(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: We all know that Severus loves to wear black. That hasn't changed after the war (maybe he's finally realised that the brooding-black-bat look makes him rather popular with the ladies?), but how and why did one of his black robes end up in Hermione's wardrobe?
Summary: Ginny finds a certain set of robes in Hermione's wardrobe, which leads to a confrontation between The Black Bat and The Golden Girl. It does not, however, go quite as might be expected—or as Ginny might have hoped.
It was black. It was all black. Every stitch, every seam, every button; even the lining was black.
Hermione never wore black. Ginny did sometimes; she liked the way her skin showed up dead white in comparison, and her hair flamed. It could be quite effective—especially with Harry. But to Ginny's knowledge, Hermione hadn't worn black since her school days, after which she discovered colour and hair and cosmetic charms. At most, she owned a pair or two of black shoes. But robes? No.
Yet here one was, in a corner of her closet.
Ginny was curious. And she was already raiding her friend's closet for something to wear for The Date with Harry. So what difference did it make if she pulled it out to get a better look?
It was too large. And the cut was all wrong—too broad in the shoulder, too narrow in the chest and hip. Hermione was perhaps best described as 'ample,' as far as Ginny was concerned. It was also a heavy wool—again, something Hermione never wore. Wool gave her the itch, and while it was possible to spell that away, she didn't see why she should bother when there were so many other options available. Ginny frowned, and levitated the robes as though there was a dressmaker's dummy beneath.
Definitely a man's robes, meant for someone about a head taller than Ginny, maybe half a head over Hermione. And there was certainly something familiar about the style. A waft of scent—something sharply green and vaguely metallic—struck Ginny's nose, and the memory struck her with far greater force: Snape. Headmaster Snape had worn these robes, imbued him with that odor that had become loathsome by the time battle broke out in earnest. She could see him now, looming over her in the way only Snape could, the way that made him seem two feet taller than he actually was and her the size of the girl who had not yet seen her teens.
Ginny snatched the robes from mid-air and stormed down the hall. Hermione needed to explain just why she had Severus Snape's robes in her closet.
Hermione sighed to hear the door slam in the wake of Ginny's passing. The girl had barged her way into Hermione's wardrobe, and Hermione hadn't really cared enough to stop her; her really nice dress robes and other favourites were hidden away in any case, deep in a corner of her current bottomless satchel. It never hurt to be prepared, and that included a proper wardrobe. But it sounded now as though Ginny was spoiling for a fight, and that meant the scrolls Hermione was studying would need to be returned to their drawer. Better safe than sorry, since Ginny had a bad habit of letting her wandless magic get away from her when she was irate.
"What is this doing here?" The redhead shook the armful of black wool, and Hermione quite frankly gaped to see it.
"I'd totally forgotten about those," she admitted truthfully. She'd meant to return them, but then the affair of the Wimblebats had come up, if she remembered correctly, and then there was the overpopulation of faehounds in Wales, and after that… Well, she simply had never gotten around to it. She didn't think she'd even repaired them.
"You forgot," Ginny repeated flatly. "You forgot?! What in the hell were Snape's robes doing in your fucking closet in the first place?"
Hermione grimaced at the rising screech, and felt her own ire build in response. It was none of her damn business in the first place, and if it had ever been, that would have ended the moment Ron agreed to split up. Placing her palms on her desk, Hermione rose slowly, glaring all the while at the younger woman. She said nothing, a trick she had learned from the master. Ginny purpled. Hermione stood, motionless. "That," she said shortly, "is my business."
"Oh, really?" the witch scoffed. "Tell me, Hermione, were you still engaged to my brother at the time?"
"If I was," Hermione replied icily, "it was our business, not, I repeat, yours. I will thank you to return those, Ginevra Weasley, and then you may see yourself out. You are no longer welcome in my house."
Ginny scowled, but she tossed the robes to the ground contemptuously. While it was never spoken of, Hermione was by far the more powerful witch, and they both knew it. She spun on her heel with athletic grace, then stomped out of the room like a five-year-old in a tantrum. Given the opportunity, she would have slammed the doors on her way out, but Hermione had spelled them to behave properly; the only person who could slam them was herself if she was so inclined. Just now, she wasn't. Instead, the young witch picked up the bundle of black wool, draped it neatly over a chair arm so she could remember to patch it later on, and took herself off to her salle to burst a few practice baubles in a series of defensive drills. Perhaps she could pretend they were Ginny.
Barely a week later, Hermione was again at home, choosing to read the background literature for her latest assignment in the comfort of her study rather than the stilted confines of her Ministry cubicle. Ministry cubicles might be sound- and sight-proof, but that didn't really change their basic nature of being cubicles. It was much easier to absorb facts tucked into her Big, Ugly Chair surrounded by her own bookshelves than seated at a transfigured piece of paper that called itself a desk with five other people within smelling distance.
The doorbell didn't ring so much as it howled, and the heavy thud of what sounded like someone kicking the door, shocked her out of her research fugue. Her door didn't make that sort of noise; her door couldn't make that sort of noise. Which led to a sinking feeling deep in her stomach. There were very few people who could overwhelm Hermione's spells, and only one of those was prone to any sort of rage. She traced the sigils to allow entrance before he violently dismantled her door.
He strode into her study, expression best described as livid as he faced her across her desk and shook a handful of crumpled newsprint at her. "Granger, what in the hell is the meaning of this, this idiocy?"
Fighting to maintain calm, Hermione queried, "What idiocy, Snape? The Daily Prophet is usually stuffed with idiocy, like a goose for foie gras. I haven't even bothered with it for the past half-week."
Snape slammed the paper to the desk, and to her annoyance, she jumped at the sound. "This idiocy," he snarled.
The headlines' assault was worse than if he'd chosen to physically beat her with it. 'BLACK BAT TARNISHES GOLDEN GIRL' screamed one. 'TRIO'S THIRD IN SORDID TRIANGLE?' questioned another. 'WAS WEASLEY OUT-WOMANIZED?'
"Ginny fucking Weasley…" she breathed, scanning the much smaller type of the copy. "God. Like mother, like daughter, I guess." A single witch ball, hung expressly for such times, burst into fragments.
The indirect display of temper distracted Snape with the noise and then, bizarrely, calmed him somewhat. "And just what does Miss Weasley have to do with this vitriol?"
Hermione flung the sheets down and took a breath, calming herself. You couldn't be too calm in the face of an irate Snape—he'd consider it a further insult—but then, she couldn't be too angry either. "Ginny," she said evenly, looking him directly in the eye, "was here the other day, ransacking my closets. She found a set of your robes. For reasons known only unto herself, she decided they meant we were—or had been—having an affair. She accused me of the fairy story she has so obligingly made public.
"I would apologize for tangling you up in this nonsense, but I've done nothing to apologize for. We both," she stressed, "forgot I had that particular set of robes. You certainly haven't missed them at any point in the last few years, or you would have been kicking in my door long before this."
"So I'm to be pilloried—again—because of your friends and whatever petty, puerile feud you are currently engaged in," he sneered. "According to this," he jabbed his finger at the paper, "I'm the near-paedophile who seduced—probably even drugged—you into fulfilling my sick fantasies and then tossed you in the rubbish heap. You are the poor, virginal childhood sweetheart who was then denied her white knight, dream cottage, and two point five red-headed tots."
"Oh?" Hermione retorted with false sweetness. "I suppose you missed the part where I'm characterized as the cheap slut who whored herself out to you when she couldn't get Harry into her bed? Who was gagging for it so badly that her next stop would have been against the walls of Knockturn Alley? You've got your head up your arse, Snape, if you think a woman fairs any better with this sludge, willing or not." Sighing, she leaned back in her chair. "I'll very likely lose my job over it," she added, strangely impassive. "Or have you forgotten how puritanical the Ministry is? Which is downright absurd, come to think of it. At least you'll have Minerva and the other professors at your back."
"And The Boy Who Vanquished Voldemort won't have yours?"
There was complete silence for a moment. "I very much doubt it," Hermione said finally. Another awkward silence ensued, and she didn't elaborate. "Well, bugger that for a game of soldiers. Do you want a pot of tea? I don't have the tea, but I do have a Yunnan Gold if you like."
"No," she interrupted, rising from her chair. "I refuse to get any more upset at this than I already am. I will not talk any more without tea. So you can either join me in a cup or you can fuck me on the desk, but no more discussion."
Time stopped for one impossibly interminable moment while they both absorbed what she had just said. Hermione braced herself for some scathing witticism at her expense, but for once, Snape seemed to be unable to exercise his linguistic skill beyond, "Granger, are you entirely mad?"
"Not in that sense," she muttered. "Look, you believe that this story is going to turn your life into a living hell—again. Why not at least find out if it would have been worth it? We take off our clothes, you shag me here and now, and then you let me know if the sex is worth all this drama."
She watched him grope for a chair and collapse into it with the grace of a blind elephant, all the while watching her with a look that veered back and forth between shock and wariness. "You—" he began, then stopped, and Hermione imagined he had meant to finish the sentence with something like, "don't mean it," which would have been an idiotic thing to say. However well he did or didn't know her, he at least knew damn well that she never said anything she didn't mean. He tried again. "You. Want me. To screw you on your desk."
Hermione shrugged. "I'm open to a slight change in venue, but essentially, yes. We're both free, healthy, and of age. We can indulge in sexual activity if we like. I would like. Or we can go to my kitchen and get a cup of tea. Or you can leave. I really think I'd prefer the former, quite honestly."
Snape's expression was one of unusual impassivity, without the customary derision with which he regarded the world; Hermione took this to mean he was seriously thinking over her proposition, as he wouldn't want her to discern anything until he had made up his mind.
"Come here," he ordered abruptly. With a quick quirk of her eyebrow, she complied. She was not a natural submissive, but at the moment, she didn't mind. She'd certainly let him know if he crossed any lines. "Strip." Again, not something she had a problem with, so with a glimmer of amusement, she magicked open the buttons down the back of her robes and slowly eased her arms out of the sleeves. The comfortable, slightly worn indigo fabric slithered to the floor, and she paused, displaying herself in her sheer under-robe. Smugly, Hermione watched him swallow visibly; it was a garment meant to impress. She knew that the window and the sunlight was behind her, blazing through the sheer white batiste to cast her silhouette. Two broad panels of soft, black lace covered her breasts—but only up to a point; she was very… ample. She leaned back a little, her hands at the edge of her desk, and gently arched.
He leapt forward, pinning her against the desk, using one steel-boned hand to hold her head immobile as he assaulted her mouth. His nose jutted against her cheekbone, his searching eyes filled her vision until she closed her own. His lips were thin and dry and infinitely mobile. Around her was his spice and herbs and old wood and the ozone of magic. He was overwhelmingly present to every one of her senses—and a few she hadn't known she possessed.
And then he was gone.
As abruptly as he had advanced, Snape retreated. As she blinked back into reality, she saw his expression as piercing and derisive. "Well, Madam Granger?"
"Well, Master Snape?" she parroted back at him, with the exact same inflection. Inwardly, she sighed. He was very well capable of drawing this out indefinitely. Disbelief, insecurity, or sheer bloody-mindedness? Or else he simply wasn't interested.
"I think I'll have that tea now," he said, and she would think he was perfectly calm—except that he could not yet control his breathing.
"And if tea is no longer an option?" she challenged.
He folded his arms across his chest and smirked. "Then I would say you were acting like a child denied a sweet."
She mirrored his gesture, and saw the immediate dip of his attention to her now even more prominent assets. "Then I'd say you're acting like an infantile bully, dangling said sweet and snatching it away for his own amusement, so who are you to pass judgment?" She cocked her head to the side. "You know, there were five minutes a few years ago when there was a Severus Snape who wasn't such a bastard. I was rather hoping I could find him again; I thought we got on rather well."
Snape shrugged dismissively. "And you thought shagging me would bring him back?"
"Oh, the shagging was a bonus. Or rather, the interesting bloke would have been the bonus; the shagging was the low goal. A man's genitals are easier to access than his brain."
The expression on his face was comical. "I don't understand you, Granger."
Hermione grinned, then walked over and patted his cheek. "I'm a woman, Snape. You're not supposed to." Turning away, she continued, "Just bring your arse into the kitchen and I'll make us the damned tea."
"You get the kettle on and find the biscuits," he corrected. "I'll make the damned tea. You never did know how."
"My kitchen, my tea, Snape. Live with it or leave."
"You realize you're still in your underwear." The pair were perched on stools at Hermione's kitchen counter.
"Of course I do," she replied easily. "It's all part of my evil plot."
"It's hardly a plot if you tell me about it."
Hermione smiled and poured them both a bit more tea. "I know I'm not going to out-Slytherin the master, so why bother using the technique? At least this way, it keeps your mind where I want it." To illustrate her point, she dipped a cylindrical biscuit in her tea, then slid it into her mouth. He watched. The biscuit reappeared, the chocolate core now bare. "You see?" she grinned.
Severus tried to control his expression—a battle that too far longer than was normal or comfortable—and settled into one of incredulity. "Are you merely frustrated, Granger? Too many hours with books and not enough with a flavour of the month?"
She batted down a knee-jerk reaction before it escaped her lips, choosing instead calm reflection. "That could be part of it," she admitted, "but then, even a bookworm has a fair field of options if she keeps an open mind. When it comes down to it, though, there are very few people I actually want to have sex with.
"Not," she added, "that I need another person, really. There's a very nice toy shop just a few doors down Knockturn Alley, and even the Weasleys are making a few forays in that line. I generally manage, with or without a man."
"Granger," he said a bit helplessly, "why, by all the great wizards, are you telling me this?"
"I'm trying to seduce you. I know I can't do it in the usual manner—I can only imagine the Slytherin students who have tried—so I'm simply being me and being blunt about what I want. I had some advice when I was younger," she added conversationally, and he frowned at the apparent non-sequitur. "I was told that there were always practicalities to keep in mind, and the limits of one's morality, but beyond that I should enjoy my sexuality." She smiled reminiscently. "In other words, I was told to go forth and have fun. Unless you have some strong objection, I don't see why we shouldn't have fun together."
"Yes, Snape, fun. I think it would be fun."
"Hm?" There was a note in his voice that made her look at him.
"How long have you fancied me?"
Ah. Figured that out, had he? Well, it wasn't like she was ashamed of the answer. "Since that day you swanned about in just your trousers, trying to frighten me off," she told him. She remembered that day very well and often wished she'd had a camera somewhere about her.
"That— that was—" Snape spluttered, gaping.
"Quite some time ago," she finished calmly, then sighed. "It was hardly an opportune moment, Severus Snape. Less than a year out of Hogwarts? You still saw me as a child, a student. And it wasn't like I couldn't tell how much it annoyed you to have me in your inner sanctum solving your problem for you."
A small chuckle escaped him. Indeed. She'd earned some respect for her abilities by then, but it had galled him to allow a wet-behind-the-ears girl tackle something he felt he ought to have been able to handle, not to mention the invasion of privacy it had involved. He had been certain for weeks that she would share with her friends the state of his rooms or his clothes (and she had been forced to paw through his underwear, for Merlin's sake) or his personal habits. She had eventually proved him wrong, but he'd be the first to admit that he'd been an absolute bear to be around. "I'd likely have seen any overtures as the prelude to a joke," he allowed, "and I wouldn't have been kind."
It was Hermione's turn to laugh. "'Kind' is rarely a word I'd apply to you. But that isn't a necessary trait."
"A necessary trait for what?" he asked, narrowing his eyes in suspicion.
"For you, for one thing. You might not be kind, but you rarely act without forethought, and that can make you quite considerate in your own way. Or have you forgotten all the days you brought back tea and scones to your quarters while I was working? Don't think I don't know you could have simply had tea in the staff room or your office and consigned me to perdition."
"I didn't want to find you passed out on my floor," he objected.
"Precisely. It wasn't a kind gesture, but you knew me well enough to extrapolate what I would do and then took steps to circumvent the negative consequences, which made it thoughtful. When it was left up to Ron," she added darkly, "he'd go home to the Burrow to eat, and if I forgot a few meals, well, then, that was all on me. Why bother to make sure your fiancée is eating healthily?"
"What did you see in that juvenile?" he queried, genuinely curious.
Hermione shrugged. "A friend. A boy who I thought saw me as a girl, not as an encyclopedia on legs.
"How is Cecil, by the way? I rather miss him."
Snape frowned at abrupt volte-face. "He's fine," he answered cautiously. "Eating me out of house and home with his penchant for cashmere. I couldn't say whether or not he misses you; it's a little difficult to read a caterpillar's mind."
"I still remember finding him, tucked away in the pocket of that last robe. I thought he was rather cute, even after all the trouble he'd caused."
Severus scowled. "Eating holes in my robes like a bloody mechanical drill. If he didn't produce such valuable silk…"
"…you would have hexed him into oblivion; yes, I know. I was very grateful for your… gratuity when you found out how much he was worth as youkai silk worm." Though Hermione thought it was really no less than she deserved, having been sent out on an assignment for her department and finding an obstreperous Snape as well as a very hungry caterpillar to subdue.
"You deserved every last quarter-knut," he informed her.
She smiled brilliantly. "And thank you for acknowledging it."
The hour grew late and still the pair sat and talked. She made dinner and he washed up. And if they indulged in each other's company in the wee, small hours of the morning, they were certainly not mentioning it to the small horde of reporters that camped outside their doorsteps and hovered around the Floo network. The most Severus would say was, "I believe we must have a chat with Miss Weasley," and he smiled such as made erstwhile students want to run for cover as fast as possible.
Miss Weasley herself certainly contemplated that course of action.
Miss Granger, wearing another set of gorgeous underwear with her robes, went to pay a return call on the caterpillar, Cecil, and his master. The visit, she declared, was more than satisfactory.
Professor Snape was more than inclined to agree.