I know, I know...I have about 5 or 6 unfinished fics...but a twist on the Plighted-Pair Charm grabbed me. (It will lack Ginny or Luna)
This fic is more vignette-y in nature.
Oh, and I totally blame that Charm. Honest. *hides*
(A.N nothing SSHG happens till Hermione is 18)
Moaning Myrtle's Lavatory 1992
Hermione stared again at the potion. Ut Animam Meam. An innocuous-seeming little thing. A little commentary, doodle-like drawing and just three lines printed in a neat, plain hand in the flyleaf of one of the most notorious potions books ever written. Phineas Bourne's Moste Potente Potions.
That made her pause. It did. Her mouth was dry as she sat before the simmering pot in Moaning Myrtle's dreary lavatory.
Hermione was all too aware that she should be focusing on the Polyjuice Potion for Harry. That was her goal. It was. But, well, she had a whole twenty minutes before the first part of the brewing was complete…and it was such a little potion…
The tiny quarter-cauldron —a gift to herself for her birthday, but never used— was right there in her potion kit. And if she just so happened to have a single elder flower and five elderberries stashed in it, well that was simply good luck, wasn't it?
Hermione rubbed a hand over her tired face and huffed out a breath. Her pulse thudded. It was such a teeny weeny, little potion, a sprinkle of Latin and —at most— three turns of her wand. Nothing more. And with it she could know. Absolutely.
Where was the harm…?
She cast a tempus spell. Twelve minutes left.
Oh, this would put her one up on Susan Bones, wouldn't it?
And it wasn't as if Hermione wasn't already breaking fifty school rules brewing such an advanced potion in Myrtle's toilet with ingredients stolen from the dreaded Professor Snape's private store…
She let out a long sigh. For once, just once, she wanted to be like any other witch whose heart had caught on a wizard. To use magic simply to see if he could ever…like her. One day. When she was grown.
But with this potion, it was more than that. This little spell would reveal if the man fixed in her heart was worthy of her and she of him…
Warmth bloomed in her chest at the thought.
Gilderoy Lockhart really was so very brilliant. Brave. And handsome. But mostly brilliant and powerful. The two things she admired and wanted for herself. Together, they could…
Hermione blinked. The little quarter-cauldron –no bigger than her hand— sat on the tiled floor. When had she pulled it free? Her wand drew the flower and berries into the air, leaving them to float, whilst, with a swift aguamenti, she filled the cauldron. Another spell warmed it to the temperature of flesh.
The creamy pink flower floated down to the tepid water. The dark berries followed to form a pentacle. She drew her wand around the cauldron rim, the scrape of vine wood over copper driving through her senses, as she murmured the incantation, "ut animam meam".
The liquid in the pot swirled tight under the flower and berries, coils of sweet-scented mist rising, thickening with the second drawing of her wand—
A flash of white-hot fire scorched against her wrists and Hermione cried out, the pain pricking tears, but still, she tended her cauldron and closed the spell with one final chase of her wand.
The mist faded down and peering blearily into the pot she found it empty, the copper shining as if it had never been used.
Fearfully, her heart in her throat, she turned her wrists…and found two golden circles.
She frowned and wiped her knuckles across her wet eyes. Ut Animam Meam –my soul to see— was, obviously now, a translation from a much older spell. From the markings on her wrist in perfect cuneiform, she'd guess Babylonian, if not older. Truly ancient magic.
She traced a thumb-tip over one of the circles and it warmed and hummed at her touch…but nothing else. Had it had no other effect than giving her two stylish tattoos?
Hermione waved her wand and murmured the translation spell she'd wrested from Madam Pince.
Little black letters floated free, twisting and turning to form words in the air before her.
Make my soul, the one to see.
'Make' and 'See'. Her belly turned over. The enchantment must've done something? But she felt no different—
Harry's overly loud whisper echoed around the cold tile walls. Hurriedly, Hermione pulled her cuffs over her new tattoos and pushed her clean cauldron back into her kit. She'd research later. She was very good at research. It was fine. It was all fine—
"Are you in here?"
She cast a tempus. Bugger, it was time to add the leeches.
Blame the Latin on Google ;-)
Also, let me know what you think! :)
The Infirmary 1993
She was still glowing. That strange and soft golden light that seemed almost to float across her skin. It was…disconcerting.
Of course, Severus hadn't been paying attention to it when she was the strange furry cat creature sitting on one of Poppy's fiercely made beds, picking at her fluffy tail with nervous fingers. He'd been too busy holding down his wild burst of laughter.
After all, the Great Bat of the Dungeons didn't laugh, did he?
The hated Mark on his arm was dark. Faded, yes, but there was still life, still his magic trapped within it. Even though it'd been over a decade since his fall, the appropriate masks had to be maintained. But, Merlin, his jaw had ached and the inside of his cheek was raw from the biting to hold his laughter back.
Her furry slip had been the final ingredient. He was well aware of that. And he was impressed that the little muggleborn had not only acquired the necessary book from the restricted section, the ingredients –with the help of her annoying little friends— and then produced an adequate potion.
And now here she was again on one of Poppy's beds. Though, in that moment, there were no nerves, so worried glances. She was a stone-like statue, frozen, petrified by whatever plagued the school.
Her only movement was the rippling glow.
Something gleamed across the line of her wrist…and Severus grew as still as one of the petrified people in Poppy's ward. Ut Animam Meam. He closed his eyes, and his chest tightened. Oh, the silly little chit.
"What have you done to yourself, Miss Granger?" His voice was soft, holding a compassion he could show to no one truly living. Who had caught her eye, held her heart hard enough to risk the Soul-Sharing spell?
A wry smile lifted his lip as he looked down on her. Even the soft, evening candlelight was not kind. She wasn't an attractive child, being all wild hair and too-big teeth. Hermione Granger could very possibly follow his path. An ambitious mind that was far too clever with no hint of physical beauty to make her talent acceptable to others.
She had fallen for it. The short commentary with the spell that promised to reveal your love, promised to open your heart and soul to the one who was worthy. And whoever had transcribed that potion —with those words— was a complete and utter black-hearted bastard.
A wave of Severus' wand obscured and protected the bright flare of her soul. A war was coming and the young girl couldn't afford to have her power, her magic, her very self open to those who would take great pleasure in doing her harm.
Severus traced his thumb over his own wrist, the shine of the golden cuneiform chasing in its wake. He'd made the same mistake at fifteen…
But the one he wished for was long gone.
Severus turned away, his black robes billowing around his dragon hide boots. An old pain seared his chest. He hoped, one day, Miss Granger found someone worthy of the gift she could bestow. And, poor girl, they did have to be worthy. Anyone…less was an anathema. Could not be borne.
The infirmary doors closed quietly behind him and he drew in a long breath. The familiar odours of the castle, of stone and cloth, metal and hints of cold, Scottish wildness did little to ease the pressure in squeezing his heart.
Miss Granger's thoughtless act had pushed up old memories. An ancient pain.
The loathed reminder that his time was gone. And that he would never share his soul again.
Let me know what you think! :)
The Yule Ball, December 1994
Hermione rubbed her thumb against her left wrist, a slow circular turn that eased her growing nerves. Her belly was packed with pixie wings as she waited for Viktor in the bitter air of the steps outside the Entrance Hall.
She flicked another warming charm over herself. It was better there than hanging about on the shore of the Black Lake as others were, waiting on the Durmstrang pupils to disembark. And infinitely better than the manic crowding of the Entrance Hall itself.
She patted back a loose strand of hair, whipped free by a quick gust of cold air. Even locked down with myriad potions and spells, her hair had a mind of its own.
Viktor didn't seem to care that she looked like a wild, book-reading bush most of the time…but now she had a soft and swirling dress and she'd drowned her hair straight. For once, she felt…girlish and so very happy in her skin.
It'd also show Ron that –hello?— she was a girl. And she'd be attending the ball with one of the Champions.
Her skin tingled and she glanced at her wrist. Was that simply the effect of her own touch, or something else? The golden ring had vanished in her Second Year. Gone as she woke up from being petrified.
It was difficult to determine why. A reaction to pulped mandrake or a realisation that the wizard she'd called on was a fraud and an imbecile?
Hermione closed her eyes and bit back a groan, still mortified by her crush. At least —with the circles gone— she wasn't caught with the evidence of her…lack of judgement branded on her for all to see. Perhaps with the desire in her heart fully, fully extinguished, the potion's power was nulled?
A long breath escaped her, steaming white in the air. Somewhere an owl hooted through the silence and the splash of the Giant Squid carried across the lawns.
No, she would never be that…hormonal again.
A hunt through books in her Third Year —abusing her time-turner dreadfully— had revealed little about the potion's nature. There was hardly any record of Ut Animam Meam in any of the books she could filch. And strangely, Moste Potente Potions had vanished from the shelves too.
She winced. Perhaps not so strangely. Professor Snape had to know the cat-girl he was tasked to cure had been playing with polyjuice.
Oh, it had been insufferable not to tell him that she'd succeeded, that she'd brewed a fine batch of potion, thank you very much. It was simply…bad luck that caught her out. And the interference of Millicent Bulstrode's mangy cat.
Not that she wanted to think –at all— about Professor Snape. Her tongue pressed against the smooth edge of her magically modified teeth.
I see no difference.
Foul and hateful man.
A jagged line of fire chased around her flesh and she gasped, her knees almost buckling at the sudden surge of magic. What…? Merlin… There, for a moment, a swirl of gold cuneiform spiralled under her skin. She blinked, her heart a drum, a fierce flush making her warming charm unnecessary.
All right. Not gone.
She frowned. Then what—
Viktor broke free of the cohort of Durmstrang pupils and took the steps three at a time towards her. He grinned, his dark eyes bright. "You are shaking. You should not stand in this cold."
Had that bolt of magic through her bones been a reaction to Viktor?
That thought threw her sideways. Did she think of Viktor in that way? Or was the spell simply making it clear that he did like her? And that, if they wanted, they…matched?
Viktor planted his hands on her bare arms, rubbing in unneeded heat, but there was no further rush of magic…
Hermione forced herself to smile at him, hating that her stupidity over Gilderoy Lockhart was tainting her moment to shine. "I am a witch, Viktor. I cast a warming charm…"
His smile was soft. He wasn't handsome, too thin and dark and angular for that, but there was…something about him. Something familiar—
"Are you and your partner ready, Viktor?"
Professor Karkaroff flowed up the steps in his sleek, silver furs. He bowed his head briefly to Hermione, his smile not reaching his chilled eyes.
Hermione slipped her arm through Viktor's. And still, there was no escaping touch of magic or a hint of it shining out from her wrists. What was this ancient spell truly about?
She cast a smile up at the ever-attentive Viktor and waited with her stomach in knots as the Durmstrang Headmaster threw open the doors to the Entrance Hall.
The golden circles were still and silent for the rest of the night.
Let me know what you think! :)
Clock Barn, Hampshire, August 1996
Hermione plucked at the front of her bridesmaid dress, conscious of the glamour that covered the still healing scar bisecting her chest. Not that any of the guests currently crowding the timber-framed barn could see the injury from their stupid, stupid charge into the Ministry.
Her lips pressed together and an ache burned around her heart. Not for Sirius Black. She'd never really known him, and over the last year being cooped up in his hideous old house seemed to have twisted his mind. Made him thoughtless. Reckless.
She sank back into her chair and sighed. Her mother would chide her for skulking about at their table, for not making the effort with family and friends she hardly saw now from one year to the next…
She wished she'd asked Harry to come with her. A friend to talk to. One who knew. Who understood. But…he was better at the Weasleys in the weeks before school started. Fresh air, flying and close to people who loved him.
The thought sparked that she should've asked Ron.
She frowned into the sparkling remains of her champagne. Not him. He made her wrists itch. And she was not thinking about what that meant.
Stupid spell. As if she needed a poke in the arm every time a wizard caught her eye. And that's all it seemed to be. A 'Hello, he's nice'…and then nothing.
After all, even with a kiss, Viktor had never sparked the spell again.
And Ron, well, it wasn't so much a spark, or that jagged fire that had made her knees weak the night of the Yule Ball, but more a sharp jab. Usually when Ron did something particularly thick-headed…
…like eating all of her grapes when she was on her sickbed.
Sometimes she wondered what she saw in him.
At least she wouldn't have to carry either Ron or Harry through the next year. She huffed a laugh. And poor Neville. She'd never seen anyone divest themselves of their Fifth Year Potions book faster.
She had to wonder if Professor Snape was taking as much joy in being rid of a host of his most hated students—
"Sitting all alone?"
The voice and the flare of hot magic made her start and she clattered her champagne flute back onto the table.
"I'm sorry." He gave her a sure smile as he pulled out a chair and sat, without asking. "Did I startle you?"
"I was miles away," she murmured. She gave him a quick smile. "Hermione, cousin of the bride."
"Anthony, younger brother to the groom." He sighed, something false and overly dramatic. "And passed over to be best man. Those…duties —sadly— fall to another."
Hermione's eyes tightened. Was there something in that statement? About the best man having the pick of the bridesmaids? A prickle of dislike was forming, though he was conventionally handsome in an insipid Malfoy way —all blond and light eyed— and his voice was more attractive, being deep and smoothly rich.
No, regardless of his voice, the spell had got this one very wrong.
His arm slid along the back of her chair. "We should get to know one another."
Hermione almost groaned. He was what? In this early twenties. Had that awful line ever worked on anyone? Even an inexperienced book-worm with one fairly sloppy kiss to her name?
There was an easy why to drive him off. "I'm sixteen."
He shrugged and have her a dark smirk. "You're legal enough."
Hermione stared at him. Her cousin had married this foul man's brother? Her chest was tight and the hint of metal warmed the air as magic rose, fierce and hot, through the bound strands of her hair. "I'm legal?"
"Calm down, sweetheart."
And he grabbed her shoulder.
Anthony's chair slammed to the floor and he was clutching his hand, wild tremors shaking his body. A heartbeat later, he groaned and slumped…and there was a distinct waft of alcohol from his suddenly bedraggled form.
Hermione blinked as the father of the groom and the best man appeared. "Anthony blitzed again?" The best man sighed and hauled the unconscious man to his feet. "You okay, Hermione? You look flushed."
"We were talking…and then he…" She waved her hand at Anthony held up between his father and brother. "He…collapsed."
"Probably best for you. My brother's a bit of pig."
And with that they dragged him away across the dance floor, with jeers and laughter from the parting crowd following in their wake.
Hermione stared after them, her heart beating too fast. Belatedly she sank back into her chair. She had to pull herself together. Her mother was already bearing down on her…very likely in want of an explanation.
Could she give one?
She patted her hair, feeling it loosened from the swell of magic. But that hadn't been her magic, had it? Too hot, too wild. Her thumb was on her wrist again.
Chasing the pattern that wasn't there.
And nothing happened. No letter from the Ministry, no witch or wizard appearing at her home that night to drag her before the Wizengamot for the crime of performing underage wizardry…
The ancient spell had protected her from Anthony the Creep.
Was that it? Did its nature —that it was so very old— also prevent her from being found out?
In the dark silence of her bed, she smirked down at her wrist and gave it an affectionate rub. "Thank you. I won't ever doubt you again."
Severus appears in the next chapter... ;-)
Oh, look, more of this... It really is feast or famine with me, isn't it? *shifty eyes*
Slughorn's Christmas Party, 1996
Cormac McLaggan was a huge mistake.
Why, why, why hadn't she listened to her wrists?
And how insane did she sound —even in her own head— thinking that?
But, for some reason, Cormac had taken an interest in her and then there was Won-Won and Lav-Lav joined at the mouth —and in all likelihood, other bodily parts— and her angered jealousy had simply…exploded.
She groaned and hoped the swathing red drapes transforming Slughorn's office into a gaudy tent were enough to hide her. She pinched the bridge of her nose.
She liked Ron. Possibly in that way. Sometimes. Even as he drove her batty most of the time. And now here she was, desperate to escape Cormac's grabby hands. Ugh, being hormonal got her into so much bother.
Smoke and chatter, the raucous blare of mandolins and the heat of so many bodies pressed into even the magically expanded office drove the pulse of a headache deeper. She wanted her bed, with the curtains pulled tight and a thick silencio blocking every syllable of Lavender's smug boasting.
Harry's hoarse whisper broke into her thoughts. He pushed aside the curtain and snuck into her little alcove "What are you doing hiding here?"
"Not going well…?"
"Piss off, Harry."
He leant back against the dark stone of the wall and pushed his hands into his trouser pockets, as if sneaking about was completely natural to him. This was Harry. Of course, it was…
"They won't last, you know."
Hermione's lips pinched together. "At this exact minute, I don't care. I just want to get through this hideous night and not be susceptible to my stupidly raging hormones ever again."
Harry barked a laugh. "Stupidly raging hormones, Hermione? Really?"
A wry smile broke from her. "Ron makes me so…mad."
"Yes, that is a talent of his."
"Look, I'm going to make a run for it. You find Luna—"
A gasp broke from her and she froze at the sudden hot blast of magic than seemed to— A shudder took her, from the tips of her toes, to the ends of her potion-drowned hair. Gods, gods, was magic supposed to feel so good?
Harry's voice was a distant, irritating squawk…
Fuck, the obscuring spell he'd cast on Miss Granger in her Second Year was splintering...
His gut cramped. When had she come of age? Think, what had Minerva said…? Merlin, she was one of the oldest in her year. An adult witch. His binding was meant for a child.
And now he could see the glow of her soul again. Shit. Fuck. How long had she been roaming the castle like that?
Severus hadn't been paying attention. She was low on his list after Albus, Draco and more Unbreakable Vows than one wizard should ever hold. Draco was a danger to himself and everyone around him. And more so to the best friend of the Chosen One and a vulnerable muggleborn.
He stepped close to another set of billowing red silk, slipped his wand free and flicked a heavy obscuring spell at the girl. Something to bind an adult. This one had to last…
A knot pulled in his chest, what he had to do in a few short months burning through his thoughts.
This bind would have to protect her for Merlin knew how many years.
Her startled gasp broke from her hiding place and Potter's voice —quick and panicked— followed.
Severus winced. Did the girl really believe Potter was worthy?
A dark smile tugged at his lips. Well it would be rather nice to end the boy's fun.
He yanked back the curtain to find a flushed Miss Granger and a flapping Potter. "Twenty points from Gryffindor for…unbecoming behaviour."
Potter glared at him. "Hermione isn't feeling well."
Severus lifted an eyebrow and let a smirk play about his mouth. Arrogant little shit. "Perhaps, it's the company she keeps?" Potter opened his mouth, but Severus had had enough of him. He jabbed his thumb out into the packed room behind him. "Out. Now."
The boy's face grew red and he lurched forward, but Miss Granger put a restraining hand on his arm. No magic. No glow. His obscuring spell was working. Good. Good.
"I'm going to head back to my room, Harry."
For a moment, Miss Granger looked up at him, her eyes glassy and bright. Severus blinked. Shit, the echo of gold was still there…and he'd used the strongest of bindings. But it was only her eyes. Others would believe it came about through the pulse of magic in adulthood, a fact obvious in Rolanda Hooch's strange gaze.
"Good night, Miss Granger."
The uptick of her mouth deepened the shine in her eyes.
He watched Potter help her to the door, clucking about her like a mother hen. Minerva would lose her galleons. She'd a bet on the Ginger Menace as the chit's paramour. And damn it, he'd lost his own bet too, putting forward that no wizard would grab –and hold— her attention.
Miss Granger would be lucky to find any wizard in the school…worthy. The one for whom she had brewed the potion had obviously not been, or she would be with him…
Severus' gut soured. Why should it concern him? He scrubbed his hand over his face. Merlin preserve him, he needed a drink—
But groaned as Argus dragged a protesting Draco into the room.
There really was no rest for the wicked.
Let me know what you think! :)
Very naughty word ahead...
The Forest of Dean, July 1997
His scent was an elusive twist in the air. Hermione drew it in, picking it out from the pervading odours of cloth and earth and stone. He was a lovely mix of herbs and old books. Soothing. Addictive…
Her heart thudded, the ache in her belly deepening. He was there, in the shadows, she could feel the strong pulse of his magic. The power of it. It's…call.
His dark voice, rich and smooth, and just the hint of wanted wickedness that dried her mouth. Forced her lips to part. And the ache, the need to be with him, to trace her fingers down the sharp blade of his cheekbones, to tease a line across the perfect fullness of his bottom lip…
To rise up on her toes and steal a kiss.
Strong arms wrapped around her, offering warmth and comfort and the chill of a large nose rubbed itself against her ear. She squeaked, wriggling, but she was delightfully pinned to a long, firm body.
"Little witches shouldn't wriggle."
His breath was hot over her ear, rippling a shiver —and a fresh wriggle— from her.
"Then wizards shouldn't have such cold noses."
The curve of his smile against her skin tightened her heart. Tears burned. She lived for that smile. To share…joy with him.
He tipped her head back, the smile still lingering, bringing warmth to the blackness of his eyes. The hint of a golden fire burned in their depths and with it the burn of want. "I believe," his voice was a soft, dark rumble that warmed her to her very core, "that I have a way to keep my nose warm. I need a witch. A little one. With wild hair." He smirked at her. "Oh look, I have one right here..."
"And what does this little witch need to do?"
The fire in his eyes held her. She couldn't breathe. Couldn't think. She only…wanted.
His breath burned over her parted lips. A ghosting. So close she could almost taste him…
"She needs to spread her quite lovely legs...wide." His voice was made of sin. So dark. Wicked. "Then, my little witch, I will bury my cold nose in your hot, juicy cunt—"
With a gasp, Hermione snapped up, out of her bed, Severus' name searing her tongue. She slapped a hand to her mouth. Fuck. Fuck.
Her eyes wild, she jerked her gaze around the darkness of the tent. Nothing. No movement. No shocked shouting. Silence. Well, almost. Ron was snoring, loud and gruffly.
Harry had taken the midnight watch.
She slumped back against the thin mattress and dug the heels of her hands into her eyes. Her heart was a drum. The echoes of her desire chased through her aching flesh. Fuck. Fuck. He plagued her still. The need, the desire, the fucking comfort she took from his strong arms.
She glared at her wrists, the gold fading back into her skin as it did now after one of these…nightmares. "Why him? And why aren't you protecting me from him?"
Her heart tightened. Perhaps because some insane part of her needed to believe Severus Snape was a good man. And more than that, her good man…
Fuck, this was so much worse than Gilderoy Lockhart.
She punched her pillow and turned over.
Silent tears fell.
Let me know what you think! :)
The Shrieking Shack, 2 May 1998
Her wrists were on fire.
Was the magic in her finally trying to protect her? But from a dying man?
Merlin, what threat could Severus Snape pose to her now?
Her heart was in her throat, her thoughts dizzying as she passed the flask to Harry to catch the silver flow of tears —of memories— from his eyes. As much as she hated his betrayal, for Severus to die in such a way, the blood pouring from wounds his feebled fingers couldn't staunch, betrayed by his hateful Lord…
A whisper to her or to Harry, she didn't know, but the burn of the Ut Animam Meam spell gripped her and she had to fix her eyes on his. Black. Endless black, but there, something —gods, just like her dreams— a spark, a wisp of faint fire in their depths…
Her heart clenched so tight it forced a gasp from her.
Ron's heavy hand was on her shoulder, yanking at her to move, but she couldn't. Not from the need that held her in that moment. The need to chase that fire, to coax it back to life, for it to burn…
"Come on. Harry's leaving. Snape's dead. And good riddance."
But he wasn't dead, was he? That fire was there, the tiniest of sparks and blood still slipped over his fingers.
Dead men didn't bleed.
"Go. You go. Stick with Harry. S-Snape should, he should face a trial. There shouldn't be…" She was about to say an easy death for him. But, Merlin help her, this wasn't easy. It was low and foul. Even for a wizard such as Snape.
Ron swore, but a second later there was the heavy thud of his boots against wood and only the gurgling gasps of her Professor to melt into the groans of the shack.
Magic burned through her, from her wrists into her fingers, a blistering heat, moving beyond the need for a wand. It was instinct. This magic could save him. Whether he would thank her, she had no idea. Because alive, he would face interminable years in Azkaban for his crimes. But whatever the madness from her Second Year wanted, it apparently got.
Yes, to add to her wild day, she was about to save Severus Snape.
Hermione pressed a hand over his as it still clutched his torn throat, her other pressing to his chest, the fading beats of his heart there under her palm.
His eyes fluttered, spent too long in a slow blink and the curl of fire was little more than a pinprick of light.
Hermione glared at him. "Oh no, you won't die on me today. Not today."
The fire of the ancient magic poured from her, surging into his weakened flesh. A low moan broke from him, his mouth parting, his back a sudden arc. Light suffused him, shining out from under his deathly pale skin.
And his own magic spun there…
Rising to it, embracing it.
Hermione's chest swelled. Gods, there was her magic too, twisting and curling through his in a wild dance. It was hard to breathe. His magic was so…beautiful. Delicate. Powerful. Merlin, endlessly powerful…because he was healing.
Snape's torn skin had stitched itself together under the power of the ancient Babylonian spell. His eyelids drooped, but the fear —and Merlin help her, it had been fear— was gone. He wasn't in danger of slipping away.
Of leaving her.
That thought made her blink and she staggered back, her hands pulling away as she fell on her arse.
There had been those illicit dreams that had plagued her during her Sixth Year…and through the long days in that fucking tent. Of being waylaid in a dark alcove by the Potions Master, of his strong hands, of that voice whispering all manner of depravity…
…but his betrayal had rocked her. In the end, for all his brilliance and power, he wasn't…worthy.
She stared at Snape as he slipped into unconsciousness, her gaze hard on his chest. The solid rise and fall eased her heart.
His betrayal had hurt her. In that moment, she had to admit, broken her.
As sharp a wound as Ron's leaving. She rubbed her wrist, the circle bright and exposed in the gloom. It eased her breathing, clearing her thoughts.
If she were being honest with herself —completely honest— Snape's betrayal was a deeper wound.
"Is that what you wanted?" She huffed a laugh at the flare of cuneiform. "Why you saved him? Deep down, I couldn't see him…die." Hermione choked on the word She pressed a bloodied hand to her mouth, her throat tight, the pain there in her chest at the thought of this wizard…dead.
The taste of blood was foul on her lips and pushed her to practicalities. She whipped up a cleaning spell, flicking the blood and gore away from them both.
Clean, Snape appeared simply to be asleep, his face relaxed and younger. So much younger. But then he was what, thirty eight? Barely middle aged for a wizard. Her fingers were reaching out before she realised, wanting to stroke the pale warmth of his high cheekbone.
Hermione's fingers curled in, nails biting into her palm. No. Her lips pinched together. She didn't want to see him —that hated word wouldn't form. But she did not have…feelings for this murderer.
Right, she had to get Snape somewhere safe. Secure. And find Harry.
It was about bloody time to finally kill a Dark Lord.
Let me know what you think! :)
I'm at the end of the canon part, so I need to get my Snapelings in a row as SSHG relationship starts to pick up. I should be able to post at the weekend. I do have about another 6 chapters so far, but it needs to be tied together more.
This is the joy of having no clue about a story when I post the first chapter. Yep, I am a total panster! ;-)
I have the next 6 or so chapters sorted. And there are probably about 10 after that need to be written. This is turning out to an unexpectedly long fic...
Oh, and as always, though it will get bumpy, I promise this will be an SSHG HEA.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, 2 May 1998
"What do you mean…he's alive?"
Harry grabbed her shoulders and his dirt smeared face loomed into hers. His glasses shone in the soft light of the Great Hall, his green eyes wide. What would Harry do? She couldn't let him kill…Snape. Not in cold blood. Her heart lurched at the thought.
Hermione wet her lips. "He's…alive. Breathing. Healed."
"Where? Where is he?"
"You don't understand, Hermione. I didn't lie to Voldemort" —there was a sharp intake of air from the people surrounding him and Hermione wished she had the energy to roll her eyes— "Severus Snape really was Dumbledore's man. From the very beginning."
Hermione blinked and her belly swooped so hard she almost sagged under Harry's hard hands. "He didn't…?"
"The memories. Dumbledore was dying, he forced Professor Snape —held him to an Unbreakable Vow— to take his life. To end his suffering. Gods, Hermione he didn't want to…"
"His whole life…an act?"
Her heart squeezed so hard, the pain made her grit her teeth. And her wrists, gods her wrists, were a delicious blaze. Hot and sweet…as if the magic caught there knew, all along, that Severus Snape was a worthy man.
"He was devoted to my mother. But she... He called her a mudblood. Fuck, Hermione, even I would've lashed out in that moment. And she never forgave him..." He closed his eyes. " But still...it was for her. All for her."
Harry couldn't have hurt her harder than if he'd smacked a bludger into her chest. "Your mother…?"
He shook her from her daze. "Where is he, Hermione?"
"This way." Hermione pulled her scattering thought into the moment. Her insane dreams had built a life with Severus that wasn't there. Made her believe that he could… Harry's mum. Severus had stood guard over Harry in honour to Lily Potter. Even though the bloody woman had never forgiven him for one word. Just one.
Hermione caught dirty fingers in her tangled her. "Right." She frowned at the too-interested people still surrounding them. She would not subject Severus to their prurient looks. She pulled Harry into the nearest dark corner. "I'll disillusion you," she muttered, her gaze still on the crowd of injured wizards and witches. Her wand tapped the top of her head and Harry slid out of view. She cast the spell on herself, shivering under its wet slide. "I'll take you to him. Then we send a patronus to Kingsley. State S-Snape is not a criminal. He is to be taken into protective custody, not arrested."
"You agree to this, or I can spirit him away."
Harry was silent. Hermione wished she could see his face, wondering whether shock had bloomed across his features. Very probably. "Agreed. But, Hermione—"
She grabbed his hand and hauled him away to the Entrance Hall, still filled with the bedraggled and the wounded…and picked a path down to the dungeons.
"You put him in his old rooms?"
Minutes later, they were outside Severus' old office and Hermione picked apart the wards that had thickened and obscured the rooms. She'd placed a sleeping spell over the wizard and she had his wand tucked into her sleeve. But still, this was Severus Snape, and she hadn't been taking any chances.
Harry closed the door. The room was dusty, but the fire Hermione had set blazed in the hearth and flickered across the bare shelves and the camp bed tucked against the far wall.
Severus lay asleep, his skin a flickering shadowy white in the light of the fire. His face was still…serene. Hermione ached to trace her fingers over his too-familiar features, to have those midnight eyes open again…and for that spark of fire in their depths to blaze…
Hermione's fingers pressed into her palms. She flicked her wand at Harry and herself, easing them back. "Send your patronus."
Severus arm had fallen from the low mattress, to brush his knuckles against the cold stone floor. She drew out his wand and slipped into the inner lining of his cleaned robes. The loss of from its smooth magic against her skin formed a low ache in her chest. Merlin, she couldn't feel this way about him. She couldn't.
Still…the silver light of Harry's patronus flashed behind her as she knelt and wrapped her cold fingers around his beautifully warm hand.
"There'll be a trial, still," she murmured as she brushed her thumb over the peaks and valleys of his knuckles. Just this simple touch. Just this, to ease the hollowness drowning her. "Kingsley must only use…selected memories. Professor Snape wouldn't thank you for letting the wizarding world know about your mum, Harry." She tore her gaze away from Severus' skin to look to her friend, though its alive-heat burned, surging around her wrists, chasing the cuneiform in a delicious swirl. "He's a private man."
Harry's eyes narrowed on her. "Hermione…?"
The crack of apparition broke his question and Kingsley burst through the unwarded door. Hermione was on her feet, her wand in her hand, braced to defend the unconscious wizard on the bed behind her.
"Hermione, step away." Kingsley voice was a low growl and heated, dark eyes fixed on Severus.
Angered heat flared through her flesh and the fury of her own magic twined with the ancient one painted on her. "He's innocent. Harry." She frowned at him and jerked her chin. "Tell him."
"She's right." Harry dug in his jeans pocket for the vial she'd conjured a lifetime ago. "Here's the proof."
She half listened as Harry explained everything he'd seen. Kingsley sent an auror off to dig out a pensieve and moments later the witch —introduced as Gina Wareine— was back with a small, silver rimmed bowl.
They both dipped into the memories, Hermione jealous and hating the fact that they could share something so intimate. But…she could not leave Severus undefended.
Everything in her tired bones screamed it.
Kingsley and the auror staggered back from the bowl. He planted his hand against the table to steady himself and shook his head. "So much… He did so much for us." Kingsley wiped his hand over his mouth. "Hermione, stand down." A curl of a smile touched his lips. "I give you my word, I will protect Severus Snape with my life."
"As will I," Wareine murmured.
A blue swirl of oath-magic thickened the air, binding them to the their word.
"We will take him to a safe-house."
Hermione blinked and her stomach lurched. They were taking him away from her. "He may need medical attention. I healed him…as best I could. Perhaps Madam Pomphrey should…"
Kingsley smiled at her, and the itch of a patronising older wizard kicked at her chest. She wanted to grate out he was perfectly well. Better than well, in fact.
But she didn't. She could hardly admit to the strange magic that held her and found Severus so worthy. Instead she turned, and looked down on the wizard —her wizard?— and took his hand. Not hers. Never hers. His heart belonged to a long dead witch…
Her own heart skittered as she thought his fingers squeezed hers. And there, the movement of his lips. A whisper she couldn't catch.
"We'll take it from here."
In a crack of magic, Severus' hand was torn from hers and Kingsley, Wareine and a slumped, barely conscious Severus were gone.
Hermione sank –dazed— onto the camp bed, the mattress still warm from Severus' body heat. The scent of him lingered like her dream. This was a nightmare. Her stomach roiled and a hot, hard pain tightened around her heart. There was a stabbing pain at her wrists.
Why did she feel as if she'd made a monumental mistake?
Let me know what you think! :)
Corrected a mistake a reviewer pointed out in the previous chapter about Hermione knowing about Lily not forgiving Severus.
And on we go... ;-)
Auror Safe-House Seven, May 1998
He was late. The conference started in —he glanced at the clock on the mantle— shit, fuck, thirty four minutes and he couldn't find his speech notes—
The fond warmth in her voice eased the fierce rush to his blood and he huffed out a laugh. He watched her walk across the room, his leather satchel pressed to the soft swell of her belly.
He shook his head. "I'm like your bloody little crup, so ready to wag my forked tail when I hear my Mistress's voice."
"Just as you should."
Severus couldn't resist and touched a light kiss to her forehead and his hand pressed to her perfect roundness of her belly. Tiny, tiny knuckles pushed against his palm and his heart lurched. His child. Their child. It was incredible…her willingness to commit so much to him. To their future. Together.
Her scent eased through him, following the path of her voice. The warm hints of books and ink and a flicker of jasmine. She was something he'd never had. She was…home.
Hermione grinned up at him and pressed her small hand to his jaw. She really was a tiny little witch, but the need he had to wrap his arms around her, protect her —though he was very aware that she needed nothing of the sort from him— was innate. Sewn into his flesh.
That she let him, welcomed it and him was another swell around his heart.
"Your notes are where you left them. In your case. My annotations are in green ink for asides and red where your dunderhead audience will not understand your brilliance. Blue, a hint to be witty."
Severus mock-growled at her. "They're my notes, witch—"
"And lovely notes they are too." She gave him a snippy smile. "But I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't make certain you present the very best face to your adoring public."
He snorted, "Adoring public, indeed."
"Yes, they are. And I want a pensieve. I do love to watch you go all…Severus Snape. Dark and powerful…and delicious." She stretched up onto her toes and pecked a kiss from his mouth. "I have to run. I have a breakfast meeting with the Minister." She patted her belly. "This one can't get enough of Molly's bacon rolls."
Severus shook his head. "Abandoning me for Molly's cooking—"
She blinked. Her mouth parted. Her eyes shone with the golden fire that sparked in both of them and a hard heartbeat later she was wrapped around him, bound tighter than Devil's Snare. "I would never abandon you. Our future is together, Severus Snape"
He pressed his cheek into the sweet wildness of her hair and held her closer still. "Who would've foresaw your dedication to me, to us, my sweet wife—"
Severus lurched out of bed as if hounded by a horde of dementors. "What the fuck, was that?"
He caught his fingers in his hair, his heart pounded, his wand out and the silent curse still burning. He willed himself to breathe. Slow and sure.
He sank back to sit on his mattress, shaking, his wand lax between his fingers. He stared at the wooden floor, the first light of the late spring morning slatting across it in golden bands.
Why —by all the Great Treasures— was he painting Miss Hermione Granger as his adoring wife? His pregnant adoring wife?
The aurors who took shifts at the safe-house said she'd saved him in that damnable shack. Healed him and secured him and presented him to the Kingsley and Miss Wareine —with Potter— after Tom Riddle fell.
He remembered none of this. Or not much of it.
Severus lay back on his bed. He pressed a hand over his still pounding heart.
He was in the safe-house for his own protection as his trial —and those of the other Death Eaters— proceeded. He'd been assured that this little house, tucked away in the hilly streets of Bath, was the finest one they had. And the assigned aurors were treating him…respectably.
His magic wasn't bound, he had his wand and clothes, access to a decent library and the always execrable Prophet. As he stared up at the ornately plastered ceiling, he wondered if there was a laboratory lurking in its cellar.
He needed vials of Dreamless Sleep.
A delicious fire chased up from his wrists, the flickers of memory, of her touch, her support, the joy of holding her and feeling the pulse of the life they'd created thickened in his mind.
The illicit thought crept through his anger. As if he would ever be worthy of her...
He cursed. And set about his neglected Occulumency regimen. No more. He would not suffer that hideous…fantasy!
Yes, he'd brew his Dreamless Sleep. A crate's worth.
Let me know what you think! :)
There are perhaps another 15 chapters to go on this fic, btw. Possibly.
Auror Safe-House Seven, June 1998
The bind that kept his soul from flaring gold to the gaze of anyone with even a hint of magic…was splintering.
Just as Miss Granger's had. And he didn't know why.
Severus stared at his left wrist. Morning light slatted through one long window, warming his pale skin and making the fierce gold of the cuneiform pattern shine. He pushed his cuff back into place, his eye on the door. It would be best for the aurors not to see another tattoo on him…just as the last one had faded to a grey stain.
He sank back into the heavy armchair set in the corner of the little library and absently picked up his half-finished book. He wondered had Miss Granger found anything new on the potion that afflicted them both. It would be like her to find something that had evaded him in over twenty years of searching…
The gold at his wrist hummed and warmed. No, he would not think of her. She already invaded his dreams -fighting past a gallon of potions- in a way that no student should.
Yet still…she turned though his thoughts…
Was it her saving him? Kingsley said it was her. Insane girl. Why would she save the life of a man she believed had murdered such a beacon for the Light…? But then she was always fair.
His mouth twisted against the word. He did not want…fairness.
Perhaps her thick streak of vindictiveness had wanted him to receive the Kiss? He huffed a laugh, and turned an unread page. That seemed more likely.
The heat of the gold increased, feeding into his veins and he cursed it.
The last time he had felt such warmth…
Severus drew in a breath. It was his past now. His debt to his old love was gone, bled out on the floor of that hated shack.
He'd made the Ut Amimam Meam potion…and fell to his knees at the swift fire that scorched through his flesh. But he'd got it right. He'd smirked at the matching golden brands on his skin. Had there been any doubt? Every potion was perfect under his touch…
And then fool that he was, he'd bragged to Lily. Because it was for her. All for her. He had no money with which to buy her a Christmas present, but he could give her this. Offer himself. To see that he was worthy of her.
She'd grinned and said she could see his soul and that it burned around him in a magnificent blaze. Her fingers teased around the delicate tattoo on his right wrist.
With his eyes closed he could still feel her long-ago touch. The slow stroke of her fingertips, before her breath, then her lips brushed his mouth.
Magic flared between them, hot and fast—
Severus stared down at his book, his gaze mindlessly following the diagram drawn there.
For his sixteenth birthday, she gave him herself.
His mouth curled, a new bitterness stirring.
Yet…it was secret, all a secret. One of the most beautiful girls in the school could not have it known that an unattractive, moody boy fucked her in numerous alcoves, classrooms...even one memorable night on Slytherin's table in the Great Hall. That she came screaming his name. Came so hard he had to invent a spell to quiet her.
He offered his soul…and all that she ever wanted was a good fuck.
Then she told Potter about the potion. Asked him to make it for the bastard who had tormented him for years.
Severus was convinced Lily had thought it was simply a sex spell. And it was her time to move on to more pleasant looking boys.
Whatever magic that held his soul secret was broken. He could only think that Lily had proven herself unworthy of his gift. Now others could…see. Sniggered and pointed at him.
He had bound his skin in obscuring charms. His anger, his loss burst out in one hated word. With it, his world tilted.
Severus never uncovered why others could see something so private, so sacred. He could only think it was a punishment for the brewer for failing to choose a worthy soul.
Miss Granger had made the exact same mistake.
There was a knock at the door and it creaked open on ancient hinges. The main auror assigned to him in the safe-house, Gina Wareine, poked her head around and gave him a short smile. "Ready to go, Headmaster?"
Severus snapped his book closed, dropped it to the table and stood. He smoothed a hand down the ornate buttons of his best coat. He was making an effort.
Today was the day of his sentence before the Wizengamot.
"That title remains to be seen, Miss Wareine."
"As I keep telling you. It's Gina."
She gave him a bright smile, her dark eyes shining. She was —he admitted —a pretty little witch. Only a few years his junior so he was thankful that she had never been one of his students.
"We should remain…professional, after all, I am not yet a free man."
She huffed a laugh. "If you're not only pardoned, but given a First Class Order of Merlin, there will be a riot."
His mouth twitched upwards. "Led by yourself?"
All signs did seem favourable for his release…and then what would he do with his life?
Minerva wanted him to remain Headmaster and he wanted that too. To prove that his first year was an aberration, that he would be a good man to lead the school into the future. There would also be…free time. Personal time.
This pretty, vibrant witch was…interested in him. It was a novel experience. He glanced down at that morning's Prophet and the youngest Weasley boy grinning like a clabbart at--
Severus looked away. And why shouldn't he explore too?
"Then, Miss Wareine, if you do not lead me off to Azkaban and I do walk out a free man, will you have dinner with me?"
Her bright grin was his answer.
Severus ignored the spike of heat at his wrists.
Just to assure people: I am still rabid about my OTP. No Snamione will be harmed -maybe pinched a little, but not seriously harmed- in the writing of this fic... ;-)
The Burrow, August 1998
Kissing Ron was always slightly…quidditchy.
Fast. Brutal. And simply awful in damp weather.
Hermione pushed away, turned her face, and discreetly wiped her mouth on her sleeve. It really was a disappointment after all that pinning in Sixth Year, that now she and Ron were finally a couple…that it really was difficult to be anywhere near him.
But, it was expected of them, wasn't it? Like Harry and Ginny. She told herself —in the beginning— that she was doing the right thing. The proper thing.
A fist clamped around her heart and squeezed.
And The Prophet was filled every bloody day with Severus and that woman, the auror Hermione had handed him over to. Idiot. Fool. She'd thought him still consumed by his love for Harry's mother. If she'd had any idea—
And as if Ron's kisses weren't horrible enough, he still insisted on calling her…that.
Hermione held down a sigh. She was being a cow. But everything after the end of the war was supposed to be right, wasn't it? They'd won. The world was safe from dark magic. And her and Ron, they were right too. Everyone said they were perfect together.
It was their reward. After all, Voldemort was a lump of flesh they'd pushed through the veil. His remaining Death Eaters were nicely rotting away in a resecured Azkaban. Her parents were back in Hampshire, memories returned and even willing to talk to her on occasion.
And Hogwarts. Hogwarts would open again in September…
She breathed through that thought, the nervousness there still. No. Enough. She pushed every pulse of it down. Away.
She could have no thoughts of…him.
Hermione stared out across the swaying tops of the purple buddleia, thick with butterflies. It was all good. Good. And to cap the goodness, it was August, in England, and it wasn't raining.
Well, too much. It did look fairly blustery out across the fields…
They were only days away from heading back to school for their accelerated term to have the 'lost' Seventh Years sitting their exams by Christmas.
Her belly soured. But…she couldn't go back with it…failing like this between her and Ron.
She'd considered sleeping with him. But the kisses they'd shared had been less than desirable. The thought of more of his skin touching hers was seriously alarming. And the magic branded within her had practically howled.
No, she had to end it. Ron could find someone worthy of him. It most definitely wasn't her.
"I think…" She knotted her fingers together on her lap and stared out over the neat little potions garden Mrs Weasley had reinstated as the Burrow underwent repair. Her heart thudded. Her wrists burned as they always did when she had a hard truth to face.
Always there. Though with Hogwarts being out-of-bounds over the summer, she'd not had to chance to delve into its origins again. But it was always the reminder of her Lockhart disaster. And offered clarity. The reality of who a man could be —or were— to her.
And the potion was there to protect her, too. Even from her best friend.
"I think…we should just be friends when we return to Hogwarts, Ron."
She looked at him and twitched a smile. His face was so familiar, his shock of red hair gleaming in the weakening sun. A line drew itself between his brows and Hermione braced herself. He still didn't take rejection well.
Hermione jerked a nod, fighting to ignore the fierceness behind his question. She had to be calm. Her thumb found her wrist over her sleeve and she traced the hidden circle, the hum warming and calming her, not pricking her with pain in that moment. For that she was grateful.
See what is real.
Bloody circles that had been bright and gleaming —and forced her to wear long sleeves— since that day in the Shrieking Shack-
"I've, I've changed!"
The sudden pressure of words escaped her. She couldn't think of the Shack. Nor of the wizard her magic had saved. She pushed down thoughts of Severus Snape. The now familiar lurch of her heart pained her. She'd missed her opportunity. And that thought was excruciating.
"You've changed. I still want to be your friend, Ron. I think it's better for you and for me if I stopped being your girlfriend."
He was staring at her as she stumbled through her words, his blue eyes clouding. "You're breaking up with me?"
She bit back the harsh reply. Obviously, to him, everything had been absolutely fine. Didn't he mind that she often shrank away under his touch? Her heart twisted. She hated to have to hurt him. He'd never admitted it, but he could love her…a lot more than she was…able to love him.
"It's for the best, Ron—"
But she was talking to empty air. He was up and away from the garden bench. The door to the Burrow slammed behind him.
Hermione scrubbed her hands over her face and let out a long groan.
But finally, finally the pain in her wrists that had haunted her summer was...gone.
Let me know what you think! :)
I should be back on this at the weekend. I have things I should be writing...*shifty eyes* and I have to get my mind to writing a bit of that old bastard, Dumbledore. I'm not a fan...
*one breath...* SSHG is my OTP *two breaths...*
La Sorciere, Diagon Alley, August 1998
Each dinner was delayed.
Everything schemed to fill Severus' days with endless meetings and reams of paperwork, days of research and having to still the hand of a wild-eyed Unspeakable as he tried to sacrifice a goat across the Headmaster's desk…
And the absolute limit was reached that morning when he was forced finally to give in to Potter's obscene request.
No, not a request. A stipulation—
"Severus…" Gina's fingers brushed over the tightness of his knuckles and she gave him a soft smile. "You're bending the fork."
Years at the end of Tom Riddle's vicious wand pushed back the spike of pain at Severus' wrists. Another problem of his summer. The low prick, a pained hum from the gold branded on his skin. Most times it was ignored. After all, he'd endured far worse…
Severus eased out a breath and twitched her a returning smile. "Today has been…stressful."
"When are your days not packed with it? And I thought I had a difficult time as an auror." She dipped her spoon into the gooey remains of her dessert. She looked up at him through her lashes, her dark eyes wicked. "You've told me nothing…and we're already on the pudding."
Severus bowed his head. "My apologies. Today, I reported for my sentence with Mr Potter."
Gina winced. "That was shitty of him."
"Wasn't it? It did not go as he expected. I thanked him for the return of my memories…and sat in silence for three hours."
Gina grinned at him. "And the boy wants to be an auror? He'll have to learn to put a stronger case together than he did."
It was what he liked about Gina. She wasn't star struck by who he was, what he had done, by his connection to the Blessed Harry Potter, nor did she question his continuing…irritation with the boy. And he was still a boy, for all that he'd accomplished.
So far he and Gina had not crossed the line from friendship, despite what was reported by the rats at The Prophet. He had no plan to rush.
He was no longer a boy, charging in and being scalded by a witch's vagaries. The thought always pricked, there in the back of his mind. He had shared his soul with the girl he adored. And it hadn't been enough.
And he didn't want to know if another young Gryffindor muggleborn witch would find him equally…lacking. Not again.
Severus twitched a smile, focusing on the woman before him. He wasn't being fair to her. "I have not been the best companion tonight. Again, I'm sorry."
Gina smiled at him, something open and warm. "I should've rearranged. You needed time to yourself, to construct little mannequins of a certain schoolboy and blast them to smithereens…"
"Is that your stress relief?"
Her smile darkened and a flash of heat and pain rocked Severus.
"Amongst other things..."
He stared at his plate, willing his wayward flesh under control. He hated the magic that demanded he ignore this perfectly good woman. "I think we should call it a night, Gina." He drew in a breath and held her gaze.
She nodded, something shifting in her gaze. Perhaps it was disappointment.
Severus got the attention of the waiter, though the manager bustled over. His stomach dropped, the food souring.
"Was everything to your satisfaction, Headmaster Snape?"
"Yes, thank you." Though Severus could not have said what one bite tasted like. By her empty plates, Gina seemed to have enjoyed it, so it hadn't inedible. "The bill?"
"It is on the house."
"I would prefer—"
"My son is alive because of you, Professor Snape."
Oh gods, he had to get away before the whole place started applauding. Again.
Gina was out of her seat and picking up her bag. She glanced at her watch. "We are running late, Severus."
Something he also liked about Senior Auror Gina Wareine. She could get him out of these sorts of situations. So very practical. A trait he admired—
Gina was efficient in getting them out of the restaurant with minimal fuss…and only a light spatter of applause. Severus drew in a breath of clean air and stared up into the just-darkening summer sky. "Thank you."
"Sometimes I'm more your bodyguard than your dinner date."
"It will die down eventually. People will forget."
He hoped. It was getting quite tiresome…and he didn't feel comfortable in accepting so many free meals. The itch of a debt owed was always there under his skin.
"Come on, walk me back and then you can escape to your solitude and exploding mannequins."
A smile had started on his mouth, but he stiffened and bit back a hiss as she slid her arm through his. This was not right. He had to delve deeper into his books. It was soul-magic, but there was no hint of the Ut Amimam Meam being a soul-mate spell, not in the traditional sense. Or it all would've ended with Lily…
They walked in companionable silence and Severus ignored the stares and the whispers and the strange, breathless smiles of those still scurrying about the Alley in the near-darkness.
"This is me," Gina murmured, stopping in the doorway beside the towering cauldrons of Potage's shop. A wave of her wand opened her wards. She turned to him, a hand pressing to his chest. "This is our fourth dinner, Severus Snape, and I think it needs something to mark it."
His mouth dipped to hers as she eased up onto her toes and their lips met. It was a sweet kiss. She tasted of chocolate and hints of dessert wine, and he deepened the kiss —ignoring the spike of angry heat stabbing at his flesh —because, because it was expected…and fuck it all, he was lonely.
A flash of Hermione —of Miss Granger— laughing and smiling with that hulking orange ape at her side, of how, in the photograph Weasley slobbered over her again and again burned through his thoughts.
Everyone had someone, so why not Severus Snape?
Pain tightened his chest. But the only flare of heat at his wrist he would allow was from the quick pinch by his own fingers.
Let me know what you think... :)
I will still continue to write this fic, as I am enjoying it. The structure of it especially. I'm aware I'm losing readers hand over fist...but on we go! ;-)
The Headmaster's Sitting Room – August 1998
Severus caught his fingers in his hair and let his head fall back against the thick padding of his chair. He shut his eyes against the bright flare of candlelight that lit the Headmaster's round sitting room.
If he didn't have company, he'd let them fall to a dim, easing glow. But Minerva liked every nook and cranny bright…perhaps to spy some unfortunate creature upon which to pounce…
"It hasn't improved?"
Severus opened one eye. Minerva perched on the opposite couch, sipping from the remaining three fingers of her single malt. She had yet to reveal her purpose for visiting. The wily witch never simply…dropped in.
"We are scraping by on the bare minimum to the wards. As it is, I've asked Arthur to draft in his more discreet Aurors to patrol. If they thin further, we'll have little choice but to close the school."
He let out a long sigh. Voldemort was dead. The threat was gone…and now his school would be shut down by their enemies' defeat. "My research points to the fact that too many dark souls died here. The residue of their tainted magic has bled into our wards…"
Minerva's lip had thinned. "Then we must recast!"
Severus shook his head. "The Hogwarts wards are unique, created who knows how a thousand years ago. Nothing we could conjure can match them."
"A cleansing then?"
"The Unspeakables tried…everything." He snorted. "I stopped them at the point where they wanted to fling blood about."
Minerva was frowning. "If it would've helped…?"
"It wouldn't. Believe me."
The old witch's lips pinched together and she stared down into her glass. She tipped it, swirling the darkly golden liquid. A long breath escaped her and Severus' eyes narrowed.
So, it wasn't just a dram between friends the night before battle commenced. What a surprise.
Severus swore under his breath. The bloody woman matched a volcano in her warning tremors and spits of smoke and lava before a main eruption. "She'd on the verge of twisting everyone's life up into a knot again."
"She caught me this morning, congratulated me on the addition to my family, and bustled off again in a cloud of sherry fumes."
"Your great niece had her baby when?"
Minerva winced. "When the owl came this afternoon, little Adriana's birth matched Sybil finding me almost to the minute."
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. Fucking fuck. He'd just cleared his life of prophecy…and now another was set to smash into his world.
The old witch sipped at her whisky. "If it's not one thing, it's another." She arched an eyebrow at him and her eyes were bright. "So beyond our imminent loss of a job and a prophecy hanging over us, are your ready for tomorrow? From the replies, we'll have a full cohort. Which will be…interesting."
Severus huffed a laugh. Why had he wanted this job again? "And if the prophecy pertains to Potter, I have every plan to expel him."
Minerva rolled her eyes. "Have you spoken to him at all over the summer?"
"The little… He inserted a clause about a 'chat' as a condition of my acquittal. But, since he didn't nail down the subject of said chat, we did nothing more than an exchange of those damn memories."
Minerva huffed a laugh. "That boy is a crup with a bone, you are well aware of that, Severus."
"Merlin forbid, Mr Harry Potter be kept in the dark, even if its for his own good." His own drink, a golden brandy he'd hoarded for years, drifted up from the small side table to his waiting fingers. The first sip warmed and eased the tight ache in his chest. "He knows there is no fairy tale to his parents' lives. Yet, he still grasps for it. To learn more…" He stared into the dark gold of the glass. "He is best knowing what he knows now and no more from me."
Severus' lips curved into a bitter smile. "After all, he has the wolf to feed him all the false glitter he could ever desire."
"And perhaps he is all too aware of that, Severus." Minerva's voice was soft in the quiet room, only the crack and gutter of the fire to mix with it. "He wants the truth."
"Then let him sift it from what he is told by others. I have given him enough."
Minerva's lips pursed but there was the rub of affection as she muttered, "Impossible man." She sank back into the couch and the old springs groaned and creaked. "And of course –to add yet more to your troubles— you are aware that, as of ten days ago, Miss Granger and Mr Weasley are no longer together?"
She'd never given up crowing about winning her bet.
Severus sneered at her, his heart tight. Pained. He'd been avoiding The Prophet for good reason. His own over exposure. And seeing Weasley...and her. "I am aware of no such thing."
"She finally caught the feckless boy…and once she had him, she threw him back. I said they wouldn't last, didn't I?"
He was not worthy.
The words burned on Severus' tongue, but he didn't give them voice. That would have the old witch running a hard list of questions at him. It appeared the protection he set on Miss Granger at Slughorn's disastrous party had thinned. And the first casualty of that break appeared to be her relationship with Mr Weasley.
He looked to his own wrists, and the long sleeves that hid brilliant swirls of cuneiform. Dying —or slipping to the very edge of it— had splintered his own obscuring spell. This time, no one could see the burn of his soul. Gina had said nothing, after all. But try as he might, he couldn't hide them again.
Miss Granger had saved him, they said. Why she would —in that hideous moment of time— he had no idea. He had only the memory of her eyes, their golden burn had been the last thing he thought he'd see on this Earth.
Had their both having these hated tattoos influenced them? It would explain his dreams… The ones that still plagued him. An ache for her that he fought every day to suppress. All summer long, he'd known she was with another. He frowned. As was he.
But now, now she was free again…and her soul could be in danger.
Severus took a good gulp of his brandy and welcomed the burn of it in his too-tight chest. He would have to meet with her. Show her how to fix her own protection on the glow of her exposed soul.
He held back a sigh.
Yet one more thing on his increasingly shitty list.
I should write more Severus and Minerva scenes. I like them together. But not in that way... ;-)
This is probably about the half way point. Possibly...
The Great Hall – September 1998
Ron was glaring at her. Still. Solidly now for the entire length of the Welcoming Feast. And eating. Glaring and eating.
For ten days he'd said not one word to her. Not one. So much for remaining friends.
Perhaps…once they got back into the routine of lessons and homework and the always-loved quidditch practice some of his ire would ease back. She couldn't love him. Not the way he wanted. The dark thought twitched at the back of her mind that Ron would realise he was a war-hero. And with being a hero, came certain…perks.
She'd already spied more than one seventh year girl sliding him an interested look.
Hermione toyed with the remains of her cheesecake, before laying the fork across her plate. It vanished a moment later. She stared at the ancient table, gouged and scratching over centuries of ravenous children. Shouldn't she be more…upset by her breakup? For years, she'd idled away more than one afternoon imagining herself to be Hermione Weasley…
A prick of pain stabbed into her left wrist. She rubbed it with her thumb. Bloody thing. Why it didn't like Ron, she couldn't say. Yes, he could be immature, and his manners were…lacking, and while he was loyal…it was only to a point—
All right, she could see why he wasn't worthy. Irritating, know-it-all spell.
Hermione pushed back a sigh —determined not to think about the magic that was leading her around by the nose— and picked up her mug. Resting her elbows on the long table she sipped her tea and willed her thoughts to float. To find peace.
As always, she felt…at home in Hogwarts as she did nowhere else.
And it was lovely to be back in the Great Hall, even though it brought with it the noise and clatter of hundreds of children. But there, more clearly than she'd ever felt before, amongst the safe and familiar, the warmth of ancient magic enfolded her. Stones worn by the touch of countless students…all of it had returned, rebuilt by the castle itself in a few frantic weeks.
There were changes, though. She could feel them, a rub against her skin, and the knowledge there that Myrtle's lavatory had been completely refurbished, the staff room had much-improved chairs, but…that there was a strangeness to the wards. Were the stronger? She had Charms first thing. She was certain Professor Flitwick would know.
Hermione risked a glance up at the High Table, to the dark form of the glowering Headmaster. Candlelight gleamed around him, shrouding him in gold. Her belly clenched at the intimate knowledge she had of his power, his strength.
A soft huff escaped her. Though she could never hope to find the courage to approach him. Her mind would be glass to the finest legilimens still living and would burst her shrewish thoughts about a certain auror right at him-
"He won't speak to me."
Hermione glanced back at Harry, who was working his way through his ninth, possibly tenth, rather fat profiterole. She feigned ignorance. "Who? The Headmaster?" She huffed a laugh. "Are you surprised, Harry? You made a talk to you a condition of his freedom." She shook her head. "I told you…"
Harry muttered under his breath, drove his spoon too hard against his plate, splurging cream and chocolate. He scooped the gooey mess around onto his spoon and stuffed the lot into his mouth. He was taking etiquette lessons from Ron again. She was simply relieved to have stopped eating.
He swallowed. "I know, but I was desperate." He frowned at his plate. "Why won't he tell me about my mum? I just want to know more about her. And he knew her."
Hermione's lips pinched together. She was not dwelling on how well Severus Snape might have known Lily Evans. "You have Remus. He was in her House." She shook her head. "Professor Snape gave you his memories."
"And took them back."
"Merlin, Harry. He doesn't owe you a bloody thing. Not now." She wiped her hand over her face. "And you can't charge at a man like Snape and expect results. It will take time. Possibly years."
Harry's frown was deeper. Perhaps she should take her own advice… Tame her urge to throw herself at the man. "Harry…we have time again. It's slowed to a crawl. Nothing is urgent."
She hissed and her mug clattered to the table, splashing hot tea over the rim.
Her wrists were on fire. Again. Oh for fuck's sake what now?
She yanked at her sleeve and the exposed circle flared a brilliant gold against her skin, a lick of chasing flame that boiled her blood. Fuck. Both wrists. It was both. They'd never given her this much pain. Not since the first scoring of them into her flesh. What was this?
Had she spoken too soon? Yes, her luck. Her luck all over—
Harry –and others— were staring at her. "Hermione what the hell are those?"
The clatter of plates and the scrape of the heavy High Table against the flagstones jerked all attention away from her…and to a staggering Professor Trelawney.
A growl broke from the Divination Professor's gaping mouth and a voice not her own broke free,
"Magic gained and magic lost.
Defend this sacred ground in the Four Circles of Sumer.
And magic lost is magic gained,
When the Four becomes One."
And with that, Trelawney flopped back into the startled arms of the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Tansome.
The Great Hall erupted and Hermione slumped against the table, her head tucked into the curve of her arms. Prophecies. What was it with the wizarding world and bloody prophecies? She growled, her belly in a tight knot. Couldn't everyone just gradually work stuff out for themselves…? What was wrong with that?
Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity fuck.
It was her. Of course it was. Two shining Circles of Sumer were burning merrily on her skin for everyone to see...
"I will have silence!"
Severus' voice boomed across the din and silence hit hard. He might be a hero of the last wizarding war, but he was still a dark and fearsome wizard. And everyone did what he said.
"Miss Granger, report to my office."
Which now, obviously, included her.
And snamione is go! ;-)
This is a bit longer than the others. Also I should be back at the weekend. I have a steampunk carriage hijack to write! ;-)
The Headmaster's Office, September 1998
Hermione pulled at the cuffs of her shirt and school jumper, yanking them half way down her palms. Bloody stupid prophecy. The very last thing she'd wanted on her first day back at school was a meeting with the Headmaster.
She covered her face, pressed her fingertips against her eyes and groaned. Why couldn't he still be that murdering, betraying bastard? Why was he honourable and brave…and –argh— seeing someone?
Her belly twisted and swooped. That fact was always there wasn't it? Usually in The Daily Prophet somewhere almost every, fucking day. Because, despite warning Harry, and plaguing Kingsley with owls, the news had escaped that Severus had done everything for Lily Potter.
So for a man so dedicated to one witch, to take up with another was major news. And Gina Wareine was a beautiful, mature witch. A senior auror. She'd even taken an oath to protect Severus with her life after viewing his memories. She was honourable, too. And brave. And she would be good for Severus. And she wasn't his student.
No, she couldn't get caught in these spiralling thoughts. Not now. Not in front of him.
Hermione scrubbed her hands over her face, wished she hadn't as she would be a blotchy mess, cursed herself for caring how he saw her and stood before the great stone gryphon protecting the Headmaster's rooms.
With a groan, it swung back and Hermione willed herself forward. The stone steps took her up. Her heart thudded. How was she going to explain the marks on her arm?
Well, I really fancied Gilderoy Lockhart? You remember him? Complete arse. You flattened him on the Duelling Strip. And there was this teeny weeny little potion… And well, now, it tells me which men in my life are worthy. And you, sir. These circles think you're bloody fantastic…
She fisted her fingers in her hair and tried not to groan again. She failed. "That sounds so right…not."
Hermione stopped at the door to his office. Her heart was in her throat. She hadn't seen him up close since she'd used her magic to save him. Photographs didn't count, even as she hoarded them in the bottom of her trunk like a star-struck girl.
They didn't show the fire in his eyes. Would she see it again? Or was it simply a part of her dream? Had she imagined it in the nightmare that was the Shrieking Shack. It had all become so…unreal.
"Miss Granger, come in."
Wishing she had a time-turner so that she go back in time and slap her younger self's hand away from that little quarter-cauldron, Hermione opened the door, stepped into the office, and closed the door softly behind her.
She pressed dried lips together and managed to mutter, "Headmaster".
Severus stood at the great block of carved wood that was his desk, candlelight again limning him. He was without the billow of his teaching robes. She devoured the look of him in fitted trousers and the frockcoat that emphasised his broad shoulders and the sweet nip of his waist.
"Please come through here, Miss Granger."
The title grated. But she could hardly demand that he use her first name. She nodded —though he wasn't looking at her— and trotted up the steps, past his desk to the little room in the smallest tower. A quiet room, filled with the scent of wax and of him, with comfy chairs, a couch, pillows, the softness of golden lamps…and no portraits.
"Please sit," he waved to the couch covered in a deep, woollen throw.
Hermione sank down and pressed her hands to her knees. Her heart drummed. The warmth at her wrists was wild and dizzying. Magic was moving within her, chasing, yearning. She ached for this dark, imposing wizard standing before her.
"Roll up your sleeves, Miss Granger."
Her belly turned over. Fuck, he knew. Gods… "Sir, I can explain…"
"About the Ut Animam Meam you performed sometime in your Second Year? There is little need."
A dark smile lifted his lip and a flash of heat rocketed through her. Wicked. So wicked. Just like her dreams…
Hermione fixed her gaze on her fingers and worked to push up her jumper and unbutton her shirt cuffs. She pushed everything back to her elbow on either arm and rested her wrists –facing upwards— on her knees. The Circles of Sumer gleamed in the soft lamplight, magic flaring and darting over the ancient language written in gold on her skin.
She…felt Severus dark gaze on her as a physical touch. Hot and smooth and so very wanted. It was a little bolt of pure bliss.
"I believe," his voice was soft, warm and Hermione basked in it, "that the prophecy Sybil declared in the Great Hall concerns the school wards. As much as I find Divination…addled at the best of times, Sybil does have…form."
Hermione pressed her lips together to deny a smile. "Yes, sir."
He lifted an eyebrow. Had he heard her attempt to bite back a laugh? "However, needs must. This is a final resort. The wards are tainted and crumbling. Something in this ancient magic will…clarify and restore them."
"Who, sir, who do you think also has these Circles of Sumer?"
Severus flashed a silent spell down the length of his frockcoat sleeves, opening their jet-carved buttons and he shrugged the coat from his shoulders.
Hermione's belly tightened. No, no it was impossible. Even as she ate up the look of him in a beautifully pressed white shirt. Gods, gods was he…?
Long pale fingers pushed through the bar of one silver and emerald cufflink and then the other, slipping both into his trouser pocket. Then he began to roll this sleeve back. Turning them slowly, end over end as Hermione fought to breathe, concentrate and not swoon like an over-heated Victorian virgin.
He presented his forearms. The grey shadow of the Dark Mark was there on his candle-lit alabaster skin. And below it, on both of his strong, pale wrists was a brilliant Circle of Sumer.
Had she caused it? Or had Severus —Professor Snape!— found that formula in Most Potente Potions too?
"I was fifteen." His smooth voice was little more than a murmur. A whisper of magic drew a chair behind him and he sat. His knees almost, almost brushed hers. "Understand. We have no choice in this. The school's wards must be repaired, or Hogwarts will close."
Obligation. It was a sharp and sour stab through her rising joy. And she didn't need to ask who had driven him to stain his skin gold. It hadn't been her magic holding him. It had, as always, been for the perfect Lily Potter.
"And after, I will show you how to obscure the flare of your soul. You cannot leave yourself vulnerable."
She frowned. No one had ever said that. "I glow?" She blinked. Was that what she was seeing shrouding his pale skin? But he'd never glowed before. Could that be a part of their…awakening to each other through the prophecy?
"I have cast a binding on you twice to protect you, Miss Granger." His eyebrow did its impossible arch. "I will not do so again."
She blinked. "Why not?" Heat suffused her face. As if she could ask that of him. To be looking out for her. He had protected her as a student. As he protected every student. As he was protecting them now with this…obligation. "I'm sorry. Thank you, sir."
Her gaze dipped to his arms and the brilliant circles gleaming there. Was that why he felt so…right? This matching of magic. Like calling to like…
"Four become One. I believe that…merging the circles will suffice. Give me your hands please, Miss Granger."
Hermione lifted them, mere millimetres from his, his body heat washing over bared skin.
She fought to breathe. To pull air into lungs over the drum of her heart, her scattering thoughts and the heated need of the magic chasing under her flesh. "What are these things? Why this magic?" She wet dried lips, her thoughts swirling around themselves. "I mean I looked through every book and scroll I could find. Nothing. There's nothing on it. Only time…and experience. Knowing who was…" Her gaze flicked to his dark, inscrutable eyes and away again. "Right."
The word was little more than a rumble and her heart squeezed.
But then his skin touched hers and all other thought fled.
Fire and magic and…
Her gaze snapped to his. And there, in the blackness, that golden fire blazed. Not a dream. It hadn't been a dream. Gods, his magic… It wound over in dizzying waves, thick and brilliant, endless power, surging over and through her own magic. A breath-taking beauty. But she weaved around and through that vast, protecting sheet, supporting and solid. Unrelenting. Committed.
It was… Her heart stopped beating. No air found her lungs. It was almost blissful…perfection.
And the magic from the circles blew through it as a wild wind…until it exploded outwards in a blinding flash of light.
Hermione slumped back against the deep soft wool of the throw and breathing in Severus' calming scent of herbs and old books. Skitters of magic —of illicit pleasure— danced through her flesh. Gods… Was it the same for him? A wild smash of incredible joy?
But Circe's left tit, she was drained. So tired even blinking was an effort.
"Miss Granger." Severus' voice was a delicious rumble that dragged a soft hum from her, flickering against the fading magic still caught under her skin. "You are on the edge of magical depletion. Here." He was a shadow over her, warm and wanted. A cool vial touched her lips and a sweet liquid trickled into her mouth. "Swallow."
She obeyed and a flush of energy chased through her flesh. It would be a short reprieve. Only hours of rest and sleep would ease her magic back. "What…was that?"
"We restored the wards." Severus frowned out into his office, that familiar line darkening between his brows. "Temporarily."
He called a house-elf and gave brisk orders to take Hermione to her room and make certain that she remained in her bed until breakfast the next morning.
Hermione bit back a groan. "We'll have to do this again?" The little elf clasped her fingers in its leathery grip. "What is this magic?"
Severus' voice was strangely hard and cold and his eyes distant as he muttered, "I intend to find out."
It's still going to bump along for a while... Just saying ;-)
All right, I got out of writing Albus –mostly— by dragging out another portrait… ;-)
Severus closed the door to his office and warded it.
He caught his fingers in his hair. That…
It had been more intimate than sharing this magic with Lily. The melding of their magics with the fire of the spell writhing through it. Gods...
He hadn't been able to trust himself to walk the young witch back to her room. Even the closeness of ushering her out of the door had his body hard and the ache to shove her up against the stone wall and… The power –the yearning— to have her. To make her his… It was an unending fire in his bones.
He swore and wrapped the ice of occulumency around his traitorous thoughts. He looked to the wall and to the wizard who had fixed sharp blue eyes on him after the…ritual. "What is this, Albus?"
Severus glared at the painting. The portrait that had smirked at him only minutes before as he and Hermione broke apart. And he vowed, if the old bastard so much as twinkled at him, Severus would take his wand to that swirl of ink and canvas. He would have no more of his twisting lies.
"Ut Amiman Meam is an ancient magic, Headmaster." Phineas Nigellas Black leant forward in his frame, breaking in before Albus could open his mouth. "Salazar Slytherin himself found the scrolls in the Library of Constantinople. Lost. Forgotten."
Severus almost growled. "I don't need a history lesson, Phineas." He scrubbed his hands over his face and expelled a long breath. "I apologise. So Salazar, did this to himself…"
Severus blinked as his thoughts turned. Unique magic. The Circles of Sumer were the unique magic the Founders had wrought to protect the school. To build the wards that had lasted for almost a thousand years.
"Yes, I did."
The low voice cut across Severus thoughts and he looked to the high corner, where Salazar Slytherin himself sat.
It was rare for the ancient wizard to interact with the living. Now he strode down through the other scattering portraits until he stood in the one next to Albus. He was a striking man, tall and dark and –even in paint— a fiercely powerful wizard. He slid the former headmaster a dark look, before he fixed his hard gaze on Severus.
"The ancient priests of Sumer protected their temples with this spell. The circles were worn only by the most powerful wizarding priests and priestesses." Salazar drew in a breath, his wide shoulders lifting. His monkey-ish features pinched. "Our original wards were not enough. Not with the growing threats from the hated and vicious muggles. Rowena agreed that our school needed similar protection to the Sumerian temples."
Merlin… Severus' heart was a fist in his chest. He –they— were following in the footsteps of two of the greatest Founders. Chosen at fifteen and twelve to rival their power…
Salazar clenched his hands behind his back. "I created the potion and caught the Sumerian spell within it. We had to prove that we had the power, that we were worthy to give our magic to this school. Dedicating ourselves to it. Protecting it." He lifted his chin and was silent for a hard heartbeat, before, "The potion altered the original spell."
Severus' gut clenched. Fuck. Fuck. That was a 'we only found this out afterwards' tone of voice. What in Merlin's name had he caught himself up in now?
"How has it changed?"
Salazar's thin lips pressed together and for a moment he paced to either edge of his ornate, gold frame. The room was silent, the other portraits practically leaning out of their own frames to watch the hunch-shoulder'd Founder. The portraits would know the full truth —they were a part of the magic of the castle, after all— but still, to hear it from Salazar's own lips had to be riveting.
"It bound us."
Rowena Ravenclaw's soft voice came from the shadows of Severus' office. Witches and wizards parted reverently as the blue-gowned witch eased through the portraits to stand in Salazar's frame. She pressed a pale hand to his sleeve and…something flared. Even in death. Even through paint. The ancient spell caught and held them.
Salazar shrugged his arm free of her touch. "The instructions for the potion and spell were breathed into the architecture of the school—"
"Salazar…" Rowena shook her head, her fingers hovering over his shoulder.
"He saw your soul. And you…" It was a hiss, angered, pained. "We were not bound. Are not." His hand slashed the air. "I have said all I will!" And with that he strode out of the frame and disappeared from the Headmaster's Office.
"When I performed the spell, Godric saw the glow of my soul." Rowena sighed, her gaze still fixed on the path Salazar had taken out of the room. Then her dark eyes found Severus. "As I believe a certain young Gryffindor saw yours, Headmaster."
Severus blinked. How could she know about Lily…?
Rowena gave him a slow smile. "We knew another had successfully completed the spell. We sought you out. The castle told us. It perceives time in a different way to us…and knew that it would again need the Four Circles to secure its children. With the wards so brittle, this day, from necessity, it pushed its knowledge into Sybil Trelawney."
But Severus' mind was fixed on Lily. "How? How could she see me?"
Rowena's dark eyes were distant, lost. "For a while, she had your heart. You gave her the right."
"But everyone saw—"
"It was a lie, Severus. No one but she, at that time, could see your soul. Unless they have your heart, those without these marks," she exposed her own wrist and the gold curling there glittered and shone, "can see nothing."
Severus ran a shaking hand over his hair. Lily had told James Potter about the spell, about the glow it brought, and he'd spread that to others to torment him… Fuckers.
"The Four Circles bind you and Hermione Granger. You must…join to complete the sealing of the new wards."
"Join…?" Severus frowned. Hadn't they just done that?
"Sex, dear," Dilys Derwent piped up from a frame crowded with other peering witches. She gave him a leer that twisted his stomach. "It's always sex."
Rowena's lips pressed together. "Yes. That." She folded her hands before her, neat and prim. "You can have no others without pain. That is the change we found. What Salazar found, when I…" A sadness wrapped around her. "Your summer has pained you, has it not?"
Severus rubbed at his wrist. The gold gave a smug hum under his touch. He'd not seen Gina since the middle of last month. He'd always assumed absence caused the lack of pain…but had it been lessened by Hermione's ridding herself of her ginger ape?
"Ronald Weasley was a threat. A serious threat. Even when he is obviously not worthy of her, Miss Granger is —as Salazar's potion revealed— so very loyal."
"The increased fire was her stubborn attachment to Weasley?"
Rowena nodded. "And then there is you and Miss Wareine."
A fist tightened around his heart. Merlin, if he'd accepted Gina's invite into her flat after they shared a kiss… The pain of that…shared with Hermione.
His chest hollowed, leaving something sour and cold in its wake. He could no longer see her. Something, someone else he had to give up for the sake of the greater good.
"When we…join" —Dilys snorted and Severus slid a glare at her— "then the wards are fixed? The spell is complete?"
"It is. But the binding will remain."
So…he was caught with the little witch, only hers, as she was only his. The echo of his dreams teased him again. Of warmth and family. Of finding such…commitment with her. Truly, that wouldn't be…
Severus frowned. "Why does Salazar not consider you bound? I saw the magic flare between you."
Rowena pressed her fingers to her lips. Her painted eyes shone with tears. "He… I… It cannot be changed. But even a thousand years has not softened him." She turned away and wizards and witches parted before her. "He is not mine. As I will never be his." And then she was gone.
Severus stared after her. "I…don't understand."
"You are soul-bound, but not soul-meant." Albus' voice was a slash across Severus thoughts. "What you feel. What Miss Granger feels. It's created by the spell to hold your magics together. Nothing more. It is not real, Severus. None of it."
Severus stared at him.
Bastard. Fucking bastard.
Albus Dumbledore always, always had to have that last twist of the knife.
Hogwarts – September 1998
Hermione felt as though a troll hadn't quite finished sitting on her.
She groaned as she stumbled out of bed and blindly made her way into her little bathroom. All the returning Seventh Years had their own rooms. And that morning she was grateful. There was no way she could've coped with Lavender's morning chatter, or Pavarti's unnecessarily loud cosmetic charms. Even the thought of it…
She half-heartedly went through her ablutions. Her hair, wild and uncombed, got a detangling charm and a hasty bun. Throwing on her uniform, she was about to declare herself ready for the day…but she stopped, and stared at her wrists.
The gold gleamed. A rich, full colour blossoming against her skin.
"Got what you wanted did you? Hmm?"
She yanked her cuffs back into place and grabbed her bag. She really had to stop talking to her wrists. And worse, expecting them to answer.
She banged the door to her room shut, warded it and tramped down the stairs. At least her magic seemed to be fully recharged after the insane surge demanded of it the night before.
Not that she was thinking about that. Not at all. And definitely not the slow, hot delight of Severus starting to strip for her—
The Common Room fell to silence as she stumbled out under the arch. Two many eyes stared at her. The tension was thick, heavy. Once one of them worked up the courage to open their traps…it would fall into a nightmare—
Harry lurched from his chair, grabbed her arm and hauled her through the portrait. He pulled her onto the stairs.
Hermione yanked herself free. "I am not baggage, thank you, Harry."
"You know what it was about to get like in there." He smirked at her. "I do know a thing or two about being in a prophecy."
"I suppose you do."
"Do you know what it means yet?"
They swapped to a second staircase and Hermione stared around the vast space, crowded with portraits. The great swirl of magic was there again, thicker than the night before. More…right. But, still not enough. Severus —and she had to think of him as that after what they had experienced— had said it was temporary.
And her belly did an excited little flip at the thought that they really would have to…touch again. It was insane that so little could charge her blood and have her flesh humming. She fought back a wry smile. Perhaps she'd call it the Snape Effect.
Harry was looking at her, a line forming on his brow. Yes, she hadn't answered his question.
"Cast a muffliato, please."
He frowned, but did as she asked. She didn't want to tax her magic till she had at least a full English in her belly.
"After the Battle, so much dark magic bled into and corrupted the castle's protective magic. These things." She tapped her wrist, but didn't expose the gold. "Will, over time, restore that magic."
"So you have two of these gold things and…who else?"
Hermione drew in a steadying breath and used the excuse of moving to a new staircase to buy her thudding heart a moment of respite. "Professor Snape."
Harry gaped at her for another full staircase and a half. "So last night you…" —he wiggled his eyebrows at her— "with Snape?"
"You were…one with Professor Snape? Merlin, Hermione…"
Hermione blinked, caught his meaning and slapped his arm. Hard. "No. Nothing like…like that. Get your mind out of the gutter, Harry Potter!"
Even as her mind had been wallowing there for far too long. And did it mean that? Her belly gave another hot little flip. Finally to have her chance with him. It was just as blissful a thought as the surge of wild magic had been. More so.
"No, we held hands and—"
Harry sniggered and she thumped him again. He winced, rubbing at his arm. "All right, no mocking the prophecy magic."
"Ron isn't happy, by the way."
Hermione winced. "It can't be helped. This is…necessary. It is…" She pressed her hand to her forehead and swooned dramatically against the balustrade. "Prophesied!"
Harry snorted. "You're in a good mood about it. Considering it's such a woolly subject."
She slid him a glare. "The change is there in the wards. It's a quantifiable difference."
"But not fixed. So you have to hold hands again." They stepped off the last stair together. "For how long?"
Hermione finite'd the masking spell and presented a short smile to Severus as he swept out of the shadows. In the cool light of the Entrance Hall, his pale skin gleamed, but not with the extra fire of the spell that held them. But still…there was something magical about him.
His dark gaze fixed on her. The hint of fire in its depths tightened her chest and she tried —and failed— to think of anything but losing herself to that delicious power again.
A line frowned between his brows. The fire flickered and dimmed. "My office now, Miss Granger." His voice was stiff and short and he waved a black clad arm. "If you please."
Hermione's belly growled —loudly— and she shut her eyes, her face hot as mortification ate at her. Gods..."We were on our way to the Great Hall…"
"I will provide breakfast."
Harry turned with her and she almost winced. He hated to be kept out of anything.
"Not today, Mr Potter."
And she was ushered through a nearby door…that opened onto a small, round sitting room. A long window looked out high over the rolling lawns and towards the distant quidditch pitch. This was his private sitting room. Hermione bit her lip to deny escape to a far too girlish squeak. She didn't need that. He'd probably seen her being silly on the stairs, and then her noisy stomach. A squeal would only add to the mounting evidence of her being a giddy school girl. And that was the very last thing she wanted. Or needed.
Severus pulled out a chair at the small table and Hermione sat. A host of breakfast dishes appeared and with a quick, nervous smile, she set about piling beans, bacon, an egg, mushrooms and black pudding onto her plate.
The Headmaster watched her silently, a coffee cup cradled in his large hand.
Her gaze flicked up to him. "You're not eating, sir?"
"Not as yet, no."
He sipped is coffee and his eyes closed. There were dark bruises under his eyes, as if he'd not slept well. A fist tightened in her chest. How was his magic, if he'd not found adequate rest?
"Are you feeling well this morning?"
"As well, as can be expected, Miss Granger."
Miss Granger. The title soured the last of her food. She set her cutlery across the empty plate and picked up her mug of tea. She sank back into the frame of the chair. "Thank you for breakfast," she murmured and twitched a smile. "What am I here to discuss, sir?"
Severus stared at the cleared table top.
Albus fucking Dumbledore had told him the young witch who had fired his dreams felt something for him, then took it away with his next painted breath.
The pain of that had seared Severus' night. He'd ached to lose himself in brandy…but feared what that lack of control would drive him too. He couldn't make a fool of himself before another Gryffindor.
So he'd walked the corridors till the sun rose and exhaustion drove him to his bed for a few thankfully dreamless minutes.
He looked at Hermione. Morning light shone around her, the hints of her golden soul there and drops of fire in her eyes. She looked nervous…but there was a wistful hope there.
His gut soured. And now he had to break her with the truth.
I found this lurking when I was thinking about playing with Severus...
Headmaster's Sitting Room – September 1998
"The portraits in my office have seen fit to make the nature of Ut Animan Meam clear."
A knot twisted and tightened in Hermione's belly. His expression was shuttered, the fire still too pale in his dark eyes. The Four Circles concerned the wards, didn't they? Had they done it wrong? Was it not enough? Though how she could give anymore of her herself…?
Harry's words lanced back at her. Being One. She was sure from the heat in her face, she was completely scarlet. She put her mug on the table, certain her sudden shaking would spill it, and knotted her fingers in her lap.
And as much as she wanted him —gods, how she did— this had to put him in an impossible situation. Even though she was of age, and technically, a voluntary pupil now, she was still his student. He was also…committed elsewhere.
Merlin, this was a mess. The need to grab a time-turner and head back to Myrtle's lavatory was a fierce burn under her heart.
Hermione drew in a steadying breath. It was time for her to be an adult. "There's more to our…physical connection."
Severus stilled before he jerked a quick nod. "As we saw yesterday, our actions brought only a temporary fix." His lips pressed together. "To ensure that the wards are fully formed for the centuries ahead, we must have…intercourse."
There was a slash of red to his high cheekbones and Hermione didn't know whether she wanted to shrink back into her seat or cover his hand with her own.
She wanted him…but not like this. With such a clinical word. Intercourse. It smacked of another word. Of hideous obligation.
"We are bound through a corruption of an ancient Sumerian spell. Hosts to it. Even the Founders did not see every outcome of their meddling." He caught his fingers in his hair, his expression tight. Pained. And a little part of Hermione's heart burned away to ash. "We were tricked. Chosen for this by Hogwarts itself. Forced to find the other…worthy."
There was a bitterness to his words and Hermione's chest tightened. Guilt tugged at her. He was happy with Miss Wareine. She'd seen it in The Prophet's intrusive photographs. The spark of joy, of humour in his face. And now here she was. Another bind to the soul of Severus Snape. She was no better than Voldemort or…or Dumbledore.
"Only to the other. Any one else and these," he exposed the pale strength of his wrist and the smugly gleaming gold circle, "these burn with our…betrayal."
Hermione pressed her hand to her mouth, caught, horrified by the thought that every one of Ron's damp, squelchy kisses had seared across Severus' skin. And when he… Her stomach lurched. Had she felt him make love to—
Her thoughts spun, dotted with dark spots.
"Breathe, Miss Granger."
His voice worked through her churning senses. But there was no gentleness to his words. No sympathy. Only a sharpness and anger. "We are bound. There is no escaping it. Our flesh, our emotions twisted for the use of the castle. Nothing more."
"An aberration." He bit out the word. "False. All false."
Hermione stared at him. A jagged pain surged up from deep in her gut and the ache to howl out her anguish burned through her.
It wasn't real? What she felt for him? The overwhelming need? The worry. The ache to trace a gentle line down the sharp plane of his cheekbone? Her heart twisted. All false? All of it?
And him? Was he bitter that he was forced into an interest in her? Feeling something for the irritating, bushy-haired know-it-all, was that a foul and unwanted magical…aberration?
And yet…and yet, they still had to have intercourse.
Hermione pressed her hand to her mouth to press back a sob. Gods… Gods. She had to get out. Get away. From him. From everyone.
With no other thought, Hermione ran.
Taking my mind off stuff today with fanfic...so here's the next chapter
The Astonomy Tower, Hogwarts - September 1998
Hermione wrapped her arms around her legs and sat on the curved stair of the one place she believed Severus Snape would never look for her. The Astronomy Tower.
Chill winds pricked at her wet face but she ignored it.
The words burned fiercer than fiendfyre. And with them, she hated the magic that flowed through her veins. Because she still wanted him, still…loved him. More than Ron. More than Viktor. More than any other man she'd ever met.
She scrubbed her raw wrists against her skirt, wishing she'd never bloody heard of Hogwarts. She'd fought for it. Shed blood. Seen people die defending it…and it simply used. Lied. Tricked her into believing that she had found the one worthy man who could hold her heart.
Hermione dug the heels of her hands into her eyes to deny more tears. What was she going to do? Already she could feel the flicker of the protecting wards, their thinning. She and Severus would have to…they would have to—
He didn't want her.
Hermione sucked in a pained gasp.
"I apologise." Severus' voice was cool and controlled. With an elegance she didn't want to witness, he sat on the wide stair beside her. "I allowed my own anger to…cloud my explanation."
He offered her a snow-white handkerchief and she pressed it to her face. His scent sank into her and the warmth of it loosened the aching knot in her chest…only for it to retighten.
False. All false.
"It feels real."
Hermione slapped her hand to her mouth, hating that those words had escaped her. For her own sanity, she had to put on a front of relief. To heave a sigh, give him a wry smile and obviously thank Merlin none of it was real.
But the pain under those three words would expose that act as the lie it was.
"We are the modern day Salazar Slytherin and Rowena Ravenclaw." Severus stared out to the misty blue sky beyond the parapet. "They are caught together, even in paint, though Salazar denies it. She…went to another after the wards had been set. They had no idea of the consequences."
"A thousand years…"
A twist of a smile tugged at his lips and his gaze flicked to her. "We Slytherins can hold a grudge."
Hermione huffed a laugh. She focused on folding the soft cotton, over and over, into a small, thick square.
In the silence, there was only the quiet of breathing and the chase of the wind through stone arches and instruments. Hermione wanted to grab hold of the calm…but failed. What could she do now? How did she protect her battered and tired heart from this wizard?
She winced and he had to have caught it from his sudden, sharp hiss.
"I would…like to get to know you…Hermione." Severus' black gaze was fixed on her now, firm, even as he stilted his words. "It's hardly fair to you to expect us to simply…" He winced and looked back to the soft morning sky. "We should also...wait."
She bit her lip. "How can we?" Her fingertips dug into the damp cotton and she resisted the need to twist it tight. He didn't need to see yet more of her nerves. "The wards need us."
Severus stood —quick and smooth— a slim, dark silhouette and Hermione willed herself to look up to his shadowed face. He offered his hand. Caught in a shaft of light, the sliver of his shirt cuff and buttons on his frockcoat gleamed. The memory of the night before swarmed her, rioting her pulse. And how often had those strong, deft fingers teased through her illicit dreams?
Hermione looked back to his face, wishing she could see his eyes, his expression. Holding hard to her courage, she slipped her hand into his and allowed him to —effortlessly— pull her to her feet.
He didn't release his hold and her pulse jumped as he turned her towards a dark arch. He was close. His wanted scent, green, fresh herbs and the comforting warmth of old books wrapped around her, offering safety…and something more. Something that made her bite her lip, more aware of the want within her flesh than with any man she'd ever known.
The ache was there to lift her shaking hand and press it to his chest. To feel his body's heat. Have his wanted heart beat under her palm.
His face was still in shadow. Was this simply duty? Another one catching and binding him…for the rest of his life.
Hermione wet her lips. She had to make this easier for him. "Severus—"
"We will behave as if it this binding is real."
The words turned through her hot and wanted, but with a bitter chaser. Would they be doomed, as Salazar and Rowena seemed to be? Tied together for eternity. Yet…not.
His large hand cupped her face and the shock, the joy of it pressed her into his touch. An embarrassing mewl of pleasure broke from her. But she didn't care. Not for a moment. His skin, his heat, the golden swirl of his magic was pure, pure…bliss.
"We are bound…Hermione. When the wards are repaired, like Salazar and Rowena, we are bound in eternity." Severus stroked his thumb over her lips. "We cannot make the mistake they did. There can be no one else for us."
"I…I want this to feel real. To be real." Hermione flushed. She tried to pull herself away from the bliss of his of his touch...but found it impossible. Her heart stuttered. What she wanted and what he did…didn't match. She closed her eyes and willed down the bitter burn of a pain that had tortured her for the entire summer. "But you… I'm sorry. About you and Miss Wareine."
"Perhaps…there could have been something…but you, witch…" He leant forward and she caught the flicker of golden fire in his endless eyes. "You have burned under my skin for months."
Hermione's face grew hot as he lifted a black eyebrow. She pressed her lips together, tasting him there, the lingering hint of his stoking thumb, sweet and dark and so completely delicious. She drew in a breath and became too aware of the long press of his body against hers. The intimate press. "Dreams." It was little more than an embarrassed murmur. "So many…dreams."
She risked looking up at him and caught a flicker in his eyes. Bloody circles. How mortifying had it been for him to imagine…her when his thoughts should've been with the witch in his life. "You too?"
His mouth twitched upwards, something wry and a little jolt in her chest said she wanted to kiss him. Something deep and hot, to lose herself in the pleasure of him. For herself. For them. Hang the wards.
His thumb teased a slow line along the edge of her bottom lip. Her mouth parted, her heart in her throat. The endless black of his eyes seemed to swallow her. There was nothing, nothing but…him.
Severus' lips ghosted over hers and the hum in her flesh, the burn of her wrists, the surge of ward magic churned around and through her. She stopped breathing, the fierce ache, the need for him gripping, tightening every inch of her flesh.
The demand was her only thought.
The words were a soft, velvet rumble that fizzed in her blood. He teased her arms up, pinning them above her head, his strong fingers threaded through hers and— Circe and all of her little piglets— his magically bare wrists pressed to hers.
The golden beauty of his magic, its power and endless strength surged around and through her own. Their magic, binding together in delicious spirals was a mass of blissful perfection. Gods, gods, they were right for each other. Worthy. And right. Together.
"Every day I will kiss you." Severus' lips brushed hers, warm and smooth, a golden spark of fire chasing in a jagged line to her core. Someone groaned. Maybe it was her. Maybe it wasn't. She didn't care. Not a bit. " And every day, it will be my pleasure. My honour."
"Severus. Too much talking."
And, Gryffindor that she was, her mouth took his.
If anyone has any ideas how they 'can get to know each other', stick them in the comments, please :) I'm feeling blah about what I had planned for them. I think it will drag if there isn't a purpose -a story within a story- to their getting to know each other. And I don't want to jump from this chapter to full-on lemons.
Oh, and no naughty suggestions, Severus isn't ready for that yet ;)
I probably will have a throw down with Minerva and his intentions towards her favourite cub. I also had an idea about Albus... *mwahaha*
I know, I'm annoying in my flitterings about...but this hit me this morning, so here it is...
The Astronomy Tower. September 1998
Severus drew back from their first kiss, his soul still…alight. He let his forehead rest against Hermione's, the contact, the press of her warm, soft skin to his and chasing ancient —and smug, so very fucking smug— magic through his flesh.
"It doesn't feel wrong, does it?"
He couldn't stop the smile that tugged at his mouth. "No, Hermione, it doesn't."
And that reply found the little witch wrapped around him, her arms stronger than he would've suspected as she compressed his ribs. He snorted, pressing his cheek to the freed wildness of her hair and let his own arms slip around her small frame.
Magic curled around them, not the wild rush of need and aching, but fulfilment. A rightness Severus had never felt before. His mouth thinned. Yes, Albus Dumbledore could stick his painted wand up his painted arse. This was right.
"What happens now?"
She eased back and planted her chin on his chest, already quite…overfamiliar. But his dreams of her just like this now warmed rather than tormented him, and he tucked an escaping strand of wild hair behind her ear. The quick, staining blush reminded him again of how innocent his…his soul-mate was.
"For propriety, we will not fulfil the role Hogwarts picked out for us until after your NEWTs are sat."
Her mouth opened and there was the shine of rebellion in her, even as his own flesh –with her pressed to him so very thoroughly— demanded more, too.
"It gives us time, Hermione. Time to share our true selves." He worked a sly smile across his lips. "I know you only as the Outspoken Gryffindor Princess" —his smile deepened as she huffed— "and you know me as the Foul and Greasy Bastard from the Dungeons."
Her lips pinched together. "You are none of those things."
"Are you sure, little witch, after only one kiss?"
He edged his voice, his weapon, with dark and dangerous sin, wanting to make her see she wasn't yet ready for all the Castle demanded of them, but her eyes…her eyes sparked with golden fire. She drew in a breath, her cheeks now scarlet. Something… Ah, the endearment.
"You prefer…little witch?"
Her breath hitched and she swallowed. Her gaze dropped to his throat. "If we are being honest, open with one another, in…in my dreams, you called me that. And…"
Oh, the flush to her face now mottled her throat. What dark things did this prim little Gryffindor want with him? But he would not explore that yet…even if he ached to. And that ache was no doubt spurred by the need of the Castle. It could wait. They would feed the wards enough to protect the school. This was their lives, their long, long future and he would not have his…little witch rushed.
"We do not have to be so honest, just yet. We have time. There is just us."
Hermione blinked up at him…and something shadowed her eyes. Her chin lifted. She was girding her Gryffindor courage…and he was surprised at the flow of affection that thought brought to him.
"I know, I know that this is not your choice, Severus. That I…" She drew in a long breath and for a moment, her eyes closed. "I would prefer if you told Miss Wareine the truth about us. About the Circles and the Wards. About how we are bound." She opened her eyes and they were shining, the edge of tears making them red. "She was your choice and…and I hate that this bond —that I— took that choice away from you."
"Oh, my little witch..."
A sob escaped her and he wrapped himself around her. His brave Gryffindor.
"I'm so sorry, Severus."
"No. No, I have robbed you—"
"Of Ron?" She hiccupped and turned her head against his chest. "That would have fizzled out anyway."
Severus didn't contradict her, but Rowena Ravenclaw was right. Hermione Granger was so very loyal. She would've stuck by her ginger ape…even as the wrongness of it burned down to the bottom of her soul. This fiasco had saved her from that mistake, at least.
The bells rang for the first lesson and Hermione stiffened. Severus drew back from her. "May I?" He drew his fingers above her face and she nodded. His magic reached out to soothe the puffy redness from her eyes and skin. "Use the castle to get you to your Charms lesson."
"Any door will lead you to where you need to be. It's the least it can do." He smirked and was relieved to see the start of her smile. "Today, is a time to be with your friends, Hermione. I will speak with you again tomorrow. For the moment, and for your reputation, we should keep our...relationship private."
He was relieved when she nodded. No, he did not want her achievements in her final month sullied by association with him.
"And you have a promise to keep."
He lifted an eyebrow.
"You will kiss me every day, Severus Snape."
He stepped back from her and gave a half-bow. "It will be my honour."
She grinned at him, rushed to the door, frowned at it and then dashed though. The curl of magic was there, he felt her movement through the castle that planted her in an abandoned classroom near to Filius' room.
Severus scrubbed a hand over his face. That had gone much better than he expected…and Hermione was right. And brave. And unendlingly compassionate.
Yes, he had to talk to Gina.
Just to say, this has always been a series of vignettes, so each chapter will always be on the short side.
Auror Gina Wareine's Flat. September 1998
He'd never stepped inside Gina's flat above Potage's shop. The extension charms were flawless and it was neat and precise with touches of softness in the furnishing. A velvet throw over the couch before the fire, the hint of vanilla in the candles, the warmth of red in the deep rugs. It was her…and Severus loathed that he had to hurt her.
He regretted —deeply— that he'd pulled her into his denial over Hermione. She did not deserve this. Not for a moment.
Gina stood in the doorway to her kitchen with two mugs of tea in her hand, her eyes sharp. She strode towards him. "This —whatever it's been— is over, isn't it?"
She handed him his mug and sipped quickly at her own. He felt like a complete shit at the tremor that ran through her hand.
"When I was fifteen, I made a potion." He put his mug on the mantle and shot his cuff, exposing the gleaming circle of gold at his wrist.
"You and tattoos, Severus…"
He snorted and shook his head. "Yes, exactly that. What I didn't know was that it was a slice of forward planning from Hogwarts."
Gina frowned at him. "The Castle?"
"To be specific, the wards. And their formation."
"I heard about a prophecy Professor Trelawny gave at dinner yesterday. Concerning golden circles. These circles?"
The speed of news around the wizarding world always caught him by surprise…and made his own life —the lies he had woven and kept secret for years— all the more remarkable. "Just so. I have two of them. Four are needed to complete the spell, to secure the wards for the school, and after—"
Her hand was on his arm, the burn of it a quick and fierce fire through his flesh. He gritted his teeth, not wanting to jerk away. It was her concern, her worry that the foul magic seared under his skin. "I will be well. I will live." His mouth twitched upwards. "But…the other holder of the magic and I, we will be bound."
Her hands curled away, tightened into a fist that strained her knuckles. "You're already…"
He jerked a nod. "I had no idea what these circles meant till last night, Gina. I would not have approached you, if I had. I never wanted to hurt…" He pulled in a breath and the pain in his chest reminded him that she was a worthy woman. But that he was not worthy of her. "I know you can't forgive me—"
"Who says I can't?"
He blinked at her fierce tone. "I…"
"You have been nothing but kind and thoughtful to me, Severus Snape."
"No, some part of me knew—"
"Do you want me to hate you, Severus?"
He stared at her, the hollow bloom of her words catching his breath. She was the first friend he'd had in so very long and as always, he'd fucked it up. He couldn't meet her fierce gaze. "I would understand if you did."
Gina groaned and he looked up as she scrubbed her face. She sank into the deep softness of her couch. "Sit."
He retrieved his mug and sat.
"Did I want something more from you? Yes. Yes, I did. You may have been caught up in this," she waved her free hand at his wrist, "high and ancient magic, but you were good to me, Severus. Save for that after-Potter dinner —which you are entitled to rage about— you were always courteous and funny and clever."
She looked into her mug. "I would like, when we've both had enough time, to remain friends with you."
Severus closed his eyes. But for Hermione… Yes, his little witch was there. And he remembered the feel of her in his arms, her kiss, the fact that she had pushed him to come to her…rival and make right with Gina. He very likely deserved neither of them. "You are the first friend in a long…actually, my first friend." He winced at that admission for a man close to forty. "And yes, I would like that too."
Gina let out a long breath. "It's Hermione Granger, isn't it?"
Severus stared at her. "How…?"
Her lips pressed together and there was a pulse of pain that he wished he could soothe. But knew that he couldn't.
"She stood over you like a dragon the day she saved you. Bloodied and dirty and fierce. I believed that she knew the truth…and that had driven her…but…" She shrugged and gave him a tight, bittersweet smile. "You always have to carve yourself a hard road, don't you, Severus Snape?"
His laughter was soft. "I do, indeed."
Gina clinked her mug with his. "Then here's to a road made easier by friendship."
No, he truly did not deserve her.
Pain had chased up through her wrists for three hours now and Hermione's concentration was shot. Severus had not been at dinner. Had he taken the opportunity to visit Gina? She sneaked the cuff back on her jumper and her watch said it was close to nine. Her belly was hollow. Was he…staying there? Staying the night? But he wouldn't. He knew now the pain it would bring both of them. He knew…
The stupid Sumerian circles found him worthy. She had to trust him.
She scrubbed at her face and willed her focus on the knot of her friends squeezed onto the couches before the fire.
"You look tired, Mione."
She twitched a smile at Ginny's words. "Long first day."
"And those…" The redhead nodded to her wrists and Hermione had to fight the need to tug at her sleeves. Of course everyone knew what sat on her wrists…though no one besides herself, Severus and Harry knew their true function. "What did Snape say?"
Professor Snape. But the correction went unsaid. She shrugged and skirted the truth. "Not much. It wasn't exactly a detailed prophecy." She gave a heavy groan and applied a bit of misdirection. "I can't believe I'm tied with a prophecy. Me."
Ginny grinned at her and waggled her fingers.
Hermione fixed her with a glare. "If you say I'm the Chosen One I will hex you."
Neville snorted. "A deliberate try at revenge from Trelawny?"
"I doubt she could scheme through the sherry fumes," Harry said. He shrugged. "And well, Hermione does have the Circles."
He'd not spread it about that Severus wore the other two at his wrists and for that Hermione was more than grateful. It was the wizarding world and witches and wizards were well aware of fate and ancient spells, but their binding —even if it mirrored two of the founders— was still…unusual. And they needed their time together, to learn how to be together, without the glare of disapproval.
"I'm not going to worry about it." Hermione gave a loose shrug and the spike of pain forced her to bite at the inside of her cheek. What was Severus doing? "In fact, I think I need to crash." She pushed herself up before they could argue. "Night."
She passed Ron on the way to the stairs, holding court before a gaggle of starry-eyed Sixth Years. "And then I said, 'But what about the House Elves…'" His shadowed eyes slid to her, the mix of hurt and anger too sharp and she held back a wince.
A girl leant forward and pressed her hand to his knee. "And then what, Ron?"
Another hand. His other knee. "Did you really go up against…you know who?"
Ron gave a loose shrug and buffed his nails against his jumper. "Voldemort? Yeah."
Hermione stopped herself from rolling her eyes. Perhaps when he grew up, they could be friends again. They weren't right for each other, not in that way…
She trotted up the stairs. Maybe when he was twenty— he raised his voice as he detailed saving Harry from the icy pool— make that thirty. At a push. She shook her head and paused at the door to her single room. Her wrists burned, a continuing pulse of pain. She would try to sleep and try not to dwell on what the pain meant.
With a sigh, she opened her door—
—and stumbled into the Headmaster's sitting room.
Severus looked up from his tumbler of firewhiskey and frowned at her. "What…?"
Hermione's face was hot. "I…was expecting my room."
His low growl rippled over her skin. "It is not enough that the Castle dictates our future…it must also meddle." He bit out the word and sipped again from his glass.
Something had happened and it was obvious he was in a bitter mood. "I should…" She waved to the open door and took a back step. "I was…"
A flick of his hand widened his wingback chair. "It is not you. Sit…Hermione."
Her name had to be worked through, pushed to the front of his mind…and that squeezed her heart. Just a little. And she ached for the time when it would become instinctive. For both of them.
Slowly, she padded towards him and sat down, primly, with her feet flat on the floor and her hands on her knees. Severus slid her a look, something dark and knowing and she was sure her face was quite, quite hot.
He lifted his arm. "Here."
It was a rumble, a command, and truly she shouldn't find that sort of thing…hot. She really shouldn't. Nor —Merlin, save her— that questioning eyebrow.
Hermione kicked off her shoes —because that was polite— and pressed herself against the heat of his body. His arm wrapped around her and pulled her that little bit closer. She drew in his scent, herbs and wool and male musk, and melted to him. The ache in her wrists faded down, faded to nothing and she let out a thankful sigh.
"I was thinking on the life I could have had…with Gina."
Hermione closed her eyes, the pain of his admission a sharp stab, though the gold at her wrists remained…placid. Did it know the auror was now no threat? Still… "I'm sorry, Severus."
His long fingers stroked her arm and she gasped at the brush of his lips against her temple. The swirl of their binding magic rose, feeding into the ever-greedy wards and the bliss of it chased through her flesh.
"I came to the conclusion that what attracted me to her was her similarity…to you." He drew in a long breath, his chest lifting under her. "Confident. Practical. Strong. Quite brilliant." Another tease of his smooth lips against her skin and Hermione's heart pattered, caught in the rush of their strange bind. "Wild and lovely."
She stared up at him, biting her lip. Severus smirked at her, his dark eyes shining. Was it the whiskey easing this moment? Very probably. But she didn't care. "Every word I would use for you, too."
The tumbler floated off to a little side table. He exposed the gleaming gold at his wrist, his thumb chasing over the circle and warming the gold on her own skin. "Gina and I have agreed to be…friends." He looked to Hermione, a twitch of movement at the corner of his mouth. Unease? Uncertainty. "I have not slept with her, Hermione. Not once."
She opened her mouth, but no words came out. Her gaze dropped away and she willed herself to be as open, as honest. "I haven't…I didn't with Ron." Her eyes flitted up and she was too aware of her hot face. "With anyone."
Severus let out a long breath and pulled her close to him again, his chin resting on the wild softness of her hair. "Then, I'm sorry," he murmured, "that you will have only me."
Hermione inched her hand across his stomach, across smooth wool and heat and was relieved that he didn't flinch, didn't deny her touch. She inhaled his scent, green herbs and books and simply, deliciously…him. Oh, this was a better end to her night than she could've imagined... "Well, I'm not."
"Foolish, foolish Gryffindor."
But there was a smile against her hair and his voice was warm with affection.
Hermione Granger's Room, 19 September 1998
Severus Snape swept from her fireplace in a billow of subfusc and sparks of green fire. "Miss Granger."
Hermione rose from her chair and set aside her tea. She bit her lip, holding back her grin before she murmured, "Headmaster."
It had become their new custom —and since he had promised to kiss her every day— to sweep into her room, with a smooth, dark "Miss Granger" then proceed to kiss her senseless.
It was —all-in-all— the highlight of her day. Till after curfew. When he kissed her again. To stabilise the wards over night, naturally.
His dark eyes gleamed, wicked and sharp, and she expected him to swoop down on her, a hand at her waist, another at her jaw, and there, always, the quirk of his eyebrow as he silently asked permission to kiss her.
It was all rather lovely.
But that was not on the plan for the morning, it seemed.
"I understand today is your birthday."
Hermione blushed. They'd been…together over a fortnight, and she'd not thought to share that information with him. If she were being truthful, she was enjoying the kisses just a little too much to think about anything deeper. She stopped herself from wringing her hands. "Yes, it is. I'm sorry. I should've told you."
He gave a loose and elegant shrug. "We are…new at this." That shine in his black gaze had a pack of pixies at work in her belly. "And we're often…distracted."
Hermione drew in a long breath. "Yes, we often are."
Severus' lips twitched and he dug into a deep pocket and withdrew a small packet. A tap of his wand and it grew in his hand to a parcel wrapped in silvery white paper. "Your gift. You may open it now."
Hermione took it with a quiet "Thank you". It was weighty and most definitely book-shaped, which was always a good sign. She sank onto the bench at the end of her bed and pulled the slippery paper free.
A book, more than that, a codex. She pressed her hand to the worn leather cover and the thrum of old magic teased her palm. The hints of the title —once gold— had cracked away leaving only a shadow in the ancient leather. And her room's candles didn't offer enough light for more detail.
The leather creaked as she lifted the cover and exposed the ancient flyleaf, perfectly preserved. Hermione blinked. Her fingers drew over the signature scrawled under the title, her pulse drumming. She bit her lip to deny the sharp little squeal that wanted to break free.
Severus had given her a treasure in book-form.
She looked up. "This is one of Niccolo Consigli's own books." It came out on a whisper, something in her fearing that to say the words too loudly would make the wondrous thing vanish.
With a shaking hand, she turned another page and the writing swirled from medieval Latin to bright, crisp English…and that squeal did escape her then. Her face grew hot at Severus' soft laughter.
"Severus…" She traced a fingertip over the supposed-necromancer's own cramped hand that added notes and corrections to the printed words. "This is…is priceless."
"His judges burned transfigured shoes. Consigli port-keyed his library out of Florence and into the hands of one Theodosius Prince."
Hermione's jaw dropped. Simply dropped. "Your…"
He smirked at her. "I'm the last Prince. I found a sealed wooden trunk in the attic of my newly acquired derelict manor." He gave an idle glance to his nails, before he looked up and a gleam of delight sparked in his dark eyes. "We have his entire collection."
We. He'd said we. He was sharing this lost treasure with her.
Hermione placed the precious book on the padded bench, her heart in her throat, her flesh straining, because, because—
She flung herself at Severus Snape. Leapt into his arms, wrapped her legs around his waist and peppered his face with kisses. Their binding magic chased and swirled, impossibly adding a new layer of joy to her soul…and then her mouth found his.
And there was want, so much aching and joyous want, and tongues, and soft groans, and her fingers in the silk of his hair and his hands so wonderfully, wonderfully tight on her backside—
"Hermione, I wanted to wish you a Happy—"
Hermione broke free of his delicious mouth with a startled pop...and stared at the frozen and shocked form of a gaping Professor McGonagall.
Headmaster's Office, 19 September 1998
"Sit Minerva. The sun is not yet over the yardarm, but you look like you could use a stiff drink."
Hogwarts had very helpfully wrought a new door from Hermione's room to his office and he'd bundled his gaping and still speechless deputy head through it. Hermione trailed beyond, her face scarlet and her lips pressed so tightly together they were bloodless.
Severus offered a smile, his chest tight at Hermione's being caught so…indecorously by a witch she admired and respected. He reached out to touch her hand to offer a small measure of comfort—
"You take your filthy hands off her this instant, Severus Snape!"
Minerva's wand snapped to her fingers, the hex burning visible fire on her lips. Magic flared, working her hair free to spiral and twist and lash the very air with her power and fury.
Hermione's quiet and quavering voice snapped the elder witch's green eyes to her, sparking fire.
"And you! I thought better of you, Miss Granger. To throw yourself—"
Fury. Hot fury. A lash of it through his blood in a river of burning lava. How dare she? Severus growled, low and hard, the snarl of a beast, and the room grew dark. Shadows and ice thickened the air and surged over Minerva's sparking magic, dowsing it in one bitter flood.
"No. No, you will not accuse her of anything, Minerva. Not a fucking thing."
His old friend blinked and the sharp turn to her wand dipped. Drooped…and her gnarled fingers grew slack.
Hermione was in his arms, pressed to him, curling her fingers into the wool of his frockcoat. And some…some of his dire rage faded as he took her cool little fingers into his own. He wanted to wrap her up in his acres of subfusc, hide her, pull her deep into his protection. But she was already close. Close and safe. And his. His. Magic churned, the wild thrum of his anger eased back…back and their touch blended warmth and power into the ever-greedy wards.
Minerva's knees gave out and a conjured chair caught her before she hit the stone flags.
"You and she…" She waved a trembling hand, her wand leaving a ghostly trail of silver. "Sibyl's prophecy. The rings and the wards." She brought her other hand to her head and pushed back the wildly escaping curls, magic swirling and fading over her fingertips. "I…" She swallowed and melted back into the cushions of her chair. "I apologise. To both of you. I'm sorry. And yes, yes, I will take that drink now, Severus. Aye, and make it a good Scottish double."
Severus waved his hand and a tumbler brimming with amber and smoking firewhiskey floated towards the still-shaking witch.
He couldn't move. He dared not. The power that had been his to command in that moment. It had been terrifying. Only his iron-will had kept him from blasting Minerva to so much dust.
A small hand over his heart eased its still-panicked thud and he met the warm brown gaze of his little witch. Together. The power was tempered when they were together, would be tempered to aching sharpness and control when they…consummated their bond.
He pressed his forehead to hers, needing the security of skin. The safety of it. "This power…"
"Terrifying and beautiful." Hermione's mouth twitched upwards. "As were you."
He gave a brief echo of her smile. "You are quite deluded."
"So I imagined your promise of Consigli's books?"
"Would I lie about books, Hermione?"
A soft giggle escaped her, something bright and warm and it wrapped around his heart. It drew away the last of the terrible threads of his anger and the magic that fed them. He pulled in a long breath and looked up, meeting Minerva's look squarely.
"This is forever, Minerva. Unbreakable."
A snippy cough -worthy of a certain toad-like witch- snapped his gaze to the paintings, and to one in particular. Severus gaze narrowed. Was he about to declare that their connection wasn't real, wasn't true? Oh, Severus would let his fierce will rip through paint and canvas if he said that before Hermione. "What, Albus?"
"Well, it came be—"
"Be quiet, you interfering old hobgoblin!"
Dilys Derwent shoved the former headmaster out of his frame and other shadowy paintings shrouded and silenced him. "Jealous. Jealous because he uncovered the spell —through stealth, not through the choice of the school— and it didn't choose him."
Dilys narrowed her eyes on frame in which Albus had been trapped . "It was wickedness to say that you are not soul-meant." She smiled down at them, all anger gone, her round face bright. "We can feel the rightness of you. All of us. The circles always chose true."
Her sharp gaze flicked away high into the shadows of his office and Severus followed its path.
He met the shadowed gaze of a watching Salazar. So dark and pained. The wild and fractured nature of Severus' magic whilst defending Hermione was still an echoing pain…and that had only been a moment, a few heartbeats. To bear it for centuries… The agony of it was incalculable.
The dark wizard growled and swept from his frame in a swirl of black velvet. Dilys sighed and a sad smile lifted her thin lips. "He is the most stubborn of men." Her pale eyes sparked. "Saving yourself of course, Headmaster."
Severus snorted and inclined his head. "I aim to please, madam."
Dilys chortled and settled herself into Albus' abandoned chair. "They were chosen, Minerva. Fated. Together..." The painted witch gave them an indulgent smile. "And oh, oh the fireworks when they finally get nake—"
"Yes, thank you, madam!"
The impudent witch beamed at him. And giggled. It didn't help that Hermoine had buried her face against his coat, her riotous curls tickling his jaw as her shoulders quietly shook with her own laughter.
Witches. They'd be the death of him.
Minerva had downed her whiskey and her fingers still gripped the wide glass as if it were the final point of her sanity. She was staring, wide-eyed at them and Severus was all too aware that she could see the brilliant and shining flow of magic. It fucking bristled. "We are –were— trying to remain discreet until Hermione has sat her NEWTs."
"You have to…?" Minerva waved her empty glass and Severus was thankful it was a Saturday. The transfiguration professor was in no fit state to teach, even with a sobering potion.
"Oh, she wants the ins and outs, Headmaster—"
The unrepentant old witch collapsed back into Albus' wingbacked chair in a heavy fit of giggles. No, this morning was not going as he'd hoped. He'd been thoroughly enjoying Hermione's pleasure at his birthday present. Any more of this nonsense, and he'd dig out the time-turner triple-magicked in the bottom drawer of his desk and throw himself back half an hour…and bloody lock Hermione's door.
"Touch. I was going to say touch, Dilys Derwent, you lewd old…strumpet."
Minerva lurched to her feet, swept back a swathe of her silver-streaked curls and missed her ear. She frowned at the fresh fall of hair across her face.
"You suit." Minerva jerked a nod to Severus. "I admit that."
Severus lifted his eyebrow, caught in surprise. Not a moment before, she'd been more than happy to hex him him green. "A change of view, Minerva?"
"A few years from now, I wouldn't have blinked if you'd said you were courting. Not for a second. A heartbeat." Her shoulders sagged. "You are an…an honourable man…and I forgot that in my shock. And Hermione," his witch turned to her Head of House, her face still quite pink. She stiffened in his arms and he tucked his chin against her curls, "I know you're not flighty. I wish you both well." Minerva lurched to the side, her robes swirling before she caught herself. "And I think, I need an elf to put me to bed. I've not had whiskey before breakfast since my apprentice days."
An elf popped into the office, set her wide and luminous eyes on the swaying deputy head and swept them both away in a swirl of magic.
The clock in the corner chimed the hour. Fuck, it was only just gone nine.
Hermione smiled up at him, her fingers snaking through the line of his buttons in a most…distracting way. "One down."
Severus caught her teasing fingers and pressed them to his lips. Golden magic curled and threaded around them in a slow and beautiful sweep of pleasure. He sighed. "I'm going to have to open a distillery. There is not enough firewhiskey in these isles to cope with our news…"
An echoing knock chased into the silence of the office and muffled voices followed. Hermione closed her eyes and a weight sank into Severus' belly. Their time together was over. Her friends were at her door.
He stepped back from her, the yawning gap between them tugging at his chest. He loved and loathed the magic that wrapped their lives together. "Go." He pressed a final kiss to the very tips of her fingers. "Enjoy your day."
She stopped at the door that connected her room to his. "You know, Niccolo Consigli was rumoured to have hundreds of books."
Her smile was impish and it squeezed Severus' heart. How dare Albus say this wasn't real and true and he'd been an idiot to repeat those lies to his lovely witch.
A blush burned over Hermione's cheeks, but she boldly held his gaze. Her chin lifted. Yes, there was her House. "I believe I shall find you later and give you a thank you kiss for every single one of those books." She arched an eyebrow, a fair mirror of his own. "If you would like, Headmaster?"
He inclined his head and dropped his voice to the low purring that made the pulse at the base of her throat flutter. "I find that…acceptable, Miss Granger."
Yes, there it was. Her eyes had darkened, her lips parting. The ache to kiss her, to feel again her firm thighs around his waist tightened his flesh. Fuck, he'd had his hands on the most perfect arse—
He forced a smirk and ignored the demand of his cock. He was not an adolescent boy. No matter how much he needed his witch, now was not the time. "Go, witch!" Before he forgot he was a mature wizard and he grabbed her and gave the prurient Dilys much more than innuendo.
Hermione flashed him a breathless little smile and vanished through the door.
Fuck. Her leaving was as hard as pulling him out of a vacuum. Severus caught his hands in his hair and willed back the hard ache of dick. Months. They still had fucking months before Hermione sat her NEWTs.
Witches —and one witch in particular— would be the absolute death of him.
Severus straightened and cast a sneering glance to the shadowy frame that still…contained the former headmaster. Yes, a bitter Albus Dumbledore could kindly fuck right off.
So she'd be the death of him? Severus snorted. He didn't mind in the slightest.
Headmaster's Rooms – October 1998
"You said you…dreamt of me?"
Severus looked up from the reefs of paper littering his lab, couch and low table. A curl of a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth and Hermione fought the swift tightening of her flesh. That look. One that her dream-Severus had worn so often, a wickedness, a darkness and with it the promise of every sin there for the asking.
"I did." That devilish little quirk to his lips deepened. His dark eyes shone with molten fire. "I do."
Heat rushed over Hermione's face and a half-strangled squeak caught in her throat. Six weeks. Six whole weeks and she still went up in flames at the simplest of things. His voice. That was his main weapon. And she was defenceless against it.
She pressed her lips together, dropped her quill on her Transfiguration notes and sat straighter before the hearth. It had become her place within his rooms twice during the school week and Sunday afternoons. A thick rug, pillows, her notes and books, a quill and the warmth of a roaring fire, whilst Severus tackled the mountains of paperwork that came with being Headmaster of Hogwarts on the nearby couch. It was a little hit of bliss away from the madness of the Gryffindor Common Room.
Their shared time was supposed to be about getting to know each other. And Hermione was…curious. Had his dreams been as…as filthy as hers? As they still were. Kissing him twice a day was only fuelling the…licentious nature of her own dreams.
Her belly twisted, but gods, she was a Gryffindor. She'd kissed him in the Astronomy Tower, after all.
"Tell me one." She lifted her chin. "Please."
A black eyebrow rose and he sank back against the couch. "Then a favour returned, little witch. One of yours, if you please?"
She jerked her head in a nod. "All right." She settled herself in her nest to ease the rush of nerves. That hot and implacable black gaze was fixed on her. What should she give him? His morning kiss taken so, so much further? The wickedness of his dragging her into an alcove, muffling her squeal with his hand then his perfect, perfect mouth as talented fingers…
She closed her eyes, her face hot.
"Please, Hermione, before I am too old and infirm to appreciate your tale."
She huffed at him, catching the wry amusement twisting his mouth. "I best be quick, then."
The two words were a low and delicious rumble that sank low into her belly. He was evil. Him and his voice.
Hermione drew in a long, calming breath and swept her fingers over the wild tangle of her hair. "I'm in a bookshop. Flourish and Blotts, third floor, that little turn before the windows were the more…obscure arithmancy books are kept."
"Of course, books…"
Hermione stuck her tongue out at him and his smirk deepened. Her heart swelled at the growing ease of their relationship and the circles at her wrists hummed their satisfaction. Bloody things…
"I'm aware of you watching me. Silent. Predatory."
Her gaze darted away and back. Something about this particular dark wizard drew these wants out of her. She'd never been truly aroused, not by Viktor and certainly not by Ron, and had always thought herself rather prudish. But Severus Snape… Gods, the man made her positively wanton.
"You offer your hand and draw me into a dark alcove. Press me against the stacks-"
"With a cushioning charm, naturally. My debauched witch must be…comfortable."
His was a velvet rumble, his eyes alight with golden fire.
Hermione jerked a nod, her belly tight, the strain already there in her flesh. Damn the man.
"You ease up my robes, fingers skimming my thighs…" She could see it, feel it. The close scent of old books, Severus a dark and looming shadow, his breath quick, his hands sure and strong and her legs parting for him. Eager. Wanting.
"Are you wet for me, little witch?"
Had she dreamt those words? She blinked at him. Or had he just…? Her face flamed and she fixed her mortified gaze on her fingers. Watching them knot in her skirt. How did he know? Had he…looked?
He gave her a tight smile. "I... My apologies, Hermione. I went too far."
Her head snapped up. "No." She shook her head. "No. You…you are my safe place, Severus. With you, I'm safe to explore anything. Everything. And I want to. I ache to."
With a squawk, she was pulled and bundled into his lap, his strong arms wrapping around her. He buried his face against the wild tangle of her hair, his breath quick and hot over her ear. Their magic spiralled, fierce and wild, swirling away to feed the ever-greedy wards.
That broke a shocked little gasp from her and she snuggled against him. For a moment, she simply enjoyed this. His arms around her. His scent of herbs and warmed parchment. She hadn't exaggerated. He truly was her safe place. Her lips brushed the underside of his jaw. "Fair play, Severus. One of your dreams for one of mine."
He drew back and a long finger teased loose curls behind her ear. He let out a long breath. Something moved in the blackness of his eyes. She wanted to label it unease, but that would be ridiculous.
Severus Snape wouldn't be uneasy over a dream. Unless… He was a dark wizard. Her belly turned over. For the first time in a long time, a sliver of doubt chased through her. Gods, what could want— No. No, it wouldn't be so very terrible. She trusted him. "Severus…?"
A bitter smile twitched at the corner of his mouth. "Nothing depraved, Hermione."
His gaze narrowed and her face grew hot.
"I did think it. For a moment. I'm sorry." Her chin lifted. "But what could be so bad that it would make you —you— uneasy?"
"More than once I have dreamt," the large hand on her hip eased across until he pressed his palm to her belly, "I have dreamt that you were pregnant. Blooming. Glowing. And happy to be carrying my child. A little girl." He swallowed. His Adam's apple bobbed. "I have felt her knuckles –so small, so perfect— press against my palm. Seen her foot push out…" He twitched another smile and his eyes were too bright. "Our little girl. Our family."
Hermione pressed her hand to her mouth, her fingers biting into her jaw. Her eyes were wet. She closed them and a tear ran down her cheek. She…she was all lewd and bawdy and he, he was dreaming —aching— for children.
Did he think that's all he was to her? Fine for fucking, but making no true commitment? Well, he was wrong. Completely wrong.
He blinked. "Sorry…?"
She pulled in a long steadying breath. Only six weeks together…but this, they were forever. Very probably the next hundred and fifty years. Then Merlin knew how many years in paint. Yes, he wasn't escaping her even then…
"This magic, our bind and its connection to the castle, has little regard for what should be possible. Even for magic. So…how old was I? So I can plan. Be ready." She smirked at him. "Get in the right amount of baby-making…practice."
He was staring at her. Just staring. A vein throbbed at his temple. Dear Merlin, had she broken Severus Snape?
"Of course I do. Silly man."
He growled, but his eyes shone and then he pulled her too him, his arms so very tight. His tears wet her skin.