(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: Hermione needs a formal introduction if she's to join the illustrious ranks of the Society of Extraordinary Potioneers. Snape will provide one, but there's something he wants in return. Money? Sex? A friend? (SS/HG or SS & HG — author's preference.)
Note: *The appearance of Smudger is courtesy of shiv5468 from her hilarious story "Big Name Death Eater." Many thanks.
**Casablanca (Warner Brothers, 1942)
Summary: Hermione needs a favor from Snape. She left him once, and he's held a grudge for years. Is he ready to put aside his hurt feelings long enough to assist her?
Severus Snape entered his lab, set the ingredients he'd collected from the Forbidden Forest on his workbench and muttered a stasis spell. He moved through the lab and into the entry to his private rooms where he shed his cloak, Wellies, and frock coat. He unbuttoned his shirt on his way through the sitting room. When he reached the bedroom, he removed his cufflinks and placed them on his bureau before he took off his shirt and tossed it into the clothes hamper. His trousers followed. He pulled on his elegant dressing gown, belted it and donned his slippers. After he'd made himself comfortable, he made his way back into the sitting room and poured a glass of Firewhiskey.
The 'midnight at the full moon' ingredient collections were exhausting. In the old days, before the Dark Lord's defeat, collecting potions ingredients was one of the few activities he'd enjoyed. But now, what used to be a pleasure had become simply a chore. Snape hated to admit it, but performing the dual roles of Potions Master and Headmaster was a right pain in the arse. Perhaps it was time to find someone else to do the teaching.
Snape lit a fire in the fireplace and then sat down in his favorite chair with a sigh. He tossed down his drink and he winced at the burn; then closed his eyes in bliss as the alcohol's relaxing warmth uncoiled within. He heaved another sigh and reached over to the table for his latest copy of 'Dungeon Masters Monthly'. Anticipating a satisfying wank before retiring, Snape took himself in hand.
When his hand encountered parchment instead of the magazine he was expecting, he snatched his fingers away and sat up with a curse. Snape glared at the item. "I know that scrawl," he growled as his half-hard cock gave up the fight. Snape unrolled the parchment and settled back to read.
I hope this letter finds you well and not working too hard during the summer holidays.
I have just returned from Arthur and Molly Weasley's 40th anniversary party. (I know you were invited. I do wish you had come.)
Anyway, everyone was there: all the Weasley kids, spouses and children…
And Minerva wondered why he didn't go? Did she really not know him at all? Snape began to regret giving up a good wank as he continued to read:
…Harry asked about you particularly. You do know that he's named his middle son for you and Albus, don't you? And their baby girl, Lily, is just as cute as a button.
The big surprise was that Hermione Granger was there. Ever since she got back from Australia, she has not had much time to visit, so everyone was pleased to see her. She and I sat down for a bit of a chat and she told me that she wants to open her own Apothecary shop, so she applied for membership in the Society of Extraordinary Potioneers. Can you believe…they turned her down flat! Just because she apprenticed in Australia instead of Great Britain. That a giant load of Thestral dung if you asked me. As you know, without the support of the Society, the chance of her obtaining the proper licensing from the Ministry is remote.
Since you are the only Potions Master who has ever turned down a membership in that Society, I thought you could reconsider their offer of membership, on the condition they accept Hermione too.
I realize I am presuming upon our long friendship, but Hermione is one of my particular friends…and I thought she was one of yours as well, before whatever it was that happened which caused your falling out. (You two are both the most stubborn, irritating people I have ever had the privilege to know—excepting Albus, of course.)
Snape rolled up the parchment and placed it back on the table. He leaned his head back against the chair and closed his eyes. His history with Hermione Granger was none of Minerva's or anyone's damned business. Severus sighed and thought of Rick Blaine in the film Casablanca…
"I heard a story once – as a matter of fact, I've heard a lot of stories in my time. They went along with the sound of a tinny piano playing in the parlor downstairs. "Mister, I met a man once when I was a kid," it always began…"**
Hermione had helped in St. Mungo's after the war, mostly brewing potions. So Snape saw a lot of her during his convalescence. After he was released, he rejoined the Hogwarts teaching staff as both Headmaster and Potions Master.
Hermione was one of the few students from her class who returned to Hogwarts to complete her seventh year and take her N.E.W.T.S. Her wartime experiences, not to mention her role assisting Slughorn with brewing potions for the injured, led her to focus her Seventh year on mastering Potions. As a result, he was her advisor. They worked together and commiserated with each other about their frustrations during the war with Harry, Ron, Voldemort and most of the Order of Phoenix, especially Albus. Hermione admitted that she'd seen Snape's memories, so her opinion of the former Headmaster had undergone a drastic change.
Severus, once he recovered from his shock, began to look at her differently. "Who are you really, and what were you before? What did you do and what did you think?"**
When she received an Outstanding in Potions, Snape was proud of her, and was certain that she was going to ask to apprentice under him. Under being the operative word, if he had his way. After all, apprentices and their masters worked very closely and often became more than friends.
There did turn out to be a wrinkle in Snape's plans—Hermione didn't ask to apprentice under him. She applied to and was accepted by an Australian wizard as his apprentice. The only consolation was, Auncien was almost as old as his name, and likely past anything except an occasional leer.
Snape was more hurt than he liked to remember. ("Tell me, who was it you left me for?")**
He had taken such pains to be the epitome of decorum in his dealings with her after he'd discovered his attraction to her. And it was painful, many times, keeping his distance. If he had been a bit too hard on her in class, well, that was just to push her to achieve the greatness he knew she possessed. Not to mention it helped to keep the proper teacher-student distance when she was angry with him.
After she took her N.E.W.T.S., it would be a different matter, he'd reasoned. He would be guiding her, but the student/teacher roadblock would be gone. He'd actually looked forward to turning over to his new apprentice all the unpleasant duties (such as collecting potions ingredients at midnight during the full moon), after which, they might indulge in a few more pleasant activities.
With the ultimate goal of giving his apprentice the job of Potion's Master after she'd earned her designation, and then he could concentrate on running the school.
As all his plans came crashing down around him, it was safe to say that he'd gone completely mental. He demanded to know the reason why she'd decided to give up the honor of being his first apprentice in 10 years in order to apprentice under a wrinkly old sod in Aus-bloody-tralia.
Hermione had taken his face in her hands and smiled up at him.
"Professor Snape, as much as I would be honored to be your apprentice, I came to realize over the last year that I dared not ask you. You see, I have discovered that I am very attracted to you in a most inappropriate way. I came to the conclusion that if I apprenticed with you, I would be too distracted by, shall we say personal matters to obtain my Master's certification, so, in the interest of me getting on with my own goals for myself, I decided, in my own defense, to put a couple of continents and oceans between us. For now."
Snape was shocked. Mostly because she'd never even hinted that she might be attracted to him, too. Damned bloody Gryffindor courage. Distracting 'personal matters' was exactly what he'd been hoping for once she was no longer his student. He fell back on injured pride.
"Miss Granger, I hope I never gave the impression…"
Hermione placed her fingers against his lips, silencing his objections. "No, of course you haven't. It is me. That is why I need to put some distance between us. Besides, my parents are there."
"Miss Granger, I am certain that I can maintain the proper decorum during your apprenticeship." Until our attraction overwhelms us…then…
Hermione stood on her toes and gave him a hot, open-mouthed kiss. "Perhaps you can, but I'm not so sure about me."
She wrote to him, of course. But, his pride had been injured, so he never responded. Her last letter had informed him that she wouldn't write again unless he stopped sulking and replied. He hadn't and she was as good as her word.
We'll always have Hogwarts. He thought.
By the time she returned to the country, he was balancing his duties as Headmaster of Hogwarts and Potions Master. He hadn't been able to coax Slughorn out of retirement again, although he had tried more than once.
Occasionally, usually during the full moon, he considered asking Miss Granger to take the position of Potions Master as he'd once envisioned. But he couldn't bring himself to write to her, even now. So he didn't.
Stupid Slytherin pride.
Granger wanted to open an Apothecary shop in Hogsmeade. But, in the meantime, she was brewing and selling potions from her small house in the village, staying under the legal allowance for non-business brewing by the skin of her teeth. It had to be difficult, since she occasionally brewed Pepper-Up for St. Mungo's, among others such as Hangover potions.
Oh, and Snape had been angry when he found out about that little arrangement. Brewing for St. Mungo's was something he had done for years, so he arranged to meet with the procurement wizard of the hospital and demanded to know why they were getting their potions elsewhere. After all, he was only a week behind with their order, he'd huffed.
Snape was caught off guard, although he retained his outraged expression on the outside, when he was told, in a superior tone which had him itching to draw his wand, that he was more than a month behind and there were patients who needed those potions, now, so the hospital had to obtain them where they could. Besides, Miss Granger's potions were of the same quality as Snape's so there was no reason why they shouldn't buy them from her occasionally. Especially since she managed to deliver on time.
Snape sighed. He'd made so many mistakes regarding Hermione Granger. Minerva's letter hinted that he could he get himself back into Hermione's good graces by securing a membership in the S.E.P for her. If he did get her into the Society, and there didn't seem to be any reason why he couldn't since they were after him all the time to join, perhaps she would be grateful enough to take the Potions Master position off his hands.
But he did have his pride. Snape decided that he would only help Hermione if she asked him herself. Satisfied with his very Slytherin decision, he put down Minerva's letter and picked up 'Dungeon Masters Monthly'.
Severus enjoyed the following week immensely. He received a plethora of owls bearing letters running the gamut from asking politely (Molly Weasley) to attempting to call in non-existent favors (Potter) to outright threats (Ron Weasley name dropping his brothers Charlie and Bill as backup for him in some vaguely hinted at dark alley shenanigans against Snape's person).
He sent Molly a polite reminder that, since Ms. Granger had not asked for his help, he wouldn't presume. To Potter, he pointed out that, come to think of it, it was he, Snape, who was owed favors, several, in fact, for all the times he'd dragged the young Savior's arse out of trouble. He didn't bother to answer the Sidekick. He knew Charlie wouldn't leave his precious dragons to do something as stupid as help his younger brother confront the Headmaster of Hogwarts, and Bill wouldn't risk his position with the Ministry for any reason now that he was a father—not to mention the Lycanthropic traits he tried so hard to play down.
Snape smirked and continued to wait. It was only a matter of time.
A week passed without any letters at all.
Snape's patience was rewarded the following Saturday when a lovely peregrine falcon swooped into his office, landed on his desk and held out its leg. He untied the parchment and indicated the perch in the corner; where his raven, Edgar, opened one eye, ruffled his feathers, budged over to make room for the visitor and then closed his eye once more.
Snape opened the scroll and began to read:
As I'm sure you've already heard through Minerva, I have been denied membership in the Society of Extraordinary Potioneers for the completely ludicrous reason of which I'm sure you're also aware.
I know you're still upset because I went to Australia for my apprenticeship, and I'm really sorry about that. You see, I thought you, of all people, would be able to appreciate the fact that I was making my own decision about my life for once.
Look, I wouldn't even be writing, except I can't open my own shop without a membership in the S.E.P., and I cannot live on what I'm able to brew at home.
So, I'll get to the point. I am willing to meet you somewhere in order to negotiate with you about what you want in return for helping me.
Hermione Granger, Potions Master, Order of Merlin First Class
Severus chuckled. Hermione was still the same bossy know-it-all he remembered, with a dash of acrimony that appealed to him. He grabbed a fresh piece of parchment and a quill.
The next Friday, Severus Apparated to an alley near the Muggle pub he frequented when he wanted to get away from everything and everyone and have a good ol' fashioned piss up with The Lads*. He'd wanted his meeting with Hermione on his 'home' turf, and had suggested meeting her here. He went inside and glanced around.
He spotted Hermione almost at once. She was sitting in a corner booth, which had the advantage of pointing toward the door and away from the dart board.
Snape pasted an indifferent expression on his face as he made his way to the bar, ordered a pint for himself and a colorful cocktail for Hermione. He paid the bartender and carried the drinks to the table, set them down and slid into the booth beside her.
He watched as she finished the cocktail in front of her, and then sipped the one he'd brought. It was called a "Sloe Comfortable Screw" according to the cocktail list, and from the look on her face as she tasted it, she recognized it immediately. She drew the straw from her mouth so suggestively that he felt a sudden tightness in his trousers.
"Let's get down to it, shall we?"
Severus appreciated the way she got right to the point without any ridiculous Gryffindor blathering first.
"As you wish."
"What exactly do you want in return for sponsoring my membership in the Society of Extraordinary Potioneers?" Hermione wrapped her lips around the straw, without taking her gaze from his, and proceeded to do things with her tongue that caused him even more discomfort in the trouser area.
Snape cleared his throat and took a long draught from his beer to bring his wildly inappropriate thoughts, not to mention his swelling cock, under control.
He was more successful with the first.
"I want to spend some time with you—like this, outside of work."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "You want me to go out with you." She looked him over as if he was a particularly tasty piece of fruit. "Is that all?"
Snape's mouth quirked up on one side. "Of course not."
"Of course not," she repeated with a small scowl. "What else?"
"I would also like for you to consider taking the position of Potions Master at Hogwarts."
Her eyes narrowed and she
"What's in it for me? Besides the membership, I mean. After all, I'd be giving up my dream of owning my own business in order to come and work for you."
"I don't really think that owning your own business is your dream, Hermione. All the bureaucratic nonsense, not to mention customers, and employees. Why put yourself through it?" He raised an eyebrow at her. "And, technically, you'd be working for the Governors of the School."
"Don't get abstruse with me, Headmaster. Although," she gave him that 'piece of fruit' look and did that thing with her tongue again. "You might be right about the whole owning my own business thing. And, since you want to spend more time with me, I can see the advantage for you of my being in the same castle." She finished her drink with a long slurp. "But what about me? What do I get out of this arrangement, besides the membership in the Society?"
Snape closed his eyes and thought of Sybil Trelawney until he got himself under control. He hadn't been this close to being embarrassed in this way since he'd accidentally walked in on Lucius, Narcissa and Bellatrix and been invited to join them.
When he opened his eyes, he found hers on him, filled with mirth. He slid closer to her in the booth. "Aside from the free housing, decent pay now that Dumbledore is gone, all meals included, House Elf service and the ability to take House Points—not to mention not having to bother with dealing with your own business, there is…"
He should have stopped himself. He realized that even as he took her face into his hands and bent to brush her lips with his, that he was taking the biggest risk of his life. And that included working as a double-agent during the War. He kissed her softly and then pulled away to look into her eyes.
"That's quite an enticement." She smiled.
Before Snape could respond, a dart sailed over the top of the booth and embedded itself into the table, followed by a very inventive but physically impossible curse. Snape dropped his head into his hands and murmured, "Of all the pubs in all of London, Scotland and Hogsmeade, he turns up in mine." Then he remembered who was playing darts just in time to drag Hermione underneath the table as the next errant projectile sailed into view and landed in Snape's beer.
"Did you just quote—badly, I might add—the movie Casablanca?"
Hermione's tone of disbelief was a bit insulting, Snape thought. "One of the few good things my father introduced me to was classic movies." He huffed. "Oh, and you're welcome for saving you from being impaled on a rogue dart…" his voice trailed off as he realized he was in a pub, under a table, with an armful of soft witch who wasn't trying to get away. Not to mention, her hair smelled heavenly. He had just decided to rearrange her a bit more comfortably on his lap when the honest face of Good Old Smudger* appeared. He grinned jauntily and Snape groaned.
"Sorry, Mate, it slipp—Snapey?"
Snape was almost knocked unconscious by Smudger's breath, so he didn't take immediate umbrage to the hated nickname The Lads* had given him, but stored the memory away for future intimidation. Hermione muffled her snort of laughter by shoving her face into his shoulder.
"Smudger, I thought you were banned from playing darts for the safety of…everyone?"
"Aww, don't be a spoilsport, Snapey. There's a replacement bartender tonight, so I figured I'd have a quick match with no one the wiser." He noticed Hermione and gave her a drunken smile. "'Lo, Miss Granger. I'm glad I bought some of your excellent hangover potion. Yours is just as good as Snape's." He leaned toward her conspiratorially. "Maybe better."
"Is that so?" The iciness of Snape's voice must have penetrated Smudger's pickled brain, because he suddenly looked a bit shifty.
He leaned further under the table, his mouth closer to Snape's ear and in a loud whisper declared, "I had to say that, Snapey. You know how delicate witch's feelings can be about that sort of thing." Smudger put a finger alongside his nose, backed out from under the table and made his unsteady way to the bar.
Hermione twisted in Snape's lap and cocked an eyebrow at him. "Snapey?"
"Only to The Lads. To you, it's Severus." He leaned forward, captured her lips with his once more and did his best to take her breath away. He drew back and cleared his throat. "Well? Do we have a deal?"
Hermione turned her head and whispered in the direction of his ear. "Casablanca is one of my favorite films." Then she grinned at him and laid her head on his shoulder with an exaggerated sigh. "I can't fight it anymore. I ran away from you once. I can't do it again. Oh, I don't know what's right any longer. You have to think for both of us."**
Snape tightened his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. "All right, I will. You're coming to Hogwarts, to take the position of Potions Master. If you don't, if you go on and open your own shop you'll regret it. Not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon and for the rest of your life."** He squeezed her.
"This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship."**
"Here's looking at you, kid"**