'd fix on him and make him a good little devoted wife. His belly turned over. Could he marry her now? He frowned. The only man she'd ever talked about in the nine foot long letters he skimmed every week was… No. No it couldn't be. That was…insane.
"Is something wrong, Ron?"
"Snape." He bit out the name. "She bloody kissed Snape."
The healer's eyes were bright and she pressed her feathered quill to her lips. Her head tilted. "Excuse me?"
Fury pushed through his flesh. He'd waited for her. Waited. The witch in Leicester didn't count. Mione had been in Australia that time. And that witch in— No, that didn't matter, either. That was just a handjob. But what she'd done? So much worse.
"She kissed Snape! Mione. Hermione Granger, bloody kissed that slimy, greasy, slimy bat. And I was going to marry her." He pulled in a harsh breath, the swirl of betrayal thickening in his thoughts. "How could she do this to me?"
But the door to his room was already swinging back into place and he was left alone. For about a minute.
"Mr Ronald Weasley? I'm Healer Owen. How are you today?"
Ron stared at the tall, black man in a starched-white uniform, his name magically stitched under his right shoulder. The other healer hadn't had that… Something pushed into Ron's brain. Something he should know from all the times he'd visited St Mungo's…
The name was a magical signature, proof of a healer's credentials. And that other healer, she hadn't told him who she was. He'd assumed. And been distracted by a pretty smile.
She wasn't a healer.
Ron shut his eyes. "Oh fuck…"
I can't help myself. I can never paint Ron 'good'.
An owl clattered against the window of Severus' sitting room and he let it in. She was Arthur's personal messenger, a fat, white-faced owl by the name of Addiena. She landed softly on Fawkes' old perch and offered up her leg.
Severus caught his fingers in his hair. This couldn't be good news. His gut was tight and sour, and it had never led him wrong. Fuck. News was out. That had to be it. And Addiena was here with the evidence. Damn it, Molly Weasley should've kept her legs together in the summer of 1979.
He unclipped the leather-sealed scroll and offered the owl a treat of a fresh mouse haunch. She gobbled it back in one go, brushed her white-feathered cheek against his knuckles and flew out of the open window. Severus absently closed it behind the owl, the leather container growing warm in his tight grip.
He couldn't put it off. He snorted. It was always his role to face the worst head on. He wouldn't change that now.
A thumbnail cut through the seal and the leather case vanished. A sheaf of parchment surrounded a thick copy of that night's Prophet.
Severus fell back into his chair. Fuck.
He pulled the note free and dropped the paper to the small table, as yet unread. Arthur's scrawl covered the small sheet.
I can only say I'm sorry. Ron was tricked. He thought he was with a healer when he worked it out who Hermione was bonded to… Anyway, it appears that Rita Skeeter has the story. And it's bad Severus. For you. And especially for Hermione.
I can't offer anything, it's not my place. I know you will do what is best for both you and Hermione.
Severus sneered at the short letter. "Taking lessons from Dumbledore in manipulative guilt are you, Arthur?"
He scrubbed his hand down his face and let his eyes close. No, that wasn't fair to the wizard. Arthur Weasley was a good man. Always had been. Quiet and strong, and above all fair. They both knew the course that had to be taken…
Severus unrolled The Evening Prophet and swore.
Yes, there was only one thing to do. A bitter smile pulled at his mouth. And may the gods have mercy on their bound souls.
Hermione dropped her book and emitted a small shriek. She looked to the fireplace, where Snape's head flickered in green flame. "Headmaster?"
"Would you please come through?"
He nodded and the fire died away. Hermione uncurled herself from her chair and brushed her hands over her dress. A quick spell took out the worst of the creases. She put her hand to her hair…and gave up trying to tame it. Snape had seen her covered in his own blood, ragged and thin…and why was she worrying about the way she looked?
The little jump in her belly said it mattered. Because she'd had two days ignoring the fact that she shared something rare with the enigmatic wizard. And it made her more than curious. How did he see her now? Was she still the Gryffindor bookworm? Or was his view changing -as hers was? Could he see her as a woman...?
Hermione put the fanciful thoughts from her head, took a handful of floo powder from the mantle, declared, "The Headmaster's Sitting Room" and spun through the network.
She stumbled out into the round room. Snape cast a courtesy spell and the black grit and dust syphoned away from her clothes and face. "Thank you, sir."
His face was passive, unmoving, and he offered her a copy of The Evening Prophet. Hermione stopped a groan. Their secret was out…
Snape gave her a soured smile. "A matter has arisen, Miss Granger—"
A streak of silver swept out from the curve of the wall, a snapping terrier rushing up to Hermione and circling her, its stumpy tail wagging hard. Ron's voice burst from his patronus. "Mione! I'm sorry. She was so pretty… I mean, what was I supposed to do? And then I realised— Snape, Mione? When did you and that bloody, greasy—"
Hermione slashed her wand and the patronus splintered into silver shards of light. Her face burned. Typical Ron. "I was never going to marry him. Ever."
"A wise decision." Snape's voice was tight and cool. He pressed the rolled copy of The Evening Prophet into her hand. "The Minister got us an early edition." He looked to the fading sparks of silver. "And no doubt forced his son into that…apology."
With trembling fingers, Hermione unrolled the paper. She sank onto the couch, a dispirited "Oh, Ron" breaking from her.
A Soul-Mate for Severus Snape!
By Rita Skeeter
Yes, the former spy and Death Eater, Severus Snape has a secret I'm sure he'd never want to share. He has a soul-mate. And not just any witch has been bound to the wizard who was once He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's most celebrated servant!
Hermione growled. "Foul witch," she muttered. "She's registered now, but I'd still put her in a jar. With no holes, this time. It'd be worth it."
Snape lifted an eyebrow. "Something you wish to share, Miss Granger?"
"Skeeter is a beetle. I found out and…persuaded her to do a fair and balanced interview with Harry."
A twitch of a smile tugged at his lips and Hermione's face grew hotter. "How very…enterprising of you." He looked to the newspaper still held tight in her hands. The echo of his smile faded. "Read on."
She pushed out the image of his smile –damn him, Severus Snape shouldn't smile!— and forced her attention back to the scurrilous piece…
Hermione Granger —a plain but ambitious girl— is the lucky witch. As a muggle-born and still so new to our world, has she not realised the sacred nature of a soul-bond? Was this why she led the Minister of Magic's son —Ronald Weasley— by the nose until the unfortunate boy proposed? Or did she know and with her twisted curiosity, want to witness the devastation her bond would have on him?
Ronald Weasley is still under the round-the clock care of the dedicated staff at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. He is completely broken by his love's betrayal with a man he loathes.
Yet…the 'destined pair' has only shared a Soul-Mate's Kiss.
All is not lost, it seems. For either Severus Snape or Hermione Granger. Or for the sacred safety of the wizarding world.
Hermione frowned and threw the detested paper onto the table. Skeeter was implying something and she looked up to the Headmaster. He was pouring firewhiskey into two crystal tumblers. He handed one to her.
"You'll need this."
Snape sank onto the opposite couch with a weary sigh. "Because that foul beetle of a witch has just cursed us both."
"How?" Hermione sipped from the glass, the smoky warmth of the alcohol burning into her chest and bringing a strange ease to her jagged nerves. "She's pointed out that we're not true soul-mates..." The word "Yet" seared the tip of her tongue.
"No." Hermione closed her eyes and breathed to calm herself. She resisted the very real need to toss back the glass of firewhiskey. "No…"
"We have not…consummated our bond. If that were to happen the bond would be fixed. Immutable." He winced. Snape was as uncomfortable with the situation as she was. Soul-mate or not, the bitter thought held that he would never ever have singled her out as a life companion. "And because of its current, unfixed nature, we are still open to the…charms of others."
"Every witch, wizard, beast, hag and troll will be sidling up with an offer to fu—" She knocked back the amber liquid and choked out a fiery breath. "Damn." She pinched the bridge of her nose and let the tears run. "I really loathe Rita Skeeter."
"What are your plans for your future employment, Miss Granger?"
Hermione wiped at her eyes and sniffed. She accepted a white handkerchief from him with an embarrassed smile. She was glad for the unexpected change of subject. "I would like to apprentice in Charms or Transfiguration. But I know offers aren't made officially until my NEWT results are posted in August." She twisted the damp material. "I thought about taking a position in the Ministry…but the bind of it." She shrugged and found it hard to hold his gaze. "I want the freedom to follow my own intellectual path."
Snape sipped from his glass. "There is little doubt that Filius and Minerva will whip out their wands for the fiercest duel Hogwarts has ever seen to win the chance to mentor you." There was a lift to his lip, just a fraction, offering the hint of another smile. "And if you'd listed potions, then I would be forced to "wipe the floor with them", as they say."
Hermione stared at him. "You would?" The words "You'd want me?" seared her tongue, but they went unsaid. They stepped too close to the flutters and heat twisting through her flesh.
"The Professors here have been jockeying for position concerning you since the end of your first term here."
A disbelieving smile broke from her. "Could I be a know-it-all nuisance and take both apprenticeships?" She gave him an overly innocent smile, at which his dark eyes narrowed. "For the sake of professorial harmony?"
"We shall see." He sat forward, his long, pale fingers wrapped tight around the glass. "The reason I brought this up, Miss Granger, is one of mutual benefit."
He looked to the newspaper and this lips thinned to a whitened line. "That witch has opened our lives up to a serious inconvenience. And in your case, probable personal danger. If not outright attack." He stared into the remains of his drink before he knocked it back. "We will be hounded, I am certain of that. You especially." His short bark of laughter was sour. "To 'save' you from me."
Hermione's heart was a stone in her chest. Her life was suddenly tied to this dark and mysterious wizard, however tenuously. And that wasn't a wild little hint of excitement throbbing through her veins. It wasn't… Merlin, she couldn't be attracted to him. Yet, every moment in his company seemed to add fire to a need, a desire she hardly knew she had. She had to fight it. He wouldn't want…seconds. "What did you have in mind, sir?"
Another one of those almost smiles quirked his lips upwards bringing another little jolt to her belly and she cursed it.
"What else?" His eyebrow rose. "Why we marry, of course, Miss Granger."
Hermione forgot how to blink. Oh god, oh gods… She simply stared at the wizard before her as if he'd lost all sense, all reason. She swallowed, but still croaked when she muttered, "Marry?"
Snape stood and poured firewhiskey into his tumbler. He lifted the decanter. "Would you like another?"
Hermione shook her head, not a single coherent thought connecting in her head. How was he so bloody calm? He'd just proposed. To her. "Sir…"
His gaze fixed on the windows and the bright evening light of a Scottish summer. "I believe here is the push you need to accept my offer."
"What…?" The room dropped to sudden darkness and a quick flare of wall sconces illuminated the three narrow windows.
Owls with their cross-flapping wings. Talons and beaks, trying to find purchase against lead tracings, scrabbled and scratched over the glass. And to each scaled leg was tied a scroll or letter.
"Your admirers." Snape arched his eyebrow. "Your saviours."
His wand slashed the air and a heartbeat later a very large but neat pile of parchment covered the table before her. The owls flapped against the outside of the windows, his magic denying them their treat, but they had to turn away, their job done.
With trembling fingers, Hermione took the first one from the heap. She recognised Ron's infantile scrawl. Had the parchments fallen in some form of order? Those she knew best rising to the top?
I read tonight's Prophet. We can still be together. If you want?
Wouldn't that be great? I mean, I know we can't marry now or have kids –Dad explained. Something about marriage magic. But uncommitted sex is fine!— and so it, we, won't be a forever thing. Because I want kids. And I wouldn't want Snape's brats. I think you wouldn't either. They'd be Slytherins! No thanks!
And we should go ahead with this because as if someone like Snape deserves a soul-mate!
I also think it's right that I be your first. Your reward, Mione. I know you've always fancied me.
Come to the Burrow, tomorrow. I'll be home tonight, but I need rest before anything physical, the Healer says. A real Healer this time!
Looking forward to getting naked with you.
Hermione blasted his letter to little blackened cinders. "Pig. What an utter, utter pig."
She picked up another letter and caught her breath. Sirius? Sirius Black had written to her over this? Her nail cut through the seal as her stomach tightened. It had to be support. His worry for her. Sympathy. Not…
My Dearest Mione
Come to me, I will take care of you. As a woman should be taken care of. You need not suffer Snivellus' poor attempts. He was a Death Eater, my dear. How could he know how to please a woman?
Snivellus also has no soul. I cannot believe you could be bound to him at all. I am happy, however, to intercede, just in case.
Harry is at the Burrow until Tuesday.
Come soon. And you will, I promise you that…
Your devoted instructor,
Another flash of flame ignited Sirius' letter. "I'm simply prime meat to them." She pressed the sodden handkerchief to her eyes and breathed, fighting back more tears. The scents of herbs and the hints of cool grass eased the ache in her chest. "Bastards."
"Don't read any more."
Another parliament of owls clattered against the windows and Snape's wand added yet more…offers to the pile. Hermione groaned as she recognised Percy Weasley's cramped script. Did every man she knew what to get into her knickers?
No one –no one— had shown the slightest hint of romantic interest in her. To commit to her. Absolutely none. Even Ron's proposal seemed more of a convenience...for him. But now this host of wizards had the opportunity for a convenience fuck to "save" her from no doubt a fate considered worse than death –being the soul-mate of one Severus Snape— they all leapt at the chance. A bloody bragging right, she was sure. "I was the one that broke the bond between them, you know. He didn't want her after I had her…" Gits. The lot of them.
And Snape had known how they'd react.
She sank back into the firmness of the couch. "How would it work?"
"Marriage?" He swirled the tumbler and a thin column of grey smoke twisted up from the glass. "Rather than…consummation to complete the soul-bond, there are specialised vows for soul-mates, working with the binding as the usual marriage magic works against it. But this form of marriage would protect you from any unwanted physical attention, in the way that the kiss protected you from unwanted proposals. Also with that ritual, there would be time…to become acquainted." He held her gaze, his eyes dark and endless. "As much time as you need." His gaze dropped away. "I will not pressure you."
Hermione bit at her lip. "And you agree with it? With marrying me?"
"I would not have suggested it otherwise." He let out a long breath. "It is something that has been at the back of my mind since Arthur first stepped through the floo. That when it got out –and it would— things would spin wildly out of control. I believe our marriage is the best solution."
She stared at the heap of parchment. Wizards she knew –ones she thought cared for her— and ones she'd probably never met in her life, wanted to have sex with her for no other reason than to deny this wizard his soul-mate.
A man who had almost died for them. One who had suffered for them. Someone brilliant and honourable. Hermione blinked as the realisation smacked her hard. He was her soul-mate, as impossible as it seemed. Someone meant for her. Perfect for her.
Nerves tightened in her belly and she willed herself to stand. Snape watched her, his dark eyes as unreadable as ever.
Could she live with him? Was he a tyrant? Was he as cold and sarcastic in his private life as he'd been as a teacher? Since this disaster had fallen on them, he hadn't raged. He had been calm, considered. No doubt privately swallowed the fresh opening of an old pain. And he had planned, whilst she sat in her room and thought how her cowardice at not going straight to her parents had started everything off…
Yes, he was older, almost twice her age, but men –boys— her own age were still so…ignorant. Immature. He hadn't rolled his eyes when she said she wanted to seek out an academic apprenticeship, as Ron had done. He'd actually asked her what her plans were, rather than assume, now that she was free of school, that she would follow Ron and Harry into the Ministry.
Severus Snape wasn't handsome…but by Merlin, he was striking. His colouring, the sharpness of his features, his tall, lithe build. And eyes, eyes that could spear you…
And there was the strange surge in her flesh when she was near him, that went beyond all of her logical reasoning. A need. The desire to touch him. To kiss him. To explore…everything with this most mysterious of wizards.
She willed her feet forward, closing the distance between them. Snape looked down at her, along that great hook of a nose. Her fingers ached to touch it, to stroke its length, wondering if it was warm or chilled.
"Do soul-mate's always have love…Severus?" She stumbled over his name and almost winced, twisting it into –she was certain— an unconvincing smile.
The hope in her eyes put a knot in Severus' chest. There was no way out for her. She could take up with one of those vile offers –and he knew he'd seen the Mutt's scrawl in that vast pile— to find an unfixed life. And for this moment to forever trail her; that she was running, escaping from a life with the dreaded Severus Snape.
Or she could chose him. And become his soul-mate.
Lily had pressed a kiss to his cheek a month after her hated wedding. A chance meeting in the street and she thought to smooth away the jagged edges of her old life. He'd laughed at her, something bitter and tired. As if a peck could ease the years of his anguish.
He'd felt it then in that light brush of her lips against his smooth skin. The agony of a broken bond. A fire under his skin that scorched a path to his heart and left it a cinder.
Lily had staggered back from him, her hand to her mouth. She'd stared, her soft mouth parting, and a sheen of tears in her familiar green eyes. A strained heartbeat after, she turned and fled from him, escaping to the shadows of Diagon Alley.
He'd crawled away to lick his wounds, lost days to anything he could lay his hands on. Tried to shove the knowledge down -that she should, could have been his- shove it below the iced walls of his mind. It had haunted him for years.
And it'd always been a stab to his chest that that loathed moment was the last time he saw her alive.
He let out a slow breath. The witch before him needed an answer. The truth was, he didn't know. Still, he hoped. That sprig of warmth pushed back the old pain. Lily had never wanted him. Never. Not even a soul-bond pulled her to him…but this little witch? Brilliant and loyal. She was everything he thought he could never, should never have…
And how in Merlin's name, did one man have two soul-mates? A wry smile tugged at his mouth. Did everyone get a fist full and had to wait to see who stuck? His knuckles brushed Hermione's warm cheek. Her skin was unbelievably soft, and the touch, so slight, so brief, seared him. His hand trembled. Dear gods… It was nothing like Lily. Nothing.
He fought to breathe, not to sweep the young witch up and devour her. "I imagine they do, Miss Granger."
Her eyes darkened at his low tone, or was it his touch? "I think we should share a proper kiss, don't you?"
Severus drew a line along her upper lip, her mouth parting under his caress. Her eyelids fluttered, pulling another smile from him. She was a sweet little witch. And she would be his. All his.
Merlin, that thought felt right.
"It would be my honour to kiss you…Hermione."
And Severus' breath ghosted her skin as his mouth dipped to hers.
This fic has about five more chapters to go. Maybe. Perhaps...
As ever let me know what you think. I love reviews! :)
His lips were warm and soft, a teasing brush that forced her pulse into riot. Her hands. What did she do with her hands? Snape –damn it, if he was kissing her, he was Severus— wasn't touching her. Could she touch him? Gods, she wanted to. To cling to his familiar frock coat, twist her fingers into its softness—
"Hermione? Less thinking, if you please?"
"I…" She wet her lips and stared up at him. The burst of bravado from only a moment before had faded, lost in the darkness of his eyes, his touch, his…experience. "I don't know what to do."
Severus' brows drew together, deepening the familiar line. Her fingers itched to trace that too. She saw a response forming from his look, from the particular parting of his mouth and a surge of panic pushed up from her chest. She didn't want him belittling her. She was supposed to be perfect for him. It was hardly her fault she lacked a more physical education…
"Ron and I didn't. That much. I haven't…" His kisses and sweaty, grabby hands had been enough. She couldn't stop the little shudder that twitched across her shoulders. "I didn't want to."
She straightened herself under his intense, black stare, expecting something snide, something cutting…but he simply pushed a loose strand of hair back from her face. He drew his finger down from her temple to her jaw. "Are you untouched by him, Hermione?"
His voice was a velvet rumble and its darkness a delicious slide into her flesh. She wanted to say 'Yes', she almost did…but then certain memories kicked in. "Well, mostly."
He lifted an eyebrow. "Mostly?"
She winced. Why did she feel as if she were betraying a man who'd barely more than brushed his lips across hers?
"Hermione…" Her name was little more than a whisper. His lips teased hers again, a tantalising taste of him and the heat of mouth. "I come to you with experience. I'm not going to be a…git and expect you to be a virgin."
The quick turn of her grin dropped away. "Oh, but I am that." Her smile jumped again. "Ron…" She made grabby hands in the air. "He's another Snarfalump plant." Her hands dropped and heat burned in her face as he simply stared at her. "Severus?"
His fingers threaded into the wild tangle of her hair, lifting her face as his dipped to hers. Another kiss, a slow tasting before the heat of his tongue licked the seam of her lips. "I should be a good man," he murmured, even as he stepped closer, the warmth of his lean frame washing over her. He grazed her bottom lip with his teeth. "I should step back, allow you life and experience before I claim what is mine."
Hermione clutched at his coat as that last word seared through her, catching her breath and her heart. Like him, she should fight it. She should. She wasn't a possession…but dear gods, those words said in that voice? "Yours." It was the only thing she could gasp, her brain having lost all higher function. "Definitely yours."
"Yes, you are, aren't you?" His smile was wicked. "And I have never been a good man."
His hand slid down her back, drawing her closer and with a low groan, his mouth took hers, sure and deep. Devouring her.
Hermione clung to him. His heat, his scent wrapped around her, all of it wanted. This was where she should be. Heated magic chased through her veins and she hummed, half-moaned, needing more. Needing everything. A Soul-Mate's Kiss. A proper one. Not some panicked blowing of air…but mouths and tongues and his hard body pressed to hers. A wild blending of desire and joy…
"What if I didn't want time?" Hermione gasped the question against his lips, her chest heaving. Want burned in the darkness of his eyes and her pulse rioted with it. "No special vows…"
Severus framed her face with his elegant hands, warm and callused. "Those vows can give you pause. And an option to escape. Witch, sealing the bond –having sex— would see us as married in the eyes of the Ministry. Fixed. Immediate. For life."
"I want that."
He blinked. "Miss Granger…"
"Hermione." Her hand wrapped around one of his, easing it from her face. She pressed her fingers into his palm. He had to understand. "They want me to…fuck anyone but you." Anger burned in her face, throwing a deepening heat under her skin. It was their choice and no one else's. "Anyone. Any anonymous wizard would do. They want to deny me my soul-mate, too. How dare they!"
Fury twisted in her chest. They weren't right. Severus Snape was clever and powerful…and made her want to climb like a tree. Logic and desire converged on this one wizard. Her wizard.
She shook her head. "Anything other than fully claiming our bond would say that they were right."
Severus's mouth twitched upwards, an unexpected warmth shining in his eyes. "Careful, your cat-claws are showing."
She snorted. "If I have my way, you'll see all of my—" She squeaked and dropped her head, pressing her forehead against his chest. Mortification swept up through her flesh.
Severus' soft laughter wrapped around her and it sharpened her embarrassment. Even as she wanted him, she wasn't used to this. Men and flirting and wince-inducing innuendo…
"There is no pressure, Hermione." He dropped a kiss to the wild tangle of her hair and the intimate gesture twisted around her heart. "This is all happening so quickly for you."
She looked up. "For both of us?" She drew in a long, steadying breath. "I know…I know I'm not your choice." Her attempt at a smile was more of a grimace. This had to be said and she dug deep for the will to say it. "That I'm hardly a substitute for…Lily." Shit, there was that bitter edge again. "But I think that we are compatible enough, don't you?" She tried a grin. "Fate seems to think so, anyway."
Severus sighed. "You are not her."
And those four words ran ice through Hermione's blood. For a moment, she closed her eyes, fighting back the sting of tears. He wouldn't see her cry. It was insanity. It defied her usual fix on logic. How was she spiralling so hard into this man? Was it the kiss? Would one shared so many months earlier have brought out the same riot of emotion, of lust and want, of that deeper, pained feeling she wasn't yet ready to face?
"Hermione?" He kissed her knuckles, his breath a tease to her skin. "Look at me."
She dragged out more courage, wrapped it around her heart and met his dark gaze.
"You are not her…and nor would I want you to be. Perhaps…" His lips pursed and that need to kiss him again caught her. Her chest ached at the pull of it. "Perhaps she was destined for me then. And I for her. But you, we, are destined for each other now." He paused, his gaze thoughtful. His voice turned soft. "No, I would not be the man I was then." He tilted his head his attention fixed on her again. "I am happy with that hypothesis. Are you?"
Hermione bit her lip and was unaware a tear had broken free until Severus brushed it from her cheek. "I am. Though I do think there should be more research done on this soul-bond problem. In depth, research…"
Severus smirked at her and that sweet little throb low in her belly pulsed again. His lips burned against the shell of her ear, the scent of him, a warm sandalwood with hints of herbs, of parchment forced her to clutch at his arm.
His lips curved and his voice, his voice was sin itself. "How deep would you like me to go, Hermione?"
Her knees almost buckled. Oh gods, this was so far beyond her experience…but the draw of it, of him was irresistible. "Until I don't know were you end and I begin."
His soft groan, somehow reluctant, as if drawn from him skittered a shiver down through her flesh. "Merlin, witch." He pulled her hard to him, his mouth on her exposed neck. "What are you doing to me? I want to strip you and take you against the wall, the floor, that ancient couch. Make you scream my name. Give you what you want and make you mine."
His hand cupped her backside and squeezed, urging her against the hard line of his erection. A gasp broke from her, even as his promise blazed through her mind. Any and everywhere. Together. So right—
Hermione found his mouth, quick, eager fingers tugging at the never-ending row of black buttons. Now. She'd have him now and all those absolute gits could go and fuck themselves instead—
"Severus Snape just what do you think you're doing!"
Hermione squeaked as Severus turned her, blocking her from the sudden Scottish bark. She hid her face against Severus' exposed shirt. Fuck. Fuck. Just want she needed, her old Head of House finding her trying to strip the Headmaster out of every stitch of clothing.
"Minerva." An edge of ice lined Severus' voice. "I believe this is still my private sitting room."
"What are you doing to Miss Granger?"
His sneer was almost palpable. "Do you not remember? Has it really been so long for you?" He paused, and Hermione fought to control the wildness of her heart, but found the match of it in his chest. "If you'd like, I can recommend a local tom. A bit ginger. Very clean."
He huffed out a sour breath. An arm slid from Hermione's back and she missed it, inching closer to him. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "What do you want of me, Minerva?"
"An Order meeting has been called at Grimmauld Place to discuss this…this occurrence."
Hermione looked up then. Professor McGonagall stood pinched-faced in the open doorway. Her papery cheeks were pink and her chin lifted. She was bristling. But what right did the witch have? What right did any of them have to interfere with something so private? Hermione glared. "What business is it of the Order?"
"You are in danger, Miss Granger. From a number of quarters."
Pale eyes slid to Severus and Hermione's lips pressed together. Was this why she was his soul-mate? He presented her with a perfect opportunity to give full rise to her need to crusade, to champion? Because, by the gods, he would have it in her.
"I am in no danger from Severus."
The statement or the use of his given name –possibly both— gave the other witch the look of sucking something extremely sour. "They are assembled."
"And I'm sure they wouldn't mind being unassembled, Professor."
McGonagall gave her a stern glare over her glasses. "Miss Granger—"
"Minerva, go ahead. We will follow on shortly." Severus waved his hand to the darkened hearth. "My floo is at your disposal."
"I will come back for you if you're not there in five minutes." McGonagall flung powder into the fire, the green rush of flames flashing over her, before she declared her destination and vanished.
"Do we have to—" Hermione blinked. "Severus, what are you doing?"
He smirked at her as he unbuttoned his frock coat, tossed his cravat and worked free his collar. Shirt buttons exposed the sharp edge of his collarbone and she felt an almost Victorian thrill at finally seeing his flesh… Of course. She laughed. Oh, he was cruel and wicked.
He yanked out a tail of his shirt, his smirk turning to a grin. "Do you agree?"
"Completely. May I?" She offered up her fingers to his hair, he nodded and she harried it. It was like silk, smooth and cool, but still the odd wild lock worked free. She looked down at her sundress, only a little creased and she lifted an eyebrow. "I hardly look ravaged."
Severus pressed a long finger to her mouth. "You are deliciously pinked and your lips are plump. There is a spark to you." His own mouth curved into a devilish smile. "They will have no doubt that I have had my hands on you."
Who knew that Severus Snape had such a sinful sense of humour? This whole marriage thing was looking better by the second.
He drew her to the fireplace and offered a pinch of powder as he took his own. He threw it into the hearth and within moments they were both spinning off to Grimmauld Place.
Still grinning, Hermione stumbled into the library to Professor McGonagall's ear-splitting screech and Severus' cool, calm reply of, "Really, Minerva, can I help it if the little witch finds me utterly irresistible?"
Yes, it was going to be an Order meeting unlike any other.
I'm still working through and planning the next chapter...so it should be up Sunday/Monday, as I also have edits I've been ignoring. Bad me! ;-)
Have I mentioned I love reviews? :D
Damn them. Damn them all.
That had been Severus' first thought when Minerva had broken into the moment with his witch. As if it were any of her business, any of the Order's business who his soul-mate was. Who any witch in his life was. He'd played his part for them. Almost died. He didn't owe them a bloody thing.
His gut had churned. They would all be there, wizards who had offered Hermione sex to distract her from him. And the anger at that, the…pain of knowing they all thought so little of him. That they would deny him happiness after all he had fucking done for them—
But his witch had stood up for him…and his heart had swelled. No one had ever done that. Down the years, he'd treated Hermione abominably…and yet she wanted him, had glared at Minerva —a witch he knew she admired— and basically told her to fuck off.
It had pushed the idea into his mind. They should show them, show them all who much they did want each other. And Hermione had laughed and grinned and agreed with him. Oh, there was a dark streak to this witch that he rather liked…
And so there he stood, in the library of the detested 12 Grimmauld Place with Hermione at his side and him appearing to have been ravaged by a randy little succubus.
Courtesy syphoned the ash and grit of the hearth from Hermione and then himself. The bloody Mutt never kept his fireplaces clean. He offered his arm to her and she slipped her little fingers against the wool of his sleeve. Merlin, it felt right having her there.
She grinned up at him, her brown eyes gleaming with humour. Should he be surprised at her vindictive streak? She had led Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest, after all, and seemed to have no qualms about leaving the foul toad to the…mercy of the centaurs.
Minerva was still thin-lipped and in her cat-form, her back would be arched, her fur spiked. "Miss Granger, you should step away from the Headmaster."
"Severus is my fiancé, Professor."
The old cat blinked and took a step back. "You can't rush into this, child!"
Hermione sighed and rewrapped her fingers against his sleeve, pressing more firmly. "Professor McGonagall. Thank you for your concern, but I am not a 'child'. With the use of the time-turner," Severus heard the unspoken 'which you provided', "I am twenty years old. That's not a child in anyone's world."
She lifted her chin. "I don't want to fall out with you, Professor." A small smile touched her mouth. "In fact I would very much like to apprentice under you. But as you aren't pleased with my decision, I will of course now seek to study under Professor Flitwick."
Minerva's hands shot up in reflex. "Now, Miss Granger –Hermione— there's no need to be quite so hasty…"
Severus bit back a smirk. Yes, there was a thick streak of Slytherin in Hermione's spine. Before Minerva could offer more, a host of Weasleys came tumbling out of the fireplace and the door to the library opened, the other members of the Order no doubt scrambling to the room after Minerva's screeching.
Severus kept a knowing smirk on his face, but he made certain to have Hermione between him and the wall and palmed his wand. With such a pride of Gryffindors in the room, clear thought would be a luxury.
"What's he doing here?" The ginger menace lurched forward, but Arthur and one of the twins caught his arms. His father's low tones had no effect on the thick-headed boy and he struggled in his family's firm, unyielding grip. "Fuck, look at him! What's he been doing?" His gaze shot to Hermione. "Did you do that? You—"
A slice of her wand silenced him and Severus' mouth twitched. He had to remember not to get on the bad side of his witch…though riling her might prove…interesting.
Hermione untangled her fingers from his sleeve. "Excuse me please, Severus."
"Of course, my dear." He stroked a finger along her jaw before he brushed a kiss over her mouth. Her lips curved under his. Yes, she'd heard that collective gasp too.
The smile dimmed, her plumped lips thinning into a whitened line and she stepped away from him. Her wand jerked to the corner of the library. "Ronald. A word."
Arthur looked to him and Severus gave an unconcerned shrug. Hermione could hex the oaf to small ginger bits with her eyes shut. She was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. And Severus knew when not to interfere. It was her right to curse the boy if she so desired.
Weasley skirted around him. For all his fury there was little threat, it was mostly bluster and disappointment. The boy knew not to cross him.
Still, Severus' spine itched at having an enemy at his back…but Hermione was there. She'd kept Weasley from attacking him. The trust of that moment caught him by surprise. He did trust her. It suffused a pleasant warmth in his belly and brought out a smirk. And that dragged the attention of the others straight back to him.
"Severus Snape, you have no right to that witch!"
"Molly, please…" Arthur's voice was conciliatory. But it wasn't working on the witch. Her face was puce.
"No, Arthur. He's stolen a good witch."
Severus' met Molly Weasley's glare with a cool one of his own. He lifted an eyebrow. "Right from under your nose? Did I spoil your own theft?"
Molly screeched and spluttered and Severus didn't deny his sharp grin. It would keep them distracted from Hermione. And, fuck, it was the most fun he'd had in an age.
Hermione wrapped silence around herself and Ron. She glanced to the rest of the room and shook her head at Molly ranting at Severus. Her wizard was smirking, the light of devilment in his eyes. He was a wicked man. Her wicked man—
"You've fucked him."
She glared at Ron. She supposed she should thank him. Without his ill-considered proposal she might have gone years without knowing Severus was her soul-mate. The thought cooled some of her anger. But only some. He had sent that letter, after all.
"I'm not a right or a reward to him."
Ron crossed his arms. "You weren't that to me either."
She lifted an eyebrow and from Ron's sudden blanching she knew she mirrored Severus. It brought out a matching smirk. "Really? And I quote, 'I think it's right that I be your first. Your reward, Mione. I know you've always fancied me.'"
Ron winced. "I was dosed on potions when I wrote that."
"If you knew you were incapacitated you should've stopped yourself from writing it, don't you think?" She caught her hand in her hair, the heat of frustration and anger rising in her chest again. "Do you know how many 'offers' I got? Hundreds. Because you opened your big mouth—"
"Hey! It wasn't my fault. She got through the wards—"
"Was she pretty?" It was almost a snarl. Ron Weasley turned into a walking talking gland when there was a pretty girl to impress.
He wouldn't hold her gaze. "She was…all right."
"Your talking even had Percy writing to me."
"Percy? You want Percy now?"
Hermione growled under her breath and almost pleaded for Merlin to rise up again and give her patience. "You're not even sorry this time, are you?" Her shoulders squared. "Severus Snape is my soul-mate, Ron. Perfect for me, as I am for him. Maybe others aren't ready to admit that their soul-mate is someone they would never consider…and have a need to run wild. Maybe that's why magic makes this…interruption possible after the kiss." She shrugged and let out a long breath. "I don't know. I do know that I am ready. That I want him. A wizard who is willing to commit to me. Not a half-life of simply…sex."
Ron snorted. "Then you haven't fucked him yet." His mouth twisted into a sneer. "Not worked up the bottle? He's ugly and old. Is that perfect for you?"
He leant in, looming over her, his blue eyes hard. Hermione resisted the urge to step back from him and her hand tightened around her wand.
"You should grab the chance to spread yourself around, Mione. Once Snape fucks you, that's the end of sex with anyone else. Not that he'd have any other offers." His gaze slid over her and her skin crawled at his blatant leer. "But you're exactly what a wizard needs. That's why you had so many offers. Not in looks, though. You're a witch caught between the kiss and the final bond. No chance of kids or commitment. You're the perfect fuck—"
Hermione planted a fist in his face. No thought. No regret. Ron dropped to the carpet.
She staggered back and her spine hit the wall. Her knuckles stung. Bastard. He'd been her friend…but his thoughtless mouth had gone too far this time. She'd become simply a…a hole to him. Bastard.
Strong arms wrapped around her and she buried her face against a warm shirt, the comforting scents of herbs and sandalwood easing the tight ache in her chest.
"Beautifully done, Miss Granger. Have you thought of taking up the sport professionally?"
Hermione half-hiccupped a laugh. "A career of punching thoughtless wizards. I know a lot of witches who'd pay to see that."
"Indeed they would."
Severus' arms, his body –and no doubt his glare— kept the rest of the Order from her. She heard them, Molly's loud fussing, the rapid discussion of whether Ron should go back to St Mungo's…but she didn't care. Whatever their decision, the hearth flared green and the Weasley tribe vanished.
She'd known that the Order had to be faced, they were people deeply entrenched in both hers and Severus's lives. But gods, it was stressful and she wanted her wizard to herself, somewhere quiet, a nice cup of tea and then them both deliciously naked…
"Your thoughts are turning, witch."
She looked up at him, finding a worry and a warmth to his eyes that eased yet more of her jagged nerves. "Peeking, Headmaster?"
"Pressing a little too hard against me, Miss Granger."
She grinned and willed herself to relax. Done. It was done. Finding her soul-mate had cost her her friendship with Ron…but then that was already fracturing. But Harry… Harry.
Her friend was staring straight at her. She pressed her lips together, denying a new ache and fresh tears. No, she couldn't lose Harry too.
Part 2 of the Order tomorrow :)
Snape cleared the library with an "Everyone leave, but Potter" and they obeyed, though at wandpoint, and Sirius swore under his breath as he stalked from the room. The door closed with a soft click.
Harry rubbed his palms together, a nervous sweat making them damp. His heart thudded. The past few days had been insane. First Ron almost…exploded and then Molly had ranted about the Headmaster 'stealing' Hermione away from them –it seemed suspiciously as if from her personally— until Arthur explained about Snape and Hermione being soul-mates.
Soul-mates. Hermione and Snape.
He hadn't believed it, though he hadn't agreed with the offers sent to try to distract her. She was Hermione. Their friend, almost like a sister to him. She'd never doubted him. Ever. Had always stood by him. And if Snape was her soul-mate, then…he would stand with her too.
His gaze flicked over the way she clung to the thin Headmaster, desperate for something familiar, a strength she needed. There was no reluctance. And Snape –the minute Ron hit the floor— he'd turned to her and pulled her into his arms. Shielding her from the manic rush for Ron.
Sirius had said the bond wasn't final yet. That Hermione still had a form of escape…and the look in his godfather's eye in that minute had itched over Harry's skin. He didn't want to consider that Sirius might have offered—
He shuddered. No, his mind wasn't going there. But Snape had been glaring at him, sniped at him when Hermione was in the corner for those few minutes with Ron. Who else? Who else had followed the Prophet's disgusting call to use a war hero— two of them— in such a way? The thought turned his stomach.
And Hermione was staring at him again, her eyes too bright. There was something lost there. Did she think he'd turn on her like everyone else? He lifted his chin. No, he wasn't a impetuous boy anymore…well, not much of one.
"Honestly, three days out of Hogwarts and already in trouble." Harry gave her a wide grin. "Trying for my record, Hermione?"
She blinked and bit at a trembling lip. Then her nose wrinkled with a strained smile, her eyes little more than slits. Tears leaked. Fuck, she had thought he wasn't with her.
"You're a niffler for trouble, Harry Potter." She pulled away from Snape and he pressed a hand to cheek. He wiped away her tears. He held her gaze and something wordless passed between them. She twitched an easier smile.
Snape fixed on him. The same Snape. Pale, ugly and with a palpable glare. How was he someone like Hermione's soul-mate? "I will be over there." His finger pointed to the chair set beside the fire, but his gaze remained hard and edged with dislike. "Hermione seems to care what you think. I do not." His wand slid into his hand, his knuckles whitening around it. "I will be watching."
Hermione drew Harry to a nearby couch, still in Snape's line of sight, and pulled him down to sit. She wrapped a muffliato around them and tucked her wand away. Nervous fingers picked at her skirt. "I never wanted to marry Ron, you know."
"What did he say?"
Her shoulders hunched and something bleak moved through her eyes before they cleared. "Ron? Nothing I'd rather repeat."
Harry wiped a hand down his face and let out a low sigh. "He's been a dick. I wish I could blame it on his head exploding…but…" He gave her a half smile. "He's Ron. He's always been like this. He won't change." And he knew about the other witches...so Ron's proposal had stunned him. The idiot had never planned to be faithful. "He deserved to be punched."
She stared at him. "You're…you're not excusing him? Supporting him?"
There was a tremor to her voice that twisted an ache in his chest. Shit, he'd let her down so many times. Picked Ron over her…when she'd only wanted the best for him. "I'm not excusing, or supporting any of them." He shook his head. "It's…" He worked a smile across his mouth. "I'll hold your cloak while you punch the whole bleeding lot of them."
Hermione giggled…and her gaze flickered to Snape. Her expression softened. "I seem to have garnered a punching stupid wizards fan club."
Harry followed her to stare at Snape and the other man's mouth thinned. What made her look like that at an old, ugly…terrifying wizard? A wizard who had loved his mother for years. He winced. And how the hell did he bring that up? "You think this is right? This thing with Snape?"
She looked up, her lips pinched. "Headmaster Snape, Harry."
He closed his eyes. He just had to come out with it. "What about my mum, Hermione?"
She was silent for just that little bit too long and Harry cursed himself. Fuck. She…liked Snape. And here he was trying to ruin it for her. He felt like a complete shit…
She patted his hand and he looked at her. There was a shadow in her eyes. Yes, she was well aware that his mum was a...a rival. He winced. Not a comfortable thought. "I'm sorry—"
"It's all right. We've talked about…her."
Snape, the private, reclusive man who'd shielded that knowledge for decades had already discussed it with Hermione? Harry stared at her. "Snape did?"
Her mouth pressed into that familiar white line.
"Fine. Headmaster Snape." He snorted but then sobered. She'd always defended Snape...and had been just that little bit –sod it— very smug when his loyalty to the Light was proven true. Was this –he— another cause to champion? "You know, Headmaster Snape is not a house-elf, Hermione."
She shuddered. "Gods forbid. I wouldn't want to get naked—"
Harry held up his hands, a half-choked sound breaking from him. "No. No information on that. Please. Never."
She sighed and shook her head. "Severus feels right in a way no one has before, Harry. No one." Her gaze was turned in…until she glared at him. Shit, he'd reacted to the use of Snape's name. "Yes, I call him Severus. I'd hardly call him Professor, or Headmaster…" Her smile was sharp, wicked and the back of Harry's neck itched. "Unless we're playing naughty detention—"
"Argh, Hermione!" Harry pressed his hands to his face, blocking out any and all thoughts, as his supposed friend's delighted laughter wrapped around him. A huff of his own laughter broke from him. "You're wicked and evil, just like him. You deserve each other."
Her smile was wide, her eyes bright, luminous. Merlin, she looked…happy. He'd seen her broken and stressed and panicked and amused, but never like this. There was a joy in her. It made his chest ache in envy.
"I think we do." She took his hand and squeezed it. Her head tilted, and that quickness of mind kick in. The one that'd saved him just as many times as the dark wizard still glaring at him from across the room. "You still haven't done anything about Draco, have you?"
Harry blinked. His heart was a stone in his chest and he didn't know how to breathe. She knew. He thought no one knew. Had he been obvious? He cursed himself. Of course he had. He was a bloody Gryffindor. "Hermione…"
"Harry." And there was the bossy eleven year old she never quite shook off. "I've known you were gay for a long time. And Draco Malfoy –though irritating and snobby and an all round git— is very pretty." She smirked at her friend. "Nice arse."
Harry shot a look to Snape and the wizard straightened in his chair. His gaze narrowed in suspicion. Harry wet his lips. "Should…should you be saying things like that?"
"Draco Malfoy is a peacock just like this father…and no doubt every Malfoy down through the centuries. He wants every witch and wizard to admire him."
Harry snatched his free hand through his hair. "He's a Malfoy…" And there was the problem Harry had wrestled with since Sixth Year. The man he wanted, the man he ached for was the enemy. Had been the enemy. The war was over. But still… "I shouldn't…"
She smiled at him. "He is trying to make amends. In that gittish way of his. Throwing money at the right and worthy causes and highlighting them though his patronage."
"I don't even know if he's—"
Harry stared up at her, his mouth falling open as his heart jolted. "You're sure?" He cursed the hope in his voice that almost strangled him. "How…?"
"Trust me. I know." She released his hand and gave it a final pat. "Take the risk, Harry. You never know what that first kiss will get you."
First kiss. The one that had caught her… Harry groaned. Merlin's beard, how bloody selfish was he? Hermione's world was being torn up and turned over and she was concerned for him. "You do this. This is your time. I'm meant to be reassuring you that I will stand with you, whatever your relationship with Snape," he winced, "Headmaster Snape, and here you are supporting me. Again."
"Oh, Harry." He found himself with an armful of teary witch. "Thank you."
He frowned down at her. "What did I say?"
She grinned at him and patted his cheek. "Exactly the right thing."
His frown deepened. "Ah, good." His gaze jerked to Snape and the thinned mouth and burning darkness of the older wizard's eyes ran a chill though his bones. Fuck. Not good.
Harry eased back from her and held up his hands. "No offence, but I think your soul-mate is thinking of eviscerating me."
She snickered. "Yes, he's sweet like that."
Harry snorted and shook his head. "You are a very scary witch, Hermione Granger."
She stood and cancelled the spell surrounding them. "I am that."
Snape was on his feet and stalking towards her. He stood too close, looming over her and his gruff, "You're well, witch?" would have seemed threatening on another man. But this was Snape. Cool, unconcerned, sarcastic Snape. It was practically a sign of adoration.
And Hermione knew it, it seemed. She pressed her hand to his chest and smiled up at him. Something easy and warm. Something strangely intimate. Harry had to look away.
"We should be going." Hermione glanced around the gloomy library. "Not that we should've been here at all."
Snape huffed a breath. "I believe I pointed that out to several Order members in the short time you were preparing to punch Weasley."
Hermione winced, her face going beetroot. "I really have to stop punching people."
Snape brushed his thumb over her bruised knuckles and murmured a spell, the swollen, red skin easing down and fading. He leant forward, pushed back a strand of her hair, whispered something into her ear…and she squeaked. A strange, strained little sound. The flush to her skin ran down her neck to her chest and Harry turned on his heel, heading for the door. He didn't want to think what Snape was saying, what made his friend make that sound…
They were soul-mates and they talked about potions and magic and held hands. They didn't do anything else. Nothing. Nothing at all.
"Remus, this isn't right and you know it!"
Harry opened the door to find Sirius was right on the other side of it. He bit back a groan.
The werewolf ran a hand over his hair. "Merlin, for the very last time, Sirius. This is their decision. Minerva had no right to involve the Order."
"Mione has a choice—"
"And she has made it." Snape stood beside Harry, glaring at his old enemy. "Excuse me," Potter." The Headmaster urged him to the side, before his arm swung back and he punched Sirius in the face. The wizard stared, his eyes glazed, before he folded over and hit the floor with a thump. Snape's smooth voice was little more than a snarl, "That's was for the letter, you piece of shit."
Remus blinked. "He…?"
"Offered his services, yes." Snape straightened and he lifted his chin. "Good evening, gentlemen."
He stalked back to Hermione, who grinned up at him. Snape shook his head and grabbed a fistful of floo powder, declaring for Hogwarts. He pulled Hermione into his arms. His final words caught, "Witch, you're becoming a bad influence on me…"
Harry snorted and stared down at his unconscious godfather. "Should we leave him there?"
Remus stepped over his friend and headed for the kitchen. "Yes, we should."
Yes, I accidentally went a bit Drarry *shuffles feet* I've tweaked the 2 sentences in chapters 1 and 2 to reflect this...
Also, have I mentioned I love reviews? :D
I've been concentrating on my original fics -and will be for the whole year. Half a million words or bust!- but I wanted to add something more to Soul-Mate. I've slotted fanfic writing into Sundays. *fingers crossed* I stick with it. I miss my Severus... *huggles him*
"Are you sure, Hermione?"
She took his hand and kissed Severus' knuckles, whispering a healing spell across his torn and reddened skin. The image of a dazed and falling Sirius Black would be one she'd savour. Treasure. And definitely one to save… She met his dark gaze. "That I'm a bad influence? Absolutely."
His lips twitched upwards. Merlin, with the gold bands of sunlight gilding him from the tall windows of the Headmaster's sitting room and that hint of wicked humour in his endless eyes, he was complete temptation. She stretched up and pecked a kiss. His taste –something so indefinably him— jumped her pulse. "Gods, Severus…"
"I have a cottage." He drew a line along the edge of her jaw, light, almost a ghost of air, but it pricked her skin and deepened the growing ache for him in her flesh. "I would like…" He looked over the shelves, the furniture, the vaulted ceiling of the now familiar round room. "We have agreed, pledged to this bond. When I take you, when I make you mine, our life together will begin. I would prefer for it to be away from here."
She stared at him, before a squeaked, "Your home?" broke from her.
His eyes glittered and his voice dropped low and smooth, his fingers a tease against the sensitive skin of her throat. "Or should I…deflower you in the Headmaster's vast bed?"
Hermione's mouth dried. Oh gods, this was happening. Really happening. Her nerves warred with her want. "A naughty detention…"
Severus' eyebrow rose sharply and Hermione almost groaned. She hadn't meant to say that. She hadn't. It'd been said earlier as something to set Harry's hair on end…not… She shut her eyes and tried to ignore the fire in her face.
"Of course…" Severus' voice was a slow, sinful drawl and Hermione fought to keep her breaths even. Damn him. "When you're here again in the autumn, there are all manner of niches and abandoned corridors were a naughty little apprentice can be…waylaid."
Hermione swallowed. She opened her mouth and closed it again. The want in his eyes trapped her. The thought of something so…improper, of the terrifying –and delicious— Severus Snape snatching her and thoroughly debauching her in a secret alcove… "Yes." She wet her parched lips. "Yes, I want that. I've never… No one ever…" She pressed her fingers to her lips to stop her rambling. Because no boy had ever wanted to even so much as snog her in some shadowy niche. "Thank you."
"I assure you, it will be both our pleasures. Now." He eased her hand away from her mouth and wrapped his warm fingers around hers. Secure. Wanted. "My cottage?"
Hermione jerked a nod. "I would love to stay there."
He wrapped his arms around her and she went to him willingly. She craved the warmth, the scent of him. His rightness. And soon –impossibly— it would get better.
Severus pressed a kiss to her hair. "Ready?"
She nodded against his chest. "Yes."
A moment and a tight, disconcerting squeeze later, and they stood on a stretch of lawn around which was wrapped a rambling, 17th century house. Soft, evening light warmed the yellowed stone, the crenulations of a much older pele tower peaking over the intersecting corners of the slated roofs. Beyond them, birch and oak trees softened the harsh lines. Hermione stepped reluctantly out of Severus' embrace and drew in a fresh breath. The air was heavy with the sun-heated scent of sage, thyme and rosemary and such…peace.
She could see exactly why Severus wanted to come here. Hogwarts was ancient and thrummed with magic. His home –not a cottage, but then the man spent most of this time in a huge castle— had only a hint of magic. It was there in the wards, but it wasn't intrusive.
"It's lovely, Severus."
"It stands on four acres. Not a great swathe of land, but enough to keep out nosy passersby." He took her hand and drew her towards the small, wide door on one of the lower buildings. "I bought it last summer. Recuperated here."
"Where are we exactly?"
"Northumberland. A few miles south of Alnwick."
"I'm jealous. Last summer, I had a noisy, nasty winter trekking around Sydney."
Severus stared at her for a moment, a line furrowing his brow, before he opened the door onto a small boot room and a waiting little elf, wringing his hands. Foy stared up at Severus with complete adoration. "Wonderful Headmaster, your home it sparkles now. Dinner waits. Everything is prepared as you would wish it."
"Thank you, Foy." Severus gave the elf a tight but genuine smile. "You may return to Hogwarts. I believe that my laboratory is in need of cleaning."
Foy clapped his hands together, his great golden eyes glistening. "Oh, oh…" He slapped one hand to his mouth and vanished with a faint pop.
"That was sweet of you."
He growled at her. "I am not sweet."
"He adores you and you're letting him into the inner sanctum of your potions laboratory?" Hermione pecked his scowl with a teasing kiss. "Very sweet."
He slid a cold glare her way and led her through to a small kitchen and on through a warren of other rooms until he stopped in a mullion-windowed sitting room. Shafts of light warmed the soft-yellow walls, paintings, ancient and muggle, and books crowding every available shelf, the hint of contained magic tasting like spice on her tongue.
Severus flicked his wand at the cold fireplace and urged her to sit on the long couch set before it. He took her hand and pulled in a tight breath. Nerves twisted suddenly in Hermione's belly. He was tight, stern…and it scared her.
"Your parents. I hadn't taken them into account. Should I…?"
Hermione's shoulders sagged. Her parents. She ought to feel guilty that she'd not really given them a thought —and how they would react to her marriage— since the whole fiasco started…but it had become easier not to think about them. "It might be best if we take the 'beg for forgiveness' road, rather than ask permission. I…we… What I did –even without the pain of restoring their memories— has not gone down well."
"You saved their lives. Voldemort would have taken them to get to you."
Hermione shrugged. "Our world isn't real to them. How can they feel threatened by something they consider as harmless as moonbeams?"
"And you're leaving on Tuesday?"
"I owled that date. They never replied…"
Severus pulled her onto his lap, his arms going tight around her and she pressed her face to his neck, her cheek against his throat, the reassuring scent of him enveloping her. He was her home now. Her perfect wizard.
She pressed a kiss to his skin. And another. Severus soft moan made her heart skip…and it gave her courage. "Take me to bed, Severus. Please."
"We have dinner waiting…"
She pulled back, met his gaze and she couldn't resist stroking a light finger over his firm bottom lip before she tasted it. Her teeth grazed it and another groan escaped him. "I think..." She smirked. "That it should be our wedding breakfast."
I hope short is considered better than a longer wait? :)
Let me know what you think :)
I can't do a memorial story for Alan Rickman. It would be too painful. However, I can do this…
Severus' —their?— bedroom was a large, square room with smooth walls of midnight blue. His scent was everywhere. Hermione shucked off her shoes and let her toes curl into the deep, soft carpet. She wasn't looking at the bed…
Her nerves pinched in her belly. This was her idea. And she wanted it and him. Merlin, where was her spine? She looked at the bed. A vast, ebony-wooded monster, with a dark silk canopy and layers of silks and pillows. It was…decadent. And not something she thought that the austere Potions Master would find his rest in. Though he didn't plan to rest, did he?
Severus sighed. "Foy believes that I need a nest. Hence the plethora of pillows."
"He cares for you a great deal."
"He does." With a flick of his wand, the pillows were piled on a nearby chair. "He knew." Severus ran his palm over his hair. "What Albus asked of me. Gods, he was angry." A wry smile ticked at the corner of his mouth. "And he shared it with the other Hogwarts elves. Albus had his sweet dish empty for a whole week."
Hermione's heart tightened. "Then, that year, you weren't totally alone?"
"Not totally, no."
Her hand hesitated, before her fingers stroked the smooth sleeve of his frockcoat. He looked prim again, having tidied himself up on the way up the narrow stairs. She liked the look. Just as much as the annoying-Minerva Severus Snape. "Good. I'm glad."
Severus looked down at her, that strange little smile still there and he teased back the wild strands of her hair. A long breath escaped him. "Marry me."
Hermione blinked, her mouth opening and closing. Hadn't she already agreed to that? She was here in his bedroom, ready to seal their bond, commit her life to him…
"I cannot present you with a ring." His hand brushed over her bare ring finger, the touch light and flickering heat under her skin. "When our bond is…proven, magic will mark it there. A sign for others."
He looked at her, his dark eyes fathomless. She could lose herself in his gaze…
"I would like to think," his voice was soft, as much a caress as his fingers, "that perhaps, years from now -perhaps, six- that we would have found this moment ourselves." His gaze fixed on her hand, watching his thumb slide a tantalising stoke across her skin, again and again, increasingly teasing and forcing her breath to hitch. "That we would be standing here, you a world-renowned Charms Master and I," his hand slipped over the bare skin of her wrist to her arm, "a not quite so bitter –but still remarkably taciturn— Headmaster."
Hermione's heart pounded. The slide of his palm, the tease of his fingers over her bare skin and his words… "Where would be have met again, Severus?"
His head tilted as he eased the strap of her dress over her shoulder. He traced the line of her exposed collarbone. "I would not have approached you as an apprentice. Nor have something as prosaic as us finding each other at a Grand Ball." He drew a line to her other collarbone and the other strap to her dress fell away. "Though to see you in your finery…" His eyes held hers and she forgot to breathe. Such darkness and heat. "Another pleasure that awaits me."
Her imagination conjured the proper time and place. "Early summer. The Livraria Chardron in Porto. On the staircase."
"Where else?" He cupped her shoulders before his hands slid down over her shoulder blades. A cool hint of magic chased down the zip and her dress loosened. Severus stepped closer. "Would you ignore me, Hermione? Try to slip past your former, not-quite-so hated Professor?"
The sly tease in his voice made her smirk up at him. "Fishing for compliments, Headmaster?" She pulled in her courage and let her dress fall free to pool at her feet. She lifted her chin, fighting the blush that she was sure reached all the way down to her bra-clad breasts. "I would be…coolly polite. And would keep it to myself how I ached to do this…" She snaked a path down and between the carved-jet buttons of his frockcoat. Her fingers curled away. "We would met again a fortnight later in Milan."
Severus hands dipped to her waist and she shivered under his slow caress. "My, we are well-travelled."
"It's the summer and we have no ties."
He lifted an eyebrow, before his lips brushed against her temple. "None?" The question was little more than a rumble. "You're…what?Twenty six, I believe. No one in that time has pursued and…caught you?"
Without Ron's proposal she would never have known of her soul-mate bond with Severus. Uncommitted sex would still be an option. A possibility… Her chest tightened. Severus' scent wrapped around her fresh, the tantalising hints of skin and something so essentially male. And there…the delicious, enticing hints of her Amortentia scents. No… In that moment, with his heat, the tension, the promise of what was to come, she didn't believe she could want anyone else.
"No. No one would've caught my eye. Or I, theirs. No one would've spared a second glace at Hermione Granger, the wild-haired, ink-stained bookworm."
His lips brushed the shell of her ear. "My wild-haired, ink-stained bookworm…"
Hermione couldn't stop the escaping little whimper. She pressed her forehead to the warmth of his coat. "Gods, Severus."
His velvet voice wrapped yet more enticement around her. "In Milan, I would invite you to take coffee with me." His finger drew a slow line across the band of her knickers and she squeezed her eyes shut against the low, tight pulse in her belly. "You –with your newly revealed fascination with my buttons— would agree."
"I would. Yes."
The words tumbled out. He'd hardly touched her and her skin was on fire, her thoughts a mess. She wet dried lips and focused. She wanted to spin out this scene, give them a logical, concrete foundation to such a magic-touched start to their life together.
"We would lose hours…and at the end, with the waiters giving us the evil eye, because they wanted to shut up and go home, I would live up to being a Gryffindor and…and kiss you."
She looked up at him, her heart in her throat. She could almost feel the warmth of an Italian night, the dim light of the few streetlights seemingly caught in his dark eyes. She stretched up onto her toes and sucked on his full bottom lip. She grinned at him. "Just like that."
"And I would say…"
Hermione squeaked as Severus' large hands cupped her backside and lifted her up, her hands scrambling for his neck as her legs wrapped around his waist.
"…that you need lessons in kissing, Miss Granger."
She glared at him, her eyes finally level with his. "I'm a very good kisser, I'll have you know, Headmaster Snape."
"Will you prove it to me in that little back street in Milan?"
"Yes. Yes, I will." A smile broke from her at the silliness of her declaration. Her face flushed.
"And so we kiss."
Severus' lips brushed hers. Something sweet and slow. Her fingers threaded through his hair and she opened her mouth to him, to the heat of his tongue and to a deepening of the kiss that whipped the fire surging in her veins. She breathed a mewl into his mouth as his hands squeezed, urging her against him. The strangely delicious bite of his buttons into her bared flesh—
"So…" He dropped a light kiss to her parted lips. "We have…recognised an interest in Milan. Now," he carried her towards the bed and her pulse rocketed and she rolled her hips against him, nervous and wanting her ache to be eased, "I am a cautious man. I withdraw."
He placed her on the bed and stepped back. His long fingers slipped over the carved buttons of his frockcoat. Light gilded him and his slow, slow tease. So this was why he'd straightened himself up. She completely approved.
His declaration hit her. Withdraw? Hermione blinked, pulling her attention away from the tantalising reveal of his snow-white shirt. Her gaze fixed on him. "And I'm having none of that." She smirked at the dark amusement in his eyes. His coat drifted to a chair and he untucked his shirt. Again. "I am…tenacious."
His eyebrow lifted, his fingers pausing at his throat. "Really?"
That single look, the single word throbbed through her and she crossed her legs, and fought not to wriggle on the smooth bed cover.
A smile quirked his mouth. "Is there something the matter, Miss Granger?"
His smooth, dark voice rumbled over her and she wanted him. Naked. In this bed. Inside of her. How could anyone deny them this…connection? The wizarding world would rue this day, a day it tried to take away what was hers.
"You are principal speaker at a Potions Conference in Prague a week after Milan."
"Again with the travelling," he murmured and the shirt joined his coat on the chair. "Such a busy life I lead."
His chest was silver with scars, a thin black line of hair chasing down to the band of his trousers. She fisted the bed cover, trying to remember the tale she wanted to weave. Of a dark auditorium and him, standing at a lectern, a tall, black-clad wizard…whose fierce power radiated from him. Sure and proud…
He toed off his boots and socks. And her mouth dried as his dextrous fingers turned to the placket of his trousers, all thoughts disintegrating. He smirked at her, looking up at her through his long, thick lashes. "You were saying…?
Her mouth opened. "Prague." It came out on a strangled breath. "I have memorised your schedule."
"Yes, you are a know-it-all, aren't you?"
"I am in the front row, in your direct line of sight." She held his gaze. That endless dark. The heat and power of him. Everything she wanted. "I'm prim and proper. Master Granger. Charms prodigy. But the only thing anyone thinks of when they see me is the ongoing bet. The one that's been with me since school. Namely how many cats I'll have when a nervous colleague, in a hundred and fifty years time, finds my half-chewed corpse."
Severus' eyes narrowed. "The Weasley twins."
"I will be having…words."
She fluttered her eyelashes at him. "No one believes me when I tell them you're so sweet."
"Prague. I am holding your gaze."
His trousers joined the rest of his clothes and Hermione bit her lip. She stared. Stared hard. Her pulse pounded in her ears. She'd felt it pressed against her, wanted it, gods how she wanted it, but there, the reality—
He cupped her cheek and her eyes jolted to his. "I…"
"I promise," his voice was soft and sincere, "I'm packing a monster and you won't walk straight for a week."
She stared at him, hardly believing… And then a wild peal of laughter burst out. She slapped her hand to her mouth, and half-snorts broke from her. She wagged a disapproving finger at him. "You!" escaped her several times in between breathless giggles.
His eyes shone. "Prague, Miss Granger."
Hermione glared at him, but didn't complain as he moved to stand between her thighs. The alien brush of his skin against hers, so rough against the smoothness of her own legs, and it danced desire under her skin. She pressed a hesitant hand to his chest, feeling the solid beat of his heart. He was all shadow and heat and skin. Gods…
"The prim charms master." Her head tilted. "Who is sitting watching you. And is the naughty little witch who isn't wearing her knickers that afternoon, whilst her thoughts are filled with such licentious images." She drew a finger over his flat stomach—smirking as his breath hitched—and followed the tantalising trail of dark hair. "Taking you into her mouth as you lecture. Licking and sucking. Tasting…"
With a groan, Severus took her mouth.
They toppled to the bed in a delicious tangle of limbs. Magic flared over their skin, his or hers or the soul-bond itself, Hermione didn't know, but all barrier of clothes simply…vanished.
She gasped at the press of him, so close to the wild ache in her flesh. Her hips pushed against his and Severus swore.
"I want more. Not a fuck, not—"
Hermione wrapped her legs around him. She was a bloody Gyffindor and she wanted this man. He was hers. Her soul-mate. The perfect wizard for her. With their luck some disaster would strike, dragging them apart. She pressed a kiss to his mouth. "Fuck now. Slow later. The wedding breakfast is getting cold."
His laughter rocked him against her in such…interesting ways. He murmured a contraception spell before he asked, "So this is what happens after Prague? I'm dragged off and you have your wicked way with me?"
"Yes. Absolutely." Her hands slipped over his back, delighting in the heat of his skin, the smooth run of muscle and it simply being…him. Her thoughts were tangled. This was right. So right. And it would only get better. "Gods, Severus… Please."
His fingers teased the crease of her thigh and she squeaked, squirming against the intimate touch, wanting it, and fighting it as it overwhelmed her senses. And then he stroked her clit—
She bucked against him, arching, straining as a sudden flare of heat smashed over her. Gods. Gods… Was that…? Had that been…? And pressure as he pushed, tight and hot, with his firm hand on her thigh, and his eyes. Merlin… Fierce and wild...free. Hermione couldn't breathe. Didn't want to. That moment was her everything. She wanted to savour it. Her first time. Their first time. And still he pushed deeper... More of him. All of him.
She pressed her hand to his jaw, her thumb dragging at his parted lips. And the magic of the soul-bond, surging over them and around, fire and light and heat. Her tears leaked. It was all so unbelievably right. She met his hips in a slow, slow grind, the pleasure of it a white fire in her flesh. "More." It was a growl. Hardly her own voice. But she needed it. Needed him. "Fuck your wife, Severus Snape."
His black gaze fixed on her, and a dark, wanton smile touched his mouth. He drew back with an easy twist of his hips that pulled a gasp from her…and thrust forward. "If you…insist."
Hermione arced under him, fisting his hair, snatching at his shoulder. "Yes…" She met another hard stroke that fed the tightening coil of need in her belly. And another, Severus driving, pounding, taking her, making her his. As she made him hers. Together. A wild, ferocious claiming.
And there… There. A blistering surge of magic and pleasure, smashing over them both. Fixing their souls. Joining them. Always. Always—
Hermione cried out, lost in him, his touch, his power. Wanting him with her. For him to have the same wild run of pleasure—
His fierce, uneven thrusts, caught and whipped her own joy and broke another hot wave over her flesh. She found his mouth, kissing, biting, taking…until the kisses slowed into a soft, soft tasting, a tease, gentle sighs…and his forehead against hers with his brilliant eyes closed. She pressed light kisses to the thick, black sweep of his eyelashes.
Severus sighed and pulled her to him, burying his face in the wild mess of her hair. His lips burned against her ear and a murmured "Thank you" forced fresh tears.
"You never have to thank me." Her throat tightened. "Never."
Severus eased onto his back and tucked her into his side. He let out a long breath and for a moment, a blissful silence held them. Perfect peace. Beautiful. Just them. As one. And in that moment, Hermione loved...and felt loved.
The last light of the day slanted across the bed and with it, Severus lifted her hand, his thumb tracing over the dark patch of skin on her ring finger. "It's official," he murmured.
A black ring twisted around his own finger and she let out a happy little sigh…as her stomach growled. Something long and low, as if she hadn't had food for a month.
Severus slid her a look. "The wedding breakfast is required?"
Embarrassed, she nodded and let him sit up in the bed. He called for his wand, flicking out a spell and Foy's little feast appeared on sliver trays above the sheets. The rich scents of venison and truffles, shellfish, an extravagant soufflé, little cakes, coffee and champagne smacked into her. Her stomach growled again. And Severus laughed.
"Have I made you hungry, my dear?"
The endearment tugged at her. Was she? Had that moment before been real? True? She pulled in her courage, even as her pulse rioted. "We left one thing out of our travels." He lifted his eyebrow. "Where do we fall in love, Severus?"
He performed a securing spell, ensuring nothing spilled or slipped before he turned to her. He cupped her cheek, his gaze soft. "Here." A smile lifted his lips. "And now."
She gasped, slapped her fingers to her lips and blinked. Hard. Tears fell anyway. "I think, I think this has been happening all year." She pressed her lips together again, unsure. Hopeful. "Hasn't it?"
"Yes." He wiped the tears from her eyes. "Yes, it has."
Severus went back to arranging the trays on the rumpled bed and she pulled herself back together. Love. The start of it at least. So unexpected…and wanted. There was desire, yes. And she hoped he'd liked her. But love? Truly? She bit her lip to deny a stupid grin and his dark gaze slid to her.
"If you have finished squeaking…?" He lifted an imperious eyebrow and Hermione wanted to throw herself at him again.
Had she squeaked? She didn't care.
"Your food, madam."
Oh, she did like him all snarky and imperious. And told him so, to his soft chuckle before she fell on her food. She ate as if she hadn't seen a meal in a week, demolishing Foy's beautifully prepared banquet. Who knew great sex could make her quite so ravenous?
With a flick of his wand, Severus sent the plates and remains back to the kitchen. Hermione full and happy snuggled up against him. She wrapped her arms around him till he grunted. He smelt of her and him, of sex and pleasure. Of lust and of…love. The perfect combination. "No, you were absolutely right. I can't walk. For at least a month." She pressed her chin to his chest and smirked up at him. "In your professional opinion, as my official debaucher, do you recommend staying in bed?"
He pushed back a tangled strand of her hair, his dark gaze stern. His lips twitched. "Yes, Madam Snape, I recommend complete bed rest." He kissed her temple and let out a soft, satisfied sigh. "Sleep, my wife."
She opened one eye. "And there will be more debauching later?"
"I promise." His smile curved against her skin. "Forever…and always."
I have to think that two such clever people need to engage their minds as well as their bodies. :)
As ever, let me know what you think.
Next week: Severus meets the parents. And there will be…words.
I ran out of time to write more today as I have to plot my original fic for next week. So 'Severus meets the Parents' will be in 2 parts. I honestly didn't think it would be this long!
The suburb of Hunters Hill was quiet and leafy, the sky clear and blue even in the depths of an Australian winter. The late afternoon air was warm compared to the deep chill of the cavernous Portkey Stations of London and wizarding Sydney.
The crack of apparition faded and Severus held his breath. But no one came running. No alarms or people screeched. Good… He breathed again and around him the scents of eucalyptus and myrtle hung heavy. Hermione had brought them to a small copse, set behind the municipal grey metal of a bus shelter.
She grabbed his hand and a tremor ran through her to him. He squeezed her fingers in return. She'd never have to face her parents alone again. Never.
He brought her fingers to his lips and kissed their tips. She blushed and he smirked at her. Two whole days in bed…and it still wasn't enough. His mouth slipped to her palm…
She slid him a chastising glare. "Their house is just over there." She pointed beyond the shelter to a low, red-brick bungalow set back behind wooden, electronic gates. "I syphoned as much of their savings as I could to their new names…and my mother, apparently, discovered a hidden talent for the stock market." A smile twitched across her lips. "They are very comfortable. Hence this place." She waved her hand in a general way. "It took me ages to find them because of it."
Then she grew quiet. Her lips pressed together and her body stiffened. Fear held her. How many times had her parents rejected her? Pushed her away, blamed her for doing the right thing? For saving their lives. Hermione was too conciliatory…but then they were her parents. Severus planned not to be. Oh, he'd show them how real magic could be.
He pulled Hermione forward as her feet seemed rooted to the earth. "Either we go across the road to that little house, or I strip you naked and have my wicked way with you, my wife." He lifted an eyebrow. "Well?"
She snorted a laugh. "That's hardly a fair choice, Severus."
He leered at her. "Who ever said life was fair?"
Hermione slapped his arm. "Enough, wicked man." She lifted her chin. "The sooner I see them, the sooner I can get home."
Her eyes tightened and the pain and worry practically ebbed from her. "You have me, now, Hermione. We will see them."
She linked her arm through his, her hold just that little bit too firm and slipped from the copse. Slanted sunlight cut along the street and they crossed the empty road in silence.
The electronic gate was locked against them. There was a little box mounted on a post. Was Hermione meant to buzz her away in? To ask to be allowed to visit. A shiny new car sat before the garage. The Grangers could hardly deny they were home. Would they try?
Severus waved his wand and the circuits on the gate fizzed, reacting –badly— to the sudden surge of magic. "What a shame," he murmured at Hermione's panicked look. "I thought it was a simple lock."
"No you didn't!"
He lifted an eyebrow, remained silent and started to walk up the concrete driveway. The house was still, only the rhythmic call of unknown birds filling the air. He climbed the few stone steps to the meshed front door and rapped on it.
Voices sounded within, male and female. Locks clicked and clunked and a tallish man, tanned, balding and possibly ten years Severus' senior stood in the open doorway. "Who are you? How did you—?" His blue gaze flicked to Hermione who was half-hiding behind Severus' back. "Oh. You broke in." His mouth thinned and he peered between them to the gently smoking wood and metal of his gate.
"We did not break in. There was…an unfortunate accident."
The male Granger blinked and Severus held back a dark smile. Yes, his voice often surprised those who didn't know him. That something so smooth and beautiful could emerge from his ugly old mug.
"May we come in?"
Granger stiffened. "We weren't expecting you." His eyes narrowed on Hermione. "Either of you."
"Now that is a lie, isn't it, Mr Granger?"
The man's mouth pressed together, just as his daughter's did. "Just who are you?"
Severus bowed his head in a polite greeting. "Professor Severus Snape, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." His smile was thin. "You may have heard of me."
Hermione squeezed his arm. "Please, Dad, can we come inside?"
Granger flinched. His hands balled into fists. Severus half-expected him to stamp his feet. He almost laughed. Oh he'd survived much more threatening men than David Granger. "Why did you bring this...this man?"
"I'm a wizard, Mr Granger."
Hermione's father shook his head. "No, not in my house. I will not have –your sort— here again."
Severus tilted his head, his expression purposefully smug. "I do believe that really is just too bad."
A charm slicked the floor under Granger's feet and with a gentle shove, Severus sent him sliding across the bright, wooden floor. He didn't stop till he hit a large, grey leather couch that took up a full corner of the room. Where he fell backwards over it in a surprised lump. Severus escorted a shocked Hermione into the front room and closed the door behind him.
"Severus, this is not helping!" Hermione hissed at him, colour sharp in her cheeks and panic in her eyes. "They'll never—"
He placed a light finger across her lips to quiet her. "They are never going to listen. Leave this to me. I promise, no harm will come to them. But they have to be made aware of your sacrifice." Anger roiled in his gut, but he pushed it down. He would show them.
She pushed his finger away. "And you won't hurt them?"
Gods, she looked so young and scared in that moment, he simply wanted to take her in his arms and shield her from the world. He almost snorted. They still had that bridge to cross. How to explain to two concrete-headed muggles that their daughter was the soul-mate to a wizard almost twice her age.
"They are still your parents, Hermione."
The long stretch of glass doors to the rear of the bungalow creaked open and a small, darker version of Hermione crossed into the open kitchen.
Hermione froze and a cut of pain crossed her face. The damnable muggles were still using their aliases. Which meant they hadn't touched the Therapie of Myalo he'd brewed that Easter.
The female Granger stilled in the wide space that stood between the front room and the kitchen. "Who…? What?" She frowned as she glared at Hermione. "Why are you here?"
"Hello, Mum." Hermione forced a smile as her mother scowled. "I sent an owl. I said I'd be coming the Tuesday after school finished."
"An owl," her mother muttered. "Who ever decided that an amazingly untrainable bird such as an owl would be good replacement for a decent postal service?"
"Beatrice Goody in 1237. Almost three to four hundred years before your Royal Mail, I believe." Severus gave her a dark, patronising smile. "And open to every witch and wizard, not just the special few."
Mrs Granger huffed a breath. "Who are you?"
"He's the Headmaster of that bloody school!" Mr Granger declared, righting himself and gingerly putting his feet on the floor. He gritted his teeth. "I didn't ask you in, now please leave."
Severus ignored him. "Why have you not taken the potion Hermione asked me to brew for you?"
Beside him, Hermione gasped. "You haven't taken it? But the headaches. The nerve pain. The nausea. All of it would go."
"As if we'd trust our health to a bottle of herbs and coloured water!" Mr Granger stood free of the couch, but visibly quailed as Severus gave a malicious glance to his feet. "I threw it away."
"You couldn't." Hermione's voice was laced with anger. "I put a charm on it. It's still on the second shelf of your bathroom cabinet. And can only be emptied away into your mouths."
Pride swelled in Severus' chest for his clever little wife. "Now, you want us to be here as little as I personally want to be here." He frowned at the stiff-backed couple who stood side-by-side in the archway to their kitchen. "I will convince you that your daughter acted in you best interests, you will voluntarily take the potion I brewed for you, then we will leave." His smile was sharp. "Is there anything there that you don't understand? Should I explain in words with less syllables?"
With a wave of his wand, he silenced both of them. Another spell froze them in place.
"Severus…?" Hermione bit her lip, her fingers clutching at his arm. "Should you…?"
He guided Hermione to a deep leather chair and urged her to sit. He squatted down before her, taking her hands in his. "Hermione, I am going to show them the consequences of your…lack of action. It will not harm them. But they will see sense." He twitched a smile. "Do you trust me?"
She stroked his cheek, her eyes warm with love, seemingly uncaring that her frozen parents looked on. "With everything. Since Prague…"
He couldn't stop the matching smile that broke from him. "Prague was an…adventure. And one day, we will make it real." He straightened and willed down the love for his wife, pushing it behind shield after shield. Locking it away. Protecting it from what he must now see. What alternate past he would now push into the Grangers' thick skulls.
The smile he fixed on the errant pair was dark and cold. He drew out his wand and found pleasure in their wide, panicked eyes. "Good afternoon, Mr and Mrs Granger. I am Severus Snape and I am a Death Eater."
It was time to introduce them to a world where Lord Voldemort won.
Part two next week. Then I there's only the epilogue to go. :)
I've written 8k of fanfic this weekend... *flail*
This is a bit more dark than I expected, especially compared to the story that's gone before it. It does make me uncomfortable, but I think I saved the former tone by the end of Severus' POV.
It's not graphic darkness, btw
Voldemort had developed a curse to warp the mind. It had started life as his corrupting the base of a pensieve…but that was hardly enough for the Dark Lord. Down through the years, he'd refined it and with it, he could loose his…imagination on anyone he wished. On special occasions —when he was bored— he shared horror after horror. The curse became his favourite torture for muggles.
Severus had witnessed its use. Watched as spell-frozen men, women and children, linked within the maniac's brain, were literally terrified to death. He'd learned the spell to find a counter-curse. To find protection for his own mind.
And, through the curse, the Grangers were about to see their future. Their very dark future.
Severus held their terrified eyes and lifted his wand. He did not look to a nervous Hermione curled up on that large grey couch.
He had no qualms about letting her parents experience the horror they'd avoided through the actions of their daughter. They needed to know. To believe. He suspected that Hermione had caused this schism within them. For their safety, she wanted her parents to forget magic completely. That fierce want had informed her magic. It brought conflict to what the Grangers knew to be true when their real selves resurfaced. Not that he would tell his wife this. She was suffering under enough guilt.
"Meae mentis menti."
The murmured spell cocooned them all in a wreath-like green light, sealed them together and the familiar threaded drop of his thoughts into the coolness of a pensieve washed over him. Only it was not into a memory…but into a world of his devising. Where his thoughts, his soul was king. His mouth quirked upwards. No objectivity here…
The Grangers stood frozen —as they were in real life— before the gates of Hogwarts. It was summer, though a summer in Scotland…so it was damp and raining. He was striving for realism, after all.
"You may speak, but you will not move from my side."
Mr Granger broke into a barrage of insults, Mrs Granger not far behind. Severus could certainly see were Hermione got her infamous temper. That hadn't changed in them.
Severus waved his wand and their flapping mouths were silenced. He lifted an eyebrow. "I control everything. This is my world. Do you understand?" Both jerked a nod and Severus released them.
"What is this place?" Mr Granger glared across the sodden grass to the misty stone and spires of the school.
"That is Hogwarts. Your daughter's home. It is the summer. Three days after Albus Dumbledore's funeral."
A slender form sliced through the mists, determined, fierce, the rain pinging off the Impervius she'd cast on herself. Severus pushed down the surge of pleasure and pride at the younger Hermione's hard expression. Her beaded bag hung at her hip. But he'd changed the past. She'd had a more difficult time hunting for some of the tomes she had secreted within that voluminous bag. A small and simple obstacle. But it had delayed her by a whole day.
Hermione pushed through the gates. Her eyes were hollow and dark, and already weight was slipping from her. She'd been little more than a broken skeleton when he had set eyes on her again, standing in the bright light of the infirmary—
Enough. Now was not the time to dwell on the love he had for his wife. He iced over his thoughts and slipped into the role of the implacable death eater. And with a wave of his hand, chased Hermione's disappearing form into the darkness.
With a crack they appeared on a well-to-do street. A rich, leafy little town somewhere in Hampshire. The air was warm after the persistent drizzle of Scotland, the scent of lavender lingered in the stillness. It was early, before breakfast and they stood on the narrow pavement before a smartly kept and large Edwardian semi.
"Our house…" Mrs Granger murmured, her hand stretching out to the wrought-iron gate.
Hermione was already on the path that led up to red front door, but her confident stride had slowed… Her wand flicked into her hand and she stopped at the high step. The door was ajar, just a crack.
Severus waved his hand for them to precede him up the wide path. He knew what awaited them and his own heart was thudding, a rush of sweat slicking his collar. This had seemed a perfect plan…but he hadn't expected the illusion to feel so fucking real.
Her parents tottered ahead of him, Mrs Granger clinging to her husband's arm. Their fractured minds didn't believe that magic was possible, and yet here they were, back in their old house, in the past. Merlin help him. He hoped to hell he brought them back to Hermione in one piece and not irreparably…broken.
Shouts, the clatter of furniture and the crack of spells broke him into a run. He shoved her stilled parents into the hall. Glass and broken frames littered the floor. The front room door, hung off its hinges, the white-painted wood blacked with hexes.
"I have you witch."
Yaxley's low, hard voice stabbed Severus through his heart. He knew the death eater had been sent to Hermione's home and found the house empty. But not today.
Severus pushed the Grangers into the front room.
Yaxley, a brute of wizard, dressed in black with a garish, bronze tie, clutched at Hermione. His wand dug under her jaw, throwing her head back against his chest. He rested his chin on her hair, an unpleasant smile tugging at his mouth. Her wand lay on the floor. Broken in three pieces.
"They're gone. Gone and dead, little girl."
His low growl drew a whimper from her and Severus fought not to kill the bastard where he stood. It wasn't real. His Hermione was safe. Safe. But gods, his heart.
"And you, little mudblood. What should I do with you?" His hand clawed her breast and he drew in an exaggerated breath. "I smell virgin meat. And I'm hungry…"
Mr Granger lurked forward, a scream tearing from him…and crashed into the fireplace. The death eater had disapparated with his prize.
Severus buried his horror and the burning ache to chase the man down. To flay him. Aylmer Yaxley had received the Kiss. Still… No, it wasn't real. His Hermione was safe.
He worked the impassive mask over his features, leaving only a glare for the man collapsed by the fireplace and the woman sobbing on the couch.
"This is the risk she took in coming to you. Alone. Telling no one." Anger burned off him. "She is his toy now and she will beg for death."
"No…" Mr Granger fisted his hands in his hair.
"No?" Severus bit out the single word. "Then Yaxley is not here." He waved his hand and they were in a forest, dank and cold. The thick stink of rotting leaves, of death hung around the campsite. Hermione sat outside a patched old tent, warming her hands on a fire. The heavy chain and locket of Voldemort's horcrux hung from her neck. She was gaunt. Her eyes lost. Bleak.
"Yaxley did not catch her. She fought him and won. But you are still gone. She is broken. Her grief at your loss cost her Ronald Weasley. My colleagues caught him with a killing curse at his brother's wedding. Without a third to wear it, with only she and Harry to share the burden of that foul locket... It is slowly, inexorably pulling her mind apart…and, now watch it shatter."
Hermione muttered to herself and stood, paced, her bony hands on the locket. Fisted around it tight and bloodless. "I can't— I should've— They're alive. I can feel it. I can. I have to go to them."
She lashed the locket into the fire, where flames spat and hissed around it. And ran.
Severus watched her disappear into the trees, his heart tight. He wanted his little witch in his arms, proof that these nightmares that had never come to pass. He glared at her parents, her mother hanging onto her father, her face ghost-white.
Harry Potter burst from the tent and stared at the locket in the flames. He fell to his knees, his head bowed and sobs wracked his thin frame.
"That boy dies. Caught and presented to the Dark Lord by the wizard who now has your daughter. Harry Potter has no chance without Hermione. And with him dead, all hope is gone."
Severus waved his hand, unwilling to step into Malfoy Manor. But he had to give her disbelieving parents their last look at the world Hermione had saved them from.
The image of a dungeon floated there in the forest, dark and foul. A cane tapped down the tunnel, the shimmer of long, white-blond hair catching in golden lamplight. A heavy door creaked open and Lucius Malfoy stood in the cell doorway. His perfect mouth lifted up. "How is my mudblood today?
From the squalid corner, a naked Hermione crawled on her hands and knees. Rail thin, filthy with her wild hair matted she stopped in the centre of the cell. She knelt up on bony knees, but fixed her gaze on Malfoy's polished boots. "Very well, sir." Her voice was cracked and quiet. Broken.
Severus breathed in and out, each fill of his lungs a tight, vicious pain. None of this was real. None of it. His Hermione sat on her parents' couch, waiting for his return. And Lucius Malfoy was in Azkaban. His money hadn't saved him. Not this time. Not with Arthur Weasley as Minister…
Lucius smirked. "You will be very well. The Dark Lord wants you bred again."
He stepped into the cell, slamming the door shut behind him. And, three hard heartbeats later, the screaming started.
Mrs Granger was openly sobbing again. Her husband had fallen to his knees, dragging his wife with him. He was beyond tears.
Severus gritted his teeth and swept the image away to another cell. Larger. Clean. An empty space with a flagstone floor and smooth stone walls. Three wooden doors cut into the windowless room. Another wave of his hand and Severus furnished the room with two heavy benches at waist height.
"Finally, we come to you. And why you were taken."
Severus straightened his shoulders. He was almost done. Thank fuck. The insensitive pair of idiots would realise that their sojourn in Australia —with money and sun and such an easy life— was nothing to what it could have been. Nothing.
"Yes, Hermione was an important friend to Voldemort's greatest enemy…but there was also the fact that she is a brilliant witch. Fiercely intelligent and powerful. And that was of great interest to him. How could two muggles –muggles for generations— produce such a wonder?
His voice dropped, low and hard. "You would not die at the hands of his death eaters. This was always his plan for you."
Two of the doors opened, a bell rang and out of either one shuffled a gaunt, naked figure. Scars, old and silver or puffy and red criss-crossed every inch of their stretched, grey skin.
Mrs Granger had gasped and grabbed at her husband. "Oh god, it's us. Us!"
Witches and wizards, dressed in stark black and their faces cold and impassive, appeared with wands and within moments, the two muggles were lifted and laid on the tables. Wands flashed, spells biting into flesh and bone and making blood flow. No screams followed. But both sets of jaws strained and gaped, their cries of agony silenced.
Severus cleared the image, cleared everything and they stood again on the road leading up to Hogwarts, in the cool mist and rain. Severus breathed in the rich and familiar scent of wet grass and wanted to wipe every foul image form his mind. None of it was real. None. But his arms ached for his little wife. To press his nose into her hair, taste the warmth of her skin. To know that she with him and safe. Safe. Above everything.
Mr and Mrs Granger stared at him. Mr Granger ran a trembling hand over his mouth. "Without us safe, she… And because of her, saving us…?"
"I will break this spell and you will go the bathroom cabinet and take that bloody potion. Is that understood?"
Slowly, Mr Granger nodded. "I…" He glanced at his stricken wife who also nodded, "we will."
"Your daughter risked everything for you. And you derided her. She came to me to ask for a potion to help you recover. To heal the unintentional fracture. And you ignored it and her." Anger coloured his words, driven by fear and the ache to get back to his wife. And how these…people had caused his wife so much pain. "Her first thought was to keep you safe. And she did. When the chance came, she returned for you. And you…" He shook his head. "If it were me, I would've washed my hands of you. Left you to fester in your hate."
Severus drew in a calming breath. Hermione would want a relationship with these people. "But that is not your daughter. She is compassion itself." Some of the weight lifted from his chest. It was over. Over. And he saw some of his relief in their faces too. "Her actions concerning you, her continued safety —and sanity— saved both our worlds."
Mr Granger blinked and Severus frowned. He looked…different. His face had relaxed. Had the sharp shock of an alternate future worked some of its own magic in his soul? Severus could only hope. For Hermione's sake, and —the thought sparked— for his own.
Hermione's mother —yes, there was a change in her too, a looseness to her frame, a brightening to her eyes that were a mirror of Hermione's— fixed her attention on him. Something in the curse had worked in his favour. Had his intent fixed them? He didn't care what it was. He was only glad that it had. He touched their thoughts, a light, brief stroke. The horrors they'd seen was...blurring, but leaving them...intact. As they once were. It seemed he hadn't broken them.
Mrs Granger lifted her eyebrows. "And that's why you did this? For her."
Severus straightened. "No, that is not the reason."
Her eyes narrowed on his left hand. She appeared to be recovering some of her wits. Had she observed the same shadow drawn across her daughter's finger? "What are you to Hermione?"
Here was an opening. How much had they changed? And would they favour a man who had just put them through hell? He'd save Hermione the pain of her inconsiderate parents lashing out at her over her unexpected marriage. And he would follow some of his wife's Gryffindor bluntness. "I am her soul-mate. We are married."
Mrs Granger pressed her hand to her throat. She paused and for a moment Severus could almost feel her thoughts turning over. And if he willed it, he could easily expose them, but the sharing of a nightmare was at an end. And he didn't want to risk his strange cure. He lifted his chin, waiting for the disgust, the censure, after all, he'd just inflicted horrors on them. Now it was their turn.
"She mentioned you, when she came. Said how brilliant you were." Mrs Granger's lips twitched. "That potion of yours. Your service in your…the war. She admired you a great deal." Her head tilted and a warmth sparked there, in her quick smile and in brown eyes that reminded him so much of his Hermione. "Do you care for her, Professor Snape?"
"Severus." His name was out before he realised. "And I love her."
Mr Granger huffed a laugh and ran a trembling hand through his sweat-soaked hair. "Thank god it's not that Ronald chap! What a waste of space he is." His face pinked and he frowned. "He's not dead is he?"
Severus bit down on a bark of laughter. Gods, they were the two halves of Hermione. Her intelligence and compassion in her mother. And her blunt Gryffindor nature in her father. Severus shook his head. "Mr Weasley is fine. His…usual self."
"Poor boy…" And his wife slapped her husband's arm and glared at him. Mr Granger lifted both eyebrows, but his eyes shone. "What?"
Severus drew his wand, the counter-curse already on his lips. "I will end the spell."
"Thank you…Severus." Mrs Granger smiled again. Something more sure. Stronger. "It was awful. Horrible. And...and it's receding, thank god." She shook her head and drew in a calming breath. "But it was needed."
Severus inclined his head. Her parents were a complete surprise to him. Clever and sensible, blunt but accepting. They were…Hermione.
And gods, he wanted his arms around his witch now.
Severus murmured the counter-curse and with a disorienting pull on this flesh they were back in the Granger's stark front room. Another quick flick of his wand, and the couple were unfrozen. They staggered and Severus put out his hands to steady them both.
Mrs Granger jabbed a finger behind her. "Your potion, Professor."
Her husband wrinkled his nose. "I hope it doesn't taste of frogs or beetles."
"Honey…" But before Severus could explain further, they were gone, disappearing into the kitchen and then somewhere off to the left. A door creaked open.
"Severus? It worked…?"
Hermione half rose from the couch, but Severus was already striding towards her, his heart in his throat. No other thought in his head but that he loved his witch.
Her silent husband dropped onto the couch, dragged her onto his lap and buried his face in her hair. For a long moment, he only breathed, but then his pained, "You're here. You're safe" broke through.
His desperate words burned against her skin, his arms wrapping so tightly around her that it was almost a deep ache to her bones. "Severus…?"
He exhaled against her neck and a shiver ran through her. "I showed them." Another squeeze and she groaned, before he released her with a half smile. He brushed her wild hair from her face, seeming to track every inch of her with his eyes. "I created a place, a time within my mind, where you didn't perform the memory charm."
Hermione struggled back from him. She stared at him. His eyes, something lost and bleak moved through them. Oh Merlin, he'd likely scared her parents half to death. "You…"
His jaw tightened and a hint of red touched his cheeks. His voice was firm. Sure. "I showed them a truth, Hermione." He stroked her cheek, his gaze fixed on the slow slide of his fingers. "And they will not forget it. Though the images I showed them are fading, the feeling will stay with them, I believe. They accepted it." His eyes held hers and the bleakness retreated, to be replaced with a glimpse of humour. "And us."
Hermione gaped. "You told them." She wagged a finger from him to her. "About…" She squeaked. Her pulse pounded…but he was smiling. "What…?"
"They were also thankful it wasn't Ron."
She half snorted a laugh.
Her mother stood nervously beside her father to the left of the fireplace, her hands in a tight, bloodless knot. There was something in her eyes, something old and familiar… "Mum?"
Cecilly Granger's lips pressed together and tears slipped onto her cheeks. She opened her arms.
Hermione broke from Severus' loose hold and practically leapt into her mother's arms. "Mum…" She choked out the word. And then her father wrapped his arms around both of them and Hermione's chest ached with the joy of it. Tears and laughter swept over her.
She pulled back and grabbed about for Severus' hand. She grinned at him, something wild and free. Gods, she loved the man. He had suffered to give her this. He was simply…incredible "I believe you've met my husband."
Her dad untangled himself with a laugh and held out his hand. "A pleasure to met you, in the flesh as it were. My name's David Granger." The two best men in Hermione's life shook hands, Severus, from this expression, still slightly bemused by the sudden display of Granger emotion.
But her father's smile was open and honest. "Welcome to the family, Severus. We're glad to have you."
Still not sure about this chapter...but there it is ;-)
Only the epilogue to go! Back in week.
Another fic finished... Woot!
Hermione stretched her bare arms above her head and let out a long groan…and since it was still early –the sun not yet fully clearing the horizon— she snuggled back into the soft plumpness of her pillows.
She was alone in the wide bed. Off somewhere else in the hotel suite the shower ran. And there was singing. Definitely singing. Though Severus denied it. Utterly. Completely…
Grinning to herself, she wriggled down into smooth, warm sheets and the let the cool breezes tangle with her messy hair. Severus had opened the windows to the wide Rio Douro again, the lights of Corredoura and Areinho still flickering against the remains of the darkness.
They'd been in Portugal for a week. A rushed wedding present from her parents, when her mother had heard them planning a trip to Porto. Hermione had tried to say no…and Severus hadn't said a word. Was silent. Blank faced. A muscle jumped in his tight jaw though. A constant little tick. And then Hermione realised she was trying to refuse the first true, honest gift he'd ever received…
So she'd grabbed the booking sheets, thrust them into his hands, linked arms with him and declared it wonderful. Severus gave one of his elegant nods to her parents, but his fingers, his fingers were white as he clutched the papers. It was beautiful and heartbreaking.
And the first day, they'd fulfilled their fantasy: meeting on the ridiculously ornate staircase of the Livraria Chardron. Though she'd not been coolly polite as she'd promised. No, she'd stepped up to him and snaked her fingers up between the carved buttons of his frockcoat, until she traced a path to his mouth.
He'd kissed her fingertip and her chest tightened. All that he'd done for her. For her family… Merlin, she loved him. "Let's buy some books, then let me whisk you off so I can have my wicked why with you, Headmaster Snape."
"Miss Granger…" His delicious voice was a low rumble, silken, dark and her eyes almost fluttered shut under its power. "Are you propositioning me?"
She stretched up onto her toes and teased a kiss across his parted mouth. "I'm offering to fuck you, Headmaster." Her teeth grazed his bottom lip. "Thoroughly and completely." She smirked. "Do you I think that warrants a rather severe detention?"
Severus growled at her. Actually growled…and apparated them both to their hotel room, the crack of the spell like a boom of distant thunder…
From her rumpled bed, Hermione looked to the chest —packed to the rim with books— that sat under one of the open windows. They'd had to go back for the books. Twice. Kissing on the stairs was addictive… The shop staff were not amused.
Severus appeared in the wide archway that separated the suite from the bathroom. He scrubbed a towel over his head and a white towel was slung low on his lean hips. Her fingers itched to reach for her wand. A little flick and that precarious towel would simply drop away…
"Madam Snape." Severus tossed the hand towel to a convenient chair. "I am twice your age and I saw to your…voracious needs through the night." He lifted an eyebrow, even as his dark eyes sparked with amusement. "Allow a wizard a modicum of rest and relief."
Hermione pouted and her shoulders slumped. "What is the point of keeping a wizard if you have to pleasure yourself?"
Severus snorted, but a sliver of heat burned in him. "That I would enjoy." She gave him a mock glare. "So what are the plans for today?"
"Well, as you're too old and infirm to spend the day in bed—" Hermione shrieked as a still-damp Severus Snape pounced on her, tangling her in the sheets, until he had her pinned to the bed. She fixed another glare on him. "I thought you were too old…"
His black eyes narrowed on her. "Really…?"
He wrapped the question in sin, knowing how his voice worked on her flesh, on her need for him—
—just as an owl surged into the room and crashed into a pillow.
Severus swore, causing the panicked bird to flap and bark. Hermione fixed him with dark look, before she reached out to stroke the large owl's ruffled feathers and murmured nonsense words to soothe its strained nerves.
Calmed, it offered its leg, she unclipped the shrunken bundle and with a last, baleful glare at Severus, it launched itself from the bed and soared out of the open window.
Severus grumbled and reached for his wand. A quick cleaning spell later and he flopped down onto the wide bed. He lifted an eyebrow at the sheaves of parchment and a copy of the Prophet she'd resized. "What does he say?" He smirked at her surprised look. "I'd recognise Mr Potter's amoebic scrawl anywhere, Miss Granger."
Hermione huffed at the insult and turned back to the letter.
This letter comes to you in a series of tasks.
Her stomach dropped and for a moment, she closed her eyes. What had he done now?
You're giving this letter that look, aren't you? Everything is fine. It's all fine. Just…odd. Sort of.
Anyway, I took your advice concerning a mutual Slytherin acquaintance. And not the one you chat and hold hands with. Because that is all you do, and nothing will convince me otherwise!
I was completely Gryffindor about it all. Blundering about in my invisibility cloak in Diagon Alley, tailing him…until he disappeared down a dark little nook. I had to follow. And me, famed wizard, a great Auror-to-be (can you hear the heavy sarcasm?) was cornered, with a wand at my throat in a heartbeat.
Fuck, my Draco is fast with a wand!
Hermione grinned. His Draco. Her heart did a little flutter.
He yanked the cloak from my face and just stared. Gobsmacked. And this is where yet more of my Hogwarts' House came into play. I kissed him.
Gods, Hermione. He's…
He's my soul-mate.
Hermione slapped her hand to her mouth and happy tears pricked at her eyes.
Severus' voice, sharp with worry, broke into her happy little bubble of joy. He snatched the letter from her lax fingers.
"Hey, I hadn't finished reading…"
His laughter made her stare. "Draco and Potter." He sank back into his pillows, a smirk still lifting his mouth. "Well, that explains the obsession with each other the two have shared down through the years." He waved the parchment sheaf back at her. "Finish it, if you must."
She tugged it from his fingers.
I feel whole, Hermione. For the first time in forever. It's… He's…
Of course we play quidditch. That's all we do. Just the way that you and Snape , Headmaster Snape discuss potions and charms and whatever else. Nothing more than that. Nope. You and he… Handholding. Always handholding.
Hermione snorted…but then it struck her. Harry and Draco had completed the bond. "Merlin, they're married…"
I am happy, Hermione. Ecstatically happy.
And now for the fun bit. I —well, Draco. Have I mentioned how good he is with a wand?— charmed the enclosed copy of the Prophet. There's a section about you. Not…complementary, but it's Skeeter. Then there's the bit about me and Draco. Again, sort of.
See you soonish. I may be busy…quidditching.
"What does the Prophet have to delight us with, then?"
Severus lifted his arm and Hermione snuggled into him. For a moment, she thanked whatever destiny had brought them together. He'd known she'd want just that little bit of comfort, the long touch of skin on skin to ease the stress of what they would find in the benighted paper.
She frowned at the copy she opened out. It was mostly blank. She flicked through the pages, until, on page nine, she found a simple headline and short, following piece.
Severus Snape and Hermione Granger Marry
Headmaster, Severus Snape, PM, OoM:1, married muggle-born witch, Hermione Granger, OoM:1 in a suspiciously secret ceremony last week. The couple have declined to comment on their nuptials.
Many wizards are disappointed at this news. Pluvius Deems, noted Wizengamot member, summed up the feelings of a number of those aggrieved.
"I offered to help. As any upstanding wizard would do. Has done. I know that I, and the august members of the Wizengamot, were all prepared to aid this young witch in her time of crisis. With nothing more than offering our goodwill to keep her safe. Merlin, we already had a rota. All that planning, wasted.
"And did I receive a reply? A thank you? No.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I must away to St Mungo's. I have this rather uncomfortable rash…"
The Daily Prophet wishes the new couple well.
Hermione blinked. A rota! Her pulse drummed, anger tightening her chest. They'd set up a rota to…to fuck her. Bastards.
"We are safe from them." Severus' voice was a warm, smooth comfort in her ear. He kissed her temple. "And I should imagine that St Mungo's is quite busy at the minute, what with all those wizards who –coincidently— owled you, finding themselves rather…discomforted."
"You…?" Hermione threw down the newspaper onto the bed and turned in his arms. She held his black eyes, gloried in the satisfied smirk on his so-very-kissable lips. "You are the sweetest man."
His smirk grew. "I am, aren't I?" He squeezed her behind and she gave a squeak. "Now, finish this blasted game of Potter's, so we can get back to…discussing potions and charms."
He teased a slow kiss and she sighed against him. "Oh, especially the handholding."
Wriggling free, Hermione summoned the creased paper, finding the pages full now, every section packed. The front headline screamed at her and her mouth fell open. "Oh gods…"
Ronald Weasley Proposes Again!
The Minister of Magic's son, Ronald Weasley, seems to have no luck in the realms of love.
First, his proposal to his friend's former girlfriend, Hermione Granger, resulted in him suffering under a soul-mate's curse. And now, as he searches to heal that gaping wound with another love, calamity has struck!
We caught up with Mr Weasley at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. He was naturally broken-hearted that another love had escaped him.
"Look, it was a joke, right? Harry (Potter) said he'd found someone. Fallen in love. And I was happy for him. Of course, I was. I mean, I thought him and Ginny had finally sorted things out. I mean…
"Anyway, I asked him. And he said it wasn't Ginny. But I mean it couldn't be worse than the one Mione (Hermione Granger) got herself lumped with, could it? And then he said he was in love with Malfoy. Malfoy! Bloody Malfoy.
"So I said —as a joke. A joke, understand- 'Look, mate, you don't have to go that far. I'll marry you. Right now. What d'you say?'
"Well, I was just… What are the chances that the two people I grew up with, defeated Voldemort with, would both have soul-mates?"
We are told by his healers that Mr Weasley is "out of sorts" at the second soul-mate curse to have struck him in under a month.
Severus broke out into an honest-to-Merlin belly laugh. Hermione pressed her hand to her face to deny the snorting laughter that ached to break free. "Oh, poor Ron."
"Poor Ron, my arse!" He groaned, wiped his face and let out a long, long breath. "I think Mr Weasley will never marry. Ever."
"No. He won't dare ask."
She shook her head. What were the chances? But the strain of war had made their lives —and their love lives— difficult. Without…destiny, would either she or Harry found happiness? Hermione had never, ever been happier to be a witch. Magic was on her side. And had given her a wizard she would love possibly for several lifetimes…
She snuggled into his chest, her head ducking under his chin. "I'm happy I am though."
Severus pressed a kiss to his hair. "Good." But his hand and sneaky fingers were on the move, tracing a path to her breast. "Now, Madam Snape." He plucked the newspaper from her fingers and vanished it with a wandless spell. "There was talk of potions…"
He rolled her onto her back, pinning her arms above her head and nuzzled against her neck. She couldn't fight the moan, or the turn and twist of her body against his clever touch. In their short marriage, Severus had already mapped every inch of her skin. He was very thorough.
He stretched out against her, his lithe, strong body hot over hers. Releasing her wrists, he held her too him a soft moan escaping. His teeth caught her lip, before a slow kiss consumed her. Black eyes burned into hers.
"And a discussion concerning charms…"
Hermione fought to think, to breathe. The man melted her with a look. "Handholding. There's handholding, too."
"Yes…" His voice was a low rumble as his knuckles teased against her flesh, the familiar ache, the need for him always there. Always wanted. He groaned as he eased in, hard and hot...and right, Hermione lifting her hips up to meet him.
His smirk was dark and wicked. "Have I mentioned how much I adore handholding?"
Hermione pulled his head down, her fingers caught in his wet hair and her lips brushing his as she met the slow, delicious rhythm of his hips. He was hers. Matched her in everyway she needed and wanted. Even down to her sense of humour. It was perfect.
"You're such an…excellent hand holder, dearest…"
He frowned. "Dearest?"
Hermione fluttered her eyelashes at him. "Sweetiecakes…?"
Severus growled at her, lines pinching around his eyes. "I think that insult deserves something very special, don't you, Miss Granger…?"
He thrust into her, fierce and deep and Hermione grabbed at him, held on as he rode her, as he fucked her so beautifully, beautifully hard. Her soul-mate. Her perfect wizard.
And under such delights, the morning vanished.
Let me know what you think! :)