Severus stormed into his quarters after lunch Sunday afternoon to find Hermione sitting in a chair near a window reading.
He shook his head and slammed a tray with a sandwich and a goblet of pumpkin juice on it on a table near her. The pumpkin juice sloshed over the sides of the goblet.
“What’s this?” Hermione asked, looking up at Severus.
“You didn’t eat lunch,” Severus said. He seemed to be annoyed. “Your absence was noticed. Mr. Potter and Weasley kept looking at me as if I were a monster.” He sniffed.
“I wasn’t hungry,” Hermione said trying not to laugh. “I’m sorry about them. I’ll go see to it. I’m sure they’re on the Quidditch pitch.”
“How would you know if you were hungry or not?” said Severus, definitely annoyed. “You haven’t put that book down since breakfast. You need to eat.”
“It’s not like I’m putting out a lot of energy,” said Hermione sensibly. “I ate a large breakfast and I didn’t notice the time.”
“That’s not healthy,” insisted Severus with a frown. “You can over do it, and I see you doing that with ease.”
Hermione sighed. If it was after lunch she had been reading for over five hours straight. He was probably right. She nodded at him and put her bookmark in the book she was reading to mark her place. She was halfway through.
Hermione looked up at Snape. He was standing stiffly before her, arms folded across his chest. His black eyes bored into her.
“Thank you,” said Hermione, shivering and reaching for the sandwich.
“There she is!” shouted Ron to Harry high above the Quidditch pitch. Harry waved to Hermione who was sitting in the Quidditch stands. She waved back.
Harry and Ron soared to the stands and landed softly near her.
“Where have you been?” Ron demanded.
“Where have I been?” Hermione asked, laughing. “My quarters; reading. Where else would I be?”
“Of course you were,” Harry said, nudging Ron in the side. “It’s Sunday. Where else would you be?”
“When do we get to see this place?” said Ron, slightly embarrassed but still testy.
“Whenever you want,” said Hermione. “You seem to be more educated about my quarters than I am.”
Ron beamed for the first time since Hermiones marriage to Severus.
Hermione opened the portal to the quarters she shared with Severus and stepped through with Harry and Ron.
Severus was sitting on the black leather couch reading scrolls, small black rimmed reading glasses perched on the end of his nose. The sun shone in through a large window behind him. A comfortable chair and table sat beside the window. The indoor shutters looked as if they were made of stone so you wouldn’t notice them when they were shut. The wall to the left had a picture of a purring cat on it. The wall to the right had a heavy wood door. A silver tea service and delicate porcelain cups and saucers sat on a cart near the wooden door.
“Err…hello Professor,” said Harry; wondering if this was a good idea. Ron stayed silent for a change.
“Oh,” said Severus, taking his glasses off and putting them in his breast pocket. “Hello. Come to check on Hermione?”
“Something like that,” said Harry sheepishly before Ron could open his mouth.
“I expect you’ll find everything in order,” Severus sniffed as he began marking on a scroll in red ink.
Hermione shook her head at them. She walked over to the purring cat and opened the portal to her room.
“Incredible,” Ron breathed. Severus looked over at the backs of the trio and smiled slightly. They’d be occupied all afternoon and wouldn’t be able to get up to too much trouble. They were old enough they weren’t too irritating and they were in another room. Babysitting would no longer be such a chore. At least he wouldn’t have to chase them around and loom at the appropriate moments anymore.
“Nice colors,” said Ron sarcastically.
“Blimey, Hermione! I’m coming over just to use the loo!” Harry’s voice came out of the bathroom.
Hermione shook her head as Ron walked over to investigate. He wasn’t going to make this easy.
“Wow,” said Ron, impressed. He tickled a frog faucet under the chin and a white liquid poured from one of the faucets.
“What’s that?” said Harry surprised. Hermione walked into the bathroom.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Ron tickled the frog and the water changed to this,” Harry said pointing at the sink.
Hermione frowned and looked at the trickle of white fluid. She reached out to stick her hand in it, but Ron stopped her.
“You don’t know what it is!” Ron exclaimed. Hermione sighed annoyed and went back into her bedroom. She was back momentarily with a clear glass. She collected some of the substance and uttered the word to stop the faucet.
“We do have access to a Potions Master,” she said simply before turning to walk into the receiving room.
“What?” said Severus, surprised. He laid the scroll he was reading on the short table in front of the couch.
“I tickled it and the water just changed,” said Ron, handing Severus the glass. Hermione thought he should tell him since he was the one that had caused the reaction.
“What made you tickle the frog?” said Severus curiously, swirling the liquid in the glass. He sniffed it, and then made a face at the trio. He took a drink from the glass.
Ron, Hermione and Harry gasped as Severus swished the liquid around his mouth before swallowing.
“Are you insane?” Ron bellowed.
“Did your mother tell you to say that?” Severus asked quickly.
“What?” Ron asked confused.
“Nothing,” said Severus, waving a hand at him. “It’s milk.” He sat the glass on the table with the scrolls.
“Milk?” asked Harry. “For if you fancy a drink in the middle of the night?”
Hermione snorted and all the men looked at her. To her surprise, Severus was included.
“Milk is good for the skin,” Hermione explained. “I bet it’s brought up from the kitchens. I doubt Helga Hufflepuff could pop to a wizarding shop for face cream before we were organized enough to even have a culture.”
“Girl stuff,” Ron said shaking his head. Harry and Severus nodded in agreement.
“Really,” said Hermione, visibly annoyed. She stalked back to her bathroom to figure out how to turn the milk off and the water back on.
Severus looked at Ron. Ron looked at Severus. Harry looked at Ron pleadingly.
“I know how difficult this must be for you,” said Severus slowly. He had dreaded this moment. He was expected to be at least cordial. Severus thought it seemed as if Weasley wasn’t interested in making this pleasant at all. Perhaps he could at least make the boy a bit less homicidal. Severus wasn’t comfortable with the look in Ron’s eyes at all. He thought the blunt truth was his best approach.
“What?” asked Ron. Harry put a hand on his shoulder before Ron said something he’d regret.
“It could have been a lot more difficult for us,” said Severus. “You weren’t of age or your brother would have petitioned on your behalf.”
“What?” asked Ron.
“Your brother, Percival, could have petitioned on behalf of your father,” Snape explained patiently to the dumbfounded Ron. “He very nearly broke off his own engagement to marry her himself, but it would have looked strange.”
“This didn’t look strange?” Harry asked.
“A bit unconventional, yes, but not so strange,” Severus said slowly.
“What do you mean?” Ron said relaxing a little, realizing his worst fears had not been founded. Snape was not a bodice ripper in disguise. It didn’t mean he was comfortable about it, it just meant he didn’t feel immediately threatened.
“Powerful wizards lead longer lives than the general wizarding population,” said Severus. “Sometimes their spouses don’t last a quarter of their life spans.”
“What does that have to do with Professors pairing off with students?” Ron interrupted.
“Imagine you’re 130 years old, Weasley,” Severus snapped. “You meet a charming witch 40 years your junior with a familiar last name. In fact all the women have familiar last names because you taught each one that passed through Hogwarts. All of them. For the last 100 years.”
Rons jaw dropped. “Are some of the Hogwarts Professors married?” He tried to imagine a Madame Flitwick. The image he conjured made him shake his head to rid himself of it.
“A few in the past,” Severus said stiffly. “It’s very hard to see people as adults when you met them all as children.”
“So none are married now, except you?” Harry asked, hoping Snape didn’t get angry at him for asking so many questions.
“Binns has a widow,” Severus said shortly. He didn’t like discussing his thoughts on the subject. Some people saw it as romantic. Severus thought it was tragic.
“Binns?” Ron asked incredulously. “Are you still a widow if your husbands a ghost?”
“You live in hell if your husbands a ghost,” Severus snapped at him. Ron stood up straighter, startled. He bumped into Harry taking a step back. “Lucinda loved that daft dry dishrag, for some crazy reason and she wilted when he passed.”
Severus didn’t notice Hermione standing on the doorway of her room.
“He wasn’t really gone,” Severus said in a low tone. “He was still here. Bound to the school. Correspondence was dictated to house elves and delivered to her by owl. She got a notice of her husbands’ condition in the same envelope as his death certificate.”
“That’s horrible,” said Harry.
“That’s not so horrible, Potter,” said Severus silkily. “She spends her summers here, watching his transparent form, never able to touch him. He gets to watch her slowly age before him, knowing she will probably not meet him when she passes, which will be long after you and I are gone.”
“How do you know she won’t become a ghost?” said Hermione from the doorway.
“What?” Severus asked.
“A ghost is someone who has strong emotional ties to something that keeps them here,” said Hermione, sounding like a textbook. “Everyone knows Binns was held back because it was his last session before the O.W.L.s.”
“What’s your point?” said Severus loudly, making the boys jump. His spooky demeanor vanished.
Hermione folded her arms. He was not going to torment her friends for amusement.
Harry and Ron both turned and sat on the couch. As Hermione and Severus bickered their heads turned left to right as if they were watching tennis.
“My point is he’s a ghost and she obviously has strong ties to him,” said Hermione testily. “If given the option, she would spend eternity here with him. And he’s not bound to the school. The O.W.L.s being in Hogwarts is a technicality of location. Moaning Myrtle used to go all over before the Ministry got her to stop causing mischief.”
“Fine then,” Severus said with a wave of his hand. “He can go for a country holiday. She’d still have to have the option and you can’t predict that.” He stood straighter and folding his arms.
“She would be a logical choice for a ghost,” Hermione said.
“There’s no logic to being chosen. Also, being a ghost is not a pleasurable thing,” said Severus furrowing his eyebrows. “It would be illogical for her to choose it. Someone becoming a ghost is a rare thing.”
“Lucinda would choose to stay,” Hermione insisted. “And there is logic to it. We’re still learning about the process.”
“We? How do you know?” asked Severus. He was just getting Weasley to shake before she made him stop.
“Binns began the project my 6th year,” Hermione said testily. “We interview all the new ghosts that passed in the last year during Easter weekend. The idea came from Sir Nicholas originally”
“You really should have expected something like that, you know,” Ron interjected to Severus from the couch. Severus turned to look at him. “She doesn’t ever start something if she doesn’t have a hidden play.” Severus looked at her dumbfounded.
“Are you serious?” Severus said, loosening his stance. “Where is your data?”
“Binns has it in his office,” Hermione said. “You can see it if you like.”
He looked at her and saw defiant passion burning in her eyes. She knew she was right and she wanted him to admit, as her professor, that she was more knowledgeable than him about something. Infuriating know-it-all. Her chin was even tilted upward, set stubbornly.
His body responded immediately and he drew his robes around himself.
‘Where in blazes did that come from?’ thought Severus embarrassedly. ‘I’ve been spending too much spare time in the company of teenagers.’
“I would much like that,” Severus said reluctantly impressed in her project. How the girl found the time to do everything, he would never know. The Department of Mysteries would be banging on her door the day after graduation.
Hermione watched as Severus swirled his robed around himself dramatically.
‘Annoying bat,’ thought Hermione. He retreated to his private rooms after admitting he was wrong. She gave a small smile to his bedroom door as it closed.
“That was incredible, Hermione,” Harry whispered so Snape didn’t hear him. Ron just cocked an eyebrow.
“Forget it,” she said. “Come on; let’s see what else we can find in there.”
Severus closed the door to his room and looked at the bulge in his trousers.
“Who asked your opinion?” he snarled at the offending bulge. The image of Hermione looking so annoyed at him swam in his vision.
Severus put his hand on the front of his trousers to try and push his problem away. A wave of pleasure surged through him. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the door for a moment before he realized what he was doing.
“Oh, bloody hell!” he exclaimed as he unbuckled his trousers quickly and made for the bed. At least he could get this over quickly.
“If you smack it on the head you might get pumpkin juice,” Harry suggested, snickering as Hermione and Ron examined the stone frog crouched by the sink in Hermiones bathroom.
“Don’t be stupid, Harry,” Ron muttered as he poked the frog with his wand. It burped bubbles at him.
“Well that was interesting,” Hermione remarked as she reached her wand out to pop a bubble floating by her. “So there’s a way to integrate soap in the water. I wonder how to trigger it?”
“No idea,” said Ron shrugging. His face suddenly brightened. “I have a great idea!”
“What?” asked Harry who was examining the ivy growing around Hermiones bathing pool.
“Let’s get Colin!” Ron said as if everyone else in the room was stupid.
“Creevy?” Hermione asked, confused.
“We need his camera!” Ron said doing a little dance. Hermione wished she knew what he was so excited about.
“His pictures move,” Ron began patiently.
“So small things will reveal themselves,” Hermione finished softly. “Brilliant, Ron.”
“Thank you,” he said taking a deep bow.
Severus left his rooms in a far more relaxed state to find Ron, Harry, Hermione, and Colin Creevy entering his rooms. Colin was carrying the camera bag the Gryffindors finally talked him into, rather than carrying his camera everywhere. Severus said nothing but gave Hermione an odd look.
As the boys entered Hermiones quarters she stayed back to explain to Severus what they were doing. He hoped he didn’t look or smell odd. He prayed his cheeks didn’t turn pink.
“Well,” Severus started slowly. “If the Ministry asks anyone, we have a valid marriage.”
“What do you mean?” Hermione asked.
“What other Slytherin Head of House would let a pack of Gryffindors trot through his private quarters as they pleased?” Severus quirked a corner of his mouth, although he looked as if he was trying to fight it.
Hermione raised her hand to her mouth in embarrassment.
“I am so sorry,” she said. “I thought it would make a nice afternoon project and kind of got carried away.”
“Who would have ever guessed you would become involved in a project and get carried away?” said Severus sarcastically.
“I’m sorry,” she said again, quieter.
“Hermione,” Severus said. “That was my idea of a joke. I’m sorry if I misled you to think otherwise.”
Hermione smiled at him slightly.
“I can’t believe you never explored in there,” said Hermione.
“I did,” Snape admitted. “I believe it was quickly apparent how abysmal I am when dealing with charms. I never thought of a camera. It was a clever idea.”
“It was Ron’s idea,” said Hermione.
Severus said nothing, but nodded, one eyebrow cocked.
“I would like to see your results,” Severus said, interested.
“We’ll let you know,” said Hermione.
Colin ran down the rows of wooden tables to Hermione, Ron, and Harry in the Great Hall a few weeks later. A large brown envelope waved in his hands.
“Did you get the film developed?” asked Hermione, making room for him near her.
“Just finished,” said Colin, smiling and opening the envelope.
“Is that those pictures you’ve been waiting for?” Seamus asked, nodding at the envelope.
“Yea,” said Ron, reaching for a picture.
“Wow,” said Harry looking over Rons shoulder. The picture was a close up of the frog faucet. Bubbles rose out of its mouth. Occasionally one of its feet rose to scratch the side of its head.
“What do you think that means?” Harry asked.
“Don’t know,” said Ron. “But at least it gives us an idea.”
Hermione was looking at a picture of her bed when she started slightly.
“What?” Ginny Weasley asked. Her brother and his friends were still staring at the frog, speculating how it could work.
Hermione quietly slipped the picture to Ginny, who began giggling quietly.
“I wouldn’t let Ron see that,” Ginny said. The ivy on Hermiones bed seemed to unwind and trail over the bed from four corners. The girls could only come to the conclusion that they were some type of restraints. “Not sure I’d let Snape see it either.”
Hermione laughed and reached for the other pictures unless there was anything else sensitive showing.
“Hey,” protested Ron as Hermione took the picture from him.
“We have Charms next,” Hermione said. “Lunch is almost over. We can go over these later.”
“Alright,” Ron said reluctantly.
Severus walked down the stone corridor to his rooms. Hermione had classes the rest of the afternoon and he had scrolls from the fourth years to grade. It was a never ending cycle of homework, grading and experiments.
The air was crisp and he imagines someone had opened all the windows to air out the dungeons. It tended to get a bit musty when it rained and it had been drizzling for a few days.
Severus stopped in front of the stone fish and walked into his chambers. He let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and breathed in the fresh air coming in his windows. Fresh flowers grew out of a pot on his coffee table. That house elf really was fond of the girl. There were new flowerboxes outside his personal rooms and the window in the receiving room. Long tendrils of silver and green ivy snaked out of them. He would remember to thank the elf later for his consideration.
Severus walked over to the open window in his receiving room and took in a deep breath of fresh air. He could smell the vapor rising from the lake in the warm weather. The scrolls could wait. Today was a perfect day to take in a little recreation.
Hermione decided to go to her quarters to do a little reading before dinner. The library was her normal choice, but her new books were waiting for her in the bookshelf Dobby had installed near her bed.
“Should we bring you something later?” Ron had teased, knowing she would never get to the Great Hall if she stuck her nose in a book.
“I’m near the kitchens now,” Hermione reminded him. “I’ll grab a bite later.” The boys had waved good-bye to her and she began her decent to her chambers.
Hermione opened her quarters to find light spilling in through all the windows, including through the doorway to her room, which was open; and the door to Severus’ rooms which was also open.
Hermione drew her wand and went to Severus’ door first. She peered into his room to see a large black canopied bed. There was a small table near the bed with an oil lamp on it. A wooden chest with a lock lay at the foot of the bed. The walls were lined with books and a window let in light from one wall. The wall across from it had two doors. Hermione guessed they were for his closet and bathroom. She decided not to peer into those yet, but uttered an incantation that locked them from the outside. She didn’t want any unpleasant surprises if this was an ambush.
Hermione approached her rooms warily. As she began to walk into them she met Crookshanks who meowed loudly.
“Hello?” she heard Severus call out.
“Oh, hello,” called out Hermione feeling a bit silly. “Be right in.” She hastily ran back and unlocked the doors in Severus’ rooms before he thought she was crazy. She would have to make a good impression if she wanted to be a part of the Order.
Hermione entered her rooms to find Severus perched on the oversized ledge outside her window. She threw her book bag on an overstuffed chair in a corner.
“What are you doing?” Hermione asked, slightly worried. As she walked over to him realization dawned on her and she rolled her eyes at the ceiling.
“Fishing,” said Severus, snapping his line out over the water. Hermione peered over the edge of the ledge and saw a decorative gargoyle. Hidden behind the gargoyles impressive mane there were footrests. “There’s room for another if you’d care to join me.”
“I think I’ll pass,” said Hermione turning slightly green as she looked down several hundred feet to the water. The line and reel Snape was using was obviously enchanted. “Thanks anyway.”
“Suit yourself,” Severus sniffed. He felt a tug on his line and focused his attention on it.
Hermione turned to see Dobby entering her rooms with various containers.
“Will Madame want her dinner in here?” Dobby asked.
“Um,” said Hermione a little off balance. She waved her wand at the small table she had eaten breakfast with her father-in-law and made it bigger. “Yes, thank you.”
Hermione watched as Dobby unpacked rice, seaweed, sesame seeds and several small trays. He lifted the lid off a small bowl of crab and began chopping.
“What are we having?” Hermione asked curiously.
“Sushi, if I can catch it,” Severus said from the window, struggling with his line.
“There’s no tuna in this lake,” Hermione said, thinking about the time her cousin Wendell has treated her to sushi in London.
“There is if Dumbledore decides there will be,” said Severus with a smirk. He wrestled a large fish into her quarters.
Dobby began chanting under his breath and the fish rose in the air. As Hermione watched, the fish was cleaned, cut, prepared, and chilled before it reached the table. The scraps just seemed to vanish in thin air. It fell as thin slices on cold rice dobby had packed into small squares.
“This is wonderful,” said Hermione. “Thank you.”
“Thank you for letting me break into your quarters to provide us dinner,” said Severus with a curt nod.
“Like I really had a choice,” said Hermione sarcastically, although Severus saw she was smiling and allowed himself a small smirk in her direction.
Hermione watched as Dobby chopped vegetables, seafood and different wraps to prepare her dinner. The result was a rainbow of food, set neatly on trays across the table. There were additional trays for pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce and chopsticks for the diners. Dobby cleared away his containers and left the room.
“I got the pictures from Colin,” Hermione said walking over to her bag and fishing out the large brown envelope.
“Excellent,” said Snape, sitting down and putting his napkin in his lap. He reached for the pictures. He looked them over as he reached out with his chopsticks and filled his plate.
Hermione watched as Severus’ eyes scanned the multiple pictures. He stopped at one and his eyes widened.
“What?” asked Hermione praying it wasn’t the bed.
“Has your mirror ever spoken to you?” asked Severus, running his finger over the picture.
“In the bathroom? Hermione asked, confused.
“Yes,” said Severus. “An incredible item, indeed.”
Hermione reached her hand out to take the picture from him.
In the background of a close up of her towel rack, a pleasant looking witch winked at her from her mirror.