Beta(s): None given.
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): Mild language, suggestion of smut.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: Hermione really wants Severus to stop smoking. What methods will she use to encourage him to kick the habit? Extra points will be awarded for humor.
Summary: Hermione is desperate for Severus to quit smoking. Severus isn’t all that interested; or is he?
Why had he agreed to this nonsense?
Because you love her. That's why, you sad sap.
Uttering an incoherent jumble of words under his breath, Severus fished for the cigarette he hoped was still tucked away in his back pocket. An unconscious sigh of relief escaped him when his index and second fingers curled around that precious, slim de-stressor that had been his constant companion since the tender age of fourteen. To think he wouldn't be able to turn to cigarettes much longer when dealing with the daily strifes in his life, particularly those relating to her!
Severus silently thanked Merlin that he had one left. For a split second, panic had settled in the pit of his stomach, his craving fearful that he might have smoked his last one earlier over dinner—When you agreed to this load of rubbish!—but, thankfully, all was well.
For now. 'Till she comes out here and catches you sneaking another one.
To hell with it. I agreed, didn't I?
Defying his inward caution with a triumphant smirk, Severus removed the cigarette from his back pocket and twirled it protectively between his bony fingers, as though it was something fragile; a keepsake; a treasure of the utmost secrecy. Then again...
It sort of bloody well is. 'Till she catches you.
In haste, Severus pressed the cigarette to his lips and ferreted for his lighter as well, also conveniently stowed in his pocket. He lit the end and inhaled a long, steady drag of the tobacco, releasing its contents through flared nostrils and an additional low moan, though he wasn't aware of doing so. The nicotine flowing through his blood stream was easing his taut muscles and calming his hyperactive mind, which was intently focused on the fretful agreement he had made with a certain witch some two hours ago.
Alas, that individual in question overhead his small noise of pleasure, and she wasn't at all pleased to discover what Severus was up to. Hermione Snape crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against the sliding glass door to their outside deck. Damn that infuriating man! Hadn't he just agreed to the terms they set? He must have been thoroughly savouring that bloody cigarette because Severus Snape was an astute wizard with eyes in the back of his skull, who tended to sniff Hermione coming well before she ever appeared.
Damn that man!
After staring daggers at the back of his distracted head for several seconds, Hermione cleared her throat to make her presence known and uttered a spine-tingling, cool address that saw Severus's shoulders tensing on the spot.
"Severus Tobias Snape."
"Oh, for fuck's sake—" he started to curse aloud but was cut off before he could finish.
"We just discussed this over dinner," Hermione exclaimed over him, "and you're already at it again?"
Severus whipped his head around, though the act of staring his exasperated wife down wasn't nearly as impactful without the billowing, black robes he had worn for so many years. His wardrobe preference since the war's end consisted mostly of worn Muggle attire, such as the shabby, brown leather jacket he adorned tonight, as well as a pair of ripped jeans that had seen better days.
Despite the lack of robes, cravat, and series of buttons, however, Severus could still cut an intimidating figure when he wanted to; only Hermione was prone to those dangerous glares by now and wasn't deterred as others were.
Severus presented Hermione with his best sneer and held the cigarette closer to his breast, like a child fearful of having his favourite dessert taken away for misbehaving. "Give me a break, witch!" he half huffed, half spat at her. "It takes time for this bloody patch of yours to take effect, you know. It's not instantaneous."
"Well, if you actually gave it a chance," Hermione countered through narrowed, fiery eyes, "instead of lighting up at first opportunity! My dad said—"
"Your dad lasted two days on the Muggle patch, Hermione," Severus corrected her before she could get whatever bull was coming out of her mouth. He cheered internally, recognising that he held the upper hand in this discussion by the deflated look that washed over Hermione's face. "You think I don't remember? And, might I remind you, you gave it to me not even an hour ago!"
Unable to dispute that point, Hermione wrung her hands in the air. "So?"
"So...what did you expect? For my cravings to suddenly vanish in the span of sixty minutes, like magic?"
"Oh, for goodness' sake, Sev—"
"I agreed to try the patch for you. Now, let me have my bloody fag, won't you?"
"But— But— That's cheating!"
Severus removed the cigarette from his lips—momentarily—and rolled his eyes. "It's not cheating if the effects haven't begun to work yet."
Trumped by more rationalisation, Hermione went silent, watching with aggravated discontent as Severus shoved the cigarette back in his mouth in victory, his onyx eyes all but daring her to step forward and try to snatch it from right under his nose—literally. She hovered in the open doorway a moment, sucked in a breath to keep her temper in check, and stepped onto their back deck to join him.
It was a breezy but comfortable early spring night, with nothing but the wind and the occasional sound of a passing cab to disrupt their quaint, charming backyard. Hermione took a moment to adjust the blue shawl that had fallen off her shoulders and, once she felt collected enough to resume their conversation, she continued.
"You agreed to quit smoking, Severus, I know, and, for agreeing to try the patch, you have my kudos; but is giving into your cravings as soon as they flare up really making a conscientious effort to quit? It seems counterproductive to me."
Severus couldn't prevent another emphatic eye roll. He took a large puff and, this time when he answered her, his voice was unable to mask the irritation he felt with this touchy subject.
"It's an addiction, Hermione, not one of your clear-cut spell damage cases from St Mungo's, all right? The symptoms won't automatically disappear with a flick of your bloody wand." Severus paused to eye her sharply. "I'd have cautioned you to exercise patience with this process, but it would appear that that's something I've no chance in hell of seeing you develop at this stage of our lives."
Hermione fought back a laugh, recognising the frustration running rampant all over her lover's face. "Someone's a grumpy bastard this evening..."
Severus didn't so much as twitch, a solid patchwork of scowl lines continuing to mark his countenance. His irises softened a tad, however.
"It's the patch."
This time, Hermione let loose a strangled laugh. "That's a trip! Do you intend to blame your surly attitude on the patch from now on?"
"If you insist on making me use this ridiculous contraption in order to quit smoking for your benefit, then yes, I will."
"Our benefits," she corrected him with an amused, lengthening grin. She shook her curly head and eyed Severus's sour scowl with warmth. Then she stepped closer to poke his leather-clad arm. "Did I mention how proud I am of you?"
At this, Severus snorted. "Don't be proud of me yet. This," he nodded towards the cigarette cradled lovingly between two fingers, "tastes even better to me now than it did two hours ago when you jumped down my throat about getting rid of them."
Hermione shook her head again and gave his arm a harder whack. "It's for your own good, Severus!"
"Yeah, yeah," Severus grumbled, ignoring her feisty protests as he started on another long, appreciative drag.
"The smell is ungodly!"
"Here we go again..."
"And it gets into everything! I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever get the smell of tobacco out of my hair! And it burns my nostril hairs, did you know? I swear, look!"
Hermione tilted back her head and pointed to the inside of her button-shaped nose, but Severus scoffed at her with rough laughter. He made sure to blow the smoke away from her, more mindful than ever of the infuriated emotions now on display.
"Fine, don't believe me, but it's the truth! And it's not good for your health, either! You know that as well as I!"
"Merlin's arsehole, Hermione, I got it." Severus took one last puff, flicked the remnants of his cigarette off of their deck and into the grass, and gave Hermione an intense look over. "You despise the smell, I got it; you've never approved of it and have been nagging me to quit for ages, I got it; you want this dealt with before our little one arrives, I got it."
That stunted Hermione's anger—a bit. Self-aware and uncomfortable, Hermione blushed and shifted closer to Severus, timidly securing her shawl in the process. "Sorry," she mumbled, hushed, and peered up at him with apologetic eyes. "Hormones..."
She was relieved by Severus's subsequent smirk. It was the kind that made her spine tingle and her knees weak.
"You blame your hormones, I'll blame this bloody thing." Severus gestured to the nicotine patch not visible over his jacket with a toss of his head. "That makes us even, I think."
A gradual smile graced Hermione's lips once more and, sheepishly, she wove a strand of hair behind her ear. "I don't mean to come down on you so hard, love. I just think it would be better, you know, for you...and for the baby..."
Severus leaned into Hermione and nudged the tip of his hooked nose with hers. "I got it," he repeated again, this time in a gentle whisper, a far cry from minutes earlier, "and you're right: it's for the best."
Relieved, Hermione prodded his nose appreciatively in return. Then she scrunched hers, as though she had encountered something dreadful, and stuck out her tongue.
"Yes, the sooner you get rid of that god-awful stench, the better for all our sakes! You smell ghastly!"
Severus let out a warlike growl that had Hermione scurrying for safety. She tried to make a run for it into their flat but instead found herself snatched by Severus's wiry, secure arms, which coiled around her like rope and pulled her tightly to his chest, preventing escape—at least, not without the wand that was unfortunately tucked in her back pocket, wedged between Severus and her. He assaulted the squealing witch's exposed neckline and right shoulder with a trail of dainty kisses that tickled and had her skin breaking out in goosebumps.
"Ack! NO! Get away!" she screeched, in dire need of breath. "ACK! Bugger off, you!"
Eventually, a pealing Hermione managed to stumble back into their cosy abode with Severus right on her heal, holding firm to her midsection. Her intense laughter trickled inside the flat with them, but she would hold strong to the wizard's promise. She would get her stubborn man to quit the one nasty habit of his that had driven her barmy for years.
One way or another!
Toleration and patience were to become Hermione's adversaries in those first weeks following Severus's agreement to quit smoking. If Hermione thought dealing with a sullen, prickly Severus Snape as a professor had been taxing in her younger days, those experiences paled in comparison to a Severus sans his daily smoke breaks.
Severus was grouchier and testier than ever she had seen him—at least, since the war was on and she was back in his Potions lab brewing his concoctions with minimal success and without even the slightest praise. She had been prepared to combat a moodier Severus than usual, of course, but, ever since stifling his habit, the slightest thing could trigger a row or set him off, spiralling what might have otherwise started out on a positive note into a shouting match of such proportions that, late one evening, the neighbours popped round to make sure the normally loving, quiet couple who kept to themselves weren't actually strangling one another on their kitchen floor.
At least that impromptu invasion to their privacy motivated Severus to get his uncontrollable spouts of anger under better restraint. They activated a Muffling Charm around-the-clock after that incident, and Severus made a more considerable effort to keep his flighty reactions to a minimum.
Despite the occasional tantrums, Hermione knew the poor man was trying his damnedest to curb his cravings. The frequency with which he lit up had lessened, for starters, which pleased Hermione greatly, but the Muggle patch wasn't doing the wonders she had hoped it would, either. Of course, that meant that there were other options to consider.
"Absolutely not," Severus asserted during one of his less cranky moments. "The potion will be worse than this, Hermione. That's why we opted to try the patch. Add that potion to my withdrawal symptoms and I'll be hexing random folk on the streets."
"You don't think it's worth a shot?"
"No," he shot down without the slightest hesitation.
"Then what do you suggest?"
"Let me quit on my own."
Hermione set her hands on her hips. "Oh, no you don't! I know what that will lead to! You'll be right back where you started!"
"You think this is working out any better?" Severus challenged through a nettled hiss, gesturing towards the small, flimsy patch half hidden beneath his shirt.
Hermione sighed with dismay. Severus had a point. The patch wasn't working, and they both knew it.
"You've made a lot of progress, though, love. I'd hate to see you backtrack once you're attempting things on your own."
"I won't backtrack, Hermione."
Hermione paused to consider the matter and rubbed at her stomach. Her first trimester had gone smoothly, minus the hormonal flair-ups from time to time, but most of her blouses no longer fit properly. She wasn't aware of how attractive Severus found her swelling belly; or how the cherished life growing inside of her was motivating him to do better, to be better.
You're a sad, sad sap, Severus, his tiresome mind reminded him at these moments, but it's for the best.
"All right," Hermione agreed to Severus's terms, though hesitantly, "but, if you find yourself slipping, you're going on the potion. Agreed?"
Severus's upper lip curled backward, though he managed to reign in his snark. For her sake.
"Agreed," he consented before adding, his stance quite arduous, "but I won't need a bloody crutch to quit this habit. I can manage fine on my own."
Hermione bit her lower lip. She didn't want to take Severus to task on that score, especially since he was hypersensitive these days due to his withdrawal symptoms. Her husband may be the most capable wizard she knew, particularly when he put his mind to accomplishing something, but even his extraordinary gifts weren't enough to persuade her that he would be able to achieve this on his own.
Better make a quiet trip to the Potions lab at work before the week's out. Just in case.
If Hermione was the betting sort—and she most certainly was not, thank you very much—she would have been raking in the galleons right about now.
Although Severus proved less of a bear once he was officially off the patch, his attempt at quitting on his own minus any 'crutches' to help him along the way lasted all of three days before he was caving to more frequent smoke breaks, and lying to Hermione in the process about what he was really up to.
Damn that man!
After catching him a number of times lighting up when he claimed to be seeing to other things, such as making a supposed run to their local grocery store, feeding Crookshanks, or taking an exceedingly long piss, Hermione presented him with an ultimatum: take the potion or deal with her being up his backside day and night without break.
Severus easily caved to the less nagging alternative, but not without bellyaching about it. Hermione pulling out a convenient phial of the stuff as soon as he consented increased his grievances tenfold. He warned her not to expect him to act any better than he had on the patch, hoping that that might dissuade her somewhat, but Hermione was evidently ready and willing to take her chances on a crankier Severus than he was.
The first couple days were surprisingly calm, but, by the fourth day, Severus's demeanour changed like a switch. He was gnawing at the bit over every minuscule matter, cursing and sputtering and generally wreaking havoc. His and Hermione's disagreements turned from minor rows to full-blown shouting matches, their bickering intensifying to the point that, by the second week, Hermione took surrender under serious consideration.
"You're acting like a right foul bastard, you know that?" she snapped at him one evening over dinner.
Severus was on his second glass of Merlot and had been bickering over every inch of their meal for the past hour, something he rarely snipped about. Hermione knew her cooking was less than stellar, but it had improved since the beginning of their relationship, and her husband was normally nothing but encouraging and supportive whenever she took the reins in the kitchen.
Tonight was a grave exception, however. Nothing about the food was to his liking, and he was none too kind about giving Hermione an earful.
"Back to stating the obvious, are we?"
Hermione huffed and threw down her napkin on the table. "Look, I know you're struggling, Severus; I know it hasn't been easy—"
"'Easy'?" Severus scoffed, pinning Hermione to her chair with the hostile glare he projected. "What would you know about it?"
Hermione tried to ease the tension creeping up her back by taking a slow, deep breath. "I thought the potion was worth the try—"
"Well, you were incorrect, weren't you?" He added, as he took another sip of his wine, "Not the first time you've been in the wrong, mind you."
Hermione had had enough. On that bitter note, she scooted back her chair—the legs screeching and scratching at the wooden floors—and stomped out of the room, leaving Severus to do the washing up; or not. She didn't give a rat's arse what he did with himself at this point. She no longer cared that Severus wasn't himself, or that the potion was the cause for his rancorous attitude, she just needed a break and to be as far away from him as their tight, one-level flat would allow.
Hermione wound up curling up in bed and reading to take the edge off. Reading always helped her to unwind, and she became so engrossed in her reading material that, by the time Severus came to bed a couple hours later, she didn't so much as detect him slinking underneath the covers beside her until he spoke, startling her from her happy distraction.
"I'm sorry for being such a wanker tonight." Hermione turned to him skeptically and lowered her tome onto her thighs. "The past several nights," he corrected himself. "I haven't been at all tolerable, I know, and I've been taking it out on you."
"Yes, you have." Hermione sighed as she closed her book. "But we both knew this would probably happen."
"Not to this extent, though," Severus confessed in a soft tone, his dark eyes remorseful as they bore into hers.
Hermione settled for chewing her bottom lip whilst Severus stared on, unsure of what else to say to stir the conversation in a positive direction. Eventually, they settled in for the night without discussing the topic much further, Severus spooning his pregnant wife from behind, though, even with the offer of a sincere apology, Hermione had no interest in anything other than cuddling this evening.
"Not tonight," she muttered with her back turned.
Soon thereafter, Hermione dozed off to sleep. Severus, on the other hand, was left nursing a hard stiffy that wasn't to receive any satisfaction from the slumbering witch at his side.
What was he to do? He was already feeling lousy from his withdrawal symptoms, and now he had ticked off his wonderful wife to the point that sex was off the table. Well, for tonight anyway. Unfortunately for his rejected willy, Severus was all too willing to comply and not push for more.
It's nothing less than you deserve anyhow, you bastard.
Then again, Severus Snape wasn't aware of being put to the test by his sly, Slytherin tactic-prone wife. At first.
Hermione really should have placed a bet with someone. Perhaps Ginny; she was the sporty, gambling sort, and also a trustworthy person who could keep secrets between girlfriends. Hermione certainly would have stood to garner a heftier pocket full of winnings had she but taken the chance.
The following morning, and at Hermione's behest, Severus laid off the potion. The environment between them had become so toxic in a short span of time that both were easily persuaded to go back to Severus's solo quitting method, even if it had proved unsuccessful the first round.
It was for the best, though. Not only was Severus's attitude greatly improved without the use of Muggle medicine or Wizarding potions, but he also made a harder effort than ever to sustain from the want to light up every time a craving came on. This time around, he ceased lying to Hermione about his withdrawal symptoms when they were at their most intense, instead opting to admit when he was in need of a cigarette...or three.
In turn, Severus found himself rewarded for his honesty and, more importantly, for ceasing to give in to his temptations with sex. Lots and lots of sex.
Severus was all too avid to comply, even if it meant submitting to Hermione's annoying wand tests to ensure that he wasn't attempting to disguise a smoke break with a scent concealing charm. Each test verified that he was telling the truth, and that earned him bonus points between the sheets. If this was what it took to gain frequenter shagging sessions with his lovely wife throughout the week then Severus would gladly hold back his sharp tongue more often.
For the first several weeks, it seemed to be a blissful medium to both parties, as they enjoyed a more active sex life, far less quarrelling with one another, and a generally happier atmosphere under the same roof. However, one of them wasn't aware of being played, too, though only a little, and it would take her clever mind some time to catch on to her husband's ruse.
After all, it was rarely achievable to out-slither a Slytherin, particularly someone as cunning and perceptive as Severus Snape.
By week six of his smoke-free regime, Severus was feeling rather boastful, for he had managed to all but curb his cravings entirely. Perhaps it was the steady sex; perhaps it was increasing positivity about fatherhood in future months to come. Either way, Severus was feeling confident. Although the occasional want to light up still hit him out of nowhere, usually at random times during the day, knowing he would earn a shag for every confession he owned up to made holding off on a smoke all the easier to bear.
Late one evening, a pregnant-er and very knackered Hermione was just tucking into bed next to Severus when he rolled over top of her to stare pleadingly into her eyes. "I'm dying for a fag right now," he bemoaned with a petulant look, catching the flicker of disgruntlement mounting on Hermione's face.
"Ugh, Severus, I can't tonight—"
"What happened to your ruddy terms?"
"I know, I know, but..."
Severus reared back a little at Hermione's hesitation. "Shall I go light up then?"
"No!" She started and grabbed a hold of his arms, her fingers digging into his skin. "Can we just... Can we take a break tonight? I'm tired."
"I'll make it quick," he promised in a spine-inducing purr next to her ear.
Although still not quite in the mood, Hermione's body began to tingle excitedly. With a few more coax-like "Pleases", Hermione caved.
"All right, you," she huffed and laughed at the same time, "but make it quick! I have an early start tomorrow."
Hermione's agreement was met by a handsome smirk. Minutes later, Hermione was mentally kicking herself for having put up a fight, feeble as it was. After being brought to a swift but bull-dozing orgasm, Hermione lay in a messy heap beneath her naked husband, panting and gasping and euphorically at odds with her ever changing figure, which was presently singing from being played by Severus's dexterous hands.
"You feel better now?" she asked once she had caught her breath.
Severus, who had shifted to lay beside her on his back, turned his head, and the mischievous twinkle in his eyes had Hermione realising, with crude awareness, that their latest shag hadn't been all that dire; or necessary. Before the words tumbled from his lips, Hermione had already sprung onto her elbows.
"I never felt particularly bad," he intoned, nonchalant, "but now I feel fantastic, thank you."
Hermione's mouth dropped open. She reached over and smacked Severus's chest before trying to scoot away from him. She was effortlessly brought back to his side, however, and, though she wriggled and writhed to break free, his hold was too strong.
"You thought toying with me with sex would work, my dear, and, to your clever credit, it did; but I, too, can set the terms when I like."
"You are awful, Severus Snape!" she exclaimed, slapping his chest a second time and desperately trying to stifle her giggles.
"You weren't saying that only a minute ago, my love."
"I didn't want to kick your arse a minute ago!"
"No, you didn't," he concurred softly, chuckling close to her face. "You were cradling it."
"Oh, get away, you!" she shrieked, but her voice had cracked, forcing out the laughter she had been trying to contain.
Severus loosened his grip but continued to swaddle his wife. "Not feeling up for Round Two?" he suggested once Hermione's giggles subsided; she ceased moving to stare into his eyes, finding them suddenly entreating, and purposely so. "I'm feeling the urge again."
"Oh, no, you don't!" Hermione leapt at Severus and, with a little umph and determination, she was soon straddling his lap. "I'm not going to shag you, Mister; I'm going to thump you!"
A provocative smirk spread across Severus's lips. "Be my guest, my dear."
Emitting an animal-like growl that made Severus's bits stir and harden, Hermione snogged him with aggressive domination, fingers weaving into his hair to lightly fist and pull. After ensuring that he was breathlessly aroused, she released his lower lip with an audible pop and met his eyes, now drunk with purpose. Severus could only stare back in awe and very much in love.
"I'm proud of you, Severus," she stated quietly. Then she kissed him again, this time more gently, conveying how pleased she truly was with sweet, tender gratitude.
Severus caved to her will. His back arched and he moaned into her mouth, returning her adoration with a taste of his own.
You're a sad, sad sap, Severus, his mind tried to butt in, but he was already lost, and willingly so, but to hell with it. She's worth it. They both are.