Hermione seemed suddenly aware of where she was: Severus Snapes personal study.
She sat on a deep green leather sofa in front of a cheery fire. A thick black rug lay on the dark wood floor in front of her. She prodded it with one toe. It didn’t seem to be made of any material she could identify.
A low table sat on the rug. It seemed to be made of a light marble, but when she touched it she found it was warm to the touch and she had the vague impression that it would be light if she tried to move it.
The table had small pile of parchments on it. Looked like Snape assigned the same essays from year to year. She picked up a roll curiously and unraveled in. She was making a distasteful face when Snape returned.
“Not to your liking, Miss Granger? Or simply not up to your standards?” Snape asked.
“I’m sorry sir,” she began. “I should not be examining other students work.”
“It’s a Second Year project,” he remarked. “You’re a seventh year, I doubt there will be anything mind-boggling in there.”
“Not in this one,” she was holding it by one corner, as if it were filthy.
“Please, continue,” he said, interested. “Let me guess who’s it is after hearing your assessment.”
He slid onto the couch as far as he could away from her. His feet were still bare, but he seemed to be wearing silk drawstring pajama pants, and a black brocade Asian style jacket that covered him from cuffs to collar. He leaned over and placed a mug of tea next to her.
“First, the penmanship is awful,” she began. “For the most part, the text has been regurgitated with filler words added to make the essay longer.”
He narrowed his eyes and nodded at her, his lips quirking into a small smile. He sipped at his tea and made a face.
“Cream,” he said at the cup. Hermione watched as the black tea now swirled a creamy brown. “Go on,” he said to her.
“The student seems to think that elongating his contractions will make up for space,” she continued. “Is not, cannot, it is. There also seems to be an excessive use of commas.”
“Mac Dougal,” Snape said flatly. “Muggle low borne.”
He gave a look of distaste and sipped again at his tea. Hermione looked at him sternly, affronted by his comment, slightly impressed he knew his students work so well.
“Brilliant student,” he went on. “Never failed and exam. Absolutely incapable of writing an original thought.”
He looked at Hermione. It seemed his comment wasn’t really aimed at mugglebornes.
“Don’t the muggles care if their children are literate?” he asked, frustration etched in his face.
She shrugged at him.
“Some do. The ones that care do,” she looked at the page and frowned thoughtfully. “Where is he from?”
“Small fishing town in the north,” he said. “Apparently education wasn’t necessarily mandatory.”
“He’s a Hufflepuff?” Hermione asked, wondering if Snape made this much effort to know about the families of the children he taught. He must, she suddenly realized. If you were considered a traitor to powerful minds she supposed he’d have to be in complete control of his environment. Thinking on that she remembered why she was here.
“Yes,” Snape went on, oblivious to her thoughts. “Really works hard to understand the work. Truly understands the process.”
“Assign him to English tutoring with Lysette Claymoore,” Hermione said. “She had a scholarship for English before she received her letter for Hogwarts.”
“Hmmm,” he sniffed approvingly. He reached over to the table and grabbed a small black book she had not noticed before. He drew a small pencil out of it and jotted down a note. He lay the book back down.
“This is all charming,” he began slowly. “But I think we need to discuss why we’re here.” He seemed to wince at his own words.
Snape looked like he expected Hermione to attack him. He wasn’t acting stiff. He was still formally addressing her, still excessively polite, yet talking to her as if she were a capable human being. She didn’t know what to think. He had driven himself inside her. Using someone else’s form, certainly, but it was his touch, his movements that had showed her a male touch for the first time. Hermione shivered.
“I think,” she said slowly. “That you need to explain yourself.”
“Does Miss Weasley have a clue?” asked Snape suddenly.
“No,” Hermione said. “She’s…quite fond of Malfoy.”
He seemed to rest a bit easier. She gulped. He noticed her try to quickly swipe at the corners of her eyes, embarrassedly.
“I- I’m sorry,” he said softly.
“Sorry for what?” Hermione snapped at him. “Sorry Ginny likes Draco? Sorry she’s breaking me? Sorry you fucked us? Sorry you got caught?”
“I’m not sorry I got caught. I deserved it. I am sorry for all the other.” he looked at her and she thought she saw genuine remorse in his eyes. “This must be a nightmare for you.”
“I think one day it might be,” she said. She felt a bit better. “Right now I feel numb.”
Snape glanced behind him at a wheeled trolley. It was lined up with different sized crystal decanters, filled with an assortment of liquids.
“Would you like a nip?” he asked. “I know I do.”
She shrugged. “Sure.”
He walked over and selected a medium sized decanter filled with a caramel colored liquid in it. She looked at him questioningly.
“Irish Crème?” she asked.
“A muggle drink,” he explained. “Quite flavorful.” He poured a dollop into each of their mugs. She sipped and raised her eyebrows in approval.
“The- the night I met you and Miss Weasley,” he started to say. “It was not my intention to trick you.”
“It wasn’t?” she asked, a look of skepticism on her face.
“No, it wasn’t,” he said, annoyed. “I don’t make a habit of bedding students.” He shifted uncomfortably. “I never have.”
“Until now,” Hermione said quietly.
“Until now,” he said, looking at her.
“So why now?” she asked.
“Mr. Malfoy came to me with a letter,” Snape said, one eyebrow cocked. “It asked him to go to a deserted classroom at a prescribed time.”
Hermione tried to look innocent, in reality she winced.
“It seemed strange. It was on Slytherin letterhead, but arrived by owl.” Snape cocked his head at Hermione. “Slytherins have mail slots in the common room for interhouse communication.”
Hermione quirked a cheek.
“Mr. Malfoy seemed to think he was being ‘set up’ and asked me to accompany him to the classroom…” he trailed off.
“And what you came upon was me and Ginny,” Hermione said. “So how did you end up in there?”
“Well,” he began uncomfortably. “I took a leaf out of Young Bartemus’ book. I keep a small flack of polyjuice potion by my side at all times.”
She looked shocked. One batch was hard enough to do, what did he have to do to have a constant supply?
“These are dangerous times we live in, Miss Granger.” He said sharply at her expression, misreading it. “One who is hunted should be ready at all times to camouflage oneself.”
“I didn’t think it was to improve your social standing,” said Hermione sarcastically.
Snape raised his eyebrows. She was angry, but not emotionally scarred, it seemed. At least not by his actions, she seemed more upset at the actions of Miss Weasley this evening.
“You’re in love with Miss Weasley,” said Snape softly.
“Yes,” she said. “And she loves Draco.”
“Is that why you were there?” he asked, surprised.
“Well,” she said with a little grin. “I wanted to see him grovel.”
Snape shook his head. “Children,” he muttered.
“How could you see anything?” he barked out suddenly. “You were blindfolded.”
“Oh please,” she said snobbishly. “We learned that in out 5th year.”
“I should have known,” he smiled and shook his head. “There was quite a lot of planning on the part of Miss Weasley, I take it?”
Hermione’s smile looked painful.
“All for nothing, by the looks of tonight,” she said sadly. “All she had to do was pounce on him.”
“Why did you agree, Miss Granger?” Snape asked her softly, edging closer to her on the couch. She felt white hot sparks shoot up her limbs. Ginny was in love, Hermione felt tossed aside. Ginny had made love to Draco. Alone. Without her. Like she didn’t exist. And Snape was here.
She picked up the decanter and took a swig from it.
“Ginny was rubbing my thighs in the library,” Said Hermione, glancing at Snapes crotch, looking for a reaction. He shifted suddenly. And drew his arm across his lap, blocking her view.
She shifted herself so she was facing him and put her mug of tea down. Her finger stroked her throat.
“And then she,” Hermione exploded into a fit of giggles. “Distracted me, and convinced me what I needed was something new to experience with her.”
Hermione felt a sinking in her gut.
“I guess she doesn’t need me anymore for those kind of experiences.” Her shoulders slumped.
Snape scooted over to her on the couch and put an arm around her. She tried to snake a hand in his shirt, but he caught her hand and wrapped her arm around him. He kissed her on the forehead.
“There, there, little one,” he said. She had not realized her eyes had been leaking tears. She held him close, and felt him pull her curls gently away from her face. He kissed her again on the forehead.
“I am so sorry, for making this worse for you,” he whispered to her.
She looked up into his face. There was the look Draco had given her. The one she couldn’t decipher. On Snape it looked like deepest regret and concern.
So she kissed him. His hand became entwined in her hair, and his arm pulled her close.
He felt her smell invade his senses, light, of herbs and honey. His heart felt complete, as it hadn’t in years.
This was going to be really complicated.