(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: Hermione and Severus have been together for a while, and now they're planning their first holiday. Turns out they have very different ideas. With two such easy-going, uncomplicated people, sorting this out should be a piece of cake, right? Bonus points if Lucius keeps turning up and tries to be helpful (SS/HG or SS/HG/LM).
Note: Dreamy Dragon, I did not follow your prompt to the letter, but I hope this story adheres to the spirit of it.
Summary: The Snapes have just sent their last child off to Hogwarts and now it's time for Severus to keep a promise he made to Hermione and take her on a romantic vacation.
Severus and Hermione Snape stood, arm in arm, on Platform 9 ¾ and watched the train until it disappeared around a curve on its annual journey to deliver children to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The couple stood quietly amidst the bustle of the other families who hurried around the Snapes in order to depart the platform and get back to their everyday lives.
Snape gave an inward sigh of relief and wondered idly whether Hogwarts would survive having both of his children attending classes at the same time.
He had barely survived the summer.
Charles, their eldest, was starting his third year and thought he knew everything. Just like every other dunderheaded thirteen years old throughout history. Except in this case the boy really was smarter than most of the other children his age. Or children of almost any age. And some teachers too, to be honest. The problem was that Charles knew it, too. The Sorting Hat had apparently been stumped for several minutes before finally assigning Charles to Ravenclaw.
Snape couldn't really blame the Hat. He had his own problems sorting Charles, who didn't hesitate to prove his "wisdom" to any and every one. Fortunately, Hermione had kept his father from hexing him (too often) during the summer. Especially after the owl from Minerva reached them. Snape had replied with a few suggestions for reining in his recalcitrant son.
There would be no more pranks such as the love potion episode. Although, Snape had to admit, the image of Argus Filch mooning after Minerva was something he wished he could have seen.
Then, there was Sarah. Their daughter had been excited, and just a bit scared, about beginning her first year at Hogwarts. Sarah had also inherited great intelligence from her parents (Snape suspected she had assisted Charles with the purchase of the love potion from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes after her brother had been banned) but her nature was quiet and observational rather than demonstrative and show-off-y. A Slytherin through and through if he didn't miss his guess.
Merlin help Hogwarts. Snape had never been happier to have retired from teaching than he was at this moment. Well, he smirked to himself; they are Minerva's problem now.
Hermione interrupted his musing when she wiped the tears from her cheeks and turned to him with a smile. "Well, that's both of them away at school. Now, let's talk about you and me and our much-delayed romantic holiday without the kids."
Snape's heart stopped for a moment. He had hoped that Hermione wouldn't remember how he had sort of promised, three years ago, that they would have a holiday on their own once both kids were at Hogwarts.
He should have known better.
"Well, the shop is really busy at the moment, you know, with the start of term—I've got a large order from Poppy to restock the medical ward…"
"You own the Apothecary shop, Severus. And Phil can not only run the shop but he is perfectly capable of brewing Pepper Up and any other potions that Poppy is likely to need at the start of term. Besides, you have already brewed most of what she requested."
"It is the start of term as you pointed out. So, I really don't feel like this is a good time for me to be away. The First Years will be learning to ride brooms, not to mention the accidents that can happen in potions class at any time…"
Hermione ducked out from under his embrace, turned to face him, and crossed her arms. "Severus Tobias Snape."
Snape winced. Uh, oh. Snape knew he was well and truly in the suds when his wife invoked his hated middle name. He tried to arrange his expression as one of vaguely innocent inquisitiveness. "Yes, dear?"
Hermione's eyes narrowed. "Are you trying to get out of your promise to go on holiday with me?"
He lowered his gaze and squirmed inwardly. He was still trying to compose an appropriate response when she spoke again.
"Didn't we enjoy our trip to Paris when Charles went off to Hogwarts for his first year and my parents came over and stayed with Sarah?"
Snape cleared his throat. He knew what he wanted to say…and he also knew what he wanted to say could potentially hurt Hermione's feelings. He tried never to hurt anyone he loved—he was well aware of how fortunate he was to have had a second chance at life and love after the war. He had almost talked himself into taking the easy way out by not saying anything at all when Hermione spoke again.
It wasn't the 'well' so much as the imperious tone that did it. Snape squared his shoulders, looked her in the eye and said, "Frankly, Hermione, you enjoyed that trip far more than I did."
Snape would have laughed at the expression of surprise on her face if the topic wasn't so serious.
"Wait, what? We toured the Musée du Louvre…"
"Which took two full days and we still didn't see it all…"
"…a full day for the Château, gardens and le Domaine de Marie-Antionette…"
"You loved the gardens!" was his wife's outraged reply.
"Very true, Hermione. But most of your time in Paris was spent looking at old pictures, palaces and furniture. Without me."
"You told me you didn't want to see any more museums and you said you didn't mind if I went by myself."
Snape pulled her into his arms. "I didn't mind because I love you and know how much you love old things." He leaned back and looked into her eyes. "That doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed that we didn't take a cruise along the Seine, or picnic in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower or sip wine while sitting at a table together outside of a sidewalk café."
"You did all of those things, Severus."
"Yes, I did. Alone. Not the most romantic time I've ever spent." Snape glanced around the station, which was now empty. "Come, let's continue this at home." Without waiting for a reply, he tightened his embrace and Disapparated.
When they arrived in the sitting room of their house, Hermione jerked away, put her fists on her hips and glared at him.
"You're not so innocent of holiday shenanigans yourself, you know," she said. "What about that time, before the kids were born, when we went to that all-inclusive resort in Jamaica? During the day, while I was in our cabana on the beach sipping fruity tropical drinks, you were asleep in our hotel room because you'd stayed up all night collecting potions ingredients!"
"We agreed that there are some things which can only be collected in that part of the world—that it made sense for me to collect them myself and save the money since the apothecary shop had only been open for a couple of years at the time."
"Severus, we were in Jamaica for seven nights and you went out collecting during five of them."
"It's not my fault that the moon was Waxing Gibbous, Full and Waning Gibbous when we were there!"
Hermione scrubbed her face with her hands for a moment before looking up at him. Severus watched her warily as she moved closer. "Severus, my love, the reason I brought up Jamaica was to show you that I am not the only one who has been…distracted…during a holiday." She put her arms around him and hugged him to her.
"That's true. Our holiday time has been a conglomeration of museums, potions ingredients, and the children." Snape cupped her chin and raised her face as he lowered his lips to capture hers in a lingering kiss.
"But we-" he kissed the side of her mouth. "Don't-" he kissed her cheek. "Have-" he moved to the edge of her jaw. "To discuss-" his lips reached her collarbone. "This-right-now—" he nuzzled her neck before lifting his head and meeting her gaze with his. "Do we?"
"You don't play fair, Severus Snape. Yes, yes—I know—Slytherin is as Slytherin does." Hermione twined her arms around his neck and pulled him down in order to kiss him back and then murmured. "But, this conversation isn't over. Merely delayed."
"As you wish," he replied as he pulled her body against his and bent to kiss her once more.
The next morning, Severus awoke to find that Hermione had risen before him. The smell of his favorite scones filled the house.
Damn and blast. He'd overslept, which had ruined his plan to get out of the house and to work before his wife was awake. His eyes narrowed as he looked at his alarm clock. Off. He knew he had set it last night…but he'd been certain Hermione was asleep. Clearly, his survival skills had gotten rusty if his wife had seen through his plan and countered it by rising earlier and turning off the alarm.
Not to mention using the scent of his favorite gooseberry scones as bait.
How very Slytherin of her.
He briefly considered Apparating directly to his shop and taking a shower there—the full bathroom had been added when the place was renovated after they bought it. And both he and Hermione had had reason to be glad of that decision through the years when one or the other of them had been required to spend one night or several nursing a fiddly potion.
And, after last night, he needed a shower. Severus couldn't stop the smirk that crept across his face.
The fact that he had a full bath at work meant he COULD skip out on the uncomfortable conversation that he knew awaited him downstairs. And it had the added benefit of out-Slytherin-ing his wife, which would serve her right, the sneaky witch.
Snape sat up and ran his fingers through his hair. No, he had always insisted that he was no coward. If he avoided Hermione now, he had no doubt that she would come to the shop and confront him there.
That would be worse. Much worse. Bloody Gryffindor.
No, best to get the conversation over with now. He rose with a very put upon sigh and marched into the bathroom like a martyr.
Half an hour later, he was clean and dressed. He made his way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Hermione was sitting at the table, a scone in one hand, a cup of tea in the other and The Quibbler hovering in front of her. She peeked around the edge of the paper and smiled at him.
"Good morning, Severus! After last night, I figured you needed a bit of extra sleep, so I Owled Phil to go ahead and open the shop this morning and turned off your alarm clock." Her sparkling eyes told him she was well aware that he didn't believe a word of it.
"Very considerate," he murmured as he seated himself.
She waved her scone toward the center of the table. "There's hot tea in the pot and hot scones in the basket."
"Thank you." Severus unrolled The Daily Prophet, took his reading glasses out of his pocket, put them on, and pretended to read as a scone floated to his plate and his tea prepared itself in front of him.
They sat in silence as they finished breakfast. Severus peeked out from behind the paper he wasn't reading and found Hermione watching him. He waved it aside with a sigh.
"Obviously, you wish to continue our conversation from yesterday."
"And, just as obviously, you do not."
"I don't mind talking about a holiday; I just don't want to argue with you about the subject."
"And I don't want to argue with you, either." She smiled and turned the parchment in front of her around. "So, why don't we try this?"
Severus waved the paper toward him and read the advertisement she had circled (and circled and circled-honestly the pen had nearly worn through the parchment).
Severus let the paper drop and looked over it incredulously. "You want to trust the arranging of our holiday to a firm run by Lucius?"
"Well, you must admit…he does know more about us than most other people…since he has been our friend for years, I mean." Hermione's face flushed red.
Snape knew exactly what she was thinking and without the benefit of Legilimency. The years after the war, after Snape's release from the hospital and during the rebuilding of Wizarding England, they had all lived together at Malfoy Manor. In fact, they had even toyed with the idea of a polymorphic relationship for a while. Lucius had nixed that idea. At the time, he had still been gun-shy after his acrimonious divorce from Narcissa. However, Lucius hadn't been involved in a relationship since, so Severus wondered if his friend had ever regretted that decision.
Snape shook his head. What was he thinking? Malfoy got all the benefits of being "Uncle Lucius" without the dirty nappies. But now that the kids were grown—well, they were middle-aged, not dead. Snape locked his gaze with Hermione's and licked his lips in a manner she could not misunderstand.
"That is true. We have been very close." He raised an eyebrow. "Will you send the owl or shall I?"
A week later, Severus and Hermione were at Malfoy Manor, sitting in the grand dining room, sharing an elegant dinner with Lucius. The conversation during dinner consisted of general catching up on the activities of various family members, gossipy tidbits about everyone Lucius still knew at the Ministry and other banal topics.
Only after they were all settled in Lucius' study, sipping his excellent port, did the blond wizard bring the conversation to the subject at hand.
"So," he said, "you need my help with planning a holiday?"
Severus bristled. "Don't sound so incredulous, Malfoy."
Lucius held up his hands. "Forgive my surprise, my friend." Lucius' eyes gleamed and he cleared his throat delicately. "It's only that I find it…difficult…to believe that two such…intelligent…people are having trouble planning a romantic holiday. That's all."
"It's not the planning that's the actual problem," Hermione said. "It's more the fact that we can't seem to…execute…the romance part during a holiday that's the problem."
Lucius glanced at Snape with a gleam in his eye.
"Do not say what you are so obviously thinking." Snape growled. "It is not a performance problem."
Lucius smirked. "Of course not, old chap. Shall we get started?" He waved his hand and a large, leather-bound book floated down to the table in front of them. The engraved, gilt lettering on the cover read:
"After I received your owl earlier this week, I took the liberty of entering the information I know about the both of you into the Guide. It has selected several places for your consideration." He fluttered his fingers at the book and it opened to reveal a map. "Its first suggestion is America. Granted, that country is relatively young and backward, but the Guide indicates that the capital city is chock-full of museums and monuments…" He trailed off when he noticed Severus shaking his head.
"We've been there. With the children. Besides the fact that there are too many damned museums, there's nothing else to do really unless you're interested in American History."
"You loved the Air and Space Museum!" Hermione grumbled.
"Very true. Also the Museum of Natural History. However," Snape turned to Malfoy. "Were you aware that there are more than seventy museums in that tiny city? After the tenth, my eyes started crossing." He noticed Hermione's wand hand twitch and scolded, "I thought we were going to be civilized about this? No hexing."
He pretended not to hear her grumble about 'some wizards don't know how lucky they are that their witches love them so much' and turned back to Lucius.
Lucius raised an elegant eyebrow. "Ah, 'no museums'?"
Severus' eyebrow rose in the dark opposite of his friends'. "Fewer, rather than none, I think."
Lucius waved his hand over the book and several pages turned. "The Guide's second suggestion, also in America, is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park…" he trailed off when he noticed Hermione shaking her head.
"I'm sorry, Lucius," she said. "But it cannot be anyplace such as the American national parks or, for example, African nature preserves. Those places are too tempting to Severus for their potential potion ingredients." She removed a speck of non-existent lint from her blouse. "If there is a wide open space and natural fauna around, he cannot seem to refrain from helping himself to it. Usually at night. When we should be in bed."
Lucius' other eyebrow climbed up to match the first. "I see. So, few to no museums and no or few potions ingredient availability—is that correct?"
Lucius leaned back in his chair, templed his fingers and closed his eyes. He was still for so long that Severus was nearly convinced that the other wizard had fallen asleep. Snape was in the process of leaning forward to shake Malfoy when the blond man opened one eye.
"I take it that expense is no object?"
"No," said Hermione.
"Yes," replied Severus at the same time. He turned to look at his wife incredulously. "Are you mad? Giving carte blanche to Lucius?"
"It's not like we can't afford it, Severus. For Merlin's sake, you act as if we are living on a teacher's salary." She turned to Lucius and said, "Within reason, Lucius."
Lucius' gaze flitted to Snape's face and Snape took the opportunity to scowl. The other wizard's lips quirked up on one side, which reassured Snape that Malfoy understood the unspoken message.
Malfoy would have carte blanch over Snape's dead body.
"And, to be clear, both of you want a romantic holiday?"
Hermione answered with a vigorous nod. "Oh, yes."
Snape lifted his chin. "That is what you advertise, is it not? 'Satisfaction guaranteed'?"
Lucius' smile broadened. "I think The Guide can give you exactly what will please you both, however, we will need a bit more time to enter this new information. When were you planning on taking your holiday? And for how long?"
"As soon as possible," Hermione replied. "A month."
"A month?" Severus exclaimed. "I can't be away from the shop for that long."
"Are you telling me that you have an inadequately trained apprentice working for you, my dear?"
"Then, there is no reason we cannot be away for a month, is there?"
Snape knew when he was beaten, but that didn't mean he had to give in with anything like good grace. He scowled. "Apparently not."
Hermione turned back to Lucius, who had been watching them with undisguised interest, and smiled sweetly. "A month's holiday will suit us very well."
Lucius directed the next question to Hermione. "No qualms about a few House Elves cooking, housekeeping, et cetera?"
"Not as long as they are paid for their services in whatever way they will accept."
"In that case," said Lucius. "Return here in a fortnight's time, with everything you need for a month's holiday. We will have everything ready for you."
Severus spent the next two weeks at work brewing any of the trickier potions he could think of that anyone might need; and at home listening to his wife wittering on with speculation about the upcoming holiday. He might have privately sent an owl or two to Lucius during that time, but if no one found out, he still had plausible deniability.
Hermione was in for one hell of a surprise.
Finally, the appointed day dawned, warm and sunny. This seemed to give the proceedings nature's mark of approval. Hermione found the silver cauldron Severus had surreptitiously slipped into their carry all and removed it.
"Honestly, Severus. We are supposed to be going on holiday." But her rebuke had no heat and she did kiss him when she said it so he couldn't be too sorry.
Snape smiled and turned what she'd intended as a buss on the lips to a full blown, mouth-exploring, breath-taking affair. When he lifted his lips from hers, Hermione was actually stunned for a moment before raising her eyes to his and gracing him with one of the brightest smiles he'd seen in months.
"Well, if you plan to carry on as you've begun; I don't have anything to worry about, do I?" She asked mischievously.
Severus treated himself to a lascivious perusal of his wife's lovely body, after which he winked at her. "Oh, I don't think you have anything to worry about, my dear."
They left the house, taking a few minutes to set the usual wards before Apparating to Malfoy Manor.
When they arrived at the front door of the manor house, it was opened by a House Elf in a floral tea towel who held two necklaces of flowers in its arms. With a wave, the flowers were hung around their necks.
"Please to be leaving your bag here and be following Dooz, Master and Mistress Snape," the Elf said with a small bow. It turned and walked away.
Hermione looked at Severus quizzically and Snape lifted his shoulders and did his best to appear as confused as she seemed to be. They left their bags in the corridor and followed Dooz through the house. Before long, they arrived at the French Doors which led to the patio outside. Dooz opened the doors and gestured the Snapes out with a bow.
They were met outside by another House Elf, also dressed in a floral tea towel, who was standing beneath a canopy next to several changing rooms. Behind her was a massive pool, which was obviously built to appear natural—if there was a beautiful tropical garden in the Wiltshire countryside. The patio was strategically dotted with tables, chairs and lounge chairs, all of which were decorated with flowers of every color.
"Please to be going into these rooms and changing into the clothing you will find inside. Oh, and Master Snape, sir, Master Lucius told Doozie to remind you that you asked for it so you are to follow instructions."
Hermione looked at Severus questioningly. "What does she mean?"
Severus ducked into the changing room Doozie had indicated. "I merely owled Lucius with an additional component or two to add to the Guide, my dear." He closed the door firmly, which cut off any further questions.
When he turned and saw the 'clothing' he was expected to wear, Severus nearly Apparated away, but satisfied himself with thoughts of the many different and exotic hexes he would be flinging Malfoy's way—and soon.
The only item in the changing room was a floral sarong. Malfoy had also left a 'helpful' photograph which indicated that the sarong was to be wrapped around the waist and tied at the hip.
As his kids would say, Oh, HELL NO.
Snape took off his shirt and hung it on a hook where it instantly disappeared. He slipped his wand from its holster on his arm and attempted to transform the cloth into a shirt; figuring he could wear it with the trousers he was already wearing.
His wand sparked and fizzled but not only did it not turn the sarong into a shirt, his trousers disappeared right off his body. And none of his magic worked, with or without his wand. Damn, Malfoy anyway—he had obviously created a magic damper which did not interfere with the House Elves' magic but seriously impaired his.
Snape did not remember any of this being in any of the notes he and Lucius had exchanged in the last fortnight. Although, there was that one parchment which could have been construed as a contract that he had signed—Snape believed he was agreeing to certain expenses—but apparently not.
When had he stopped reading the fine print? Snape growled. Married life had made him much too trusting.
And he was going to strangle Lucius with his bare hands. Snape didn't need magic for that.
"Severus? Come out—I want to see you in your new clothes!" Hermione's voice was tinged with pleasure and excitement.
"Yes, Severus, please. Come out, old chap. And don't forget the lei."
Malfoy. Damn and blast.
Severus tied the sarong around his waist, and turned to exit the changing room only to have it slip down to hang from his hips. He opened the door and stood with his arms crossed across his chest. He could feel the heat of a blush creeping up his neck toward his face.
Then he noticed that Hermione was wearing a sarong of the same bright colors, wrapped around her body and tied between her breasts, leaving her shoulders bare. Her hair was loose and tumbled down her back.
She took his breath away. "You are a vision, Hermione. Simply stunning."
His wife blushed with pleasure. "You guys look pretty hot too, I must say."
Severus glanced at Lucius who stood beside her. He was also dressed in a sarong which was tied low around his hips and he wore a lei around his neck. The smile on his face was wicked and seductive at the same time. He was holding two umbrella topped drinks—the tall, fruity kind which usually disguised the amount of alcohol in the glass—and he held out one to Snape, who noticed that his wife was already sipping hers.
"Welcome to Malfoy Manor, your tropical getaway for the next month as determined by The Guide—and myself, of course." Lucius said with a small bow. "I hope you two are ready to relive some wonderful old memories and make some new and exciting ones. Under my close personal supervision, of course."
Snape felt a shiver of excitement as he took the drink and their hands brushed. He glanced at Hermione to see how she was taking everything. Her eyes were bright and she was devouring both he and Lucius with her eyes.
Severus raised his glass. "Here's to a month of hedonistic debauchery. A holiday only a Malfoy, or should I say 'A Malfoy's Guide' could arrange."
They clinked their glasses together and sipped their drinks. Yep, he thought, almost pure alcohol with a splash of fruit juices. Perfect.
"And not a cauldron or museum in sight." Hermione added. She set her drink down on a table, turned toward the pool, unknotted her sarong and let it fall behind her as she scampered away and dove into the water.
Snape looked at Lucius who tore his gaze away from the beautiful witch in the pool to look back at him.
"So, Severus, does The Guide's solution meet with your satisfaction?"
"I'm sure it will, Lucius." Snape gazed from the witch in the water who had surfaced several metres away back to his friend who had untied his own sarong and was walking toward the pool.
"In fact, I have no doubt that it will."